“is it effectively now a two party government?”

If you didn’t know there was a “little bit of a game” being played within, and without, the semi-detached polit-bureau Northern Ireland Executive, the evidence was on Stormont Live today. Ostensibly on the re-packaging re-profiling of NI Executive funds announced by the Finance Minister, the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, the opening interview with his party colleague NI First Minister, Peter Robinson, revealed clear tensions within the Executive – and the “first-class press” are being unhelpful witnesses distracted from the “good news” story.. Below the fold NI Social Development Minister, the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie, responds with her side of the story. And also, “one of the winners of today’s re-allocation”, NI Agriculture Minister, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, who now has “£20million to go to building slurry tanks” – applications must be in by the end of this year..

Northern Ireland Social Development Minister, the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie, gives her side of the story in relation to the reprofiling of Executive funds.

The final clip from Stormont Live begins with the semi-detached Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams blaming “the British Treasury” [and an “inadequate annual subvention” – Ed], but back in the studio his party colleague, and Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister, Michelle Gildernew, is very much on-message. And now has £20million to spend on slurry tanks.. by the end of this year..

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  • percy

    the blue background is a bit off putting, like they’re in a fish tank blowing bubbles?

  • jone

    This is pitiful stuff from the Executive both is substance and presentations.

    Essentially the only slightly new thing is the £150 one of payment for the poorest households. The slurry tanks, school buildings and all the rest are not much more than re-announcements. And just to put that £4m for school capital projects in context the total estimated cost for outstanding projects is over £200m.

    In terms of presentation it was clear from Dodd’s statement that the utility company price cuts were supposed to be rolled up with all this to create some feel good factor but Durkan shot that fox on Friday.

    Then when Paisley jnr was doing his best spin on Talk Back he was unable to answer even the basic question of how people are to get their hands on the £150 – a pertinent point for many low income household who have pre pay meters and thus can’t have the £150 subtracted from their bills.

    Then Gildernew turns up on Stormont live and has to admit that this slurry tank bollocks which is supposed to save the construction industry involves no new thinking and not a penny of new money.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s all very unimaginative stuff, and I bet the DUP are pissed off at the Stoops for stealing their thunder.

    The trouble for the Stoops is that Margaret as their minister is about the only thing they’ve got going for them at the moment. Can they afford to walk out of the executive ? And if they do, will the UUP follow ?

  • Wm

    Comrade Stalin….I hope both the SDLP and the UUP walk out of the Executive…the only thing keeping both parties in it as that they both fought the last Assembly election on going into a power-sharing government.

    Any democracy needs an Opposition and both these parties should be there rather in a Government where they are both sidelined by the DUPe/Sinn Fein/IRA alliance; like rhubarb, kept in the dark and manure poured on them.

    I look forward to the day [hopefully after the next Assembly election], when both the SDLP and UUP will be back in power and the two extremist parties where they belong…in the minority positions.

  • Modernist

    DUP can do sweek FA about the economic crisis. Robinson’s talk seems deluded. Usual DUP childish behaviour when all they can do is heckle like little bullies on the school playground.

  • 6countyprod

    I look forward to the day [hopefully after the next Assembly election], when both the SDLP and UUP will be back in power

    Oh for the good old days of direct rule and incompetent unionist and nationalist politicians!

  • Keep her lit

    £150 for the elderly who are struggling to make ends meet – this is what politics should be about, helping those worst off in society through no fault of their own. On the face of it this Executive has done more than the one that went before it and if the SDLP / UUP want to pretend that they have nothing to do with the Executive then obviously the DUP and SF should take the credit for what theyve done in regard to fuel poverty and the construction work. Well done.

  • aquifer

    Lets have SDLP and UUP walk out and make us ask why we continue to vote for parties whose main function was excusing sectarian violence.

  • Silver Line

    Empey looked lonely and confussed at yesterdays events, Ritchie took a hissy fit and the DUP rule the roost well done to the DUPs

  • frustrated democrat

    Social housing or subsidised slurry tanks?

    Seems DUP/SF are looking to help out the poor under priviliged farmers instead of people who live in substandard housing – strange priorities or looking for votes? You decide.

  • autocue


    “whose main function was excusing sectarian violence.”

    What like the SDLP during the years when they were the largest party of nationalism but refused to go it alone without Sinn Fein?

  • Greenflag

    Northern Ireland 1920 to 1972

    One party rule -no opposition
    Result – corruption – sectarian violence – 40 years of political uncertainty and farting around while the ‘economy ‘disappeared into the public sector .

