Ritchie on the ‘stuck’ Executive…

SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie says the NI assembly continues to be ‘dysfunctional.’ In a blistering attack on incomplete projects in the term just ended the South Down MP predicts the Executive’s performance will worsen under the weight of further cuts.

These are the key areas of ‘failure’ highlighted by her:

“The long and expensive process of local government has collapsed in chaos. Letters informing principals that their new building is long-fingered again are landing on mats in empty schools. Sinn Fein has set the Parades Commission up for the chop and is helping curtail civil rights of assembly.

“The DUP is blocking any hope of progress on schools transfer, leaving parents and children trapped in the mess of unregulated testing. Progress on resolving victims’ problems or moving towards a shared society amount to precisely zero.”

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  • HeinzGuderian

    Isn’t that the Shinner masterplan ?

  • Isn’t she part of that Executive? Does that not make her an element of that dysfunctionality? Would be a good statement from the ‘oppostition’ but pointless from someone inside the tent…..

  • hoboroad

    Now Maggie feels free to speak out against the Executive once she has left it. What has the Swearing Devotion to Lizzie Party ever achieved at Westminister?

  • VI Lurgan

    Isn’t it now time that the SDLP, UUP and others sought to establish a credible Opposition will the Cross-Community consenus nature of the Assembly continued under DUPand SF. Or do they not want to give upthe ‘power’ for better governance.

  • Eamonn,

    Perhaps you could stir things up a bit and enliven greater debate, with the reporting of the Norther Ireland Assembly and Executive take on the following, which is surely to be asked of its counterpart across the water.

    “Aren’t MPs also civil servants in that they supposedly work for public benefit, not personal gain and are paid not by profits, not by performance but by money raised by taxes? So why aren’t MP’s payoffs being cut?” ….. littleglimmer

    Clarification on that very point, to ensure that MPs are treated exactly the same as civil servants, would be most welcome and probably vital if the proposal is to succeed and be accepted.

    A little something for the Independent to pursue with some vigour and enthusiasm, perhaps, rather than leaving its readers and supporters in the dark and wondering about such a matter?

    All it takes is a question or two of the government and/or Parliament, and their reply would be most interesting, as would any information on any reluctance or refusal to reply with a definitive statement for clarification.


  • Greenflag

    Why would the NI Assembly not be ‘dysfunctional ‘ ?. The NI State in it’s present 6 county form is dysfunctional per se – in that it’s seen as temporary by one half of the coalition government and permanent by the other half .

    If the SDLP want to form an official opposition let them do so and if they can cajole the UUP and AP to join them then that might have an impact ?

    What would such an opposition be called ?


    On second thoughts perhaps UCUNF was already a bridge too far ;)?

  • MonkdeWallydeHonk


    Well said. Ritchie seemed quite happy to take her pay packet as a “minister” in the dysfunctional executive. As I recall. she wasn’t particularly effective either.

    Never mind, now she is over at Westminster I’m sure that she’ll use this much vaunted (by her) SDLP influence to great effect.

  • hoboroad

    And Mark Durkan is not the first in his family to swear an oath to the English crown. His father was a RUC officer.

  • Alias

    This confirms that the Executive is dysfunctional. As the ‘coalition’ is mandatory, she cannot be dismissed from it for undermining public trust in it and neither does she have any obligation to follow her own logic and resign from maladministration by a body that she regards as dysfunctional and which she has no authority to correct to even try to correct.

  • Alias

    And at a time when it was 100% unionist according to his own party’s grandees.

  • She has, of course, already left the Executive. But her Party retains its Minister.

    It is all very well pointing out the obvious (while of course blaming everyone else) but what does she propose to DO about it? Pointless statement.

  • How very pathetic that the old tribalism which inflames and sustains the primitive natives in this part of the Earth is still alive and well and kicking against progressive inclusive change.

    Methinks that is down to a definite lack of intelligence and vision and a traumatic sublime programming due to decades of mindless sectarian conflict which appears to spawned whole generations of less than well enough gifted little robots unable to hold and form/phorm an original thought of their own and share it eloquently. All of which makes them easy prey for simple exploitation ….. which if the dysfunctional Executive could get their act together, could easily be rescued and reprogrammed to render the electorate easy prey for sublime mass re-education and enlightenment.

