Ó Muilleoir has a huge opportunity to reshape the economics of Nationalism & Northern Ireland

Mairtín Ó Muilleoir is the first Nationalist MLA to hold an economic brief for 14 years and the first from Sinn Fein.

Our new Finance Minister has only been in the Assembly for two years, but now he has a real opportunity to do something for his party and wider nationalism.

For years, I have heard on shows from Nolan to Talkback pundits saying Nationalists just don’t really do economics. We have the enthusiasm and the idealism, but not much in terms of hard economic facts. Much of the time this has been fair comment as politicians have been tripped up over numbers and the ability to develop a coherent economic narrative.

Now,  Ó Muilleoir has the chance has Finance Minister to show that economic competence is not the preserve of the DUP and wider Unionism.

I have heard some pundits over the last day talk about the challenges facing him, but I think that one persons challenge, can another persons opportunity to break out with new thinking and new insights.

John Manley reported this morning that Mairtin has some bad news coming his way and further economic news out shows that Northern Ireland has the lowest disposable income in the UK.

These are challenges that will have to be tackled and if Mairtin plays his cards right, these problems can be his opportunity to redefine how Nationalists approach government in Northern Ireland. He can use bad news, to make the case to his Executive colleagues and his party that following the status quo is not an option anymore. There is a powerful quartet there in Simon Hamilton, Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness, who can push economic reforms forward.

Northern Ireland in essence needs a leaner and faster government. When I interviewed him over a year ago, he identified that these issues are a problem at Stormont. Now, he is in an opportune position to actually change this. Chris Donnelly has rightly identified the frustration within Nationalism is not that their representatives are not left wing enough, it’s the lack of delivery.

Reforms are difficult, yes he will likely have to introduce cuts. But again, if he cuts were needed and spends wisely, he can be a Finance Minister that can boast of genuine growth and halting the slide of economy.

Since 2007, Northern Ireland has largely had play it safe Finance Ministers, who have been cautious and in some respects unimaginative when it came to reforming our government and how we raise money for it.

With no SDLP & UUP opposing from within, no elections on the horizon and a new First Minister with enormous political capital, this Minister can really do things, if he is so minded.

The only thing he can do to squander this is try to and fight a rear-guard action that places more focus on the Treasury and fight battles that were settled at the 2015 election. Mairtin needs to show that he understands the problems and has a credible solution for them.

This minister has more opportunities than challenges ahead, he can help rebrand his party and wider Nationalism as managers of the economy, but more importantly he could help turn around our economic prospects.

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  • Gaz

    lets hope he spends more time in Northern Ireland and cuts out the trips to the USA-I wish him well but needs to cut out unnecessary transatlantic travel.

  • Ernekid

    I wish him all the best. If I were him, I’d prioritise organising a meeting with his counterpart in Dublin Michael Noonan in order to help coordinate a cohesive cross border fiscal strategy.

    The extent of All Ireland cooperation has stagnated in recent years. If Sinn Fein are serious about bringing Nationalism forward they need to increase the level of day to day cooperation on an all Ireland basis.

    It’s clear that Northern Ireland isn’t going to get anymore help or attention from an increasingly remote and detached British government. Sinn Feins priority should be selling the benefits of increasing cooperation on an Island basis. There’s massive potential in increasing all Ireland cooperation in areas like Tourism, Infrastructure, Healthcare and Agriculture.

  • murdockp

    I wish I could be hopeful, but I can’t help thinking this is going to be a disaster.

    Sinn Fein detest the accumulation of wealth and in turn this ire is focused at the private sector. They are the first group to be seen supporting walkouts, strikes, keeping dead duck industries open etc.

    Northern Ireland needs finance and economy ministers that have a strategy to grow the economy, rather that just raising taxation from the ever decreasing high earning people and companies that are able to be taxed in NI.

    This was summed up for me when the SF delegation met up with Corbyn following his Labour leadership success the first time I saw SF looking happy in the prescience of British Politicians.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/sep/13/corbyn-election-labour-leader-scepticism-international-press

    My personal fears were realised locally when I read his O’Muilleoir’s policy in March calling for higher business rates to be leveed on long term vacant property

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/northern-ireland-landlords-may-pay-the-price-for-empty-units-34579139.html

    This is disturbing as the reason long term vacant property exists in the first place is due to high business rates.. Even a child who has parents who work will be discriminated against in getting a into a school of their choice, such is the grip of the loony left in NI.

