One local councillor told Slugger in the autumn that the thing most of his council colleagues fear most from the re-organisation of local government, was that it would land them with responsibility for making what could turn out to be unpopular decisions. That was the theme of Jeff Rooker’s speech decrying a rally, due to be held tomorrow, against the lifting of the suspension of business rates in Northern Ireland.Rooker:
I know direct rule ministers get a lot of stick and we are paid extremely well to take that stick. However, it`s seven months today, it`s April 24 today and on November 24 they can make their own decisions. We`re not stopping them making their own decisions. This change in industrial derating was born out of work by the locally elected Assembly.
They started a lot of things off like the review of public administration which have been left to direct rule ministers to proceed and push through. We are not here to mind the shop. We are going to push through the process of reform and the longer we are here, the faster we will go. In other words if they really want to pull a fast one on direct rule ministers, the local politicians would get their power sharing Assembly up and running in the next six weeks because that would really gum-up our plans for tough decision time.
And the killer slap-in-the-face: “They are quite happy for us to take the tough decisions because basically some of the politicians are not up for it”. And maybe he has a point.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty