“I hope greater thought will be given to this..”

An interesting intervention from UUP leader Reg Empey, as reported in the NewsLetter, on the timing of any devolution of policing and justice powers – having previously called for all party discussions on those unresolved issues.. He makes the not unreasonable point, PPS failures aside, that the apparent inability of the Executive to reach decisions on less “significant and controversial” matters does not suggest that the decision-making mechanisms provided by that “indigenous deal” are “sufficiently mature” to cope with policing and justice. Or, rather, the politicians aren’t.. From the NewsLetter report.

Before anyone even tries to judge when the public is ready for the devolved powers, he said: “I would first ask people to consider whether the current performance of the Assembly and Executive gives one reason to believe that the institutions are sufficiently mature to handle such sensitive subjects efficiently and effectively.

That is, if you happen to give a damn about the kind of society we live in.

  • El Paso

    It was pretty much a mathematical certainty that today would bring another McCartney/P&J;thread from the Mike&Pete;tag team:

    June 27 “Davidson acquitted…” Pete Baker
    June 28 “No mandate whatsoever…” Pete Baker
    June 30 “McMCartney killing: Sinn Fein…” Mick Fealty
    July 1 “Thanks for the links” Mick Fealty
    July 3 “Or happen to give a damm…” Pete Baker
    July 6 “On the abject failure…” Mick Fealty

    The embarassing paucity of fresh material is highlighted by the fourth recycling of Dave Adams original knee-jerk Irish Times piece.
    You’ll wear it out boys if you don’t leave it alone.

    What’s the odds that Turgon will actually raise more threads on his Fermanagh by-election hobby horse?

  • Pete Baker

    “The embarassing paucity of fresh material..”

    Interesting variation on the usual criticism, El Paso.

    But referencing previous posts to add context is in the nature of what I, in particular, try to do. Baconian, you see.

    And you have missed the noting in the original post of Reg Empey’s statement.

    That’s the actual focus of the post.

    “What’s the odds that Turgon will actually raise more threads on his Fermanagh by-election hobby horse?”

    Do you mean comments? Rather than “threads”? I don’t suffer from ‘comment envy’, thanks for the concern though.

    Now if we could get back to the actual topic..

  • The Raven

    Jaysus, Pete, there are so many hyperlinks in there, that by the time I get through them all, I won’t know what to comment on!! (j/k)

  • Pete Baker

    Ah, the other usual complaint, Raven.

    If you don’t have time to read up on the context of the topic, if required.. then, perhaps, you shouldn’t be commenting on it.

    Just a thought…

  • El Paso


    I meant ‘threads’, Turgon has several on the go regarding the dramatic events in Fermanagh.

    Simply harping on about your own pet project at set intervals is the opposite to a Baconian investigation, you do the man and the discipline a disservice. In fact, your modus operandi has already been correctly re-classified as Porkonian. The simple, and fairly obvious, Baconian exercise in my first post shows that you and Mick have been working to a pattern since the McCartney verdict and today’s thread was entirely predictable. Also, it was your ‘turn’ today and you duly delivered, which was a bit of a bonus. Hats off to Mr Bacon.

    One can only speculate as to the Prokonian objective, of course, but my own guess is that it’s a coordinated attempt to influence the transfer of P&J;in favour of the SDLP/Alliance. If so then Slugger is being a bit more proactive than simply noting NI Politics And Culture, which is a bit of a shame. But not exacly news.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ah the old tactics are the best EP: if you cannot get the ball, get the man! You’ll not be surprised to hear that my latest fly past on the subject was at the Guardian yesterday: http://url.ie/ik2. I just didn’t have time to post it here.

    I’m up for people criticising anything that’s done on Slugger, and that includes publishing patterns. But you should know one thing. I don’t often have time to read what others have done (which includes Pete’s backlinks). And I don’t care (so long as it does end us up in court, and the standards are reasonably good).

    We don’t exactly have an open door policy, but I want to give as broad range of opinion as we can. At one time we were down on unionist view points, now I think the deficit has swung the other way (on the blogging team at least).

    If you want to pitch for a position with us, you could send me two or three pieces. But generally, you would have to keep to the substance rather than the personality rule.

    And not land me in court!

  • “the institutions are sufficiently mature to handle such sensitive subjects efficiently and effectively.”

    It seems that the DUP and SF are struggling with the relatively minor fiasco that is the Rathlin ferry contract.

    Congratulations to Jim Allister’s office for alerting the Northern Ireland Audit Office, to Reg Empey and his team for tackling the employment rated and safety issues, to John Dallat for raising questions that the SDLP appeared to be running away from, to Billy Armstrong for drawing attention to the tendering process and to Sam McBride, News Letter, for bringing the story to a wider audience.

  • El Paso

    You have accused me of playing the man, a favourite old trick of your own, but haven’t taken the trouble to say how you arrived at that conclusion, another old habit. I made no comment on Pete, merely his misinterpretation of Baconian methodology. That’s fair game as Pete brought the subject up in the first place, not for the first time either.
    Read you piece and sighed deeply. When you told us Weds night that you were off to do some paid work I took it for granted that it would be another McCartney effort – who exactly pays you?

  • I took ‘the Porkonian thing’ as man-playing since you seemed to impling that this stuff was about making things up, rather than documenting material that is already out there. If I was wrong, then forgive me? These things happen.

    On the money thing, the Guardian in that case. Telegraph in others. No one for Slugger (except for our advertisers, and a few kind souls who donate from time to time). I also do consultancy and some public speaking on the subjects of politics and new media. In the last year I’ve spoken to the staff group at the Assembly, the RSA in London, Queens, and will speaking at Reuters Institute in Oxford in the Autumn. (At this point I should I suppose ask who pays you, but that would be impertainent).

