A very public spat

To the annoyance of her dectractors on the unionist benches (and elsewhere..), Education Minister Catriona Ruane would appear to have successfully intervened to resolve the Classroom Assistants’ Dispute. As interesting yesterday was the very public spat between the various trade unions representing Classroom Assistants. Whilst trade unions often differ in strategy, tactics and outlook, the convention (normally though not always adhered to) of not publicly criticising another union, particularly in the midst of a strike, was shattered.

  • slug

    Here endeth the party election blogcast.

  • Chris Donnelly

    slug

    on behalf of the Trade Union Party????

  • Fraggle

    Slug, plenty of people were very interested in this story last week. Has it somehow become less blog-worthy now that Ruane is seen sorting the problem out?

    Personally, I think it’s in the interests of education here that Ruane do a good job and lessen the chances of a religious fundamentalist party getting the job next time.

  • J_K

    Still you have to admit that Ruane’s intervention seems to have been the decisive factor in moving this closer to a resolution than it has been in over a decade.

    From the outside it often looked as some of the noise was very unionist driven and that people like basil mccrea were just abusing the classroom assisrants for their own narrow party political advantage.

    As for NIPSA – GMB it was very interesting – while everyone knows that Corry is a bit of a super stick and totally anti-SF; I don’t think anyone would have gone as far as accusing him of using his own membership for a political purpose. Then again maybe the GMB is on a big recruitment drive i.e join JMB we get things done – NIPSA are a shower of ineffective d@:>s.

  • Nevin

    “Dominic Bradley of the assembly’s education committee said he brought the issue before the assembly asking for an equitable settlement, and it had been endorsed.

    He said the committee was fully behind the classroom assistants.

    In a statement, the Department of Education added: “Given that discussions between the unions and the employers are on-going it would not be appropriate to comment further.” … BBC 20 September 2007

    So, the minister waited until the 11th hour before removing the brakes from the employing authority?

  • Smithsonian

    If it was in her power to fix it in a few days, why didn’t she intervene in June. Why was there no substantive talks over the summer period and why are NIPSA still talking about a strike on Tuesday if it is all fixed?

    Ruane is not up to the job.

  • anon

    How has Ruane sorted this out?

  • fair_deal

    First this actually is a reversal of her earlier decision as regards Classrooms Assistants pay. Second, the Assembly asked her to intervene before the summer break. She didn’t. It took the Assembly telling her for a second time to intervene and after strike action that a resolution is reached. Strange definition of success.

  • Shore Road Resident

    This posting by SF apologist Donnelly is itself evidence of how desperate the party is over Ruane’s performance.

  • Sean

    Anyone who has ever negotiated a contract with a union knows you never jump first and you never blink, Dont know the details of this case but its my expierience that 11th hour deals are both normal and beneficial to the employer. If she had settled it in June you would have accused her of being over-generous to the unions

    You’re just bitching because she is SF and is doing her job eficiently

  • Sean Og

    If the dispute has been settled (and it looks like it has) then that’s a good. If Ms Ruane’s intervention was the cause of it being settled (and it looks like it was)then she deserves praise for sorting the problem out.

    However, there are still serious questions around her ability to perform the role of Minister for Education.

    Her understanding of this issue has been demonstrated to be poor eg imposing the employers offer after it had been rejected by the employees and trying to say this was a good thing!
    Her performances in the Assembly are shocking when she allows Wee Sammy to drag her down to his level.
    Her performance at the head teachers conference in Armagh – another shocking performance where she demonstrated no understanding of the major concerns of head teachers and promised every teacher a lap top!
    Good morning Ulster last Tuesday was as bad as i have ever heard from a local Minister.

    She looks like a light weight completely out of her depth and I’d be surprised if she’s still in post by this time next year.
    What is her political advisor doing to earn his corn? She needs help and she needs it soon if she isn’t to sink completely.

  • slug

    Margaret Ritchie v Catriona Ruane. Battle royal.

