Update on Robinson upping the ante

It’s wonderful how a little detail can scale down a story as a day develops…UTV and The BBC’s Mark Devenport report that changes to the “massive” strategy development document Conor Murphy failed to bring back to the Executive for clearance amounted to around “150 changes, many involve references to “Northern Ireland” being changed to “the north”.” Are you being serious, First Minister? The air is going out of this story’s balloon. Sinn Fein ministers may well have a case to answer on possible breaches of the ministerial code by stalling on the prescribed fortnightly Executive meetings and much else, like the failure of Martin McGuinness to clear 30 papers for discussion by the Executive. ( see my comments in the earlier thread). But this is a paltry example on which to base such a challenge. I should’ve held my fire. We nervously wait with bated breath to hear what Mr Robinson had to say to the invited press at 5 pm in advance (strangely) of his meeting with the IMC. I’d rather know what there’s to say after the meeting. After all, we want the news fresh at tea time. What’s happened to your news management skills, Peter?

  • Jack Cade

    Does this mean he doesn’t really really want an immediate executive meeting after all?

  • Pete Baker

    Brian

    As Mark Devenport points out elsewhere – “In one sense, I suppose this could be construed as fundamental..”

    And it could. Given that changing the text of a document after receiving Executive approval for it is technically a breach of [if not contempt for] collective responsibility. Not to mention, in this case, an insult to the other ministers.

    Even if, as Mark also points out – “On the other hand, I can see why Naomi Long calls it breathtaking “pettiness”.”

    By both sides, I’d add.

    Btw, didn’t you see my update? ;o)

  • Traditional_Unionist

    Just out of interest why did it take Peter Robinson so long to bring this up?

    Did Jim Allister not expose this a while back? Not saying I dont support Robinsons stance, just wondering…..

  • DC

    To be fair Pete does have a point in terms of border regional development especially, how the hell is anyone, in a legal sense, supposed to develop something somewhere whenever the region is determined as the ‘north’ it is clearly a blurred concept. As is calling the Republic the ‘South’, it is not correct at official level.

    For example, there was some good cross-border work going on in the health sector regarding lack of access to health services along the border. If you start talking about the North well fuck knows where you identify anything, extrapolate that out to regional development and you may as well play pin the tail on the donkey.

    Especially in a strict legal sense in terms of any argument of misplaced / biased funding challenge.

  • DC

    Besides, ‘the north’ is a form of embattled cemetery langauge clearly party-political, where’s your S75 on that one at official level.

    On the Shinners website yes sure go for it!

  • It’s official – Peter Robinson is a tit.

  • interested

    “It’s official – Peter Robinson is a tit.”

    The reasoned response of the Alliance Party…

  • Rory

    Perhaps the First Minister misinterpreted the complaint of his dear wife and colleague when, standing in front of the mirror, she declaimed, “God, Peter, I fear everything is going south”.

    The First Minister may be forgiven. With this, in political terms at least, it surely is.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Modesty forbids the naming of the poster of this statement below on another version of this thread at 11.15 this morning.

    “It could be that Robbo needs some cover for his arse from an attack from big Jimbo or even Wee Reggie (nice imagery) if he jumps or even slithers on Police and Justice and the evelation of a procedural wrangle to the courts probably better than feck all. “

  • Brian Walker

    … said with your usual eloquence, Sammy!

  • Rory

    I do so love a nice bit of “evelation” (I think).

  • seniorhas

    Whilst there is a degree of pettiness and political posturing about the use of the North, and similar usage in official documents and policy documents by other SF Ministers, a demand by these Ministers that all civil servants in their departments use the term is surely an imposition of a political opinion too far. This would have been a point worth bringing out by the First Minister.

  • joeCanuck

    I just boked up a beer while reading this. What a bloody waste of good stuff. A comedy of errors indeed.

  • The reasoned response of the Alliance Party…

    Unreasoned actions deserve unreasoned reactions.

    Can you actually give a reasoned response to this stupidity.

  • Williamw

    While Conor Murphy talks about ‘the North’, he is actually talking about ‘the South’….the most northly part of ‘the island of Ireland’ is Inishowen, so he is wrong to use the term ‘the North’.

