“vision without clear direction of how it can be achieved, is not worth the paper it is written on”

Conor Murphy has launched his review of the Regional Development Strategy with a rather stirring and highly aspirational speech laying out precisely the kinds of engagement he’s seeking and a clear annunciation of what he believes his review must deliver:

We need a long-term vision within which all our actions can fit. For, a vision without clear direction of how it can be achieved, is not worth the paper it is written on. Our vision needs to include clear strategic direction about how it can be achieved by numerous small steps now and in future years.

Perhaps he’s learned from some of his colleagues mistakes: strength in aspiration without a detailed route map has been one of Sinn Fein’s consistent strengths outside the democratic institutions. It looks like at least some of the party’s top table contingent have begun to recognise that inside, it is a profound weakness.

And, presumably, some others still haven’t.

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  • “How do we position the North in a North/South, East/West, European and world context?”

    Well, I can see some ‘mapping’ of the North and of North/South but where’s the rest of it?

    It looks as if poor Conor is still stuck in the familiar little islander mindset and has not been open to the ‘enlightenment’ espoused by the 1998 Agreement.

  • ggn

    Cá bhfuil ár gcomharthaí Gaeilge a Chonor? Gheall tú go mbeidh siad ann. Chan fheil.

    Beidh siad ann ar ndóigh bealach amháin nó bealach eile. Sin mo theachtaireacht dó. Bhí sé sásta go leor Gregory Campbell a cháineadh agus eisean i mbun na mbóithre.

    Is dócha go mbeidh sé ar na Gaeil féin an fhírinne lom a chur os comhar na ndaoine!

  • ggn


    Níl sé maith go leor, ná baol air. Cothromas Conor, Cothromas atá uainn chan siombólachas agus an cupla focalachas damánta seo.

    Reabhlóid de dhíth. Na Ceithearna abú a deirim. Ar chóir dóibh éite polaitiúil a fhorbairt?

  • joeCanuck

    Totally agree. Mick.
    S.F. ‘s rhetoric has always been good (to their supporters at least) but when it comes to administration and implementation, they appear not to have a clue. But, presumably, they will learn the arts of governing as time goes on.

  • Greenflag


    ‘ but when it comes to administration and implementation, they appear not to have a clue.’

    Where would they have learnt it ?

    ‘ presumably, they will learn the arts of governing as time goes on’

    Of course -they all do eventually -learn the arts . Not all governments however ‘deliver’ or ‘implement’ what they promise prior to election . Of course in Northern Ireland for most of it’s politcal history it was only ever necessary to deliver to ‘one ‘ side /half of th population . Those days are gone and thus the politics is made much more complex. And if that were’nt enough they now have a ‘power sharing’ system of government which seems to have been designed to ensure ‘stasis’ right across NI society apart of course from the luvvie duvvie feel good parts that are thrown out by the media now and then to assure the rest of us in these islands that NI is ‘becoming ‘ a normal ‘democratic’ society .

    One of course should always have hope. Other than that I see a continuing increasing irrelevance of both ‘unionism ‘ and irredentist republcanism on this island .

  • joeCanuck

    I don’t disagree at all, Greenflag. Those two sentences you quote obviously go together.
    SF are not alone, of course, in the need to learn.
    We have a ways to go but I am ever optimistic that things can only improve.

  • Are the Rathlin ferry tender documents worth the paper they’re written on? Perhaps the Northern Ireland Audit Office will give us a clear opinion following its forthcoming investigation.

    “This is a significant step forward in the development of Rathlin Island. The number of visitors using the ferry service has been steadily increasing and a new fast ferry can only help to stimulate this even further.

    ”The Department has secured the continuing use of the roll-on/roll-off ferry, the MV Canna, to provide vehicle and freight services. The Canna is owned by the Scottish company, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited and will be leased to the new operator.

    The new catamaran, to be commissioned by Mr O’Driscoll, will be available for service in summer 2009. Until then, the enhanced timetable will be provided by the MV Canna and a smaller mono-hulled vessel, which can carry up to 38 passengers on the 20 minute crossing.

    Is Mr O’Driscoll paying for the catamaran or will it be covered by the £1.2m capital allocation for a new Rathlin ferry in the DRD budget? Were all the companies that tendered for the contract made aware of this allocation at the time of the first or second tender? Were they also told about the £6.3m allocation for 2 new ro-ro ferries in draft ISNI plans?

    In light of reports from the south-west will the Scottish Government owned CMAL review the terms of the lease of the MV Canna?

    How closely did ministers Robinson and Murphy monitor the performance of their officials and consultants during the tendering process? What support can they give the various tenderers without compromising the procurement process?

  • Ballycastle to Rathlin Ferry Service
    Mr Armstrong asked the Minister for Regional Development to detail (i) the tendering process undertaken prior to the awarding of the contract for the Ballycastle to Rathlin ferry service; (ii) the number of firms that applied for the contract; and (iii) the grounds on which the successful firm was chosen.

