Cries of betrayal over funding will not help

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness were hardly in the ideal place to respond the spending cuts, sending cries of betrayal down the line from the States that an agreement for £18 billion of funding struck with Gordon Brown had not been honoured. On that one, the dogs in the streets were barking doubts long ago. It all seemed too good to be true – at least in  the version according to Peter and Martin.  Investment promises just do not override crisis budget cuts.

In reply to their angry protests, the UK government will surely remind them that £9 billion has been paid already and the rest is due by 2017 – two years after this spending review period runs out. So any extra money is back loaded –and dependent on growth. In the meantime the locusts are in charge.

If they aren’t careful FM and DFM are in danger of seeming helpless spectators at their own game. They’d be better off making the best of a settlment which after all came as “no surprise” to economists and Finance Minister Sammy Wilson, normally no slouch when it a quick jab of criticism is needed.

Almost as unsatisfactory as this wrangle is the poor co-ordination between the Treasury and the devolved governments which puts local ministers at a real disadvantage in explaining the package to their people. The Institute for Fiscal Studies are explaining what the welfare cuts will mean UK wide, while Alex Attwood has to wait until next week before he gets clarification from a Work and Pensions minister in Whitehall.

Finally. it hardly helped get the story of the cuts straight to learn that Treasury and the NI Department of Finance and Personnel were working off different baselines. Couldn’t Stormont have sung off the same hymn sheet as the Treasury when it came to the announcements yesterday? What were their press officers doing ( don’t ask) – other perhaps than lining themselves up for the chop?

Last month, DFP officials were preparing themselves for a 10.7% cut in revenue – which is currently £9.2 billion per annum – and a 31.8% slice off capital – at present £1.7 billion a year.

The spending review has worked out somewhat differently, with the DFP claiming the Chancellor’s announcement amounts to an 8% reduction in revenue and 40.1% hit to the capital spend.

The figures provided by the Treasury are slightly lower – 6.9% and 37% respectively – but that is only because its officials used the funding baseline position as it stood after the Stormont Executive implemented a £122 million cut earlier this year.

Let’s hope we get a clearer line on the way ahead  from the Executive at their Friday meeting  – and go easy on the casting up.

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  • Pete Baker

    As I said earlier

    OFMDFM and the NI Finance Minister are trying to make it look as bad as possible, whilst the NI Secretary of State is trying to do the opposite…

    Why? There is an election coming up [next year].

    The DUP will continue trying to link the UUP to the [Tory] cuts.

    Sinn Féin’s best friends [Blair and New Labour] are now well out of office, so it’s back to the bad old British Tory line…

    It’s almost as comforting as blaming the ‘securocrats’…

  • bob wilson

    Yes Robbo and Marty in danger of being accused of playing politics or worse still simply out of their depth.
    If it is the former they were probably relying on Paterson backing down but see below he certainly isnt.
    Wouldnt be surprised if he turned up at the Assembly next week to face them down when they ‘stage’ their debate

    PATERSON RE-AFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO £18 BILLION INVESTMENT

    Statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson MP:

    “It has been alleged that the Government has broken its word on committing to Northern Ireland’s £18 billion investment strategy as set out by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer in May 2007. This is completely untrue.

    “In fact I can confirm again today that we believe sufficient funding has been made available for Northern Ireland to meet the £18 billion investment commitment in the time frame set out by the previous administration and on exactly the same basis.

    “Critics of the Government have exclusively focused on the reduction of 37 per cent over four years in capital spending announced by George Osborne yesterday. I acknowledge this will not be easy but it is worth remembering that the previous Government was actually committed to cuts of 50 per cent.

    “Yet the key point is that current capital spending was only ever one part of the Investment Strategy agreed by Gordon Brown. As the Northern Ireland Executive’s own Investment Strategy makes clear, it always consisted of a number of elements, including loans under the Reform and Reinvestment Initiative.

