“Run like a huckster’s shop” – Redux

[No change since June 2009, then? - Ed]  Have there been any consequences…?  A BBC report that the DUP and Sinn Féin have, belatedly, agreed the outcome of the semi-detached polit-bureau Northern Ireland Executive’s June budget monitoring round was met with understandable criticism from the other NI Executive parties.

Justice Minister David Ford, who leads the Alliance Party, described the situation as “shambolic” while the Ulster Unionists and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) said they had been kept in the dark about the deal.

Mr Ford said: “We got a message late yesterday afternoon, sometime after five o’clock, that there would be an executive meeting today (Thursday).

“We have no sign of the paper that is going to be presented to the executive today, to know exactly what is now being proposed.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan said: “We have absolutely no detail as to what they have agreed.

“We wanted consensus government when we set this all up and instead we have stand-offs all the way through and don’t get anywhere.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said there appeared to be “two-party rule” at Stormont and accused the DUP and Sinn Féin of “very poor decision-making”.

“I don’t think its good enough for many workers across all of the other departments not to know what the implications are for their jobs, particularly those who are on temporary contracts,” she said.

The contempt shown for the other NI Executive parties runs contrary to Sinn Féin and the DUP’s professed concern about releasing information to the public in a way that would “seriously undermine Assembly business” – despite their failure to agree an answer to Assembly written questions within the required time-frame.  As Sam McBride reported

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness’s department has argued that it would “undermine” the Assembly if it answered in public the questions which it has refused to answer through official Stormont channels.

The claim, which was made as the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) attempted to refuse a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, will likely astonish some of the MLAs who have been unsuccessfully attempting to get responses to written Assembly Questions.

The questions are meant to be answered within 10 days but some lie unanswered for months or more than a year with no Assembly sanction. [added emphasis]

However, in a development which could have significant implications for Stormont, the Information Commissioner, the FoI watchdog, has dismissed the argument.

That means that MLAs now have a legally-enforceable route – backed up by the possibility of High Court action – to force responses to questions which the Assembly has proved incapable of seeing answered.

In adjudicating on the complaint from an unknown individual, the commissioner also ruled that in responding to the request Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness had taken a decision that no reasonable person in their position could have taken. It is understood that in nine years of the Freedom of Information Act this is the first time the commissioner has made that finding in Northern Ireland. [added emphasis again]

From the same News Letter report

In attempting to refuse the request, OFMDFM argued that the information related to unanswered written Assembly questions to the department.

As such, it argued that to release the information to a member of the public before it was given to the Assembly “would seriously undermine Assembly business” .

The department told the commissioner that “ministerial agreement [between Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness] had not been reached on the Assembly Questions in question at the time of the request”. [added emphasis]

It added that “[the complainant] was effectively challenging the Assembly’s privileged access to information process, by attempting to elicit a FoI response before an Assembly question response was issued”.

The decision notice also revealed: “OFMDFM was of the strong view that it would be disrespectful to ministers if officials attempted to answer questions submitted as formal AQs before MLAs had received a reply”. [added emphasis again]

In reality, when it comes to being “open and transparent[as possible... - Ed], Sinn Fein and the DUP have shown no reluctance whatsoever in undermining the Assembly, the Executive, and public confidence in both – when such concerns conflict with their own party political interests.

As in a previously dismissed submission to the Information Commissioner in April this year

…the Information Commissioner, the watchdog which enforces the open government law, has dismissed the argument and ordered that the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) provide the information by May 1.

A formal decision notice upheld this newspaper’s appeal against Stormont Castle’s decision.

That 10-page document reveals that OFMDFM “argued specifically that disclosure of the requested information ‘… could prejudice ministers’ electoral prospects and would most certainly have a ‘chilling effect’ on the future development of corporate risk registers’.” [added emphasis]

As I paraphrased then – “We will not disclose this information as we might be held accountable and, if we have to disclose it now, we most certainly will be economical with the actualité in future.”

