Maírtín, quick to lay into Bell – not so quick for Foster

Just a curious observation following Finance Minister Maírtín Ó Muilleoir commenting yesterday on the ongoing RHI situation, where he refused to say if he retained confidence in the DUP leader.

Quite a stark contrast to when the Finance Minister appeared before the Finance Committee to answer questions raised over the Daithí McKay/Jamie Bryson deep throat situation. When Jonathan Bell began to give Ó Muilleoir a hard time in the witness seat, the Finance Minister was irascible in his replies.

Ó Muilleoir refused to give any respect to Bell in his line of questioning, continuously speaking over Bell and indeed speaking over Little-Pengelly as the committee chair, with such zingers as, “As the man who did more to bust the finances of this government than anyone…”

The finance minister seemed to make his opinions perfectly clear throughout the exchange that as far he saw it, he was having to clean up the mess left behind over the RHI scheme by Bell during his incumbency.

Interesting how, when the focus shifts from Bell to Foster, Ó Muilleoir is reserved, respectful and unwilling to provide such cutting soundbites.

What is it they say about being given enough rope?


, , , , ,

  • Declan Doyle

    Talk about scraping the bottom of a barrell to find fault! Arlene it appears is the architect of her own predicament, MOM is right to stay quiet as is SF. As another poster pointed out, nothing like an attack from SF to get unionism mobilised around her.

  • Blade Sprinter

    Those SF are real bastards. They never take the advice Unionists so readily offer them! If only they’d behave precisely as Unionism would like them to, then they’d be perfect. Intransigent bastards.

  • mickfealty

    You can be tempted to read too much into silence Kris.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Only a fool would have answered that question regarding confidence in the FM and Ó Muilleoir is not a fool. What do you think Sinn Fein would have gained by him answering (a) ‘Yes’ or (b) ‘No’?

  • Katyusha

    Exactly. SF will have their opportunity to make their position clear at the no-confidence vote. Little point in saying anything beforehand.

    And it will be very interesting to see which way SF swing on this one.

  • johnny lately

    If anyone thinks for a second that those lucky enough to be made aware and took advantage of the money tree called the RHI scheme came from one side of the floor in the assembly is deluded. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the main beneficiaries were evenly split between individuals connected to both the DUP and Sinn Fein.

  • NMS

    ´Minor correction – it is “Máirtín” not “”Maírtín”

  • Teddybear

    People once jumped with joy when Thatcher was felled. Their celebrations were quelled when they found out she would be replaced with…another Tory

    So what if Foster resigns. Who’d replace her? Another DUPer.

    Whoopy doo as they say

  • Teddybear

    People once jumped with joy when Thatcher was felled. Their celebrations were quelled when they found out she would be replaced with…another Tory

    So what if Foster resigns. Who’d replace her? Another DUPer.

    Whoopy doo as they say.

  • Teddybear

    I hope someone does a follow the money investigation into those who claimed £1.60 for every £1 spent

    I wonder how many of those money trails will lead to MLA or families of MLA households.

  • Fear Éireannach

    John Major had some merit, and was an improvement on Thatcher, in my opinion.

  • steve white

    in the Nolan interview Bell kept saying ‘collective responsibility’ did he discuss his problems with the renewable heating initiative with all the other ministers ?

  • AntrimGael

    I wonder did MOM’s public rebuke, humiliation and singling out of him force Jonathan Bell to go public in the way he did? Bell must have thought “I am not taking the fall and blame for this”. Only a judge led inquiry and revelation of all documentation, e-mails and the accounts of the senior civil servants involved will conclude who is telling the truth and who is being economical with it. This place is a rotten farce. Anyone who is young, educated and ambitious should get the hell out of it.

  • Katyusha

    Bell doesn’t cut a very impressive figure in this interview. I don’t believe he gives one sod about revealing incompetence or corruption within the department, and all about deflecting blame from himself. Chalking everything up to the activity of shadowy SpAds doesn’t cut it. And one of the holes in his story in claiming that Arlene, as First Minister, wanted to keep the RHI scheme open is that there is no real motivation for Arlene to do so, or at least no reason to resist tailoring down the tariff. What does Arlene have invested in a subsidy scheme that is no longer under the remit of her department? Unless some people in her personal circle recently bought a wood-chip boiler!

