Truffles of power cause Ford indigestion

David Ford was on television last night denouncing the third mistaken prisoner release. Last month two people were released mistakenly. After the first mistaken release Ford ordered an enquiry. After the second release UUP leader Tom Elliott told Mr Ford: “Would the minister accept that in other places senior civil servants and indeed ministers have had to resign for much less?” Now there has been a third mistaken release Lord Morrow the chairman of the justice committee at Stormont has called for Ford to consider his position saying:

“For the minister to be concerned that is not enough, it is the minister’s responsibility to put in place a system that is fit for purpose,”
“How many more of these are going to happen until we get a system where we are satisfied that it is not going to happen?
“If I was the justice minister and having looked at the third case and it was a repeat of the previous that caused this then I would have to look at my position.”

It would seem that Ford’s enquiry after the first release has not yet had the desired effect. There comes a point when Ford cannot keep blaming the system he has inhereted. After David Ford was so keen to get his snout into the trough it seems that the truffles of power may be causing some indigestion.

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  • wild turkey

    fudge anyone?

    it would be unacceptably cynical if it was suggested minister fords PR team is currently reviewing the classic Paxman – Michael Howard interview

  • Oracle

    Ford should not resign this is just silly muck raking

  • Mr Ford has also usurped the role of the NI Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal reveresed my wrongful conviction in March 2010 and the Minister for Justice has intervened to re-affirm my guilt. One need only consider the implications of an elected MLA taking upon themselves of intervening with any failed prosecution. Mr Ford does not have legal authority to usurp the role of the courts and I have lodged for Judicial Review against him –copy of affidavit can be read here http://www.christywalsh.com/files/JR Affidavit.pdf

    While the ‘law’ means whatever those in political power want it to mean in places like Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Burma, China, or many similar states, NI is a democratic society.

  • Dec

    “It would seem that Ford’s enquiry after the first release has not yet had the desired effect. ”

    Has that Enquiry concluded yet? Your post doesn’t make clear. Also, I would have thought that the Prison Service, who after all are the ones doing the ‘freeing’, would have been mentioned even once.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    For those of us who watched David Ford crawl on his belly before Sinn Féin and DUP for two years to get the Justice portfolio, his performance in the role is a source of endless enjoyment.
    Clearly there are some Ministers….El Beardo Ford and Ruane….are the most obvious examples who just are not very good at what they do.
    His preening performance on Folks on the Hill during the week when he told us he had been in the Alliance Party since Queens……”and a vacancy arose in the Leadership nine years ago” (hmmmm ya dont say…tell us more)..the performance was cringeworthy.

    As his position was entirely in the gift of the DUP and SF, he is justifiably mocked by them (Ford is their creature) and of course SDLP and UUP have grudges at the stitch up.

    Lets be frank, if Fords version of early relaese was practised by a member of DUP, SF, SDLP or UUP there would be calls for his/her resignation.
    Losing one prisoner is unfortunate.
    Two sounds like carelessness.
    Three is clearly somebody elses fault.

  • Oracle

    If Ford employed foreign nationals because they would work for a lower wage and their inability to perform because of a lack of experience caused these releases then Ford would have to resign.

    If Ford employed foreign nationals because they would work for a lower wage and their inability to perform because of a lack of understanding of the language barrier caused these releases then Ford would have to resign.

    If Ford refused to curtail actions of the PSNI that may bring the Justice system into disrepute through censor or dismissals then Ford would have to resign.

    If Ford was found responsible for the removal of protection for PSNI officers then Ford would have to resign

    If Ford was found negligent in the management of the justice system then Ford would have to resign.

    It was the prison service and the court service that blundered here not David Ford, it is they that should be under scrutiny not him, what was the judge doing in this case he had the defendants papers in front of him, was he not reading previous or related?
    What was the prosecution doing when the judge released the prisoner because they had the same papers in front of them also?
    What was the legal team for the defendant thinking when their client walked free because they most definitely would have realised an error!

    So if I was David Ford I’d tell you all to fuck off in the most polite Minister for Justice way possible.

  • Jay

    If Ford drove a DLA car to a Govt. meeting he would resign ^^^.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Oh Im sure El Beardo is a man of the highest moral integrity…….just not very competent. Incompetence is not a cardinal sin.

  • Cynic

    OK so he shouldn’t resign.

