What about some ‘hothouse political talks’ around NI’s social and economic future?

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Brendan Mulgrew makes a point worth repeating:

When has there been a hothouse political talks process around, for example, the economy, or education or health?

Aren’t parents whose 11-year-old children are forced to sit four consecutive Saturdays of transfer exams entitled to have that core issue put under a similar political spotlight?

Shouldn’t the search for a so-called peace dividend around tax breaks, enterprise zones or corporation tax have received the same dedicated amount of concentrated effort as that spent on flags and parades?

It is genuinely baffling to a large number of people that these issues dominate the political discourse and hog the headlines at a time when youth unemployment is on the rise, when A&e departments are seemingly at breaking point and when we have lived in a school transfer vacuum for more than a decade.

Nope? Too busy sorting out the past, and not talking about parading? Is it more comforting to think about we already we think know, rather than exploring what we might not?

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  • megatron

    People with no incentive to do something don’t do it.

    There are no riots over transfer test. The transfer test equivalent of Jamie Bryson doesn’t exist.

    Same story all over the world. If the people REALLY care something will be done. The real story is that people don’t REALLY care – not enough to do something about it anyway. Credit to Jamie Bryson et al on that score.

  • Barnshee

    “It is genuinely baffling to a large number of people”

    Not really -these are in the “too hard box” for a number of reasons The economy has been in trouble for a long time only wilful blindness could have led to ignorance on this. Industrial production has declined over an extended period. The economic situation is the result of internal and external imbalances which have been building for years. N Ireland (in common with other UK regions) does not pay its way depending as it does on tax payer funded transfers to bridge the gap between what it “pays” and what it “costs” These transfers allow levels of public services , concomitant economic activity and population levels otherwise unsupportable by the “natural “ level of economic activity in N Ireland

    The politicans in NI have ignored this situation for decades they are unable and/or unwilling to recognise reality.

    When a qualification for public office is a conviction for murder or sectarian abuse it would appear to go some way to explaining the leadership deficit.
    God beless the patience of the British Taxpayer

  • Mick Fealty

    So just to clarify Meg, petitions are out? Representations are out? Public consultations out? Rioting in? Don’t got a riot, don’t got a right to be heard in Stormont?

  • megatron

    Mick you are (debiberately?) confusing neccessary with sufficient.

    You cant always blame the politicians. The popular (and media) reaction to parades and the past >>>> reaction to socio economic issues.

    Of course petitions are representations are not out. Unfortunately the crying child gets lifted (note my use of unfortunately here – I dont think it is good by any means).

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m just being deliberately mischievous to make a point. :-)

  • megatron

    Point taken. I’m off to start a petition about the horrible internet speeds in my part of south armagh!

  • Michael Gillespie

    Hi Mick
    In your piece we are back again with the establishment pipe dream of a stand alone N. Ireland on the island of Ireland creating oodles of socio-economic wealth for all and with Protestants being nice to Catholics and vice versa. This fantasy originates in the establishment’s observation of stable countries like Sweeden Germany and England where they see politics geared to the creation of socio-economic wealth. They mistakenly conclude that if politics are geared to the creation of socio-economic wealth in N. Ireland it would be a country like those indicated. What the establishment fails to grasp is that N. Ireland is unlike the countries indicated in that it hasn’t an agreed constitution. An agreed constitution is a sine qua non of socio-economic wealth creation.
    Many years ago when I was a student of economics at QUB a popular question on the Economic Growth and Wealth Creation paper was—Why is England rich and Ireland poor? Discuss. It seems to me that an important part of the discussion was that in 19th century England the country’s constitution was stable and agreed and a necessary condition for socio-economic wealth creation was in place. In 19th century Ireland the constitution was being disputed and fought over. In such circumstances socio-economic wealth creation goes to the wall. In the 21st century the constitution in N. Ireland is still being disputed and fought over and wealth creation in N. Ireland will still go to the wall so the dreams of the establishment for N. Ireland will never come true.
    In a united Federal Kingdom of Ireland with an agreed written constitution defined in The National Government of Ireland Act suggested in my book –The Theoretical Solution of the British Problem— Ireland can be like Sweeden Germany or England and there can be oodles of socio-economic wealth created for all in the country.
    Michael Gillespie

  • notimetoshine

    Of course there won’t be any real and serious attempts to solve some of the real issues facing NI mainly because:

    1. The NI parties are stuck in their default fringe issues mode; flags, the past, parading etc.

    2. It is not in the interests of the parties to be seen to be co-operating with the ‘other side’

    3. The structure of power sharing in Stormont is not conducive to bold moves and hard decisions. Indeed it has shown itself to be incapable of basic governance.

