2 Ministers vote against budget, 1 missing…

Interesting for cross border pol watchers that Sinn Fein is backing a cuts budget in Northern Ireland, whilst criticising the new coalition in the Republic for implementing Fianna Fail’s austerity focused four year plan. [See important caveat by IrishActuary on Twitter].

Just as interesting though is the way the so-called Manditory Coalition seems to be bursting apart at the seams, with the UUP Minister voting against, and Alex Attwood apparently missing in action…

Margaret Ritchie:

“Devolution was supposed to be about local decision making improving lives,” she said.

“DUP/Sinn Féin have rail-roaded through a budget for the next four years which simply reflected what has been handed down from London. There has been no real attempt to prevent the £4bn of Tory cuts.

“This will cause job losses and hardship for a lot of people and the SDLP believe we could have done more to stop it.”

I suppose asking four parties to share equally in the pain was too much to ask. However it remains to be seen whether the electorate will buy the dissenting judgement of the two minor parties, or take Sammy Wilson’s view that it’s little more than a cynical ploy…

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  • unionistvoter

    Peter Robinson states that Ministers who voted against the budget acted unlawfully.

    If it is now illegal to vote with your conscience what kind of twisted version of democracy have the DUP/SF alliance created.

    How many steps from oppression are we?

  • Mack

    Is that £4bn for a single year? I.e. €1.5bn less than the austerity measures in the south (with twice the population & a higher GDP per capita?)…

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Mick,

    “Interesting for cross border pol watchers that Sinn Fein is backing a cuts budget in Northern Ireland, whilst criticising the new coalition in the Republic for implementing Fianna Fail’s austerity focused four year plan. ”

    I think it fair to describe that has inferred criticsm – to come to that posiiton you would have to show similairty in the depth and breadth of the cuts.

    “way the so-called Manditory Coalition seems to be bursting apart at the seams,”

    Eh. No, ‘bursting part at the seems’ would imply some sort of breakdown – all we appear to have is a situation where ministers want to stay, rather strangely, inside the tent whilst relieving themselves – not very convincing.

    Unfortunately for Tweedle-UUP and Tweedle-SDLP they will be probably find out quite soon, at the Stormo elections, just how unconvincing they have been – could be very embarssing for the 2 new leaders.

  • woodysj

    Is that £4bn for a single year? I.e. €1.5bn less than the austerity measures in the south (with twice the population & a higher GDP per capita?)…

    ———————————————-
    As far as i understand it over 4 years.

  • Mick Fealty

    Mack,

    The legitimate defence is that there are no tax varying powers here, so that the moral culpability of the cuts themselves lies elsewhere (with the UUP’s election partners in fact)…

    Sammy,

    A little less sloganising and bit more substance would be good…

  • Comrade Stalin

    The behaviour of the SDLP and UUP has been pathetic. Margaret Ritchie talks about a failure to resist the cuts. I don’t know how she thinks that resistance can be accomplished ? What’s the point in coming out with nonsense like this in the absence of a concrete proposal of how to do it better ?

    The UUP are worse; despite their department getting more money they’re complaining that it’s not enough. They actually want to expand the health care provision at a time of economic austerity, when the British government (the government that the UUP MPs would have been part of) is freezing health spending at current levels. The time to expand health that was in 2007 when the current Minister first went into office.

    I see Tom Elliott is now wittering incoherently about how this is all the DUP’s fault for supporting Labour’s profligate spending, as the payments being made on the debts could have been instead used to fund increased health spending. All that discards the rather obvious fact that the government subvention into NI more than doubled since 1997 in spite of a dramatic drop during the same period in the cost of dealing with the security situation.

    unionist:

    If it is now illegal to vote with your conscience what kind of twisted version of democracy have the DUP/SF alliance created.

    But collective responsibility within the executive is normally illegal. A minister speaking out against the government would be sacked in any other place. Ministers don’t operate within the cabinet on the basis of free speech or democracy.

    If the SDLP/UUP have a problem with this, then it was dishonourable for them to sign on the dotted line when they took their ministries. You can’t have your cake and eat it. That is why Alliance is supporting the budget – not because it is ideal, but because the David Ford gave his word when he signed the Ministerial Code.

    Mack, AFAIK the £4bn is over four years.

    Sammy, for once I agree with everything you said. The SDLP/UUP position here is transparently built around electioneering. I don’t see the electorate buying it. Increasingly I don’t see the electorate going along with the idea that we should just coast on our merry way in blissful ignorance while the rest of Ireland and the UK takes the pain.

  • Pete Baker

    Mack

    The £4billion figure is over 4 years. And it only qualifies as the total ‘cut’ when judged against what the Labour government said would be available. That is, taking into account the overly-optimistic return from the sale of assets.

    See the “informal valuation” of the Crossnacreevy site.

  • It IS seemingly the judgement of SDLP (the more convincing of the two dissenting parties on the issue) and (Ill take their word for it) the UUP
    It is ALSO a cynical ploy……or to be less judgemental ….it is a strategy. Jobs is after all a fairly central part of the SDLP agenda. And they are the Party that the trades unions (particuarly public service unions) would prefer to deal with…..even if the unions dont have the bal……..er courage to say it publicly.

    But while Mr Fealty is right to point up that Sinn Féin take up a different view north and south of the border, may I point up the following.
    UUP (against the budget cuts) campaigned as the Tory party FOR cuts in May 2010.
    Alliance Party (for the budget) has Ms Long on the Opposition benches at Westminster primarily on the cuts issue.
    And the SDLP (against the budget) is the sister party of the Irish Labour Party who will be implementing more savage cuts in the Republic.
    Thats not to say that the Alliance Party, SDLP and possibly the UUP are without principle. Far from it.
    A Party has a set of policies and even iconic or touchstone issues for example……jobs…..for example…. the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration issue……
    But it seems to me that theres no point in having a decent policy on anything unless you can formulate a strategy to bring about that situation….an electoral strategy. Thats not cynical .its playing to strengths.
    Now I havent a clue where the UUP are going. Neither do they.
    But it seems to me that what the UUPs challenge is to keep to Executive seats…..and the SDLPs challenge is to get a second seat (to make the current arrangement of 5SF:1 SDLP……4:2. Their target is 18 seats (with a probable gain in West Tyrone…..and marginals in 3 Antrim seats and Strangford) and it seems therefore only proper in political terms and……as they would see it proper for the people they seek to represent….to maximise their potential.

  • andnowwhat

    The behaviour of the SDLP has been awful to watch, It’s far from the first time that they have childishly granstanded on a non existant platform (mixed metaphor surely?).

