“Lots of it is on the “motherhood and apple pie” level.”

The BBC report tells us that

The NI first and deputy first ministers have published their proposals for tackling sectarianism, racism and hate.

That would be the long-awaited Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration.  And from what I can glean from the consultation document [pdf file] they propose to form a committee “Panel”.

As Mark Devenport says about the document

Lots of it is on the “motherhood and apple pie” level. It’s good to hear that the First and Deputy First will not tolerate “any form of hate crime or intimidation”. But frankly it would have been shocking if they had declared anything else.

Nothing could be more relevant than their pledge to address “the issues for disaffected young people”, but aspiring to reach out to the alienated youth living at interfaces is one thing. Achieving it is another.

As long as the Alliance Party are happy…

Adds  But are the Alliance Party happy?  From the updated BBC report

Alliance Party assembly member Stephen Farry welcomed the consultation decision.

Mr Farry said: “While doing so, we also recognise that it remains deficient and flawed in a number of respects.

“These include the clarity of the vision and direction for Northern Ireland, the economic and financial dimensions, resourcing and delivery mechanisms, targets and timetables.”

That’s quite a comprehensive list…

, , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Damian O’Loan

    It should be remembered that OFMdFM comprises four Ministers, plus special advisors and an enormous civil service staff. Given that the vast majority of these 77 pages form a review of action ongoing and existing PfG policy (the other half of the department’s remit), this offers terrible value for money. After three/five/… years, even this is rushed out, editing mistakes unchecked.

    The losers are Sinn Féin & Alliance, the rest are spectators. This completely calls Alliance’s bluff on their ultimatum – a strategy in name only, not even dressed up to look serious.

    There is something which appears like an apology for IRA violence:

    “Now, as in the past, some young people have made flawed judgements about their futures and have taken, or been led down, paths that they might not have taken had they grown up in a society free from conflict. Often, these flawed judgements can result in engagement in civil disturbances, antisocial behaviour or interface violence. We want to help prevent our young people at risk from becoming disaffected”

    So no nuance between civil rights action and civil disturbance, and complete control over both in the shape of the Assemblies/¨Parades legislation.

    No nuance between peaceful and violent protestors.

    It should be noted that while its defense policy places the British government in a state of permanent war with its own citizens, SF is here accepting to sacrifice a peaceful, political approach to unity and to implement unreasonable restrictions on civil liberties.

    As for the failure to discuss the effects of segregated education, it’s typical of the vapidity that constitutes almost all this document. With a few quite notable exceptions.

  • SDLP Man

    Hard to believe that this is a document which we have waited up to nine years for. A flaccid, inoffensive document with very little or nothing in the way of numbers, targets and timetables.

    What sanctions, for example, on Belfast City Council which persists in building ‘Prod’ and ‘Taig’ leisure centres and other unnecessarily duplicated services?
    What legislation is proposed for the paramilitary gobshites who pollute shared space areas like the Lisburn Road with their “national flags” etc and who show that they don’t even know to to properly respect the Union flag?
    Who is going to take down the loyalist paramilitary flags in East Belfast and other areas? Certainly won’t be Conor Murphy and DRD. No sirree.

  • Hard hat

    (Cue up your arguments for segregation now, here I go)………
    Post GFA, year after year we have continued to allow a new wave of 4-year-old youngsters embark on a journey of segregation. Some will be in their late teens before they encounter environments of any diversity. By then, attitudes have been formed and hardened at school, at home, in their segregated communities. They are more likely to believe most of the things that everyone in their own sphere believes……and with absolutely no reason to doubt what they are fed, the cycle of distrust continues. Shouldn’t we be looking to make integrated schools the mainstream option, with segregation still freely available if necessary but on an opt-out basis? Let those who wish to opt out to segregation have to justify the provision of this service in their area, just as integrated schools have had to justify their existence beforehand. Over time, in conjunction with an effective wider programme, surely this can only pull the rug out from under the feet of the propagandists and agitators who rely on the distance between the traditions to keep the fires burning? On perhaps we don’t want to give our children grounds for challenging what parents want them to believe (i.e. thinking for themselves?) Do the churches fear the threat of disruption of their stable feed of parishioners to their pews, or the politicians fear that they might have to work for votes instead of their usually guaranteed electoral base?


    We have turned the corner, the future is
    for all of us to share, but sadly some of us
    haven’t wised up, so Marty and I are
    going to lead you into the promised land.

    So all of youse with issues, young ‘uns, ethnics,
    youse living next to ethnics, interface bollix,
    are not to be tolerated (not forgetting rural bucollix).
    We have goals, shared spaces and services for ye.