    If Irish Republicans want a united Ireland they need to align public expenditure to that of the Irish Republic which is a reduction of £2,000 per head. But this will never happen as SF throw money at their pet projects that society does not need or want.
    What will happen is the inefficiencies in the NI civil service will be ignored, the private sector will be taxed harder, the red tape will continue to choke us and other difficult decisions will kicked down the road.
    I have to say when I saw that SF landed finance, I shook my head in despair.

  • Nimn

    I’m not as confident that Mairtin can make the kind of difference that the article suggests. It seems to conflate the role of Finance Minister with the Economy brief. Since Simon Hamilton and Peter Robinson went off on a solo run looking for a Wonga loan in 2014 HMT have been calling the shots here on balancing budgets and cutting cost from the public sector. Fresh Start is a s much a straightjacket as it is opportunity.

    To achieve CT the Executive must deliver on welfare reform and balance the budget.
    In terms of raising finance we have dodged the water charges bullet and we have not investigated infrastructure borrowing through EIB in any serious way – but this needs to be managed in such a way to take borrowing ‘off balance sheet’.

    I suspect that Mairtin will be spending most of his time managing a budget where demand constantly outstrips supply and where there are no junior partners in government which they can short change anymore.

  • mickfealty

    Yes, I agree. If he can take the heat. This time every little ‘neo liberal’ thing he does/says will be noted in the Assembly and sent to PBP’s ‘southern command’.

    The territory that Mairtin comfortably operates in may have leadership sanction, but it’s well outside the current political envelope of the party’s southern troops.

  • scepticacademic

    hard to see any grounds for optimism about the NI economy, regardless of who wears the Finance or Economy hats up at Stormont

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    I do recall various Shinners putting forward the notion that NI was not as dependent on the Exchequer as some would have us think.

    Now that a Shinner has access to the ‘books’ can we expect an announcement soon that the subvention figures are all a dastardly Brit lie and actually ‘The North’ is quids in with the rest of the U.K.; consequently it’s green light on for a UI by the end of the (financial) year?

    Still aside from such macro issues, with this new man at the helm can we look forward to an explosion (!) in the government-funded grants culture?

    Who knows it might be some newspaper’s front page lead in the next few days.

  • kensei

    If the business rates are high and there are no business rates on empty property, the incentive is to have vacant property. Putting business rates on vacant property just removes that incentive.

  • murdockp

    In 20 years as a chartered surveyor, I have not met a landlord who holds property as an investment who wants their property to sit empty. If the rates were low or non existent the property would be let as the laws for demand and supply would kick in. Empty properties deteriorate and are vandalised with no one in them. Landlords do not like this.
    Is it fair to tax a landlord who has his property on the market for £1.00 rent per annum but cant get a tenant as the rates are £30k per annum? this is the reality of NI in 2016.
    Don’t confuse unlettable vacant property with land banking for major development. I am not talking abut that.
    You need to go and talk to landlords to understand how difficult it is in NI with high rates.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Mairtín Ó Muilleoir is an impressive polymath who could add many new ideas from the real world: a refreshing change from the professional machine politicals who so dominate. I only hope he will be one of many outsiders across the 4 nations who will render the sclerotic consensus an endangered species.

  • Msiegnaro

    Are you referring to housing Landlords or business premise landlords?

  • Msiegnaro

    A self made millionaire, perhaps the most qualified person to ever hold this position.

  • Jollyraj

    “If I were him, I’d prioritise organising a meeting with his counterpart in Dublin Michael Noonan in order to help coordinate a cohesive cross border fiscal strategy.”

    Well, no doubt that would be on the To Do list somewhere – first priority would be to meet with the budgeters over in London, to make sure he’s reading from the right page from the start.

  • mickfealty

    Yep, spot on. The elision is a useful one, but only if he can work a positive sum game with Simon, who’s at least as smart and probably a great deal more liberal than Máirtín.

    But it’s always been easier to see Máirtín in his public pitches than in his delivery. Great storyteller, now is his chance to prove the previously thought impossible can be true. Or not.

  • Msiegnaro

    Things are not that bad.

  • Msiegnaro

    Mick, I don’t like Sinn Fein but this is a genius move by them, a self made millionaire put in charge of finances. This individual has exactly the correct the amount of real life experience as well as being successful in his field. The icing on the cake is that he is politically nurtured with this being his second term in politics.

