Rooker: MLAs running scared of responsibility…

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.

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  • Comrade Stalin

    It is clear what the government strategy is here (I loved Ahern’s line a few weeks ago, to the effect of “NI is the only place where elected politicians refuse to assume power”) – dare the unionists not to go into government. I hope it works.

  • Alan

    Actually, it’s dare any of the parties go into real government. This issue is about what we spend our tax on, what our real priorities are. Remember the ELB *crisis* – was it the result of cuts or simply a cavalier disregard for budgets on the part of the Boards?

    None of the parties has had the time to show whether they are financially competent. My best guess is that faced by an electorate that has been spoon fed un-taxing, sectarian politics over the past generation, they will crumple before the electorate’s reaction to the real need to raise finance for our key services. They will crumple because nationalistic sentiment has been allowed to lord it over basic economics. *Our side* has become more important than *our work*.

    John Hume got it wrong : in the NI that his SDLP helped wharp, it is all about eating flags. We have to end dependency, which means we have to pay our way, which means means taking our eyes of the flags and back to the prize. The future is going to be tough, but we all have to shoulder the burden as individual rates payers and corporate rates payers. Perhaps we will find a unity in doing just that.

  • Well, we could scrap those special [and headline-grabbing] two-year funds for this, that and t’other that Hain’s been so keen on for a start.. and ban him from announcing any more of them.

    That would free up a hefty wedge and mean there would be no increase on domestic rates of the type Lord Rooker claims would be needed.. and notice the scare tactic Rooker uses there to combat the campaign by the manufacturing industry?

    Of course, Lord Rooker doesn’t have to worry about re-election..

  • Alan

    *special [and headline-grabbing] two-year funds for this, that and t’other *

    Could you be more specific, are you talking about funding for children’s services, mental health etc?

    *That would free up a hefty wedge*

    How do you itemise that in the books – or are you just rounding up.

  • More power to Rooker for shoting from the hip. Pretty much blows away the arguments of any of the parties.

    Alan – you summed it up well! The message that the parties need to take on board is that the power they all crave comes with responsibility for the running of the province, not more drawn-out sectarian nonsense. The cynic in me isn’t holding his breath, though.

  • Pete Baker


    Rather than argue about whether or not I have the best interests of the children at heart..

    Here’s a couple of the funds I’ve noted on Slugger –

    The £59 million Environment & Renewable Energy Fund

    The £35million Skills and Science Fund

    I don’t actually disagree with your main point.. it’s an issue about what we spend our taxes on.. and how that money is distributed.

  • Businessman

    Manufacturing employs 90,000 people at the moment. The governments own figures (from PWC) suggest that we will lose 40,000 of them if the investment scenario turns bad. The investment scenario has turned bad, who would invest in Northern Ireland?

    If you use lose 40,000 jobs, you lose a lot of taxes, you lose a lot of retail sales, and a fairly hefty hike in social security.

    Of course we could all find a job in the public sector. Good pay, plenty of hols, job security, index linked pension….. What do you mean they are going to reform it? Naw, just stick more increases on the rates.

  • Cataegus


    Well put and agree.



    I would like to see much greater emphasis placed on building a viable economy in NI. We lack proper political control and direction and have an administration that is a mess. Business costs are high and rapidly increasing and the local market small.

    There is a lack of appreciation of the needs of commerce and how vital it is that this sector grows. Why should anyone invest here when there are much better returns elsewhere? Why would any intelligent person remain here when there are better opportunities and pay elsewhere?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    You guys might enjoy this very recent article:

  • Cataegus


    Thanks for the link, a very good article and utterly correct.

    I try to look the other way as these things make my blood boil. The peace money was squandered, cash thrown around like confetti without any real long term plan or any concept of sustainability. Community workers who spent their time applying for their wages, community centres that were in direct competition with services already being provided and so on. Apart from the dubious benefit of many of the schemes, the system of trying to put together various bodies and match funding etc is grossly inefficient and time consuming. If a community group wants a resource centre why doesn’t it go out and borrow the money and finance itself from rent like any other person or business has to do? What they need is access to funds but that does not necessarily mean grants.

    The priority in NI should be to build a larger, viable, sustainable, economic base and investment in essential services and not the various schemes dreamed up to fit the funding criteria of the various bodies. Utter madness.