Committee has “no confidence” in Environment Minister

The Northern Ireland Assembly Environment Committee has passed a motion of no confidence in the Environment Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, by 6 votes to 4. The Alliance Party’s David Ford abstained. But given the polit-bureau’s stranglehold on votes in the NI Assembly perhaps of slightly more significance is the last line in the BBC report – “The committee agreed to write to the Office of First and Deputy First Minister to seek clarification on the Executive’s climate change policy.” That would be the policy Sammy Wilson, apparently, opposes..

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  • john bacon

    petition for his firein’?

    probab wont doe much good

  • fin

    Hey, Sammy Wilson, I’m black and I’m pagan, I’m gay and I’m left and I’m free. I’m a non fundamentalist, environmentalist, can I join the DUP.

    As Christy Moore might have sang.

  • William

    I am one who fully supports the environmental campaigns for recycling etc., but do feel that the ‘eco-nazis’ as someone called them, do a great disservice to their own cause. Some of the outlandish claims that these people make and that includes NuLabour and their advertising campaign are pie in the sky and their are many scientists who don’t fully subscribe to these claims.

    However, Sammy with his ‘in your face’ condemnation and use of language fires up the environmentalist lobby and this vote by the Stormont Committe is another example. Not that it will do much go however….Sammy will continue with his viewpoint and so will everyone else. I do wonder what that ace Eco warrior and fellow DUPe Jim Wells makes of Sammy ?

  • lorraine

    true, sammy is definitely “in your face” but the jury is still out on the whole issue of climate change and our direct contribution via carbon footprints.

    sammy could just be right however; and his refusal to play to the climate change lobby is perhaps one of the few rational applications of politics in action up on the Hill. keep it up Sammy….

  • reminds me of the hulla baloo prior to the northern hemisphere freezing solid…

    some crack that hi

    The environment minister back then – Hanz Freezian – got some stick too…

    They put it down to too many camp fires….

  • x

    The Moment of Truth has arrived!

    Have the scrutiny committees of the Assembly any power or any point?
    Can they do anything or are they just impotent talking shops (or indoor relief scheme for the unemployable)?

    Ironically the DUP promised after St Andrews that the committees would be more powerful to control their Ministers – well let’s sit back and see…..

    Thought so – nothing

  • Well done to the SDLP for bringing this motion forward.

    Can anyone explain why the Aliance Party abstsained?

  • circles

    William – for “eco-nazis” see “godwin’s law” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_Law)

  • Gilgaled

    “Congratualtions to the SDLP for bringing this motion forward”. This latest wrangle at Stormont has little to do with the issues in question, in this case climate change, rather it is about having a go at the other side. It seems that this is all anyone can expect from the Punch and Judy show on the Hill.

    As with the education issue an incompetent minister is like a dog, not just for Christmas but for life, therefore they will be supported by their party for no other reason than the fact that they belong to a particular party.

    Live with it, so are the joys of a mandatory coalition.

  • Dec

    sammy could just be right however; and his refusal to play to the climate change lobby is perhaps one of the few rational applications of politics in action up on the Hill. keep it up Sammy….

    Unfortunately the add he banned was promoting household savings via energy conservation. Maybe the DUP believe in the existence of an celestial electricity meter box that will descend upon us when the lights go out down here?

  • ZoonPol

    Its common practice for the chair not to have a vote as it shows bias: vote only exists in event of a tie.

    I would like to think that the Environment Committee has teeth but I tend to fear its a paper tiger and if Sammy was to be removed from office and replaced by an equivalent DUP MLA it would be precedent to argue that using D’Hondt SDLP should get Justice in autumn, something Sinn Fein and the DUP have agreed against even if it is against the spirit of the 1998 referenda.

  • ABC

    Sinn Fein and the UUP had better be careful about slapping down no-confidence motions.

    I would imagine it wouldn’t be too hard to get a motion through declaring no confidence in Ruane for her handling of the academic selection issue or McGimpsey for sacking 700+ nurses.

    What goes around comes around.

  • Neil

    Beat me to it there Dec, not only that but it’s expected to cost additional money to pull it from our screens. The other point that I would like to make on this is that those people who say that it’s a pointless campaign due to the fact that most buck eedjits know that if you turn off your lights you save lecky and money, thing is when people see something like that on TV it brings the thought into their heads and so many people, like it or not, will turn their lights off and switch off standby, because of that ad.

