“I do not see any reason whatsoever why we [the Executive] forced this issue…”

As mentioned earlier in the comments, Reg Empey told Talkback that he backed Margaret Ritchie, in that he was not prepared to pass the disputed minutes. He is critical of the late delivery of the minutes. The production of four (action?) points unseen before the meeting during an ad hoc discussion (ie, only added to the agenda at the last minute).

“Normally when someone has a problem with a minute it is deferred until they can produce evidence of inaccuracies or until they can talk to the First Minister or Deputy First Minister to sort it out. This happens regularly. There was no requirement for that minute to be passed yesterday, sometimes minutes are months behind. I was puzzled by that. I was asked if I would go down to my department and my home to see if I could find any notes that might help, and I said no I am not in the middle of a meeting like this. What’s the urgency of this?”

His recollection, he said, was closer to Ritchie’s than that of the minutes. He also confirmed that his understanding was that Ritchie had sought guidance, but had been told that it was her ministerial responsibility.

  • Nevin

    “He also confirmed that his understanding was that Ritchie had sought guidance”

    Mick, did he state when? Was it before or after her public statement that placed a time limit on UDA actions?

  • Mick Fealty

    Listen to the playback Nev. It’s right at the beginning. And no, he didn’t.

  • Mick Fealty

    Check Ritchie’s first exchange on Hearts and Minds. She gives a clear account of when, which is not (currently at least) in dispute.

  • GavBelfast

    Good for Reg.

    I can’t quite decide whether the 3 UUP/SDLP ministers would be better off outside the executive, with Alliance, etc, in an honourable, critical opposition untainted by association, or whether they need to be in there watching DUP/SF more than ever.

    Time will tell ….

  • Perhaps this issue will signal a better working relationship between the UUP and SDLP. That would be one positive to come out of it.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Good man, Reg.

  • willowfield

    Absolutely, Chekov – and, in response to Gav, possibly UUP/SDLP are becoming an “opposition within government”.

    I think UUP/SDLP are on the side of the “man on the street” on this one, even if DUP/Provos are shown to be technically correct on the procedures, etc.

    This is also doing the profile of the SDLP, and Margaret Ritchie, a world of good. Mrs Ritchie hitherto has been relatively unknown, but I’m sure many more people know of her now.

  • tweedledee

    What was the big rush about? The exec were meeting the next day anyway, so why didn’t she hold her horses until after?

  • What was the big rush about? The exec were meeting the next day anyway, so why didn’t she hold her horses until after?

    She had already waited for 65 days.

  • tweedledee

    She had already waited for 65 days.

    Is 66 an unlucky number or something?

  • Briso

    The statement says :
    Some Ministers said they may have private notes of the meeting in question and they were offered the opportunity by FM/dFM to consult those notes during a proposed further adjournment. This opportunity was declined as some Ministers said they felt there was no need to pass the minutes today. The meeting moved to a vote and the minutes were adopted as an accurate account by a majority. The DSD, DEL and DHSSPS Ministers voted against the minutes being adopted.

    So who exactly was in a rush? Not Reg, McGimp or Margaret…

  • nineteensixtyseven

    It’s not like that executive ever showed an interest… until after the statement was made anyway.

  • tweedledee

    Briso,

    So who exactly was in a rush? Not Reg, McGimp or Margaret…

    Indeed. Did any of the three move a motion to table the adoption of the minutes until the next meeting?

  • PP

    For the first time in a while Reg is showing some political acumen.

    But when this all goes to court the SDLP and UUP will have egg on their face.

  • tweedledee

    But when this all goes to court the SDLP and UUP will have egg on their face.

    Costs money to go to court. Will the UDA (a proscribed organisation by the by) be footing their own bill or applying for legal aid?

  • Is 66 an unlucky number or something?

    Ach, sure it’s only the odd peeler the UDA are shooting and the odd house they’re bombing. It’s no big deal. Why don’t we just give them until 2010 to stop their antics?

  • tweedledee

    Sammy,

    Ach, sure it’s only the odd peeler the UDA are shooting and the odd house they’re bombing. It’s no big deal. Why don’t we just give them until 2010 to stop their antics?

    They’ve managed to fund their murder campaign without this extra dosh for a long time. Putting the UDA out of business isn’t about whether or not you give them money, it’s about policing and the will of the PUL community to see the back end of them.

