UUP publish motion of no confidence…

So MacKenzie has finally gone (according to UTVlive). Now George Savage of the UUP is the first to get out notice of a no confidence motion. As Ken Reid has noted this evening on UTV, even if it got support from other parties it will fail without the support of Sinn Fein. Here’s the proposed wording:

Pursuant to Paragraph 30 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, this Assembly endorses a Resolution of No-Confidence in the Minister for Regional Development in light of the crisis within NI Water and a failure to meet with the standards contained within the pledge of Office.

We’ll see how that goes then…

  • How can the other parties, including the DUP not support it. And if they all do then how could Murphy sit at the Exec table knowing they all think he is not up to the job? And if they don’t support the motion of no confidence? Where then for each? Perhaps also worth watching will be who absents themselves from the vote. And Sinn Fein will say he did a good job over the past month, so that will be that.

  • Mark McGregor

    I’d expect SF would go for a JR if the motion was allowed to be moved. Can the Speaker rule he has broken the Pledge of Office? It seems far from clear what point exactly he has broken. Good faith? Like to see them proving that in a court!

    http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/index/work-of-the-executive/ministerial-code/ministerial-code-1.4-pledge-of-office

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Conor will slip on the (D’hondt) impregnability cloak and say move on lads – the same cloak that Robbo used last year.

  • Michael Shilliday

    If that is actually the wording that has been lodged it’s a bit pathetic to get the terminology wrong. Section 30 not paragraph, that should be basic stuff.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    All these Water stories….I wish I could swim.
    Im not a big fan of calls for resignation. Too ritualistic. A consequence of five partues in government and perming any four from five in Opposition.
    Good fun but ultimately of no consequence.
    Better for SDLP to actually keep Mr Murphy in office and make an issue of it on the doorstep in May rather than get rid of him now and not being able to make an issue of it in May.

  • Mark McGregor

    Though funny enough the UUP may have opened up a whole can of whoop-ass for themselves if they fancy raising the Pledge of Office and Motions of No confidence:

    “to support, and to act in accordance with, all decisions of the Executive Committee and Assembly;”

    Same goes for the SDLP if they get involved.

  • MichaelMac

    More to do with a fairly anonymous politico like Savage than anything to do with Murphy.

  • Chris Donnelly

    This one won’t go anywhere. If it did, Stormont would not survive as it would open an avenue for unionists to turn the Executive into the type of unionist-dominated local government chambers where power-sharing remains a bad word.

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed Sammy.

    Resignations in themselves solve nothing FJH. Some sackings can make things considerably worse (as the Minister now knows to the cost of his reputation.

    MacKenzie’s going means the Minister has to find someone else to fill the role, only this time someone with some experience of the Water Industry as well as find the money to pay them to do the job properly at point in the budgetary cycle he’s least likely to find that kind of cash.

    Murphy’s precipitive sacking of the last Board has done his capacity to recruit an industry competent new endless damage.

    Interestingly Murphy himself last May explicitly ruled out bring NI Water into full departmental control on the it’ll-cost-too-much basis, and that was BC (before the coalition).

    But this whole problem desperately needs the cleansing effects of greater publicity, so we get a clear view of the problem and work out what needs to be done to sort it that gets public backing and allows many of the good people on the staff books of NI Water get back to providing a public service for the rest of NI society.

  • Mick Fealty

    Mark,

    One uncorroborated press rumour I heard was that Margaret is not too keen. Maybe she’s read the same fine print you have?

  • Mark McGregor

    We really should note the relevant parts of the legislation Savage is raising (incorrectly as Michael notes above)

    http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?activeTextDocId=2045126

    30. Exclusion of Ministers from office.

    — (1) If the Assembly resolves that a Minister or junior Minister no longer enjoys the confidence of the Assembly—

    (a)because he is not committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means; or
    (b)because of any failure of his to observe any other terms of the pledge of office,

    he shall be excluded from holding office as a Minister or junior Minister for [F49 such period of not less than three months, and not more than twelve months, beginning with the date of the resolution as the resolution may provide] .

    [F50 (1A) The Assembly may, before a period of exclusion under subsection (1) [F51 or section 30A(2)] comes to an end, by resolution extend it until the end of such period of not less than three months, and not more than twelve months, beginning with the date of the resolution as the resolution may provide.]

