Minister baulks at picket line..

Nothing online on this yet, but BBC Radio Ulster news at 1pm reported that a planned visit from the Education minister to a school in Londonderry today, affected by the classroom assistants strike, has been cancelled. According to the report a spokesman for the minister said that the visit was cancelled due to the striking classroom assistants.. or rather, the picket line which, on “a point of principle”, the minister is refusing to cross.. Now, about that dose of realism.. Adds Belfast Telegraph reportFrom the added report

A DfE spokeswoman said: “The Minister is disappointed that the school visit did not go ahead, but she was not prepared to cross any picket line. She hopes that the visit will go a head at a later date.

“Her refusal to cross the picket line was a point of principal and not specifically related to this action.”

“a point of principal“?!? Is that the same Department of Education spokeswoman as noted here? [or just the Telegraph’s error? – Ed]

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  • interested

    Is Catriona secretly moonlighting as a classroom assistant? Might explain why she’s so rubbish as Minister.

    After all, that would be the only reason she wouldn’t cross the picket line wouldn’t it? Otherwise then she’s tacitly criticising teachers for going to work.

    Not that she’d have got a hard time off the strikers of course….. reminds me of the placard at last weeks protest “When will my day come Catriona?”

    Its classic Ruane stuff though – avoid substance at all costs and deal only in hushed platitudes in a vain attempt that people wont notice that you don’t have a clue. Good luck with that one Minister.

  • Are we still harping on about this? What about Irish Medium education? Back to important issue people.

  • avoid substance at all costs and deal only in hushed platitudes in a vain attempt that people wont notice that you don’t have a clue

    Catriona made an important statement on the future of primary education today. It went:

    I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.

    I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadows. If I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe.

    This is just typical Catriona waffle. If she thinks the strikers are right, she should give them their pay award; if she thinks they’re wrong, she shouldn’t have a problem crossing the picket line. Either way, she’s in charge and the bourgeois lefty gesture politics don’t actually mean anything. If you have a problem, Catriona, you’re, you know like, the Minister and all so do something about it instead of whingeing.

    As a former civil service union member, I went out on several strikes which I personally thought were silly because I felt myself to be bound by collective responsibility. I never thought any the worse of any Minister crossing a picket line to do the job the electorate put them in to do. Oh, and perhaps Catriona might like to do a Google search on the phrase “collective responsibility” in the time she saves from cancelling school visits.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Catriona is a disaster.

  • McGrath

    This is the problem with extremists in government. Here we have a leftie minister who wont deal with the unions. A while ago we had a rightie minister insulting the gay community.

  • Maybe she just doesn’t have the (tennis) balls to meet them face-to-face on the line.

  • The Dubliner

    I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.

    I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadows.

    Sammy, that’s the funniest thing I’ve read in weeks. I thought that you were using twee Michael Jackson or such lyrics to parody the Minister along with botched Indian proverbs – until I realised that she actually said that!

  • Sean Og

    She didn’t say that! It’s a wind up.

    I just wish she would wake up some morning and realise “Hey, I’m the Minister for Education! I’m going to use this position to do something useful for all the school children”!

  • middle-class ****

    Aye, isn’t it desperate to have a minister who won’t do the decent thing and abandon her principles on the altar of craven expediency!?

    Sammy

    BY which “collective responsibility” is Catriona bound? On what basis? I can’t see how that convention can be said to apply to the devolved power-sharing Executive. Certainly, it cannot be assumed to have such a convention ab initio.

    I think what I mean is, give your mouth a chance.

  • The Dubliner

    Oh, that’s disappointing. That would have been Quote of the Year in my book. I’ll go with my first guess about it being corny song lyric, then.

  • kensei

    “If she thinks the strikers are right, she should give them their pay award; if she thinks they’re wrong, she shouldn’t have a problem crossing the picket line.”

    Where’s the money coming from Sammy?

    If it was that simple you could run the economy by computer and Communism would have worked.

  • kensei

    “BY which “collective responsibility” is Catriona bound? On what basis? I can’t see how that convention can be said to apply to the devolved power-sharing Executive.”