    “In confirming that we are on course to meet the £18 billion commitment, the Treasury has included the same elements as it did in 2007.

    “The reality is that under this Government, Northern Ireland will still be able to invest considerable sums in capital projects, if the Executive chooses to do so, over the next number of years.

    “The Executive has flexibility over how it manages its budget, including the ability to use current spending (DEL) for capital projects.

    “We also remain committed to the package for the devolution of policing and justice. We will ensure its terms are observed.

    “In any event under the spending review we have given more favourable treatment to the Executive over carrying forward unspent money at the end of this financial year than any Whitehall department will have.

    “Northern Ireland has a much better settlement than most Whitehall Departments. It is of course going to be tough. We have inherited the largest deficit in the G20 and the whole of the United Kingdom has to play its part in tackling it.”

    Notes to Editors

    Following the St Andrews Agreement in 2006, the then Chancellor agreed a financial package to accompany stage 1 devolution including an updated Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland totalling £18 billion over the period 2005 to 2017. As set out previously the current Government is sticking to the previous Government’s capital plans. The Government has no plans to set budgets to 2017-18. However, given Northern Ireland will have invested around £9.8 billion by the end of 2010-11, the UK Government believes NI is on course to invest £18 billion by 2017-18. NIE is able to draw on a number of capital spending streams, including capital DEL, RRI spending, PFI and capital spending by public corporations. The Northern Ireland Investment Strategy also includes investment from third party sources.

  • pippakin

    Sounds like politics as usual to me.

  • Pete Baker

    Mark Devenport has some interesting observations

    If you look at the Finance department website there’s a series of target dates for how the process of setting a budget should be handled. According to these targets a draft budget is meant to be agreed by late October, with a final budget published in late December.

    Even if the parties had been in agreement about how to respond to the Spending Review, those dates were always likely to slip. One educated guess is that the draft budget might move towards late November and the final budget sometime in January. The ultimate bookend for this is the end of the financial year in early April – if we get there without any agreement we could potentially get into the kind of nightmare territory experienced in the United States in 1995 when large swathes of the federal government shut down.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The usual suspects calling for realism, just see it as another (poorlye concealed) opportunity to attack either SF or the DUP or both – but SF and the DUP have little to lose by letting fire at the Tory and LibDems – which of course cannot be said of course for the unfortunate UUP and Alliance parties.

    Owen Pattterson has now presided over UCUNF, Hatfield and the tribal withdrawl in FST – having had the fecking cheek to lecture the Plain People of Ulster on tribalism but a few weeks before and laughing during the announcement of the Ulster cuts hardly does the hapless Owen any favours.

    ..with the debate tomorrow we can look forward to the over deployment of Slugger’s dreadful old chestnuts – ‘dysfunctional Stormo’ and ‘behaving like children’ whilst cheering on the Tories.

  • Seymour Major

    “but SF and the DUP have little to lose by letting fire at the Tory and LibDems”

    I suppose if all your supporters are deniers, maintaining denial is the easiest way to satisfy them.

    That kind of response will not satisfy people who think. As the headline says, cries of betrayal wont help either.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Frankly the FM and DFM by their actions are starting to make themselves look weak and ineffective, and most definitely not in charge of their briefs. They appear not to care about or even understand the financial straits the UK finds itself in.

    They are still in the belief that by shouting louder and rattling their begging bowls everyone will cave in to their demands, The haven’t learnt that times have changed and the old tricks have no currency in the current economic situation. The days of drinking tea and eating chocolate biscuits in Number 10 are well and truly over.

    They now have to buckle down and do some real work instead of trying to curry favour with electors with a series of give aways such as free prescriptions, no water rates and free bus passes for the over 60’s.

    Owen Paterson has every right to be frustrated with them and their self serving attitudes, since Northern Ireland fared relatively well in the spending review and looks set to have a major economic boost in the near future.

    Incidentally Sammy Wilson has now become the voice of reason and his status has undoubtedly risen among the people here, could he be the next leader of the DUP?