    And although probably best as a public service, if the intelligence is not available in the Assembly to support it, then it would probably need to be grown in the private sector, with funding being provided from the banking sector, which is awash with trillions of public funds, and none of it doing anything worthwhile.

    And how very disappointing that those who are supposed to be running things here, are not bright and savvy enough to access that unlimited stream themselves and put IT to good use and Great Beta Use.

  • Jean Meslier

    Good old self centred, daft as a brush Maggie.
    Its hard to beat getting stuck into the Sinn Feiner by the number one – Me feiner

    She must think now thats she’s outside the Executive tent that it’s ok to piss into it.

    The trouble is – she hit Alex!

  • fair_deal

    Her complaints would be credible if the SDLP weren’t a key architect of the mandatory coalition system and opposed to changing it.

  • redhugh78

    At least she blames the DUP for the transfer impasse.

  • Granni Trixie

    I had hoped that the days when it was cast up should your relative be in the police, were over – what was Patton about?.

    Put another way, what has the profession of anyone’s father got to do with them? Though not a policeman, I certainly would not like to be answerable for my da for a million reasons.

  • Granni Trixie

    I had hoped that the days when it was cast up should your relative be in the police, were over – what was Patton about?.

    Put another way, what has the profession of anyone’s father got to do with them? Though not a policeman, I certainly would not like to be answerable for my da for a million reasons.

  • hoboroad

    Granny Trixie

    You mean Patten don’t you? It was the SDLP who said the RUC was 100% Unionist. So was Mark Durkan’s father a Unionist?

  • Granni Trixie

    I think that is beside the point I make (which ofcourse you well know) namely that its unfair to make any of us answerable for our parents.

    But besides that as far as I’m concerned,as I hold a bad applies theory of the RUC there was nothing inherently ‘wrong’ in being in the police. INfact Catholic RUC people were brave in my book.

    Also, what is wrong with being a ‘unionist’ – its how its applied that makes it right or wrong. Keep up, this is the new NI where I thought we were to be free to be what we are?

  • slug

    Are you saying there is anything wrong about that?

  • hoboroad

    The RUC being 100% Unionist or Mark Durkan’s father being a Unionist?

  • slug

    The latter,

  • hoboroad

    Nothing wrong with him being a Unionist.

  • The Assembly was designed to be dysfunctional and surely Ms Ritchie spotted that some time before her move to Westminster. I mean she was a Minister.

    As for the ‘sins’ of the fathers, I have yet to hear being a Catholic policeman in a protestant force could be anything other than heroic.

  • Jean Meslier

    “..The Assembly was designed to be dysfunctional and surely Ms Ritchie spotted that some time before her move to Westminster. I mean she was a Minister..”

    Nah Pippa
    The woman Ritchie can ride two horses at once, and talk out of both sides of her mouth simultaneously.
    You could blunt a machete on her brass neck.

    As I said earlier she just couldn’t resist the temptation to piss into the Executive tent now that she’s outside. The trouble is the first person she hit was Attwood.

  • Jean Meslier

    She was improving in the run up to the GE, but it seems the urge to play the blame game was too hard to resist.

    Someone should tell her Westminster is not a promotion. (and Im one of those who think all MPs should take the oath.) I just also think it aint no big deal, and to me it seems she may think it is.

  • Alias

    I agree. And as I said, the outworking of her own logic is to resign from the Executive. If it wasn’t a mandatory coalition, that decision would be made for her by the other parties as a direct consequence of her statement. Where else would you have a member of ‘government’ confusing itself with a member of the opposition? The Executive is a synonym for dysfunction.

  • Alias

    But she hasn’t left it: she could however pull her party out of it but hasn’t. She remains in it as party leader since it is her party that is a member of it. The decision to go or stay is her decision.

  • hoboroad

    Doctor McDonnell wanted to pull the SDLP out of the Executive but he lost the leadership election.