    Also, when did the cabinet make a collective decision either way on giving more money to the strikers?

  • jerryp

    ” I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.

    I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadows. ”

    Even Dana at her cringeworthy worst wasn’t that bad !

  • miss fitz

    I believe the children are our are future
    Teach them well and let them lead the way
    Show them all the beauty they possess inside
    Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
    Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
    Everybody searching for a hero
    People need someone to look up to
    I never found anyone who fulfill my needs
    A lonely place to be
    So I learned to depend on me

    Chorus:
    I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
    If I fail, if I succeed
    At least I’ll live as I believe
    No matter what they take from me
    They can’t take away my dignity
    Because the greatest love of all
    Is happening to me
    I found the greatest love of all
    Inside of me
    The greatest love of all
    Is easy to achieve
    Learning to love yourself
    It is the greatest love of all

  • miss fitz

    That was Whitney (Ruane) Houston’s lyrics, btw

  • bumper

    The ‘I believe the children are our future-but scrub them, I’m away unless I get a few more quid’ line has been played all week by the unions.

    The current public apathy over the NIPSA strike will shortly turn into outright hostility if the weans continue to miss out on schooling.

  • rapunsel

    Catriona is doing what is called having her cake and eating it.

    It’s in her interests for the employers not to bow to the unions on this one to save money , so she engages in a totally pathetic and empty gesture of support.

    If she suppported the classroom assistants , their demands would have been met by now.

    She’s gone down big time in my esteem on this one.

    Not so sure either that the picket was a good move by NIPSA today,( I’m a member by the way) did the principal not say that his classroom assistants were not actually on strike and the picket line was not related to his school?

    Embarassing the minister, causing disruption and aggravation to a school not in the dispute and getting criticised by the principal of a special school does not good headlines make!

  • patrique

    and Communism would have worked.
    Posted by kensei on Oct 03, 2007 @ 06:43 PM

    “Would have worked”. Why has anybody ever tried it?

    Apart from him they crucified 2000 years ago, and that was hardly a fair trial, as he was never in power.

  • MacAedha

    Interesting report in the Telegraph,
    it appears the minister believes it is proper for latino’s to strike and for her to travel thousands of miles to support them but, God help the underpaid in her own country who she has the power to assist; as I pointed out on another (related) thread get the money by reducing the dreadful overspend in administration.

  • kensei

    ““Would have worked”. Why has anybody ever tried it?”

    As an economic theory, yes.

  • Dessertspoon

    “I believe the children are our are future…” Classic song, anyone remember the Sexual Chocolate version?

  • BY which “collective responsibility” is Catriona bound? On what basis? I can’t see how that convention can be said to apply to the devolved power-sharing Executive.

    If you have no collective responsibility, then what you have is a government running a series of policy fiefdoms with no co-ordination, no proper financial planning and no cognisance of the fact that real world problems cut across neat bureaucratic silos. It’s a recipe for bad government, poor services, and chronic budget problems. This should not be a remotely controversial issues.

    Where’s the money coming from Sammy?

    You’re going to be really pissed off at me for saying this, but what about the cost of segregation? How much could you save in all the villages where a primary school with 50 pupils sits next to a primary school with 30 pupils, when both buildings were built for 200 pupils in the days when people had lots of children? On the heating and lighting costs alone?

    How much could you save by making it possible for children to attend the school in the town they actually live in, rather than bussing them down the road to a single identity school and co-incidentally sending the message that they aren’t really welcome in their own town (like, every Catholic secondary and grammar pupil in Antrim Town is bussed to Randalstown, Ballymena or Belfast for post-Primary education)?

    Or you could not decide to dump the Bain criteria out the window when the schools under threat came from a sector you personally supported.

    Or, moving away from that particular issue, how much money could you save by looking at why a department whose “customer base” is shrinking by the year is probably even more expensive and heavily staffed than in the past?

    Or, you could just tap Peter Robinson on the shoulder and ask him for a million or two.

    No evidence that she’s done any of these things.