  • Turgon

    slug,
    “Margaret Ritchie v Catriona Ruane. Battle royal.”
    Sadly it may well be. If, however, the outcome were decided on competence and debate it would be Catriona Ruane “lamb to the slaughter”.

  • fair_deal

    Sean Og

    I am getting the sense that she is another Bairbre. I don’t keep up that much with agricultural issues but the sense I get is Gildernew has been doing fine apart from some wind-up rhetoric.

    Maybe SF should take a leaf out of the DUP’s book and do a bit of shuffling of the deck. The choppy waters of academic selection are ahead so serious skills are required.

    There is also the general issue that the Department of Education is really one that needs taken by the scruff of the neck. Lots of discussion about the echelon below it and not half enough about its role and size.

  • patrique

    “Corry is a bit of a super stick”

    Where the hell did that come from?

    Oh I forgot, if you are anti-Sinn Fein and a taig you are a “stick”. Like Mark Durcan, John Hume and the rest?

  • Chris Donnelly

    FD

    If wind-up rhetoric were the basis for reshuffling, then Poots and Dodds would surely be long gone.

    Come to think of it, if avoiding controversy were the basis for re-shuffling, then Robinson would stand alone amongst the original DUP Ministers still in office:

    Poots ‘winding up’ over Irish Language, never mind indecision/ internal party turmoil over Stadium;

    Paisley Jnr over homosexual comments and being economical with truth over associations with certain developer;

    Dodds and Foster for handling of Giants Causeway affair.

    Judged by DUP standards, all three Sinn Fein ministers are streets ahead.

  • fair_deal

    A nerve has been touched methinks.

  • Nevin

    “Judged by DUP standards, …”

    Need we start so low, Chris? 😉

  • Frank Sinistra

    This is the Minister that unanimously endorsed PFI with her Executive colleagues? And she’s meant to have done something for workers? To think the Alliance were describing them as “barely moved out of revolutionary Marxism”.

  • Chris Donnelly

    FD

    Just pointing to the facts. The absence of a more lengthy reply- and defence of your own Ministers- suggests you are quite aware of them…

  • Pete Baker

    Just to note..

    We don’t actually know what the cost of this new offer will be.

  • fair_deal

    CD

    “If wind-up rhetoric were the basis for reshuffling, then Poots and Dodds would surely be long gone.”

    I am afraid you have misinterpreted my comments as intending to be negative about Gildernew. It was suggesting Gildernew be moved to education because of her seeming competence at Agriculture. A promotion rather than punishment.

    The reference to wind-up remarks was simply some of the press coverage I had seen about her since she became a minister, the only negative stuff was over her choice of language.

    As regards wind-up language, a forced coalition is never going to be an entirely easy one, so utterances that annoy others will happen. Maybe it comes under the category of “entitlememt”? 😉

    I haven’t been particularly impressed by Poots and Paisley Jnr’s media performances. Although to be fair to Poots he is what he is, a relatively dour farmer.

    On the ILA, the DUP’s position has been clear for some time. On the Maze, I consider the proposal dying a slow death to be a success of devolution not a failure.

    On the Causeway, Foster’s decision made Dodds’ a foregone conclusion. Unless you think the DoE and DETI simultaneously backing different proposals a good idea? As regards Foster’s minded decision it seems to have got a few asses in gear and minds focused with no final decision made. Hopefully the fannying about over the Centre is over.

    In terms of the future, my sense of the DUP is that it has a sufficiently ruthless streak.
    Those deemed to be under-performing by the party hierarchy will be dealt with.

  • Nevin

    Pete, have you noted this other alleged spat?

    Causeway row tycoon is accused of assault

  • fair_deal

    “The absence of a more lengthy reply”

    It’s called having a life but a more lengthy reply has been provided

    “- and defence of your own Ministers- suggests you are quite aware of them…”

    Defence of what I wish to defend is above. I am afraid I don’t claim ownership of the DUP ministers (much to the contentment of some of them I’m sure). Also blind loyalty to a party and all its representatives isn’t my style and a trait I consider neither useful to a party, its members or voters.

