“How long is this secretive, hole-in-the-corner stuff going to go on?”

Mick mentioned it yesterday, and Newhound delivers. Here’s Brian Feeney’s take on the semi-detached polit-bureau Northern Ireland Executive. From yesterday’s Irish News

The present lack of openness suits them both down to the ground. It’s a great system if you’re in the DUP and SF. Everything is sewn up before an executive meeting and UUP and SDLP members of the executive clearly haven’t a clue what’s going to happen before the meeting. On the other hand, if it’s only going to be moving the deck chairs around, does it matter? Is it not the case that the real reason there’s not a joint press conference about the state of play in the north is that neither first nor deputy first minster would have anything to say?

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  • BonarLaw

    Feeney’s sectarian bile never ceases to amuse. I particularly laughed at the mind set that came up with “settler reservation”! Priceless.

  • Brian Walker

    Not one of Brian’s more perceptive pieces. Do I detect more of the disappointed politician than the fearless analyst? Despite the big exposure of the monitoring round ( curious phrase!)in interviews etc on Slugger, I still can’t quite make out who was trying to trump whom between Robinson and Dodds on the one hand and Margaret Ritchie on the other. Probably both. It seems to me the Executive have the collective right to re-order some priorities. Robinson however would do well to elevate his language more from the party political. His excessive combativeness sometimes suggests nervousnsss more than confidence over TUV. In an admittedly different forum in London I recently heard Nigel Dodds deliver an impressive account of the Executive’s tasks, along side Conor Murphy. We need more of that locally I suspect. And more constructive encouragement and credit where credit is due from commentators, now that the Executive is back in business. To that end, I’d like to hear more from Brian whom I much respect, on his own programme and strategy.

  • DC

    Oh what an anti-democratic democracy we do have. It could possibly be Sunningdale in Simulation now, where up in Stormont even our politicians imitate the, much lauded for its expansiveness, NI Civil Service.

    That is pretending they are real politicians with real workloads whenever they are just wired up to the Super Brew (like our civil servants) purporting to be doing alot in the way of civilisation and its advancement. In real terms democracy is pretty much discounted, two first ministers remaining to be democratically endorsed, little in the way of any supportive political theory or confirmed and shared strategic aims across the executive table.

    The claim could be true that the NI executive is working together that is until someone in the DUP or SF or both agitates to motivate people to divide against one and other to keep the respective core vote in tow and to score points. And there have been plenty scored over the last 150 days. Hamstrung and arrested developments anyone?

    I actually read the piece as a bit of a renaissance compared to Feeney’s usual thought processes. It seems like he has eventually cottoned on to the fact of the hush-hush carve up that is and that will not and cannot be accountable to the media or anyone that threatens it by questioning what it is they exactly that do up there. Not least of all where they have really been over those 150 odd days!

    Flush these boyos out in committees and get the cameras on them, it’s the only sure way to value their worth by watching them in situ.

  • Carson’s Cat

    So we move from general MOPEry to uber Stoop Mopery where its not just bad enough to be an oppressed nationalist but its even worse if you’re an oppressed SDLP nationalist who gets sh*t upon by Prods and Fenians alike…

    Oh, its terrible so it is…

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    Hell rub it up us for stitching up such a wretched system in the first, Belfast Agreement, place.

  • dub


    Sectarian bile? Of course you yourself now are just whiter than white….

  • Greenflag

    ‘It’s a great system if you’re in the DUP and SF.’

    Mr Feeney is correct .

    Fast backward 1920 -1972

    ‘It’s a great system if you’re in the UUP ‘

    So what has changed apart from the ruling party/parties title letters ?

    Oh yes now republican snouts are deep in the trough along with unionist snouts . A pig is a pig is a pig .

    Why the surprise from anybody ?