    This is why Coke spend money on ads too, not for the fun of it, but rather whether you like it or not, when the ads are shownm on TV, the idea lands on a certain number of receptive brains, and will invariably save people a few quid/sell a few more bottles of Coke.

  • gram

    >I am one who fully supports the environmental campaigns for recycling etc., but do feel that the ‘eco-nazis’ as someone called them, do a great disservice to their own cause. Some of the outlandish claims that these people make and that includes NuLabour and their advertising campaign are pie in the sky and their are many scientists who don’t fully subscribe to these claims.<

  • TonyB

    You know, sometimes, in the back of your mind, you kinda wish he was corrupt, maybe in the pocket of the electricity companies. Or the European version of the ‘drill-baby-drill’ lobby. That would be allright. You could deal with that. You could understand it. It would explain the absurdity. Kinda like Bertie down south, away in a strange world of their own that few people understand. Ach, who says there are no more characters left in Ireland!

  • Opposition

    David Ford is on record many times criticising Sammy Wilson’s stance on climate change and he is also on record disagreeing with his decision to block the advertising campaign.

    The motion of no-confidence in the Minister was a pointless exercise as there is no hope of the move succeeding. David Ford proposed the letter asking what the Executive is actually doing on climate change. His proposal was effective and constructive, not cheap gesture politics.

  • Alliance Hardliner

    Conall – no, no one can explain why Alliance abstained. If there are 1000 members, I’d say around 997 would have supported the motion!

  • Beta

    Energy savings where it makes an obvious immediate economy are capable of support by just about everyone, and I don’t think Sammy Wilson onjects to that. The greater issue however is that of abandoning fossil fuels over time in order to “save the planet” ™.

    The fossil fuels currently in the ground are worth multiple trillions. Leaving them in the ground unburnt (as far as I can see the only actual realistic way to prevent man made warming if such exists) will cost much more than the Iraq war several times over. So what exactly am I going to get for those trillions specifically, and why is it worth more than the cost to put right whatever harm global warming would be calculated to create? These are the questions that need to be asked. Hard headed objective explanations in pounds, schillings and pence (so to speak) need to be laid on the table.

    Also, as Opec doesn’t seem to have any lack of buyers and seems to only control outflow in accordance with it’s own interests as a cartel, how exactly is it envisaged that we will end up with a situation whereby fossil fuels are permanently left in the ground? Economies can expand to consume the energy available, I’m not taken in by any “lump of energy” fallacy any more than by any “lump of labour” fallacy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-sum_fallacy

    Energy use in industrial societies over the past 150 years or so has shown exponential growth. I see no reason that increasing alternative energy sources will reduce fossil fuel usage long term by itself. How will the Saudis et al be compensated for, or otherwise prevented from extraction with the apparently reasonable assumption that fossil fuels will still have an above zero marginal price?

  • gram

    >>Energy use in industrial societies over the past 150 years or so has shown exponential growth. I see no reason that increasing alternative energy sources will reduce fossil fuel usage long term by itself. How will the Saudis et al be compensated for, or otherwise prevented from extraction with the apparently reasonable assumption that fossil fuels will still have an above zero marginal price?<

  • willowfield

    Beta

    Were you aware that fossil fuels are finite?

  • Expenses

    I have to laugh at people on here for praising the SDLP. The SDLP is a joke with their minister being the biggest. Dishonest is being kind to the messer

  • dunreavynomore

    the committee has no confidence in the minister and i have no confidence in either the minister or the committee though i got a laugh from hearing s. f. condemn a unionist for not following british government instructions. a plague on the whole bloody lot of them (an environmentally friendly plague, of course.)

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Expenses,

    Slow day at Connolly House?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Well done to the SDLP for bringing this motion forward.

    Motions like this are silly stunts.

    Can anyone explain why the Aliance Party abstsained?

    Probably because it is/was a silly stunt.

    Personally, while I don’t agree with most of Sammy Wilson’s politics, or his general attitude to climate change, I do agree with his reasons for blocking the advertisement, and I also have some degree of appreciation for Executive ministers who have their own mind rather than sheepishly regurgitating what their civil servants put on their desk.