    This is totally pathetic and cynical behaviour when there is serious work to be done and IMHO, the DUP and SF are playing silly buggers.

    The SDLP and UUP have put themselves in to a kind of opposition which is fair enough but as we all know, being in opposition is a piece of piss.

    If they came out with REAL substance in their attacks, they would get more respect. Mc Gimpsey endlessly appearing on Nolan, backed by a supposedly independant stooge, is not the way to go about things.

    As for the laboured nonsense re. SF’s strategy being so different in thew north and the south; Firstly, they are 2 different economies with different problems. Secondly,the Dail has real control over it’s budget etc. whereas Stormont works on a fixed grant from Britain. It can only, with the other parties and the DUP in particular, dole out the dosh. It is just a silly point that I keep hearing/reading made time and again by politicians and journos who should know better.

  • Driftwood

    These are not Tory ‘cuts’. Expenditure will rise annually, just (probably) not in line with inflation. Public sector pay freezes will absorb 90+% of this.
    The last Socialist administration on the mainland left a legacy of debt. The present responsible National (UK)administration is dealing with this.
    The devolved council that has been given charge of the block grant sweetie jar is pretending this (English taxpayers) money is theirs and slicing the pie to suit parochial need.
    North Irelandshire County Council behaving as every other English council in lamenting their having to curtail a champagne socialist lifestyle.
    And all of them dined at the same lavish funded table.

  • Pete Baker

    To add to my earlier comment.

    I’m fairly sure that the Labour Government projections envisaged a NI Water that was self-sufficient – i.e. raising its own revenue through water charges.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    The (so called) ‘mandatory coalition’ term is rather misleading.

    There is nothing mandatory about the UUPs and the SDLPs decison to remain as ministers whilst trying unsucessfuly to thwart the work of the government but rather something distinctly hypocritical .

    They could voluntarily opt for the backbenches where their incessant grumblings might suggest some elemen of principle.

    Fat chance.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sammy,

    This is not the first, nor I suspect the last time, that people have played fast and loose with collective responsibility.

    The UU could certainly be found to be in breach of the ministerial code, only no one has the time or energy to pursue that one before the election in May. Alex just made sure he was safe both ways by simply ‘not being there’.

    The coalition will be mandatory enough again after the election if people want their tickets in the d’Hondt lottery. Bear in mind there’s no financial provision for those who want to do Opposition.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Driftwood,

    “The last Socialist administration on the mainland left a legacy of debt.”

    You do realise that Cameron is big fan of Tony who in turn was a big fan of Mrs T and Gordon was the chancellor through Tony’s reign.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Still all of this is seriously getting under the skin of Sinn Fein. Whilst the DUP seem relatively at ease with UUP line -they obviously had the £120m in mind all along – Sinn Fein have looked increasingly irate in handling the SDLP. Even Martin has been losing his temper alot with them. I can’t remember the last time SF had that reaction.

    I suspect that it is because they are having a taste of their own medicine with the SDLPs quite shameless electioneering. SF have done for a generation. It doesnt have to stand up to serious scrutiny, it used has to sound good on certain doorsteps

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Mick,

    “The coalition will be mandatory enough again after the election if people want their tickets in the d’Hondt lottery”

    But that is the point, you cant argue aginast the government and then queue up to take up your seats in it.

    Is there anything (constitutional) to stop a bill giving money to those in unoffical oppostion being passed in Stormo?

    If not SF and the DUP should give birth to one – the UUP and the SDLP would probably vote against it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy, the ironic thing is that had they made this choice in 2007 and built themselves into a coherent opposition force, things would have been very different; Alliance would have had to have been part of that opposition and it would have been politically difficult for the party to proceed to the justice ministry.

    But to suddenly have this change of heart right before an election will be seen through for the ploy that it is. They might get away with it if they had a coherent brain cell between them to muster up something effective. But all they can do is bluster on the sidelines.

    andnowwhat :

    Mc Gimpsey endlessly appearing on Nolan, backed by a supposedly independant stooge, is not the way to go about things.

    I thought exactly the same thing. Who is the guy – Chief Medical Officer ? He has no business using his title to pass judgements on the decisions of the government. He’s playing a very dangerous game – the next Health Minister to come along may well not be UUP, and may well consider having a motormouth like that on the team as being a liability.

    Pete, Labour did envisage water charging in the budgetary plans, although then again Labour also used water charging as a stick – “this will happen unless you get the Assembly back again to reverse it”.

  • SDLP supporter

    Comrade Stalin
    It was the deal cooked up at St. Andrews by DUP and Sinn Fein with war criminal Bliar (sic) and crook Ahern to change the rules to take away the right of an Executive Minister to vote against the budget on pain of osing his/her seat. The SDLP was not privy to that deal; it was another dirty side deal. therefore, the SDLP is not bound by anything agreed at St. Andrews.

    The real pain will come after May when Sinn Fein, as the dissidents say, will really be implementing British rule in Ireland with all the attendant pain to the least well off. And hell will freeze over before we see Robbo/Marty getting their ego-stoking photo op outside No. 10 Downing Street.

    As for the two pompous Alliance twits at the Executive table, they shouldn’t even be there.

  • vanhelsing

    My background is in economics and I have at least a passing understanding of NI politics but the behaviour of some of the Executive is beyond understanding.

    Perhaps someone should tell some of our Ministers that we have a massive fiscal deficit.

    Perhaps someone should tell them there is not enough money to go round anymore.

    Perhaps someone should help them understand basic household finances and then walk them through how this applies to our fiscal situation.

    Wait I know what we should do, lets put our head in the sand and pretend that the £1billion isn’t missing this year from Barnett and perhaps it won’t happen.

    I think that Sammy had a poisoned chalice and drunk from the cup – he did the best he could and created a budget that met the financial criteria laid out by the treasury – some people don’t like – some people never would…

  • Mick Fealty

    Sammy,

    Have you been asleep for the last four years? Ball busting your cabinet colleagues has been a game for all the Executive family for most of that time. The only question over this latest ‘stroke’ is whether the electorate buy it.

    I don’t fancy the UU’s chances.

    In the meantime, dear old ‘Stormo’ is making fools of all our politicians, or at least enticing them into treating the electorate as fools by trying to pretend they’re not jointly responsible for their colleagues *sometimes* foolish decisions.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Lionel Hutz ,

    You may be right, but the SDLP will ned to be able to point to specific cuts that have affected people rather than just making generalised complaints.