    I remember when Catriona first came here, before she was in Sinn Féin and I think before she was even involved with the West Belfast Festival, she’d just come off with streams of stupid Marxist platitudes about every issue under the sun. 15 years or so later and nothing has changed, except that she actually has power which she clearly doesn’t have a clue how to use.

  • nmc

    Sexual Chocolate version?

    Eddie Murphy at his best.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    “According to the report a spokesman for the minister said that the visit was cancelled due to the striking classroom assistants.. or rather, the picket line which, on “a point of principle”, the minister is refusing to cross…”

    Is Ruane for real? “On a point of principle” she won’t cross a picket-line that her department is the cause of, yet she can represent a party whose “cutting edge” bombed and butchered, with and without success, in countries as far afield as Germany and the island of Gibraltar, to closer at home throughout the United Kingdom.

    The world has gone mad…

    Sectarian
    Demonisation
    Loyalist
    People

  • Rapunsel

    Doesn’t take the SDLP to demonise the loyalist people, the UDA are doing a good enough job of that themselves without need of much assistance .

  • bumper paypacket

    This strike is dying on its feet. No publicity, No impact and No support from the other Unions.

    Great Leadership from NIPSA-hope they enjoy their own Bumper paypackets………

  • kensei

    “You’re going to be really pissed off at me for saying this, but what about the cost of segregation? How much could you save in all the villages where a primary school with 50 pupils sits next to a primary school with 30 pupils, when both buildings were built for 200 pupils in the days when people had lots of children? On the heating and lighting costs alone?”

    Without going into detail – not easily and immediately realizable.

  • patrique

    The strike is going really well, and the NIPSA leadership are holding firm. It is a pity that it is illegal for other unions to join in, such as the teachers. As for classroom assistants, they must all be in NIPSA by now.

    Incidently, I don’t know what constitutes a bumper paypacket but the average NIPSA official would earn in four years what Rio Ferdinand earns in a week. Shows you what type of world we live in.

    Poor old bumper is getting worried. You must be employed as a thief, sorry, business person.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Rapunsel,

    Your remarks aren’t relevant to the subject we’re discussing, but I’ll quickly address your smarmy prejudice.
    The UDA were formed to defend Protestant/Loyalist communities from Republican incursions in the early 70’s. There was only a UDA because there was an IRA – the UDA were, as their name implies, simply a “Defence Association”.
    To say that this organisation demonises the Loyalist community isn’t very erudite Rapunsel. If the “UDA packed up and went home” as some of the haters are calling for, the ordinary Loyalist working-classes would feel betrayed and “sold down the river” and would simply turn to the UVF or even other maverick, dissident delinquents who haven’t a political thought in their brain. These are men and women who have been expelled from mainstream Loyalism because they are, beneath all the histionics and acts of bravado, nothing more than Ordinary Criminals (I won’t disrespect all the ODC’s incarcerated throughout the UK by placing the word “Decent” in the middle of that description of these thugs, drug-dealers and bully-boys).
    Perhaps that’s what Ritchie wants. A fragmented Loyalist community ill-at-ease with itself and an alphabet soup of organisations springing up to take the place of the now-defunct criminal LVF.
    A bunch of Walter Mittys have already had their photos taken for the Sunday Life a few months back, with a Shankill Brigade “Real UFF” Bannerette in the background with the names of other Scottish Battalions.
    This organisation does not exist of course, it is a motley crew of yesterday’s men who are just waiting for a window to open for them to make their mark. They are opportunists and when people like Ritchie make draconian, sectarian political posturings, they will try and stir up the disillusionment of the Loyalist communities they live in and will attempt to portray the UDA as an organisation that once defended their communities, but were now more interested in bowing down to a hostile, nationalist Minister and keeping face with the British and Banana Republic Governments…
    Do you understand the position Ritchie has put the Association in or can you not see through your one eye?

  • Sean Og

    “the island of Gibraltar” ??
    Doesn’t say much for education system does it?

    Ritchie’s stand is playing well with all shades of local opinion except supporters of the UDA. That’s why she’ll continue. If the “loyalist community” are really all behind the UDA, how come they never voted for their representatives in any numbers?

  • Sean Og

    What would Ms Ruane do if NIPSA picket Rathgael House or Stormont?

