What did the Assembly ever do for us..?

FORMER peace talks chairman, George Mitchell, has said Northern Ireland’s parliamentarians held their own as political leaders on the world stage while they were in power. “In the short time that they did have authority and engage in self government, I think it’s universally recognised that they did a good job,” he said. The European Court of Justicce would beg to differ. Perhaps I’m being uncharitable by singling out one area where the Assembly failed to act responsibly, so I’m sure Slugger fans will be happy to set the record straight and list the ways in which it made a real difference to their lives. If anyone tells me that hundreds of people are still alive because of it, at least I’ll know that that the NIO really does post on this site.

  • Nevin

    BG, we’ve been in the merde for many years so perhaps it’s a little harsh to point the finger at the short-lived Executive.

    A new sewage treatment plant near Portrush is nearing completion. Of course, it may not be up to best EU practice ….

  • BonarLaw

    “In the short time that they did have authority and engage in self government, I think it’s universally recognised that they did a good job,”

    How does he know? He was on the first available plane out after the signing in 1998 and only agreed to chair the subsequent review if it was held in London.

  • parcifal

    I suggest it not what the Assembly can do for us, its “What can we do in the Assembly”
    JFK inspired !

  • Nevin

    Bonar, perhaps all this gratuitous flattery means that Mitchell is hoping for call from London and Dublin in the near future …

  • Crataegus

    Let me see why are we getting water rates. Which political parties agreed? Which specific Ministers?

    Please we don’t need spin they were plain average.

  • The Clockwoman

    EU best practice should be UK best practice which should be Ireland best practice which should be … you get the picture!

  • Nevin

    Clockwoman, do you if Ireland pumps raw sewage into the sea too?

    Unofficial figures for Portballintrae suggest the effluent levels in the bays are about twice as high as those in Portrush. A young friend of mine suddenly lost interest in water sports there when I mentioned this to her!!

  • Mick Fealty

    This story is worth a thread of its own (which I might well do later). The story behind it is about what happens when there is no locally accountable ministerial control.

    According to the Water Council (the toothless quango left overseeing this mess when our politicians went awol) some of the senior civil servants tasked with overseeing this mess have complained of having little or no political to prompt them into proper action.

    The scary thought is that this is just the tip of the iceberg… There is also a related development issue attached to this, that sets up some interesting conflicts for those complaining about ‘draconian’ planning laws that were recently introduced.

  • coaster

    Does this mean any icebergs turning up in portballintrae will be of a vaguely yellow hue?

  • Observer

    The Assembly while in existance; 1999, 2001; 2002 did little for Northern Ireland.




    Building control?

    The only people they were ever concerned about was themselves.

    The thoughts of an Assemblyman:

    “Should I have steak today or chicken?; Sprouts or carrots?”

    I admit that there were some good people but I would have major reservations over the setup and functions of the ‘Executive’ and the people in it.

    George Mitchell is talking non-sense. He’s throwing a positive statement into the air before an election.

  • Belfast Gonzo


    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it a locally accountable minister who messed up the situation (or at the least, did nothing to change it) while in charge of the environment in the first place?

    I’m referring to Dermot Nesbitt, if that helps ring any bell. I’m fuzzy on detail, but perhaps others remember. Something about development that should have been halted in numerous areas in order to avoid breaching EU environmental regulations, but which wasn’t, thus leading to massive fines for, well, me and you.

    If you think the quango is reluctant to rock the boat, was the Assembly much better?

    I’ve yet to hear a positive response on this thread yet either!

  • Crataegus


    ‘draconian’ planning laws that were recently introduced.

    It is not draconian planning laws that are the problem but planning policy that is not properly thought through. It is about lack of coordination and lack of foresight and a total failure to address the needs of the growing population. It is also about lack of imagination and the introduction of draft documents in consultation as policy. The department is now virtually dysfunctional, ask the opinion of anyone in the building industry; anyone that has to deal with them, be they objectors or developers. Even the very legality of their decisions is being questioned it is an utter mess.


    You are not far off the mark.

