“Or we all sink together…”

Those are the words of Ian Paisley Junior this morning on Good Morning Ulster, when he asserted that there needed to be some collegiality about decisions arising from the Executive. When challenged by Seamus McKee about his party’s attitude to the Irish Language Act, he made precisely the point that our tabloid blogger Belfast Gonzo makes in his post here. Edwin Poots will not make a decision on the Irish Language Act: it will be taken by the Executive. That’s a very clear assertion of the governmental norm when it comes to controversial issues. But that norm that was clearly departed from, when the Executive allowed Ms Ritchie to issue her 60 day ultimatum. Some members of the Government agreed that that subsidiarity was actively relinquished by Ms Ritchie. But that is something that Ritchie, and at least two (and possibly three) of her Executive colleagues, vehemently deny ever happened. The boat it would seem is leaking badly.

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  • Nevin

    “that norm that was clearly departed from, when the Executive allowed Ms Ritchie to issue her 60 day ultimatum.”

    Was she given clearance by the Executive to make the 60 day ultimatum, Mick? It was my understanding that at that part of the ‘process’ she’d tried to raise the issue with the Executive but they didn’t want to know.

  • Ian

    Nevin,

    Surely the onus at that point was on the Executive to declare the issue a major or controversial one and ‘call in’ the decision. Which they declined to do.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s a fine point, but one well worth making Nev.

    The disputed minutes would play a role of getting rid of that ambiguity in favour of the Executive, but they remain disputed. And, awkwardly for the ‘big two’, not simply by one minister and one party.

    Two months later, and at 3 seconds to midnight so to speak, it smacks of trying to shut a stable door when the horse has been out and running in the field for months.

  • Ian @ 11:54 AM:

    You’ve fingered the key issue, more important than the flim-flam about minutes or legal advice, and the thought to which I have repeatedly returned.

    If the arrangements are to work, then there must be:
    * collective responsibility, and
    * ministerial discretion.

    As I understand it, and you have said, the usual formula is:
    * major (i.e. heavy expenditure and controversial items which are likely to be make-or-break/resignation) items need to go through a “policy” forum (i.e. a cabinet);
    * other items may be notified to the whole ministerial team, and “flagged” or “called in” for wider consideration.

    Only then would it be reasonable to go public.

    Which brings us back to the 60-day time-limit. That was established (as I recall) as far back as June. If it hasn’t been “called-in” before now, or even pre-agreed, that’s astounding, and of itself means that the Executive had delegated it to ministerial discretion.

    As the Belfast Telegraph pointedly commented, the Executive – which has issued just two statements, on flooding and foot and mouth, in six months – [needs] to reach difficult conclusions, soon.

  • Dewi

    On Friday, the BBC contacted the Department of Social Development regarding the cut to the funding.

    A spokesperson said: “The termination notice is being prepared, in conjunction with our lawyers.”

    That’s probably been posted here before but surely Ms Ritchie should have got this prepared before ?

  • Mick Fealty

    Dewi,

    Devenport made the point a few days ago that Civil Servants had to be ordered by the direct rule Minister to begin CTI funding. Now, it would seem, they are waiting for a clear order to stop it.

    Under normal circumstances the department simply follows the Minister’s decision.

  • Nevin

    Ian, I’m not privy to the internal machinations of the Executive. The ‘didn’t want to know’ phrase is my recollection of what Ritchie said during the past few days.