5 billion reasons to get beyond old ‘politics’

Brian Feeney backs the Secretary of State all the way when he suggested that the Northern Ireland economy was not standing on its own two feet. He reckons that five billion pounds subvention is what is producing the illusion of prosperity in Northern Ireland. And he beleives that even when local politicians of all stripes where in power, they did little other than fill the brief handed them by senior civil servants. Even if there is a returning to devolved adminstration it may take some time before they get beyond the displacement activity of the old increasingly cold potatoes and get down to make the necessary tough decisions.

  • “He reckons that five million (sic) pounds subvention is what is producing the illusion of prosperity in Northern Ireland.”

    Are you kidding. I must be immune to the illusion because all I see are streets covered in dog shite, crumbling buildings, roads full of pot holes, welfare moms, gangs of marauding no-hoper spides, industry centered on call centers, and did I mention the dog shit?

    Things may look better in a one mile square area of Belfast, but everywhere else is still a joke.

  • aquifer

    Word was that McGuiness was a good minister, and actually moved a decision on. As far as I can see the abolition of the selection test is still moving.

    The DUP musical chair ministers may have got the pensioners’ bus passes which was a boon, though it is not clear how much DUP/DSD public money is being put into the big hole by Chichester Street.

    The UUP sports minister liked motorsports, but it is unclear what that may have done for public health and safety (Sinn Fein!).

    Can anyone else remember any other notable contributions? If not, forget accountability or governance, sectarian grandstanding beats real politics every time.

  • Pete Baker

    Brian, allegedly, backs the Secretary of State while also disparaging him as a proconsul.

    And this gem “Two-thirds of the money sloshing around here is generated in the public sector. The state employs a third of the total workforce and 60% of women who work. Those figures haven’t changed in a generation.”

    Perhaps we’ll get an update from Mr Feeney after the latest Equality Commission figures..

    But Brian is now in favour of slashing public sector jobs? In favour of small [or would that be non-existent] government? I can expect an argument for that in his next column, then?.. rather than this seeming enthusiasm for higher rates/taxes to pay for “maintain[ing] existing standards”.

    I also recall that a recent report on the state of the economy identified 2 dangers – one was the over-reliance on the public sector.. the other was continuing political instability.

  • Crataegus

    When will politicians here realise that until there is economic strength no one (British or Irish) will want us and we will be continually on our knees with the begging bowl in outstretched arms, having to put up with what ever our benefactors decide to impose on us. However difficult to address when the ground rules are set in Westminster and we are preoccupied with our navels.

  • JohnJo

    5 Billion = 5,000,000,000 thats a lot of pounds to keep us below the standard of living in Eire and GB.
    Now that needs an inquiry????

  • That’s the third time I find myself agreeing with Brian Feeney recently…


    Yeah, it’s a frightening experience, to be sure, but I can’t fault him on this one.

  • George

    I agree too and will throw in my weathervane for measuring political progress in Northern Ireland, the issue of seatbelts for children on schoolbuses amid a five billion pound subvention.

    It was big news when the five children in Meath died earlier this year. As a result, the money is being spent and all schoolbuses in the Republic will have it as mandatory from September 2007.

    DUP education spokesman Sammy Wilson has the Northern Ireland solution.

    Don’t introduce such a law there as it will cost 50 million and we’ll lose the free buses.

    The government might use it as an excuse to scrap free transport altogether as the education budget is already under “tremendous strain”, and that would only be made worse by the law.

    “If at a time when there’s pressure on the budgets, we’re then going to find that the cost of school transport has nearly doubled, I can be fairly sure what the reaction’s going to be,” Mr Wilson said.

    “The reaction’s going to be, ‘yes we’ll have this gold-plated transport system, but we can’t afford it for as many youngsters’.

    “Therefore we start looking for ways at tightening the criteria and that means that youngsters who currently get a bus to school will not get one.”

    50 million out of 5 billion?

  • mnob

    I do agree with the tone of the article – we need to get beyond Unionists believing this is a big stick beating us into a republic, and Nationalists wielding it !

    I think its a little unfair saying that ‘our’ policiticians did nothing when they were in power as Stormont I (or is that II ?) was set up to placate sensitivities rather than actually set up an efficient means of government.

    Also the timescale they had was a little short, after all it took our neighbours in the South quite some time tro turn their economy round and word is the Scots will take a while too.

  • Crataegus

    The problem is it seems the economy is very low on the local political priorities and much of the malaise here and in other regions of Britain are as a direct result of the policies of this government.

  • Butterknife

    The sooner a Conservative government comes to power the better – the DUP will either be put in the wilderness (a theocratic party that no one wants associated with) or it will have its lever on power on a hung Parliament. But i think the DUP’s star is fast fading given its lack of ability to change the secretary of state’s mind on the super council idea etc.