Adds  Here’s what the semi-detached polit-bureau DUP and Sinn Féin agreed before the Northern Ireland Executive met.

A key feature was the £78million reduction to departmental resource budgets. On this issue the Minister said: “Given the significant pressures facing the Executive’s budget this year, it has been necessary to agree an immediate 2.1% reduction to departmental resource budgets in order to provide funding for a range of Executive commitments such as the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry and Local Government Reform and a much needed allocation of £20million to the Department of Health. These reductions have not been applied to Health or Education.”

The Minister also expressed his frustration on the issue of welfare reform, saying: “Further reductions to departmental budgets amounting to £87million will be required as a consequence of welfare reform not progressing. The Executive has agreed that these reductions should occur in the October Monitoring Round. This will cause further pain across departments and will undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on our public services. Those failing to proceed with welfare reform bear sole responsibility for the dire consequences that will follow.” [added emphasis throughout]

And from the BBC report

A majority of ministers passed the deal on the June monitoring round.

However, the two Alliance ministers voted against it and the Ulster Unionist minister Danny Kennedy abstained.

They said the issue of welfare reform had merely been postponed.

Mr Kennedy said what he called “voodoo economics” were at play and that there was an “air of unreality”.

Following Thursday’s meeting, the Ulster Unionist Party said there were elements of the budget paper it was “deeply discontented” with and criticised Sinn Féin’s stance on welfare reform.

“While Sinn Féin may be good negotiators they aren’t good at government. Today was a demonstration of voodoo economics,” the party said in a statement.

“While they may try and spin the June monitoring round as a victory, all they have done is kick the can down the road.”

Alliance Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry said the fact that funding for the health and education departments – “one each for Sinn Féin and the DUP” – would put added pressure on other departments.

He said there was no sign of an agreement between Sinn Féin and the DUP over welfare reform.

“It’s an utter standoff, there’s no process in train in which they will try and bridge that gap,” he said.

More “voodoo economics” here, and, indeed, here.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Michael Henry

    Have Westminster got no heart- fining poor Stormont to the tunes of millions leaves our local Politicians with less money in the peoples pot- just because Westminster can’t get its bulling way with its So called welfare reforms they still want to attack the people- thank God that local politicians are sticking up for local people-

  • http://www.sluggerotoole.com pete baker

    Adds Here’s what the semi-detached polit-bureau DUP and Sinn Féin agreed before the Northern Ireland Executive met.

    A key feature was the £78million reduction to departmental resource budgets. On this issue the Minister said: “Given the significant pressures facing the Executive’s budget this year, it has been necessary to agree an immediate 2.1% reduction to departmental resource budgets in order to provide funding for a range of Executive commitments such as the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry and Local Government Reform and a much needed allocation of £20million to the Department of Health. These reductions have not been applied to Health or Education.”

    The Minister also expressed his frustration on the issue of welfare reform, saying: “Further reductions to departmental budgets amounting to £87million will be required as a consequence of welfare reform not progressing. The Executive has agreed that these reductions should occur in the October Monitoring Round. This will cause further pain across departments and will undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on our public services. Those failing to proceed with welfare reform bear sole responsibility for the dire consequences that will follow.” [added emphasis throughout]

    And from the BBC report

    A majority of ministers passed the deal on the June monitoring round.

    However, the two Alliance ministers voted against it and the Ulster Unionist minister Danny Kennedy abstained.

    They said the issue of welfare reform had merely been postponed.

    Mr Kennedy said what he called “voodoo economics” were at play and that there was an “air of unreality”.

    Following Thursday’s meeting, the Ulster Unionist Party said there were elements of the budget paper it was “deeply discontented” with and criticised Sinn Féin’s stance on welfare reform.

    “While Sinn Féin may be good negotiators they aren’t good at government. Today was a demonstration of voodoo economics,” the party said in a statement.

