Laird hypocrisy over cross-border driving…

LOOPY Lord Laird was quoted (offline) in the Tele today, blasting the Government’s decision to fund Rally Ireland, which crosses the Donegal/Fermanagh border, to the tune of £700,000. “At a time when budgets are being cut elsewhere, this is a complete waste of public money,” said the UUP peer, conveniently forgetting his own £250 round-trip, cross-border, taxpayer-funded excursions in a taxi between Dublin and Belfast for absolutely no good reason that he could give. What a hypocrite.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Much as I detest the man, I cannot disagree with his opposition to funding a car rally.

    The thing should either stand on its own two feet, or fall. The same goes, incidentally, for all sports and ‘culture’.

    Car rallies, though, are particularly loathsome, for environmental reasons, and for the sheer annoyance of them – the noise, the blocked roads, …

    Stay at home, boys, and play with your scalectrix. Leave the roads quiet and peaceful and accessible for those who actually need them.

  • Miss Fitz

    £700,000? That would fund 3 Féiles, 3 Orange Fests and at least 20 Gay Pride parades.

    Am I missing something?

  • Pete Baker

    Well, Miss Fitz, Peter Hain “has been a motorsport fan since his childhood.”

    Just saying..

    And in response to Stephen’s comment.. this from the same NIO statement:

    Peter Hain continued: “The unspoilt beauty of our countryside offers the perfect visual backdrop to stage a round of WRC and will provide for compelling viewing for thousands of spectators and millions of television viewers worldwide who will enjoy the thrill of competitive rallying and marvel at the breathtaking scenery in Ireland.”

    The perfect visual backdrop.. compelling viewing.. Think of the tourist potential?

  • Miss Fitz

    Oh dear, are you implying that we wouldnt get the same tourist impact from Orange Fest??

    I wonder if they are collectively trying to move us all on from our localised and ghettoised concerns and force these major, grandiose agendas onto us in the hope we will forget our sectarianism?

    Never, never, never


    “Loopy” Lord Laird?

    Man playing surely?

  • KOD

    Exactly Pete, it will bring in 46 million euro to the region on either side of the border in places where money and tourism is needed so badly.

    Stephen normally I find your comments very interesting and agree with you quite a bit, but as a motor club member in the south I find your generalisation of rallying annoying. A lot of work goes into the PR to make sure as few people as possible are affected and (down here at least) five hours closure of a road shouldn’t be that big a deal when you get 6-8 weeks notice of it arriving on your doorstep. It is still a sport (albeit for rich people) same as GAA, Soccer, Cricket, cycling and so should be given a chance particularly when there is huge tourism and financial potential.

    On a related matter I would love to see a serious crackdown on the boy racer element that infests the sport. These guys have no interest in rallying, only showing off their pieces of s**t cars.

  • Pete Baker

    heh heh.. I was only paraphrasing the NIO statement, Miss Fitz. :o)

    At least Peter Hain’s childhood dream of attending a World Rally stage can come true.. although hopefully he’ll not still be in his current office [obviously that’s meant to imply he’ll be in No. 10 the Deputy PM post? – Ed]

  • fair_deal

    Hypocrisy doesn’t mean he has no valid point on every other occassion. I always had problems with the way the Agency was being run but £250 is somewhat paltry in comparison with £700K.

    The UU research would indicate a £10:£1 return on new income a year (the rest of the purported £230m over five years is primarily shifting spending of people already here). That is a good return but as they say at harvard business school in comparison with what?


    They seem to have given some cognisance of environmental concerns

  • Stephen Copeland


    My house is pretty close to the route of a particular large rally, and on occasions (through not knowing it was comimg, or having no choice but to be out) we have been literally prevented from getting home for hours. Now I know its only once every few years, but still …

    My main complaint about rallying is the sheer macho bullshit that surrounds it (and many other sports), plus the environmental damage.

  • KOD


    If its the event I’m thinking of then yes, you have my sympathies, PR would not be their strong point never has been. Regarding the macho-ness (pardon the expression), is that from the organisers or followers or both? Usually that crap comes from a small element of followers which I have no tolerance for. Fair Deals link show that the Rally Ireland event aims to tackle the enviornmental issue which I think is a very postive step and I would agree with it.


  • Rory

    I helped, just a little, prepare cars for what was then the Circuit of Ireland Rally back in the sixties when the majority of competitors were self financing, apart from stars like Paddy Hopkirk and Pat Moss (and I think that Pat Moss, being a woman, had some difficulty). Business, particularly in the hotel, restuarant, garage and licensed trades did very nicely from the event.

    Why on earth should funding from the general exchequer now be expected from an event totally dominated by multinationals which serves only useful as a showcase for the glitter of their toys?

    The answer, as far as the motor industry is concerned, is of course simple – let the general populace take the greater burden of the costs of our advertising beano.

    If Laird is ‘loopy’ on this issue then, to paraphrase Lincoln’s response to accusations of Grant’s sobriety, I would that all our lords were loopy.