    4. Bread and butter issues are not easily resolved, they require hard work and proactive thinking. Our politicians are essentially reactive, except on cultural/legacy issues.

    5. Bigotry, sectarianism and obsessive partisan politics come before practical politics. Think ‘themmuns gets everything we get nahin’.

    6. Our political establishment simply isn’t up to the job.

  • Old Mortality

    Only eight comments so far says it all. When there is such little interest on Slugger, what can you expect from the general public or even the politicians. Where are the mcslaggarts, tacapalls etc? Obsessing elsewhere over flags and collusion.
    Perhaps when Stormont finally grits it’s teeth and introduces welfare reforms, we might possibly see some reaction.

  • The Raven

    Indeed, OM.

    Whereas over on the minimum wage thread, we have the usual overpaid civil servants whinge, the Benefit Street brigade, and it’s-not-fair-my-pension-will-pay-feck-all whines.

    This sheep infested isle truly needs some self awareness and introspection about what’s important, and how to get on with their short lives.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Well said, by which I mean… Are you heartless or stupid? How stupid are people really?

    Say what you like about flags and parades, and to be honest I don’t really care for either, but The Past?

    The issues surrounding The Past are effectively Health and Justice Issues of people who are still alive today!

    How’s about not only do we forget the past, but the present as well, wait for those in 2040 to sort out the legacy issues of both.

    I’ve known people who have failed a transfer test and gone to secretary schools and got their lives in order, can even that trauma compare with anything that happened victims and survivors!

  • FuturePhysicist

    How foolish and selfish can one be to USE both transfer tests and youth unemployment to justify inactivity on The Past?

    Isn’t the real issue there are people just in a bad mood who don’t have vindicated lives in terms of the politics they see, rather than tipping young part time workers or volunteering to help young NEETs get an education they have grand delusions of being able to produce better politics on the macroscale.

    David Willets has profiteered from Youth Unemployment writing books on the issue, while increasing student fees. This “social conservative” did not offer one penny or one second of his own to assist any of them, but actually MAKES MONEY from analysing their plight. At least the Northern Irish politicians aren’t so detached from the issue, it seems.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Old Mortality

    “Where are the mcslaggarts”

    Firstly I thought it a stupid argument and did not want to Troll”.

    The education changes are necessary and it is not surprising those people who benefited (and whose children still benefit) want to keep the old system. Why blame ministers if parents are forcing their children to “sit four consecutive Saturdays of transfer exams”?

    Secondly the very idea that our MLA’s should have big discussions on economic matters is funny. They are county council not a “government”.

  • Charles_Gould

    The “privatisation” of the transfer test has been a spectacular own goal by the recent stream of education ministers.

    Many in the 11+ lobby are happy that it’s privatised and not under Departmental control; the transfer test is now out of the hands of politicians and into the hands of schools. He can’t interfere in it now, while he/she could have if it had not been privatized; for example he/she *could* have had control over the style of the test when it was run by his department. Now he does not.

    The test, and the whole informational process that surrounds it, has I believe added to the marketing efforts of the schools.

    On top of that, it is helping the nondenominational grammars: Catholic people who fail to get into a Catholic grammar school start thinking about the other schools they could get into; doing both tests (there are two types of test) increases your chance of getting into a grammar school of any type. Hence the ever increasing numbers of Catholics in nondenominational schools.

    Own goal!

  • Mc Slaggart

    Charles_Gould

    “Many in the 11+ lobby are happy that it’s privatised and not under Departmental control”

    The test is a joke. How many schools make students take the test and then take virtually all who sat it?

  • Reader

    Mc Slaggart: The test is a joke. How many schools make students take the test and then take virtually all who sat it?
    Some of them? Give us a clue.
    But even those schools probably believe they benefit by only taking in the children of parents who are prepared to make some sort of effort over their children’s education.
    At least if the state condescended to participate in selection then the weight of decision would move to children and their teachers rather being based on children and their parents.