    I wonder did it suit SF and the DUP to have dragged out the budget malarkey to avoid the impact of the cuts being apparent or perhaps would they rather have had them done and dusted some time ago to focus on the election?

  • SDLP supporter

    And further, as John Hume used to say, in the days when his vindicated analysis which ultimately led to the GFA, was repeatedly knocked back by successive British government and mountebanks like Haughey/Lenihan Senior:
    “you don’t give up when you know what you are saying is right”

  • Mick Fealty

    Sammy,

    “I wonder did it suit SF and the DUP to have dragged out the budget malarkey to avoid the impact of the cuts being apparent or perhaps would they rather have had them done and dusted some time ago to focus on the election?”

    Now you mention elections, erm…

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Mick,

    “Have you been asleep for the last four years? Ball busting your cabinet colleagues has been a game for all the Executive family for most of that time. The only question over this latest ‘stroke’ is whether the electorate buy it.”

    What is remarkable about the current shenanigans is the spectacle of the DUP and SF (who actually politically detest each other more than any other pair of parties) rounding on the ‘unoffical opposition’ and also on the British government and this happening against a backdrop of Unionist parties (particualrly the UUP) clamouring for a ‘real opposition’ in a reformed Stormo.

    The end of ‘mandatory’ coalition would be potentailly very damaging and possibly terminal, for both the UUP and the SDLP – at least the SDLP, unlike the UUP are not stupid enough to campaign for it.

  • andnowwhat

    Yeah CS, the guy was on Nolan repeating Mc Gimpsey’s line that the NINHS is bankrupt, which IMHO is irresponsible melodramatics in the extreme.

    I worked in the NHS for over 20 years. The nurses, doctors, therapists etc. know their jobs so why, I ask, are there these very well paid men in suits in every hospital that (in my experience) do nothing but come up with endless and contradictory policies, policies that are constantly changed for no good reason.

    The professional bodies of medical staff have very high standards, staff (for the most part) are highly motivated and keen to learn. Are there staff that are not so keen? Sure and I worked with them and that is/should be dealt with on an intra departmental level, not by these eejits with unfathomable job titles on their name badges.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    SDLP Supporter,

    Quoting John Hume, remarakble a man as he undoubtedly is, can only take you so far.

  • iluvni

    How cowardly of Attwood

  • J Kelly

    i have to say i agree with illuvni 100% it was sheer cowardice of atwood to absent himself tonight. i think most people are reading this for what it is its the election stupid. the ordinary man or woman in the street will not be fooled by the bystanding of the sdlp and the uup. bring on the 5th of may. a wee prediction the two sdlp jokers callaghan and mc devitt to lose.

  • fordprefect

    Andnowwhat
    Have to beg to differ with you when you said it was different in the north because they get their block grant from London whereas the Free State have fiscal control over their econonomy, er, I don’t think so, what about their block grant from Europe?
    Sammy
    I think you are spot on, SF and the DUP have dragged out this budget malarkey as far as they could, imo, so people will get bored with it and then just go along on polling day and vote for them. Election over then people will really see the cuts biting! I predicted on this blog a while back that SF will wield the cuts axe as good as (if not worse than) any true blue tory!

  • andnowwhat

    I also agree with Iluvni.

    The SDLP today is a total betrayal of its founders who were principled (certainly by comparison). They are complete clinical, cynical game players, a game they are frightingly poor at. They are more obsessed with SF than actual politics.

    Mc Devitt is a media whore as indeed is Atwood. Ritchie speaks in goverment middle management speak (I always feel that I am on a training session about clinical governance or some such tripe when she spaeaks). Oddly enough, they do have some good people (as I have seen watching the parliament channel. As indeed do the UUP) but they are kept out of the mainstream for some reason.

    Personally (as indeed did my family), they fell out of favour when Joe Hendron asked for the people of unionist/loyalist West Belfast to vote for him to defeat Adams. Did he not think that they were entitled to express themselves electorally rather than erase the unionist identity from the constituancy? But that’s the SDLP for you.

  • Crubeen

    Andnowwhat
    “the guy was on Nolan repeating Mc Gimpsey’s line that the NINHS is bankrupt, which IMHO is irresponsible melodramatics in the extreme.”

    This Department is probably the most profigate and least accountable among the lot of them. I agree with you that there are a heck of a lot of damn good professionals, within Health and Social Care, doing a worthwhile job for the community. There’s a powerful load of eedjits however and they spend far too much money for the alleged benefit they are bestowing on the community. Furthermore in crucial areas that expenditure is not at all properly regulated or accounted for.

    The DHSSPS could balance the books and avoid overal redundancies whilst maintaining and increasing front line service (of actual worth to service recipients) if it got rid of or severely reduced the dross of box-ticking (and those who do it), over-management and regulation and massivelt depleted the numbers of Social Workers plying their trade in the community. I note for example that England is moving to a single assessment of needs for the disabled yet, here, they will face inumerable tests and assessments by each and every trade that has to meet their needs and of these trades, that of the Social Worker is of least worth.

    Of course it would take a little imagination and ingenuity to work out how that could be done … but those virtues are lacking … particularly where Nolan or other tame hacks provide a platform for moaning.

    Every year we are told the health service budget has gone up and every year services are constricted. How can this be reconciled? Is it not the case that management is unfit for the job – that it cannot deliver a quality product within the resources available and ought therefore be replaced by those who can do it? And I’m not suggesting, by any means, that the redundancies in management be restricted to the political staff.

  • fordprefect

    I personally think that if any minister was so totally opposed to cuts being imposed on them, rather than go through the pantomime (that is stormont) and they may/may not be sacked from their post for voting against the etc. etc. etc., why didn’t they resign their ministries and say “I am not implementing these cuts, get some other mug/creep/tory/scumbag to do it”!

  • “andnowwhat” makes an interesting point about Joe Hendron in West Belfast. Perhaps the people who would normally have voted unionist did deserve “to express themselves electorally”……..but er they still could do that because there was unionists on the ballot paper.

    But he also misses the point that the SDLP voters in Fermanagh-South Tyrone were entitled to express themselves electorally without Ms Gildernew asking them to vote for her to defeat the unonist candidate.
    And perhaps the Sinn Féin voters in South Belfast were entitled to express themselves electorally without Alex Maskey standing aside.
    The unionists in West Belfast and the SDLP voters in FST were not disenfranchised.
    Alas the SF voters in South Belfast WERE disenfranchised ……by their own party.

