DUP and Sinn Féin manifesto launches

Two contrasting manifesto launches this morning. With light flooding in through the Waterfront windows, the DUP launched their ring-bound (landscape) manifesto. The DUP filmed the launch and have uploaded it to Youtube.

Peter Robinson declared:

We delivered on well over 90% of the commitments in our 2007 Assembly manifesto.

Interviewed at the end of March, Peter Robinson explained that while “the average citizen will not read the manifesto but it is a guide for the party itself. It’s the party indicating here are our goals and targets for the next four year and that’s what we’ve done. I have a well worn copy of the manifesto because I keep it in front of me and I keep looking to see what else we have to do and we have to accomplish.”

This time’s the manifesto contains 500 pledges on just about every topic relevant to the Assembly and local government. The DUP leader will need a to tick 450 boxes to match 90% again!

Once again, it was a confident, bullish and at times humorous DUP event.

Under the current system of government, clearly we will require the support of other parties for some of the objectives we are outlining. How? I would like to have DUP ministers in every department and what could Northern Ireland not achieve in those circumstances?

Twenty thousand new jobs over four years. Increase exports by 50% over a decade. Drop corporation tax down as far as 10%. Reverse the brain drain. Rule out hikes in student fees beyond the current annual inflationary adjustments. The Department of Health would expand with year-on-year real term increases in health spending.

There was a hint of political realism along with a focus on children in the speech:

We would have liked to be in a position to promise affordable childcare Monday to Friday province-wide, but we cannot guarantee it will definitely be delivered within this four year term, so we commit to building towards that goal, making greater use of the schools’ estate.

We will continue to champion early intervention, which not only delivers better outcomes for individuals but substantial long term savings for the public purse. However this requires upfront investment and with limited finances, we must consider innovative means of securing such funding. One option we are keen to explore is that of Social Impact Bonds, which could open up greater opportunities for charities and voluntary sector organisations.

Some of the pledges in the Education Underachievement section mirror recommendations in Dawn Purvis’ recent report.

Older people were not left out with the promise of a dignity charter for Older People along with a “focus to reflect better the positive contribution older people make to Northern Ireland society through their skills and experience”. I half wondered whether that was a message for Ian Paisley Junior to take back home to his father!

The DUP’s proposals for Assembly and Executive reform were summarised as

In the long-term, the best means of governing Northern Ireland is by a voluntary coalition Executive with weighted majority voting of around 65% in the Assembly, and an end to community designation. We want fewer Government Departments and an absolute maximum number of 80 MLAs for subsequent Assembly terms.

while the manifesto booklet suggests that “OFMdFM would be reconstituted as an Executive Office” alongside seven suggested departments: Economy and Business; Education (including higher); Health and Social Services; Regional Development; Justice; Communities and Social Welfare; Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development.

The manifesto document proposes a short term measure to introduce “a non-binding motion of no confidence in a minister” that would get around the current inability of the Assembly to remove a DUP or SF minister.

Picking some pledges at random from the hundreds included in the 32 page booklet:

  • Foster cloud computing services and new application design, and attract new data centres.
  • Seek to introduce a requirement for an upfront deposit or similar demonstration of commitment from claimants, to reduce spurious industrial tribunal cases.
  • Use hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards to promote the new Northern Ireland and Belfast as a City of Music.
  • Seek to reduce crippling Air Passenger Duty rates introduced by the UK Government while risk diverting passengers away from the Province to the Irish Republic. [UUP had something similar in their manifesto]
  • Develop full weeks of high quality Province-wide activities to complement 12th July and St Patrick’s Day holidays.
  • Review the future role of the Policing Board in light of the transfer of policing and justice functions to the NI Assembly.
  • Continue after the election period to build broader consensus around amending the definition of a victim to exclude perpetrators of terrorist acts.
  • Separate the dual responsibilities of Northern Ireland Screen, with the international component coming under Invest NI and educational elements being the responsibility of DCAL.
  • Appoint a Social Mobility Czar.

Interviewed the manifesto launch, DUP’s director of elections Simon Hamilton described the snazzy booklet as “probably one of the most detailed and most comprehensive manifestos that any party will do in this election or indeed any party in any election in Northern Ireland’s history will have put forward”.