  • Nevin

    “In terms of the future, my sense of the DUP is that it has a sufficiently ruthless streak.”

    I nearly choked on my ovaltine, fd. Can you explain why Davy McAllister, the fourth man in the Bushmills photo, is still in the party?

    “As regards Foster’s minded decision it seems to have got a few asses in gear and minds focused with no final decision made. Hopefully the fannying about over the Centre is over.”

    When do you expect the minister to stop fannying about a la Ruane? When will she reject the Seaport green field project? The only councillor in Coleraine and Moyle riding to her aid is – Big Davy 🙂

  • Chris Donnelly

    FD

    You mustn’t have a life then ’cause your response was pretty lengthy and, in fairness, quite informative.

    Also- quite right about blind loyalty not being a useful trait, though naturally those using nom de plumes can speak more freely and liberally on public forums than others.

    Don’t know if Education should be viewed as a promotion on Agriculture- farmers certainly wouldn’t accept any diminution in the status of a Department tending to their affairs!

    In the round, however, I honestly believe it’s far too soon to judge the performance of any Minister. The initial honeymoon period- enjoyed by all except Minister Poots- will certainly come to an end in the coming 12 months when the business of governing- ie hard decision making- kicks in.

    Even the DUPers incredible mishandling of the Causeway matter will be seen as a more minor blip if their Ministers shortly and successfully get down to the business of tackling the bigger issues confronting them.

    Which is precisely why Ruane’s performance in seeming to chart a steady course through this first public challenge deserves to be acknowledged, and not begrudged. Catriona- like the other Ministers- will face many more challenges and hard decisions in the time to come.

  • fair_deal

    Nevin

    “When do you expect the minister to stop fannying about a la Ruane? When will she reject the Seaport green field project?”

    Taking a decision, even an unpopular one is not fannying about. I would assume the Seaport project will not go ahead in four scenarios:
    1. Seaport withdraws it as more hassle than it is worth or they can’t come up with the finance.
    2. The UNESCO issues can’t be resolved and confirm they will withdraw World Heritage status if it goes ahead.
    Neither of which solves the problem of no proper centre.
    3. The National Trust and Moyle finally get a proposal together that is better to the Seaport one. (If they can do it without £21m of public cash even better for all of us.)
    4. Seaport, MT and Moyle agree a joint proposal for the old site.

    CD

    “though naturally those using nom de plumes can speak more freely and liberally on public forums than others.”

    I am pretty certain with the exception of Poots all others would have a good handle on who I am. I also wouldn’t say anything different to their face, good old Ulster-Scots bluntness – it leads you to having a wide circle of people with hurt feelings and grudges against you 😉

    “In the round, however, I honestly believe it’s far too soon to judge the performance of any Minister. The initial honeymoon period- enjoyed by all except Minister Poots- will certainly come to an end in the coming 12 months when the business of governing- ie hard decision making- kicks in. ”

    A fair enough point, 18 months will be a more worthwhile assessment point that 5.

    “Which is precisely why Ruane’s performance in seeming to chart a steady course through this first public challenge deserves to be acknowledged, and not begrudged.”

    I am afraid on this one we genuinely disagree. I don’t think she handled it well regardless of her party affiliation.

  • slug

    I surprise myself by nominating Ian Paisley as the most impressive to date. His generally good humoured and constructive demeanour in the job has set a good context for the new Executive. The fact he is now in old age makes this even more impressive. I never thought I would see what has happened under him.

  • “If the dispute has been settled (and it looks like it has) then that’s a good. If Ms Ruane’s intervention was the cause of it being settled (and it looks like it was)then she deserves praise for sorting the problem out.”

    Not if she was 50% to blame for the problem in the first place. As another person put it to me recently when discussing this Sammy Wilson made this a political football but Ruane is as much to blame for kicking it back to him. In my mind, and I’m sure the minds of the others watching this situation, this isn’t good enough.

