“any lengths to avoid making difficult decisions..”

Interesting point made by one of the Victims Commissioners designate, Mike Nesbitt, on Let’s Talk tonight. Apparently he has been meeting, and making representations on behalf of, victims.. but he has been officially cautioned that he should not do so as he has not, actually, been appointed yet. To which, unlike the response by the panellists on the programme, the correct response is – quite right. His designated post has no legal standing because the “damaging fudge” of four commissioners instead of one is not matched by the legislation. Adds BBC report here.

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  • LetsNotTalk

    Quite right, Peter. Whether Nesbitt likes it or not, he has no legal status to be investigating or meeting people. We have laws for very good reasons. He used the programme tonight to position himself, and avoided answering absolutely ANY question that was raised on any other issue. When he was asked what his qualification for the job was, he told an emotive story about a wake, as if that tragic story qualified HIM in any way. Unbelievable nonsense from Nesbitt throughout the show.

  • Anon

    Tonight’s Let’s was a disgrace. A journalistic disgrace as much as anything else. Yet again, Mark Carruthers turns everything into extended interviews with members of the audience, and misses every opportunity to press the panel on subjects.

    1. Who picked a panel who were so united in their unwillingness to criticize the DUP for anything? In this of all weeks, it should have been possible for the production team to find even ONE panel member who would say SOMETHING critical of the DUP. No. Not a single problem with assembly expenses, renting office space from family members, or even the 50K per year rent the Paisleys have been paying relatives.

    2. Mike Nesbitt singularly refused to answer any questions except the victims subject.

    3. Margaret Ritchie needs to have political teeth fitted.

    4. Henry Kelly is clearly in his dotage. He is completely disconnected with the issues and grandstanded arrogantly from ignorance.

    5. Arlene Foster did her party a great job. I’ve no complaints to make about here. She needed to be challenged and wasn’t; but that’s not her fault.

  • thetaximan

    They’re all doing all right out of the troubles, Nonentity Nesbitt from the North Down UTV money set, and the dup all boxing their wives and daughters off for jobs, and get a wee grant fir ha’ing the weebsite put intae ulster scots, meanwhile back in the real world, where’s that water bill and whats that about negative equity?

  • Hmmm…

    Surely the gay rugby team question should have had a more intelligent response than this programme managed? Why didn’t Mark press the point that it was a SPORTS MINISTER who was attacking a gay rugby team in an amateur league? It took an audience member to bring up that point after all four panellists had been asked their views.

  • Steptoe

    Yeah i was pissed off by carruthers too. He treated the gay story like it was a fun item at the end of the show with no political important. Yet here was a government sports minister engaging in a homophobic attack on a gay rugby team. This is a serious issue because the DUP has so many fundamentalists and when they get into government they tend to bring their fundamentalist views with them. If Poots was a Westminister sports minister, he would have been sacked the very next day. Why didnt that happen here? Because Northern Ireland is an adolescent democratic culture that needs to grow up. How come the presenter of lets talk doesnt seem to understand that serious political point?

    mark, if you’re reading this: gay people are not a funny at the end of a show.

  • Pete Baker

    And, with the exception of LNT’s comment, if we could get back to the actual topic..

  • angelo

    I wasn’t impressed by the pseudo victims commissioner tonight. why did he agree to go on a show when he was not prepared to answer any of the questions requiring a personal view? Answer: he went on the show to make a case for his own job. That young woman in the audience brilliantly pulled down the whole house of cards: how is it value for money to spend 250k on 4 commissioners who are not allowed to do any work, when we could have one commissioner at 65k doing the job.

    Also: why didnt mark carruthers ask if mike is collecting his wages yet?

    Nice wee earner when your media career disappears in front of your eyes Mike.

  • newbie

    I was amazed at Arlene and Margaret. They think they can make a phone call tomorrow to their executive colleagues and fix this? Fix what? It’s a legal question, not a political question. These 4 commissioners have suspect legal status. Only new legislation can fix that.

  • Maddoggy

    Sorry Pete. Off thread you may think, but that programme tonight was bizarre. Leave it to lets talk to find a panel who made love to paisley and the DUP for the entire programme. Under par beyond words. At this point, I dont see the point of opting out of Question Time for this.

  • Hmm

    I was impressed by Mike Nesbitt. He seemed to want to reach out to victims/survivors and is frustrated that he can’t do that. He is a genuine guy I think, that’s important for this kind of role.