  • Another Shipwreck

    It is simply the cross-border element of this event that has the “loopy Laird” so exercised. If it were solely a Northern event you can bet your last euro that the bould John would be protesting that £700,000 was a drop in the ocean and that the event deserved far more public money!

    It’s not just the £250 taxis that expose the man’s brazen hypocrisy – try calculating the cost of the countless inane and pointless questions he asks in the Lords to find out how much of a waste of public money John Laird really is …

  • páid

    I can understand why Lord Laird objects to the cross border element.

    After all, west Fermanagh was planted by fleshy-faced Norfolk farmers. And as the good Lord knows well, the proposed HQ of the Ulster Scots agency was Scottish Lowlander settled east Donegal.

    No connection whatsoever.

  • james orr


    The Ulster Scots Agency operates from two locations – main HQ in Belfast and a small satellite office in Raphoe. It makes sense for any organisation’s premises to be in an appropriate location, so why are you criticising?

    As for tourist potential, are Tourism Ireland promoting this worldwide as a reason to come here? If they’re not, then the tourist potential benefit is a non-point.

  • smcgiff

    Jaysus lads, ye’d see doom and gloom in a lottery win!

  • pith

    Why is the funding for the second round of cross-border wacky races £699,750 higher than the first when the first was more faithful to the original Hanna Barbera (that’s a guess btw) cartoon?

  • Rory

    I’m forever seeing doom and gloom in lottery wins, SMcGiff.

    It’s never bloody me who wins! And that is gloomy. I’m doomed never to be able to afford £250 for a taxi jaunt at this rate.

  • smcgiff

    ‘It’s never bloody me who wins!’

    Ah, but you’ve won the most important Lottery of all – The Lottery of Life!*

    *Being Irish ;¬)

  • Rory

    Aah, McGiff, you’ve just brightened up my day, chased away all doom and gloom and gladdened my heart for ’tis true what you say.

  • Rory

    P.s. I’d probably ask you to marry me only Herself’s a firce jealous woman and packs a mighty wallop with the wooden spoon.

  • smcgiff

    ‘P.s. I’d probably ask you to marry me only Herself’s a firce jealous woman and packs a mighty wallop with the wooden spoon.’

    There, er, may be one other major (well, I like to think so) impediment! *Ahem* See the Bear’s game last Saturday?

  • Who

    Missfitz wouldn’t those 20 gay parades have to be in Dublin as Belfast does not even have one?

  • Gonzo

    A few points.

    Yes, it was a little unfair to describe Lord Laird as loopy, though he seems to revel in his eccentricity. I doubt he’d mind though, as any publicity is good publicity in Laird’s mind.

    I tend to agree with Another Shipwreck – Laird is a waste of public money, especially as he’s not short of a bob or two. I resent the fact that he used my money to pay for spuriously-excused taxi jaunts down the rocky road to Dublin, capital of a nation he clearly despises, and then turns around and criticises the Rally Ireland funding… and let’s face it, the only reason he’s opposed is because it’s a cross-border event.

    This is a clear case of double standards.

    When you look at the success of the North West 200 and consider the long history of motorsport in Northern Ireland, it is more than a bit rich for Lord Laird to act as chief spoilsport. He says the money would rather go into supporting Ulster Scots culture (not the dialect, noteably, since he doesn’t actually speak it, despite being the former head of the Ulster Scots Agency).

    Lord Laird is unrepentant about blowing taxpayers’ money on piffle, his record speaks for itself, so for him to make such pronouncements is, I’m afraid, only worthy of mockery. But because he’s a good media performer and doesn’t give a rip about the consequences of what he says, he is indulged as some kind of affable eccentric.

    I’m not getting into the debate about what events should and shouldn’t be funded, apart from Rally Ireland, on this thread. Save to say that a rally doesn’t have the kind of political baggage that Orangefest, the West Belfast Festival or St Paddy’s Day have acquired (whether it’s perceived or real). I would point to the North West 200 again, which has AFAIK remained free from political controversy. I used to live on the route, and as one of those people who actually had a right to complain about being inconvenienced (our front gate was blocked off!), I wasn’t exactly put out by the whole thing.

    I don’t want to ‘play the man’, but it’s hard not to when someone’s politics are so childishly self-serving. Having considered the man’s statements, is pointing this out a ‘yellow card’ offence?

    I will, of course, abide by the decision of the referee.

  • Gonzo

    Oh, and there is a gay parade in Belfast.

  • Rory

    Gonzo, you have absolutely convinced me that Lord Loopy’s motives were less than pure and that he was merely attempting to draw funding for his own pet project. Still I am opposed to public funding for the reasons I have already given and I have no vested interests.

    Indeed I don’t even have a decent vest, so I am sorry but I won’t be able to join you on the Belfast Gay Parade. It wouldn’t be right for you to be seen with me and me not dressed properly.

  • pith

    It’s lovely, just lovely that they are giving money to the fast motors. Well done to whichever PR company has been working for Rally Ireland.