    Another day wouldn’t have made any difference. So, again, I ask, why didn’t Ritchie simply wait until after the exec meeting?

    Because, now, instead of the focus being on not giving 2d (as Mr McGuinness put it) to the UDA, the focus is on minutes, ministerial code, legal advice, whose legal advice, blah blah blah.

  • PP

    Sammy
    The UDA scum are shooting people in an area where the CTI does not apply.

    They are dispicable criminals and should be treated with contempt. Their political representatives sholud never been given any credence like Alliance/UUP/SDLP/SF/two goverments give them in the past.

  • Briso

    Posted by tweedledee on Oct 19, 2007 @ 04:58 PM
    Indeed. Did any of the three move a motion to table the adoption of the minutes until the next meeting?

    some Ministers said they felt there was no need to pass the minutes today.
    I would have thought that was clear enough, tweedledee. Their wishes were ignored. Unless you were expecting a particular procedural device from them, which might leave you open to the charge of being a bit of a ‘mierenneuker’ and missing the big picture. Salvation is not to be found in hairsplitting.

  • Alex S

    But when this all goes to court the SDLP and UUP will have egg on their face.

    Posted by PP on Oct 19, 2007 @ 05:11 PM

    Not where it counts, in the ‘court’ of public opinion, if the public percieves the UDA are getting the cash because of the actions, either directly or indirectly of S/F DUP the SDLP and the UUP will benifit.

    Robinson is proving that it’s easier to bark at the bike, than ride it!

  • tweedledee

    Briso,

    some Ministers said they felt there was no need to pass the minutes today.
    I would have thought that was clear enough, tweedledee.

    That isn’t moving a motion to table the minutes. I don’t know if they did or not, hence my question. Had they done so, Ritchie could have dismissed questions that seemed to trouble her in the interview by pushing that whole issue back onto the DUP and SF. All she had to say was her recollection was different, she didn’t agree with the minutes, she’d moved to table the adoption of the minutes, the others refused to table them, go ask them why they did that, and move on to what is supposed to be her focus. At best she’s come out looking like a rank amateur; at worst, ever so slightly unhinged.

  • Alex S

    At best she’s come out looking like a rank amateur; at worst, ever so slightly unhinged.

    Posted by tweedledee on Oct 19, 2007 @ 05:56 PM

    Take another look!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    tweedledee: “At best she’s come out looking like a rank amateur; at worst, ever so slightly unhinged. ”

    Alex S: “Take another look! ”

    And this time with your glasses…

    I am reminded that the twins had a difficulty remembering who was who… perhaps Dee is really his twin…

    Either way, listening to scraping sound of the bottom of the barrel as folks try to rationalize giving money to the UDA, while annoying, does prove we’re on the wrong side of the looking-glass.

  • Mick Fealty

    tweedledee:

    Hmmm… I’m generally suspicious of this sudden need to focus attention on the last meeting to the exclusion of all other context.

    Reg’s stuff is fairly clear. There also have to be questions asked about this growing tendency of the DUP and Sinn Fein Minister to ask for a break during committee meetings to confer with one another. Nothing illegal about, nor necessarily unethical. But we are seeing a very clear split between those who have been conferring, and those who haven’t.

    As for amatuerish. Martin’s ‘losing the run of herself’ comment was in response to a supposed statement that she never actually made.

    I can tell you straight that the press think it is Martin that’s rattled, not Margaret.

  • tweedledee

    Take another look!

    Done. She looked good at the start, she has the right issue, so it would be hard not to. But, as I said on another thread, she allowed others to yank her chain, and started to toss out accusations about who all was out to get her. She might be right, but it’s best to ignore that, that is politics afterall.

    Hopefully she can put it down to lessons learned, including how to use procedures to her advantage, and to deflect criticism from her detractors back onto them.

  • tweedledee

    Mick,

    There also have to be questions asked about this growing tendency of the DUP and Sinn Fein Minister to ask for a break during committee meetings to confer with one another. Nothing illegal about, nor necessarily unethical. But we are seeing a very clear split between those who have been conferring, and those who haven’t.

    That’s the real world of politics. The big players confer, the small ones get asked when their vote is needed.

  • parci

    As for amatuerish. Martin’s ‘losing the run of herself’ comment was in response to a supposed statement that she never actually made.

    I can tell you straight that the press think it is Martin that’s rattled, not Margaret.<?/i>

    Mick what is the press saying?