  • Mc Slaggart

    “those schools probably believe they benefit by only taking in the children of parents who are prepared to make some sort of effort over their children’s education.”

    I think that is called education for spreadsheets.

    In a world that now understands that students have multiple intellegences makes the basic premise of these tests destructive.

    Tyrone now has world class home grown manufacturing industry. Most of the people who made that happen would have failed their 11+

  • Barnshee

    “In a world that now understands that students have multiple intellegences makes the basic premise of these tests destructive.

    Tyrone now has world class home grown manufacturing industry. Most of the people who made that happen would have failed their 11+ ” LOL:

    The shortest glance at the list of persons occupying (particularly top) jobs in e.g. and in no particular order)

    Law
    Education
    Accountancy
    Medicine
    Public sector/Local Government

    are all dominated by people who went through the 11+
    system

    I wonder what “multiple intellegences” could do to achieve the same results.

  • Mc Slaggart

    list of persons occupying (particularly top) jobs in e.g

    “Law
    Education
    Accountancy
    Medicine
    Public sector/Local Government”

    An interesting list devoid of people who do nasty things such as making stuff.

  • Old Mortality

    McSlaggart
    I think this thread is about more than academic selection. However, it’s good that you are sticking your toe in the water.

  • Charles_Gould

    You don’t need to pass the 11+ to run a business, its not an academic activity.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Old Mortality

    As I said I do not think the MLA’s have much power over economic matters (1). In the area that they could have a big impact is Education.

    (1)
    “Secondly the very idea that our MLA’s should have big discussions on economic matters is funny. They are county council not a “government”.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Charles_Gould

    “You don’t need to pass the 11+ to run a business, its not an academic activity.”

    What I find interesting is that you honestly think that statement to be true.

  • Charles_Gould

    Hi McSlaggart
    I am from a business family, but went to uni and took the academic route. To run a business, a degree isn’t a great help, from what I can see, though management consultants McKinsey etc, are academic high flyers.

  • Mc Slaggart

    ” To run a business, a degree isn’t a great help”

    A degree is a bit of paper.

    To run a business is very much an academic (scholarly and intellectual) activity. If you business in not up to date and keeping up to the latest business trends you will soon find yourself looking for a job.

    Spare me the “management consultants” they are almost as bad as Accountants.

  • Charles_Gould

    Mcslaggart don’t get me wrong. ..you do need to be smart to do business well. You dont need to be able to have the things universities give you.

  • Barnshee

    “An interesting list devoid of people who do nasty things such as making stuff.”

    Making stuff tends to need Engineers (and “nasty” accountants to keep score) Chemists of every hue and increasingly Computer types for design and simulation

    Again I think you will find the 11+ figures in the education of most Engineers Chemists and Computer wallahs

  • Mc Slaggart

    “11+ figures in the education of most Engineers Chemists and Computer wallahs”

    It actually often weeds out the best ones as they tend to learn by Kinesthetic. Their is an often quoted that 50% of all NASA employees are dyslexic. I do not know if that is true but what is true is the 11+ tests for the traits that most Teachers have.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Charles_Gould

    “You dont need to be able to have the things universities give you.”

    Either you took the wrong course or the Universities are not fit for purpose.

    I know that the Austria/Germany educational system produces top engineers who have an excellent grasp on how to make business work.

  • Charles_Gould

    Something tells me you may have failed your 11+ McS?

  • Mc Slaggart

    Charles_Gould

    “Something tells me you may have failed your 11+ McS?”

    Some thing tells me you do not want to answer the question “Either you took the wrong course or the Universities are not fit for purpose.”

  • Mc Slaggart

    By the way Charles you statement/accusation was a classic example of a mixed-strategy equilibria in two-person zero-sum game.

  • Charles_Gould

    Sorry my statement was stupid and crass. I apologise.

    You make a valid point. It does depend on the type of business. Though many people who have succeeded in management in my friends/family haven’t been academics or went to university.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Charles_Gould

    “Sorry my statement was stupid and crass. ”

    Any answer that I give could only be judged by your acceptance of my trustworthness. In a binary answer, either way it would be assigned a factor of credibility. If I had said Yes I had passed the 11+ you would be predesposed to say that answer was a lie. Human nature being what it is. This does not of course mean that is what you would have written in reply to any such answer.