Why does the Office of the Executive need not less than SIX SpAds?

One of the things highlighted by last night’s interview was the alleged behaviour of SpAds. Now as Sammy Wilson pointed out these guys don’t have any power. But nor, as it happens, has the Office of the Executive, formerly known as OFMdFM and “the lost world” amongst others.

It’s a bureaucratic construct, headquartered in the Scottish Baronial pile known as Stormont Castle, whose job has been to ensure any agreements between the only two parties holding the offices of First Minister and deputy First Minister are implemented.

It was one of the conditions laid down by the DUP and SF that their numbers should be tripled from one to three each: despite the fact they have very little in the way of direct executive responsibilities.

In Jonathan Bell’s mind, if not in actuality, these guys are enforcers. But now the actual Executive is only made up of DUP and SF MLAs their role is likely to be diminishing rapidly in the political ecosphere of Stormont.

Now they’re part of the public story. Something, I would guess, none are happy about. The idea, put about by Arlene last night, that Jonathan Bell would have intimidated her and someone like Timothy Johnston, whose reputation as a tough-minded fixer precedes him, is risible.

So why does the Executive need them (at £92k per head, they’re not cheap) anymore? The RHI story suggests some may even be becoming a liability.

  • ted hagan

    The internal feud between Bell and Foster and god knows how many others (God?) should be allowed to deflect from that the DUP as a party has thrown away many, many millions of pounds on this wood pellets scheme. BBC journalists have done superb work but are in danger of getting sucked into the DUP vortex that will end up clouding this scandal. A full independent inquiry is needed, whether Foster stands aside or not. Let’s not aid the DUP in their efforts to divert this issue, no matter how entertaining that may be.

  • Granni Trixie

    Although it’s not the main show in town, I would be interested to see gender stats as regards gender in employing SPADS, given these are not advertised posts, not apparentky subject to employment law but in the gift of Ministers/parties….and given that all the names of DUP spads mentioned .in dispatches so far ..are men!

    Just another angle on wrongs to be righted.

  • john millar

    Remove all SPADS from the public purse. Let the parties fund as many as they want

  • Granni Trixie

    I so agree.

  • john millar

    I think you will find that the scheme was approved by a raft of Committees (containing the full range political parties.) Wait for the finger pointing

  • ted hagan

    Very possibly.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Disagree Ted – Mick is right in highlighting the unelected SPAD Brigade who think they run the province. The Public have completely lost all faith in the shambles what is up on top of that hill. It needs fixed not with a sticking plaster but “root and branch” once and for all !

  • mickfealty

    Sorry Ted, but there’s plenty of space for that on other threads!

  • Croiteir
  • Granni Trixie

    I appreciate that link, Croiteir, to extremely interesting information. One of the reasons I queried if women were unduly disadvantaged by the system for appointing SPADS was because I noticed a picture in a newspaper of 5 current DUP SPADS and all were men. So, could it be that under Arlene there are now fewer? Also interesting to note on your link info that Gavin Robinson was then a DUP Spad (but is that the Gavin?) .
    Thanks again.

  • john millar

    The item simply states the present position

    According to

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_advisers_(UK_government)

    SPADS have been on the go since 1985 How long have the fingers been in the till?