“We are now beginning to see signs of control freakery being exhibited.”

The UUP leader and NI Executive Minister for Employment and Learning, Reg Empey, has issued a statement in response to the “pantomime” performance of the Deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, and the “thinly veiled threats” from the Finance Minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson – and, no doubt, also in response to the criticism of the Health Minister. From the UUP leader’s statement

“We are currently engaged in a process where we are discussing drafts – I repeat drafts – of the programme for government and budget. It is an opportunity for MLAs and the general public to openly debate and offer alternative viewpoints. The threats from certain Ministers to attempt to stifle debate by threatening the collapse of the government if these matters are not agreed to their liking reeks of throwing all the toys out of the pram and is a dagger to the heart of the democratic process. MLAs and parties must have the right to discuss and debate these draft proposals.”

“We are now beginning to see signs of control freakery being exhibited. The UUP regrets Mr Robinson’s thinly veiled threats in his closing remarks yesterday. Mr Robinson implies that there is a four Party coalition at Stormont. The reality is much different. A coalition, by definition, is where the parties of government come together to agree an agenda for implementation. At no time since the 8th May have the leaders of the parties represented in the Executive met to discuss, let alone agree an agenda. The confidentiality requirement means Ministers are inhibited from sharing fully with their parties emerging proposals on policy.

“Ulster Unionist Party Ministers have approached their portfolios in a genuine attempt to deliver the best possible service to the people of Northern Ireland and we believe strongly that the only way a coalition can work is by consensus between the parties. This is not the way things are going. On the one hand DUP and Sinn Fein Ministers want to be fireproofed and blameless on sensitive and contentious issues such as health cuts and water charges by insisting on unanimity, while on the other they are getting into a two party cabal and deciding what they want and how to do it. This is a fundamental inconsistency that needs to be addressed. The UUP are currently exploring options of how to address it.”

, , ,

  • pith

    If the Executive collapses what will we do for mixed metaphors?

  • wild turkey

    “MLAs and parties must have the right to discuss and debate these draft proposals.”

    Is the PfG and Budget and/or its constituent parts subject to an Equality Impact Assessment?

    If yes, then until there is ‘meaningful’ and ‘inclusive’ consultation carried out as part of the EQIA process, nothing is a done deal. If decisions have, de facto, been already made regarding PfG and/or the budget then OFMDFM and DfP may, repeat may, be in breach of their Equality schemes as they have not adhered to their committment to carry out meaningful consultation.

    If no, i.e. PfG and the budget are not subject screening to an EQIA, then WTF. In theory the lack of either meaningful consultation and/or and EQIA could give rise to a formal complaint to the Equality Commission.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    What cheek!

    If he wanted the power to say how things would be done, mayhap his party should have done better in the election.

    I do find it amusing that Empty and the UUP has the chutzpah to talk about openess and a willingness to listen to minority opinions, given that which has gone before… But then, this system was envisioned with the UUP holld the whip-hand.

  • Outstanding in my field

    Does anyone really think that only the Health and Housing Budgets don’t have enough money – No.

    Does anyone think that there is enough money in the overall Budget – No.

    Does anyone that there is a little bit of posturing going on – by everyone – depends on how you vote.

    Chance of SDLP and UUP walking out of Executive 0%.

  • interested

    When you hear Empey and the others talking about the budget they have yet to put forward one single point which they seem to agree with.

    Yes a budget and programme for government is for debate and amendment, but Reggie and his mortician buddy must have agreed that the Draft Budget was a good basis for that debate to begin.

    It would seem that once they’re out in the open they want to pick the whole thing to shreds. The Ulster Unionist Party are also in the curious position of allegedly being a party of the centre right which wants to see massive tax increases.

    All of their members have demanded extra money for every department yet they refuse to countenance that Northern Ireland’s public sector is a bloated mess after 30 years of buggering about doing largely what they wanted, encouraged by central government as an unfortnate necessity to keep this place running whilst it was getting blown up.

    They demand that extra money yet they never put forward one proposal as to how to raise it. They dismiss efficienies within Government so that only leaves one possible place – the pockets of the people of Northern Ireland. That is unless Santa is going to come along and provide the mortician all the cash he needs to keep people alive (now there’s irony).