    Government has spoken, Executive has stamped
    Department will be mobilised, You will be included.
    Global challenges e.g. pandemic flu, AIDS, poverty,
    nuclear proliferation, deadlocked trade negotiations
    will be put into perspective by the Department

    Rt Hon Peter D. Robinson MLA
    First Minister

    Martin McGuinness MP MLA
    Deputy First Minister

  • fair_deal

    So it’s the same as the last one then.

  • joeCanuck

    I plodded my way through it; couldn’t stand it all in one go. It’s exactly as described by Pete (?); motherhood and apple pie with a few waffles thrown in for good measure. We are being led my first class idiots. Shame on us.

  • Cynic

    “any form of hate crime or intimidation”

    Except in the Executive?

    Has anyone told Catriona?

  • aquifer

    Sinn Fein fell at the first fence with their previous strategy for sectarian ‘separate but equal’ development.

    Republicans pah

    DUP proddie separatists, fit only to add a Border at the Bann to match the one at Aldergrove.

    This Assembly needs an enema.

  • Granni Trixie

    I was shocked to read recently that gov. has taken away DENI funding for community relations work with youth and chilren in schools. Seems to me this is a sign that in the current economic climate, sectarianism and community relations work will not be resourced bedcause it is not a priority.

    So we can either give up or work on what we have before us as Alliance seems to be doing on this problem.
    The document may be all Pete and Masrk Davenport claims but at least it makes space for discussion leading to action.

  • I should imagine that this ‘programme’ will continue to be ranked a low priority. Unionists and Nationalists will be devoting most of their energies into events commemorating 1912 or 1916 or 1921.

  • mickles

    The proposal from the brothers grim warrants the following response:

    How about this for a proposal:

    Murals/flags featuring pictures of / or glorifying paramilitaries, basilcally anything with pictures of men in balaclavas = ALL GONE

    Marches/Protest Marches shall feature no paramilitary element in terms of flags or supporters attending, under penalty of fines for the organizers.

    Any elected offical who publically spouts hate speak concerning religion, nationality, race, disability, gender or sexuality is immediately fired.

    Make all schools co-ed, single religion schools in this part of the world are a really, really bad idea.

    Do all those things and we all win.

  • Rory Carr

    Isn’t it nice to be nice?

    Now that we have that nice man with the nice neat beard in the justice ministry can’t we just have a law enacted that requires evryone to be nice – or else !

    Now, wouldn’t that be nice?

  • Neil

    Any elected offical who publically spouts hate speak concerning religion, nationality, race, disability, gender or sexuality is immediately fired

    It’s a nice thought but not very democratic. People are entitled to be arseholes, and be represented by arseholes should they so wish.

  • Greenflag

    Neil ,

    ‘People are entitled to be arseholes’

    No they’re not . People are entitled to an arsehole at birth -its supplied along with the rest of the bodily equipment , organs etc etc .

    In the strict biological sense an ‘arsehole ‘ cannot be elected as by itself an ‘arsehole’ is not a person but merely a part of a person 😉

    Democracy means one man/woman /transgender (over 18 ) one vote . It does not mean one arsehole one vote even if one sometimes might think so -based purely on a results analysis ;)?

  • ThomasMourne

    It’s marvellous how a person leading a sectarian political party, justifying a blood-stained past, can advise the rest of us on a glorious non-sectarian loving future, with the backing of another party leader who, until recently, was happy to enrich himself by toadying up to the Ulster champion of sectarian hatred.

  • SDLP Man

    Got to agree that there has to be substantial movement towards aligning/integrating the Catholic and state system. I’m an observant Catholic, and my own children had a decent education in the Catholic system, but a lot of the talk about “maintaining a Catholic ethos” etc. is poppycock. Values are imparted from the home rather than the school.

    I had this out with the late Fr. Denis Faul, a Catholic headmaster, years ago. I pointed out that in terms of values and attitudes to violence a lot of young Catholics (and some clergy) esteemed allegiance to Irish physical force nationalism more than adherence to Church teaching about the morality of the use of violence for political purposes.

    Witness the demonisation by the Provos of the late Cardinal Daly for what he so brilliantly said about the use of violence to achieve political ends.

    Bishop Donal McKeown hinted at something recently himself when he said that a lot of young people were coming out of Catholic schools catechised but not evangelised. I take from what he was saying that they had studied RE to GCSE or A Level, and had learnt all the theory, but many of them had never really internalised Catholic/Christian values and applied them in their working lives. I exclude those who have explicitly rejected such values, which they have the right to do.

