“bound by executive decisions and must act in accordance with those decisions..”

According to this BBC report, which notes the Social Development minister’s description of the criticism of her statement in the Assembly yesterday – “This whole issue about the legal advice is a DUP fabrication and a smokescreen” – the Finance minister, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson, has clarified his point of order in the Assembly

He said she “rushed to make her statement without keeping the conditions set out by the executive”. “Before she made her statement the minister was warned by officials she would be breaching the ministerial code but chose to dismiss the advice,” he said. “Under the new ministerial code every minister is bound by executive decisions and must act in accordance with those decisions. “The ministerial code has statutory authority. The DSD minister has therefore breached the ministerial code.”

But, side-briefing or not, and in the still unfolding aftermath of those events, was there an executive decision to be bound by?Adds It’s probably also worth noting the death of former UDA leader Sammy Duddy – since he was one of those employed under the CTI scheme.

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  • brendan,belfast

    great another thread on the Ritchie decision……

  • Pete Baker

    It’s an unfolding story, brendan.. and there will be more developments.

    Just like the Giants’ Causeway development issue..

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy Duddy has passed on. I wonder if his heart attack was brought on by recent events.

  • Pete Baker

    Well we”ll probably never know, Comrade.

    But his death, and history, is possibly worth mentioning in the sense that he was one of those employed under the CTI scheme.

  • Quite frankly, I do not understand Robinson’s point. If I did, I would be shuddering that it is so blatant in its implication, particularly this:

    “Under the new ministerial code every minister is bound by executive decisions and must act in accordance with those decisions. The ministerial code has statutory authority. The DSD minister has therefore breached the ministerial code.”

    My take is that takes us a long way beyond the conventions of “collective responsibility”, and that there is, effectively, a junta, a Politburo issuing instructions to the “ministers”, who are reduced to over-paid channels of communication.

    If so, that merely compounds the general criticisms of the cynics in the early summer, that the whole Stormont structure was an exploitative sharing-out of the spoils,a façade to disguise the worst possible carve-up between the main two parties, neither of whom has any track-record of collaborative engagement.

    On which note, Margaret Richey for Head Lar, as the only one in sight with any cred left. Boo-sucks for all others, including the NIO who must have been complicit in allowing the situation to develop, and the regulatory code to be drawn up.

  • Nevin

    “discussion of and agreement upon significant or controversial matters that the First Minister and deputy First Minister acting jointly have determined to be matters that should be considered by the Executive Committee.” .. Ministerial Code – Executive Committee as a forum

    Might Ritchie have disobeyed an order from the Chuckle Brothers?

  • interested

    Malcolm,
    Surely part of the issue is about collective responsibilty. Margaret can’t expect back-up if she’s gone against a previously agreed position at the Executive.

    I assumed at least part of Robinson’s point was that there is the allegation she acted against the legal advice of the Departmental solicitor – she went off and got other legal advice which told her she was ok. However, a Minister has to act on the advice of the Departmental solicitor or else go further up the chain for another opinion, not go through the yellow pages for a sympathetic lawyer.

    Because she allegedly went against that advice she’s therefore acting illegally and in that context she’s broken the Ministerial code.

    There seems to be about three different points all being argued back and forward at the one time whic doesn’t really help the clarity of the whole situation.

    When do we expect the Judicial Review to be taken by some laughing UDA member then?

  • interested @ 11:56 PM:

    Accepted.

    Correct me if I’m wrong (which would be a change: it’s normal to correct me when I’m right), but I thought Richey had been uncommonly consistent for a politico.

    As I understand it, there was a 60-day time-limited offer. That was, at least in public, the stated policy of the Executive as a whole. The time limit was ridiculed: indeed, the other side seemed to go out of their way, to make a machismo gesture, to push beyond the time envelope. The offer was withdrawn. End of issue.

    Now, all I understand is the etiquette of, say, buying a house or bidding a hand of cards … in both cases it comes down to put up or shut up. To her credit, unlike the norms of NI doings, Richey did not resile, did not blink. Perhaps the truth of the matter is nobody knows what to in the outrageous situation where a politician’s word is her/his bond.

  • Forgive me: late night, long day, touch of the vapours: read “Ritchie” throughout.

  • Pete Baker

    Malcolm

    “That was, at least in public, the stated policy of the Executive as a whole.”

    It would probably be more accurate to say that no-one in the Executive sought to contradict the deadline stated by the Social Development minister.

  • joeCanuck

    Same difference, Pete?

  • An Bearnach

    For the record the new ministerial code designed by the DUP, and known as the Peter Principle is not yet in operation since it has not been adopted by the Executive, so ministers are bound by the previous code which allowed former DUP ministers to run departments without even attending Executive meetings. Peter wouldn’t want to go to court on that one.

  • I’ve now gone back to re-read the Assembly transcript (for the second time … well, we lapsed Prods are light on cilices) [http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/record/reports2007/071016.htm]

    What strikes me is that Ritchie’s statement looks and feels extraordinarily well prepared. Take this, for example:
    I offered a CTI options paper to my Executive colleagues in early July. They indicated that they were content for me to decide the way forward on this challenging issue. I have studied intensely the recent reports of the Independent Monitoring Commission, and I have met and spoken with a broad range of interested parties…
    On the face of that, Robinson is calling her a liar.

    I now see the Newsletter is back stirring the pot:
    MARGARET Ritchie has been warned her job as minister is on the line after it was established that her decision to scrap the CTI fund did run contrary to warnings from her department’s lawyers.
    DUP MLA Gregory Campbell – who is chairman of the Social Development Committee which scrutinises the minister’s work – said it would be difficult to imagine Miss Ritchie surviving if a lawsuit is filed and she loses the case.
    [http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/Ritchie-warned-job-is-on.3390243.jp ]

    800+ words in the article (yes, the attention span of the average Newsletter reader can be stretched even that far), then more in the Morning View. But, come on, how strong is a stomach supposed to be?

    There is a curious dissonance between the form of the article and its content. The greatest emphasis, and the whole first part of the article, is Campbell being minatory. Then, at the end, it transpires that Campbell and Hilditch were briefed in advance of the statement:
    “I am very clear and David [Hilditch] is equally clear that she said she had received departmental advice and, to be absolutely clear, also sought her own legal advice – and both indicated she was within her rights to do what she was doing.

    “I did not have her written statement at that stage so I was not aware that she said in it that she had given ‘consideration’ to the legal advice.

    “You can consider advice warning that you may be ill-advised to follow a path and reject it and it appears that is what she has done.”…

    Mr Campbell was adamant she said “both pieces of advice showed she was within her rights”.

    There’s considerable ambiguity and more than a note of manufactured malignity (Campbell’s tone? Newsletter spin?) there. What there is not is unqualified support for Robinson and his action in that “Point of Order”.

  • URQUHART

    An bearnach: “For the record the new ministerial code designed by the DUP, and known as the Peter Principle is not yet in operation since it has not been adopted by the Executive, so ministers are bound by the previous code…”

    Where can that code be found?