Owen Paterson: “This is absolutely pathetic…”

The Northern Ireland Executive met on Thursday, although you’d be forgiven for not noticing.

Not that there aren’t plenty of items which are, or which should be, on their agenda.  Most pressingly the still-to-be-agreed draft NI budget.

And as economist Neil Gibson told the Assembly this week

“I want to be clear that what’s in front of us is challenging,” [Mr Gibson] told members of the Finance and Personnel Committee.

“I don’t want to underplay how hard it’s going to be to make savings, but it shouldn’t be catastrophic.

“The amount of money we have in Northern Ireland coming in, even by the end of this four-year period, should still be more than enough to run world-class public services.

“Most other countries and certainly regions in the UK would be delighted to have that level of revenue.”

The two parties jointly occupying the Office of the First and deputy First Minister have been happy to talk about the issue elsewhere.

Even middle-ranking party members are at it.

And the lower ranks have taken to waving placards at the NI Secretary of State – who continues his interventionist strategy.  Owen Paterson’s latest intervention is here.

But as Jim Fitzpatrick points out, like those protests, it all seems a bit stage-managed…

Failure to agree a budget would be a crisis worse than anything else this Executive has faced.

The statutory measures that would come into place then would allow Stormont to spend just 75% of the available money – at which stage the tough Tory cuts become extreme Executive ones.

For that reason alone, it can be said with an even higher percentage of certainty than Basil McCrea would predict for dissident capability that a budget will be agreed.

Everything else you see and hear between now and then is largely political posturing. And it’s posturing which suits the two big parties.

When a budget is finally agreed the detail of it will be lost in the thanks and praise showered upon the parties for “making tough choices for the good of the country”.

That would depend on how well-behaved the witnesses are…

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • percy

    God I hope you’re not referring to ireland vs All-Blacks

  • The Sinn Fein protest is indeed pathetic but the real story here is that the Executive are on a conveyor belt, which, if they dont agree a budget before a certain deadline, will do the cutting for them like a big mincing machine.

    As for the political consequences?

    None, except perhaps a very slightly increased vote share for the SDLP at the expense of Sinn Fein in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

  • pippakin

    As Seymour Major says there are unlikely to be any political consequences for failure to agree a budget, each will blame the other and most of their supporters will believe it. The coalition/tory government will also be a convenient scapegoat for both sides.

    Perhaps though there might be another effect: the south is taking an understandably close interest in the subject of budgets and if SF are shown to be unwilling (unable?) to deal with a relatively small problem maybe in due course that would give some southern voters pause.

  • Cynic

    It is pathetic. The cuts are dramatically less than those faced in the rest of the UK Ireland or the the US for that matter. All we are seeing is pathetic whining to con the electorate

  • iluvni

    The consequences of failing to agree a budget should be the final realisation that Stormont is a costly unworkable farce…and decisions should be made to either reform it or close it down.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    As the weeks go by the DUP and Sinn Fein are looking more and more pathetic, whinging and devoid of leadership. We can only hope that come next year the voters will have on offer at least some competent politicians to put their mark beside.

    Can you imagine any of the current crop ever being allowed near the UK cabinet? In comparison Owen Paterson, who is in the cabinet, is growing in stature as the first SoS for a long time to actually tell it how it is and not mouth platitudes about the local politicians. We need more plain speaking and less posturing and always looking for someone to blame. We either need the local politicians to grow up take the hard decisions or a completely new crop of politicians who can.

    It seems the days of being feted and tea and biscuits in No.10 are over for Peter and Martin.

  • Jean Meslier

    Owen Paterson addressed Newry Chamber of Commerce
    and Trade in the Canal Court Hotel on Thursday night last.
    He managed to slobber through a 20 minute monologue without actually mentioning business growth in Newry at all!!

    So nothings changed on the old ex-direct ruler front, although be did relate to one good news business story but, alas, it was about Wright Coachworks in industrial Ballymena.
    He even went off on a tangent saying the inhabitants of Hong Kong swear by these buses from our little statelet.

    So at least we know Oweny has been to the former colony of Hong Kong where unfortunately the queens writ no longer applies.
    He didn’t refer to the hinterland outside Newry ie south Armagh, where QE2’s writ also had diffs in application during what was known as the “troubles”.
    But then the only industry ever supported by the British Government in south Armagh was the helicopter port in Bessbrook.

  • oneill

    “He managed to slobber through a 20 minute monologue without actually mentioning business growth in Newry at all!!”

    How about getting off your fat UK tax-payer sponsored arse and getting some growth yourself? *Reality hit*

    Ask Dublin to see what they can sort out for you.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Isn’t a speech meant to be a monologue?

  • Jean Meslier


    Oops – me an my big fat arse seem to have upset the oweny moroany fan club.- What red telephone box do you meet in laddies?

    oneill – maybe if Paterson wasn’t such an in- bred moron meandering on about his hide business it may have been more palatable.
    But as I say this hooray-henry didn’t make reference to his local audience, nor their plight/ anxieties/ideas which did seem strange to those gathered. After all the Chamber had invited him.

    One other thing Glencoppagagh.
    If you do have any warm body contact with this product of the empires finest public schools, could you mention that if he intends to go on these monologues, could he please, at least, have a point.
    This sometimes helps folks to accept it as it is (or so you might say)
    A point, a point. My kingdom for a point.

  • Frustrated Democrat


    A bit touchy about Newry and South Armagh aren’t you, I suppose you aren’t really a right of centre type are you? I understand that you might use a bit of hyperbole but ‘slobber’ shows a degree of partisanship that betrays your true feelings and political leanings. Maybe his mention of Ballymena was just too much for you to take and it set you off on a rant.

