I can’t believe it’s “Not the Executive”?

It looks like someone has a cunning plan.. [Does it involve a turnip? – Ed]. In which case, why bother with an Executive at all? Mark Devenport has it right.

The exchange of letters between Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson over fuel poverty reads like the blame game starting before the September 18th deadline has been broken. Perhaps they will sort it out early next week, but expect lots of “Not the Executive” type meetings tomorrow as ministers demonstrate how much they care about those “bread and butter” issues.

Adds Hmm.. Reading this report it looks like Martin McGuinness needs to read that speech again.

Mr McGuinness said: “Gordon Brown laid it on the line yesterday that he expects everybody to fulfil their obligations under the St Andrew’s Agreement. “We have done that. I think others need to do the same.”

Then he can accompany Gerry Adams as they both go back and read that agreement again too.

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  • DC

    If anyone in British Irish governance circles reads slugger could I strongly recommend most seriously and genuinely cutting the pay off to Stormont post this Executive date, but keep Stormont devolution on, until they sort all of this out.

    Robinson likes his cash, is vain enough to care, but the principle will go down well as just because the parties purport to be democratic no one said they had to be paid for consistent failure to meet and to decide in a democracy. In these cash strapped times it seems a doable idea, perhaps if they really felt the plight of the rest of us it might really, no really, focus efforts.

    Political liberty, peace and indeed justice – isn’t that the very basis of any democratic government? Complete the set and get on with it.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Cut their salaries and give the money to the people who are struggling with whether to buy heating oil or food.

  • slug

    Lets be clear: Sinn Féin are blocking the meeting.

    The other parties want the meeting to go ahead.

  • DC

    Slug, it was always about justice for peace and democracy in NI after St Andrews necessitated a justice post, May 08 was hopeful but still. If you cut the pay it should all fall into place, if I were Brown, no better example to be prudent than cut the pay off to people who dont deserve to be paid. Message to DUP – complete the set.

    Right I’m off to petition No 10.

  • slug

    DC: under the terms of StA devolution of policing and justice was NOT a precondition for Executive meetings.

  • DC

    No, but I imagine Sinn Fein’s political support is. It’s hardball but I’m reluctant to blame as both parties show a lack of passion and persuasion in their arguments but when the PM comes over and fixes the mood then you gotta act or be acted upon by external actors, events should not take the DUP as a surprise.

    See Gordon Brown’s speech, I mean it’s not like the DUP should have any trouble in reading his handwriting, it’s there in Word – black and white.

  • slug

    DC the PMs speech didn’t say that devolution of policing and justice should be a precondition for Executive meetings either. His speech was an exhortation, nothing more. The DUP don’t seem pressured by it.

  • DC

    It was delivered in the context of political gridlock delivered as a means to move from the very predicament that Stormont is in: set that date.

  • ulsterfan

    The date has been set.
    When the Unionist community have faith in the system then P&J;can be devolved.

  • Driftwood

    I mean it’s not like the DUP should have any trouble in reading his handwriting, it’s there in Word – black and white.

    A bit like Tony Blairs promises on the blackboard.
    They were worth frig all. Nobody outside a few politicos gives a shit whether P&J;are devolved or not. Leave them at Westminster. In fact transport everything back there and wrap this toytown “parliament” up. Direct rule is what we have de facto anyway, why pretend otherwise. The money saved can go to pensioners.

  • Mark Simpson

    ulsterfan – which unionist community? How are you measuring faith?

    Quite frankly I find the idea of any of our politicians running ANYTHING, let along policing and justice, quite ridiculous. My own opinion is that the vast majority of them are unemployable.

    They are in a whole new world where suddenly they have to take responsibility for things. Things that their electorates may not like. Do they think they can govern the country by only ever taking popular decisions? Are they going to threaten to bring down the government every time they find themselves in a situation where they think they may have to tell their constituents something they may not like?

    They really need to join the rest of us in the real world.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    I can’t believe it’s “Not the Executive”?
    I can’t believe I haven’t just read both links on the BBC website.