    It is further evidence that Sinn Fein / IRA should not be in government in Northern Ireland, when they can’t get the legitimate name of the province correct.

  • DC

    Sammy Morse – I don’t agree that in this instance it is Robinson who is being the tit.

    The people voted for the GFA and it was endorsed under the name of Northern Ireland, there is no reference to the North in it in relation to Northern Ireland, there was reference to North as in North/South MC.

    It is a pejorative and diminishing term at official level and also in terms of the marketability of Northern Ireland it doesn’t help with distinctiveness, it is negative term really when used in the NI political context.

    I don’t really care if SF use it when it is at party level or within circles even when talking locally it is fair game but when it used in official documents in a relational setting as per spends from Northern Ireland and the Republic on mutual co-operation for example it must when used pose a few legal problems.

    It is time to get real here, sadly for those who expected anything otherwise. I agree with Pete Baker, unusually, that it pretty damn petty – full sweep across SF-DUP.

    And there has been alot of talk of things being a ‘constitutional nonsense’, as Alliance is a party of law and order, etc, surely you must recognise this as not just a DUP nonsense but also at a regional level – a constitutional nonsense?

  • Pete Baker

    “I don’t really care if SF use it when it is at party level or within circles even when talking locally it is fair game but when it used in official documents in a relational setting as per spends from Northern Ireland and the Republic on mutual co-operation for example it must when used pose a few legal problems.”

    Indeed, DC.

    Too many comments here based purely on party political arguments.

    And not enough on the procedural process involved.

    How else can a mandatory coalition, with collective responsibility, hope to operate effectively unless what is agreed at an Executive level is what is actually published?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Robbo may well have a point as articulated by DC and my pal Pete – that is not really the issue on this thread – it is his backfired attempt to elevate ( as opposed to the evelate: thanks Rory) it into a crisis. This indeed makes him seem like a ‘tit’ and serves to undermine his point.

    Given the political difficulties attendant to the negotiations he is in at the moment this adds to the impression that he is a man under some pressure.

  • Pete Baker

    “Robbo may well have a point as articulated by DC and my pal Pete – that is not really the issue on this thread..”

    Actually, Sammy Mc, it’s the fundamental issue under discussion.

    But I’m gladdened to see you agree that he does actually have a point.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Pete,

    actually its not the main point offered for discussion (see above or below)- its the fact the Robbo has shown poor judgement.

    “Are you being serious, First Minister? The air is going out of this story’s balloon. Sinn Fein ministers may well have a case to answer on possible breaches of the ministerial code by stalling on the prescribed fortnightly Executive meetings and much else, like the failure of Martin McGuinness to clear 30 papers for discussion by the Executive. ( see my comments in the earlier thread). But this is a paltry example on which to base such a challenge. “

  • Pete Baker

    “actually its not the main point offered for discussion ”

    Try to quote me accurately, Sammy Mc.

    I know it’s difficult for you.

    “Actually, Sammy Mc, it’s the fundamental issue under discussion.”

  • Pete Baker

    Adds.

    But that would require you to pay attention to the detail.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    I wasnt quoting you – I was explainig to you that you and DC had wandered off from the main point offered by the thread – my initial comment was “that is not really the issue on this thread”.

  • Perhaps all this excitement will distract attention from the troubled ‘Murphy-Robinson‘ Rathlin Ferry contract.

    Just take a look at this:

    Reduced Requirements

    7. The [DRD] Committee noted the reduced requirements of some £0.7m Capital Grant arising from a saving made when awarding the new contract to operate the ferry service to Rathlin Island.

    Wonderful news you might think until you note that there was to be no, er, capital spending as described in the tender documents. The subsidy is provided towards the running costs of operating the ‘life-line’ service only.

    DRD is presently carrying out three ‘in-house’ investigations and the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) has sought contributions from anyone who can shed any light on the matter [my summary].

    I understand the St Sorney, the passenger-only ferry, has previously been examined by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA); today, I’m told, an MCA safety officer was accompanied by one of his RoI counterparts.

    emara News is alleging that the Scottish government ‘has instructed the company [Calmac] not to proceed with complaints about the validity of the tendering process’. Perhaps the NIAO can ‘facilitate’ full co-operation from all parties to the process.