    I think there needs to be some honesty about the faith practice of families whose kids attend Catholic schools. I was educated at a “prestigious” Belfast Catholic grammar school but any Catholicism I retained was in spite of it and not because of it and I encountered a lot of sheer mean-spiritedness. Think Brian Moore, Bernard McLaverty and Robert McLiam Wilson (where did he go, BTW?).

    Also, for a lot of Catholic teachers who defend the system it’s about maintaining their jobs and possibly well-justified fear that they would not get a fair chance in the state system when it came to promotion rather than a real belief in Catholic values.

    Some of the teachers I know are non-practising Catholics, so it does raise the question as to how they can impart Catholic values with integrity.

    I would defend the retention of the Catholic education system for those who are committed to their faith, but there has to be more integration/realignment consistent with reatining primacy of parental choice.

    A lot of Catholic background parents are already picking and mixing in terms of education. In my part of South Belfast they are sending their children to the excellent if maybe a bit hot-housey Catholic primaries and then choosing between Rathmore, Aquinas, RBAI, Victoria College and Methodist College for second level. And, it just isn’t the non-practising parents who send their children to the latter schools.

    And, yes, just in case anyone raises it, I’m totally opposed to academic selection at age eleven.

    I don’t know a lot about it, and I’m sure someone on Slugger will know, but I’ve heard that the Scottish education system has integrated the state and Catholic schools to a degree.

    CSI actions could include action against the glorification of paramilitarism referred to by one of the contributors-and that could extend to:

    -on the “republican” side, Easter Commemorations, Edentubber Martyrs, Ogra Shinn Fein and the like

    -on the “loyalist” side, the pretence of commemorating the 1912 UVF rather than the Gusty Spence crowd and (what will be particularly intense in the run-up to 2012), the glorification of the Larne Gun-running etc, which, by any objective view, was treason against the British Crown.

    That aside, the biggest issue in this society is the spatial segregation in non-middle class areas.

    That is why I so admire Margaret Ritchie as Social Development Minister for setting quantifiable, specific targets for integrated public sector housing.

  • joeCanuck

    “..form a committee..”
    Why does that remind me of The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club?

  • Pete Baker

    Adds But are the Alliance Party happy? From the updated BBC report

    Alliance Party assembly member Stephen Farry welcomed the consultation decision.

    Mr Farry said: “While doing so, we also recognise that it remains deficient and flawed in a number of respects.

    “These include the clarity of the vision and direction for Northern Ireland, the economic and financial dimensions, resourcing and delivery mechanisms, targets and timetables.”

    That’s quite a comprehensive list…

  • Damian O’Loan

    If I just lazily link to the original PR:


    you’ll see that, despite the extract chosen, he fallls a long way short of saying that it couldn’t go ahead on the current basis. He also says:

    “Alliance welcomed the initial political agreement between the DUP and Sinn Fein in February within the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister. This was the first time that the two lead partners in devolved government had agreed even on the outline of a “Made in Northern Ireland” policy.”

    and finishes:

    “It is now important that the people of Northern Ireland have the opportunity to have their say, and it will then be incumbent upon the Executive and the Assembly to reflect upon these views and to make the necessary adjustments and improvements to the new strategy”

    Nothing further, except perhaps a PR today on demand for integrated education, indicating acceptance of the DoJ-led kids enquiry bone that was thrown Ford’s way. Which appears to be enough to accept exclusion from the process thereafter.

    Which will be empty except that it is ‘community-led’, and the right to decide who that community is remains solely the gift of the SF-DUP axis. Anyone who thinks this isn’t top-down decision making need only look at the organograms on the last few pages. Great deal Alliance.

  • What did anyone expect? a revolutionary plan that would sweep away the past and transport us all to the land beyond the rose coloured glasses? Oh dear…

    Mind you reading it was hard work. I wonder if they knew it would be.

  • Granni Trixie

    Rory Carr: well, I for one admire DF. A man of guts and intelligence. You “accuse” him of being ‘nice’ – would that be because he has no exciting history of violence then? Would that be because he is a conviction politician with vision?

    The easy thing would be to give up on persuading the Exeuctive to put sectarianism on the agenda for action. This is a long term project but in the short term it is not necessarily in a political party’s interests.

  • I suppose the thing about peace is it, compared to the alternative can seem a bit boring, compared to bombs and bullets it is. But no one ever died of peace.

    I think David Ford deserves a fair crack of the whip. He is no fool and was obviously well aware of the pitfalls when he took the job on. Why don’t we all wait and see what he makes of it.

  • unionistvoter

    To use an OFMDFM phrase it has “Made in Ulster” stamped all over it.