    In my opinion the shinners are foolish to have picked Education Ministry every time. Education is the one area where you are going to get a maximum number of pissed off voters no matter what you do. If not for tribal politics I have no doubt Ruane’s political career would be in tatters.

  • kensei

    “I am afraid on this one we genuinely disagree. I don’t think she handled it well regardless of her party affiliation.”

    I think you might be a touch jaundiced. Dealing with strikes is a tricky business, and neither governments nor companies are particularly great at it, especially when money is tight. Ruane tried to hold the line, it didn’t work, a deal was cut before things got totally out of hand. I think the precise success or failure can only be really judged when the cost and how it is being paid for is being revealed. Assuming that is agreeable, it was competent rather than spectacular.

    The DUP’s handling of the Causeway has been a cmplete PR, if nothing else.

  • slug

    kensei

    I agree that its been a total PR disaster (if that’s what you meant).

  • patrique

    Right, now that all those stupid troubles are over it is time for the real revolution. This one is not about flags, emblems or religion.

    It is now the time for the peoples revolution, against all Green and Orange Tories, because that’s what the assembly is.Time to get a living wage, raise the minimum wage to £25,000 per annum, accept the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, make strikes legal, cut profits, tax the rich, and let’s have a better redistribution of wealth.

    Everyone will be happier, reducing crime, violence and mayhem.

    Nearly everyone. There will be those who object to having to live on a mere £10 million net per annum, but these few (I know it is many at present) can be executed as an example to others. We could put their heads upon pikes outside the Northern bank.

    Hasta la victoria siempre.

    And I hope Argentina win tomorrow.

  • Nevin

    “4. Seaport, MT and Moyle agree a joint proposal for the old site.”

    You cannot be serious!!!

    What makes you think Seaport (NI) Limited has insufficient resources? Do you or does anyone else know who the main shareholders are, including the depth of their pockets?

    Why hasn’t Davy McAllister been thrown out of the apparently spineless DUP?

  • Turgon

    Patrique,
    I am not a lawyer and know little about the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, but I am unsure how it stands on executing people and putting their heads on spikes outside the Northern Bank. Might that problem stall the revolution or is there an easy way around it?

  • fair_deal

    Nevin

    1. No.4 has the potential to solve everyone’s problems regardless of its unlikelihood or associated difficulties.
    2. Please note I used the term “assume”, I am not claiming insight or knowledge.
    3. On DA, don’t know.

  • Nevin

    fd, can I remind you of some of the minister’s comments:

    “The Minister said: “I have recently received a report from the Planning Service on a planning application by Seaport Investments Ltd for a new Visitor and Study Centre at the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site. I have given this report my fullest consideration and have also taken the opportunity to visit the site.

    “Having done so, I have concluded that there is considerable merit in what is proposed and I am of a mind to approve it. ..”

    Does the about-turn in your analysis come from ministerial or DUP sources? Do you suppose the minister might not have been privy to all of the documents in planning service file?

    Then on September 11:

    “I do not know the applicant, have never met him, and know nothing about him.”

    Well, apart from the meeting with the delegation from Coleraine Borough on July 9, 2007, when I understand she ‘parked’ part of the Sweeney/ Seaport Mountsandel development.

  • patrique

    In legal terms Turgon, the Charter is silent on putting heads on pikes, so I do not see any legal difficulty with this chosen path.

    As long as it is not obstructing traffic.

  • Turgon

    Patrique,
    I stand corrected.

  • fair_deal

    Nevin

    “Does the about-turn in your analysis come from ministerial or DUP sources?”

    What about-turn in my analysis? You asked a question ” When do you expect the minister to stop fannying about a la Ruane? When will she reject the Seaport green field project?” and I gave it a civil answer.

    I made clear it was my own opinion and that it was based on assumption ” I would assume the Seaport project will not go ahead in four scenarios:”

    Why am I getting the sensation that I am somehow going to get dragged into the purported conspiracy? I have not received a ministerial or DUP briefing on the Causeway issue. You are seriously over-estimating both my degree of interest in the issue and my level of access to ministers of the DUP or any other party.