    And it’s not the pigs fault -either denomination – That’s just the way Northern Ireland has to be . Expecting it to be any different under the present status is like putting a juicy new born lamb into a cage with a ravenous lion before breakfast and expecting to see it prancing happily around said cage at dinnertime 🙁

    As good as it’s going to get and if they are just a County Council then so what . It’s an improvement on blowing each other’s heads off no ? Well maybe 🙁

  • USA

    Seems to me Feeney makes some valuable observations. Much secrecy, can’t raise taxes, no credible opposition, sectarianism still rules the roost in voting patterns.
    Plenty more to consider about how your new experiment in democracy is progressing.

  • Punter

    Is Connor Murphy about to resign?

  • John Bird

    That the Stormont stitch up is distasteful to observe should come as no surprise to anyone. It is a compromise peopled by second division politicians. Witness, for example, the ‘Education Minister’, she is now such a liability that John O’Dowd is continuously rolled out to cover for her.

    Feeny of course speaks with the voice of a failed politician (and thank God we have been spared his efforts as he has long ago fallen by the political wayside), his bitterness shines through.

    He can’t even muster a coherent argument remarking at one and the same time about the political standards of the Executive and complaining about their lack of powers, particularly tax raising.

    Neither of the two blocks, republican or unionist, are in a position to dominate and there will be no recognisable opposition. Things will just have to stumble on as they are.

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    True enough, “USA”, we’ve got gerrymandered non-democracy, where a bunch of murdering, drug-dealing, petrol-and-fag smuggling sectarian gangsters get to squat in office, whatever the wishes of the overall electorate, despite winning less than a quarter of the vote (ie being headed firmly for opposition in any free and fair electoral system, whether FPTP or PR-based). But on the other hand, we don’t have Rod Blagojevich, so swings and roundabouts. Though I believe you don’t have any of the latter either.

  • josephine

    is one permitted to say that no-one was more assiduous in his support for this arrangement, or supportive in particular, of the sinn fein gang than brian feeney – as ye sow, so shall ye reap!

  • Greenflag

    Why am I still a UUP voter,

    Good question the ‘why’ I mean . I can’t imagine but it may have something to do with the fact that there are algae around the edge of my garden pond that have more imagination 😉

    ‘True enough, “USA”, we’ve got gerrymandered non-democracy, ‘

    Northern Ireland was always had a gerrymandered ‘democracy’ . That’s the basic principle on which the NI State was founded in 1920 . It’s more than a bit late to be complaining about it now.

    You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that as long as the ‘gerrymander ‘ suited Unionism it was fine – but once it started favouring Nationalists/Republicans well now that’s different . Still the same oul narrow minded shite as always .

    NI now has the government it deserves and it doesn’t really matter whether the SDLP or the UUP are involved for the purse strings and real powers are held in London -which is just as well .

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    What exactly was gerrymandered in 1921? You may as well slabber on that the Free State was gerrymandered because it equally provided for an automatic nationalist majority. That was the whole basis of partition: the majority nationalist bit was let go, the majority unionist bit was kept in the Union.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    That indeed was the whole basis of partition. Hold as much as you can, on a sectarian headcount, for the foreseeable future. And what about the brethren abandoned to the Fenian wolves? How can yiz sleep in your beds at night? How can yiz look each other in the eye?

  • DC

    And then along came globalisation.

  • USA

    UUP Voter,
    Blagojevich was so last week. Our new criminal of the week is this scumbag. Between Wall Street, Bush, Enron, Madoff and the mortgage meltdown I don’t know who is going to screw us next. The whole financial sector in the US has no credibility left. Actually neither does our foreign policy.

  • Mack

    Why am I still a UUP voter?

    You are right, the Free State was gerrymandered to create a nationalist majority, but by whom?

    The entire raison d’etre of partition was to create a Protestant / Unionist state. The nationalists opposed it (& Ireland was a single adminsitrative unit). It was the Ulster Unionists and the British government of the time who partitioned Ireland, against the will of the majority, and are responsible for the sectarian gerrymander represented by it’s border.

  • Mack

    Also, I note Greenflag says 1920 – which is correct, rather than 1921. The southern state created in 1920 (and completely ignored) was called Southern Ireland (being a devolved state in the Union equivalent to Northern Ireland). The Free State came into being a year later.