    You can just about understand the SDLP’s attitude on this – their policies are actually supportive of taxing people to the hilt, but the Ulster Unionists are just plain confusing. How do you oppose water charges and rate rises on one hand but then demand more and more and more and more money for every area of Government?

    They’re now trying to refnie the argument by claiming that they’re not allowed to put forward ‘constructive criticism’ but the reality is that we all know that its part of the internal Ulster Unionist struggle as to whether they actually remain in Government or not.

    The final irony is that Northern Ireland’s ‘natural party of government’ (self-appointed title) have managed to slip quite so neatly into the most childish and opportunistic party ever seen in Government anywhere.

  • Ahem

    Absolutely ‘Interested’. Totally disconnected gibberish from the UUP. The tragedy, from my point of view, is that in trying to bust up Sinn Fein/DUP, they’re spot on, but tragically it’s the right goal with utterly the wrong people. And they’re wrong in the sense of being completely inadequate for the task to hand. McGimpsey tries to rat on the budget he agreed to, in outline, in private? Naturally. McGimpsey as a big spending minister suggests ever more spending, presumably an ever larger subvention, and makes no hard headed proposals about where reform and savings could and should be made? Check. The system which Trimble, with the backing of Reg and the Gimp, cooked up is now working itself out exactly as badly as its critics said it would? Of course. Zero shame from Reg and the Gimp? Obviously. Nothing in the way of concrete proposals for what they want to change? What do you think? Or to put that another way, just go and look at the press release up there and marvel at just how empty it is.

  • interested

    Ahem
    I’m not completely uncharitable to the UUP (and the SDLP). They clearly have issues with the budget and programme for government. However, if they are serious about really only wanting to make constructive comments and improve a draft then no doubt they will have put forward lots of suggestions and amendments during the Assembly debate on both of these.

    I’ll wait patiently to see what they’ve put forward. If they’ve just raged against it without putting any changes/amendments forward then you have to wonder what kind of game they are playing. To do that would just be to lie to the people of Northern Ireland and actually raise expectations amongst people when they dont have the slightest intention of doing anything about it.

    Lets wait and see I suppose.

  • graduate

    The mortician and his oh-so-patronising companion from Social Development would get a lot more sympathy if they actually nmade some hard decisions. Mike’s sitting with half the directors for the new health authority drawing full wage and doing damn all up at the Department and the only decision Nanny ritchie has made was to irritate half the loyalist estates in the country. I’m don’t mind them looking more money if they’re competent- these idiots aren’t (this is not to say all DUP/SF ministers are comepetent btw).
    Also, there’s a real whiff of sour grapes now that SDLP/UUP aren’t in charge. Touch of hypocrisy methinks.
    Also, to agree with budget in private and then start griping about it is just a tad loopy- there are NO secrets in politics here, it’s too small a place and there’s always someone ready to rat you out!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    graduate: “the only decision Nanny ritchie has made was to irritate half the loyalist estates in the country.”

    Firstly, it is one more hard decision than any of the rest of them has made. Second, you confuse with the estates with the gangs that control the patch the estate is on. Third, the only reason that the other half of loyalist gangs weren’t annoyed is because they hadn’t weaseled their way to the public trough.

    Besides, I would think that being told “no” for a change would be an educational experience.

  • Danny O’Connor

    wouldn’t be the first graduate to be infatuated by a Robinson

  • Alex S

    “But then, this system was envisioned with the UUP holld the whip-hand”

    Posted by Dread Cthulhu on Nov 27, 2007 @ 02:40 PM

    It was envisioned that the parties of the centre would dominate and in doing so bring an element of consenus, at the moment the Executive is dominated by an extreme rightwing DUP and the ultra socialist Sinn Fein, can it last in it’s present form?