  • The Raven

    “But when this all goes to court the SDLP and UUP will have egg on their face.”

    “Costs money to go to court. Will the UDA (a proscribed organisation by the by) be footing their own bill or applying for legal aid?”

    Posted by tweedledee on Oct 19, 2007 @ 05:15 PM

    No the UDA won’t be taking anyone to court. But Farset might be taking the Minister to court for breach of a letter of offer from DSD for funding.

    The court of public opinion is a strong one, but this may the technicality that catches Ms Ritchie out – which is a shame, because when you’ve got Marty and Adolf…I mean…Peter…on the hop, it would be a shame to get caught like that.

  • Ordinary thick person type voter with a good memor

    Dear tweedledee and dear tweedldum. Everyone i have worked with this week from different parts of town back margaret at last we all agree someone got it right fek the niceties and the dup and the shinners hears my vote margaret.

    [Play the ball – edited moderator]

  • parci

    update sluggers
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7053408.stm

    Is code something of an Enigma?

  • The Raven

    “PS: Which ministerial code did Margaret Ritchie break, if any?

    It seems the new executive hasn’t got round to agreeing a new ministerial code.

    So, if she did break a code she broke the one which applied during the lifetime of the first executive.

    The same executive which DUP ministers at the time, including Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds, refused to attend.”

    Nice one, Jim. It appears Peter has forgotten that Castlereagh Council is down the road and NOT the big white building with the steps and pillars.

    This is turning into a lesson in control-freakery. Perhaps Pete the Cobra and Midshipman Marty need to remember that the control they wield in their respective parties does NOT extend beyond their own party boundaries.

  • tweedledee

    [quote]Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey now supports Ms Ritchie’s story and has gone further, suggesting the minutes were altered for a particular purpose.

    “It’s about creating the circumstances where people can claim that she broke the ministerial code,” he told BBC Radio’s Talkback programme on Friday.

    This is explosive stuff.

    It means the SDLP and Ulster Unionists are suggesting a conspiracy involving Sinn Fein and the DUP to discredit and possibly hound from office an executive minister.[/quote]

    To what end would they wish to do that?

    Where are the D’Hondt experts when you need them?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    tweedledee: “To what end would they wish to do that? ”

    Gee… I dunno…

    Given that this is the, what, third or fourth alternate approach to derailing the defunding of the UDA’s “jobs for the boyos” program of sinecure for muppets and ex-hardmen, that it might have something to do with it.

    Ritchie has made SF and DUP look light a band of pygmies, what between SF’s spinning like a wheel of fortune and DUP’s sudden and very public support for paying off the UDA. Neither group has a grand tradition of accepting defeat gracefully.

    The end, as it were, should be obvious, even to the oblivious…

  • tweedledee

    Dread,

    Gee… I dunno…

    Sometimes it’s best to wait and see in that case, rather than get all paranoid about it.

    Ritchie has made SF and DUP look light a band of pygmies,

    Indeed.

    The ‘conspiracy theory’ couldn’t possibly be the SDLP and the UUP playing party politics with the issue themselves though. God forbid any politician would let that evil thought cross their minds.

  • Alex S

    The ‘conspiracy theory’ couldn’t possibly be the SDLP and the UUP playing party politics with the issue themselves though. God forbid any politician would let that evil thought cross their minds.

    Posted by tweedledee on Oct 19, 2007 @ 08:38 PM

    If they are they’re doing it a damm sight better than the ‘other two’, Reg is coming across all stateman like, Robinson a bully

  • Dread Cthulhu

    tweedledee: “Sometimes it’s best to wait and see in that case, rather than get all paranoid about it. ”

    Then why, pray tell, are you so busy posting, declaring it all but a done deal, Tweedledee? It might be best for you to accept a bit of your own advice.

    Frankly, though, given individual track-records, the SDLP isn’t exactly the party of skilled skull-duggery and political payback, compared to some others…

    tweedledee: “The ‘conspiracy theory’ couldn’t possibly be the SDLP and the UUP playing party politics with the issue themselves though. God forbid any politician would let that evil thought cross their minds. ”

    Given the relative positions, I’d wouldn’t say it couldn’t be party politics, but I’d suggest it is unlikely. For starters, the only gain the UUP could have would be moral capital and, given who is in charge at the moment, we can see how valueless that is.

    As for the rest, I confess most of my opinion is simply a mix of counter examples to your posts and occam’s razor based on prior performance of the political parties in question.