    But who in the Prison Service has been held to account? Nah, says the ‘boul Davy ” there’s no point attributing blame we need to fix the system”

    But the way the system works Minister is this:

    Parliament / The Assembly gives you powers and a job (and pays you)

    You appoint senior staff

    They set the rules and design the systems to deliver

    Staff operate the rules

    If the systems fail there are two options:

    1

  • Cynic

    But who in the Prison Service has been held to account? Nah, says the ‘boul Davy ” there’s no point attributing blame, we need to fix the system”. A typical Alliance response I have to say

    But the way the system works Minister is this:

    Parliament / The Assembly gives you powers and a job (and pays you)

    You appoint senior staff

    They set the rules and design the systems to deliver

    Staff operate the rules

    If the systems fail there are two options:

    1 human error (the fault of the staff)

    2 systems failure (the fault of the Managers)

    In either case you, Minister, call them in and say ”Ere, what’s going on. Fix this / don’t do it again or you will be fired”.

    If they do do it again, you discipline or sack them.

    Now they have done it for a third time. You don’t seem to have done much about this that is effectual; so we the public look at you and start to say

    ‘Ere, whats going on. Fix this / dont do it again or you will be fired”.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Unfortunately…..and I suspend my ridiculing of Ford in particular…this is a creeping change to the way politics is done.
    Certainly in the 1960s and 1970s there was a tendency a convention even for Ministers to carry the can for any mistake made by their officials.
    Increasingly this has given way to a new convention…..dont resign.
    While resigning was often thought honourable if futile….the political equivelant of retiring to the library with a whiskey and a loaded revolver, there was always a kinda sympathy from Opposition.
    Nowadays its rare that a day goes past without some Opposition person in Westminster, Dáil or Stormont routinely demanding resignation.
    And this merely devalues the system.
    On a serios level, theres no need for El Beardo to resign. I merely point out the hypocrisy that “Lord” Morrow calls for his resignation when a DUP minister making the same mistake would be defended by the same Morrow.
    Likewise Ford resisting calls for resignation would happily demand it of another Minister.
    It is so to speak a Pantomime that is always in season.

  • Yesterday i heard heard mention of a “disciplinary investigation” by the justice minister.
    He didn’t release the fella and to suggest he should resign is just shit stirring. He has already put in place checking systems so if they have failed again i’d say whoever was responsible for letting the fella go will be held accountable

  • andnowwhat

    I think Ford has been dipping in to GA’s box of fudge.

    I agree that it is not a resigning issue but he really does not help himself at all when he comments on such matters. He is way to quick to distance himself (as he did on the radio today) from any responsibillity with naked arrogance

  • Moochin I’d say the more exposure of Fords incompetance then the more likelihood that a scapegoat will be found to deflect criticism from the Minister responsiblities.

  • PACE Parent

    Isn’t there a certain irony that schoolchildren can be fingerprinted at schools in order to access their lunches and library books in Northern Ireland but the Justice Minister hasn’t used this sort of technology to identify prisoners in their transit through the criminal justice system?

  • andnowwhat

    Actually Pace, the security is stringent.

    They ask the guy if he is meant to be relesed and if he says no, there is no dam,n way he is going free.

    fool proof if you ask me.

  • Framer

    Why on earth have the first enquiries taken so bloody long?

    Can nothing be done quickly in Northern Ireland?

    Not that we would be told anything significant or hear of any action being taken when they did report.

    I suppose calling an enquiry in the west is what is done rather than shooting the culprits as in Iran or China.

  • Granni Trixie

    I do not give anyone a blank cheque even DF but I will be very surprised if ultimately under his watch the system
    gets significantly better. In response to criticism, he did not focus on why such a pattern has not come to the fore prior to his time in office but I think anyone should. Not least it is further evidence of the benefits of devolution – problems need to be identified before they can be fixed (the slowness of cases coming to court, the cost of legal aid, prison problems etc ).

    BTW, I am curious as to what DF has done to attract so much bile from you? He deserves more respect.

  • Granni Trixie,
    I do not regard my remarks as that bilious by my standards. I think I have said rather worse about a number of our politicians.

    On Ford himself I always look back to his refusal ever to take the justice ministry on two occasions. (Two nevers and counting).

    Maybe I would not be welcome at the Alliance Party conference after all. There are other much nastier things I could say but sadly I am slightly too much the gentleman.

  • Driftwood

    Did they ever get a Governor for the Maze after the POA forced the last guy to leave for daring to query the cosy system of overmanning and underperformance?
    Ford has no mission sorting out the ingrained culture of sick leave and overtime a go-go in the prison service here. Its sick and he hasn’t got the balls or the back up to take them on. To be fair no-one else in the assembly has either.

