Good advice doesn’t come cheap for taxpayer…

STORMONT’S “special advisers were created to assist Ministers with their political duties, as temporary civil servants. In any other part of the UK, when the Minister loses office, the adviser goes too,” says Alliance leader David Ford. But not in Northern Ireland, where the four largest parties have spent more than £1 million of your money to pay for ministerial advisers while there were err, no ministers. £45k a year for each might turn out to be money well spent, but can the parties not fund ‘ministerial’ advisers themselves until they’re actually in government?

  • fair_deal

    “can the parties not fund ‘ministerial’ advisers themselves until they’re actually in government?”

    If you read their last submitted accounts, no they can’t with the exception of the SDLP.

  • David

    Jobs for the boys (and possibly girls too).

  • Aaron McDaid

    I’d like to scrap the whole shebang, but seeing as that’s not going to happen I suggest we just scrap the MLAs’ salaries. It’s the MLAs as a group who have failed the electorate, not the advisors and secretaries and so on.

  • Gonzo

    FD

    Fine, but why have any at all during suspension?

  • fair_deal

    Gonzo

    1. The number of advisers was reduced during the period of suspension.
    2. No one knew how long the suspension (not abolition) was to be.
    3. There have been ongoing negotiations in that period.

  • joeCanuck

    Fair Deal
    Are you really suggesting that there have been negotiations (as most of us understand the word) between the two main parties?

  • Brendan, Belfast

    Joecanuck

    Are you really suggesting that there has not been ongoing negotiation between them? (maybe you are being sarcastic – in which case i embarassingly apologise)

  • Gonzo

    Fair Deal

    1. The number of advisers was reduced during the period of suspension.

    …and the number of ministers was reduced to zero. I think it’s fair to say the number of advisers fell because they got out, rather than anything reduction that was imposed. If they hadn’t left of their own volition, they’d still be there.

    2. No one knew how long the suspension (not abolition) was to be.

    Several senior DUP members, for example, had a good idea that it would run into years (at least that’s what they told me), as did most serious political observers.

    3. There have been ongoing negotiations in that period.

    …resulting in no government, no executive and no ministers. Expensive advice for continuing failure.

    It’s hard to get of the gravy train.

  • Crataegus

    Complete and utter waste of money.

    It typifies the bad management of NI and the scant regard there is for prudent expenditure. What the political plonkers choose to ignore is that the cost of advisers or indeed their own salaries and expenses all relate to a body that is not functioning. When will someone say enough is enough! It is an utter disgrace!*!*!*

    The money would be far better spent on Primary Education and pre primary child care on the Shankill. It really is immoral.

  • Nestor Makhno

    Well, looking at it from a slightly cynical perspective, it’s a reasonable clever approach by the government for only a few million quid:

    Slowly help build the parties’ machinery to such an extent that, to survive as organisations, they need to engage with executive institutions. (The first prerogative of an successful organisation being its own survival – and that’s as true for the DUP as it is for the Catholic Church).

    Come to think of it – is it the classic drug dealer behaviour? Give your customers the first few hits free and eventually they have to come back to you for more?

  • fair_deal

    Gonzo

    “Several senior DUP members, for example, had a good idea that it would run into years (at least that’s what they told me), as did most serious political observers.”

    The hunches of members of one party and the journos they have talked too are not the best basis for big decisions. Also there was almost a deal in December 2004.

    “…resulting in no government, no executive and no ministers. Expensive advice for continuing failure.”

    1. Again they came close in December 2004 and we are presently having another attempt.

    “It’s hard to get of the gravy train.”

    1. The number of advisers was cut with suspension as was MLA salaries.
    2. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Moral outrage. Look political parties get public money let’s start calculating how many hip replacements could have been paid for etc. The usual ‘anti-politics’ stance of a lazy media.

    The public want political parties to do XYZ. This costs money and its going to come from somewhere. It is clear from the party accounts they don’t want to donate the money themselves. Also if you go to wealthy people for money you will get attacked for corruption.

    Shall we look at the problems these contradictions are creating? Bollix to that let’s just portray them as all pigs at the trough.

    Let’s roll out MLA’s office expenses next week to keep it all going. The fact that the office expenses are what covers direct services to the public will be somehow omitted, imply it is being ‘pocketed’ so newspapers made fat by excessive charging on public advertising can take a ‘moral’ stance.

    joecanuck

    “have been negotiations (as most of us understand the word) between the two main parties?”

    There have been multi-lateral negotiations going on in various forms since suspension