    For example, who benefits from the alleged change in wording — why, SF / DUP. Who has the power to ensure that their preferred wording is enshrined as the offical wording? Why, SF / DUP. Which two parties have the grandest tradition of political payback? Why, SF / DUP.

    Now, am I saying that it’s a “conspiracy?”

    No.

    Am I marvelling at this rather convenient set of circumstances and coincidences?

    Yes.

    Last, before you suggest that I am an SDLP partisan, I can honestly say that as someone who is right of center, voting for the SDLP has never been something I’ve considered in the past.

  • parci

    tewwdledee
    isn’t it obvious that SF and the DUP are playing party politics; your spinning is not impressive.

  • Mick Fealty

    Parci,

    Only that the Deputy First Minister attacked Ritchie on the basis of something she did not actually say. Why would he do that? I mean put fake words into another Minister’s mouth? It does not give him an advantage. In fact quite the opposite. And it is certainly not like Sinn Fein to get a crucial detail like that so badly wrong.

    http://tinyurl.com/2lw3f8

    The conclusion: there are nerves within the camp.

    The question is why?

  • tweedledee

    parci,

    isn’t it obvious that SF and the DUP are playing party politics; your spinning is not impressive.

    They seem to be. It seems to me so are the SDLP and the UUP.

    As it happens I agree with Ritchie’s decision. But in doing so I also recognise that it probably won’t stand up to a legal challenge. Some things are worth fighting about regardless.

    Unfortunately, instead of staying focussed on the issue, Ritchie allowed herself to be distracted by her detractors, and has levelled accusations of misconduct, at a minimum, against civil servants, among others, where it could simply be a case of misunderstanding, misinterpretation and differing recollections.

    Having said that, it occurs to me to also ask why if she thought she was to pass on to the FM, DFM and Robinson the legal advice she received, what she believed to be the purpose of that.

  • parci

    thanks for that Mick
    why indeed?
    seems like the wolves SF/DUP won this week, with Ms Ritchie as dinner.
    I’d like to think you’d give MMcG a yellow for not playing the ball.

  • brendan,belfast

    The question is why?

    here is my take on why there are nerves in the SF camp: because they pure and simple got this one wrong, and they are hearing that in the street, in the constituency offices, and in the Culterlann. they got it wrong. The Deputy First Minister (remember the “I am the boss” stuff pre eleection?) has now begun to shout and insult when he longer has reason on his side.

    SF Ministers offered her ‘no comment’; maskey condemned her for not stopping the money 60 days ago; Anderson condemned her for stopping it at all, as did Gibney; now they are trying to hide their mistake behind procedure.

    Its very entertaining!

  • parci

    teweedledee
    where it could simply be a case of misunderstanding, misinterpretation and differing recollections
    not if the minutes were altered, that would imply something much more deliberate, and planned .
    As SF/DUP have the majority vote, what’s to stop them engaging in some underhand tricks.

    What a different week it would have been if she’s been backed up!

  • tweedledee

    parci,

    not if the minutes were altered, that would imply something much more deliberate, and planned .

    And therein lies the problem for her. She has provided no evidence that is the case. All she had to do was what I posted earlier, move to table the adoption of the minutes, tell Thompson when he was interviewing her she didn’t agree with the minutes, and the others had refused to table the motion, and go ask them why they refused to do so. Then she could have gotten on with her primary focus. It puts the onus on them to explain themselves, she’s home dry. Instead she’s made accusations that the minutes were altered, and if she can’t prove that …

  • Pete Baker

    “All she had to do was what I posted earlier, move to table the adoption of the minutes..”

    Minutes that SF and the DUP actually wanted to adopt – to support their case that Ritchie was supposed to consult the Executive before making any decision on this funding?

    And why do you suppose, according to your argument, that SF and the DUP would have refused to adopt minutes that they actually wanted to adopt?

    Or are you just getting confused?

  • tweedledee

    Or are you just getting confused?

    Nope, no confusion on my part. It’s a procedural device that could have been used, and then in the interview she could have shown how reasonable she was, how she was willing to consider misunderstandings, misinterpretations, seek further clarity, etc, etc, the others weren’t, go ask them why they weren’t willing to hold off for clarification, rather than rush into accusations that she may not be able to substantiate.

    The whole argument is now focussed on their procedures, the minutes of their meetings, and so on, and there was an opportunity that went to waste.