    (2) If the Assembly resolves that a political party does not enjoy the confidence of the Assembly—
    (a)because it is not committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means; or
    (b)because it is not committed to such of its members as are or might become Ministers or junior Ministers observing the other terms of the pledge of office,

    members of that party shall be excluded from holding office as Ministers or junior Ministers for [F52 such period of not less than six months, and not more than twelve months, beginning with the date of the resolution as the resolution may provide] .
    [F53 (3) The Assembly may, before a period of exclusion under subsection (2) [F54 or section 30A(5)] comes to an end, by resolution extend it until the end of such period of not less than six months, and not more than twelve months, beginning with the date of the resolution as the resolution may provide.]

    (4) A period of exclusion [F55 under subsection (1) or (2)] shall come to an end if the Assembly—
    (a)is dissolved; or
    (b)resolves to bring the exclusion to an end.

    (5) A motion for a resolution under this section shall not be moved unless—
    (a)it is supported by at least 30 members of the Assembly;
    (b)it is moved by the First Minister and the deputy First Minister acting jointly; or
    (c)it is moved by the Presiding Officer in pursuance of a notice under subsection (6).

    Which brings us back to the Pledge of Office and the near impossiblity of proving Murphy has broken it.

    http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/index/work-of-the-executive/ministerial-code/ministerial-code-1.4-pledge-of-office

    Pledge of Office
    1.4 Under the Belfast Agreement and under sections 16, 18 and 19 of the Act, it is a condition of appointment that Ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembly, including the First Minister and the deputy First Minister and junior Ministers, affirm the terms of the following Pledge of Office.
    (a) to discharge in good faith all the duties of office;
    (b) commitment to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means;
    (c) to serve all the people of Northern Ireland equally, and to act in accordance with the general obligations on government to promote equality and prevent discrimination;
    (ca) to promote the interests of the whole community represented in the the Northern Ireland Assembly towards the goal of a shared future;
    (cb) to participate fully in the Executive Committee, the North-South Ministerial Council and the British-Irish Council;
    (cc) to observe the joint nature of the offices of First Minister and deputy First Minister;
    (cd) to uphold the rule of law based as it is on the fundamental principles of fairness, impartiality and democratic accountability, including support for policing and the courts as set out in paragraph 6 of the St Andrews Agreement;
    (d) to participate with colleagues in the preparation of a programme for government;
    (e) to operate within the framework of that programme when agreed within the Executive Committee and endorsed by the Assembly;
    (f) to support, and to act in accordance with, all decisions of the Executive Committee and Assembly;
    (g)

    to comply with the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

    Paragraph six of the St Andrews Agreement says:
    “We believe that the essential elements of support for law and order include endorsing fully the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the criminal justice system, actively encouraging everyone in the community to co-operate fully with the PSNI in tackling crime in all areas and actively supporting all the policing and criminal justice institutions, including the Policing Board.”

    I can’t even find ‘the duties of office’ if they want to claim he didn’t discharge them in ‘good faith’.

    So this is all a waste of time from the UUP.

    Finally, if it isn’t being moved by the DF & dFM Savage needs 30 signatures. Have the DUP signed up? We’d be heading for a stormy few months if they have regardless of it not being able to make it to a vote and be passed if it did get there.

  • Stephen_Warke

    I refer to point 4 of the Ministerial Code of Conduct:
    (iv) follow the seven principles of public life set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life;

    .6 The seven principles of public life referred to at 1.5(iv) are as follows:-

    Selflessness

    Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

    Integrity

    Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

    Objectivity

    In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits,holders of public office should make choices on merit.

    Accountability

    Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

    Openness

    Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

    Honesty

    Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

    Leadership

    Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

    Now folks, How many of the 7 principles above has Minister Murphy broken? Happy to debate the issue.
    Stephen.

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris,

    I agree with the first, but you’re really playing the man there in the second part. I’ve had sympathy with Murphy over the poor advice he’d been given by his Perm Sec. But there are questions about his strategic management (or rather non management) of his brief that would be questioned anywhere else.

    I actually like the idea of the Minster enduring a media storm and not giving in to the Media Id, so to speak. But how does this institution address ministerial incompetence?

    It’s a problem for all parties, but probably for the reasons Mark’s hinting at, more for the smaller parties than the bigger one.

    Now what’s the price going to be for the next CEO to enter what’s quickly become NI PLC’s corporate Bermuda Triangle? No one worth their salf in the job who’s got to work to a Minister who changes policy with the wind, and has such a trail of bodies with nothing but a marked ‘disimprovement’ to show for it.