    I should also point out that the PPS and the lcal Human Right lobby is at the centre of the last Guardian piece, not the killing (nor the killers).

    A few months ago I spoke at the same event as Simon Nixon, who is CEO of Breaking Views: a breakway high level financial comment wire. They’ve been taking advantage of being able to specialise in financial stories and are able to seed them into prestigious papers across the globe.

    The line he used was “we are able to get on a rising news story before the papers see it, and ride before during and even after it crests in the news cycle, because we are specialists”. They’ve made that specialism their business.

    Slugger is not a business, but it is, in common with most blogs, driven by the passion and interest of the bloggers who blog on it. If you don’t like it, tough. But, if you think we’ve cocked up somewhere, then be my guest. Point out the error and we will try to do better.

    Maybe you have already? I can’t see it.

  • The Raven

    Mick if you weren’t so darned defensive, and see the (j/k) at the end of the post, you’d know there was neither complaint, nor seriousness in the comment.

    Let’s try some levity round here, ffs….it’s kinda lacking all round! I mean for Gawd’s sakes, Orangefest is around the corner!

  • Pete Baker


    Did you intend to direct that comment to me?

    My apologies, I was a bit abrupt earlier.

    But it had been a long day. And there has been too much ‘fair gaming’ recently.

  • El Paso

    Apologies for the slow response, problems with time zones, work deadlines and… stuff.

    I should have been clearer, ‘Porkonian’ was coined to represent purposeful selectivity. The Bacon method calls for the collation of two tallies recording all occurrences and non-occurrences of the phenomenon under review. By collating the two lists it should be possible to identify the causal factors and determine their respective weightings. It’s a simple scientific investigative tool, and, although rarely used in serious study these days it still has its applcations. The repeated selective highlighting of a particular aspect of a singular phenomenon is, quite simply, the polar opposite of Baconian methodology. What phenomenon is being highlighted? Where are its occurrences noted? Where are the non-occurrences? What causal factors have been ruled in and what was ruled out? As Pete’s methods meet none of the criteria required for a Baconian study (see also his Somme commemoration thread) the term ‘Porkoninan’ was coined. That is to say, it’s (s)ham science.
    There appears to be a pattern to the recent glut of McCartney/P&J;threads with regards to content, frequency and authorship to the extent that this particular thread falls perfectly into step and was entirely predictable. Admittedly the sample size is small but it contains a lot more ‘phenomena’ than the singular McCartney case on which so many threads, articles, opinion pieces, commentary and waffle depend.
    A suspicion arises, therefore, that the pattern of repeatedly highlighting one element of this complex story is done for a particular purpose – that the purpose may not be entirely obvious is not important, the technique itself is well known and it even has a ‘proper’ name: Propaganda.
    Which brings me to my main point: Slugger does not do what it says on the tin. It is not simply a ‘Note on Northern Ireland politics and culture’. It is a vehicle for promulgating propaganda. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it is not the thing it claims to be.
    That the pendulum occasionally swings from one camp to another is neither here not there, propaganda is propaganda and the reader should be forewarned. To this end, I have two improvement suggestions;
    1. The word “Notes” in the Slugger banner should be replaced by “Opinions”
    2. All pseudo-scientific pretensions should be discouraged, ‘porkaboutery’ should join ‘whataboutery’ and ‘futuring’ as obstacles to constructive discourse

  • Turgon

    El Paso,

    I am sorry to enter this debate but when I repeatedly get a mention I sometimes reply. I have two threads on the Fermanagh by election.

    I am interested in elections and the first was a purely analytical piece whilst the second was reporting a change in candidates (from in my view an excellent source).

    My apologies for two pieces on this topic. If you have any requests for other blogs I am happy to listen. Actually that is not sarcasm and I would welcome any serious suggestions you or anyone else has.

  • Pete Baker


    “It’s a simple scientific investigative tool..”

    Indeed it is. Emphasis on the simple. Although used purely it’s also difficult to reach a conclusion with.

    And while I’d point out, that on Slugger, we’re mostly investigating non-scientific evidence I’ll illustrate my imperfect use of the pure Baconian method by pointing to an earlier post on one particular topic of investigation, the devolution of policing and justice powers – “On target dates and commitments – or deadlines and conditions”

    And the suggested hypothesus then that

    Unless the government is now going to say that, in circumstances where one of the parties holding those offices do not agree that the confidence within the community exists for the devolving of those powers by March 2008 – they are then going to force through devolving powers on policing and justice by May 2008 whatever happens between now and then, the target date remains only a target date and not a commitment.

    Subsequent to that post almost every mention of the topic by those involved was noted on Slugger and assessed according to the initial hypothesus.

    And then the deputy First Minister acknowledged reality.

    I don’t claim to utilise a purely Baconian method. No-one, that I’m aware of, has ever implemented that fully.

    But, I think, it’s a reasonable analogy for what I attempt to do.

    Others, of course, are entitled to disagree.

    In the end, each post will stand or fall on the basis of what’s said, and evidenced.

    It’s there to be falsified.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    “an interesting intervention”

    this is certainly predcitable and given Wee Reggie is trying to position himself to the right of the DUP on Police and Justice whilst simultaneously pissing into the Stormont tent – it looks like pure opportunism to me.

  • Mick Fealty


    Sorry I missed your last. I’m afraid the only thing holding your thesis together is a number of huge leaps of faith. Your ‘suspicion’ is simply not supported by evidence.

    I am not saying it’s not true. But you have gone a long way out of your road not to even try to proof it. And ntil you do, your line about ‘promulgating propaganda’ comes over as a poor piece of ‘fair gaming’.