    (AQW 6852/08)

    Mr C Murphy: A tender competition (S1417305) for the Ballycastle to Rathlin Ferry service was advertised on 14 May 2007 but discontinued by the evaluation panel on 28 November 2007 on the grounds of affordability and non-compliance with the specification.

    The competition was re-tendered as an open competition under Part B Services of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, and Amended Regulations 2007. This competition was advertised on the Central Procurement Directorate’s website on 7 January 2008.

    Three companies submitted tenders by the closing date of Thursday, 28 February 2008.

    Upon evaluation, two companies were assessed as having made compliant bids. The successful firm was chosen on the basis that it had achieved the higher score against an evaluation scoring frame. The elements evaluated were:

    service levels for passengers, cars, freight, livestock and hazardous goods;

    vessels, including relief, emergency services, disabled access, ship boarding practices, port assets, compliance with regulations;

    timetables, performance regime and ticketing;

    unscheduled events, integrated transport, consultation, marketing and website; and

    subsidy required.

    So what examples were there of ‘non-compliance’ in the first tender process and were there any in the second process? Were they sufficiently serious to warrant the removal of any of the tenders?

  • Where are the ‘lazy’ bloggers and commentariat? 🙂

  • New Rathlin Ferry Operator 2

    Recent blog stats make for interesting reading. There has been a lot of interest from Edinburgh this past week – perhaps the Scottish government, as it owns CalMac and CMAL. Today (so far) the main focus has switched to Cork where the average number of pages viewed is 5.50 and time spent is 13m 32s.

    Local politicians and journalists have been slow to react to these comments from emara news:

    Let’s hope, for the sake of the Rathlin Islanders that the new ferry operator does a better job of sticking to the terms of the contract and also maintining the ferry than he has done in the waters of Roaring Water Bay.

    In a little over a year he has been fined twice for breaching the contract and we fully expect further action in the very near future.

    Perhaps the UK government is better at enforcing regulations and less inclined to try to wash its hands and pass the buck than our Destruction of Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

    Isn’t complacency a wonderful thing …

  • Peat Blog

    I know how they are going to achieve the RDS: by letting developers build as many houses as they possibly can (increasing the previous estimates which were not based on any sense of reality ore evidence). The rest is just wishful thinking and rhetorical crumbs to keep those aspirationally minded, but ultimately politicially naive, from rocking the boat.

  • john

    Cape Clear News: Former skipper suffers black day as Cape Clear ?hurt and split? by ferry privati

    (Irish Examiner 2nd March 2007)

    An emotional Tadhg (Ted) ׃ Drisceoill, 59, told Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon ׃ Cuiv that his department had deleted a clause protecting his crew from the new contract governing the now-privatised route.

    As the new operator began plying the route for the first time yesterday, Mr ׃ Drisceoill led a delegation of nearly 20 islanders to meet Mr ׃ Cuiv who was visiting West Cork.

    They told the minister that two of the four crew were offered lesser positions on the ferry by the new operator, but they had declined. One was not offered a position at all.

    Mr ׃ Drisceoill said he has 35 years’ experience on the ferry — 30 years as skipper — and had followed in the footsteps of his father and uncle, who brought the first State ferry to the island in 1931.

    “Monday was the blackest day of my life. I have a clear record and vast experience but that counts for nothing.”

    He said his heart was broken to see Cape Clear “hurt and split” by the decision to privatise the ferry route. The crew has been let down by the department and the minister.

    SIPTU also condemned the department for deleting the employee protection clause from the new operating contract.

    Union official Tom O’Driscoll called on the minister to intervene to protect the affected workers and explain why the clause was deleted. The four-man crew, who are native islanders, operated the vessel as employees of Naomh Ciar?n II Teoranta — a subsidiary of Comharchummann Oile?n Chleire, the Island Co-Op.

    Seagoing vessels are not covered by the Transfer of Undertakings legislation, which is there to protect employees’ rights and conditions when their employment is taken over by a new owner.

    “Recognising this, the department incorporated a clause into the operator’s contract which would effectively give employees the same level of protection as provided for in the Transfer of Undertakings legislation. But this clause has now been deleted,” said Mr ׃ Drisceoill.

    “According to the terms of agreement between the new contractor and the department, the contractor can now operate the vessel with a crew of their own choosing and pay them what they like. The department has therefore made it easy for them to avoid their obligations, by arguing that as a sea-going vessel, the Naomh Ciar?n II is exempt from the legislation.”

    He said it was a very serious development which could have serious repercussions for other maritime workers on Ireland’s coastal waters.

    “The department is claiming no legal liability in this issue because it does not directly employ the workers concerned,” he said.

    “This may be legally correct, but it is a disgraceful cop-out since the department drew up the contract and, therefore, has a moral and ethical duty to ensure the protection of existing employees.”

    The minister said his department would seek to discuss the issue with SIPTU in the coming weeks.

  • john

    Cape Clear News: Cape Clear ferry decision dismays many of islanders

    carol Gilbert
    Southern Star
    8th March 2007
    The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs’ decision to sell the state owned ferry, the Naomh Ciar?n II, to a private company who have been awarded a five year contract to supply a ferry service to Cape Clear, has shocked and dismayed many of the islanders.

