“Run like a huckster’s shop”

That’s the Northern Ireland Minister for Employment and Learning the UUP’s Reg Empey’s verdict on the dysfunctional NI Executive. [So what’s the alternative? – Ed]. His comments came after the NI Finance Minister, the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, blamed the two UUP members of the Executive for his deferral of a scheduled statement in the Assembly on the June budget monitoring round – a written statement is expected later in the summer. According to Reg Empey that decision was made because he only received the complicated 30 page document on the monitoring round 90 minutes prior to the Executive meeting where it was to be discussed, along with another 100 page document. It is also reported that the meeting of ministers’ representatives, which used to take place a week prior to the Executive meeting, no longer occurs. No doubt the semi-detached polit-bureau still meets on a regular basis.. Adds Why haven’t BBC NI reported their own story online? Update Five hours later, the BBC online report.And from Hansard

The Minister for Employment and Learning (Sir Reg Empey): Can I make a point of order?

Mr Speaker: Yes, certainly.

12.15 pm

Sir Reg Empey: When I was sitting upstairs a few moments ago, I heard the Minister of Finance and Personnel refer to the absence of a statement today. I ask the Minister to reconsider what he said. I did not ask for the matter to be deferred. The papers were late and were delivered only an hour or so before the meeting. I said that I was not taking any view on them: I did not ask for them to be deferred. However, why should they be served up to me and the rest of the Executive at such stupid notice?

Mr Speaker: I want to make it clear that the House should not get involved in how the Executive do their business. Let us move on.

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  • William

    I can’t think of a better indictment of the current Sinn Fein / DUP carve-up at Stormont and likewise the Stalinist regime of Brown at Westminster, than the speech on the Dissolution of the Long Parliament by Oliver Cromwell given to the House of Commons on the 20 April 1653, when he said,

    ‘It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money’.

  • frustrated democrat

    Can anyone think of a better reason for a funded opposition than this. The UUP and SDLP are completely ignored and treated as the serfs but have to accept it, as if they leave they lose the funding for their parties.

    The whole thing has become a joke and a shabby clandestine affair between the DUP and SF. This is portrayed as a stand off when in reality it is a red hot love in carried out under the cover of the silk white sheets of a supposed 4 party executive.

    And the DUP can’t understand why Allister took their votes, there are none so blind…

  • danielmoran

    William….. too right. it is time the n.i.o. anbd dublin faced reality and closed this glorified parish council down for good. How can anyone have any respect for an administration, in which portfolios which might cause unpopularity are left with the govt. in westminster. a dereliction of responsibility.
    But i believe it’s academic now because i don’t see how robbo can hope to fight for westminster seats while in his present post. He’ll have no option but to find a pretext for bringing the whole thing crashing down, just as Trimble used the opportunity of the stormont spy case, to crash the previous assembly, just in time for the 2005 westminster election campaign.
    Even that won’t work, but that has never stopped unionists before.

  • GavBelfast

    Credit to Sir Reg for telling this as it is.

    Now, what can and what will he (and SDLP – and Alliance for that matter) do about it?

  • danielmoran

    frustrated democrat msg 2
    we are told that the reason the duppers were accused of betrayal by their voters base, was for going into powersharing with sinn fein, i could suggest an alternative theory.
    in 1974, unionists who are mostly in the dup now refused to share power with the sdlp, and used the figleaf of the toothless ‘council of ireland’ quango, rather than admit the true reason, because they didn’t want catholics in stormont [this, they knew was not politic, so they needed the figleaf.
    Now the dup base are using the figleaf of the shinners in bed with paisley, but they are really angry with paisley for showing them up for decades, while letting them think he was against catholics. Now, there left high and dry with nothing to show for nearly fifty years of blind faith in him. that the real bug they have with their former idol. Of course, it’s not politic to admit that either,.

  • With Gav on this one. UUP/SDLP have choice of leaving it to DUP/SF and becoming effective opposition (perhaps). But opposition is also about being a potential alternative government – and how do the UUP Tories square it with the SDLP Social Democrat (to the left /sort of) circle.

  • frustrated democrat

    I have no problem with the DUP working with SF, I think they should, but they should not pretend to be doing one thing when actually they are doing the exact opposite.

    They then compound this in partnership with SF by excluding the UUP and the SDLP.

    The UUP and SDLP are largely in agreement on many things (leaving aside the UI issue) and represent the middle ground and I can see them forming a very strong opposition on education and the economy if they were funded.