  • fin

    “i got a laugh from hearing s. f. condemn a unionist for not following british government instructions”

    saving energy is a british govt. instruction?

  • Comrade Stalin

    saving energy is a british govt. instruction?

    No, running a pointless ad was the British government instruction.

  • KD

    Well over 1000 people have signed the Green Party’s FIRE SAMMY WILSON on-line petition in 48 hours.
    Go t: http://www.greenpartyni.org and read the comments.

    The comments show a clear rejection of Sammy Wilson.

    The Minister failed to appear on the BBC’s Hearts & Minds tonight. Sammy never misses an opportunity to appear on TV. But it’s clear his days are numbered. He has made N.I. look stupid on the international stage.

    The Greens European election candidate for NI Steven Agnew has raised the issue in Europe and it will be debated in the EU Parliament next week.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Comrade Stalin,

    “ministers who have their own mind ”

    Hardly. The boul Sammy belongs to a party that group-thinks in 17th Century politics terms – Anti-gay, anti-Catholic and anti-Science and now anti-global warming.

  • joeCanuck

    So what exactly am I going to get

    Beta,
    You are probably going to do just fine in your lifetime (maybe). But are you thinking of having a family if you don’t have one already? Or ever think about grandchildren?
    I’m gonna be just fine, being an oul geezer. But I have a son and a grandson and I don’t want to take chances.

  • Fergal

    The man is a ego-maniac, if someone could suggest just one constructive thing this guy has done for society, i’ll be shocked.

  • iluvni

    As a result of their complaining about Sammy Wilson, I thought I’d have a wee read of the Green Party’s Environment Policy.

    http://www.greenpartyni.org/pdfs/environment.pdf

    I must say, is that it?
    Pathetic.

  • Rapunsel

    What’s so wrong with the SDLP playing gesture politics when that’s the business they’re all in? I don’t think it a pointles stunt at all. Sammy has not caught the public mood on this one. To me just another example of how poor a minister he is. I thought policy making in the NICS was all supposed to be evidence based, Sammy in all of decision making seems to want to ignore the evidence and do what he can with his eye firmly fixed on his own self promotion and image. Whilst this may all bring a bit of colour to an other wise dull dour assembly, I think we need ministers who will engage in other than silly stunts. How much time has the man spent in the last week opinining about snow closing schools and micromanaging this ad business?

  • aquifer

    Sammy is very effectively putting a case for ‘I don’t need to change anything I do’, and this is a very attractive message for many people, many older protestants, for whom local political economic and social change is likely to mean a continuing loss of their relative power and position. They may be getting generous retirement packages, but they are out of a job and out of the loop.

    Saying ‘No’ to change may seem like a demonstration of power, but it also suggests that change is happening beyond DUP control. It may even be an invitation to martyrdom, which can be a function of firm principle, manic egotism, or plain stupidity.

    The rest of the UK has not only decided that we will conduct our local political affairs on the basis of equality, but that we need to accept our global responsibilities and behave accordingly.

    With climate change, over time Sammy is likely to be made to look ridiculous. No loss. The DUP have no principles or political payload other than some fundamentalist quirks and sectarian favouritism. For the DUP, the political and emotional union with Britain is over, and they are headed for a very strange place somewhere to the right of Alabama.

    Its all a bit of a laugh really, much funnier than beating civil rights protestors over the head.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy:

    Hardly. The boul Sammy belongs to a party that group-thinks in 17th Century politics terms – Anti-gay, anti-Catholic and anti-Science and now anti-global warming.

    Which is nothing to do with the point I made.

    Many of our executive ministers, with some notable exceptions, have no original thoughts of their own and they regurgitate what they’re told. That’s why the Programme for Government was so pathetically boring. About the only policy the executive has managed to come up with which is original is the one about not having water charges. And even then that particular one flies in the face of economic reality.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Rapunsel:

    What’s so wrong with the SDLP playing gesture politics when that’s the business they’re all in? I don’t think it a pointles stunt at all.

    Well, elighten us by telling us what the point was, then ?

    Sammy has not caught the public mood on this one. To me just another example of how poor a minister he is.

