48-hour ultimatum on CTI funding..

Not much detail on this, not least on what grounds the legal action would be taken over the withdrawal of the CTI funds and then there’s the question of why an employee at Farset is making the threat, but a breaking news Irish Times report notes

The Stormont power-sharing Executive was tonight given a 48-hour ultimatum to reinstate a funding programme for loyalist communities or face legal action. Social development minister, Margaret Ritchie, and the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister received a letter today from an employee at Farset Youth and Community Development warning of legal action if the controversial Conflict Transformation Initiative, is not restored.

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  • URQUHART

    I guess they must be hoping to get a few quid off Ian and Martin – Margaret Ritchie has already shown how she responds to threats.

  • While I’m sure some people may have been disappointed by the recent decision over ‘CTI’ funding, Margaret Ritchie doesn’t owe anyone a living. The fact is that this scheme shouldn’t have been started by the British government in the first place. Despite this, the UDA was afforded the opportunity to save it- they failed to deliver. Margaret Richie has a mandate to govern and make decisions in the best interests of society, and practically all of society have agreed with her decision on this issue. That’s democracy.

  • me

    Can we have a poll as to whether or not they’ll back down?

  • Turgon

    Firstly let us hope that any legal challenge fails. For Ritchie’s decision to be declared illegal will make the law look an ass. For it to be illegal to stop funding the CTI is absolutley ludicrous.

    The politics is, however, much more interesting. The DUP might want to use this legal challenge let alone any possible defeat for Ritchie as a great stick to beat her with. It can then be suggested that Peter Robinson was right all along and that Ritchie exceeded her authority, was naive etc. SF could of course jump in as well hoping to damage Ritchie especially with an eye to South Down at the next Westminister election and as a way of distracting attention from Ruane’s assorted problems.

    However, there is a very big but in all the above. It is that Ritchie very clearly caught the public mood on the CTI money whilst the DUP and SF misread it quite spectularly.

    As such, using this as a stick to beat Ritchie could be a very double edged sword for the DUP and SF. It would remind people of their opposition to Ritchie’s initial (extremely popular) decision. Then if Ritchie looses in court she could easily play the line that she did the right morally right and courageous thing, but the law foolishly does not allow it. In that scenario the DUP and SF can be presented, almost no matter what they say, as supporting funding loyalist paramilitaries.

    Even worse for the DUP and SF if they criticise Ritchie and she then wins in court; they can be portrayed as lacking courage and then actually in wrong in law, adding cowardice to the danger of looking like giving money to criminals.

    Ritchie (by her actions which in my view were entirely correct and honourable) has insured her position in the public’s support so that the worse case scenario for her is that she did the right thing and the law let her down. If, however, she wins she looks courageous, honourable, clever and lots of other good things. This will be a very difficult hand for the DUP and SF to play. I suspect they may keep fairly quiet certainly until after any court case (at least if they have any sense they will).

  • Mekong

    This is what Ritchie has been waiting for from the start, she knew what she was doing was technically illegal, was advised as such and would be overturned in court but sure why let that get in the way of a political stunt and a chance to pretend she is tough. The UDA should never have been promised money and should not be given a cent, whether they decommission or not. This is not a hiccup, this was the Ritchie plan all along, then blame the law and the judge, pathetic but predictable.

  • sms

    Will the MLA’s have to carry the legal costs personally if the case goes against them?. This seems to happen in local councils

  • joeCanuck

    Why stop there, mekong.
    Sure isn’t a well know fact that she personally and secretly persuaded the Direct Rulers to start this fund in the first place so she could shoot it down later.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Pity the focus on Ritchie isn’t her admission that she is completely unable to deal with the housing crisis her Dept has responsibility for rather than this smoke and mirrors over legal arguments on a dodgy direct rule decision to fund the UDA.

    Another one that voted through the draft budget then admitted it means she is completely unable to tackle one of the biggest problems facing us, the housing crisis.