    Feel free to read this as a scathing personal attack (even if you aren’t PB!) and post a vitriolic response when it is merely a *minor* observation.

  • DC

    Well look you can either approach this in a do nothing way and go nowhere or do something and go somewhere. The PM came over after all and said he was here to help and offer assistance with making the changes, you can be cynical and spit perfidious Albion, or work alongside a government under pressure and influence it to assist NI as part of leading a path, that less travelled path.

    But all this cynicism is bad for the spirit of people in NI, it ruins spirit and increases the sense not just of culture cringe but forces us all to be self-deprecating than self respecting.

    Brown is for the chop come the Glenrothes byelection that’s pretty much a given but at least he came over and spoke of the good efforts made for peace and the progress made, despite his own problems. Whilst our politicians sat bent over looking to the floor for inspiration, to me that’s just really pathetic, especially members of the DUP not even clapping a supportive prime minister.

    It seems the DUP aren’t in the mood to write some more history, instead they just act narcissistic under Robinson who himself wouldn’t flinch today to move a wasp away from his ear when interviewed because it would ruin the beauty of his stilted coolness.

  • percy

    I interpret your constant dull repetitive posts on this matter as a cry for help.
    That help might come in the way of recognizing the fluidity of this situation, and understanding that positions are being adopted according to one’s own stake in the game, and the stake other noises are making, in this case the British Gov’t.

    If you’d like to discuss rigidity and inflexibility in the process; it might be an idea to open yourself up.
    Other than that we can’t really help you out.!!!

  • Dewi

    Ok Pete – we give up – suggest something positive.

  • Driftwood

    There’s a recession coming/already hitting. Lets just play about for another couple of years, take the massive Westminster subvention, keep quiet in our public sector non-jobs (final salary pensions!!!) while chaos elsewhere.Shhhh….
    We don’t want the whole world to know!

  • Carson’s Cat

    The shinners are wrigging – they’re clearly desperately looking around for some get-out which will make it look like they’re getting on with the issues which people actually care about but without going to the Executive.

    Trouble is that they’re swimming against the public opinion. People probably do care about Policing & Justice (to a greater or lesser extent) but they certainly prioritise the other issues well above it at the minute.

    The other very bad thing for camp Gerry is the obvious and repeated comparisons to Trimble’s UUP which they are conjuring up. That’s not a great comparison for anyone given what happened to him.

    Worse again for them is that they’re now in rock and a hard place territory. If they go to the Executive they look weak and have u-turned again in the face of DUP strength. If they don’t go then they’re showing that they care more about their policing pipe-dreams than about people heating their homes.

    Not a great bit of positioning by the once infallable republicans who always dodged the blame for everything.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    ……..like the confidence the Irish community had in the way that the British (not born in Britain)handled Peace and Justice for seventy years.

  • Alex S

    The DUP got their payback for helping Brown over the 42 day detention??????????

  • Rubicon

    It is just a matter of time before the Assembly gets Criminal Justice devolved – neither side will disagree with this. Timing is important to the politico activists – but is it really inportant to the rest of us?

    The DUP await confidence while doing everything to undermine that confidence. They’ve no benchmark from moving from this position and have a precedence of not moving despite what the majority want. For them – policing etc will be devolved but only when they’ve demonstrated to everyone that they’re a cussed hard nosed negotiator. At that point – the unreconstructed will again call them Lundies.

    Nothing new here – Trimble did the same.

    Meanwhile SF are again unwilling to deliver. They may have lost the sense of cordite – but where are the witnesses to crimes involving their cadre? Its not “unionist” to call a white feathered bird with webbed feet that quacks a “duck”. It isn’t a legally binding description but this is politics and it requires confidence building. SF have been good at doing that to their own but have dismally failed to convince others. The others still see “duck” and until SF can point to evidence that the duck has flown – they can sit on a stagnant pond. Unless …

    The UUP, SDLP and AP should be describing negotiation yet to be done prior to P&J;devolution. Can the new Minister stop the hundreds of millions being spent on inquiries? If they could – can that money be diverted to those in need?