  • Kevin Breslin

    We’ve already had an Irish nationalist Finance Minister David in the North, are you suggesting that having a third one is going to drastically reshape Northern Nationalism. The inference here is that a Nationalist in Finance should increase the overall Nationalist vote, was that the case when Mark Durkan was chosen (even if it was a rival nationalist party that benefited)?

    What will our new “Aire Airgeadais” be able to do to reshape politics simply from his financial portfolio any differently.

    His first job may be to deal with the potential £56 million finance loss if the UK leaves the EU.

  • David McCann

    Who was there for less than two years and two collapses during that period. MOM has stability and five years to do things.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Even 2 years is still a period where some political/economic outcomes and associations could be studied.

    Another issue, having read more of your blog is that Mairtin is not shaping the economics of Northern Nationalism but that of Sinn Féin in the North.

    Nationalism is not Sinn Féin, it’s not even Sinn Féin, SDLP, FF and all the other parties representing it combined.

    There is always the potential that Sinn Féin’s policies may not go down well with the Nationalist electorate, have little impact on the non-Nationalist electorate to consider unity even if there is greater delivery in some areas.

    I wish him all the best of course.

  • Msiegnaro

    Will Noonan really want to know? Considering the constraints the ROI face they probably see us an a distraction.

  • He’s not a Chancellor of the Exchequer, he’s the designated bean-counter.

    Which, if he can keep his mind off the produce in his local Sainsbury’s, he should be able to manage. [Are you serious? – Ed]

    Then again, it looks like he’s started as he means to go on…

    This is not a role I will take lightly and I am acutely aware of the challenges ahead, not least that we are operating within the constraints of austerity imposed at Westminster and increased demand for services.

    As for this

    Since 2007, Northern Ireland has largely had play it safe Finance Ministers, who have been cautious and in some respects unimaginative when it came to reforming our government and how we raise money for it.

    With no SDLP & UUP opposing from within, no elections on the horizon and a new First Minister with enormous political capital, this Minister can really do things, if he is so minded.

    The only real stumbling block to imaginative reform in that time has been the failure of the DUP and Sinn Féin to agree what to do. The UUP and the SDLP could not block anything within the Executive if those other two parties agreed to do it.

    Time will tell whether the same stumbling block still exists.

    But come back and tell us if/when he actually does something.

    Corporation Tax should be on the agenda soon enough…

  • Neil

    Well something’s clearly going awry somewhere. Consider the oft quoted 10 bn net subvention. Yet somehow we have the poorest people in the UK. The security budget is often quoted as the reason why, yet it is ‘only’ 860 million pounds, so how can it be that NI needs an additional approximately 9 bn quid to get by, yet the people who live here are the poorest in the UK?

    Are we spending the money on roads? Clearly not. Health? It would be odd if it were the case, as we’ve been breaching targets that would have the English public howling with rage from the get go. It is very, very odd that somehow these incredible sums of money are being pumped in, and it just seems to vanish into the ether.

    I would anticipate that the fact that we’re surrounded by English based national or multi national companies probably accounts for a chunk. Certainly people’s grocery bills are probably their main expense, and how many of the supermarkets are NI owned and registered? Here’s hoping we find out more, but something is very, very strange in this basket case economy of ours that we can take around 6000 quid per person in handouts and just make it vanish without people becoming wealthier.

  • mickfealty

    Yes. But do you see Nimn’s point? Finance is not the economy brief. To put it crudely, he’s to be the bagman for the Executive.

    He will take his orders from ‘Marlene’. Beyond that, without a diligent and trusted working partnership with Hamilton, he’s completely goosed.

    He has no executive experience inside Government. His time as a NED at NI Water was short and borne of a particularly acute political expedience.

    [It would be worth opening a thread on ‘whatever happened to former DRD Minister Conor Murphy’ if it wouldn’t lead to a whole bunch of man playing and groundless speculation.]

    Talk to DUP ministers (or anyone who has worked at this level) and they will tell you it takes wit and experience to prize the politics of government away from the Permanent Government.

    If Mairtin has ambition it’ll take five years to get to base one with his Perm Sec. [A cautious breed adverse to having to use their parachutes because they gave in to reckless amateurs].

    In constantly breaking the careers of their own ministers SF’s unelected AC has been meekly handing all their actual power to change things back to the senior Civil Service.

    Who will put manners on whom exactly?