  • Rapunsel

    Concerned loyalist. I think it’s fairly evident to readers where the smarm is.

    But to be fair you have some good points to make. The key issue here is that Margaret Ritchie cannot be blamed about the problems within working class loyalist communities.

    Perhaps the UPRG also needs to take a look at itself here.

    As far as I know one of the aim of the direct rule ministers and the DSD who initially funded the project was to secure UDA decommissioning. It was reported to me that there was contentment to turn a blind eye to the jobs for the boys culture and enrichment (I mean come on Sammy Duddy in a well paid post as a community development worker? ) because the potential prize was so great. No one actually believes or wants the UDA to emerge as the effective and respected voice of community development in certain loyalist working class communities. ( it is not up to the job, doesn;t have the talent and there is opposition from other community organisations who have worked hard for years, neither it is the job of the tax payer to try and bolster an organisation that doesn’t have community support and can’t deliver! ). The aim of the funding was to secure UDA decommissioning and eventually see the UDA disband. There might be some strong community organisations left in the future in the likes of Sandy Row and Taughmonagh but the rest would not be expected to survive.

    Margaret Ritchie is not demonising anyone, it’s time to deliver . You are underestimating her strength of character ( and I’m no great admirer) and overestinmating the support out there for the UDA

  • Without going into detail – not easily and immediately realizable.

    Which you seem to be using as an excuse not to realise it at all. Ruane has hundreds of civil servants working for her; she could have initial proposals produced by Christmas, consult on them by Easter and have a phased introduction of the policy between September 2008 and September 2010, which would allow an immediate pay award to be given with savings to be realised across the Comprehensive Spending Review period.

    Or she could say that she thinks that this isn’t really a priority, not give them the money, be honest, and cut the empty gesture politics.

    But the oppositional MOPE whingeing doesn’t actually work when you’re in charge.

    But I suppose a Sinn Féin minister could say the moon was made of green cheese and some people on Slugger would defend it.

  • middle-class ****

    Sammy

    “If you have no collective responsibility, then what you have is a government running a series of policy fiefdoms with no co-ordination, no proper financial planning and no cognisance of the fact that real world problems cut across neat bureaucratic silos. It’s a recipe for bad government, poor services, and chronic budget problems. This should not be a remotely controversial issues.”

    We’re over here in the real world. Do you want to come and join us?

    “You’re going to be really pissed off at me for saying this …”

    That was a srange comment. You seem to imply that nationalists would necessarily be angered by calls for integrated education. I’m not sure why you think that’s so.

    “How much could you save by making it possible for children to attend the school in the town they actually live in, rather than bussing them down the road to a single identity school and co-incidentally sending the message that they aren’t really welcome in their own town (like, every Catholic secondary and grammar pupil in Antrim Town is bussed to Randalstown, Ballymena or Belfast for post-Primary education)?”

    Without prejudice to my previous comment, I am always a little bemused that the Alliance solution to every problem seems to start with some variation on the “everything would be fine if we could only close down the catholic schools” gambit.

    How would you propose to pay for the costs of socialising communities in our more, shall we say, polarised areas so that they’re prepared to take people from the “other” community into their schools? Or is your plan to have fifty Jena-scenarios dotted around the North?

    “I remember when Catriona first came here …”

    The “Southern Shinner interloper” gambit. Elegantly done. Where was she before? Some other country?

    “she’d just come off with streams of stupid Marxist platitudes about every issue under the sun. 15 years or so later and nothing has changed”

    The ever-popular “Shinner as unprincipled Marxist blowhard” gambit. Nice one Sammy.

    So not crossing a picket line is a Marxist platitude. Grief.

    “But I suppose a Sinn Féin minister could say the moon was made of green cheese and some people on Slugger would defend it.”

    Ah, the unthinking, swivel-eyed, Shinner automaton gambit – you’re doing a bit of a medley today, Sammy. Are you here all week?