    If P&J;just gives NI another parity spending issue that means any savings are lost to NI – let Whitehall continue their role. No unionist should think this a good strategy but they are arguing for it. Why? Who cares?

    I want to know if P&J;is devolved what are the financial strings? Is it like devolving Social Development where change to benefits is made practically impossible? If SF and the DUP insist on spending more than the cost of water charges for their inquiries – can other parties offer an alernative? If they did – would NI be allowed to transfer the savings to those in need?

    Why don’t I know the answers to these questions?

    Unfortunately I do know the answer. NI politicians have not argued – much less agreed – a devolved funding for P&J;. Without funding control – it’s just smoke.

  • Rubicon


    I have to admire your endurance. The points you are making now are no different to those you made following St. Andrews. I agreed with you then but wonder if your ego isn’t damaging you now. Being right on Slugger can’t be an ambition of yours.

    P&J;will be devolved but little discussion has occurred as to its financial arrangements. A lot of focus has gone on ‘political arrangements’ that have no lasting value.

    Apart from you being right – is it possible to move the dabate on to query the precise controls local politicians will have in the P&J;arena?

  • Carson’s Cat

    “Why don’t I know the answers to these questions?”

    Without resorting to a single transferrable blame figure it might have something to do with the fact that the media cant be arsed finding out / dont understand any of the details around the transfer.

    When someone mentions that one of the issues which should be sorted out prior to transfer is the massive financial burdens which would simply be handed over to the NI Executive upon devolution its glossed over with the much handier wail of “oh why can’t you all just agree”.

    Its much easier to pretend that this is just some squabble between the politicians because that saves having to actually report anything of substance, and woe betide that if they did get down into those issues that it might justify putting a point of view across that one ‘side’ might have a set of legitimate points.

    As ever, its usually easier to portray it as “not being able to get along”.

  • Pete Baker


    “Apart from you being right – is it possible to move the dabate on to query the precise controls local politicians will have in the P&J;arena?”

    Feel free to do just that.

    And we have, on Slugger, touched on that particular discussion on occasion.

    But whilst the politicians involved continue to attempt to re-draft St Andrews in their own light then it’s worth reminding everyone of what the original document actually said.

  • Pete Baker


    Here’s one previous example of that attempt.

    And a more recent example.

    Other issues.

    And on those powers themselves.

    Although the shape of that department has yet to be fully finalised.

  • Dewi

    Pete – what on earth do you want to happen?

  • Pete Baker
  • Dewi

    Not good enough Pete – I’ve read that before. A specific question – what is required, from whom, for P&J;to be devolved?

  • Rubicon

    CC – you’re right and I wish it were otherwise. Yet, keeping P&J;as a political football as some kind of litmus test on who achieved what at St. Andrews is distracting attention from discussions that should be happening.

    I can’t say I’ve looked at this issue closely but I do remember reading of the cost of the Wright inquiry in the same paper that reported 2 ambulance services were stopped for lack of funding. The Wright inquiry costs (still on-going) equated to 6 ambulances. It seemed a fitting epitaph to a murdering swine – he’s killing people yet.

    But – the Wright inquiry has yet to mount up anything like the charges of other inquiries. Wright is cheap – but there’s no news in that.

    With P&J;devolved Iris may be asking for stocks to be mounted in Corn Market. Perhaps she’ll be able to find her psychiatrist to “cure” gays. Meanwhile SF will colour diesel green and have the single franchise for NI.

    Any of this new? I guess not.

    The financial basis for P&J;devolution is important. There is a massive amount of money being spent on the past.

    How would our politicians do if asked to spend it on the living? Ask this question and none of the political parties have a response.


  • Pete Baker


    “Not good enough Pete – I’ve read that before.”

    Not good enough for you, Dewi.

    But I’m not here to answer on behalf of the politicians involved.

    And that’s what you’re asking me to do.

    I’ve noted a way forward in answer to your initial question, now you want to change the question.

  • Dewi

    Ok, I’ll change the question – what is your view forward on P&J;?

  • Rubicon

    Pete – thanks for the response though I see you’re hanging truth on correct referencing.