    “Mike’s sitting with half the directors for the new health authority drawing full wage and doing damn all up at the Department”

    Posted by graduate on Nov 27, 2007 @ 08:17 PM

    Exactly how will will the creation of a super quango, the Health and Social Services Authority (HSSA) really address the funding shortfall, what about the inevitable set-up costs, in any case the notion that the HSSA will simply replace the existing boards is naive, it will in effect mean a merging of the existing structures, and costs, with an additional level of bureaucracy on top, surely we already have the Dept of Health and Social Services, if it is to be down-graded will it have the resources to monitor and control the HSSA, will not the tail end up waging the dog?

    “the only decision Nanny ritchie has made was to irritate half the loyalist estates in the country”

    Posted by graduate on Nov 27, 2007 @ 08:17 PM

    Do you honestly think she can address the chronic housing shortage in six months without even knowing what’s in the programme for government?

    The truth is Robinson wants to run the Executive with the chuckle bros as a figurehead, problem is he didn’t get the money from Brown to pay for the sweeteners

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Alex S: “It was envisioned that the parties of the centre would dominate and in doing so bring an element of consenus, at the moment the Executive is dominated by an extreme rightwing DUP and the ultra socialist Sinn Fein, can it last in it’s present form? ”

    Probably not. But the more important question would be which sinks first. A UUP / SF grouping, given the UUP’s regression and trying to out-DUP the DUP would be equally feckless.

    DUP / SDLP not likely much better.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The fact is that it is not in the interests of the two largest parties to see that the UUP and SDLP get an easy ride. Hence they get the shitty end of the stick. They need to consider their positions.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Comrade Stalin: “The fact is that it is not in the interests of the two largest parties to see that the UUP and SDLP get an easy ride. Hence they get the shitty end of the stick. They need to consider their positions. ”

    Yeah, but that’s just politics… and its not like the junior partners aren’t trying to make waves when and where they can.

  • interested

    Alex,
    Maybe you want to go back and check through your party’s views pre-devolution on the new Health Authority before you talk of super-quangos…. Reggie and the mortician didn’t seem to have a problem with it then.

    Seemingly cheerful Mike would prefer to have numerous Trusts with the hundreds of administrators and pen pushers replicated across this small country instead of one body which might cut some costs and unnecessary bloating which anyone with half a brain can spot that the NHS badly suffers from.

    Are you suggesting that the Health Service doesn’t require reform then Alex? McGimp is plain petrified of doing anything other than standing with the begging bowl out. Maybe Alan McFarland would have done a better job – after all, he was at least the UUP’s first choice for the job. The pressure of being second choice maybe is just too much for poor Michael.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Yeah, but that’s just politics… and its not like the junior partners aren’t trying to make waves when and where they can.

    The whole point of collective cabinet government is that people don’t make waves, otherwise the damn thing can’t be stable. I know in the Trimble/Mallon executive there were one or two cases of people violating the executive rules, but here some executive minister flagrantly ignore them.

  • Reader

    Comrade Stalin: The whole point of collective cabinet government is that people don’t make waves, otherwise the damn thing can’t be stable.
    I disagree. You can’t expect corporate loyalty from a mandatory coalition. And the voters are entitled to a clear picture of the arguments in the executive rather than depending on leaks and innuendo. How else are we to pick among the clowns for the *next* Assembly?
    Stability, for a change, might now depend on a bit of openness, pragmatism, and the admission that, yes, there is a bit of horse trading going on.
    And if SF/DUP tries to stiff the UUP/SDLP departments, or McGimpsey wastes taxpayers’ money, or Ritchie oversteps her authority, then I want to know it, so that I can take it into account.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Comrade Stalin: “The whole point of collective cabinet government is that people don’t make waves, otherwise the damn thing can’t be stable.”

    Given SF’s ham-handed efforts to gut their junior partner’s portfolio on one hand and then brief their constitutents that it’s the partner’s doing, I’d say it is more a matter of reaping what you sow.

    SF / DUP have the votes to pass whatever they want. They have alternated between majority rule and unanimity when it served their purposes, to the detriment of their junior partners. It is unreasonable to expect them to simple lie back and think of Ulster.

  • Alex S

    “Are you suggesting that the Health Service doesn’t require reform then Alex?”

    No, but slashing it’s budget beforehand will only make things worse