Less than an hour later, Sinn Féin launched their manifesto in the hot, windowless Baby Grand theatre. The party rejected paper copies in favour of handing out 11MB worth of PDFs on branded 2GB USB sticks. Unfortunately the manufacture and loading of the electronic giveaways probably outweighed just printing off the 24 page manifesto!

Sinn Fein Gerry Adams shadow at 2011 manifesto launchTo make up for the lack of paper to pour over and scribble on, after opening remarks by party president and Louth TD Gerry Adams, the audience was treated to a 14 minute narration of bullet-pointed manifesto slides over a bed of folk music. Even some of the candidates looked bemused by the end.

The manifesto celebrates Sinn Féin success in getting 5 MPs returned to Westminster (Gerry Adams’ foreword strangely refers to “June 2010” rather than “May”) and the more recent success with 14 TDs elected to Leinster House.

Sinn Féin is an all-Ireland party. We are the only all-Ireland party.

Though the Greens and the Socialist Party would argue that on various technicalities!

Half the size of their 2007 manifesto, by page 8 of today’s document, the retrospective analysis is over and the manifesto moves onto fresh promises. Around Irish Unity, Sinn Féin seek the establishment of “an all-Ireland Constitutional Forum … to discuss and bring forward a Draft Constitution that would be put to the people in a referendum” as well as “representation for the existing 18 Northern MPs in the Daíl”.

Economic pledges include one to “deliver increased economic and fiscal powers away from London and into the locally accountable Executive and Assembly” as well as another to “harmonise all-Ireland taxation and regulation policies”. The four main banks would contribute to the recovery from the economic crisis by donating £25 million per annum for four years.

  • Various European funding channels would be tapped to “enable the Housing Executive to borrow £250 million per year from, amongst others, the European Investment Bank to fund social housing” and “drawing down an additional 100 million [currency unspecified] from the EU ‘Seventh Framework Programme’ over the next two years to fund Research and Development and promote innovation”.
  • The Credit Union movement would be asked “to create a £100 million Social Fund targeted at growing indigenous business with social outcomes based on objective need”.
  • Sinn Féin would implement RPA and establish ESA. Assembly committee chairs and vice-chairs would no longer receive additional remuneration.
  • Increased quality sporting provision for all minority grounds, not least those with learning disabilities. Increasing the number of adults who participate in sport and physical activity as part of the preventative health agenda.
  • Increased library provision, particularly in rural areas.
  • An independent, international truth-recovery process convened under the auspices of a credible, international third-party like the United Nations, which is victim centres and which involves all participants to the conflict.
  • Block the introduction of separate household water charges.
  • Harmonisation of the two education systems on the island.
  • Sinn Féin opposed the introduction of student fees and continues to oppose student fees – including any increases.
  • Delivery of £20 million annually to a new Social Investment Fund (SIF) for the most disadvantaged communities additional to funding of other departments. Ensuring £20 million to a new Social Protection Fund (SPF) in 2011/12 for those most affected by British-government central welfare cuts, while supporting at least £20m in each of the following years.
  • Reinstate the 50/50 recruitment policy within the PSNI to ensure that Patten targets of 40% nationalist/republican personnel is attained, and set appropriate targets for PSNI representativeness regarding gender (50/50), ethnic minorities and sexual orientation.
  • Promote a ‘growing-your-own-food’ culture by supporting allotments and community farms.

Afterwards, Gerry Kelly gamely agreed to sum up the manifesto. He said it was about “leadership and equality” using the campaign slogan “Leadership across Ireland” and pointing to Sinn Féin’s desire to see harmonisation and eliminating duplication. He added that the party’s “consistent big idea is equality” and highlighted educational applications of this policy.

Referring to a desire to deliver, Gerry Kelly commented on the opportunity of the next four years.

This is the first time in something like 15 years we’re actually going to have a break from elections every 18 months to two years. I would argue that would allow for the political space to do the type of conversations and political conversation about moving forward that maybe wasn’t as easy in the past.

Both the DUP and Sinn Féin set out detailed manifestos that largely focussed on practical policies the Assembly could implement. But while there are some overlaps (water rates, Altnagelvin radio therapy unit, etc) both parties will face compromise or deadlock in the years to come (50/50 recruitment, post-primary education, Victims, RPA, etc) as they try to deliver what they are promising the electorate.