    “While they may try and spin the June monitoring round as a victory, all they have done is kick the can down the road.”

    Alliance Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry said the fact that funding for the health and education departments – “one each for Sinn Féin and the DUP” – would put added pressure on other departments.

    He said there was no sign of an agreement between Sinn Féin and the DUP over welfare reform.

    “It’s an utter standoff, there’s no process in train in which they will try and bridge that gap,” he said.

    More “voodoo economics” here, and, indeed, here.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Our local politicians certainly are shafting local people, specifically those of us who do not claim social welfare (ie most of us) by cutting back on the public services we all pay taxes for. This is pathetic grandstanding from which Sinn Féin will eventually have to back down.

  • Michael Henry

    Voodoo economics cried the UUP has they proudly abstained from the vote-was a spell put on them so they couldn’t vote no-( Reagan’s policies were often referred to has Voodoo economics- the UUP went to America and back 30 years looking for a sexy Quote )-

  • Michael Henry

    Westminster will have to back down first Comrade- they should stop grabbing the peoples money from The Assembly-they can’t believe that they have a party who won’t do as they are told -so out come their lousy fines-

  • Comrade Stalin

    You’re counting on people accepting the SF line that cuts to front line public services are preferable to implementing welfare reform. We’ll see about that.

  • Morpheus

    Simple solution to the Welfare Reform stalemate

    1. The Finance Minister stands up and debunks the NICVA Report which says that £750m will be taken from the NI economy EVERY YEAR by showing us what he thinks will actually be going out of the NI economy and how he intends to minimize the impact on the most vulnerable in our society how he intends to mitigate the loss.

    2. The Finance Minister, once he has finally worked out what will be leaving the economy, to calculate how much would have already left our economy if he had blindly implemented the cuts back when the Tories said “Jump” back in the day – and then tell everyone.

    3. The Finance Minister to stand up and tell us how he cut the NI cloth for the next few years without knowing how much will be taken out of the economy or what impact it will have.

    4. The whole point of Welfare Reform is to get people back to work. The seasonally adjusted number of people claiming unemployment related benefits stood at 54,300 in June 2014 and there are currently 2840 jobs available on Recruit NI so I would like the Finance Minister to explain what work these people are supposed to go to?

    Are cuts needed? Absolutely. But not blind one with no regard to the consequences. He could start with this:

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/hundreds-of-millions-lost-as-stormont-underspends-29669952.html

  • chrisjones2

    “stand up for local people”

    Which local people?

    Does that include the feckless and workshy? The paramilitary spongers ? The bogus DLA claimants?

    A couple in their mid 20s with one child can now pull in around £13-14k in benefits. Thats about the same as an average worker (not an average SF worker who miraculously gets twice as much).

    Why should the average worker looking after their family pay for all this?

  • chrisjones2

    “Voodoo economics ”

    So why not go into opposition or is that seat too comfortable?

  • Michael Henry

    Your hating a lot of local people there CJ2-do you think most get it handy whilst you don’t -the Assembly does not have tax powers yet- they should but they don’t- so blame the big bad Brit system all you want-

  • Comrade Stalin

    Well, I think SF can take the credit for dragging the British to the table to negotiate concessions against their original proposals. But they don’t have any power to do anything else and should stop pretending that they do.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Actually the assembly most certainly does have tax powers. The DUP, with the support of Sinn Féin, has implemented a freeze in the regional rates almost since devolution was reintroduced.

    It’s not easy to make the case for the British government to continue subsidizing rates which remain substantially lower than council taxes, and an absence of water charges.

  • gendjinn

    Comrade Stalin,

    SF are implementing an election promise. How is that pathetic grandstanding? I know you don’t like almost anything SF does, that’s fine, but the people who voted for them want them to implement their policies and they are.

    How will the UK govt force SF to back down? I can’t think of anything that doesn’t play to SF’s base.