    I guess I’m saying you were right but you’re no fortune teller. Criminal Justice will be devolved and NI needs to control and manage the costs in a manner that holds politicians accountable.

    SDLP seem to want the post – but has anyone in the media asked how they can then explain the massive expediture on inquiries. Nope! What will the Minister say? He/She will say that any savings can’t be diverted but will be returned to Westminster.

    Getting Criminal Justice is a matter of confidence building that our politicians and media are far from delivering.

  • Pete Baker


    See previous comment.

  • Pete Baker


    “I guess I’m saying you were right but you’re no fortune teller.”

    I never claimed to be a fortune teller. Indeed, I’ve actively cautioned against it.

  • Dewi

    No – you asked me to change the question – I did:
    What do think is required for movement on P&J;?

  • percy

    I know its frustrating , but don’t play the fly to pete’s spider.

  • Quagmire

    There is nothing the Executive can do in real terms to help the people of the north in the current economic climate. I heard Minister Dods on the news last night basically rubbishing the importance of P&J;instead he wanted to “concentrate on the real concerns” of the electorate” i.e. rising energy costs, food costs etc etc. What exactly can the Executive do to help people out? I mean if sovereign states, with fiscal autonomy, like the 26 counties,the USA and Britain are having difficulties then what hope is there for us? The truth is that (a) we are not fully in control of our own affairs to our own detriment (b) We can only play with what is afforded to us by London (c) the current economic downturn is a global one and things like the prices of oil and food etc are not in our control. So once again I pose the question, what can the Executive do in real terms to help people out? The answer is sweet F.A. All this talk of “the people want us to sort out the bread and butter issues” is just utter clap trap. What the people want and what the executive can actually do to deliver these wants and demands are two very different things.

  • Rubicon

    Pete – sorry for attributing you talents you’ve not claimed. I’m still smiling at your attention on the ball. It is precise but missing the point.

    I’m aware of your cautious approach and how your challenges have been demonstrated to be sound.

    Sh*t! I sound patronising!

    I guess I’m saying I’d prefer you used your skills in assessing the inevitable. Left to the media and our politicians (particularly those demanding devolution) there is a challenge they’ve not yet engaged. This is an area that Slugger could explore.

  • percy

    peteb you couldn’t do something useful like report on the by-election a chara.

  • Dave

    “What do think is required for movement on P&J;?” – Dewi

    Probably an actual commitment to peace and justice from those who are demanding the transfer of those powers to Stormont rather than demands based on the expedient need to further hoodwink their own gullible Ard Fheis with the claim that the DUP lied to the Shinners about a timetable being agreed at St. Andrews rather than the Shinners lying to their own Ard Fheis about such an agreement, given that agreement on the non-agreed timetable was a pre-condition set by the Shinners’ Ard Fheis that barred them from entering the Executive until they agreed it, giving the Shinners’ the motive to lie to said gullible gombeens and the further motive to lie about lying?

    A staggering 95% of the SF Ard Fheis voted to endorse the police force subject to agreement of devolution. How do you get those who were formerly so opposed to Her Majesty’s “forces of occupation” that they took to shooting them dead on their doorsteps reverse that opposition when that force are still in ‘occupation’ and still Her Majesty’s? Do you hold a big philosophical discussion that succeeds in overturning ideology or do you recognise that you weren’t dealing with ideologues but with violent sectarian thugs and present the proposed endorsement of the police as a continuance of sectarian hostility by other means, with the endorsement being a means to “put manners” on the peelers? As one such thug spun the Shinners taking their seats on the Policing Board, “We drove the rats into a hole, and now we’re going in after them.” Guess which option the Shinner leadership chose?

    And that is all this really amounts to: one tribe seeking a victory over the other tribe, and that other tribe refusing to concede that victory. Sectarianism is still rife, but it’s just more cleverly disguised in its sublimated expression. Anyone who actually cares about police and justice would not support its devolution to sectarian thugs.

  • Pete Baker


    “It is precise but missing the point.”

    Not in my humble opinion – but you’re entitled to your opinion.