  • Bumper

    Not much talk about the all-out strike by NIPSA Classroom Assistants, which is due to start tomorrow. Looks like the Posties have stolen their thunder. I’m beginning to feel sorry for the predicament of the CAs due to the inept and amateurish way that they have been led by NIPSA. Unnecessary financial hardship caused by the misguided armchair generals in that Union who will nevertheless still be lifting their own, fat, pay-packets.

  • We’re over here in the real world. Do you want to come and join us?

    Oh, the Alliance are starry eyed, Cultra-inhabiting idealists who don’t live in the real world. That’s the oldest gambit in the book.

    You choose to respond to a serious issue of substance with a one-line epithet, which shows the weakness of your own argument. You seem to assume that fragmented government delivering poor services is normal and acceptable, and has no real world consequences. Sadly, it does have real world consequences, as this strike demonstrates.

    Proper collective responsibility shouldn’t be a controversial issue; I don’t know of any other government in the democratic world that operates without it. It’s Paisley and McGuinness’ responsibility to deliver it. If you don’t think this is a problem then, with the greatest of respect, you don’t know much about government.

    That was a srange comment. You seem to imply that nationalists would necessarily be angered by calls for integrated education. I’m not sure why you think that’s so.

    Read up the thread before jumping on that high horse. This is a long-standing argument between Kensei (a confirmed integrated education sceptic) and I; I have no trouble acknowledging the strong support given to the integrated education movement by many nationalists and republicans. Nor do I see why you would imagine that I would.

    start with some variation on the “everything would be fine if we could only close down the catholic schools” gambit.

    Balls. You obviously don’t have a clue about what you’re talking about. CCMS are closing the schools because of falling rolls. The question in whether you provide replacement provision in Catholic schools some distance away, or in an integrated facility in approximately the same location. If you look at the history of loyalist intimidation in somewhere like Antrim, it doesn’t take you to be paranoid to wonder about the sort of message that is sent out by having nowhere in the town where Catholic children can attend secondary school.

    The “Southern Shinner interloper” gambit. Elegantly done. Where was she before? Some other country?

    This wasn’t remotely in my mind when I typed that, and a long with the rest of those alleged insults, is a product of your fevered persecution complex. Sinn Féin are in charge here. No-one is being persecuted. Democracy requires that they be held to account. A Minister being asked a difficult question is not exactly Kristallnacht.

    So not crossing a picket line is a Marxist platitude. Grief.

    When you are simultaneously shafting the strikers as a government Minister, it’s worse than a platitude. But thank you for confirming my comment that some Slugger hacks would defend the Shinners if they said the moon was made of green cheese.

    Face it, Catriona is out of her depth, she’s only there because she’s being groomed for South Down at the next Westminster election, there are far more talented people left on the Sinn Féin back benches, and so far she’s making a right cock-up of her job.

  • middle-class ****

    “Oh, the Alliance are starry eyed, Cultra-inhabiting idealists who don’t live in the real world. That’s the oldest gambit in the book.”

    I wasn’t accusing the Alliance of naïveté as regards ministerial accountability. Just you.

    I don’t think Alliance people are starry-eyed idealists. I think they’re craven, duplicitous, self-aggrandinsing, careerist snobs.

    “You choose to respond to a serious issue of substance with a one-line epithet”

    No, I responded on substance: pointing out your naïveté on the issue. You just missed it.

    “Proper collective responsibility shouldn’t be a controversial issue; I don’t know of any other government in the democratic world that operates without it.”

    Just goes to show the sui generis nature of this settlement. Live with it.

    It’s not like some voluntary “marriage of convenience” coalition. It’s a shotgun wedding between two irreconcileable curmudgeons. It’s only in place because (and is a tacit recognition by all parties that) this place is a democratic travesty. Let’s be honest. If APNI got the votes, they’d be in there, happily running a fiefdom of their own, and looking a knighthood or two to go along with it.

    “If you don’t think this is a problem then, with the greatest of respect, you don’t know much about government.”

    eh?

    “Balls. You obviously don’t have a clue about what you’re talking about.”

    Thanks for that. Respectfully, if potty-mouthedly, argued.

    I take it you’re prepared to go on record saying that the Alliance party is supportive of and comfortable with Catholic parents choosing to have their children educated in Catholic schools?