  • fordprefect

    Fitz
    That’s a good point you make about south Belfast. In my opinion, I think what Andnowwhat was getting at was, the UDA were actively encouraging their members and supporters to vote for Hendron to keep Adams out, and, remember this was at a time when catholics/nationalists were getting gunned down on an almost daily basis by the UDA. By the way, the UDA weren’t “outlawed” until 1992.

  • Is Peter Robinson running scared of the biggest show in the country? And is Stephen Nolan given a prepared script for his show?

    What are the Stormont leadership plans for the private sector to generate recovery. Where can we read that white/green paper?

    From where would an entrepreneur be guaranteed funding of, for the sake of argument, £88,888,888, for a novel enterprise, and would there be government guarantee backing for programs which presented themself as spending money in the economy for social and business growth …….. for those are the sort of questions to be asked of Stormont servants, for clear and unambiguous answering.

  • Cynic2

    I know. It’s shocking that politicians vote on conscience against something they disagree with. Who would have thought that might happen.

    Sammy has spent too long in the DUP where things are sorted out behind closed doors over a G&T, a quick prayer or a knife in the back.

  • Cynic2

    “Peter Robinson states that Ministers who voted against the budget acted unlawfully.”

    Great. So what is the description of the actions of those who secure lucrative cafe deals for lovers?

  • Cynic2

    ” the moral culpability of the cuts themselves lies elsewhere (with the UUP’s election partners in fact)”

    ….. errrrrrr surely it lies with Labour (SF and teh DUPs friends) who squandered trillions and helped foster the banking crisis through cronyism and incompetence. The Tories are just trying to fix the mess they inherited from Tony and Gordon.

  • Cynic2

    “From where would an entrepreneur be guaranteed funding of, for the sake of argument, £88,888,888, for a novel enterprise”

    He could try seducing a politician who might use their contacts to help him out and secure a ‘loan’ from some friends but sadly the lending limit is only £50k

  • dwatch

    Posturing before an election in May 2011, does one need to draw little pictures??????????????

    Minister of Social Development Alex Attwood will be shouting from the rooftops to his electorate: “I have washed my hands of this ghastly budget which will be hitting all citizens in West Belfast on social benefits. While your former MP Gerry Adams has run off to Co Louth in the ROI and left you in your hour of need. The leader of SF is attacking the budget in the Dail but has supported it at Stormont. So who will you give your No 1 vote for now, the hypocrites in SF, or those who have your welfare at heart, Alex Attwood and SDLP?

  • Comrade Stalin

    SDLP supporter :

    It was the deal cooked up at St. Andrews by DUP and Sinn Fein with war criminal Bliar (sic) and crook Ahern to change the rules to take away the right of an Executive Minister to vote against the budget on pain of osing his/her seat.

    You’re talking nonsense. It is pure farce to allow ministers to vote against their own collective government – this is an omission in the original GFA, it is was clearly not by design. The provision which was added to the Ministerial Code within the StAA corrected this problem. Which, I might add, was exploited by the DUP back then, whose ministers routinely voted against the executive.

    The provision doesn’t apply solely to the budget, it applies to every executive decision.

    The SDLP was not privy to that deal; it was another dirty side deal. therefore, the SDLP is not bound by anything agreed at St. Andrews.

    The SDLP and UUP, like every other minister, pledged themselves to the modified Ministerial Code including the StAA modifications. It is highly dishonourable to pledge yourself to a code that you oppose. And why didn’t they mention this problem before now ?

    As for the two pompous Alliance twits at the Executive table, they shouldn’t even be there.

    It’s unsurprising that accuracy isn’t your strong point.

    Anyway, this is old news. You really need to get past it and stop reminding the public that you failed to negotiate the justice minister’s role for your own party.

    And further, as John Hume used to say, in the days when his vindicated analysis which ultimately led to the GFA, was repeatedly knocked back by successive British government and mountebanks like Haughey/Lenihan Senior:
    “you don’t give up when you know what you are saying is right”

    Except John Hume did give up. He started out saying “a united Ireland now, or nothing”. He tried to undermine the SDLP leadership during the Sunningdale process which was the precursor to the GFA. When he took over, the SDLP policy position became joint authority; he boycotted the Prior assembly and encouraged the British and Irish governments to initiate the Anglo Irish Agreement, which the GFA scrapped.

    So the GFA amounted to a massive retrenchment by Hume and a reversal of what he had spent his career trying to push for. The only mark he successfully made was to bring SF into the process (sowing the seeds for the SDLP’s destruction while doing so). Little wonder half the SDLP can’t stand him.

    andnowwhat:

    Yeah CS, the guy was on Nolan repeating Mc Gimpsey’s line that the NINHS is bankrupt, which IMHO is irresponsible melodramatics in the extreme.

    Silly tactics, as it leaves him open to the obvious comeback. Which is – if the NHS is bankrupt then what has the minister been doing about it for the past four years ? If he had been saying this since he was appointed it would be understandable.

    vanhelsing:

    I agree with you, Wilson was passed a difficult situation. In response to the accusation that he is punishing UUP and SDLP departments he points out that he has increased their funding, especially health, where other departments have seen a reduction. Six months ago, McGimpsey’s request was for the health budget to be ring-fenced; when that was delivered he moved the goalposts. This is all transparent electioneering and I hope they get the book thrown at them by the electorate.

  • dwatch

    Posturing before an election in May 2011, does one need to draw little pictures??????????????

    UUP Ministers Michael McGimpsey & Danny Kennedy were even better posturing preformers than Alex Attwood. over the recent weeks. All three are drama Queens and should change their careers to go on the stage.

  • Neil

    So who will you give your No 1 vote for now, the hypocrites in SF, or those who have your welfare at heart, Alex Attwood and SDLP?

    Sinn Fein thanks. Some people view the SDLP’s hypocrisy as older and a lot more serious. Most see Gerry Adam’s departure to Louth as a sound tactical decision which has paid off, and moves the UI project one step closer.

    We’ll leave it to the good folks in the stoops to swear their allegiance to the Queen of England while talking out of the sides of their mouths about their Republican ‘principles’. Maybe after the next Westminster election we get to see Margaret Ritchies take her oath alongside Rodney Connor, the stoops preferred candidate in F&ST.

  • Comrade Stalin

    dwatch:

    So who will you give your No 1 vote for now, the hypocrites in SF, or those who have your welfare at heart, Alex Attwood and SDLP?

    There’s a bet if I ever saw one. Do you reckon the Stoops will gain seats in W Belfast ?