    Norther Ireland 2008 to ?

    Two party rule – no opposition

    Result ?

  • John East Belfast

    The problem with the Two Party Rule and Two Party Opposition thing – on the assumption that in practice it would mean the Executive Seats are divided up between the Biggest Unionist and Nationalist Parties – is that it will drive people to even more vote for the extremes. ie people will try and cast their vote for the Unionist and Nationalist parties they think have the greatest chance of succeeding.
    We have already seen the damage done by having the First & Deputy First Minister position being divided post St Andrews in a fashion which gave the DUP a major plus in the eyes of the unionist electorate. The DUP are very good at playing that scare mongering card.

    Infact it would probably lead to less Opposition as the respective voters ensure they have somebody in power – no matter how incompetent and/or loathsome.

    Therefore you might end up with perfect power sharing but whether that is effective democracy that is another matter.

    Mandatory coalition was required for its day but in the long run it is unsustainable to govern NI using what is entrenched sectariansm.
    In the long run if Unionist or Nationalist parties want to govern NI then they are going to have to convince the electorate just like the SNP and in a 50/50 demographic the fear of any one domination on the basis of a religious head count alone must be subsiding

    That is why the UUP policy of engaging a mainland political party is so right for today.

    In practice what it will mean are voluntary coalitions where the biggest party brings on board other smaller parties to get an overall majority to form a Government.

    Therefore lets go back to the drawing board…

  • Greenflag


    ‘That is why the UUP policy of engaging a mainland political party is so right for today. ‘

    Actually that’s why it’s so wrong . The UUP should have engaged with Alliance and the SDLP to create an effective opposition within NI . The fact they haven’t is an implicit acceptance by the UUP that there is no hope of NI ever becoming a non sectarian denominated political entity in it’s own right. But then you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work that one out. The State as it’s constituted was based entirely on a sectarian headcount to favour the Unionist minority on the ‘mainland ‘ of Ireland .

    ‘Therefore lets go back to the drawing board’

    I agree but this time around lets bring in the UN and EU so that the next border is drawn in such a way as to minimize the number of Irish living in a Unionist State and vice versa .

    It’s called a ‘fair ‘ repartition. Why waste another 40 years waiting for a Nationalist /Unionist majority of 2% ??

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Does anyone know what Gerry Adams gets paid for?, what’s his official job, apart from chief shit-stirrer and ambassador to international terrorism.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Does anyone know what Gerry Adams gets paid for?,’

    For being an MLA like the rest of them at Stormont. They produce a lot of paper in between extended year long holidays when both sides get sick to death of having to lokk at each other across the chamber . You would too if ye had to listen to the shitehawks !

  • Ulsters my homeland

    I’m actually looking for exact jobs, greenflag. what is his official role?

  • Ulsters my homeland

    He seems to do nothing else but legalise terrorism when he’s on his globe-trotting tours.

    Is he going to end up another Napoleon?

  • Ulsters myhomeland

    We wouldn’t want our first/first minister to end up like Napoleon, would we?

  • Earnan

    He does what any politician does. Twists the truth, gives his parties spin on current and past events, tries to get things accomplished that will keep his voters happy (and misrepresents what he actually gets accomplished in an attempt to placate them), etc.

  • Greenflag

    UMH ,

    ‘Is he going to end up another Napoleon? ‘

    I doubt it very much . First he’s too tall to be a Napoleon and although Mr Adams has often expressed an interest in improving the living accomodation and housing facilities for his West Belfast constituents , this has not as yet been extended to the acquisition of several million square miles of living space in furthest Russia;) Mr Adams is sharp enough to realise that we’d have no room here in Ireland for all those Russian pows . And the feckers drink like demented Corkmen so there would be no end of hassle . And then there’s the feckin language . Russian is even worse than Irish and the buggers use the Cyrillic alphabet and anyway who was this Cyril cad messing up a perfectly adequate Roman alphabet just to be bloody different 🙁

    Mr Adams interests appear to be restricted solely to Northern Ireland/Irish Republic at least in terms property acquisition.

  • zoonpol

    I agree in part with John East Belfast above. Maybe we should through caution to the wind and introduce a bicameral assembly at Stormont. For example:

    Those who win the PR elections on first preference votes (FPV) or with the majority being of FPV can make up the Executive using the D’Hondt method and all others could make up a separate but equal body using the same method.

    On a separate issue why did no one challenge the abandonment of the local government elections – surely leaving it till 2010 is constitutional unlawful and ultra vires.