    “I guess I’m saying I’d prefer you used your skills in assessing the inevitable.”

    Whose inevitable would that be?

    It ain’t going to happen – my futuring that is.

  • Dewi

    Dave – a) u can summarise in three words. b) your point.

  • DC

    Re ‘occupation’ – well if it is anything like that it is one that is open, heavily influenced and this open occupation is called devolution in which SF are seeking to negotiate police powers. This occupation is linked with, according to SF, some sort of transition backed up by consent.

    justice for peace and political liberty

    I do agree with priorities but surely the biggest priority Dave is that of reconciliation and it would be good for the DUP to reconsider its position, as leaders of NI this necessitates not just bedding down of Stormont but of a coalescing of parties. The DUP should immediately flush debate into the assembly if possible, hold fire on the rest and kick start the debate towards confidence: set that date.

    Justice may well be the glue that holds society together but now in politics at the stage we are at in NI it’s about being judicious.

  • USA


  • Moneybags

    Looks like Robbo’s bluff has been called. Can’t wait to see what serious consequences he has in store.

  • percy

    what nauseates most is we don’t get to have any posts on this supposed “confidence”, the DUP refer to.
    How is that measured? to whom are they referring to?
    What is the demographic?
    We have had polls, both Gov’ts, Unions in support of the transfer.
    Isn’t it the case we are being held to ransom by a rump of old-style bigots who still believe in the bogeyman of the IRA, perhaps not even 10,000 people.
    Half the story has not been told.
    But still we have to suffer these insufferable posts.
    Is Mick there?

  • Aw, c’mon chaps: it’s all willy-waving. And I’m feeling distinctly jaundiced this morning.

    That date, Robinson’s posturing attempt to play Colonel Travis with a line-in-the-sand, was inevitably going to be challenged and ridiculed. It’s Rule One in this game since way-back. In the old days it was “thumb-your-snout-at-Westminster” (a game played with aplomb by all NI political parties, but the full version codified by the Rev. Dr No). Just because the venue has been repatriated doesn’t spoil the fun.

    Equally, as many of us pointed out long, long before the Stormont soap-opera went public again, all parties (that’s “Parties and “parties”, majuscule and minuscule) want the glory, the kudos, the credit but not the sweat, blood, tears and hard decisions. So “goodies” with prezzies (health, regional development … anywhere grants and give-aways are available) are in demand. Meanwhile there are no easy cheers in P&J;: so thanks, but no thanks. After that, it’s just finding the right formula of words to dump on the other guys.

    Until all factions wake up to the responsibilities and duties, as well as the easy applause, NI remains a colony. The only questions either side seems prepared to argue are: where do the cheques come from? which street is Head Office: Downing or Kildare?

    In the early days of the Saorstát, when Dublin realised the implications of no longer being the sole centre of Irish affairs, King Billy was still astride his bronze charger in College Green. A Dubliner found him dismounted, wandering round in the early hours. The Dubliner urged him to “get back on that horse quick. Otherwise there’ll be a Corkman up there.”

    Seems to me, as long as we play this game of blame and evasion, the great national issue comes down to that choice: Shaun or Seánín?

  • DC

    Malcolm, Arlene has just won Fermanagh by-election, I agree with you in that the message is still revolving around factions.

    Arlene never on substance alone should have taken the seat because of the utter contradictions of her stance and behaviours; SF haven’t a hope of moving this unless someone somewhere in the media really shifts the debate and drives up substance, than sectional interest.

    Time for cool heads, I know Pete is right about agreement but SF sold the pass to let the DUP into Stormont to boost confidence, they either work harder on delivery of that message, real hard, or indeed pull the plug and renegotiate, if no movement happens.

  • barnshee

    “So once again I pose the question, what can the Executive do in real terms to help people out? The answer is sweet F.A. All this talk of “the people want us to sort out the bread and butter issues” is just utter clap trap. What the people want and what the executive can actually do to deliver these wants and demands are two very different things. ”

    Oooh dear what an accurate apposite post. Worth SFA? well why have it sack the lot and give the money saved to Africa