  • andnowwhat

    CS, I probably shouldn’t say this on a public forum but in my experience, the Stoops endless and obsessive attacks on SF actually turns people off the Stoops.

    Becoming a “nationalist” party every 4 years or whenever an election is coming up,doesn’t play well either.

    Now, keep that to yourself. We wouldn’t want the Stoops to discover natural human behaviour

  • stewart1

    I think the whole episode has made the stoops and UUP look very weak. Attwood’s decision to hide away yesterday for the vote was particularly spineless.

  • [aside]”Alex Attwood apparently missing in action…”

    Perhaps the Minister doesn’t enjoy the limelight. He appears here in some photos from the Royal and Ministerial visits to the North Antrim coast in June 2010 but sort of just missed an opportunity to greet the Royal party, unlike his colleague Arlene Foster.

  • “the two minor parties”

    This sort of understates the position of lesser parties in a coalition. We’ve seen what happened to the Greens in the Dáil and what may well happen to the LibDems at Westminster.

    It’s alleged that the DUP and SF collude in advance of Executive meetings and even withhold agendas and documents until meetings are in progress. Perhaps McGimpsey’s appearance on Nolan was a ploy to circumvent this collusion. The Alliance Party was a beneficiary when it got the Justice ministry at the expense of the SDLP.

    In Stormont the lesser parties get to pick up the crumbs even when they’re at the table.

  • andnowwhat

    JH, the cases of Hendron’s tactic and that in FST are completely consistant ie. anti SF. Do you really think that Hendron really wanted to reach across to the unionist/loyalists of west Belfast or was it a cynical anti SF ploy?

    In FST a sectarian line was drawn in the sand. Actually, I think it was right that the stoops stayed in the race. If unionist (politicians) want to play that game they should not be indulged by joining in. A friend of mine is from South Tyrone. His family (granny, aunts, uncles, cousins) are as blue as a Smurf with an asthma attack but would not vote for Connor as they did not like what the unionists were up to. Again, a failure to understand human nature (the stoops and the UUP have so much in common).

    Besides, I think the behaviour of the stoops in FST could possibly prove a costly tactic in May.

  • Neil

    If unionist (politicians) want to play that game they should not be indulged by joining in.

    I agree up to a point, it’s not a good tactic to set out with, but if our Unionist amigos want to load the deck, then we should join in by way of retaliation. The moral high ground’s nice and all, but it don’t win seats.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    andnowwhat,

    As ever with matters pertaining to Nationalist sects we can do worse than take a lesson from the Pythonesque (Popular Front for the liberation of Judea and the variations thereof) when observing the behaviour of the SDLP who reserve their greatest (self-righteous) anger for SF.

    To be fair however, we have to acknowledge, that when the positions were reversed in terms of electoral strength, that it was exactly the same carryon (and arguably worse) – as the boul Joe Hendron would no doubt attest.

  • “while talking out of the sides of their mouths about their Republican ‘principles’.”

    Neil, this is an allegation that has been made by various groupings since the Provisional Republican Movement did somersaults on their opposition to Stormont and to Loyal Order parades.

    SF TDs will be opposing government cuts in the Dáil whilst their Ministers implement cuts at Stormont. Murphy’s minions naturally don’t refer to cuts in the DRD budget; indicative savings sounds so much more wholesome.

  • dwatch

    ‘There’s a bet if I ever saw one. Do you reckon the Stoops will gain seats in W Belfast ?’

    No, but Alex Attwood does. The people of W Belfast have no choice but vote SF. After all who else is going stop them from paying water rates & keep them poor, unemployed & living on social benefits as they have always been since partition.

    Who needs employment when you can feed yourselves your children, grandchildren & great grandchildren false dreams of a 32 county UI.

  • Brian Walker

    Does any of this sham fight help the cause of better government? Do voters care about it? I can’t’ see many voting on whether a party supported the budget or not.Nor are they interested in an alternative cross community government. I suspect interest is limited to zero sum game players like many Slugger commenters.

    The Executive is a Mad Hatter’s’ Tea Party where everryone wins prizes. As political neuralgia still persists, this is unlikely to change any time soon. I’ve seen no convincing argument why the UUP or SDLP should quit the Executive either. Inside it they can score the odd point. Outside, what influence would they have even if the Assembly rules were changed? It might be different if they formed a reformist centre pact. Does anyone see the slightest sign of that happening?

  • Mack

    Taking the £4bn over 4 years cut at face value (some of it is relative to an increase that won’t materialise if I’m understanding that correctly Pete?) – if you adjust that for currency and economy size, it’s about half the size of the FF/Greens austerity budget in year 1, but is roughly analogous to the (agreed) FG/Labour austerity budgets from here on in.

    SF can argue ‘the Tories made them do it’, but FG/Lab will likely argue ‘the IMF/EU/FF/PD/Greens made them do it too.’

  • “matters pertaining to Nationalist sects”

    Sammy, I must use whataboutery here to illustrate in the strongest possible terms your fragrant breach of the equality principle. Unionist sects also indulge in the fool Monty – Python!!

  • Lionel Hutz

    Lionel Hutz ,

    You may be right, but the SDLP will ned to be able to point to specific cuts that have affected people rather than just making generalised complaints.

    I wonder did it suit SF and the DUP to have dragged out the budget malarkey to avoid the impact of the cuts being apparent or perhaps would they rather have had them done and dusted some time ago to focus on the election?

    ————————————–

    Do the SDLP have to point to specific cuts? I’m long past the stage of trying to guess what washes with the NI Electorate. All I say is that Sinn Fein have gotten away with some mind-boggling stuff at the ballot box in past elections and there is no reason to believe that the SDLP cant also do so. Nonetheless, it would certainly be desirable for the SDLP to have an alternative budget with some emphasis on stimulus.

    The whole comparison with SF North and South is valid – not because they were wrong in NI but because they were wrong in the South. NI can only spend what they are given and its right the there should be a budget to reflect that. But in the south, Sinn Fein ran an election campaign based on a denial of the need for European Support to plug a massive public deficiet whilst similarly denying that cuts had to be made. It was nonsense, but they tripled their seats – and thats with a very economically literally electorate.

    It is possible for the SDLP to play this well – though suggests they will fail to do so. Attwood’s abstention was a neccessary move as it was the only way the party could vote against the budget whilst giving no credence to Martin McGuinness’s assertion that they are going to form an official opposition. The SDLP were no part of drawing up the budget, why should they vote for it?