    Sure acting tough about the UDA, even if defeated in the courts, distracts from her incompetence in her key responsibilities.

    Yet another Stormont Minister looking for excuses and distractions from their failings to the poorest in society. And getting away with it too.

    A terribly poor Minister, failing and being allowed to blow smoke up our asses instead of being confronted on her absolute inability to deal with social policy.

  • “For it to be illegal to stop funding the CTI is absolutley ludicrous”

    Jesus Christ, some people live in a rather simplistic world here. We have been over these points before on the other threads.

    Judicial Review will be concerned by the following in relation to her decision to stop funding to CTI.

    1.Are her actions deemed unreasonable? (The Wednesbury test)

    The fact that she ignored the advice of a senior Crown counsel could be seen as unreasonable.

    2. Illegality, did she act Ultra Vires?

    Again there is some evidence that she may have

    3.Procedural Impropriety

    On the facts of this case Ritchie may be vulnerable under all three heads of terms.

    It will be an interesting case to say the least

  • joeCanuck

    Chris,

    Would I be right in thinking that S.F. supporters are rubbing their hands in glee at the hope that the Court slaps down Ms. Ritchie?
    They certainly, yourself included, have been fairly quiet during this event.

  • “Would I be right in thinking that S.F. supporters are rubbing their hands in glee at the hope that the Court slaps down Ms. Ritchie?”

    If you think that SF supporters are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the UDA getting their funding back because of the ineptitudes of a stoop minister then you are an idiot.

    This is an organisation that has killed Sinn Féin members, families and their friends.

    I have friends whose parents were killed by the UDA and other Unionist death squads.

    So in answer to your question Joe, Yes! I am simply salivating at the prospect of them getting their money back.

    How have I been quiet?

    http://gaskinbalrog.blogspot.com/2007/10/ritchie-is-losing-plot.html

  • Frank Sinistra

    Though the man still described as a top SF strategist in this week’s ATN, Jim Gibney, has argued comprehensively for funding the UDA through this project in his Irish News column.

  • joeCanuck

    Very clever answering of a question I didn’t ask, Chris.
    Ever thought of being a politician?

  • Rubicon

    Interesting indeed Chris – and I’d be the last person to question your party’s expertise in court. You may be right – but none of that takes away from Turgon’s analysis.

    Don’t you think most people believe that funding the UDA from tax-payers’ money was wrong? Do you think the procedural niceties you point to are what people want politicians to change? How do you think Ritchie should have stopped the funding – assuming you believe the funding should have been stopped?

    Criticise how Margaret did what the public wanted – but I’ve yet to hear from your party (or the DUP) as to how this could have been done better.

    I’d like you (or any DUP’er or SF’er) explain what Ritchie should have done to stop the public funding of the UDA. You’ve been specific in your criticism and highlighted the legal risks Ritchie is exposed to. Can you be as specific in stating how these risks could have been avoided – while achieving the same result?

    Or – is it (in your and the DUP view) just illegal to challenge the direction of the British absentee landlords or challenge the more ugly outcomes of the sectarianism that has delivered you political success?

    I have this vision of Englishmen in Westminster sipping their G&T;’s bent over laughing telling tales of how they’ve hoist sectarians by their own petard.

    Sorry – I’m being prejudicial. I really should wait to hear how you believe Margaret Ritchie could have stopped the public funding of the UDA in a more timely and better way.

  • runciter

    It is fascinating to watch the response of some so-called “republicans” to Ritchie’s decision.

    Clearly they would much prefer that the minister just paid the gangsters.

    And we are supposed to believe that their anger is at the disrespect being shown to the law!

    Such men of principal, these born-again defenders of the establishment.

  • Hogan

    Ignoring the advice of senior crown counsel as unreasonable Chris?

    Did you not see everyones favourite QUB Law Lecturer Tony McGleenan wipe the floor with him in representing the Consumer Council against the direct rulers over water charges in judicial review.