    “This wasn’t remotely in my mind when I typed that, and a long with the rest of those alleged insults, is a product of your fevered persecution complex.”

    Fevered persecution complex. Dear Lord, could you not have avoided the one stock shinner-baiting gambit you hadn’t trotted out before? Why do Alliancey types always try to out DUP the DUP?

    It’s striking that it wasn’t in your mind! You seem unable to see Catriona as being somehow “other”.

    “Sinn Féin are in charge here. No-one is being persecuted. Democracy requires that they be held to account. A Minister being asked a difficult question is not exactly Kristallnacht.”

    If you go back and look, I didn’t accuse you of persecuting her, or criticise you for asking your (not-so-)tough questions. I’ve no illusions as to the keenness of the Alliance to try to put the feet of SF ministers to the fire. My beef was with your turn of phrase, the mindset that envisions Catriona Ruane as an outsider here.

    “When you are simultaneously shafting the strikers as a government Minister, it’s worse than a platitude.”

    Crossing a picket line is a point of principle for some people. I can’t believe you’re unprepared to recognise that.

    “thank you for confirming my comment that some Slugger hacks would defend the Shinners if they said the moon was made of green cheese.”

    I’m actually a very infrequent slugger; hardly a hack. I usually only interject when I think someone’s being a fatuous prick.

    “Face it, Catriona is out of her depth, she’s only there because she’s being groomed … .”

    If you’d said only that in the first place, I wouldn’t have felt it necessary to interject.

    One final thing, though. I find it striking how it always seems to be the female SFers that Alliancey types and moderate unionists really sneer at.

  • middle-class ****

    should be “aggrandising”, of course

  • Sean Og

    “One final thing, though. I find it striking how it always seems to be the female SFers that Alliancey types and moderate unionists really sneer at.”

    That is nonsense and is an attempt to play the man rather than the ball.
    I am not a Unionist or an Alliance supporter but I can see that Ruane is out of her depth and hasn’t got a clue. To try to deny it is to fly in the face of reality.

    On the other hand Michelle is doing a fine job at DARD and gets very little criticism from her political opponents. In case you haven’t noticed, she is female.

    SF have to face up to it sometime – she’s just not up to the job. You just look ridiculous coming on here defending Catroina’s her every move and comment.

  • I don’t think Alliance people are starry-eyed idealists. I think they’re craven, duplicitous, self-aggrandinsing, careerist snobs.

    Hurling insults does not constitute an argument.

    Let’s be honest. If APNI got the votes, they’d be in there, happily running a fiefdom of their own

    I’m not actually sure whether or not we would; but even if we did, there are better and worse ways of making this marriage of convenience work. My criticism is that Catriona isn’t showing much sign of trying to make it work better.

    No government can survive long without any form of collective decision making; that is not a point of party political controversy.

    I take it you’re prepared to go on record saying that the Alliance party is supportive of and comfortable with Catholic parents choosing to have their children educated in Catholic schools?

    I think that was what I just did do. Given that quite a few of our members have their children educated at Catholic schools, it’s hardly an issue, is it?

    My beef was with your turn of phrase, the mindset that envisions Catriona Ruane as an outsider here.

    Couldn’t be wronger. If you really can read people’s minds, I suggest you wrestle a TV slot from that fraud Paul McKenna. If, on the other hand, you can’t, I’d gently suggest you stop trying to psychoanalyse people as you clearly know nothing about my mindset.

    I usually only interject when I think someone’s being a fatuous prick.

    Again, not one argument, just more insults.

    I find it striking how it always seems to be the female SFers that Alliancey types and moderate unionists really sneer at.

    Red herring – you can’t counter the argument so you try to change the subject by alleging persecution. No-one is criticising Catriona because she’s a woman; she’s being criticised because she’s all over the place.

    As for the picket line stuff, it’s stupid gesture politics. She’s already more or less told the strikers that she’s made her final offer and to go back to work. In that context, pretending to get down with the workers just makes you look stupid.

    Michelle is doing a fine job at DARD and gets very little criticism from her political opponents. In case you haven’t noticed, she is female.