    Amateurs the lot of yis, to be honest.

  • Pete Baker

    So, tweedledee, you’re suggesting Ritchie should have tabled a motion to accept minutes she believed were fraudulent.. and then use SF and DUP ministers refusal to adopt those minutes as evidence of their fraudulence?

    Except.. why would those ministers, who ultimately wanted to adopt those same minutes, not do so at if such a motion was tabled?

    And how, having tabled a motion to adopt those minutes, could she then claim that those minutes were fraudulent without being criticised for being hypocritical?

    It may seem a tactical stroke of genius to you.. but it doesn’t seem like a stroke of genius in the cold-light-of-day.. nor a proposal based on any principle at all.

    You sure you’re not confused here?

  • tweedledee

    Pete,

    You sure you’re not confused here?

    Positive. But my apologies. I was posting under the assumption there was an understanding what tabling an item meant. A motion to table means move the item for discussion/vote at a later time/date, normally done when more information is required.

  • Pete Baker

    tweedledee

    Perhaps you should acquaint yourself with the UK meaning of that phrase – rather than the US, or Canadian, meaning.

    As clarified here.

  • parci

    all sorts of unlikely bedfellows today agreeing with each other, phew…. glad its half-term.
    Now for my horlicks.

  • brendan,belfast

    “tweedledee” – do you understand what you are saying? i think you are as confused as the DUP/SF/UDA axis

  • tweedledee

    Again my apologies Pete.

    When I posted at the beginning:

    Did any of the three move a motion to table the adoption of the minutes until the next meeting?
    Posted by tweedledee on Oct 19, 2007 @ 04:58 PM

    I thought it was clear.

    Now that it has been clarified, without accusations of misconduct levelled at each other, you see my point? She could have avoided all this brouhaha, and come out smelling of roses on all fronts. As it stands, attention has drifted from her primary objective of stopping money going to the UDA, and in defending herself against Robinson’s ‘code of conduct/minister acting beyond her powers’ accusations, she has levelled accusations that she may not be able to substantiate, and could land her in legal hot water if one of those, say a civil servant, she maligned decided to sue.

    All completely avoidable.

  • Pete Baker

    To add.

    In circumstances were a majority, consisting of Sinn Féin and DUP ministers, are proposing the adoption of contested minutes, the suggestion that a motion to postpone such an adoption of those minutes would be a strategical master-stroke would seem to be wilfully ignorant of reality.

    Voting against an adoption of those minutes achieves exactly the same moral position that is being claimed for following the action advocated by tweedledee.

  • Pete Baker

    “All completely avoidable.”

    If Peter Robinson had not sought to attempt to rein in a minister who had already been authorised to take the decision on her own.

    Closely followed, in that attempted reining in, by Martin McGuinness – “losing the run of herself”, indeed.

    You’d almost think there was a belief that Ritchie would be forced towards a pre-determined outcome.

    Perhaps Shawn Woodward could assist in that..

  • tweedledee

    Voting against an adoption of those minutes achieves exactly the same moral position that is being claimed for following the action advocated by tweedledee.

    No, it doesn’t. By moving to have the item discussed/voted at a later date, she can later claim, rightly so, that she was trying to be reasonable and wanting to seek further information that could help clarify, and the others were unreasonable and Noel Thompson should go ask them why they behaved so unreasonably. So then she would have 1 brownie point for stopping funding to the UDA and another brownie point for appearing the most reasonable and considerate.

    She buys herself time, as it deflects pressure to answer questions hastily, and then she can go make sure she has her ducks in a row before accusing everyone but the Pope of altering the minutes.

    They yanked her chain, and she reacted. And, as it stands, she may have reacted stupidly.

  • tweedledee

    Pete,

    Thanks for the link.

    [quote]loftholdingswood: Standby for face saving ‘exclusives’ in tomorrows Sunday rags. Watch out for a statement from Ms Ritchie late next week ‘bigging up’ what she has ‘made’ the UDA do. But you know the truth don’t you?[/quote]

    Has loftholdingswood been left holding wood?

  • Pete Baker

    You’re missing the point, tweedledee. The adoption of those minutes was already scheduled for a vote.

    Your phantom ‘avoidance of the issue’ may seem to be a strategic master-stroke to you, but it’s ultimately meaningless.

    Opposing the adoption of the minutes is as strong a signal, if not stronger – and was supported by the 2 UUP ministers.