  • Potheadpolitico

    I think we should check the panel’s expenses to see if they are paying assembly grants to their family members. They were so protective on that question that i was left wondering why they were there. A DUP party political broadcast. Mark’s not the worst – he doesn’t pick the panel. He was all over the place at one point with Nesbitt and Henry giving him trouble (he looked worried) but held it together just about. Nesbitt kept looking at Mark like he wanted his job!

  • Jean Grey

    On Victims, I want to see the legislation introduced soon. Can that be done at Stormont or does it need to go to westminster? If the assembly wants these appoitnments, and gordon brown is supporting it, surely emergency legislation would sort this out speedily?

    On the programme, I agree with others – nesbitt avoided all the questions, wouldnt give his views away on anything, and the others seems unwilling to criticise anything the DUP has been doing. The MLAs I can understand – why would they criticise expenses when their words may come back to haunt them in the next series of revelations.

  • realst

    Maybe we should have all proposals for local goverment lodged through current affairs programmes.(for instantanious results)
    In amazement 2 of the relevent panelists have pledged movement immediatly on ammending legislation to afford M Nesbitt essential tools required to carry out duties being paid for by we the tax payer.
    This point has to raise the question, are any of our ministers or MLA`s aware of these problems as the 2 panelists appeared to be totaly unaware to this important issue.(after commenting the priority of this issue)
    One would have thought the issue would be in front of all concerned bodies in black and white.
    Are we to assume both panelists knew nothing of the problem.
    On Hearts and minds we then heard the subject of a possable 16% pay increase to be awarded to our MLA`s BY OUR MLA`s
    Why would any of them be entitled to this criminal pay increase when obvisiously not paying attention to relevent and URGENT matters as above.
    A point not raised to Mike Nessbit was the subject of agreement differentual that may occurr between the 4 commissioners.
    Should we not have 1 boss from the four.

  • I am also was annoyed at the way the discussion was handled about what The Minister for Sport said this week.

    Arlene Foster said she didn’t see reason for gay rugby team nor gay bars.

    A recent report found that 43% of gay people would conceal their sexual orientation if working in sport.

    Name one out sportsman or sportswomen in Northern Ireland. Answer = zero.

    Is that good enough?

    What about fact that 29% young people in Northern Ireland have attempted suicide because of their sexual orientation.

    Good enough?

    What about fact that 55% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Northern Ireland have experienced homophobic violence.

    What else do you need?

  • freddie

    Andrew, this panel didnt seem to think there was any issue with Poots’ comments. Why can’t they see that point you’re making?

  • freddie

    Andrew, this panel didnt seem to think there was any issue with Poots’ comments. Why can’t they see that point you’re making?

  • joeCanuck

    If Mike Nesbitt has not been appointed yet, who has the right to caution him?
    As a private citizen, he can do anything he wants.
    And if he’s working for free, that’s a bonus to us.

  • seanzmct

    Let’s Talk has long been Question Time for Provincial
    Dummies. Tonight’s episode was one of the worst ever.
    On the issue of MLA nepotism, Mike Nesbitt and Henry Kelly reminisced nostalgically about the days when one did not need to bother one’s head with the inconvenience of open competition for jobs. Nesbitt said that his interview for the Victims Commisssion was his first ever job interview and went on to demonstrate that he had f-all squared to say about anything . God help the victims.

  • Sean J

    Yeah mike nesbitt’s comments about broadcasting, and Henry’s too, were strange. It must be strange for them two boys, stuck in that shared bubble, because the rest of the world has moved on and journalists now get interviewed for their jobs too. Henry was particularly weird tonight. As far as he’s concerned, as long as we have peace in NI, sure we can all put up with a bit of corruption in local politics. Mike seemed to agree: he thinks this financial corruption debate is at least “real politics”. What tosh. Real politics isn’t about whether politicians should be able to employ their kids and rent houses from themselves (ahem, their wives, I mean), it’s about how we build a healthy, integrated and prosperous society.

  • Hamish K

    Can someone tell me if Mike Nesbitt is already collecting salary for a job he says he’s so far unable to do?