  • BonarLaw

    “The UUP and SDLP are largely in agreement on many things”

    Eh? One is a right-of-centre pseudo Tory group whilst the other is a left-of-centre grouping of pseudo socialists.

    Arguably the biggest fu*k-up of the current administration is education. What then of the UUP/ SDLP love-in? One supports selection the other comprehensives. What about P&J? Does anyone know why the UUP don’t support transfer? Will the SDLP demand devolution regardless of the financial settlement on offer?

    Anyone who thinks that the UUP and the SDLP represent some happy middle ground are, frankly, delusional. From the Talks in ’96-’98 to the car crash that was Trimble/ Mallon

  • One can critizise this utterly ridiculous institutional setup without necessarily having an alternative.

    Is a restaurant critic obliged to open their own restaurant? Put up or shut up, like!

    Reg is right. It’s a bloody mess.

  • Frustrated democrat

    You will notice I said many things not all things They have enough in common to be an effective opposition.

    As far as I know the UUP do not oppose the tranfer of P&J just question as to whether or not the current state of play between the DUP and SF is stable enough to aloow it to function any better than, say, education.

    I think the cuurent leaderships could work well together, let us be honest few could work with Trimble.

  • Frustrated Democrat:

    I quite agree. The UUP and the SDLP are centrists, if anything. Personally I don’t discern any philosophy/ideology one way or the other.

    The SDLP were never a socialist party, to say so is ridiculous. The name is so bloody long because of the mish-mash of folks invoved in the civil rights campaign. But the John Humes of the party made sure the Paddy Devlins were marginalised.


  • Dave

    “Can anyone think of a better reason for a funded opposition than this.” – frustrated democrat

    That’s quite a leap of logic. The problem in this example is easily solved by establishing a protocol which ensures that Reg and ilk have more than “90 minutes” to discuss complicated documents prior to debating them. That doesn’t require any changes to the present system more drastic than simple tweaking with protocols.

  • Bisto

    “very strong opposition on education”

    This would be the SDLP who oppose Academic Selection and the UUP who support it? Some logic there.

    Then again, I suppose the Tories dont really know what their view is on academic selection, their leader having been educated at one of the most expensive fee-paying schools in the Kingdom, one shouldn’t be surprised they would be happy to see a proliferation of the same emerging here.

  • Bisto

    Incidentally, Reg would be in an ideal place to know what a failing huxter shop looks like….

  • Big Maggie


    “the Stalinist regime of Brown at Westminster”

    LOL. I’ve no love for Brown but Stalinist?! Where’s he hiding the gulags, in the Highlands?

    We ought to invent an equivalent to Godwin’s Law to cover gratuitous comparisons with dictatorial Russia. “Maggie’s Law” has a nice ring to it :^)

  • Observer

    Digressing slightly. Can anyone tell me what the point is of all those MLA’s? The Speaker has let the cat out of the bag by saying that the House should not get involved in how the Executive does its business. Why the feck not? Are they all happy to sit up there all day long and play on their computers while trying to fool the country that they actually help run this place?

  • observer

    Sorry! Our computers!!!!

  • the joxer

    I think comparing the Assembly with a Huckster’s shop is grossly unfair-on Hucksters.

    Yer bog-standard Huckster’s shop, such as those in the old Smithfield, were renowned for turning over a tidy profit from poor enough resources. Not something our Assembly can match even with the vast subvention Bill.

    Pity there aren’t any Huckster’s shops left in the city centre or we could have sent our politicos down on Job Training. Then again, there’s a few units coming vacant in the Victoria Centre…

  • Expenses111

    Why do SDLP and UUP continue to criticise the Executive in which they are a part? If they cant take the heat they shouldnt be in the kitchen

  • GavBelfast

    Yes, they should exit, for their comntinued flimsy role in the executive merely props it up and gives cover to the incompetent, do nothing Sinners-Swish regime.

  • brendan,belfast

    If it is accurate that the MRC (Ministerial Representatives Committee) no longer meets in advance of the Executive meetings, that is indeed a sad indictment on the workings of the Executive.

    In the last run of the Executive – up to October 02 – this was the forum for sorting out exactly the issue Reg has raised today.

    Do the DUP and SF Ministerial reps meet in isolation from the others?

  • Cynic

    Isn’t it strange too how the DUPs run Stormont like a Huckster’s shop but seem quite adept when it comes to making a profit on a constituency office or submitting expense claims.

  • Cynic

    ” the House should not get involved in how the Executive do their business”

    Heaven forfend that we should even ask! The reality might be too painful