    As for chains being yanked – who yanked Martin McGuinness’ chain?

  • Pete Baker

    Tweedledee

    Are you trying to quote Loftholdingswood in your defence?

    Check the archives.

  • tweedledee

    Adoption of minutes from the last meeting is normally the first item on the agenda, Pete, so of course it was scheduled for a vote. Formally putting down a motion to move the item back signals that you are more than willing to consider further information.

    Opposing the adoption of the minutes is as strong a signal, if not stronger – and was supported by the 2 UUP ministers.

    And instead of saying look how reasonable I was, she started saying there was no mistake on her part, the minutes were altered, blah blah blah. To be frank, that’s idiocy. Rank amateur at best, slightly unhinged at worst.

  • tweedledee

    Pete,

    Are you trying to quote Loftholdingswood in your defence?

    No, I was just making fun of his name, in that context.

    Apart from that, I don’t see myself as defending anything.

    Should I be?

  • Alex S

    And therein lies the problem for her. She has provided no evidence that is the case.
    Posted by tweedledee on Oct 19, 2007 @ 10:13 PM

    Hello again, ref the above Sir Reg sounded very convincing on Talkback, I smell a fish…..

  • Pete Baker

    Yep, tweedledee

    It’s entirely unreasonable to say – “These are not accurate minutes of the last meeting of the Executive.”

    And your point is?

    Oh, I see, “slightly unhinged”..

    Well, as Martin McGuinness himself declared – She has “lost the run of herself”..

  • Mick Fealty

    tweedledee,

    That’s an awful lot of futuring. You are speaking of some things as though they had already happened when, to all intents and purposes, they have not. On the other hand, if you wish to make a disclosure at this point, just make sure it is legally robust.

    I get your point about potential drift from her intention to act against the UDA, but that would appear to have blocked by the actions of her ministerial colleagues. Though I do also understand that the points you are making have more to do with interpreting the PR game than actually getting to the nub of the problem.

    Reg Empey has provided useful information about how this Executive meeting departed from the norm. He also recalls telling Ms Ritchie that the upshot of the previous meeting was that she had been left on her own. He also noted:

    – The last minute delivery of the minutes.

    – The last minute co-option of an agenda item.

    – A hiatus whilst the DUP and Sinn Fein conferred: though I understand that this also happened during an earlier meeting.

    – The suggestion that one of the Ministers go home to find notes in the middle of the meeting.

    – A quotation misattributed to Ms Ritchie by the Deputy First Minister.

    This last is interesting since the substance of this particular dispute is an alleged insertion in the minutes of something Ms Ritchie denies ever happened. I would suggest that much of the irregularity around that meeting requires less answers from Ritchie than from her DUP and Sinn Fein cabinet colleagues.

    There is also the disputed account of the behaviour of Ms Gildernew, who was variously reported in the mainstream press as having voted and abstained. It may not come to much in the end but at this stage, when we are so short of full disclosure, it pays to keep all potentially relevant detail close to hand.

    There is no need to second guess future events. There is another meeting on Tuesday. Perhaps a resolution will be found by then? In the meantime, all I see is a lot of smoke and a few disingenuous mirrors.

  • tweedledee

    Mick,

    There is no need to second guess future events.

    Welcome onboard, at last. Slugger’s is full of innuendo and speculation.

    As it stands, Ritchie made a decision on stopping funding of the UDA/CTI project, the majority of her colleagues on the exec have voted to adopt the minutes of the second last meeting, Ritchie has accused some people of altering those minutes.

    Though I do also understand that the points you are making have more to do with interpreting the PR game than actually getting to the nub of the problem.

    Any speculation or innuendo on what the nub of the problem is allowed?

    Here’s mine: SF control the nationalist side of the exec and assembly, the DUP control the unionist. The SDLP and UUP are bit part players at this stage. And it’s all a farce to date. Including Ritchie’s decision and Empey’s rush to hold her hand. Amateur politics and dramatics all rolled into one. But sure it keeps them off the streets anyway.

    You have an opinion to share yourself?

  • tweedledee

    Pete,

    It’s entirely unreasonable to say – “These are not accurate minutes of the last meeting of the Executive.”

    Not at all. Minutes are often, if not always, inaccurate to some degree or another. It may, on the other hand, be considered unreasonable to accuse someone of altering them unless you can substantiate that accusation.

    See? It’s not that hard to understand.