    There are two major reasons why they won’t back down no matter the cost:
    1. Westminster cutting money to NI slowly eliminates one of the pillars used to justify partition – that Ireland cannot afford the subvention. Well SF are cutting that.
    2. If they implement it they will be absolutely crucified politically in the south. We already hear the lies from SF opponents that they are for austerity in the north but opposed to it in the south. Can you think of anything that can coerce SF into that political blunder?

  • gendjinn

    We certainly will. I think you are failing to separate the views of everyone with the views of SF voters. SF will easily spin it as the big bad Brits once more screwing NI and their supporters will lap it up.

  • gendjinn

    “The whole point of Welfare Reform is to get people back to work”

    Ah for jaysus sake Morpheus, you really buy that? The whole point of Welfare Reform is exactly what it always is – taking money from the poor & giving it to the rich. What else do you expect from Torys?

    Howabout not building a useless aircraft carrier? Howabout disposing of the useless nuclear bombs and supporting infrastructure? There’s plenty of money to solve the problems, but it might mean a few rich people have to give up their second yacht.

  • chrisjones2

    I dont hate any one. Pointing out our how a system is abused is not ‘hate’. The benefits system is broken and needs fixed to protect those who genuinely need benefits while weeding out the scroungers.

  • chrisjones2

    As for tax powers dream on. The Government is offering tax powers on a zero sum basis ie Stormont will swing by its own tail if it ever gets them and do you think of where the money to pay the taxes comes from?

    At the moment its all from Westminster and expect the next Government there to cut it by about 25% IN REAL TERMS over 5 years

  • chrisjones2

    How will the UK govt force SF to back down?

    It doesn’t want to. SF are irrelevant to the British Government it will just cut and cut the budget until the Stormont pips squeak. Your post simply reflects the inward looking nature of SFs position

  • chrisjones2

    “their supporters will lap it up”

    So what. What do they do? Vote SF twice?

    Or support the Dissers as SF seem useless? Whoops!!

  • chrisjones2

    “£750m will be taken from the NI economy EVERY YEAR”

    THe block grant wasn’t to change because of this – although it will drop anyway because of wider macroeconomic policy – just the distribution of the money was to change. Now the ‘fines’ will increase and next time the Government may feel a dose of regionalised benefits coming on ie what should they fund unemployment benefit at the same level here as in say Aylesbury

    Thats when it really gets fun

    But Stormont can find the gap. Why for example are Civil Service wages here 30% higher than the public sector> Hundreds of millions to be saved there. Untimately our MLAS will have to choose between client groups

  • mickfealty

    Who pays the piper, etc, etc..

  • mickfealty

    Another cart without a horse Morph? [Ill just throw in that this is a paper resistance to a substantially modified welfare reformed package shaped with active approval of OFMdFM].

    In the meantime, the SDLP’s fear of being out of step with SF has deprived them of an independent voice on the matter and ensures that SF won’t suffer at the ballot box.

  • Morpheus

    The unexplained horse cliche again? Oh joy.

    Don’t you think the people of Northern Ireland need to know how much will be taken out of our economy, what impact the loss will have – on not just the most vulnerable but everyone – and what plans the ‘powers that be’ have to mitigate the loss and minimize the impact? I sure do. If he can stand up and show us that there is at least a plan beyond ‘do what the Tories say and bollix to the consequences’ then I am all ears

    As I said, of course we need cuts. But we need smart ones, not blindly chopping off a limb because Cameron said so

  • Morpheus

    This has very little to do with SF at this stage CS, the ball is very much in court of the NI Finance Minister. I have listed just a few steps above that he could take to reassure the people of Northern Ireland that he knows how much will be taken out of our economy, he knows the impact of that loss and has a plan in place to mitigate that loss. Hell, if he can stand up and confirm that hundreds of millions of our money won’t be handed back to Westminster due to underspend that would be a start.

