“£9.7 billion? Well that is truly staggering…”

BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport notes a charmless and, at best, disingenuous party political response to criticism of the “motherhood and apple pie” aspirations of OFMDFM.  From the Devenport Diaries

Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson is not impressed by some of the carping she has heard from community relations types about the latest Stormont CSI strategy. She wonders “how much of that is genuine or how much of it is about protecting their own positions and funding. There are a raft of good relations quangos out there which, quite frankly, are unelected, unnecessary and ineffective. Sectarianism and intolerance are still rife in our society so I have to ask just what exactly have these organisations delivered?”

Ms Anderson goes on to warn the quangos their days might be numbered, pointing out that “in the 2008-09 financial year, a staggering £9.7 billion was spent on unelected quangos in the North. That’s around 75% of the total budget being spent on largely unaccountable organisations and clearly that cannot and should not be sustained. Sinn Féin is committed to reducing this kind of waste and to cutting the number of quangos. In the context of an agreed Executive CSI strategy, many of these good relations quangos could be redundant and should be abolished.”

Do read the whole thing.

Because, if it wasn’t disingenuous, it looks like it’s not just “the Brits [who] are too thick to tell the difference between sound social science and yet another dodgy dossier.”

And Mark’s done some further digging around those ‘staggering’ figures

Sinn Fein don’t spell out which quangos they want to chop but if you are looking at the shared future business you would have to think the NI Community Relations Council would be high on the list. So I decided to check out their budget. According to the CRC’s statement of accounts for 2008/9 they had a turnover of just over £8 million, spending £20,000 more than they received. I’m told two thirds of this money was devoted to Victims and Survivors, leaving £3.25 million for community relations.

£3.25 million. That’s about £2 per head of the population here, and compares with an estimated £2 million spent on combatting one night of rioting earlier this month. True, the Community Relations Council did have a role in distributing a further £14 million. However this wasn’t Executive cash, but funding from outside sources like Europe and the IFI.

Whichever way you look at it the CRC budget is a long way short from that rather inflated £9 billion plus figure for quangos, which includes our quasi-autonomous non-governmental hospitals.

And how was your 20th Century, Martina?

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  • Cynic

    “Sectarianism and intolerance are still rife”

    First, this is the Martina Anderson who was arrested aged 18 leaving a furniture store in Derry, and charged with possession of a firearm and causing an explosion. She was granted bail but went on the run until she was arrested in Glasgow in 1986 and charged with conspiracy to cause explosions in England.

    Didn’t she also recently complain that Catholics in NI who were foreign nationals were being counted as Catholics when they should be classified as ‘other’

    Second, if an MLA is so thick that she doesn’t immediately realise its impossible for NI Quangos to spend £9bn, then you have to ask, how is she able to monitor the work of the Executive – indeed, is she fit for purpose? Still, they could always make her Education Minister

  • Drumlin Rock

    I presume what Martina is really saying is she want to abolish the Human Rights Commission, the Children’s Commission, the Equality Commission, and eventually the Victims Commission, right?

  • Damian O’Loan

    “Second, if an MLA is so thick that she doesn’t immediately realise its impossible for NI Quangos to spend £9bn, then you have to ask, how is she able to monitor the work of the Executive”

    Her specific oversight Committee role being of OFMdFM. Farry, who issued the Alliance response, is deputy chair of that Committee. McCarthy oversees Culture. Acceptance of this figure is either gross incompetence or manipulation.

  • William Markfelt

    Motherhood and apple pie?

    As well as having to contend with Gaelige and Ulster-Scots (if one wishes to discuss wasting vast amounts of money to deliver little) it now appears we’re going to have to appoint someone to the Assembly to translate trite, meaningless Americanisms.

    Even the ‘Ulsterisation’ of the phrase, something involving ‘tattie bread’ perhaps, would have been preferable.

    One slight problem is that the good people of NI have another understanding of ”tattie bread’, and I suspect that most of them have that sort of aspiration for the entire apparatus of the NIA.

    I’m not entirely sure what Mark’s driving at with his ‘charmless’ remark. I welcome the idea of an Assembly acting out a French World Cup campaign locally, and any Nicholas Anelka moment where Anderson tells the Dommenechian OFMDFM where to get off. It’s entertaining, and eases the pain of watching these morons walking away with the cash, week after week.