  • Cynic

    Poor Pete and Marty. They will now have to trail off to Washington (again, Business Class of course) and Dublin (Business Class again or the Ministerial Car) to winge about the cuts, broken promises, cant hold their membership in line, undermining support for the Agreement, breaches of promise in Clause (perm any 1 from 4) in the Agreement (again, perm any 1 from 4). All those time zones and air miles. And think of the carbon emissions. This could do for Global Warming you know.

    And their problem in this is that noone is listening:

    Washington and Dublin are sick of the sight of them. In the US they are now electoral pimples on the face of the Obama Administration’s problems. Likewise Cowan and Lenihan might just suggest a 25% cut in Ministerial salaries followed by mass salary cuts across the civil service as a starter – but that wouldn’t do.

    I understand that its not so easy to get into Downing Street now. The old blood coloured access cards don’t work these days and they are forced to negotiate with Owen Paterson – God help him.

    So they will come back from Amerikay and try and tell their electorates that they wuz robbed, vote for us and we will fight them for every penny. Sinn Fein will sabotage the budget process for a while in the hope of squeezing out more money for their Ministers and Catholics (by taking it off the Proddies). It will end up as the usual sectarian bunfight while in the real world people worry about their future and thousands of jobs haemorrhage in the already weak private sector because Government is paralysed.

    And so it goes on. The Sham Fight at Scarva repeated endlessly and bloodlessly – just ever more expensively

  • “Cries of betrayal wont help either.”

    Perhaps not, but a bit of backbone and resistance might, little chance of that from the usual suspects here.

    If you spend your life on all fours, you can hardly be surprised if your masters treat you like a pet poodle.
    ——-
    “so it’s back to the bad old British Tory line…”

    Pete

    Ahaa, who should they blame, if not the Tory coalition, the martians?

  • “the UK government will surely remind them that £9 billion has been paid already and the rest is due by 2017 – two years after this spending review period runs out. So any extra money is back loaded –and dependent on growth. In the meantime the locusts are in charge.”

    A pound spent in 2017-18 is of reduced value to a pound in 2011-12 so the timing of the spending is as crucial as the total amount. Plus it looks like they played games with the figures to get to the £9 billion figure already spent.

    You omit from all this Owen Paterson saying two contradictory things – yes there were cuts coming and it was all Gordon Brown’s fault to denial of any last week. If he’d had the sense to keep his trap shut then he wouldn’t be in such a hole.

    There is a capital hole because of the CSR. It’s Paterson who is trying to peddle denial on this.

    Paterson is also misrepresenting the nature of NI budget settlement. He is presenting it as conscious decision to get us to a particular funding level when it wasn’t. The levels are the Barnett consequentials plain and simple not any battling on his part.

  • HeinzGuderian

    *NEW* LABOUR !!!!!

  • HeinzGuderian

    gerry…..our great leader,doesn’t rate Owen Patterson ??

    Hang up the beard,gerry. Give the people of West Belfast a break !!!!!! 🙂

  • Bob wilson

    Nice one Fair Deal – you admit by implication the deal is good for NI so instead you attack Paterson for not being responsible for it?

    The reduction in capital could be made up by transfer revenue money, selling assets, introducing water charges sooner rather than later and unfreezing the regional rates.
    All of which would take a. courage and b. leadership

    Lets be clear the decision rests with the NI Executive

    Much better to blame the Brits although there must be a danger that the electorate see through Robbo, Marty, Gerry et al

  • Comrade Stalin

    Owen Pattterson has now presided over UCUNF, Hatfield and the tribal withdrawl in FST – having had the fecking cheek to lecture the Plain People of Ulster on tribalism but a few weeks before and laughing during the announcement of the Ulster cuts hardly does the hapless Owen any favours.

    So are Sinn Fein going to force the British government to change their position then ? According to you, it worked so well before.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The reduction in capital could be made up by transfer revenue money, selling assets

    Selling assets in a depressed property market ? Brilliant plan.

