Hearts and Minds…

After a long beginning, Noel Thompson finally strikes at the heart of the matter in the Tower Centre, Ballymena. And Fionnuala O’Connor is confident that the fat lady will make a show next week. Stephen Dempster with an acute report on how the DUP have built a tight consensus.

  • Davros

    Impressed with Gardiner’s performance.One of very few people I have seen who could control Noel T.

  • Ziznivy

    The depiction of Ballymena makes me cringe.

  • willowfield

    Gardiner did well, but he didn’t quite get the better of Thompson. He didn’t deal satisfactorily with the question of the transport and salary rises. He dismissed these as a small fraction of the total budget, but when Thompson pointed out that this small fraction was a large sum in absolute terms and the equivalent of the overspend last year, Gardiner did not respond.

  • Davros

    I thought he did deal with those points well WF.
    Among other points he made, he pointed out that it was an old ploy of bureaucrats when faced with having to trim their budgets to make the axe fall on those things which will get public sympathy – just as when the NHS wants money it says Drs and Nurses will have to go rather than address the army of pen-pushers – and that they had no need to cut transport costs etc. He also pointed out that not all transport is provided by translink.

  • willowfield

    He didn’t deal adequately with the point that while transport and other costs were relatively a small fraction, they were large costs in absolute terms.

    It’s quite clear to me that boards’ budgets are deliberately being cut to highlight the need to cut down on administration by amalgamating into a single authority, or (my preference) transferring their powers to a smaller number of local authorities.

  • Davros

    It’s quite clear to me that boards’ budgets are deliberately being cut

    But they are not being cut. They have had huge increases.

  • peteb

    Perhaps it may be appropriate to link in the previous Slugger thread on the particular section of H&M you’re discussing, Davros – That showed them, huh?

  • willowfield

    But they are not being cut. They have had huge increases.

    Not this year. Taking account of the standard inflation rate, the budget was cut. And the boards’ costs were inflated even more than by standard inflation because of increased transport and salary costs.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I wonder if Ballymena DUP is as behind the potential deal as the Big Man himself? No Maurice Mills, no Roy Gillespie and no Robin Stirling (thank God), and it’s not like them to miss a good media opportunity, if only to make the good burghers of Ballymena cringe with embarrassment…

    I’m sure a good North Antrim man like Ballymoney MLA Mervyn Storey, a Paisleyite who isn’t hostile to making progress, could have defended the DUP position ably. However, from a DUP point of view, this is an extremely critical moment. Things are in the balance and could change and the DUP (and SF) were smart not to provide an interviewee – much to my annoyance!

    Mind you, the Tower Centre shoppers seemed to have blind faith in the Doc. I got the impression they were ready to accept anything he went for, but that they were hoping that ‘this was it’.

    Since the Shinners have now finished their clarification of the govts’ paper, the ball would seem to be entirely in the Doc’s hands over the weekend. His executive will go along (unanimously I would expect) with whatever he recommends before Sunday…

    I think Paisley is very nervous right now, but I think he will go for it. The man who helped ignite the Troubles and fanned the flames of bigotry and hatred could now be the peacemaker who extinguishes that blaze once and for all.

    It’s been a helluva journey for him, whatever your opinion of him.

  • peteb

    Well, the Alliance Party have already nailed their colours to the mast on the prospects of a deal, haven’t they Gonzo? 😉

  • alex s

    Gonza ref the the big mans journey, see below:

    Ian Paisley MLA MP, speaking at Northern Ireland Forum, October 4th 1996, quoted in Irish Times October 5 1996

    “You might as well discuss with Hitler about better terms for the annihilation of Jews, as discuss with southern Ireland the way forward for Northern Ireland,” and at the DUP Party Conference November 30th 1997, quoted in Irish Times December 1 1997

    “No Unionist should be at talks negotiating the Union with Bertie Ahern, John Hume or anyone else. The Union is not negotiable.”

    How times change?

  • ShayPaul

    For god sake, who tied Stephen Dempsters tie ?