  • Nevin

    fd, if you make assertions like, “In terms of the future, my sense of the DUP is that it has a sufficiently ruthless streak. Those deemed to be under-performing by the party hierarchy will be dealt with.”, then you can expect to be challenged.

    Why do you mention ‘conspiracy’? I’ve merely described some of the relationships and pointed out a few of the contradictions. I’ve also tried to put the debate in context by putting up links to UNESCO and PACNI as well as to the Northern Ireland Courts Service alongside some maps and photos.

  • fair_deal

    Nevin

    “you can expect to be challenged.”

    I have no problem being challenged on my own opinions nor did I complain about it. It is disingenous to claim otherwise.

    However, on the Causeway decision you didn’t challenge my opinions you tried to imply they were the views of others and I have somehow possess ‘inside’ knowledge on the Causeway decision that I don’t.

    “Why do you mention ‘conspiracy’? I’ve merely described some of the relationships and pointed out a few of the contradictions. ”

    Word parsing again. I said purported conspiracy. The nudge-nudge/what about this huh stuff around the Causeway decision is that something untoward happened ie purported conspiracy.

    Your contributions have not been restricted to simply UNESCO and planning links which are a genuine contribution to the debate about the siting and development of a new centre.

    Again as we previously discussed a comment such as “I suspect she was only involved in putting stage 2 on hold – a brownie point.” are something different from that.

    As I said before good luck with your research if it uncovers anything IMO action should follow.

  • Nevin

    “I said purported conspiracy. The nudge-nudge/what about this huh stuff around the Causeway decision is that something untoward happened ie purported conspiracy.”

    fd, what has this to do with any of my contributions?

    I gave the minister a brownie point for making a positive response to the concerns expressed by the Coleraine delegation re. the developer’s Mountsandel development after contradicting her ‘I know nothing about him’ September 11 claim. Isn’t that a fair deal? 😉

  • Nevin

    “Which is precisely why Ruane’s performance in seeming to chart a steady course”

    Chris, it seemed more like she was propelled in a particular direction to me; the brakes on the employers were removed.

  • patrique

    Very few posts about the strike, mostly sectarian bigotry. And how do we get rid of Ruane, DUP and anyone else? By supporting the strikers, uniting as workers, and voting them out.

    Sooooo easssssyyyy.

    But then , we couldn’t turn a thread about Mozart’s Operas into a sectarian rant.

    I suppose we can’t have everything.

    Time to choose.

  • kensei

    “Very few posts about the strike, mostly sectarian bigotry. And how do we get rid of Ruane, DUP and anyone else? By supporting the strikers, uniting as workers, and voting them out.”

    More likely to just shift them about a bit, given present setup.

    Also, the returns at the last election suggest people don’t actually want them out.

  • Nevin

    “As I said before good luck with your research if it uncovers anything IMO action should follow.”

    All researchers face the threat of legal action, fd; the price of free speech could be penury. I also think it’s time that our political representatives and the Plain People were protected from legal blackmail.

  • fair_deal

    “I gave the minister a brownie point for making a positive response to the concerns expressed by the Coleraine delegation re. the developer’s Mountsandel development after contradicting her ‘I know nothing about him’ September 11 claim. Isn’t that a fair deal? ;)”

    We’ve had a debate about this phraseology before. My views haven’t changed.

    “All researchers face the threat of legal action, fd; the price of free speech could be penury.”

    The price of libel is penury.

  • Nevin

    I wasn’t thinking of libel, fd, but legal coercion and blackmail.

    Your views are your own but your ‘nudge nudge’ attacks stink.

  • barnshee

    “To the annoyance of her dectractors on the unionist benches (and elsewhere..), Education Minister Catriona Ruane would appear to have successfully intervened to resolve the Classroom Assistants’ Dispute”

    Another strike planned for this week– thank fuck she intervened sucessfully otherwise they would be out for ever