  • suchard

    Well said Anon. Why can’t we have Question Time instead of this amateur, mutual, childish appreciation society.It was totally pathetic Henry Kelly came across as totally unprepared and out of touch with current affairs.Arlene Foster and the other woman were total lightweights.Incidentally why is the auditor general making payments to people like the follically challenged Nesbitt who have no legally established positions, one wonders if he and others are taking their money under false pretences.It appears that the vast majority of our elected politicians are abusing the system; this is totally unacceptable. I also thought that it was illegal for one to be a member of a UK parliament or presumably an assembly and hold an office of profit under the Crown. What are The Manor of Northsteads and The Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds for other wise. Papa Doc hopefully will apply for one of these asap.

  • IJP

    Proof that this is a damaging fudge indeed.

    If the Executive cannot even appoint a Commissioner… you know the rest.

    Hmmm and Anon

    Agreed. The audience won it.

    If they’re going to select two Executive parties, they should at least select a back-bencher from one of them.

    On Paisley and the Victims’ Commissioner I simply could not believe what I was hearing! The man held us back for more than a generation, and then messed up an appointment. It’s a farce – why did it take the audience to say so?!

  • lib2016

    “..why did it take the audience to say so?!”

    It was the public which got so fed up with the elderly rural ‘folk’ who have held politics back for generations that they have finally torn the script up. I don’t like unionists, I detest how rightwing the SDLP is becoming, and there are times when I get very worried about the people around the fringes of Sinn Fein but I’ll support anyone who wants powersharing and a future for my grandchildren.

    Every politican and every party gets involved in these things, whether it’s about flats in Paris, collecting brown envelopes in Dublin, selling honours in London, or stealing speeches in Washington. Get over yourselves and realise you’re just not that important to the rest of us. Do your bloody job and stop the hysterical over reaction…..and stop the nonsense about the mafia and/or fascism because that’s what democracy is all about, my friend. Petty local officals fighting about petty local corruption and the lengths and colours of children’s hair!

    Unionism has lost any possibility of positive thinking and endlessly objecting to the GFA doesn’t appeal to anybody. Compaining about a few million being ripped off in a petty local squabble? Big deal! What did we think you were up to at the back of the Lodge or around the 19th hole?

  • Screwball

    No need for a gay rugby team? Does everyone forget the lesson of Justin Fashanu so quickly? One of Englands brightest stars never allowed to shine because he was gay, and ended his days dangling from a rope.

    Of course Arlene and her neanderthal colleagues don’t understand the need for gay bars, those morons don’t see the need for any bars at all. They also think that an invisible sky pixie has chosen them, that the earth is only 3000 years old nor do they recognise that dinosaurs ever existed despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

  • wild turkey

    ‘What did we think you were up to at the back of the Lodge or around the 19th hole?’


    you’ve hit on something. Talk Back should be taken out of the studio and filmed at various tasteful and polite 19th holes around this great wee country. The panel can sit at the bar (subsidised )while the plebs mutter darkly in the greenskeeper shed.

    This probably relates more to the blog on the Nolan show but… would TalkBack be any different if Nolan had chaired the proceedings? Or what about the gifted and eloquent Mr Curran?

    That said, I hear Joe Pesci is looking for work.

  • BonarLaw

    lib2016 (aka Brian Feeny of Blogsphere)

    “I don’t like unionists”

    Go on! Really? Never noticed…

    Pete Baker

    back on thread- who was advising the chuckle brothers on all this? In Scotland the Lord Advocate is a member of the executive and is on hand to prevent cock ups like this. Who is there in NI to keep our executive lawful?

  • “stop the nonsense about the mafia and/or fascism because that’s what democracy is all about”

    Easier said than done, lib. It’s discussed at length in committee at Westminster (and perhaps in the Dáil) but it would appear that the police (and presumably other elements of the justice system) still require political clearance before they can do the work we expect of them.

    Conversations with civil servants indicate that those who work in justice are very apprehensive about the consequences of appeasement beyond NI whereas others bask in the glow of the process that has ‘rewarded’ us with the Chuckle Brothers.

  • “What did we think you were up to at the back of the Lodge or around the 19th hole?”

    lib, could you not be more inclusive? We’ve had complaints from the smaller parties at Stormont that the Chuckle Brothers and their flunkies agree the Executive agenda in advance.

    Where do the ‘pan-Nationalist’ gatherings take place? The 19th hole? Another poster in another place recollected an encounter he had in a Derry Hotel some years ago. He claimed that the then Catholic bishop ‘chaired’ a gathering of Derry nationalist councillors in advance of council meetings. It sounds a bit like a Chuckle Brothers convention.