    They are not gods!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    One of the ironies of this whole episode is that if McGuinness had not ‘lost the run of himself’ on the last day of the last Assembly, Ritchie wouldn’t have been placed in this predicament.

    For Shinners to be rubbing their hands in glee because Ritchie (allegedly) hasn’t followed the rules to the letter is pretty laughable.

  • URQUHART

    It’s reassuring to see provo posters have had the chance to regroup and be slightly more coherant in their responses this time.

    The problem fpr them of course is that pesky paper trail. When SF ministers were asked for their views on how to deal with UDA funding, the response was ‘no comment’.

    All the spinning in the world can’t change that fact which, if this issue gets back to the top of the agenda, we’ll just have to come back to again and again.

  • Nevin

    Rubicon, ever thought of the Chuckle Brothers sipping GnTs as they joke about the impotency of the UUP-SDLP ‘alliance’? 😉

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, but which DUPer wrote the piece under Chris’ name which he linked to in his non-reply to me?

  • DK

    Is it possible that SF are hoping Ritchie will fail because if she doesn’t there may be challenges, from whatever source, to republican funding…

  • Jo

    SF might not be salivating at the prospects of Loyalist community funding but their mouths positively drool when faced with the prospect of damaging a formidable opponent for the south Down Westminster seat in a couple of years time -assuming Eddie McGrady retires.

    Mind you, their own prospect in that constituency hasn’t exactly covered herself in glory.

    Is attacking Mgt. Ritchie also an attempt to blow smoke over the abyssmal handling of the Education portfolio?

  • Turgon

    I am sure SF would like Ritchie to fail. The problem is that there is a grave danger, for them and the DUP that Ritchie is in a no lose position. If she is found incorrect in law; we all know that the vast majority of the public will support her. If she is correct in law she just wins more.

    Chris Gaskin accused me of being simplistic. The fact is of course that the general public (and I am proud to say I) see this in simplistic terms; the UDA should not get any money. If the law finds against Ritchie it will not make her actions morally wrong, nor will it make them politically damaging to herself. Pratically anything the SF and DUP now do on this issue will do them political harm. This is why I suspect that SF and the DUP will keep quite quiet on this issue, they do not want people to remember the PR debacle which their attacks on her became.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Turgon: “I am sure SF would like Ritchie to fail. The problem is that there is a grave danger, for them and the DUP that Ritchie is in a no lose position. If she is found incorrect in law; we all know that the vast majority of the public will support her. If she is correct in law she just wins more.

    Chris Gaskin accused me of being simplistic.”

    I would have accused you of being obvious, which is not nearly the same thing… then again, you and I agree on this particular topic.

    CG: “If you think that SF supporters are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the UDA getting their funding back because of the ineptitudes of a stoop minister then you are an idiot. ”

    Frankly, given their performance on this issue, I would have those “ineptitude” would have been one of the last words an SF supporter would have trotted out in this conversation, given SF’s inability to respond to Ritchie’s announcement.

    As for your three points, the law is not black and white, save in the simplest of cases. When one enters into the realm of policing the politicians, the matters at hand are generally fairly baroque.

    1) Ignoring a lawyer, even one on staff, is hardly unreasonable, especially if that lawyer may have a less than unbiased view of the matter.

    I think you will find that, in the real world and given a level playing field, finding a lawyer whose experience, knowledge and reputation trumps that of some state employee is not all that difficult to do.

    2) Claiming “some evidence” is hardly conclusive, especially given that, when given the opportunity, her peers in the Executive did not comment or object. As the Minister in whose portfolio this abomination of a wrong-headed program falls, the argument can be made that she is acting wholly within her authority.

    3) This one she might have some crossed “i”s and dotted “t”s. But, if that is the best they can hang her on, I think she’s more of less in safe territory — but even if she’s wrong across the board, I think you will find that by dint of being the only one in the Executive actually trying to accomplish something, she’ll still be in safe political water.