    There is no partnership in this Executive. Look at the DUP ploy over the Health Budget.Leaving aside my belief that the idea that the Health budget cannot shrink any further is an absolute nonsense, the pure politics of the argument was so cynical. We had a two month argument with scare-mongering etc about a £200 milllion gap between what Sammy had in his draft budget and what McGimpsey wanted. For weeks, the people were told that there was no money to give Health and out of the blue, they produce 60% of it in the £120 million announced the other day at a final Executive vote. Where is the partnership in that?

    Why should the SDLP and UUP support this budget? Why shouldn’t the SDLP argue that whilst the budget has to reflect the cut in Barnett, there are other means of lessening the pain this.

  • Banjaxed

    Could it be that the real reason why GA went South was that Marty & the Northern comrades are too right wing and that, now that the SF primary objective seems to be slipping from his grasp (Unity by 2016), at least he can practice his ‘socialism’ in the Dail?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Brian Walker,

    “I’ve seen no convincing argument why the UUP or SDLP should quit the Executive either”

    Well there is that rare old politcal commodity – principle.

    As I mentioned above, SF and the DUP should put forward a bill to provide extra money for parties who voluntraily decide to opt out of the ‘mandatory’ coalition – and we all know that TweedleUUP and TweedleSDLP would vote agianst.

  • “Inside it they can score the odd point.”

    They can’t when it matters, Brian. It’s the same sham that happens in ‘powersharing’ in local councils. The allocation of resources is at the whim of the majority just as it is where the d’Hondt arrangement isn’t used.

  • andnowwhat

    Neil, the thing about the moral high ground is that it always takes longer to pay off but usually does in the end. I could go cross country and go off topic about how the moral high ground of discrimination against catholics would have paid off sooner had nationalists/republicans not made the errors that they did

    . I would rather that the story was how the british and unionist goverments behaved rather than 30 odd years of violence. We would have got here quicker and in probably in a better position. Don’t get me wrong, I know many ex “combatants” and get what they did.

    Anyway, that’s off topic. Just thinking there, surely the DUP’s inclusion in the FST pact somewhat pisses in the SDLP/UUP theory of the cosy pact between SF/DUP.

    Anyway, to put on my glasses and my big collared shirt Harry Hill style, which one is best…..SF/SDLP bull or UUP/SDLP unsubstantial opposition tactics?

    Only one way to find out…..EEELLLLLLEEEECTIOOONNN!!!!

  • Lionel Hutz

    The comparison between the SDLPs performance in FST and Sinn Fein’s performance in South Belfast will be very revealing. Was a sectarian pact the right way to go or was it better to actually put your manifesto to the vote?

    Does anyone think thata Maskey will benefit in South Belfast?

    It will be very interesting.

  • Poots and McNarry are a right pair – a snippet from yesterday’s cat fight:

    Mr PootsWhat about poor Dolly Parton? If Michael was writing the lyrics, he would say that the ‘Coat of Many Colours’ would become a body warmer, and instead of being in many colours, it would be all grey.

    Mr McNarry: Dolly Parton could do with a body warmer. [Laughter.]

  • andnowwhat

    I have a confession to make here.

    My name is Andnowwhat and I am an ordinary voter!!!!

    Unlike most people on Slugger I am not really in to the minutia of NI politics. Thus I think I can give a little perspective of the common voter. The UUP and SDLP are, to my ears, on a one track loop of attacking their intra tribal rivals. Once I have heard it once or twice it becomes predictable white noise.

    Now, if they want to play the opposition game they need numbers, money and subtantiated facts (I’m looking at you Mc Gimpsey with your going on Nolan and throwing out random numbers as scare tactics). Money, jobs, housing are things that catch our ears and our votes. Bitching does not.

  • andnowwhat

    Yeah Nevin. I saw some of the debate and the light tone did not go down well with me. People are about to lose jobs, businesses will go to the wall, we need a massive public housing programme ASAP and yet the levity was in the air.

    Strange that the only agency that got a break from the goverment was the peelers based on the dissident activities/threat. Actually, IMHO, the peelers do not need more money, they need to do their fek’n jobs which costs precisely zero

  • andnowwhat

    Anyone know what’s up with Billy Leonard?

    He’s been suspended from the party and did not attend yesterday’s vote nor has he attended Stormont for a fortnight according to the BBC news

  • Neil

    People are about to lose jobs, businesses will go to the wall, we need a massive public housing programme ASAP and yet the levity was in the air.

    Meanwhile McCauseland was dealing with the one issue on the forefront of everyone’s mind: Why will team GB not be referred to as ‘team GB and Northern Ireland’ at the upcoming olympics.

    Good work Nelson, keep it up. He’ll be down the museum shortly.

  • “they need to do their fek’n jobs which costs precisely zero”

    andnowwhat, the police still operate within political constraints. There are still ‘good’ paramilitaries out there, the untouchables; some may even be listed as ‘community representatives’ in media reports.

    The policy of centralisation appears to have produced more chiefs but a deficit of constables and the related lack of local knowledge means that they won’t be able to find people when they need to locate them urgently.

  • Neil

    Nevin,

    SF TDs will be opposing government cuts in the Dáil whilst their Ministers implement cuts at Stormont.

    Politics, plain and simple. No-one could argue that the shinners didn’t have to perform hypocritical gymnastics (not a bullet, not an ounce) in much the same way as Paisley (never, never, never… aye alright then).

    I could defend SF by saying that in NI they are constrained by the financial package provided by Posh Boy Call me Dave and his chums from Eton/Oxford.

    I could also add it’s an apples and oranges scenario. The cuts provided by the UU’s chums in Westminster are very different to the cuts in the South – NI’s cuts are supposedly an attempt to make society live within it’s means while in the South the cuts are designed to attempt to service an unsustainable, crippling debt.

    If NI was a fully independent state would I advocate reigning in budgets to live within our means? Yes.

    Would I suggest making savage cuts in an attempt to keep up with ridiculously high interest payments (thanks to our ‘friends’ in the EU) in the knowledge that the debt would remain unpaid and would in all likelihood increase in spite of the savage cuts inflicted? No I wouldn’t, or at least I would attempt to have a debate around the subject.

    Perhaps it’s your view that the two situations (UK and ROI) are identical and should be approached in identical ways? Or maybe you, like me, see the fact that certain masters of the univers through their own greed and in an attempt to become super wealthy lost everything, but the state stepped in to ensure they can still afford foie gras for dinner, and after that we now have a crippling interest rate on a crippling debt so those self-same bankers that cost the Irish taxpayer billions (or trillions) can now cream it in further by the taxpayer paying interest on debts run up by the bankers?