  • Granni Trixie

    Turgon: despite the low standards you set for yourself,you would still be v. welcome to contribute to an APNI conference.

    The example you raise, “refusal to take the justice ministry”, is such a bad one. You talk as though somehow DF was operating on his own in his own self interests and yet I saw at first hand that every step of the way it was hard work to achieve consensus in APNI as to what was the best strategy to follow. It was never discussed in terms of “what is good for DF” but in terms of what would advance things.

  • Granni trixie,
    No David Ford would never be self serving. No Alliance leader ever could be: perish the thought. Look at the selfless fashion in which the last Alliance leader turned down the speakership of the assembly and then refused a seat in the House of Lords. Alliance: the party of principle; well the principle of self interest.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alliance get called “self serving” for doing what normal politicians do, namely take on political roles.

    The anti-Ford comments are difficult to take seriously, especially considering who they are coming from, and I doubt he will be damaged by them – in common with what has happened in other departments given that we have seen a series of spectacular screwups on the same scale. For example, the Rate Collections Agency has been falling short on collections for several years in a row. The Finance Minister hasn’t resigned. There is an article in the Belfast Telegraph today about unclean conditions in hospitals. The Health Minister hasn’t resigned.

    There were complaints on Nolan this morning about certain roads not being gritted properly. These complaints arise every year. The DRD Minister hasn’t resigned. There were large EU fines levied on the Department of Agriculture due to the fact that certain farmers submitted fraudulent assistance applications which weren’t properly vetted by officials. The Minister hasn’t resigned there either.

    So let’s have a bit of perspective here.

    The other thing to bear in mind is that Justice is a special case – the DUP and Sinn Fein have the power to remove the minister immediately. If they’re unhappy with the Minister’s performance, then they can put their money where their mouth is. Otherwise this is all just blowing hot air.

    Christy:

    Moochin I’d say the more exposure of Fords incompetance then the more likelihood that a scapegoat will be found to deflect criticism from the Minister responsiblities.

    What are you arguing here – that the person who wrongly released the prisoner, and arguably completely failed in their responsibilities, should escape punishment ?

  • Alias

    Since when did folks in NI start electing people because of their outstanding calibre, accomplishments, and executive abilities?

    Since none of them are elected for those qualities, it seems like contrariness to demand they should resign because they don’t possess them.

  • cynic47

    Is Oracle a friend of Minister Ford? Just asking.

  • andnowwhat

    Being a pensioner,I always vote for who ever sends the heated taxi round to take me to the polling station first.

    I’d vote Green but their taxis are always friggin freezing for obvious reasons.

  • Reader

    Driftwood: Ford has no mission sorting out the ingrained culture of sick leave and overtime a go-go in the prison service here.
    No doubt high sick rates are portrayed as being stress related. In which case, someone suffering from stress shouldn’t be subjected to extra stress by doing overtime. New Rule: No overtime for 2 months after returning from sick leave.

  • Oracle

    Cynic 47

    No I am no friend of anybody… and a foe to most… I just state the truth, you know that stuff most people scream for but in reality they just can’t stomach

  • cynic47

    The Truth Oracle?

    Your party has the patent on that!!

  • Oracle

    Cynic I am my party………. and yes it does!

  • madraj55

    Christy Walsh; ‘N. Ireland is a democratic society’
    Slight correction, There is, in the ninety years of it’s existence, no history of democracy operating, just a series of sticking plasters since the early 70s to attempt to repair the damage done in the first 45 years.

  • joeCanuck

    Some context would be useful before we all get our knickers in too big a twist. For example, what percentage of total processings is this, what is the comparison with other local jurisdictions, such as England and Wales.
    The buck stops with Ford, of course, and he needs to be a pretty ruthless disciplinarian when it comes to incompetence.

  • madraj55: I cannot really dispute that but I am arguing from a weak position where General David Ford dictates who is and who is not guilty in NI –apparently I am but no evidence nor right to challenge his decision. The Diplock System is nothing compared to the current regime –whim, innuendo or subliminal messages are all Ford needs to determine guilt –to my knowledge none of his fellow MLA’s object to his mistaken authority?

    Not a United Ireland, nor United Kingdom but a tyrannical statelet.

  • Oh and madraj55 even the Judiciary are useless unless they return a verdict Ford agrees with. The Prosecution case collapsed against me for the fraud that it was and Ford stepped in to determine my guilt where the Courts could not.

