Oppositional games

The BBC’s Mark Devenport pointed to the exchange (captured on the YouTube video below) between the Northern Ireland Executive’s Deputy First Minister, or “co-chair” as he refers to himself as, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, and the Alliance Party leader David Ford, as the “put down of the day”. Except, it’s how you’d expect any government to treat a party of the opposition, official or not, even here in our administration. The only point left to make is whether he did, or did not, answer the question.

Updated
below the foldMore oppositional games in the Assembly. Despite the vote, 24-50 against the Alliance motion, some interesting comments to note from the report on the marathon session in the Assembly today.

The DUP said the structure of the assembly was built around a mandatory coalition, principally negotiated by the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP.

Finance Minister Peter Robinson said: “The basis upon which any coalition government can move forward is on the basis for a programme for government.

“And so that there is no doubt at a later stage, without an agreed programme for government, there cannot be government.”

So much for that new “indigenous” deal, then..

And “without an agreed programme for government, there cannot be government”? Tautology, much?

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  • Sinn Féin and the DUP seem taken aback that the Alliance on the outside and the SDLP and UUP on the inside of the Executive would dare to challenge them and their plans. This repeated indignance at the very idea that someone would dare contradict them or highlight the shortcomings of their work in government does seem to reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the basic concept of democracy and the right of elected representatives to hold governments and ministers to account.

  • Ahem

    And yet again we see why Devonport always wins BBC News & Current Affairs ‘Dud of the Regions’ award. For where exactly was the ‘put down’ in any of that? All Marty McG mumbled was, ‘we’s uns is bigger than youse uns’. Seriously, you really don’t need a Phd from Oxford to parse that one. There was NO sodding ‘put down’. Let alone there being one that’s a daily exemplar. But by golly, how Martin likes it now that his Whitehall masters have housetrained him. It’s sure gonna to be fun when they decide to put him to sleep.

  • The Raven

    The arrogance of this “administration” is incredible. The Chuckle Brothers, cosy in their politically-expedient partnership, is stomach-churning, frankly.

    And yet it is Marty who correctly identifies the whole debacle as a pantomime…while questions remain over the Causeway affair…while over 1500 jobs have been lost in the past four weeks, (an issue STILL not covered by this site)…while health budgets remain in limbo…while the sword of Damocles hangs over rural NI in the form of a watered-down, developer-friendly PPS14…while the issue of paying classroom assistants remains utterly fudged…and that’s just off the top of my head.

    Imagine we REALLY listed all the stuff that remains undone, while the cuddles club of the DUP and Sinn Fein throw bread to the masses in the form of The Ian & Marty Show.

    Frankly, I’m amazed the SDLP and UUP haven’t already made the jump.

  • Nevin

    “Put down of the day has to be from the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who savaged the Alliance leader after David Ford criticised the Executive’s programme for government. Mr McGuinness claimed the Alliance’s effort to portray itself as an opposition was “rather futile” as his party was “trying to punch above its weight”.”

    Surely, it was shifty Comical Marty who looked the prat when the ‘he’s behind you’ echoed round the chamber. Is the OFMDFM determined to make Naomi’s weight an issue?

  • DC

    Wee games! What was Martin doing over the last 30years or so other than playing silly fatal war games, not futile!

    Martin is in a position today because of a war-led political strategy that harnessed the media in a way which disgusted many yet encouraged others, while those not taking to arms but instead talking democracy have had to wait on the sidelines for such blood thirsty warriors to be placated through little PR media games coupled with coercive British-Irish diplomacy tactics. All of which have ensured enough exposure designed to gain seats and keep wee Martin at bay from the arm dumps.

    Fear of force has hopefully now ended and, with El Mat on this one, Martin just looked like a right arrogant so and so from that clip. Adams and him will go the same way, as when their dour policy fails their own phlegmatic persona will ensure that they end up nowhere.

    As for Paisley Snr, well he can’t respond unless reading of a sheet. Enough said.

  • TAFKABO

    Martin is in a position today because of a war-led political strategy that harnessed the media in a way which disgusted many yet encouraged others,

    I thought it was because people voted for him.

  • Ahem

    If you honestly thought that Taf, then you’re up way past your bedtime. Or perhaps you thought all those murders were utterly irrelevant to Marty’s ‘political’ progress over the last few years? An utter coincidence, a complete irrelevance, a sideshow, just one of those things, shure we’ve all suffered, blah, blah. Or perhaps you think it’s plain bad taste even to advert to them. Don’t we hoors have any any idea how much Mr McG suffers each and every evening? I’m told he sees a face of every man, woman and child murdered on his orders, just before he goes to sleep, and a different one every night. Still, at that rate, he’ll be through it all in, what? a few years? A small price to pay for having him as a deputy first minister, and for 800 years of Republican freedom-fighting having brought us, copper-fastened partition, the return of Stormont, and oh, Paisley as First Minister. Still, you go to sleep now wain with your comforting little bon mots about how you thought ‘it was because people voted for him’. Bless!