  • Alex S

    tweedledlee, would you care to speculate on why there was such a rush to adopt the minutes bearing in mind Sir Reg’s account?

  • Pete Baker

    tweedledee

    A full quotation would be more acceptable –

    As in

    “And your point is?

    Oh, I see, “slightly unhinged”..

    Well, as Martin McGuinness himself declared – She has “lost the run of herself”..”

  • tweedledee

    Alex,

    I could, but I can’t think of a good PR line to go with that one.

    She played a blinder, but she should have held her cool while all around …

  • Mick Fealty

    At this stage, I’m trying to follow the relevant detail. As such I’m not prepared to second guess the provenance of a meeting that’s in ongoing dispute: the outcome of which could cut either way. It is only proper to view all of the participants with a healthy dose of scepticism. On your majority point, that does not preclude the possibility that the minority view turns out to be the more truthful one.

    I see Robo’s transparent concern for coherent governance. It’s something he has voiced consistent concern over long before his party enter negotiations with SF never mind government. But I am puzzled as to why the Executive appeared to allow Ms Ritchie to take independent action two months ago and then stepped in so abruptly with that point of order two days ago, and then following it up with this mess of a meeting yesterday.

    As for Sinn Fein? Their messaging has been all over the place. They clearly set a trap for Ms Ritchie on Tuesday which just as clearly backfired on them. I am always sceptical of the potential for any long term electoral damage out of short term skirmishes. And I also consider that the very real plaudits that Ritchie has earned are largely for her individual performance, not her party’s.

    The flip flop between Ni Chuilin’s accusation that Ritchie had authorised the funding in the Assembly on Tuesday to McGuinness’s assertion two days later that it was the decision was taken by Peter Hain in the first place to fund the UDA is no kind of fatal blow. And granted they were talking about slightly different things. But the transparent intention to hoist a SDLP minister upon the meat-hook of UDA funding (even forty minutes after she had actually cut it) in the first instance, and in the second, the Deputy First Minister blatantly trying to get himself off precisely the same hook was damaging.

    But how damaging I’m no position to say.

  • tweedledee

    On your majority point, that does not preclude the possibility that the minority view turns out to be the more truthful one.

    I agree. But it reminds me of a question I asked earlier:

    “it occurs to me to also ask why if she thought she was to pass on to the FM, DFM and Robinson the legal advice she received, what she believed to be the purpose of that.”

    Just a courtesy fyi? Or they thought it was to come back to the exec? This could turn out to be a genuine misunderstanding on what was agreed at the second last meeting. There’s not enough information in the public domain for me to form an opinion yet.

    As for SF, they’re all over the place these days trying to figure out what they still believe in, so who knows. She made them look bad so they tried to take a lump out of her and it backfired. That’s not evidence of a conspiracy against her though. That’s politics.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m off to bed now. But one last point.

    Ritchie, it seems to me, and I may be wrong here, has calibrated her most serious attacks on cabinet colleagues only, but she also seemed at pains on H&M to make it clear she simply wanted to focus on action, not recrimination. It’s pretty clear she’s been widely been briefed against, but it doesn’t look like a sticking point in any path to resolution.

    SF’s first embarrassment was entirely self inflicted (40 minutes for goodness sake, how long do you need to change shortish speech?). Such apparent incompetence has its own price, not least with activists. Nothing eats away at confidence like failure to perform in the front rank.

    Night.

  • Ian

    Tweedledee:

    “Did any of the three move a motion to table the adoption of the minutes until the next meeting?”

    If we ditch the apparently ambiguous word ‘table’ in the above and replace it with ‘defer’ – I think that’s what you’re asking although you seem to be confusing yourself as well as everyone else – well if you read or listen to what Reg Empey actually said, then that’s [i]precisely[/i] what the three ministers tried to do, but they were voted down by the DUP/SF axis so the minutes were adopted as the official (albeit still disputed) version of events.

    Ritchie just wanted it on the record that she disagreed with the adopted version of events. You can debate whether it was wise to explicitly make accusations of minutes being deliberately tampered with (as opposed to it coming down to some kind of misunderstanding).

    However, bear in mind that a certain senior civil servant has previous form when it comes to massaging the truth when it comes to producing official version of events (see judicial review of IVC case). And you can understand her anger about the same individual’s alleged behaviour two days beforehand – attempting to physically stop her from entering the chamber to make a Ministerial announcement in a legislature that she, not he, was elected to.