    I have heard Owen Paterson speak many times usually without a script and he is a passionate speaker and supporter of Northern Ireland, not just Newry but all of it. The fact that he had bought hides in Newry and contributed to the local economy I would have thought was talking about local issues, as would the dependence of Newry on customers from the RoI and how the UK was prepared to help stabilise the RoI financial system. What did you want him to say? That he was going to pump more subsidies into Newry and ignore the rest of NI; that is now in the hands of our local Government, he can only work on welfare, taxation and other National issues.

    But you know what, some people are never happy to hear someone who happens to come from England speak in NI never mind what they say.

    The point you are seeking is that you were listening to someone who is passionate about moving Northern Ireland forward on all fronts and for everyone, he does not deserve your misplaced invective.

  • Mark

    howya percy , did we meet on balrog back in the day ?

  • Joseph Addison

    Jean Meslier,
    I worked in South Armagh for nearly 30 years exporting over 90% of my production to the USA. Your attitude to Owen Patterson illustrates total xenophobia, which is inculcated into a small minority of the South Armagh population. These people have murdered , bombed and to a large extent killed off a lot of economic development in South Armagh you want to get a real life and join the Human Race.

  • wild turkey

    “I worked in South Armagh for nearly 30 years exporting over 90% of my production to the USA. ”

    JA, well done!

    However exporting rather than smuggling 90% of your production demonstrates a certain lack of simpatico with the ethos and culture of S Armagh.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Were you present at this event? I wouldn’t have taken you for a business person. Maybe that’s why you were so bored.

  • Jean Meslier

    Glencoppagagh . Business in Newry and south Armagh happened in spite of, not because of, Tory/Labour intervention.
    The main reason for any prosperity in this area over the last 20 years was due to the construction industry, 90% of which was based in the 26 Co.’s. Many contractors and sub-contractors survived because of this available work.
    NB Nothing to do with a Westminster intervention.

    wild turkey- Your stereotypical, racist (boring), interpretation of S. Armagh shows who/what you are.
    One general point. It might interest you to know that there are many borders throughout the world, and guess what boys smuggling happens. It is wrong, but it happens everywhere. In Ireland smuggling happens from Donegal to Louth, and many, many diverse groups have prospered from it . – Both native and planter. But sure you all know that. You just choose to ignore all aspects EXCEPT south Armagh.
    Many of the largest corporations worldwide started as bootleggers. Lets hope Paterson’s hides weren’t hopped over any borders or he might have to use a PREPARED script instead of the arrogant crap which he ad libbed in Newry.

  • pippakin

    Jean Meslier

    Why do you care so much? You must know in advance what you are likely to get from a tory minister, btw who invited him or did he just turn up?

  • Dr Concitor

    JM, How do you rate Lord Ballyedmond.s little empire – Norbrook apparently on which the sun never sets. Careful what you say now he will sue as soon as look a you.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You’re forgetting the fact that the SDLP are crap and people who support Sinn Fein don’t do so because of their mastery of economic matters.

  • Jean Meslier

    pippakin. He was invited by the Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade. Most probably by the inner golden circle. But sure thats the way of all organisations/boards/committees

    Dr Concitor . I’m always mindful of Ian Hislop of “Have I got news for you ” fame, when he was sued by Robert Maxwell.
    Some time after the court ruling he was asked for his opinion on the case by a reporter.
    He refused to offer one stating the last time he had given his opinion on Mr. Maxwell he ended up having “to give a fat cheque to a fat Czech”

  • Dr Concitor

    Best leave it at that then Jean!

  • Jean Meslier

    Yes. I will say that Edward Haughey provides many jobs in Newry at fairly decent rates.
    However in return the employees must adhere to a 1984 style of subservience which Thatcher would have been very proud of.

    Begging and choosing comes to mind.

    Mention organising workers or union representation at your peril

  • blackbloc

    What is pathetic about Northern Ireland is observing the lack of activism towards these cuts, from the Trade Union movement and many other activists. Its time for direct action. Shut vodaphone down, start hitting them where it hurts. The days of marching from A to B have long gone. When people start getting put out of their homes, start squatting. When the most vulnerable find that their benefits get taken from them, show them how to skip their food from the £1000s of groceries that are wasted by supermarkets every night. Show students how to occupy building. Get them legal advice and take to the streets. We have a unique opportunity to unite both working class communites to come together and fight these cuts. People Power. ” THEY SAY CUT BACK… WE SAY FIGHT BACK!!!!


  • john greene

    ‘Shut vodafone down’ still peddling that daft urban myth (okay its seems centrally to SF economic thinking but its not actually true)

  • bob wilson

    And to think Owen Paterson started banging the drum about cutting Corporation Tax over two YEARS ago.
    Given what has come to pass with the bail out that was remarkably insightful dont you think?
    BTW The sad thing is if Paterson was in Derry today ie post bail out the same sad Republicans would turn out to protest. ‘We dont want your British money/help.’ They would chant!

  • Sean

    Why the defection from FF to UUP and then to the Tories?
    Look at the business model used. Approach your rivals to have informal conversations (off the record), extract new opportunities (ie make their drug for them/represent the UUP pont of view in ROI).
    Examine as well the funding of FF guaranteeing a place in the ROI equivalent of the House of Lords. The fascination with law and suing everything? Wife owns solicitor firm (free advice), sold earlier this year. The paranoia about employees? (non-disclosure agreements means that they are effectively banned from working in the vet industry from 1-3 years after leaving Norbrook). Sued for half a million sterling when his 3 helicopter pilots died in the nineties (kevin mulhern, county louth).