SEVEN DAYS before institutions collapse; 5 MLAs per constituency means a minimum of 18 MLAs not returning to the Assembly; 30 is still the magic PoC number; £85,000 still the estimated daily cost to the tax payer of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.
Author Archive | Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)
PRODUCING SAUSAGE MEAT – This is my favourite item from my mid-December stink looking through government papers that would be released on Friday 30 under the 20 Year Rule. The title could have been referring to a report on the state of the pork industry. The papers could have been an evaluation of how best more…
Hidden amongst the thousand or so government files released on Friday under the 20 Year Rule are some black and white photographs from the 1960s of the M1 motorway and its Sprucefield junction. Long before the days of early morning congestion at Junction 7! If you call into the Public Records Office and ask to more…
RELATIONSHIP COUNSELLING – Reading through two newly released files documenting “Political Developments in NI” from 1989 and 1990, you get a feel for the sheer number of documented conversations between senior SDLP figures and officials in the NIO about the tensions in the leadership around the talks process.
EIGHTEEN MEMBERS were removed from the Assembly Chamber at the behest of the Speaker after anti-Sunningdale members refused to move from the Executive’s front benches and disrupted proceedings. A 1974 letter describing events from the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Clerk of the Assembly has now been released.
BREVITY AND CLARITY – that’s what the head of the NI Civil Service asked of government communications in a ‘Plain English’ memo circulated in May 1988. “It is an important skill to be able to present complex issues in clear and simple ways … Even in simple letters, a good short word is generally to more…
Alan Burnside wrote to Richard Needham in 1990 on behalf of video chain Xtra-vision to ask him to find out whether the security forces were banned from their stores. There wasn’t a ban, just a difficulty in specifying “employer” on the membership form.
TEARS BEFORE BEDTIME could be avoided if NI civil service press officers followed Cabinet Office advice. The size of NI and “the social scene populated by the chattering classes” meant that “official/journalist contact is more frequent than in GB”.
DUP ALL OUT FOR DEVOLUTION says NIO official in his report on the DUP’s 1989 conference. The DUP was seen to be relaunching itself as the main unionist. Analysis suggested the UUP were finding it difficult to maintain their position faced with the twin electoral threats of a resurgent DUP and Conservative growth.
GAA THROWN INTO CONFUSION when British Ambassador to Ireland asked to attend the 1989 Tipperary v Antrim hurling final in Croke Park. The matter was referred up to the Taoiseach. The diplomat’s match report has been released today under the 20 Year Rule.
JUNE 1983 IDB paper release today under 20 Day Rule suggests that Clive Sinclair considered purchasinga controlling interest in Lotus Cars Limited and had tentative plans for the manufacture of cars at Dunmurry commencing in 1985 … perhaps not just the Sinclair C5.
DE LOREAN DEBACLE – With an eye on the Renerable Heat Incentive scheme, are there lessons for Government today? You’ll need to set aside a few hours if you visit PRONI and request file CENT/3/103. A large reinforced cardboard box will be wheeled out on a trolley to your desk. Inside it you’ll find Kenneth more…
ROYAL VISITS to Northern Ireland in the early 1980s were subject to much head-scratching. The file of internal correspondence and briefings between 1982 and 1984 released this morning gives an insight into the government sensitivities and sensibilities. Should a senior Royal visit a particular military unit? Why would the Ordinance Survey NI only be a more…
ASSEMBLY SPEAKER snubbed during visit of Queen Mother. Jim Kilfedder refused to join other VIPs in the overflow lunch marquee and left Ballymena stating that “the TA would never again be allowed to fire a 21 gun salute from Stormont grounds”!
1983’s FIRST DAY BRIEF for a new Secretary of State included pen pictures of local political figures they might meet, the parties and a handy potted history of Northern Ireland, starting in 1920.
FILES RELEASED TODAY under the 20 Year Rule reveal the Northern Ireland Office’s policy on communicating with Sinn Féin during the 1980s. No phone calls, no ministerial meetings and letters to be sent by Private Secretaries with a curt, formal and short tone.
QUESTION: How many politicians in 1975 needed to ring up the Permanent Secretary to get the Union Flag raised over Parliament Buildings to mark sittings of the NI Constitutional Convention?
20 YEAR RULE – Some reflections ahead of Friday’s release of public records under the ‘20 Year Rule’ that allow files from 1990 (and before) to be examined. It’s an era of handwritten, typewritten and word-processed documents, with Telex still used to communicate internationally.
Behind the RHI headline figure of £400 million over twenty years, how large are some of the individual business profits likely to be? For most it’ll be £5-10,000 a year. But for a small number, the figures are huge, perhaps (quite legitimately) £800,000 over 20 years. An enormous state intervention.
SINN FEIN will table an amendment to tomorrow morning’s motion of no confidence requiring the First Minister only to step aside while a four week preliminary report is produced, but expanding the remit of the inquiry to cover special advisers and civil servants. They threaten grave consequences if the DUP disregard the joint authority of more…