“Reading the briefs provided to them..”

Perhaps with the background of the ongoing conversation about making Question Time in the Northern Ireland Assembly more engaging [or more accountable? – Ed] in mind, BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport comments on the jargon-filled “cure for insomnia” that was questions to OFMDFM yesterday – “reading the briefs provided to them by officials without an awful lot of insight into what it’s about.” The example being discussed, an answer by the NI deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, is below the fold.

The following is deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness’s answer to one tabled question and a few supplementaries.

The question selected, in advance, was

3. Mr Cree asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister what have been the practical outcomes of the meetings which took place in September 2008 between the First Minister and deputy First Minister and the energy sector and regulator. (AQO 1862/09)

The home page of the campaign for plain English carries this quote from Andrew Marr

“Cloudy, slimy sentences are the first sign of bad government; plain English is always the democrat’s best defence.”

Indeed.