    Talking of the 19th hole, there have been accusations that this could be where some developers, planners, politicians and their cronies assemble to ‘resolve’ important local planning matters.

  • “Apparently he has been meeting, and making representations on behalf of, victims.. but he has been officially cautioned that he should not do so as he has not, actually, been apppointed yet.”

    Any member of the public can do that so why not Mike Nesbitt?

    Is it just a matter of time before he becomes Lord Nesbitt?

  • joeCanuck

    I wondered about that too, Nevin, and, since he is not an employee, who has the right to officially caution him?

  • lib2016


    I have had private indications from people who were actively involved in planning disputes long before 1970 that’s the way the North was run. And someone mentioned earlier in this thread that the Catholic hierarchy found golf and bureautic ability a speedier way to success than all that religious stuff.

    The first information came from private unionist sources whom I would not betray and the second is common knowledge, though the scandal about the Hierarchy being far too close to the Catholic merchantile is being tackled at last. Don’t take the joke about unionists too seriously. I have admitted that a unionist need not always be a ‘bad person’, 😉

  • “that’s the way the North was run.”

    So what’s different now, lib? 😉

    Would you not prefer the ‘mercantile’ to the paramilitary mafia ‘nouveau riche’? 😉

    PS I support your desire to ‘protect your sources’. Who’d talk to us or, say, David Gordon and Kevin Magee, if we revealed their names?

  • brendan,belfast

    Not asking Nesbitt or McBride this morning on GMU if they are being paid yet was a badly missed opportunity. And as someone has said, who is to stop anybody talking to anybody?

    And what has Mike Nesbitt actually been doing? writing letters to hospitals. to make what point? that a ‘victim / survivor’ should receive preferrential treatment or somethign? that’s an interesting one.

    And when that old fool Kelly said – ‘pay them compensation’ why didn’t someone tell him that these 4 guys will not have the power to make compensation payments. that is a job for another commission altogether – the Eames / Bradley mob.

    And (i like my Ands today) since the fool Peter Hain initiated the process of establishing the Victim’s Commissioner surely the legislation belongs at Westminster and not the Assembly so who exactly are Margaret Ritchie and Arlene Foster going to contact?

    Lets Talk was bloody awful – but that’s only in keeping with BBC in NI these days.

  • Dewi

    “What about fact that 29% young people in Northern Ireland have attempted suicide because of their sexual orientation”

    Wouldn’t have thought that 29% of young peeople have attempted suicide let alone due to sexual orientation. Got a source?

  • Kel

    Well spotted Dewi. I think that statistic should be: one in five of those young people who have attempted suicide did so because of their sexual orientation (or, more accurately, because of society’s failure to accept their sexual orientation).

  • Rapunsel


    I thought the same too when I heard Patricia McBride on GMU too– and she also appeared to suggest that some of the victims commissioners weren’t actually working on a full time basis but as they were available.

    I was very surprised that Mike Nesbitt was on Lets Talk last night at all because clearly someone in his position which is essentially equivalent to s senior civil servicel role is not going to be in a position to talk from his own political perspective or say anything that anyone could take issue with. A poor choice of panellist but for all of that he came over as personable. He is however a greenhorn with the victims stuff. waffling about the social economy and writing letters to hospitals etc. I didn’t think that was the job of the victims commission but to assist with framing higher level strategic objectives. Should he be acting on an advocacy role for individual victims as opposed to signposting people to existing organisations better placed to do that such as the victims groups, or local citizens advice bureau etc

  • Screwball

    Does that make it any better? It’s an utter disgrace that anyone would have no choice but to kill themselves over any kind of bullying be it homophobia, racial or just bog standard nastyness.

  • CasualLurker

    Andrew Muir

    Name one out sportsman or sportswomen in Northern Ireland. Answer = zero.

    Actually, I know a gay golf professional in NI. So that’s one, anyway.

  • Who is the gay golf professional in NI? If he’s out then should be able to name him.

  • Brendan, Belfast

    Andrew are you able to name one straight sports professional in NI? How do you know for sure? and, for that matter, who gives a shit except for those gay people who are on the constant lookout for issues which offend?

  • Screwball

    Maybe we are offended because you give us so much to be offended over. It’s well known that homophobia is the last bastion of the racist biggoted knuckledragger. I find it especially ironic to see nationalists haranging gays for making themselves maryters. Whats wrong no room on the cross for non-republicans?