    Perhaps a few of the political parties would like to remember their support for the introduction of water rates when in office? A bit of honesty goes a long way!

  • parcifal

    If the Assembly gets going, we might be able to get to grips with floating turds, and not be “bogged down” by floating voters.
    Progress surely?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    You’re not talking complete crap, but I’ve yet to be convinced that there will be real movement in the bowels of government.

  • Good initial question, Gonzo. I guess if there is a long monologue on this thread you’ll know it’s Bob McCartney.

  • Mick Fealty


    That is a little unkind. After an initial stop on fifty plus environmental hotspot areas, there was a provisional arrangement to allow developers to continue under close monitoring in the summer of ’02.

    But it would appear that that monitoring was not maintained after the minister left his post in the October of that year. Indeed it is not clear that it was ever commenced in the first place!

  • Mick Fealty

    Ah, not the summer. The stop was initiated in May, I think, by the Minister for the Environment, Dermot Nesbitt. He then told the Northern Ireland Assembly 7th October 2002 that he had established clear monitoring and review mechanisms.

    Will try to post on this later…

  • Mick Fealty

    Thw quango was bleedin’ furious BTW, but it had no grind with direct rule ministers even to view the legal advice the department had commissioned. That would not have happened under the Minister, who would have been held directly accountable, and therefore had an incentive to act.

  • Much like Holyrood and the GLA, it’s made the case against devolution pretty eloquently.

  • Mick Fealty

    How so Karl?

  • Doreen

    The last Assembly did little for us: dogs got the chance of a second bite (actually, I approved of that piece of legislation), and there was something about international adoption, which really affects a lot of us here (bet the African countries are not covered by the recent poofter legislation). And yes, Mrs Rogers did well over foot-and-mouth disease.

    On the other hand remember: the Durkan tax; where water charges first raised their ugly head; where hospital waiting lists were not lowered; and where no-one really did anything at all about the very serious deficit in the sewerage infrastructure.

    So much for accountable, local Ministers.

    Once bitten et cetera.

  • BonarLaw


    the Dangerous Dogs legislation is the lasting testement to the initial period of devolution.

    Fitting then that it is badly drafted, convoluted and vague simultaneously.

  • rj

    So, do we:

    1 blame those who were Ministers and not up to it?

    2 blame the structures of the Agreement, that meant there was little real opposition and far too cosy an Executive relationship, with nobody really caring what went on in someone else’s silo?

    3 blame the abrasive personalities of Trimble and Mallon, which maginfied the problems of 2 and failed to keep an eye on 1?

    4 all of the above?

  • barnshee

    A few embarassing FACTS

    NI receives more money from the treasury than the natives pay in TAX (its the subvention stupid)

    “Thats yer lot” (and very generous of GB if I may say so.

    If a lot of the ( very generous) payment was used up in paying compensation for (inter alia)

    1 People blowing up infrastructure
    2 Murdering public servants
    3 Inquiries

    Then–somewhat obviously there was not a lot leftover for water improvements and now you want GB to pick up the bill for the shithole that was created??
    Incredible–the people who made the mess should at least pay to clear it up.

  • abucs

    i think the DUP did exceptionally well out of the previous executive.

  • Greenflag

    Devolution for Northern Ireland was/is/and will be a complete waste of the English taxpayer’s money and that’s probably the only good thing that can be said for it 🙂

    A powerless sectarian based Assembly is not a substitute for ‘real ‘ democracy!

  • Maladministration, inefficiency, petty personal courruption, incomeptence, assorted illegality (as per judicial review), an utter absence of talent more stark even than the Numpty hoose at Holyrood, and, most tellingly (thank you NIO private polling), it’s entirely justified unpopularity with the public. All of those did a fine and dandy job in butressing the arguments people like me have always made against devolution and always will.

  • There are generally too many pictures of gurning ould gits wearing cloth caps (what do you mean, ‘”candid snapshots of the UUC at work & play”, shuurely?’?) in the flickr window, but this was pretty: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paddymccann/380437361/in/pool-northernireland/ Not least because it’s about the only bit of belfast that should be left standing, after the rest is razed and salt ploughed into the furrows.