  • TAFKABO

    Correct me if I’m wrong on this one, but I really do think he’s there because people voted for him, no?
    I’m no particular fan of his, or his party, but they were given a mandate by the electorate, and what we think of their choice is irrelevant, we have to respect it, if we are to call ourselves democrats.

    As for his past, there are scant few societies, if any, that don’t have their roots in bloodshed.
    The road to peace and stability tends to be a bloody and violent one.

  • DC

    Bloody unnecessary.

  • Nevin

    TAF, it’s not unusual for fascists to get elected so I don’t think ‘respect’ is an appropriate word to use.

  • There’s an update to the original post from today’s Assembly session.

  • Turgon

    It has been said before that the public will gradually get used to the agreement and it will all go on.

    However, the different constituencies of those opposing this agreement seem to grow almost exponentially. There are most if not all the UUP, SDLP, Alliance, prodiban.

    Clearly there is self interest in each and every group. It is possible that if in power each of these groups would behave in the same way. Still one is left wondering whether or not the majority of the population still support the arrogance, incompetence, possible corruption that pass for the two main parties and the love in. Combine that with the falure of the IRA to actually go away.

    Yes all those opposed to the current status quo cannot agree on much other than that they do not like what is happening. That is not a programme for an opposition. It might, however, be a platform to say that we need to go back to the negotiating table and try to work out something that works. A new agreement not negotiated at the points of guns and without the need for a legacy for a damaged PM might be better no matter how long it took. It could scarsely be worse.

  • GavBelfast

    Didn’t the ‘First Minister’ look a picture, basking in Marty’s performance.

    Bless!

    Any actual business goin’ on?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Call me thick, but I didn’t get the “he’s behind you” quips coming from seated ministers.

    McGuinness’ replies were pretty pathetic, and the wee joke about Naomi was pretty typical of the low brow ad-hominem slagging we seem to be hearing a lot of.

  • IJP

    The DUP said the structure of the assembly was built around a mandatory coalition, principally negotiated by the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP.

    And the DUP’s right.

    Time it was re-negotiated.

    See Agenda for Democracy (2003-4) for details.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    I am not sure that I like you lumping everyone together. You may as well lump yourself in with the RIRA, as they are also opposed to powersharing, for reasons pretty similar to your own.

    Alliance supports powersharing, has done consistently since 1970. The principle problem with what’s here now is the way it is presently constituted, and that could be fixed with tweaks to the way the institutions are set up.

    The secondary problem is that the present executive is ineffective, lacklustre and, on the whole, a bit crap. Pointing this out does not make one opposed to the existence of the executive; it is about pointing out the glaring incompetence of the executive which is what governments everywhere do. The Tories are having a field day right now in similar circumstances.

  • Danny O’Connor

    I think that the sdlp and uup should make the jump.there is no collectivity within the executive;which can be seen from the Ritcie-Farset issue.Move now before you areb sent to dundela/connolly for re-education by the politburo.Leave the executive to implement the thatcherite budget that the people voted(or by complacency did not oppose)for.WAKEN UP NORTHERN IRELAND

  • Comrade Stalin

    I cannot see how the SDLP and UUP can put themselves in the executive and oppose it at the same time, it makes no sense whatsoever. Indeed it makes them look like they’re a bit too fond of the old ministerial salary and car. Time to make the jump, folks.

  • Ahem

    Is there anything more self-righteous than an Alliance party stalwart? I mean, this *is* Ulster, and God knows, we’ve got something of an EU Smug Mountain. But really, can anyone take the Yella Fellas for absurd certitude? Take *their* beau ideal of consociational powersharing – turns out, in fact, to be an utter disaster, but does this ever lead an APNIer to pause and reflect? You know, a spot of – ‘hmmn, maybe when I was patronisingly, votelessly lecturing everyone else on the right way forward, possibly, just possibly, I wasn’t right?’ I’m guessing not. The Belgian waffle, however, is firmly taken by the smear of the poor old UUP and SDLP for being ministerialists. Yeah, because if David Edsel had even come close to being eligible for ministerial status, he’d have turned it down.

  • Nevin

    CS, perhaps a transcription of these words from Comical Marty will clarify the ‘he’s behind you‘ jibes:

    Back-end of the pantomime horse: ” … when he [Ford] sits down he smiles to himself as if he’s involved in a pantomime ..”

  • Gum

    Sorry – where does McGuinness make fun of Long? I didnt hear any joke at her expense.

  • theallseeingeye

    “I think that the sdlp and uup should make the jump.there is no collectivity within the executive;which can be seen from the Ritcie-Farset issue.Move now before you areb sent to dundela/connolly for re-education by the politburo.Leave the executive to implement the thatcherite budget that the people voted(or by complacency did not oppose)for.WAKEN UP NORTHERN IRELAND”

    But surely that would mean you would have to stop punching Ulster Unionists then Cllr O’Connor!!

  • Hogan

    I had more respect for McGuninness than his ‘answer’ deserved. He is not stupid or infirm so why not answer the question?

    Typical of the disdain that this executive has for the assembly.