    I don’t think Sammy has been a minister long enough for us to decide whether he is a good or a bad minister. The executive has barely been functioning a few months and you’re claiming this on the back of one public bluster.

    I thought policy making in the NICS was all supposed to be evidence based, Sammy in all of decision making seems to want to ignore the evidence and do what he can with his eye firmly fixed on his own self promotion and image.

    What policies has he put forward which run against the evidence ? His decision not to run the advertisement does seem to be evidence based, because there is fuck all evidence that turning off devices on standby will make any measurable difference to our carbon emissions or energy consumption.

    Whilst this may all bring a bit of colour to an other wise dull dour assembly, I think we need ministers who will engage in other than silly stunts.

    And instead engage in silly stunts like the environmental committee ?

    How much time has the man spent in the last week opinining about snow closing schools and micromanaging this ad business?

    I saw one statement and one TV appearance. What did you see ?

  • Jonathan Kennedy

    Comrade, I too have my concerns about climate change hysterian, but just because the system prevents or makes highly unlikely the removal of a minister, does that mean that members and committees should not raise concerns about particular matters with such votes of confidence?

    Sammy Wilson has once again shown the lead governing party to be anti-science and out of touch with yet another issue, and I’m pleased to note that the radio station at my alma mater, Queen’s, will be playing an audio version of the ad on the hour every day next week, the only licensed broadcaster here prepared to defy the ban.

  • cynic

    I just read the minutes of that meeting. I challenge you to do the same.

    What a complete waste of time and money. The matters discussed would be far better dealt with by a Junior Executive Offer Grade 3/d in the Department than dragged in front of this mob and for what?

    There was nothing strategic or of interest. There was nothing about the Committee holding the Executive to account. There doesn’t even seem to have been much debate

    They seem, to swan in say aye or nay and collect their allowances on the way out the door.

    Is this democracy? What’s it all for?

  • Brendan,belfast

    Conall, why did David Ford abstain?

    Maybe he didn’t want to upset his DUP pals lest it upset his desire to gain Ministerial office?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Jonathan:

    Comrade, I too have my concerns about climate change hysterian, but just because the system prevents or makes highly unlikely the removal of a minister, does that mean that members and committees should not raise concerns about particular matters with such votes of confidence?

    I don’t think it was appropriate for the committee to make an issue out of comments made by a Minister in the process of expressing a personal opinion (rather than making a policy), and in specific terms, the Minister was in his remit and acted quite correctly to stop the public purse being used to fund the screening of this silly advert.

    There are more serious things to be worried about. I find it just as ridiculous that the committee chose to make an issue here, as I find it ridiculous that the minister made a big deal out of it in the first place. The economy is crashing down around us and they’re squabbling over bullshit like this. I am glad David Ford chose to take no part in it.

    Sammy Wilson has once again shown the lead governing party to be anti-science and out of touch with yet another issue,

    If only it were true that the DUP were out of touch. Sadly, people keep voting them in.

    and I’m pleased to note that the radio station at my alma mater, Queen’s, will be playing an audio version of the ad on the hour every day next week, the only licensed broadcaster here prepared to defy the ban.

    What “ban” ? There is no “ban”. There is a refusal to spend public money running an advert – that is very different. If someone wants to come up with the money to run the ad, they can go right ahead.

    Conall, why did David Ford abstain?

    Maybe he didn’t want to upset his DUP pals lest it upset his desire to gain Ministerial office?

    I’m glad people are finally realizing that Sinn Fein are too scared to use their veto.

  • Pete Baker

    Comrade

    “the Minister was in his remit and acted quite correctly to stop the public purse being used to fund the screening of this silly advert.”

    The reported attempt by the Minister to negotiate, with the UK Department responsible for the ad, a version everyone could be happy with would indicate that your complaint about the ad was not the reason for the Minister’s refusal to allow it to be screened.

    Indeed, that attempted negotiation suggests that if only they hadn’t mentioned CO2..

    The Scottish Executive already have a campaign.

    Where’s Sammy’s?

  • Sammy Morse

    the only licensed broadcaster here prepared to defy the ban

    Fer feck’s sake, it’s not a ban. If UTV want to donate some air time to running the ad, they can. So could Cool FM, U105, etc., etc. Not sure about the BBC. But they do take non-commerical advertising in the public interest. Except when it’s about Gaza.