  • SDLP Man

    Jean Meslier

    Let’s face it, you’re so suffused with hatred of anything to do with the SDLP that you would find fault with anything Margaret Ritchie said. Your nom de guerre says it all, no doubt you would like to strangle every last SDLP member.

    It’s clear that the Executive is dysfunctional and that the blame on the issues she identified rests with the DUP and Sinn Fein. Nobody has denied that she is right on the substance of the issues she identified.

    I can’t and won’t deny DUP/Sinn Fein have a democratic mandate but their detestation of each other is only exceeded by their joint determination to do down the UUP and SDLP.

    The GFA set up the Executive with the implicit obligation on participating parties to work in good faith and that clearly has not happened.

    SDLP and Alliance are the parties of power-sharing and, of course, having pioneered the idea of power-sharing when DUP were slavering outside and the Provos were blowing the place to bits, and for that reason it’s difficult to walk away from the Executive.

    I hope the time will come when the “ugly scaffolding” that Durkan referred to is gone.

    What I do predict is that this Executive will fall, not on the “big” issues but on something relatively trivial. As Albert Reynolds said about the delay over processing the Brendan Smith, “it’s the small things things that trip you up”.

    As for Hoboroad, and your obsession with oaths, what about the decades Sinn Fein swore that they would never take seats in Dail Eireann, the non-violence oath their councillors took when they had already pledged unambiguous support for the armed struggle, let alone swearing they would never enter Stormont (set up by an Act of a British Parliament, don’t you know)?

  • Driftwood

    I may have asked this before, but what does the NI Assembly DO?
    I know Westminster does stuff like tax, inflation, living standards, interest rates, economy, foreign affairs, benefits, defence, broadcasting,making laws and stuff. pffff.
    Councils do the other stuff like collect rubbish and bury people etc.
    So, what does Stormont DO? Even, what it is supposed to do, given that it hasn’t done anything, or is a ban on Hare coursing the sum of its achievements? How much is this sandpit costing?

  • Jean Meslier

    No SDLP man. Hatred dosen’t come into it for me. Although I note in your last contribution you seem to fall into the realm of double standards as you express your feelings towards SF.
    But thats fair enough. It must be tough being one of the “architects of the GFA” and having to watch the great unwashed taking up all the (Executive) table space and Maggie (Alex) squeezed in at the end.
    You’re right though. This multi-coalition wasn’t supposed to develop like this. So SDLP Man, what do you think went wrong?

    I take it that “SDLP Man” is NOT a non de plume?
    Or are you a proverbial devils advocate?

  • Neil

    They do populist stuff that everyone can agree on, like pishing money up a wall on water and prescriptions. Aside from that they provide an air of positivity to the whole situation, legitimising all our nutty politicians and give the impression that things have changed lots.

    The problem clearly lies in making any decision that could be termed difficult, like working out the differences on education, changing council boundaries where a loss of seats may happen or build a stadium of any kind, anywhere.

  • Alan N/ARDS

    I totally agree with her. The assembly is an embarrassment. Very few of our politicians (from both tribes) have done a good job. From water charges to education. From health to roads. They have been a disaster. They are a useless bunch of wasters who are making a small fortune and feathering their nests. We do not need 108 MLA’s. We do not need 10/11 departments. The cutbacks should start at Stormont. These people are in the same league as the present President of the IFA. Totally incompetant.

  • sam

    The anti-police comments in this discussion are quite disgraceful. Some contributors should be ashamed of themselves. Constable Heffron, a Gaelic speaking Catholic who was captain of the PSNI’s GAA team is presently bravely trying to rebuild his life after losing his leg in a horrific terrorist bomb attack. Our community desperately needs such heroic individuals if we are ever to overcome the evil of sectarianism. Let’s hope the younger generation follow his shining example. We should support their efforts and not denigrate them at every opportunity.

  • sam

    I completely agree.

  • Alias

    It’s actually abject nonsense to argue that a police force should not be subject to public scrutiny or criticism because one of its members suffered injury in the course of his duty.