  • Neil

    I should have added that the politics game they play, is the same one I play when I plunge the knife into the SDLP with gusto. It’s all part of the game.

  • Neil, you mustn’t have been paying attention: the UK sports ministers have suggested that the brand label should be changed from Team GB to Team UK.

    This would be in keeping with other changes that I’ve suggested previously. I’m sure most folks wouldn’t think that Northern Ireland is in Britain/Great Britain.

    The annual digest of UK Government statistics has changed from Britain to UK and ‘Britain in the USA’ has become ‘UK in the USA’.

    Petty Paxmans will attempt to make a meal out of the change.

  • Neil

    Neil, you mustn’t have been paying attention: the UK sports ministers have suggested that the brand label should be changed from Team GB to Team UK.

    Oh I was paying attention just fine Nevin. McCauseland said The current naming and branding of the team has the potential to create the perception that Northern Ireland is not part of the British Olympic team. It’s good to see him paying attention to that which really matters to NI society.

    Remind me again, how many olympic atheletes will be training in NI? What will NI get out of this gold plated opportunity? Nothing? Ah well. Nelson’s obviously concentrating on the important stuff, like ensuring foreign folk will realise NI is in the UK.

    Perhaps he could have spent more time trying to capitalise on the games, as opposed to the petty Unionist politicking we’re used to. Maybe he was too busy writing to the museum to insist they display information on an unproveable theory regarding the world being 4004 years old, and doing important stuff like insisting NI be added to the team name for the olympics.

    That’s what matters Nevin, not money, tourism, investment or any kind of benefit from the games (which we will pay billions to host), no ensuring that people know NI and GB are linked and using his influence to get his hobby horse recognised as science in a museum.

    As I said, well done Nelson. Keep it up.

  • Mack

    @Neil

    I could also add it’s an apples and oranges scenario. The cuts provided by the UU’s chums in Westminster are very different to the cuts in the South – NI’s cuts are supposedly an attempt to make society live within it’s means while in the South the cuts are designed to attempt to service an unsustainable, crippling debt.

    It definitely isn’t.

    There are at least two crisis infecting the south at the moment.

    1. A banking crisis – which has not been adequately dealt with and which is making a sovereign default more and more likely (or alternatively will stretch out austerity for years beyond 2014/15).

    2. A fiscal crisis (gap between taxation and spending) which would have to be bridged anyway.

    A large portion of that crippling debt will accrue because we paid ourselves too much and taxed ourselves too lightly during the boom – regardless of any socialisation of bank debts.

  • andnowwhat

    Hi Nevin.

    What the PSNI has to deal with (paramilitary wise) is tiny compared to the past. Loyalists have become common or garden crooks or, as you say, communitry workers (standard police fare there) and the dissidents are (despite Basil’s claims) a small and manageable problem.

    Have a look at a local, British paper’s website and our level of common crime is not that big at all. The assault and murder rate in metropolitan districts in GB well outstrips ours (Glasgow, London or greater Manchester for example).

    The resources are there, the right men for the job clearly are not (from the top to the bottom). They have god weapons (which seemed to have become accessories), over 30 years of research and experience to draw from and (something the RUC didn’t have) a community that supports them.

  • Neil, there are similarities in the UK and Ireland financial predicaments. The bankers, like lawyers in other settings, seem to do quite well while others are left to pick up the tab.

    Posh Boy has a nice ring to it but the block grant has been allocated by the Westminster Coalition. The Coalition has links to the UUP and APNI.

    Defending SF is problematic in the face of the behaviour of Conor Murphy at the Department of Regional Development. His associate Máirtín Ó Muilleoir didn’t remain too long as an NI Water NED. Is there a connection between his early bath and the questions that were asked about the appointment process and the funding of SF-linked projects?

  • andnowwhat

    Back to the topic. Does anyone know Atwood’s excuse for being AWOL?

  • andnowwhat, statistics and media reports can be misleading.

    The ‘good’ paramilitary godfathers are those who are part of the London and Dublin appeasement process. Members of the community who see PSNI officers participating in community projects with these good paramilitaries, elected to public office or otherwise, will understandably be reluctant to report incidents to the police.

    Other members of the community have also turned to paramilitaries for speedy ‘justice’. It’s my impression that there’s some official understanding that permits some paramilitaries to keep other paramilitaries in check.

  • PaulT

    “Interesting for cross border pol watchers that Sinn Fein is backing a cuts budget in Northern Ireland, whilst criticising the new coalition in the Republic for implementing Fianna Fail’s austerity focused four year plan.”

    Is this not comparable with Labour Councils in GB implementing the biggest cuts of the Tory led govt. while the Labour Party on the opposition benches condemns the govt. for making the cuts

  • Neil

    Defending SF is problematic in the face of the behaviour of Conor Murphy at the Department of Regional Development.

    No more so than if defending Catriona’s people skills, or Ian Jr.’s homophobia, or Iris’ nymphomania. Those examples being off the top of the head, a more relevant one would be McGimpsey’s attitude to the cuts on his department which are a) small, and b) passed down the line from the party he cheer led into government.

    The point being I can defend SF just fine, without worrying too much about Murphy as he’s only one person in a very large organisation.

    One wouldn’t expect every Labour/Tory politician to support every other Labour/Tory politician in their party regardless of their abilities. I can quite happily criticise some Shinners and defend the party as a whole.

    The Murphy (appointment process) story to me is, unfortunately, very dull. I can see that it should probably have been a bigger deal than it was for that reason. However the xmas water story is what people care about, and most people know that the problems existed long before Conor came on the scene, and might point out that during the 7 years of devolution in NI (’99 – ’02 and ’07 – current) SF have held the ministry for 4 years, the DUP for 3 and it’s been under direct rule for the 4 intervening years.

    So while you may want Republican voters to hold SF solely responsible for the crumbling wreck of a water system they inherited from the previous DRD ministers, most won’t as they realise the water system, since devolution ’99 has been controlled for SF for only 4 years, and controlled by the DUP or direct rule ministers for nearly twice as long as Conor has held office.

    You may wish it to be that Conor took over and the water system spontaneously crumbled under our feet, but somehow I think the 10 years in the run up to the crisis may also have had some role to play, for the majority of that time SF didn’t control DRD.

    Not that it matters from a Republican/Unionist perspective as those who wish Conor to carry the can are Unionist and will have little say in whether he gets elected or not. Republicans will continue to vote for him and that’s all that really matters.

  • dwatch

    “Back to the topic. Does anyone know Atwood’s excuse for being AWOL?”