    Mick seems to think that’s putting the cart before the horse but I like to think that Northern Ireland PLC is run a little better than ‘ach sure we’ll do it and see how it goes’

    This is an interesting article giving an insight into Labour’s attitude towards Welfare Reform:
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/05/welfare-reform-waste-duncan-smith-universal-credit

  • Morpheus

    Benefit fraud in NI is tiny CJ – the DSD confirmed that the total level of benefit fraud estimated to be in the system in 2011 was £19m.

    http://www.thedetail.tv/issues/159/benefit-fraud/benefit-fraud-in-northern-ireland-what-the-data-shows

    Social security payments in that time totaled £7,954m so 0.24% was the estimated level of fraud. Although £19m is still £19m too much that leaves 99.76% of all payments not fraudulent. So to me hitting those who can least afford it is not the way to go, especially when there are cases like this when a big business walked away from a £4,800m tax liability

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/oct/22/vodafone-tax-case-leaves-sour-taste

  • Comrade Stalin

    It is not necessary to commit benefit fraud in order to abuse the benefit system.

    In a debate such as the issue of the bedroom tax there are two sides. The implementation is clumsy and insensitive, but fundamentally it is unfair that a couple whose children have moved out can live in a three-bedroom council house when there are families on the waiting list.

  • Morpheus

    I agree with you CS, as long as there is somewhere for the couple to go. How many couples are in this category? How many 1-bedroom social houses have been built? Who gets priority on those that do exist, this couple or an elderly widow for example?

    Don’t you think answers to these sorts of questions should have been answered and reassurances given that there was at least a plan of action BEFORE blindly agreeing to implement these cuts?

    Again, cuts are needed. But they need to be smart and we should make savings where they can be made before taking away from those who can least afford it.

    This kack-handed attempt is not smart.

  • barnshee

    It quite simple really the paymaster has spoken

    Yousens have got wot you got

    Divide it up as you wish -there are costs associated with your decisions -they are however YOUR decisions

    PS when SF(mostly) gibber about tax powers -ask them

    What new taxes do they propose?

    What current taxes will they remove?

    What current tax rates will they?

    Accountability is as Yeats said is “dropping slow” but dropping it is

  • gendjinn

    Well as it was about how SF will behave & react now and in the future, so despite your insult it seems you agree.

  • chrisjones2

    Thats figure of 0.24% ifs 10% of the UK figure and the NI Civil Service never admits fraud or error anway. But I wasn’t focusing on fraud per se but the broken nature of the system itself IT does nothing to reward working people – it undermines them and it is abused by those who manipulate the system

  • chrisjones2

    They can react as they wish. IT will only damage people in NI – the Brits don’t give a damn

  • chrisjones2

    “they should stop grabbing the peoples money from The Assembly” ….which people’s money? Those in Darlington or Birmingham?

  • Morpheus

    As I said, £19M is still £19m too much but your figures are waaaaaay off – UK government figures for 2012 estimate benefits overpaid due to fraud is £1.2 billion and tax credit fraud is £380 million. and also they don’t seem to have any problem admitting fraud

    The system is manipulated because it is not strong enough to withstand manipulation. If we invested an extra £5m a year on ensuring that only those who were entitled to benefits get benefits then we would be £14m better off.

    But Welfare Reform has feck all todio with benefit fraud

  • Zeno1

    “Why for example are Civil Service wages here 30% higher than the public sector”

    Most in the Private Sector are paid slave wages. The minimum wage is not even enough to live on.

    I think you mean Public Service rather than Civil Service, if I remember correctly the Civil Service only employs around 26,000 Staff.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t know the answer to those questions and of course I’m not pretending that the reforms are right or appropriate. But we’re being told that the “bedroom tax” is fundamentally unjust and I have trouble accepting that.

    It’s not right that a family of four or five could be on a waiting list for a council house when there are older couples whose families have left with spare homes. Older couples who own their own property often sell their house to move into a smaller one.

  • Comrade Stalin

    SF are implementing an election promise.

