“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.”


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  • wild turkey


    Ever been to mid-town Manhattan during the winter? If yes, you will have seen steam rising from manhole covers. The local energy supplier does (or used to) provide steam via underground pipes directly to large office blocks for heating.

    Question. Whats is the extent and capacity of the underground piping system from stormont to the metropolitan belfast area? This shit could keep a lot of people very very warm for a very very long time.

    I am not, repeat NOT, making a partisan political point here. The real culprits here the second rate, but polite, shitheads in the upper reaches of OFMDFM. Nonetheless the question vid is, or should be, a total embarassment to the assembly and MLAs.

    Whats the annual total cost for OFMDFM?

  • joeCanuck

    They should be made to check their spectacles at the door along with their guns.

  • wild turkey

    If OFMDFM senior staff were on the Titantic (let us not specultate on what class they would have been travelling in), after the encounter with the iceberg, perhaps a committee would have been formed with a view to devising a ‘strategy’. No doubt the subsequent consultation would have been inclusive, meaningful and an exercise in active listening. As a result, a business plan would be devised, robust targets and output/outcome measures put forward. A statement would be drafted for the consideration of the captain.

    It is generally agreed that most of those who perished in the tragedy died of hypothermia. They could not be helped.

  • IJP

    Actually, the deputy First Minister is far from the worst of them.