  • Skibo

    Mick I think you could have over estimated Simon there. I think the guy talks ok but it is mainly waffle. Listen when he is asked a question how he goes off on a tangent talking about something else completely not relating to the question at all and talk about hard to get him to stop talking.

  • Skibo

    Mike be fair here. The DUP ministers are like a merry-go round the way they were moved about. Peter had too many people he owed that he had to keep rotating the ministries mid term. Hardly a way of creating stability within a ministry. Are you going to blame the AC for that also?

  • mickfealty

    I was trying to play the ball, rather than the man there Skib. I was dealing with the elision in the boundary between the Economy brief which offers opportunity for policy innovation and Finance and Personnel (which doesn’t).

    On the waffle thing, we could say given the record of the last nine years there’s been an awful lot of talk and no action around the table. As I said in my own summative post on the new Executive, Simon talked a good game at health, but will be glad /relived now to go somewhere he can spend money on some visible returns.

    It’s all waffle until they actually do something. Tick, tock…

  • mickfealty

    That would be ‘Mick’… You need a rotation if you are going to keep a coalition together. But I put it to you that Michelle is the only SF minister ever to get a second go. That’s down to the AC.

  • Skibo

    Corporation will be an interesting one. We need further negotiations on how the benefits of any jobs produced from this policy is divided. As far as I am aware, NI would have to surrender so much of their budget each year to make up for the revenue lost to the Exchequer but would not receive any benefit from income tax or employers liability from jobs created.
    This would be a good place for Mairtin to start.
    When on the job a for a while, maybe he could confirm what it actually costs to run NI and how much we actually raise in direct and indirect taxation.

  • Skibo

    Apologies Mick, that’s a new woman for you as us country folk would say.
    If Sinn Fein are not at war, why do you think there is an AC? Is that not a name tag of the past?
    Does DUP of SDLP or UUP have an AC? If not how do they make any decisions?

  • barnshee

    Vacant property is rated and charged as such giving the incentive to pull the roof off

  • mickfealty

    Rather than have me explain my view on this again, have a listen to this and tell me what you think?

  • Skibo

    I actually agree that Economy would always have been the plumb job to go for. You would be moving in business circles and meeting powerful people. The kind of people SF need to be meeting.
    It could be that SF thinks that they will have a bigger control on the monetering round holding finance.

  • I’m expecting a lot of left-wing outflanking of Sinn Féin during this Assembly term. Any cuts under Ó Muilleoir’s watch will be met by an avalanche of populist opposition, and PBP seem likely to benefit from this. 8,299 votes in West Belfast could very easily become a 5-figure sum come 2021. The SDLP will probably also follow this strategy. The party’s bourgeois image, however, will likely hinder their efforts bearing any sizeable electoral fruit.

  • mickfealty

    Or it could be that they just rolled over, and took Finance as the better cover?

  • mickfealty

    The SDLP in the Durkan era and after missed something important about politics. It’s in part about segmenting the electorate. They’d be advised to do something that is complementary to the PBP line of attack.

    If they have serious ambitions for government they cannot use the same line. PBP doesn’t want into office, the SDLP does. Or at least they are representing people who want to see them go back in. And that should be the point of voting for them.

    The SDLP therefore will have to find a more nuanced but popular (as opposed to populist) way into the policy jungle.

  • Skibo

    D’Hondt decides who gets first pick so until SF can return as the largest party, they will always have at least second pick.

  • belfastconfetti

    Now that the ‘give us the money or we’ll shoot you’ approach to Westminister has worn a bit thin, it strikes me that he’ll principally be the Minister in charge of Austerity.

  • Skibo

    First things first, I have been that used to arguing my position with some of your staunch Unionist clientèle had assumed that you meant Army Council by AC rather than Ard Comhairle.
    I accept that as Martin is not the leader or even deputy leader of SF, he cannot make a decision outside that agreed by Ard C but is that not good practice?
    He is however one of the most respected members of the party if not the most respected.
    One rule I think should be introduced in Stormont is that a Minister cannot hold a position on a committee chair or deputy. If they are carrying out the post properly they should be too busy to do anything else, remembering they have to represent their electorate also.

  • Skibo

    Problem being SDLP had a place at the table of government and gave it up to be able to openly criticize the reset of the executive.

  • Skibo

    Oh really, you have never heard of any landlords holding onto vacant property until there are grants to do them up (meaning we as tax payers finance the rejuvenation of inner cities and towns) only for them to either sell them on or then let them at much higher prices.

