Executive meets.. and falls out..

The BBC report on the aftermath of the Executive meeting at which the Social Development minister, the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie, claims minutes were adopted which had been altered is worth looking at in detail. In particular the quotes, since both the Deputy First minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, and the Economy minister, the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, argue, explicitly and implicitly respectively, that the Social Development minister is claiming something that she doesn’t seem to actually claim.The quote from Martin McGuinness

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was very disappointed and said the social development minister was “losing the run of herself”.

The fact is that there was no vote whatsoever on her statement in the assembly. There was no vote whatsoever on the Conflict Transformation Initiative,” he said. [added emphasis]

“In fact, there was trenchant criticism by all ministers but the decision was taken by Peter Hain in the first place to fund the UDA.

“There is not a person in the executive who would give the UDA 2d. That is exactly where this executive is at and I think Margaret needs to stop losing the run of herself.”

And from Economy Minister, Nigel Dodds – who doesn’t actually contradict Margaret Ritchie in the available quotes

DUP Economy Minister Nigel Dodds said the debate was not about the Conflict Transformation Initiative, but on the minutes of the last executive meeting and the directions given to Ms Ritchie. [added emphasis]

“As far as we are concerned – and it was said in the executive – everybody accepts the aims and objectives that Margaret Ritchie has set out as far as paramilitarism is concerned, as far as the UDA is concerned, as far as ending criminality and parliamentary activity.

“But we have got to go about this in a legal way, in a proper process in the way in which the executive has laid down.”

And the quote from Social Development minister Margaret Ritchie

“I was outvoted by the DUP and Sinn Fein on what the Executive had decided in relation to my statement on the Conflict Transformation Initiative-Ulster Defence Association related project,” she said. [added emphasis]

“The two Ulster Unionist ministers voted with me. I believe that this sets a dangerous precedent as it allows the DUP and Sinn Fein to control other ministers by controlling all decisions.

“I am firm in the belief that I have behaved properly at all times and the decision I have taken to end the funding was correct, was proper and in my conscience was the right thing to do.”

Which would seem to be a reference to the issue of what was decided in the previous Executive meeting – about what procedure would be followed before that statement was made – and were the issue of those disputed minutes would be important.

Do the UUP ministers have anything to add?

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  • I read that to imply McGuinness and Dodds willed the end but not the means, and anyway it’s all Hain’s fault.

    Which ignores the 60-day proviso, among other things.

    That said, I’m still amazed by the Minutes issue. I’m a long while out of active politicking, and it wasn’t in an arena like this. Even so, I would expect the clerks (and Chairmen of my experience have been prepared to nominate which officer clerked a particular meeting, if you catch my drift) to have draft minutes available within twenty-four hours of a meeting, if not sooner. Many decisions, and their implementation are at least that time-significant.

    The committee chair would then clear (or propose amendments) to that draft, on the spot. In the Stormont situation, I assume that means clearance from both “sides”, the Chair and the opposing Political Commissar. Whether the UUP, SDLP and Alliance also equal scrutiny rights is more doubtful: from their reactions to this issue, one suspects not.

    In that scenario (based on real experience, I assure you), the two caporegimes (or their delegated consiglieri) would control the Minutes.

    At the moment, it appears that Margaret has been whacked for going off the record. If they get away with it, I’m sure the floral tributes will be truly impressive.

  • Pete Baker

    I’d suggest, Malcolm, that ‘the end’ references may have been added on to the actual criticism.

    Criticism which seem’s intended to mis-direct the reader to conclude that Ritchie claimed something in her comments which she did not.

    Which brings us back to the contested minutes..

  • slug

    Quite interesting to see the UUP and SDLP voting together in one block and the SF and DUP in another.

  • The Dubliner

    “I read that to imply McGuinness and Dodds willed the end but not the means, and anyway it’s all Hain’s fault.”

    Except they didn’t will the end to UDA financial appeasement. If they did, they had, as the SDLP pointed out, many months to oppose the funding which they didn’t do. What they did do, being good puppets, was go along with what their puppet masters tried and failed to get Ms Ritchie to go along with: the continued funding of the UDA. Now they’re trying to deflect public attention away from their moral failure and onto pedantic procedural details, hoping that the obfuscation also serves to portray them as diligent parliamentarians rather than servants of their masters. The minutes are a red herring: they don’t address the issue of who supported the funding of crinimal gangs and who didn’t.

  • Pete Baker

    Dubliner

    The minutes are not necessarily a red herring – they’ll detail any attempted recovery from the apparent previous decision by the Executive to pass on ‘collective responsibility’ on this decision.

    They do also point to the heart of another important issue – namely how decisions are taken within the executive.

  • The Penguin

    McGuiness is being deliberately disingenuous in order to try and recover lost stock within the nationalist electorate when he talks about not giving 2d to the UDA, but fails to mention CTI.
    It leaves the discussion around CTI status for another day.

    This is all designed to destroy Ritchie by allusions to her “losing the run of herself” and procedural wrangling.

  • Ian

    Dodds:

    “But we have got to go about this in a legal way, in a proper process in the way in which the executive has laid down.”

    Except that according to Ritchie and her two UUP Ministerial colleagues, [b]no such process was laid down[/b].

  • Belfast Gonzo

    It’s a tad rich for McGuinness to say Ritchie has lost the run of herself. Wasn’t it precisely because he lost of the run of himself at the very end of the last Assembly that these procedures he now favours were deemed necessary (by the DUP)?

  • Briso

    Posted by Belfast Gonzo on Oct 19, 2007 @ 01:28 AM
    It’s a tad rich for McGuinness to say Ritchie has lost the run of herself. Wasn’t it precisely because he lost of the run of himself at the very end of the last Assembly that these procedures he now favours were deemed necessary (by the DUP)?

    Good God, there’s an argument tied up in knots!!! These new procedures, were they supported by Alliance? I said at the time that if the ‘collective responsibility’ people got their way, it was over. Marty kills the 11+. Babs favours the Royal Vic. You may not like them, but they were decisions. Made by Nationalists! The Horror!!!!! Lost the run of himself my arse. It’s hypocrisy for Alliance to come over all upset now. You didn’t oppose the plans to put ministers in handcuffs at the time. Almost no-one did.

    IF Ritchie is slapped down on this, it’s goodnight Irene for the Assembly. Utter paralysis will ensue. Which is fine because then Nigel H can take over again and we won’t have any of the wrong sort taking any decisions.