    Publicly praying before the interview is a load of self-serving sanctimonious crap as well.

  • Katyusha

    Anyone who is young, educated and ambitious should get the hell out of it.

    NI could do with some of them returning to help run the place. It would be difficult to do a worse job than the current shower of incompetents.

  • Katyusha

    It would be a good time to force an assembly election. I’d like to see how strong support for the DUP is in the midst of such a scandal. The multiple corruption/incompetence scandals have never hurt them as they’ve been able to circle the wagons around the republican bogeyman come election time.

  • Nordie Northsider

    He seemed to be using that term in relation to the Spads – a strange use eagerly seized on by Sammy Wilson on Radio Ulster this morning. Expect part of the DUP response to include a technical discussion as to whether or not Spads can order ministers about in such a fashion.

  • steve white

    no he said SPADs act on their Ministers instructions and he eventually talked to Foster personally, he was talking about what is generally known as collective cabinet responsibity, which is only in play when the rest of the cabinet/executive are involved in the discussion, were they?

  • ted hagan

    I wonder will Bell challenge the ‘bullying’ allegations, or seek legal advice.

  • Hi, Teddybear,

    Because of the very distinct lack of noise and commotion being raised by the green side of the Assembly regarding the RHI scheme, one does ponder and wonder whether a disproportionate number of their supporters availed/were advised to avail themselves of the cripplingly generous payouts on offer.

    I suppose such is a simple enough matter to investigate to identify those who and that which is taking full advantage of the failure of intelligence right at the very top and heart of Stormont offices …… and such will then easily destroy or confirm that possibility morphed into a disgraceful situation.

  • billypilgrim1

    “Anyone who is young, educated and ambitious should get the hell out of it.”

    On the unionist side, this has been happening for decades.

    On the nationalist side there seems to be a much stronger patriotic attachment to this land and its people, however badly or malignly governed it / they might be, so the brain-drain is much less pronounced.

    Seeing two of the most senior and hardline of unionists respond to adversity by turning on each other like rats in a sack is very revealing. Remember this performance the next time you hear a unionist threatening the ferocious backlash there’ll be in a united Ireland. These leaders of unionism talk loudly, but when the crunch comes they are revealed to be without character, maturity or perseverance.

    Unionist backlash? If they ever have to rely on their own resources, these people will sell each other out to the first bidder.

  • James

    He couldn’t answer it because the SF meeting to discuss the question hadn’t taken place…so he wasn’t privy to the (a) or to the (b) when he was asked…he has to toe the party line….he’s not a fool ,as you say…he’s a brown noser………..

  • mickfealty

    They can’t but we all know that they do try to. This was Jonathan’s first big grown up gig, and I suspect he freaked when he realised just what Arlene had left him on his plate.

    [BTW, taking my lead from Kris’s reference above, this passage from October reveals just how tight things were over Bell’s tenure just earlier this autumn (‘they’re waiting with baited breath’:

  • billypilgrim1


    Hadn’t seen that, but Ó Muilleoir’s performance was quite something. He had the smoking gun and was determined to put it on the record, wasn’t he?

    That explicit reference to the £20m a year, when it wasn’t remotely related to the question asked – that was officer class.

    Some decent firefighting from Emma Pengelly, but she’s Steve McQueen in the Towering Inferno here.

  • mickfealty

    Well, he knew what the SF/DUP Executive knew but (under cross examination about his own conduct) more than happy to spill the beans.

    Now on Monday, will he run out for Bell against Arlene?

  • billypilgrim1

    Why on earth would he intervene in the DUP’s Mexican standoff?

  • mickfealty

    Have you not watched the video yet Billy? Mairtin is the first one on record to mention the screw up at RHI and to pin the blame on Jonathan Bell (albeit as a means of evading perfectly legitimate questions about his relations to witnesses called before the Committee).

  • billypilgrim1

    Oh I know, he’s the prime mover who has set the DUPers against each other. Having done so, he’d be mad to do anything other than leave them to it.