    Sean, you’re trying to use reason and common sense, here. That’s a dangerous move on Slugger!

  • middle-class ****

    Sean Og

    “You just look ridiculous coming on here defending Catroina’s her every move and comment.”

    Take yourself off to ****. I’ve commented about six times in the last four or five months, and to my recollection, not before this exchange in Catriona Ruane.
    In any event, I haven’t defended any of Ms Ruane’s substantive decisions or her performance in general. I have simply pointed out that it is legitimate for her, as a socialist, to refrain from crossing a picket line. Apparently that flies in the face of common sense.

    Sammy

    You’re awful sensitive, oul’ son.

    “Hurling insults does not constitute an argument.”

    I agree, but I couldn’t let you claim to be an idealist. Idealism and the Alliance Party are perfect strangers. Moreover, I hardly think “Balls. You obviously don’t have a clue about what you’re talking about.” is the stuff of penetrating dialectic.

    “No government can survive long without any form of collective decision making; that is not a point of party political controversy.”

    This one will. Fiefdoms it is. Suck it up and learn to live with the fact that this place is not a democracy like the others.

    “I think that was what I just did do. Given that quite a few of our members have their children educated at Catholic schools, it’s hardly an issue, is it?”

    I look forward to hearing the next full throated Alliance defence of the rights of choice of Catholic parents – be sure to copy me into the press release.

    “I’d gently suggest you stop trying to psychoanalyse people as you clearly know nothing about my mindset.”

    So, what did you mean by “when she first came here?”

    “you can’t counter the argument so you try to change the subject by alleging persecution. No-one is criticising Catriona because she’s a woman”

    I’m not so sure myself. In any event, you’ll note from myprevious post that I’m entirely comfortable with criticisms of Ruane when they’re legitimate, rather than merely personal.

    “Again, not one argument, just more insults.”

    So you get to call others “hacks” but act all coy when the serve is returned. Yeah, right. Very typically Alliance.

  • This one will. Fiefdoms it is. Suck it up and learn to live with the fact that this place is not a democracy like the others.

    I’ll respond to your one point of substance. No government can survive being run as a system of fiefdoms; the Ministers themselves have to be able to cut deals and facilitate co-operation between their Departments even if their parties more generally are at loggerheads.

    Look at the classroom assistants strike; if Catriona wants to get more money to pay the teachers, she needs to get Peter Robinson onside. On the other hand, if she decides to tough it out and dig in for a long strike, then she needs to work with Michael McGimpsey because there are a lot of kids out there who get physiotherapy or speech therapy in school and with the assistance of classroom assistants.

    Similarly, any significant development here is going to require Conor and Arlene to work together. And OFMDFM certainly requires Paisley and McGuinness to work together.

    Now, for all I can be critical of our Executive, I think even the weakest of them have grasped this fairly quickly. None of them are pretending that they can run a series of balkanised fiefdoms without any reference to the others; the DUP, remember, tried from ’99 until ’03, and it wasn’t a great success. No-one (well, maybe except for you) is disputing the need to do this; the question is how good are they at doing it in practice and do they skirt along doing the minimum possible to survive, producing bad decisions in practice.

    You may be middle-class enough to be able to buy your way out of public sector provision if public services go tits up in this place, but I can’t, and most people are like me. So fiefdoms it won’t be, actually, and if that’s what the Executive deliver, they will struggle to get their voters to the polls come election time in four years.

    As for the rest of your spittle-flecked bile, I’m only sorry I let myself be dragged into the muck with you. It’s rare that you post on this site these days except to indulge in personal attacks on me or venomous attacks on the Alliance Party on threads you know I read in an attempt to wind me up. I used to think it was worth giving you enough rope to hang yourself, but I’m just bored with it all now. Either say something of consequence or shut up.

    Toodle pip.

  • middle-class ****

    Fiefdoms they will remain, however balkanised. Will there be horse trading? Of course. Will Peter Robinson be backing Catriona Ruane like you’d expect of ministerial colleagues in a normal democracy? Absolutely not. You appear to have migrated from insisting that nothing less than full collective cabinet responsibility is required for the Executive to succeed to now merely envisaging some form of primitive barter between mandarins.