    An emotional and highly charged meeting held in the West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen, last Thursday, between Minister Eamon ? C?iv and islanders from Cape Clear only served to fuel islanders’ feelings of despair and heighten their anger – many declaring they had been sold out.
    Islanders’ opinions that their valid concerns and the wishes of the majority of islanders had been disregarded, were exacerbated by the Minister initially agreeing only to meet with three young people from Cape Clear in Bantry, then changing the venue and agreeing to meet a larger number in Skibbereen, when the gale force conditions of Wednesday week meant the ferry could not run. As a result, other islanders were unable to travel to the mainland to give vent to their feelings face to face with the Minister.
    Those that did attend the meeting conveyed in no uncertain terms as to how they felt they had been betrayed, their loyalty to the State and their island community ignored, and whilst the Minister listened, he was not for moving.
    Those present, including public representatives, believed the meeting to have been a public one, but when made aware that a journalist was present, the Minister insisted it was a private meeting, and asked the writer to leave the meeting.


    The division between islanders’ opinions and the Minister’s, were highlighted in a stand-off situation whereby islanders were adamant they would not be photographed alongside the Minister, whilst the Minister dogmatically stated he would not stand to be photographed unless the islanders joined him in the photo call.

    A statement from Tadgh ? Drisceoil, ex-captain of the Naomh Ciar?n 2, passed to Minister Eamon ? C?iv, confirmed Tadgh had 35 years of service on the island ferry, the last 30 as skipper. His statement claimed the only job offered by the new operator of the Cape Clear ferry to him was as a deckhand and Mr. ? Drisceoil remarked that Monday, February 26th, the day he handed over the keys of the Cape Clear ferry, was one of the blackest days of his life.

    Niamh N? Dhrisceoil, speaking on behalf of the young people of Oil?an Chl?ire, said they were in support of any developments and improvements which would be advantageous to their island. However, they strongly opposed the privatisation of a hard fought for and hard won public service which has proved itself in its efficiency, reliability and attention to safety, over the years.

    They state they are aggrieved at the failure of the Minister to safeguard the livelihood of the crew members and say that by his decision to award ownership of the ferry to a private company, he has jeopardised the morale of a close-knit community, his actions delivering a serious blow to the island community.

    Minister ? C?iv following the meeting, stated to The Southern Star, “Regarding the issues raised in relation to the employment of the boat crew, the situation is that redundancy was paid on the termination of the State contract to the workers at that time.”

    The Minister stated that his department would face a High Court challenge were they not to bring the ferry service to Cape Clear in line with that existing in other islands around the coast. He further explained that the department had placed advertisements in the Irish Examiner and in The Southern Star regarding the ferry contract last September when islanders had the opportunity to respond or apply themselves. He said the local community were aware of the process for a good few months, that the situation that had occurred had not happened suddenly, and was the result of due process.

  • john

    In response to the Minister’s statement, an islander reasoned the community as a whole did not respond or act because the contract was supposed to end in May 2006 and it continued up until February 28th. She said that nobody reacted because everyone had the utmost belief that the contract would be continued in the hands of the company who had managed the service. In the event only two private companies had tendered for the contract.

    However a statement issued by the Department said, “The community of Cape Clear Island was kept informed of the planned arrangements by continued communication between officers of the Department and Comharchumann Chl?ire and the open public competition for the tender was advertised in local and national newspapers in September 2006.

    “Two tenders were received as a result of the competition. After having evaluated them, it was decided to engage in a negotiation process to select a tenderer. As a result of that process, it was decided to award a five year contract to the company, Tithe Saoire Chl?ire Teo, for a total price of €1,239,848, using the vessel Naomh Ciar?n II for the entire five year period or otherwise a price of €1,446,268 if an option was included to introduce a new primary boat for the service at the beginning of year four of the contract.


    A statement since issued by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs affirmed it had no legal obligation regarding the employment conditions of any person employed under the contract that was in place with the company, Naomh Ciar?n II Oile?n Chl?ire Teo, that came to an end on 28 February 2007. The State complied with all conditions relating to redundancy in 2001 when payments of €190,691 were made to the staff employed by the ferry service prior to the service being transferred to private ownership. Having paid redundancy to the workers, the State clearly has no further liability to them.

    The Minister had during the meeting suggested that anyone could apply for the contract when the current ferry contract expired in five years’ time, but islanders explained that it would cost at least €1 million to construct a boat with the exact draught and length required to access the difficult conditions which pertained at Cape Clear harbours. They pointed out that no-one would undertake that kind of financial investment when there was no guarantee that they would secure the ferry contract.

    The decision by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht affairs to delete an employee protection clause from its operating contract on Cape Clear Ferry has been strongly condemned by SIPTU, in a statement issued by Tom O’Driscoll, SIPTU sectoral organiser. He further states that because the department deleted this clause the four-man crew, who are island natives, could not automatically transfer with the boat to the new contractor. SIPTU called on Minister ? C?iv to intervene to protect the workers concerned and to explain why a protection clause for employees was deleted from a department contract.