    , introducing water charges sooner rather than later and unfreezing the regional rates.

    Both of which together would net what, £200m ?

    We all need to stop whinging and start taking the tough decisions that have been forced on us. The quango sweep they did in London was a bit of a stunt but it looks like a good place to start.

  • Cynic

    Resistance is futile …they have been assimilated

  • Cynic

    I don’t see him ion a hole. As he pointed out last night they are using the same formula as Brown did. Robbo and Marty just didn’t pin it down on WHEN the money would be delivered and any other little sub conditions that might apply.

    In any case, just why should the Brits pay them more when they are wasting money and fudging revenue raising on an epic scale from water charges to EU fines to failure to implement RPA to plain simile negligent. I am surprised they have been allowed so much

  • Cynic

    Gerry doesn’t rate Owen is interesting.

    How Owen rates Gerry is much more important as Owen holds the purse strings. Gerry knows that and is reduced to bluster. How are the mighty fallen

  • Cynic

    The property market is depressed because a bubble burst and it collapsed from stupid and unsupportable levels. The current values are the real values, they just seem cheap because of past madness.

  • Cynic

    “The levels are the Barnett consequentials plain and simple not any battling on his part.”

    ……given the wilful and incompetent waste here we are lucky to get that

  • Cynic

    ” the FM and DFM by their actions are starting to make themselves look weak and ineffective, and most definitely not in charge of their briefs.”

    …… now there’s a shock

  • Barnshee

    English taxpayers allow the “subvention” via the Barnett formula to provide funds that N Ireland could not raise. Put you money where you mouth is- reject the unvention and raise all the funds you need yourself

    A HA HA
    A HA

  • “you attack Paterson for not being responsible for it?”

    No I attack him for treating people as fools.

    “The reduction in capital could be made up by”

    FM has already talked about looking at what can be done to push up captial spend.

    “selling assets”

    Two problems no guarantee we get the cash from selling assets we need Treasury agreement (but Osborne’s comments in response to Sammy’s questioning seemed to indicate some flexibility) plus the processes mean we’d not get them until year 3 of the CSR possibly even year 4. So it leaves you with the problem in the first two years when it is probably needed most.

    “by transfer revenue money”

    Needs Treasury permission to do this. Plus there is plenty or re-prioritising to do within the revenue budget to deal with the economic crisis. Capital isn’t the only problem.

    “introducing water charges sooner rather than later and unfreezing the regional rates.”

    Rates may very well rise but a 1% rise only raises £4m.

    The problem with local taxation option is that the national government has already got its arm into individual incomes limiting how much we can at a local level. Unemployment is up, pay freezes, VAT rises to come, NI rise to come, inflation not under proper control (30% of locals are government employed and they will have pay freezes and increased pension payments). Ulster’s middle is being well squeezed already.

    Plus a conservative thinks its more economically efficient for more money in public hands rather than private hands 😉

    “The reduction in capital ”

    What reduction in captial? Paterson denies there is one. Which is it?

    Better to blame the SoS for saying dumb things and playing games. He should have taken the Clegg Cameron approach to engaging around it instead he deicided to lecture.

  • Bob wilson

    £200m for water charges alone – very from insignificant

    Remember the real terms cuts in capital are as follows:
    2011-12 £342.7m
    2012-13 £415.9m
    2013-14 £527.3m
    2014-15 £538.2m

    So water charges could plug a large part of this gap.

    Not sure what unfreezing the regional rate would yield but it would also be significant

    As you say scrap a few quangos for good measure – but it wont yield very much

  • GoldenFleece

    Here, here FD.

    The Northern Irish parties have been introduced to grown up politics. They have relied on populist policy after populist policy and relied on London to pick up the bill.

    Welcome to the real world. We are not a conflict nation anymore.

  • RPA has upfront costs that would make this CSR period worse not better.