  • Pete Baker

    “my initial comment was “that is not really the issue on this thread”.”

    And, Sammy Mc, I reminded you that the fundamental issue under discusssion is actually –

    “How else can a mandatory coalition, with collective responsibility, hope to operate effectively unless what is agreed at an Executive level is what is actually published?”

    Your problem with that is what?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    see point 20

  • Pete Baker

    Point 20?

    To repeat point 25,

    “my initial comment was “that is not really the issue on this thread”.”

    And, Sammy Mc, I reminded you that the fundamental issue under discusssion is actually –

    “How else can a mandatory coalition, with collective responsibility, hope to operate effectively unless what is agreed at an Executive level is what is actually published?”

    Your problem with that is what?

  • DC

    Sammy MC I agree with your wider thrust in so far as, if I am correct in saying, that Robinson rather than de-emphasising the negatives has emphasised them now potentially facing overbearing political problems.

    In line with another poster Lorraine? on previous thread, Unionists have to not fall into traps; however, having developed thought on this one somewhat there are likely issues with the term the north re development; I wonder if Naomi Long were to get the policing ministry would she legislate under that terminology – petty only until confronted, again and again with it.

    Nonetheless there are many ways to get round these problems and NI still has more positives going for it than negatives but our politicians seem to be stuck in negative approaches to the media and therefore political management too.

    It’s fair to say now that the whole lot up there are messing about even SF, especially when Pete posted factually a response from the dFM (notice the small d) stating in the Assembly that SF had not undertaken nor instigated dialogue officially to debate the transfer of policing powers, and recently notice how SF didn’t hold a press conference either, like they usually do when building up to something.

    But in terms of public opinion and doing the right thing the DUP should have already moved by now on policing. That’s my view and worryingly there is not one large blockage in the pipe but instead alot of abrasive grit, which is more harder to remove and it has came from all the parties, all of them.

  • Sorry, but this is a total side issue DC. The Shinners have used “the North” in all official material produced by their Departments since they first took Ministerial office in the Trimble/Mallon administration, documents that were passed through a cabinet that Peter Robinson sat on.

    Peter Robinson knew that SF Ministers would use the term “the North” rather than “Northern Ireland” as they have done for nearly a decade.
    Peter Robinson knows the Shinners did not suddenly stop being republicans because they signed up to the GFA or St. Andrews.
    Peter Robinson knows this is a side issue and is bringing it up now to muddy the waters of an already difficult relationship with his main coalition partner.
    Peter Robinson knows this will not affect the price of bread in Ballygowan, but thinks it might make him look like a macho Unionist to potential TUV types.

    Add it all up, and you get the answer, “Peter Robinson is a tit”.

  • DC

    I don’t disagree with that, lol :0)

    …but he’s not the only one, a nice pair of tits, perhaps?

  • DC

    …sorry I better qualify this: I don’t disagree that I personally view Peter Robinson as a ‘tit’, but on the way things have played out with this issue I dont think it is fair to call him that on these grounds, if in relation to border-spending.

    Sorry, I was nodding at the ‘adding up’ part, but anyway, enough of this…

  • Dave

    *Yawn*

    The Shinners, in their roles are servants of the British state, are reduced to scribbling “the north” on Her Majesty’s stationary as their last vestige of ‘republicanism’ and Wee Peter (unwittingly or otherwise) helps them to proffer themselves as hard-line ‘republicans’ to their gullible supporters by objecting to this outrageous challenge to the constitutional legitimacy of the NI state. I’m sure Conor writes “Tiocfaidh ár lá” graffiti on the toilet in his Stormont office just to appear uncompromising whenever his constituents from Armagh visit, and then has his cleaner scrub it off again after they depart, burying his nose in his copy of Irish Tax Loopholes for Dodgy Millionaires.

    It would be comical if it wasn’t so tiresomely predictable.

  • USA

    Jesus Christ guys,
    Another thread about this stupid Peter Robinson crap. Unionist supporters can waffle on all they like but policing will be devolved or the assembly dissolves, in which case its an Irish Language Act from the British. Like Sammy says, todays ‘terminology’ issue is just another smoke screen.
    Unionisms well known lack of vision and leadership has shown itself in all its glory over the last 24 hours on Slugger.
    Change comes dripping slowly.