  • Brendan Heading

    I’m sure that Sinn Féin think that holding Finance is a big deal and they’ll be able to do a lot with it, but I’m not so sure, for a few reasons.

    The first is that the Finance department are really the accounts department, much the same as the accounting department in any business. They don’t get to plan or direct economic activity or investment. Instead, other departments approach them with their spending requests and/or plans, and Finance authorise them (or not). The department does have power to veto capital spending, but it does not have the power to direct spending. Contrary to the implication the Finance Minister made in a tweet yesterday, Finance cannot direct, say, Education to build a new school, or Infrastructure to build a new road.

    So on that basis I do not understand why nationalists think that this is going to be the big gift that is going to build economic credibility. The Finance Minister is going to spend the rest of this term standing at the dispatch box explaining why cuts are having to be made to the departments. This ministerial post is intended for dour bookkeepers; it’s a fundamentally uncreative job.

    The second point is that while the minister has power to influence what is coming out of the department, he’s at something of a disadvantage. Around the Executive table there are two other ministers who have been in charge of Finance within the past five years; outside of the Executive there are two MPs and one ex-party leader who have also been in the post. They know what the limitations of the department are and what the opinions of the civil servants within it are. Furthermore, with a Unionist majority on the Executive, the DUP retain the power to simply overrule any brilliant ideas the minister happens to come up with.

    Had Máirtín been placed in charge of Economy – well, that would be different. But there was no way the DUP were going to allow that. I think he’ll find himself stifled in this job. Finally he’s stuck in a role where he can’t tweet his way out of having to deliver bad news.

    SF, I think, have a problem with managing expectations. If they couldn’t deliver Casement, or an Irish language act, or the Maze, or any of the other stuff under the control of the departments they did run, why will it be any different with Finance ?

  • Brendan Heading

    Is it fair to tax a landlord who has his property on the market for £1.00 rent per annum but cant get a tenant as the rates are £30k per annum? this is the reality of NI in 2016.

    There is no rates relief in England/Wales – 100% rates are due whether the property is occupied or not.

    With due respect to your experience as an investor, holding onto property as an investment definitely happens – there were houses in my street that were left empty as investments a few years ago. I doubt it’s that different for a commercial property owner. And no landlord wants to initiate a downward spiral in rents.

  • barnshee

    How much can you chip in Mike -. nothing ??
    Different fiscal systems different priorities Allied with no friggin interest happy to charge you for any services rendered ,(either way)

  • barnshee

    It goes to the aforementioned supermarkets bookies and bars etc I suggest you stand on forgoing the “subvention” and see how it goes

  • Nevin

    “If Mairtin has ambition it’ll take five years to get to base one with his Perm Sec. [A cautious breed adverse to having to use their parachutes because they gave in to reckless amateurs].”

    I think the powers of Permanent Secretaries are much over-rated, not least in the Northern Ireland context. The interrelationships of Ministers, Special Advisers and senior Civil Servants have attracted very little serious media attention here.

  • Brendan Heading

    coordinate a cohesive cross border fiscal strategy.

    Can you explain exactly what this means and examples of what changes you would like to see implemented ?

    The extent of All Ireland cooperation has stagnated in recent years. If Sinn Fein are serious about bringing Nationalism forward they need to increase the level of day to day cooperation on an all Ireland basis.

    On which issues, specifically, is there a lack of co-operation; and how, exactly, should the Irish government be persuaded to play its role in reversing the problem ?

    There’s massive potential in increasing all Ireland cooperation in areas like Tourism, Infrastructure, Healthcare and Agriculture.

    what kind of “massive potential” ?

  • Jollyraj

    “Mick, I don’t like Sinn Fein but this is a genius move by them, a self made millionaire put in charge of finances”

    Hmmm..wonder how a similar experiment will work out in the states. Not that MOM would want a wall to keep the ‘Mexicans’ out, though – even many in NI would welcome it 😉

  • Jollyraj

    “SF looking happy in the prescience of British Politicians”

    Very apt.

  • murdockp

    err.. there are no rates in the UK at all for small business from next year whilst we are saddled.

  • Nimn

    I would go further and say his room for manoeuvre is going to be dictated by HMT rather than Marlene. While Simon Hamilton will be hyping CT in 2018 Mairtin will be dealing with reality of a Block Grant reduction of between £240 – £150m annually (steady state) depending on GB’s CT rate.
    The Finance Minister has a huge job on his hands making sure he does not go back on Fresh Start commitments as HMT will hold his feet to the fire, while at the same time trying to square the circle of a diminishing Block Grant with the Executive departments. Some of this is a self inflicted wound (welfare top-up and CT) but most come from the need to deliver services in ways which are deigned to meet multiple political points of view -education is probably the best (worst) example.