  • Alan Maskey

    What precisely does Northenr Ireland contribute to “our island nation” as Sir Winston Churchill described us?
    We know the historical contribution: The Somme (s day), the Titanic (a ship), Mountbatten (a man), La Mon (an outrage).

    All of those things are now in the past, gone but not forgotten. Wales gives Englande water, Scotland gives oil. But hte Orange state gives nothing but the egging bowl.
    They are reminiscet of Thurd World beggars, who stick their stumps into your face to get a few kopeks, for drink or drugs or, in the case of Stormont, the peace process gravy train.
    It is true that PIRA gave their Semtex but that has been paid for in spades now. If Robinson and Protestants want to follow in the traditions they blather on about, let them take even greater cuts for the good of the Mother Country.
    Would our ilsand nation actually save money if the Protestants of NI ceaed to exist, if they all died, in other words? Serious question.
    I watched a BBC news shot of some desperatel;y handicapped Eng,ish woman claiming that the cuts would curtail her mobility rights. She is being moved from one council to another, with the second one being broke. But what right does she have to leech off tax payers?
    Euthanasia, mercy killing, will become more popular as funds become scarcer and people get older. Why not kill off the Orange State?

  • Mr Adams said Chancellor George Osborne showed “the awful ignorance of a British Tory minister in dictating how people here should live”.

  • Neil

    I heard the interview. It was amusing. Have to throw my hat in with FD among others, Patterson’s gone the wrong way about things, but a popularity contest it ain’t.

  • Bob wilson

    There will be a reduction in capital spending if the Executive dont step up to the mark and make some decisions – tough decisions
    I know they think they deserve our perpetual thanks for sharing power but the gravy train of the last ten – fifteen years is over. Our politicians have to face up to taking tough decisions AND taking the blame.

    If there is less money from London for capital expenditure in the short run it is up to Stormont what to DO.

  • GoldenFleece

    Actually Alan Maskey if you read Sir Winston Churchill’s memoirs he was very positive of Northern Ireland, even giving NI credit for saving Britain in WW2 in the War in the Atlantic.

  • Brian Walker

    fair deal — an enlightening analysis of other side of the story. In all of this Paterson is little more than the Treasury’s messenger rather than NI’s advocate at the centre.

  • Bob wilson

    An interesting sweeping statment Brian based on what facts in particular?

    For interest the Treasury’s figures

    Depatmental Prog and Admin

    2010-11 (baseline) 9.3
    2011-12 9.4
    2012-13 9.4
    2013-14 9.5
    2014-15 9.5

    No cut in cash terms.

    Capital
    2010-11 (baseline) 1.2bn
    2011-12 0.9
    2012-13 0.9
    2013-14 0.8
    2014-15 0.8

    Hardly the end of the world.
    If only we had an effective and efficient devolved administration

  • Bob wilson

    Mr Adams shows an awful arrogance and lack of knowledge of the real world and basic economics

  • Neil

    If only we had an effective and efficient devolved administration

    True that, although much of the innefficiency, waste and possibly a policy of employing 10 people to do the work of 3 is left over from the good old days when the NIO ran the joint.

    This will be a watershed moment in that the parties, primarily DUP and SF will either get the finger out and help figure out a way through the current belt tightening, or they’ll fall apart at the seams, battling each other over every last penny.

    The only positive is the fact that the deprtments generally serve both sides of the community and therefore the sectarian arguments should be kept to a minimum, around education and parades primarily as things are going.

  • Alan Maskey

    Yes, it was important to stop the vgallant U boats, which Churchill said frightened him. Lest we forget and all that, it was the British and American navies who utoilised those waters, not the Stormont navies.
    But the same line could be said about Malta and other pinpricks. So back to my question. What good are the people of NI to the British today? Would Britian not make a big saving by just letting them wallow?
    I cannot see Peter Robinson or Machine Gun McGuinness having any real credibility in London. If the Englishman’s proudest boast was I paid my way, the Stormont mob will never be English.