  • “documents that were passed through a cabinet that Peter Robinson sat on.”

    Sammy, perhaps it’s useful to point out that Peter and his DUP colleagues didn’t ‘inhale’, they played musical chairs with their Executive seats instead of attending meetings of the cabinet.

  • pigeon toes

    And the reason that Jim Allister was looking at these documents?

    I assume Nevin it was the disaster that is the Rathlin Ferry contract.

    Why do we not hear Peter crticising the DRD for the controversy surrounding this.

    Is it becuase DFP were involved and Peter was Minister for that Department during both tendering processes?

  • barnshee

    “Another thread about this stupid Peter Robinson crap. Unionist supporters can waffle on all they like but policing will be devolved or the assembly dissolves, in which case its an Irish Language Act from the British. Like Sammy says, todays ‘terminology’ issue is just another smoke screen”

    There is not a chance in hell of the assembly being dissolved- who else would pay these wankers?

    Irish Langauge Act ? Who gives a fuck if the language activists want to gibber like aborigines – oirish has already been effectively sidelined in its “home” the ROI.

    If the oirish lobby want funds to allow the othewise unemployable to be paid, there is a simple answer:-pay for it yourself.

    Alternatively, pointing at the N I Budget, you want money? ok where will it come from? Health? Infrastructure? Education?

    Money already spent on Oirish by previous half wits have already cost lives. How many (eg) heart operations could have been accelerated using the funds squander on political point scoring?

    Peter is being a silly boy- why not (in the ministries where DUP/UUP hold sway)answer Conor and co in kind. Always refer to them as “Her Majesty`s minister for ” Environment etc . Make sure that the “south” is aways referred to as “the Republic of Ireland”. Gerry -always referred to as “MP for W Belfast at Her Majesty`s as Her Majesty`s parliament at Westminister” etc etc etc. In short take the piss.

    Point out to all the children at Stormont that they are all, behaviour permitted, likely to get a “turn” at the various ministries. They can all alter the wordings of documents to their hearts content. Probably the height of their individual achievements since they have done absolutely fuck all of any use since their election.

    With a recession in full flow, prices of gas, oil, elecricity, rates, water rates, all either through the roof or on the way is it just possible that real politics might get an airing?

  • “What’s happened to your news management skills, Peter?”

    Brian, someone somewhere seems to be ‘managing’ the news quite well – or else we’ve got too many ‘lazy journalists’.

    Why are most journalists not mentioning the three DRD instigated investigations pertaining to the Rathlin ferry contract? Do Conor and Peter lack Junior’s ‘sex appeal’?

    Why didn’t the Executive or the OFMDFM invite the Northern Ireland Audit Office to carry out an independent investigation into a project that involved more than one ministry?

    I’ve previously posted Schedules A, B and C on the internet. These documents possibly came from one of the ministries or from the Tender Evaluation Panel. Boxes have been ticked that relate to information that was apparently still being compiled AFTER the tender had been awarded.

    Can any significance be attached to yesterday’s visit by two marine safety officers: one from the North, the other from the South? Were they interested in the St Sorney only or was the True Light also discussed? The latter didn’t pass muster during an earlier marine safety check. Can either of these officers confirm that the documentation (passenger safety certificates et al) was in order for each craft. Can the Ministers and their officials do likewise?

  • “Irish Langauge Act ? Who gives a fuck if the language activists want to gibber like aborigines”

    Barnshee, you ignorant racist northern prick!!!!

  • pt, it’s my understanding that the ferry tender was devised by DRD and was handled by DFP’s Central Procurement Directorate. I don’t know who chose the Tender Evaluation Panel or how thoroughly the panel checked the supplied documents against the boxes that were ticked in Schedule A.

    The roles played by the respective Ministers at the time would probably be a matter for a different investigation.

  • barnshee

    bean sidhe

    Repeats

    “If the oirish lobby want funds to allow the othewise unemployable to be paid, there is a simple answer:-pay for it yourself.