  • Stephen_Warke

    So this is all a waste of time from the UUP.

    Finally, if it isn’t being moved by the DF & dFM Savage needs 30 signatures. Have the DUP signed up? We’d be heading for a stormy few months if they have regardless of it not being able to make it to a vote and be passed if it did get there.

    30 Signatures isn’t a problem – the DUP haven’t been approached. Whether they choose to come along and sign up and support us in this is their decsion and theirs alone.

    I’m confident that excess of 30 signatures on a cross-community basis will be presented to the Speaker on Monday 10th January 2010.

  • Chris Donnelly

    So this is all a waste of time from the UUP.

    Mark
    More than that, it will confirm what many nationalists have suspected: that unionist politicians are using the water crisis for political/ sectarian purposes, a tactic likely only to further entrench opinions along familiar political/ religious lines. I’d suspect Ritchie is becoming increasing aware of that and will tread carefully lest she be seen to cheerlead the unionist cause.

    After all, we could have seen this maneouvre employed on many occasions before now.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick
    I actually agree with some of your sentiments regarding ministerial decision making in this instance- and on many occasions before now with regard to other Ministers.

    But it isn’t man-calling to point out that, were unionists to succeed in finding a loophole to remove republicans from elected office at Stormont, then it would reduce the administration to a more complicated version of what goes on at local government level in unionist majority councils, where republicans still are excluded from elected posts.

  • Mark McGregor

    Chris,

    Indeed. SF given their online attempts to put Attwood in the frame over Housing Executive failures (totally ignored by the MSM who don’t have to endure the fate of the poorer masses) could employ the same mechanism against the SDLP, with more chance of being successful and forcing the Minister out (not much more chance though, the stoops would have the JR option too).

  • Stephen_Warke

    @Chris Donnelly

    This is a simple matter of politics the world over, where a Minister is found wanting, in the wrong etc… he falls on his sword – it’s a basic principle.

    This isn’t about whether he’s SF or whatever… He let the entire community in NI down… both sides and none had no water… it’s a foolish argument to suggest otherwise.

    Because of that failure, he ought to go… before he’s pushed!

  • Mark McGregor

    Chris,

    SF cannot be forced out of Ministerial offices while the majority party in their sectarian designation. Not by Unionists anyhow, the SoS can still boot them at the drop of a hat though.

    They like the SDLP & UUP currently could be denied office more easily if they ever stopped being the majority ‘nationalist’ party.

  • Mick Fealty

    A double design flaw in other words Mark.

    St Andrew’s undoubtedly beefed up the power of the two larger parties (regardless of who they are). That’s why in a sense this may add up to little more than a gnat’s bite from the UUP.

    Another problem (besides that of moral hazard/accountability) here Chris is that it just reaffirms the insider nature of the Stormont regime, trapping politicians on the inside of the institutions rather than facilitating open political commerce with the outside world.

  • crafty

    what next for the UUP?
    Oh I know … a vote of no confidence in SF minister
    Great footwork , have they got a dance partner though?

  • Is it not possible to simply pass a vote of no confidence to say ‘we think you are not up to the job and you should consider your position’ and leave it at that. No sanction, but anyone with that sort of vote against them could stick it out but lack any authority even of his Executive colleagues. On the details above, the articles/paras above have nothing to do with compotency of being a Minister in respect of his specific Department: it is about whether he is being a Minister and doing the sharing caring thing. So the motion as worded seems to be a dead duck.

  • cynic49

    How quickly everyone seems to have forgotten the mess that Conor Murphy’s department made of the gritting process. Mis-information, ill prepared, under resourced, no salt, limbs broken and vehicles on the wrong side of hedges. How many cock ups does this man have to be involved in before he goes without the need of any games from the UUP? I have to concede that one quality Northern Irish politicians have is very brass necks.

  • Quincey

    A sceptic might suggest that this was simply a tactic of a de-selected sitting MLA. Good oul George trying to raise his profile and show how hard he is against the shinners before running as in independant in the assembly elections?

    I, like most, will be astounded if Murphy steps down or is forced out in any other fashion. As Jim Allister would say, he would already probably be gone in any normal democracy. But we arent a normal one and arent likely to be for many decades, and thats what more political commentators should take on board a bit more often.