  • “Hardly the end of the world.”

    It’s a £1.8bn cut over the CSR – a 37% to 40% cut (depending on baseline).

    About a third of our capital programme was to deal with an infrastructural backlog left by direct rule. This cut essentially ends the ability to tackle that backlog. Capital cuts are the least strategic cuts to make. A key element in driving a shift from public to private sector dependency is infrastructural development.

    To advocate this is a shrug the shoulders moment is a significant misrepresentation of the serious short, medium and long term implications of this.

  • Alias

    How many of the 1744 FDI investment projects that the UK attracted in 2009 found their way to NI? On a purely pro rata formula, NI should have gained 52 of them.

    If the two puppets of the viceroy want to capitalise on Cameron’s rhetoric, then why don’t they push for a greater share of the UK’s FDI to be based in NI as the means by which private sector employment can replace public sector employment as Cameron promised to do?

    It seems however that the viceroy has other plans for his puppets and these plans specifically involve the promotion of British national interests at the direct expense of Irish national interests.

    While Ireland receives a tiny fraction of the FDI that the UK receives, the majority of this tiny fraction comes from the US. It is no coincidence that the puppets were despatched to the US to divert this source of FDI from the Irish economy and into the British economy of NI.

    If they really cared about NI’s economy then they should be in London seeking to divert FDI from the rest of the UK into NI.

  • Bob wilson

    What I meant is that this gap is not unbridgable _ I agree about the importance of keeping as much of the capital expenditure programme as possible to build the economy, maintain the private/construction sector and to deal with the backlog – which let us not forget was primarily caused by Marty, Gerry, and friends
    indeed there would be a certain poetic justice about former prisoner Murphy having to introduce water charges to provide the capital to bridge the gap

  • Alan Maskey

    Allias: Why should the six counties attract any FDI? Surely tax breaks and access to markets would be factors. But the Orange statelets does not set tax policies and the British market is much bigger and it is also nearer to btyhe mainland (of Europe). Then it makes sense on local political grounds for British politicians to attract FDI to their own constituencies or to where their parties might make a gain.
    There is no reason for “our island nation” to stay in Ireland. They should take James Connolly’s advice and pull out but continue to dominate it economicially, culturally and politically.

  • Rory Carr

    Free bus passes and exemption from prescription charges for the over-60’s have been in force throughout England and Wales at least for some time now (actually Wales and Scotland have more generous presciption charge waivers I believe). Why do you believe that such concessions should not apply in N Ireland?

  • Alias

    “Why should the six counties attract any FDI?”

    They should attract it as part of the sovereign state that attracts it, so the issue is what percentage of it are they actually attracting as a region of that sovereign state. It is within the gift of the British government to direct through incentives, and subsidy, infrastructure, etc, where that investment should be located within its state. The IDA, for example, sponsors industrial parks and regions are designated as hubs.

    One of the functions of MI5 is to promote and protect British economic interests. So why is Marty allowing himself to be used in the US to divert Ireland’s primary source of FDI out of the Irish economy and into the British economy? Because that promotes British national interests.

    PSF will tell you, as the line proffered to them by their handlers, that NI is part of the Irish economy and so they are actually promoting Irish national interests and not British national interests but this ignores that the main reasons for FDI is generation of local employment and taxes that are earned on their profits and that all of these jobs are created in the British state and all of the taxes are paid to the British state. Some of these profits generated by the US companies are in the billions, and so the gain to the British state at the direct expense of the Irish state can be very substantial if they are diverted from Ireland into the UK.

    If the Shinners actually believed that NI was part of the Irish economy and that they should promote Irish national interests then they would act accordingly by diverting FDI from the rest of the UK (and there were 1744 FDI investment projects in 2009) and into the ‘Irish’ economy of NI. If it is part of the Irish economy (which it obviously isn’t) then Irish national interests would be promoted by that action rather than vice versa.