    SF’s approach to this matter reminds me of the unionists are implementing election promises to get the Parades Commission abolished. You can shout and scream all you want, it’s not going to happen and you don’t have the power to make it happen.

    Punishing one part of the electorate by cutting back on public services in order to be seen to be upholding a manifesto pledge is just bad politics. Nobody gets to implement their entire manifesto when in power. The two coalition parties in both Dublin and London have had to go back on manifesto pledges for the higher goal of maintaining a stable government and taking difficult decisions.

    I know you don’t like almost anything SF does, that’s fine, but the people who voted for them want them to implement their policies and they are.

    I’m obviously not an SF supporter so the first part stands to reason. I don’t dismiss everything SF do out of hand, and I think they’ve done some good recently. McGuinness meeting the Queen for example. That was real leadership.

    But here they’re not showing leadership. They’re actually holding the other ~70% of those who voted and who oppose their stance to ransom. That isn’t right and SF would not get away with it if they were part of a coalition in the Dáil.

    There are two major reasons why they won’t back down no matter the cost:

    The only possible cost that SF need to be concerned about is whether or not they lose votes, alongside the secondary cost of whether they do the country real damage. (where are the £27m cuts to the Justice Dept going to fall ? Probably on community policing .. where SF will no doubt dutifully vote them through the Police Board ..)

    If they believe they can wave a thing like this through without consequences it suggests that they regard their electorate as mere unthinking sheep. That is of course a matter for them.

    But I think it’s arrogant to assume there isn’t a breaking point. SF’s very public defence of welfare spending contrasts neatly with their absence of any kind of comment over the state of the Health Service, especially A&E. If SF took a stand over the disgraceful state of casualty wards over the weekends I’d find it hard not to support them, especially if they were promoting increasing local taxation in order to improve the situation. Instead they apparently haven’t got a single word to say about it. Isn’t there an SF manifesto pledge on preserving health care ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Of course, if they’re a bit more intelligent they might perceive this as being the same as the Irish government claiming that all of their cuts down there are caused by the Big Bad Germans.

    But then again it wouldn’t be the first time SF are inconsistent in their approach either side of the border.

    I actually don’t think SF supporters are that stupid. They know the British control the money, and they know that the British have no reason to simply give in to requests for more. How can they ? – the Scottish and Welsh governments would immediately have a claim to unequal treatment.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Not sure .. the Finance Minister has said that the British have already been pushed as far as they can go.

    But both the DUP and SF are running an economic policy of avoiding increases in the regional rate or introducing water charges. This is causing a hole of something like £200m which we’re already plugging by cutting services, and now we are having to cut back more in order to allow SF to save face.

  • Zeno1

    What new taxes do they propose?

    What current taxes will they remove?

    What current tax rates will they?

    ————–
    Good question. Maybe one the SF Economists will tell us.

  • gendjinn

    Broadly agree with you, especially about casualty wards.

    I’m not advocating for SFs position, I disagree with the analysis that what they are doing is harmful to their future electoral prospects and in fact buckling on this issue would be harmful to their southern project.

  • gendjinn

    Well yeah, that’s my point. They will react as they wish. Reducing the subvention to NI eats away at the economic argument Unionists use to oppose re-unification. Agree that the Brits don’t give a damn, but SF supporters endorse their position so it won’t harm them politically.

    Remember, “making NI work” is a necessary project for Unionism to survive, it certainly isn’t for the Nationalist project to succeed.

  • gendjinn

    It has nothing to do with intelligence and I’ll refer you to this cartoon for my position on your intelligence quip.

    You are glossing over the gigantic distinction between the Troika & UK. Ireland is technically a sovereign country that should have told the French & Germans to FO when they insisted the country nationalise the bad loans the French & Germans made. There is a reason why you get interest on a loan – it’s to compensate you for the risk & inflation (but mostly the risk). If there is no risk in the loan, then there shouldn’t be an interest rate.