  • Ian

    On a wider issue, Reg Empey’s always come across as rather dull. But that, in a way, could be a virtue in this instance.

    He strikes me as having the diligence and attention to detail that means one is more likely to believe his version of events over that of the DUP Ministers who probably spent their time shouting and sniping during the disputed meeting.

    SF and the DUP made their way to the top of their respective tribal pile by being the loudest and brashest during the protracted negotiating period of the [i]process[/i], but now that politics has moved onto the nitty gritty, boring bread-and-butter stuff, the UUP and SDLP’s qualities such as consistency, logic and attention to detail, may become the more important attributes signalling a change in fortunes for the latter parties?

  • Mick Fealty

    There’s much in your last there Ian.

    The impression given here (whether it is fair or not) is that they are spending more effort on trying to make sure things don’t get down than actually doing stuff. To be fair they have some of the more difficult Ministries (Ruane’s Education brief offers a particularly onerous cocktail of competing priorities).

    But I suspect as this controversy continues that that impression will just sink deeper with each successive anaemic, direct-rule-policy-affirming directive that comes out of the ‘big two ministries’.

  • mchinadog

    It will be interesting when the full legal advice given to Minister Ritchie gets leaked and leaked it will, if only, to show how wrong she was from a legal point of view as I am sure no one disputes the moral stance she took.. Never mind her breaking her Ministerial Code and whatever other things she breached, regarding the minutes of the meeting would it not be interesting to see the note takers writings or even Reg’s own notes of that meeting perhaps then Reg & Michael’s memory would be a bit accurate. If I was in the civil service I would take a case against her and that may still happen and also if I was Farset I would take her on too for I am convinced she would lose. Do not get me wrong I am totally behind the decision not to hand money to the URPG/UDA it is the excuse and the reason for stopping the money I find very disturbing. There is no moral or legal reason why the money could not have went to one side of the community that was a little feeble. Millions has gone to the national community for single identity schemes and not a word about it.

  • Nevin

    These shenanigans need to be seen in the context of the wider ‘conflict transformation’ project in Belfast, in which the DSD is one of nine partners.

    3 October 2007

    Public consultation on draft Peace Plan for Belfast …

    Four consultation events have been planned at venues across the city:

    Belfast Castle in North Belfast on Monday 29 October (10am to 12 noon)

    Malone House in South Belfast on Wednesday 31 October (2pm to 4pm)

    Farset Centre in West Belfast on Thursday 1 November (10am to 12 noon)

    The Mount in East Belfast on Friday 2 November (9.30am to 11.30am)

    Has Ritchie consulted with her other partners? Will she be attending the consultation in the Farset Centre?

    What are the implications for ‘joint’ ventures such as the McAleese (and SF) endorsed Finaghy Crossroads Group? Did someone forget to tell Comical Marty where his 2d went?

  • The Dubliner

    “SF and the DUP made their way to the top of their respective tribal pile by being the loudest and brashest during the protracted negotiating period of the process, but now that politics has moved onto the nitty gritty, boring bread-and-butter stuff, the UUP and SDLP’s qualities such as consistency, logic and attention to detail, may become the more important attributes signalling a change in fortunes for the latter parties?” – Ian

    It’s hard to guess that one. Northern society is split into two tribes, so the politics reflects those tribal divisions. PSF and the DUP came to prominence by pitting one tribe against the other. I don’t think you can ignore the power of that dynamic, hoping that opportunistic manipulators will forget the best trick in the book or that the society will cease to be divided into two tribes. The tribal division regarding The Irish Language Act, for example, indicates otherwise.

    Morality and principled behaviour from a political party will win votes, but will they win enough votes? PSF have been completely unprincipled on the issue of support for the UDA godfathers, but rather than condemn them for that, many of their supporters chose to either divert their eyes from it and onto the propriety of Her Majesty’s law (a delightful ultra pro-state juxtaposition for the old anti-state ‘republicans’) or they chose to praise PSF’s lack of principles as a virtue in politics. Either way, they recognise that they set the low standards by voting for PSF.

    It might be that the public has been so corrupted by the process of being persuaded that mass-murderers are fit and proper people to hold elected office that they simply don’t have the required integrity to ‘purify’ their own politics at this late stage – which is probably why it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that you only have a puppet administration in the north, anyway.

    I wonder if FF really know what they are letting themselves in for?