    He was seen canvassing in W Belfast.

  • PaulT

    “Defending SF is problematic in the face of the behaviour of Conor Murphy at the Department of Regional Development.”

    Yeap a SF minister is struggling to turn a Go-Co into a public body

    And a SF minister is struggling to abolish the 11+ and bring NI in line with the UK (and Ireland)

    And a SF minister struggle to implement a huge agricultural environmental grant.

    I’m reminded of the Parable of the Talents (no pun int.)

    Someone mentioned earlier the achievements of Causland in his portofolio, and I think it goes across the cabinet.

    The SDLP, DUP and UUP will knock on doors in May to let people know they buried their departments in the ground to prevent any cockups, which also means that nothing really changed in their departments either.

    SF will knock on doors and say this is what we are trying to achieve.

  • Crubeen

    “He was seen canvassing in W Belfast”

    Sounds like a man who knows what’s important … and what isn’t!

    But it was extremely careless of him to be seen doing something else when he should have been doing what he should have been doing.

  • 241934 john brennan

    To quote the SDLP’s Delores Kelly on the budget:

    “There is absolutely no equality in the draft Sinn Féin/DUP/Alliance budget and it is a fact that it will impact more adversely on women than on any other group.

    “Lead women’s organisations including the Chrysalis Women’s Centre in Craigavon have highlighted that the draft budget is flawed and fails to provide sufficient support and service to women living in disadvantaged areas.

    “A full Equality Impact Assessment has not been carried out and as a result the budget will impact disproportionately upon women. There has also been a lack of co-operation to deal with cross-cutting issues including childcare funding and a childcare strategy.

    “Additionally, the Fawcett Society has highlighted that of the £8bn worth of cuts to tax and welfare, 72% will come from women’s pockets, in comparison to 28% from men’s.

    Of course this is water off a duck’s back as far as the macho men in DUP and Sinn Fein are concerned

  • Lionel Hutz

    Well, the SDLP need to point to a big idea in their policy document on the budget. It is a fairly detailed document. However, I’m not sure anyone knows about. Even a gimmick like Enda five point plan would suffice. It just allows the ordinary voter to understand it all better

  • Cynic2

    “Yeap a SF minister is struggling to turn a Go-Co into a public body”

    ……. no hes not. He’s buggered up the water supply and is trying to cover it up

    “And a SF minister is struggling to abolish the 11+ and bring NI in line with the UK (and Ireland)”

    ….great to see that she finds the UK’s failed experiment such a beacon of hope. And she’s certainly struggling – usually to understand the most basic concepts. Still, when was a lack of intellect ever a bar to success in SF

    “And a SF minister struggle to implement a huge agricultural environmental grant.”

    No …she manages to pay out twice as much as was seen to be necessary. But hey its all free money so why bother – until your granny needs a hip operation and cant have one because Michelle ate all the pies

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    241934 john brennan,

    “A full Equality Impact Assessment has not been carried out and as a result the budget will impact disproportionately upon women.”

    Are you suggesting every adminstration has one of these?

    Cant remember any challenges in the Dáil or Westminster on budget day on this basis.

  • dwatch

    “He was seen canvassing in W Belfast”

    ‘Sounds like a man who knows what’s important … and what isn’t! But it was extremely careless of him to be seen doing something else when he should have been doing what he should have been doing.’

    I doubt if Attwood sees it that way. Stormont is to be disolved in a fortnight’s time. Former W Belfast MP Joe Hendron and a number of young university types (SDLP youth) were seen in his company canvassing in Andytown. Is there not a Westminster by-election coming as well since Gerry Adams resigned his MP’s seat?

  • Lionel Hutz

    Why should UUP and SDLP put their names to the budget? It’s not their budget. If they think there’s a different way, let them put it to the electorate and see how it flies. The election campaign could be very good for both parties.

  • Reader

    ItwasSammy: Well there is that rare old politcal commodity – principle.
    Well, with SF in Stormont administering a partitioned Ireland; DUP sharing power with Provos; UUP and SDLP opposing the executive budget but remaining in the executive; and whatever grudge you have with Alliance – who is there you could possibly condescend to vote for?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Reader,

    “and whatever grudge you have with Alliance.”

    Pardon?

    Both the DUP and SF have compromised, presumably their principles remain the same – though their tactics clearly have not.

  • Reader

    Delores Kelly: Additionally, the Fawcett Society has highlighted that of the £8bn worth of cuts to tax and welfare, 72% will come from women’s pockets, in comparison to 28% from men’s.
    I thought the figure for cuts was £4bn, not £8bn, and most of them notional?
    You will at least be relieved that 0% of the cuts will affect children, or children’s services, or children’s pockets. Which is impressive targeting, since they are nearly 30% of the population. Or does the Fawcett Society explain some methodology for allocating any cuts to children’s services proportionally between the parents’ pockets?

  • Reader

    ItwasSammy: (quoting) “and whatever grudge you have with Alliance.”
    Pardon?

    OK then, neither of us doubts that Alliance has stuck to their principles. I certainly intend to give them 1st and 2nd preference this year.
    By the way – that word “compromised”, and the other word “tactics” – those are the ingredients for the ultimate escape clause, as you have just demonstrated. Armed with those words, one could rob a bank.

  • Exactly, Mr Walker. For Stormont as it is currently constituted, the word ‘atrophy’ springs to mind. along with irrelevance. In the RoI they have a Budget, here we have a toyshop. The whole setup is there to SAVE FACE, full stop. N Ireland hs NOT got an economy. It has a subsidy from taxpayers in ENGLAND mainly. Which our ego driven politicians are there to carve up. nothing more, nothing less. Now, to the deceased member that is ‘Talkback’. If this isn’t the elephant in the room’ I don’t know what is. This USED TO BE A RELEVANT political discussion programme. Now, it is long past it’s sell by date. WHY?
    The BBC could have carried with a serious forum or political debate after Dunseith, but instead chose to turn it into a sub-Woman’s Hour, leaving Nolan, [above all people], to carry on with political debate on the BBC. And they committed the ultimate sacrifice of cancelling the Talkback Messageboard, while claiming to represent the views of the listeners. Radio Ulcer is a joke.

  • Driftwood

    madraj55
    OK
    But rather than ‘atrophy’ we have the 2nd law – ‘Entropy’- in place. For explanation, Professor Brian Cox has an excellent show on BBC4 and repeated on BBC2 presently.
    Wonders of the Universe
    Anyone who watched will have seen the fate that awaits Planet Stormont