    “Spittle-flecked”? – is that some new Alliancey expression designed to sneer at those less holy than thou?

    “I’m only sorry I let myself be dragged into the muck with you.”

    Don’t deceive yourself, Sammy.

    “It’s rare that you post on this site these days except to indulge in personal attacks on me or venomous attacks on the Alliance Party on threads you know I read in an attempt to wind me up.”

    Personal attacks on you? On threads I know you read? In an attempt to wind you up? Wtf? I’ve no idea who you are, and nothing to attack but your political opinions. I’m really, really, not your e-stalker.

    I have no desire whatsoever to attack you peronally. However, your attacks on republicans are, in my view, among the most sneering and nasty of the more coherent posters here. If you attract my attention more than most, that’s probably why.

    This all started because I pointed out that there was no convention of collective cabinet responsibility in respect of the Executive, as you claimed. Now you merely say there ought to be. I think that’s a concession on your part. A bigger man would have just conceded my point and expressed himself more precisely. As to the less salubrious stuff, there seems to be no shortage of animus on your side of the ball.

    Venomous attacks on the Alliance Party? Yes, that’s probably fair. I make no secret of the fact that I consider APNI atrocious. However, the “venom” of those attacks is as nothing compared with what republicans take day in day out on this site. Seems Alliance can dish it out, but…..

    I’ll stop attacking them when they start being (rather than merely pretending to be) a genuine cross-community party, when they stop taking gongs from a monarchy which 45% of the people here consider and abomination, when they start effectively organising and serving constitutents in nationalist areas, when they start raising the kind of hell a liberal party in the civil-liberties tradition should have been raising for decades about state complicity in murder, and when they stop looking down their nose at me because I’m a republican.

    “I used to think it was worth giving you enough rope to hang yourself, but I’m just bored with it all now.”

    Didn’t I fall into your cunningly laid trap? Oh, diddums.

    Ok, look, I agree that what started as a technical substantive issue has degenerated into a rather unseemly bitching session. I’m happy to drop it, as it reflects well on neither of us.

  • Fiefdoms they will remain, however balkanised.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7038718.stm

    Seems the Executive agrees with me and not you.

    I have no desire whatsoever to attack you peronally. However, your attacks on republicans are, in my view, among the most sneering and nasty of the more coherent posters here.

    Sneering and nasty, or just effective? Sorry mucker, but I think I have enough of a rapport with enough Republicans to know that is a pile of nonsense; in the real world, and indeed on this site.

    Perhaps your problem is that I criticise Republicans for their present, and hold them to account on issues where they fail to live up to their own standards, rather than attacking them for what the IRA did or for not being Unionists?

    As for your the end of your post (and every thread you comment on turns into a series of vitriolic attacks on the Alliance Party), your beef seems to be that the Alliance Party is not a Nationalist party. Well, no shit sherlock. That’s every bit as silly as people attacking Sinn Féin for not being Unionist.

  • middle-class ****

    Is that really the best you can come up with re collective responsibility?

    “… I criticise Republicans for their present, and hold them to account on issues where they fail to live up to their own standards… ”

    Someobody call, Oslo! You criticised Catriona Ruane for not crossing a picket line, for Christ’s sake!! How was she failing to live up to her own standards? Let’s face it, you criticised her because she’s a republican.

    My beef with the Alliance is not that they’re not a nationalist party, but that they are unionist party pretending to be cross-community, while sneering at large sections of the community. But, sure, distorting things republicans say is your stock-in-trade.

    Waste of time, this. God bless.

  • Let’s face it, you criticised her because she’s a republican.

    Goes back to my original point – some people here would defend a Sinn Féin minister if they said the moon was made of green cheese. What you’re basically saying is that any criticism of any member of Sinn Féin is motivated by a sneering contempt for republicans.

    Let’s just leave aside the minor point that republican does not equal Sinn Féin, what you’re basically saying is that no-one can ever have any valid criticisms of Sinn Féin or SF politicians, unless maybe they themselves are Republicans.

    Is that really what you want to imply?

    Be happy.