  • Cynic

    She cant – at least 2 of them are enshrined in an international treaty with the Irish. She needs their approval to abolish them but she doesn’t seem to realise that. Anyway…one suspects that only some quangos will be abolished – those not staff by SF place men and women and supporters..

  • Cynic

    We need to increase MLAs salaries. At this price point we are electing people who cant do the job!!!

  • DC

    Out of the above list can you identify which ones are, Cynic?

  • DC

    With that figure the paper was probably referring to the national public purse spend on all Quangos?

  • Anon

    Fabulous bit of man playing there. But its SF, so this is encouraged rather than stanmped on.

  • Cynic

    As set out in Article 6 of the Anglo Irish Agreement

    “The Conference shall be a framework within which the Irish Government may put forward views and proposals on the role and composition of bodies appointed by the Secretary of’ State for Northern Ireland or by Departments subject to his direction and control including

    the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights;
    the Fair Employment Agency;
    the Equal Opportunities Commission;
    the Police Authority for Northern Ireland;
    the Police Complaints Board”

  • Cynic

    Man playing? Where?

    And if you think its just SF read my comments elsewhere on others including Robinson, Poots, the UUP etc.

  • drumlins rock

    Cynic was the AIA not replace by the GFA & StAs ? are they still included there?

  • SDLP Man

    Pathetic that Sinn Fein and Alliance are basing policy proposals on headlines from British “red-tops” like the Daily Mirror.

    Does Martina Anderson not realise that the Taxpayers’ Alliance is seen by many as a thinly-disguised front for hard-line British Conservative Party fiscal policies? The woman is obviously both politically and fiscally illiterate when she cannot distinguish between important but discretionary services delivered by the CRC and essential core services by Health and Social Services Trusts, Education & Library boards and the like

    I think a key point made by Mark Devenport is:

    “ If …you ask people whether they want £3.3 billion spent on elected politicians or unelected doctors and nurses, you might be able to guess which side most taxpayers would come down on.”

    What Anderson is in effect saying is in order to wreck the CRC, which accounts for 0.03% of public spend , she is prepared to put in jeopardy the rest of public sector spend.

    Incidentally, Anderson’s asinine campaign to expunge prisoners’ records would have prevented the Irish News from disclosing that the sacked Shore Road Asda worker, Billy Hunter, was a double killer.

    Mother Ireland, you’re breeding them yet.

  • Alan Maskey

    Mr Baker: When you mention the cost of the State terrorist campaign as you do a lot, you are not comparing like with like. You may as well mention Britain’s joke of Trident or its anti Muslim crusades in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewheree. It is the wrong comparison.
    If Martina A asks for quangos to be cut, she is talking sense. I am sure many hate her as she is a woman and an ethnic Catholic but that does not negate her arguments. Close the Quangos. And the useless middle management of Stormont as well.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘If Martina A asks for quangos to be cut, she is talking sense.’

    I agree, but I suspect that she, like the other 107 people in the NIA, she merely stumbles on ‘the truth’ rather than think her way to a conclusion.

    Occasionally, someone does actually speak a bit of sense inside, or as a result of their involvement in, the NIA, but simply on the basis that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    Essentially, she’s arguing Cameron’s policy, as argued in ‘The Independent’ (by Nigel Morris, deputy political editor) as recently as last Tuesday.


    The Indie helpfully provides a list of those earmarked for abolishing, If one squints hard enough at the list in a GB context, and then reapplies the existence of each to a more divided NI context, I’m not sure I’m seeing an enormous amount of difference between Cameron and Anderson’s proclamations.

  • just sayin’

    SDLP opposing democratic accountability of public services? Hmmmm – strange.

  • jon

    indeed, is she fit for purpose? Still, they could always make her Education Minister

    or Agriculture Minister …She would come up with the same wonderful ideas as Michele Gildernew, who was offering first-come-first-served type grants to farmers or got £60 million fines imposed by the EU Commission for her department’s mal-administration of EU farming subsidies.

  • Cynic 29 July 2010 at 9:12 am
    “We need to increase MLAs salaries. At this price point we are electing people who cant do the job!!!”

    Surely you jest, you cannot really believe the larger the wage the better the office holder, remind me do they pay peanuts in the banking industry?

    Why do people believe this illusion, have we learnt nothing from the last few years. I despair sometimes. Indeed I would suggest once you pay wages out of sync with what the majority earns, an arrogance sets in, god syndrome the medical profession call it.

    We have certainly seen a great deal of that in the UK and elsewhere over the last decade, in both the political and business field.