  • Alias

    And incidentally, all of the corporation taxes earned via US companies that are attracted to NI go straight to Her Majesty’s Treasury with no benefit accruing to the NI economy. All MI5 has to do via its touts to divert one large US company into the British economy of NI from Ireland under the ‘all-Ireland’ charade in order to generate hundreds of millions in extra taxes for HMG and thereby justify their own budget.

  • Cynic

    ….and an expert skill in denigrating the UK while sucking dry the UK tit

  • Cynic

    A major spender here was the MOD who employed many people directly and in services industries. But that’s mostly gone now………

    Looks a bit stupid now doesn’t it

  • Cynic

    Ha….BBC report that the Marty and Pete show is off to seek an audience with the PM. If he has any sense he will refuse to see them and direct them to Mr P to sort out.

    That of course would be terrible with no chance to posture for the cameras at the gates of Downing Street.

    The sham fight continues. All they need are 2 horses

  • Save us from tough decisions, lets get some honest politicians to make the right ones, if anyone believes a government minister, passing legislation to sack tens of thousands of government employees, is taking a tough decision, then they are an imbecile, as to taking the motobilty benefit away from a severely disabled woman, in mine and most peoples eyes, I can confidently say makes them an absolute shit, not someone who is prepared to take tough decisions. The really tough decision would be to find a way to allow disabled people to live out their lives without fear of poverty, or is their load not enough for them to carry?.

    Cameron, Clegg and New Labour all supported deregulating the city and bailing the banks out, if you believe these are the folk who will dig us out of the mess they have placed us in, they need urgent medical treatment. What they do not need is sensible people acting as if the lunatics in the asylum have an ounce of sense in them.

  • Stool Pigeon

    Nice one Bob – Common sense at last.

    The NI Executive COULD BE totally in control of the solution if it had an ounce of capability.

    Seem dunces would say ‘Selling assets n a depressed market???’ – Let me tell you we have a massive ( I mean MASSIVE) pubic sector ownership and occupation of office accommodation – this is the most valuable property in the business and still gets top wack prices, ridiculously we have a publicly owned port with £50m operations income and a vast land bank – highly bankable and unbelievably the public sector owns about £40m worth of car parks – again highly desirable.

    In that short list alone we wouldn’t be far off re-couping £650m of the cuts. NI can do it – it just needs to stick its hand in its own pocket rather than the Brits pocket for once in its history.

  • Cynic

    The problem is that you assume Mick that all those on DLA are deserving cases. Do I not recall a few years back an MLA arriving in Stormont in a motability car belonging to a lady in West Belfast? All above board I am sure.

    I know at least 2 other cases like that now, of people in work but driving DLA cars provided for elderly relatives.

    I know many examples of gross waste in the civil service. Why for example are there so many pay grades and layers in the civil service? Why is the average civil servant so much more likely to be off on the sick? to leave early on pension?

    We were supposed to save millions form RPA. Its been a shambles. While there are honourable examples anyone who has had much to do with our local councils knows just how ‘efficient’ they can be. We dont need them all and CANT AFFORD THEM ALL

  • Stool Pigeon

    What a buffoon, nearly as idiotic as McCausland and McGympsey – If you don’t know what your talking about keep your trap shut – most people with an ounce of intelligence can see through this rubbish. I think he would get more credibility for saying something like ‘Told you so, we should work out how to sort ourselves out economically and not have to rely on Britannia’s hind teat’ – but oh no that wouldn’t work would it as most of his electorate would run out benefits and end up turning on him. He should wise up quickly and realise what side his bread is buttered.

  • madraj55

    Cynic. Had to laugh at Robbo telling the media in the States that ‘we’ve had three and a half years of stable government here for the first time in nearly forty years’ Well I suppose paralysis due to mutual vetoes IS stability alright, but not to be confused with government. They are in the position of rabbits styaring at the headlights which are the assembly elections six months hence.