“Assembly election campaign characterised by superficial discussions on ‘bread and butter issues’.”

Interesting now that the election is over that suddenly the truth emerges about the DUP and Sinn Fein’s footsie over their joint prepping of the next Programme for Government: yet when I asked Gerry Kelly early on Saturday afternoon he was cagey, to say the least (2-50 in).

Excellent from Steven McCaffrey at The Detail, on how this was a choreographed election. It’s worth reading it all, but here’s how he concludes:

A critical analysis of Stormont’s last Programme for Government (PfG) revealed that nearly half its pledges were not met, while there were question-marks over many of the supposed ‘achievements’.

The findings, available here, made a mockery of manifesto commitments paraded during the campaign.

The PfG review also revisited the scandal of the Social Investment Fund – Stormont’s £80million poverty fund delayed in the last Assembly term over what insiders claimed was a row around whether more of the money should go to deprived Catholic or deprived Protestant communities. Politicians made claims, counter claims and denials at the time the story was first reported here.

Separate to that, the High Court in Belfast ruled in June 2015 that Stormont failed to meet a legal obligation to deliver an anti-poverty strategy for Northern Ireland based on objective need.

If similar questions emerged at Westminster over how poverty was being tackled across sections of society, it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t resurface as a major election issue, but it disappeared around Stormont.

Somehow, similar amnesia surrounded the scandals over Assembly expenses and the international controversy over the Nama property sale. Voters were also left in the dark about who is funding political parties and what influence, if any, donors secure for their generosity.

As a result of all this, political leaders enjoyed a trouble-free election.

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  • Teddybear

    Identifying party doners would be problematic in NI. Imagine how people would feel if they found out their employer funded SF or DUP If they have hurts against those parties. We just haven’t reached that level of maturity here.

  • Granni Trixie

    If not now – when? We absolutely need transparency.

  • On a purely financial basis, Fresh Start has always been the financial foundation for moving ahead. In the end the crisis was all about money. Moving forward there is little room to manoeuvre. The notion that there will be a ‘two weeks’ discussion on the PfG is a farce. It has been set since Fresh Start. No sure where the ‘ secret’ choreography is. Promises had to be limited into what has already been agreed. Nothing new here, move along.

  • chrisjones2

    On the other hand what is you are bidding for contracts and know that the ‘winner’ just happens to have bunged the party thousands or lavishly entertained senior Party figures? Some local business people tell me that they no longer bid for public contracts here as they will not pay people off and therefore see it as pointless

  • Korhomme

    So it’s no surprise then that 45% of the electorate went for the ‘Apathy’ party rather than TINA?

  • Teddybear

    When people no longer fear being shunned or having bricks (or worse) thrown through their windows for the world knowing their political preferences.

  • Granni Trixie

    There are many sensitive high profile type jobs in NI context as well as those of politicans. The people employed have no security but just live their lives ‘normally’ whereas prior to GFA /ceasefires they would have had security provided ( and this is something Of which I have first hand experience).
    So things have moved on even though policemen and judges I imagine still have to be v carefuL Politicians I know who have been threatened or indeed have had bricks thrown through their home or office windows are the very people calling for transparency over party donors. people should be able to judge who might have a conflict of interests. This antidote to the corrosive effect of corruption cannot put off any longer,

  • Teddybear

    I hear you but it’s still too dangerous at this point in time. Those politicians calling for transparency may not be from parties that evoke visceral hatred such as Alliance or Greens. I bet SF/DUP aren’t calling for it!

    This is up there with bringing down the peace walls. Unlike Berlin the people near the walls feel protected by them. We don’t want any more Bombay Street burnings. The folk memory is still there and lingers long.

  • chrisjones2

    I always find that with few exceptions the best way is to let them say what they wish …then watch them make edjits of themselves or demonstrate just how narrow and bigoted they are

  • chrisjones2

    of course the DUP arent calling for it

  • Teddybear

    Yes and it will only get worse now that our councils have control over planning permission. Time to invest in brown envelopes

  • Teddybear

    Well SF still think murdering innocent people was a swell idea. All for what? To be minister for agriculture etc? I suppose Bobby Sands wrote a poem about that one

  • Teddybear

    Here here

  • Teddybear

    Yeah. The sweetness of no NHS, a public sector defecit that ROI can’t afford. V few ‘nationalists’ actually want a so called United Ireland (whatever that means). It’s only a pipe dream for extremists and romanticists

  • Granni Trixie

    Don’t entirely understand your ref to Alliance but for the record Alliance politicans have indeed been threatened and more than threatened and the party is one calling for making doners names public – as well as minutes of meetings where decisions such as planning or awarding money are decided.

  • Granni Trixie

    What on earth are you on about? Did Mary send you?

  • Teddybear

    I take your point.

  • murdockp

    just show that they donated and don’t identify the party, the DUP / SF act as an entity in any case stitching the whole thing up. It makes no difference which party actually received the cash.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well we don’t know what questions were being asked at the doorsteps, but the point is that in the political debates, in the Nolan Show question sessions, in the BBC The View interviews and in the newspaper coverage and hustings.

    No one really wanted to ask these questions. The Nolan Show is steered by a handful of BBCNI producers and Nolan himself, it’s clearly not the Biggest Show of what the “country” has to ask.

    Did Lucid Talk really care about NAMA, the SIF or poverty to bother to ask any questions about these matters?

    And let’s talk about The Detail, that group it did, was it aware that it needed a better marketing campaign to capture public confidence?

    Killing the Civil Forum pretty much highlights the fear of political discourse among the commons by the Stormont elite. Civil conversation makes one extra avenue of engagement we can use to channel our energies into real political debates and broad social choices.

  • Declan Doyle

    The ‘pipe dream’ is a real possibility for those who actually look at the facts and figures and dispense with the the sneering denials.

  • Declan Doyle

    Unionists did their fair share of murdering to protect their plantation. All for what? To eventually be forced to share it with the Taigs? I suppose Carson wrote a poem about that one

  • AMORR86

    It was part of DUP manifesto.

  • Msiegnaro

    Well apathy was expect to get in excess of 50% of the vote so they did less well than expected and as said before most of the 45% are more than happy with the status quo.

  • Granni Trixie

    What does it matter if journalists overlook corruption – cant let that influence political parties agendas or the vision they presumably work towards implementing- which presumably includes a society where backhanders etc are not tolerated.

  • Skibo

    To a certain extent you can say they are happy with the status quo. There are a considerable amount out there not happy but not sure how to do anything about it. How we put a figure to how many is beyond me.

  • Msiegnaro

    Behave.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I don’t fully blame the media, because obviously without the media these stories wouldn’t be well known. I think with corruption the issue is not a matter of vision in political office, but one of restraint.

  • Korhomme

    The changes to the system for getting on the electoral register may mean that younger voters are put off; perhaps they are the ‘missing’ 5%. Perhaps the 45% are ‘happy’ with the status quo; but perhaps they don’t see any realistic change in politics here, thinking that voting is just a waste of time. And after recent revelations suggesting that SF and DUP have stitched things up, voting might well be a waste of time.

  • Skibo

    Teddybear I thought those comments were resigned to the dustbin of the past. Are you thinking of joining us at some time in the present?

  • Granni Trixie

    Surely more like elimination? I was thinking more in terms of the norm being that corruption is a no no and that for political parties striving to realise their vision of a fair society it is a matter of finding ways or ridding politics of corruption.
    Put it another way – until last year I had no idea that some party(s) are tolerating corruption. It isn’t good enough and I expect something to be done about it this time round.

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