  • Comrade Stalin

    What I’d say is that letter you received back from the DoJ official stating that you hadn’t sufficiently demonstrated your innocence is an affront to the idea of the central principle that people are supposed to be assumed innocent unless proven guilty. If the court have found your conviction unsafe you should be entitled to be fully compensated.

    I wish you the best with your fight.

    But I don’t think it helps to finger Ford for the decision of a civil servant acting in accordance with the legislation. The legislation looks wrong to me, but it’s not for civil servants to ignore it – indeed they can be overturned by the courts for doing so (and probably would be in this case). Ford’s job in this case would be to commit the department to reviewing the law. Neither the Justice Minister nor the DoJ civil servants are above the law and both can have their decisions overturned by a judicial review if it is found that they did not act correctly.

    I guess that’s why Kevin Winters solicitors are a bit unwilling to take this case on for you.

  • Comrade Stalin: KW was willing to work pro bono on my case but predicts 4 years to resolve –I think that is an unreasonable time to expect any lawyer with staff and overheads to work without even expenses covered.

    The matter is David Fords responsibility and not his staff. He is acting outside of the law and there is no legislation, so I am not sure to what you are referring.

    The issue goes far beyond compensation –the right to be tried in an open court of law and not from a government office.

    It also involves significant evidence of serious crime which David Ford and the Chief Constable are refusing to investigate. I took one of the Prosecutors files from the courtroom containing incriminating evidence –not only will Ford not pursue criminal enquery against the Crown Prosecutor but I freely admit and have supplied Mr Ford with a signed account of what I took without permission and copies of the evidence which I took from the Belfast High Court –I am not being persued for the one thing that I did do and freely admit to having taken without permission –the reason I am not being charged with stealing a Crown Prosecutors file is because I had just cause.

  • Comrade Stalin you brought to my attention the possibility that David Ford is acting within the law because there is mention of legislation in a letter written by the NIO and since passed to him. I am pasting copy of an email that I have sent to all MLA’s which clarify’s David Ford’s role.

    Dear MLA

    There is a cover-up taking place that is only going to get worse.

    There is a misconception about my case that it is undergoing some kind of review within the Ministry of Justice. That is not true. After my wrongful conviction was reversed a review had been conducted and concluded in July 2010. The conclusion of the review was that “Mr Walsh’s convictions were, we believe, “reversed” within the meaning of section 133, by the decision of the Court of Appeal on 16 March 2010.”

    Currently the Minister for Justice, David Ford, MLA, is not involved in a review but a cover-up of serious criminal conduct within the Crown Prosecution Service.

    I took from the Northern Ireland High Court a file belonging to Crown Prosecutor, Gary McCrudden and I still have it in my possession. My defense for having committed an act of theft from a courtroom is just cause.

    The incriminating evidence against Mr McCrudden is as follows;

    After one of his main two Military Witnesses retracted his Trial Testimony in 1998 he also disclosed to having been “coached” prior to my Trial in December 1992.

    Former Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Kerr, requested that Mr McCrudden’s Military Witness be brought before the Court to explain himself. After a convincing time lapse Mr McCrudden falsely informed the Court that all efforts had been made but unfortunately his Witness could no longer be traced.

    I have recovered indelible evidence against Mr McCrudden that he concocted and managed a false case against me.

    The Justice Minister is not only permitting the guilty go free but possibly further aiding and abetting Mr McCrudden’s criminal career, who it stands to reason, is likely doing the same in other cases.

    I have made myself available for any criminal investigation into what I have done. I remain prepared to return to Belfast to assist in any criminal investigation. I have endeavoured to disclose my evidence in open court but my attempts have been frustrated.

    Yours Sincerely

    Christy Walsh

  • joeCanuck

    Christy,

    You got a rough deal indeed and I can understand your pain. They seem to have got you stitched up in another way. I think you deserve compensation butI can do nothing more.
    Maybe it’s time to put it all behind you. get involved with politics and pay back through that.

    Best,

    Joe

  • Joe

    Thanks for your suggestions but the compensation issue is a red herring.
    Christy

  • madraj55

    Christy Walsh, [Dec 2] Sorry for the delay in responding. I don’t look in here that often these times. Although I was here with a different username, [anagram of this one] up to the Revamp last year Sorry to hear abiout your legal problems. I find Ford hard to listen to, yes, even more than our greg. Completely pointless to quote him speaking in another context.