    I fear that Mairtin does not fully understand the limits of his brief ( as I write this I’m listening to The View and find it hard to see where Finance ends and Economy begins) Early conversations with Simon Hamilton and a joined up approach could reap dividends as long as political ideology does not trump the pragmatism of decisions which will really grow our economy.

    Interestingly Mairtin can stray into Simon Hamilton’s realm to some degree where Simon Hamilton can’t greatly influence DFP’s response.

    In terms of the Civil Service I believe there was a much more robust set of conversations with Ministers during Direct Rule, which is the role of Perm Secs to provide a buffer and some challenge to ‘today’s big idea’. My sense is that Devolution has bred a whole different set of behaviours, where Perm Secs and senior civil servants’ advice is filtered through the SpAd system. Increasingly its is SpAds that interpret Civil Service advice and feed back to Ministers. Also SpAds are quick to tell Civil Servants which lines to take are acceptable to Ministerial ears and which are not. Rather than a powerful Civil Service it is much more dumbed down and acquiescent senior civil service than was previously the case.

    As for playing the ball and not the man, I do think there has not been enough serious analysis of Simon Hamilton’s ability to deliver under the hype of reform. My fear is that we are going to get a lot of froth and bubbles around the economy rather than action. The difference is that in the case of the economy the business sector rather than any committee will hold the Economy Minister to account.
    Apologies for the rather long post.

  • Nimn

    Mick, I agree. Without the straightjacket of a ministerial portfolio and all the attendant regulatory baggage it is easy to float ideas and “eat the air promise crammed”.
    I’ve just listened to Mairtin on The View (26/5/16) and I have a serious concern that he is still in ‘opposition’ in his mindset.
    For example, he can talk about austerity but he will have to deliver on welfare reform and balance a budget to suit HMT. This will include radical reductions in the public sector to leverage loans.
    Realpolitik will bite. I was around between 1998 and 2002 and well remember senior SF politicians from Omagh wondering if a SF health Minister was really serious about placing the new acute hospital in Enniskillen, with SF politicians in Omagh and Fermanagh at odds over the issue.
    The reality is that Mairtin is going to have to take hard decisions which are not about ideology but what can pass HMT muster.
    In the process there are many SF voters who are going to be disappointed.

  • Nimn

    I wonder if SF was expecting DUP to take Finance and had Mairtin lined up for Economy, for which he might be better suited or was it all stitched up in advance?

  • Brendan Heading

    no, this was worked out in advance. The DUP walked over SF.

  • Nimn

    My sense of Ó Muilleoir is that “impressive polymath” translates into a scattergun of ideas which as a Minister he needs to harness and articulate as coherent policy which can hold a political consensus and be capable of delivery.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Yes.

  • Teddybear

    I’m no fan of SF but I respect Mr O’Muillier. He’s a proven business man who is now Chancellor in Stormont

    However he’s not an alchemist. Unlike a business, Stormont has a fixed grant but dogged with increasing demands. Peter will be robbed to pay Paul but there are few coins in Peter’s pocket

    Unless of course SF/DUP plan to asset strip Dept of Justice (all those big lovely court houses in prime locations? Juicy) to make up th shortfall.

  • Nimn

    “However he’s not an alchemist.”
    Nice phrase and I suspect that’s exactly what he will try and be until the reality of his very constrained position becomes clear. In areas such as the economy, infrastructure and communities (housing transfer in particular, but also the financial capability strategy and economic inactivity strategy) his commercial acumen and contacts may be useful, but I wouldn’t overestimate this. The Strategic Investment Unit is alive and well within Dept of Infrastructure and has many of these contacts already. The key thing for Mairtin is not to let his personality and enthusiasm get the better of him. He must be a team player with these other departments, knowing when to take the lead on issues and knowing when to stand back.

  • Teddybear

    You’re spot on. He is a v enthusiastic chap who I think would be better off being Minister For Employment/Investment (or whatever that dept is now called) where his entrepreneurial skills would be best leveraged.

    Finance Dept is not a chancellory here but rather a glorified bursary. He will soon be bored. I give him a year tops before he demands a reshuffle