    Alternatively, pointing at the N I Budget, you want money? ok where will it come from? Health? Infrastructure? Education”

    Its about the economy you see

  • barnshee

    ben side
    PS
    The same applies to the gibberish promoted as ulster scots

  • ggn

    Mick,

    “Irish Langauge Act ? Who gives a fuck if the language activists want to gibber like aborigines”

    Surely that has crossed the line? I am not sure how open racism equates with theman / ball rule but surely this is unacceptable?

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Hope the courts fine IRA/Sinn Fein £26 million for breach of the Assembly rules.

  • Rory

    Ah now, Ulsters, take it easy. Remember what Saint Paul said. Hope is grand, so it is, but yer best man is charity by a long shot. Try to have a little charity. It’ll do you good, I promise. Money back guarantee.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Previous posters should not let themselves be riled by a gobshite who signs himself as “barnshee”. Either he’s stupid or pretending to be stupid and neither does him much credit.

  • ggn

    Pancho,

    I am not riled. But I believe that implying that the speech of a racial group is gibberish to be incitement to racial hatred through dehumanisation and therefore illegal.

    Aside from the fact that it greatly diminishes the value of this site and goes beyond the boundaries of freedom of speech.

  • Sammy, perhaps it’s useful to point out that Peter and his DUP colleagues didn’t ‘inhale’, they played musical chairs with their Executive seats instead of attending meetings of the cabinet.

    This is correct, but I don’t think it changes my point.

    Did Peter know what terminology the Shinners were going to use instead of “Northern Ireland” when he signed up to government with them? Yes.

    Does he actually care about them talking about “the North”? I doubt it.

    This is still adding up to Peter Robinson being a tit.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy, perhaps it’s useful to point out that Peter and his DUP colleagues didn’t ‘inhale’, they played musical chairs with their Executive seats instead of attending meetings of the cabinet.

    I never found the DUP half-in, half-out stuff to be very convincing, and it was clearly aimed at their less clever supporters who would swallow the line that they were really acting to interfere with Sinn Fein’s role in government.

    USA:

    Unionist supporters can waffle on all they like but policing will be devolved or the assembly dissolves, in which case its an Irish Language Act from the British.

    I wouldn’t count on that, given that the government needs DUP support to get difficult measures through the House, and will do for the foreseeable future.

  • DC

    Sammy M, I don’t see why you fail to call Conor Murphy a ‘tit’ too, here’s a quote from the Guardian about it:

    The Democratic Unionist party and Sinn Féin clashed today after a republican minister published a government document replacing all references to Northern Ireland with the preferred nationalist label “the North”

    That’s pretty insecure stuff, you would think Conor Murphy could have been a bit bigger than that, Conor Smurfy, it’s so immature and irresponsible perhaps the whole executive needs a bit of counselling.

    I’m starting to wonder if the biggest victims of the troubles aren’t our politicians with this neurotic political behaviour, it is they who need looked after. While I write this young people are going out and making the most of the opportunity from a bit of peace and prosperity as in contrast our politicians appear to be wasting it, with the business leaders even calling time on it – it’s pretty desperate stuff.

    As to why you can’t call Murphy a ‘tit’ too on this occasion might well be a tell-tale sign of why Alliance is where it is, as if Murphy removed all references to NI then there’s not an ounce of shared or collective future in SF either!

  • Dave

    DC, do you know what the word ‘wigger’ means? Well, SF are the wiggers of Republicanism. 😉

  • EHI

    The people voted for the GFA and it was endorsed under the name of Northern Ireland, there is no reference to the North in it in relation to Northern Ireland

    From the GFA:

    “We are committed to partnership, equality and mutual respect as the basis of relationships within Northern Ireland, between North and South, and between these islands.”

  • DC

    Take your point there EHI, here’s some more too:

    CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
    1. The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish
    Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo-
    Irish Agreement, they will:
    (i) recognise the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by a
    majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status,
    whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Great Britain or
    a sovereign united Ireland;
    (ii) recognise that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by
    agreement between the two parts respectively and without external
    impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of
    consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a
    united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be
    achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a
    majority of the people of Northern Ireland

    I initially ran a search for ‘the north’ but I think we may have found a suitable template for wording when discussing the region by mixing in a bit of both rather than purging the lot!