    Don’t you understand that SF getting told no by the UK only tends to rev up their base? Especially if it’s the Tories. The people that are criticising SF for their position are the very same people that will never vote for them. So why pay any heed?

  • gendjinn

    No. There is this thing called “voter intensity” which when increased, results in greater turnout at the polls.

  • Mister_Joe

    Comrade, The debate about the bedroom tax isn’t as simple as you say. The people in the 3 bedroom house might have lived there for 30 years and may be part of a long time community where all their friends live. And they may have grandchildren who want to visit for the weekend say. So they just shouldn’t be turfed out willy nilly without other accomodation being provided not too far away, if that is their desire.

  • Cal Murray

    And then there is the 100,000,000 to find to replace the non-allocation of money to CAP Pillar 2, another victory for the DUP and big farmers (and Slugger).

    Strange the desire to give free money to farmers but not to poor people.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I appreciate that Joe and a way has to be found to deal with that sensitively.

    My parents have lived in their (privately owned) house for 36 years. They’re considering selling it and moving into a smaller house because the upkeep is easier and the heating (etc) costs are lower, and it also gives them a bit of cash to pad their retirement with.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m actually mostly in agreement about the Troika but I doubt it was as simple as that. The Irish government at the time came under incredible pressure not only from Germany and nearby powers but from the White House. The decision to turn around and tell these powerful countries to go and get stuffed is not straightforward when it could lead to financial and diplomatic isolation.

    The sovereignty of any country is inherently limited by the realpolitik. That’s why I think the comparison with the assembly is entirely apt. In both cases, one side is advocating a course of action which is not possible.

    Don’t you understand that SF getting told no by the UK only tends to rev up their base? Especially if it’s the Tories.

    I’m trying to credit SF voters with a little more intelligence than that. An SF voter continuing to vote for SF isn’t going to change the British government’s position; but it’s certainly going to damage public service delivery here.

    I’m also not completely convinced that SF are internally united on this issue. There were claims a few weeks/months back that a deal had been reached on this matter but that it was vetoed by the leadership in Dublin.

    My hope/belief is that people will see that voting for parties as a way to give two fingers to the British government and the Tories accomplishes little except endorsing economic mismanagement and bad government. I wonder how much pain will we all have to take before we get there.

    The people that are criticising SF for their position are the very same people that will never vote for them. So why pay any heed?

    I’m not going to predict that SF will lose votes in the short term because of this, as that would be silly. But in the medium to long term, SF are taking their electorate for granted and acting as if they can do whatever they want if it plays to their outrage about the Tories. That isn’t a safe game to play.

  • gendjinn

    I know from my own contact in the Department of Foreign Affairs that it was the Germans and French government that brought the pressure to bear with threats of grave consequences to Ireland within the EU. Didn’t hear anything about the WH intervening but that doesn’t mean they didn’t.

    The consequences of nationalising the debt is catastrophic for Ireland, not sure the threats from the EU could have been as bad. However, Kenny is an incompetent, spineless, coward and folded like a wet paper bag. Most times the only way to deal with bullying is to stand up and tell him to FO, not cower. Alas, the moment was lost and Ireland was shafted.

    It’s only economic mismangement if you accept the Tory lies that the only solution is the punish the poor and reward the rich. Over 30 years of Thatcher & Reagan have proved that’s a crock. There is plenty of money in the UK, it’s just being wasted on tax cuts for London and the military.

    I agree with you about the difference in short vs long term and in my opinion the only way SF changes their position is if their voters punish them for it. There’s a large irrational element here that abuse from the UK/Tories only hardens the resolve of SF voters, to a degree unrelated to the pain they feel. If their supporters kept voting for them while the UK was murdering them (members and their voters) then I don’t see a little economic discomfort being that important a motivation to change.

    The merits of the situation are currently overwhelmed by the echoes of conflict with the British state & the Tories in particular.