    People in Our Wee Statelet really do need to get a sense of perspective sometimes.

  • LURIG

    Sammy Wilson has lost ALL credibility as Environment minister because international News organisations and media are making a joke of this AND the fact that he actually holds such a government post. It’s one thing making jokey comments from the back benches but when it comes across as OFFICIAL Stormont policy it’s like something from the Salem Witch Trials. He has to go now. His Committee have passed a vote of NO confidence and if he doesn’t step down he should be sacked. The puzzling thing to many however is WHY David Forde abstained? Does Alliance and he agree with Sammy’s Flat Earth and Moon Made Of Cheese views? Alliance, and many of those who defend them so vehemently on Slugger, NEED to answer this one.

  • Mack

    I have no doubt that Sammy won’t lose any sleep over the committee’s vote of no confidence. It is down to the leader of his party to decide when he changes his ministerial team and the committee can do absolutely nothing about it. It would have made more sense if the SDLP and the UUP joined together with the DUP on the Education committee and put a vote of no confidence in the Education minister as she is the one without out any ability. to be fair to Sammy, at least he has a brian to allow him to have an opinion based on facts.

    THe reality is if the rate payers of Northern Ireland want an extra tax from Government then accept everything you are told that man is totally to blame for climate change. If not then consider the alternatives that won’t affect your pockets.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Comrade Stalin

    if you are going to inappropriately praise the boul Sammy with

    “and I also have some degree of appreciation for Executive ministers who have their own mind”

    then it is reasonable to acquaint you with the fact that most of what informs the boul Sammy’s own mind is based on 17th Centrury Group think.

  • I have no doubt that Sammy won’t lose any sleep over the committee’s vote of no confidence.

    The more intelligent members of his party might, though.

    If the DUP defies the committee’s vote (as it seems they will) it makes it extremely hard to use any future Committee no-confidence vote to put pressure on a Minister that they dislike – Caitriona Ruane, for example.

  • Expenses

    1967-

    Slow day at connolly house. I love it when people guess and fail who the other is. Wally

  • dundela1

    Why do we let our we all ways end up the laughing stock of the UK?

  • Comrade Stalin

    then it is reasonable to acquaint you with the fact that most of what informs the boul Sammy’s own mind is based on 17th Centrury Group think.

    I don’t care what informs his own mind, at least he has one. That doesn’t mean that I agree with any of his policies or views.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Lurig:

    He has to go now. His Committee have passed a vote of NO confidence and if he doesn’t step down he should be sacked.

    Fuck’s sake get a grip. You’re talking as if he denied the halocaust.

    He merely has a different opinion on global warming. I do not agree with his opinion, but I don’t believe it effects his ability to carry out his job. At the end of the day he is charged by his party leader with implementing DUP policy and if he doesn’t do that, it’s a matter for his party leader to deal with. The collective responsibility of the Executive keeps a lid on the rest. This really is a storm in a teacup.

    The whole farce is hypocritical. The Programme for Government is completely devoid of any serious measures to promote environmental protection or energy conservation in Northern Ireland. As usual some people don’t bother asking questions about why that is, and instead choose to channel the outrage put in your mouth by talking heads in the media.

    The puzzling thing to many however is WHY David Forde abstained?

    I don’t know, but probably because he did not want to participate in what was a transparently politically-inspired farce.

    Does Alliance and he agree with Sammy’s Flat Earth and Moon Made Of Cheese views?

    So now it’s a witch hunt, and anybody who does not agree to the Official View must be one of the enemy. Kill them!

    For the record, Alliance does not agree with Sammy’s views. For example, one of Alliance’s manifesto commitments was to establish an Environmental Protection Agency. Sammy opposed that.

    Alliance, and many of those who defend them so vehemently on Slugger, NEED to answer this one.

    I can’t speak officially for Alliance. If you read Hansard you can see that Alliance rather consistently argues against Sammy’s views on the environment, and the DUP/NI Executive in general oppose Alliance proposals for things like the EPA, or for stimulus measures to create a green economy, etc.

  • Wub Webmadge

    “the fact that most buck eedjits know that if you turn off your lights you save lecky and money”

    except if they are the new energy efficient bulbs which are designed to be turned on and off just once in the day.