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  • Driftwood

    What a pathetic load of rubbish. All the money, big style, comes from HMG. Not a word of appreciation, as if the SF/DUP coalition waved a magic wand. And the Lord (from both denominations) gave forth. But George Osborne, for it is he our master of reality, views the landscape differently.
    And the landscape of our little province will alter post election. Since no departments have yet been allocated their *English* money.-even though it’s more- Less this year and years to come, the sadness of it all, *they* are cutting back on their largesse- the horror, the horror.

  • Oscar

    ■Various European funding channels would be tapped to “enable the Housing Executive to borrow £250 million per year from, amongst others, the European Investment Bank to fund social housing” and “drawing down an additional 100 million [currency unspecified] from the EU ‘Seventh Framework Programme’ over the next two years to fund Research and Development and promote innovation”.

    2 months ago gerry adams said they’d burn the bondholders.Slight contradiction here.

    ■The Credit Union movement would be asked “to create a £100 million Social Fund targeted at growing indigenous business with social outcomes based on objective need”.

    growing indigenous business such as?

    ■Sinn Féin would implement RPA and establish ESA. Assembly committee chairs and vice-chairs would no longer receive additional remuneration

    committee chairs and vice-chairs -more like musical chairs

    ■Block the introduction of separate household water charges-Weren’t sinn fein selling their very own brand of bottled water at their National Ard Fheis?

    ■Harmonisation of the two education systems on the island.
    Great idea.Problem is ‘detail’.None exists.

    ■Promote a ‘growing-your-own-food’ culture by supporting allotments and community farms.-Weren’t sinn fein charging gullible americans 1,000 dollars for a dinner?How
    much would a four course meal cost under sinn fein control?

    Leadership across Ireland”-Gerry and Martin should show the whole country an example-Get A Job.They never worked a day between them in their lives?

    ■Reinstate the 50/50 recruitment policy within the PSNI to ensure that Patten targets of 40% nationalist/republican personnel is attained, and set appropriate targets for PSNI representativeness regarding gender (50/50), ethnic minorities and sexual orientation.

    -Considering everything that’s come to light about peoples sexual orientation over the last number of years this is the greatest insult possible for the victims.As a father i think gerry and martin should be …….

    As a republican …….They’ve no shame.

  • Shibboleth

    “What a pathetic load of rubbish. All the money, big style, comes from HMG. Not a word of appreciation, as if the SF/DUP coalition waved a magic wand.”

    We should appreciate HMG?
    The Taxpayers are the dairy cattle, the Excise “men” are the dairy farmers, HMG are the “creamery” and Stormont is the “milk men.” Some question if milk men really give good value these days! HMG take away the cream. The gratitude should go to tax payers. ;-P

  • Cynic2

    “The gratitude should go to tax payers.”

    Especially those South of Watford who subsidize us. God Bless them. Amen

  • Cynic2

    The Shinners have really got it right. Give the Journalists an electronic copy and they will cut and paste like fury. Give them paper and you will get 150 words tops.

  • Cynic2 – As a blogger (rather than a journalist) I obviously missed the point and printed it off before scribbling over it and retyping the bits in that caught my eye. What an amateur!

  • pippakin

    There are some eye watering figures in there. I don’t think charity starts in the EU any longer, instead look for serious belt tightening there in the not too distant future.

    The DUP, well they never had a hope of appealing to me although I do like the idea of refusing to class perpetrators of terrorism as victims.

    I think each party manifesto deserves its own thread after all you can’t spread a laugh too far.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    “representation for the existing 18 Northern MPs in the Dial

    AutoCorrect can be a bastard sometimes.

  • It is … particularly when I went to such great lengths to get the accents in it!

  • Drumlins Rock

    Pipp,
    It was quite fitting it almost seems like a joint manifesto launch as they are essentially joint parties of government now, comparing the two I wonder can we match up the “trade offs” for the next round of negotiations, ie. 80 MLAs for representation in the Dial? 12th of July for GAA funding, the Policing Board for RPA & the ESA?
    As for the rest, quite a lot of spend, spend, spend, funded by reducing departments and MLAs or borrowing! more and more they are looking like a Labour Government, building up debt for someone else to sort out.

  • pippakin

    DR

    To me its all pie in the sky stuff. SF could get away with that in the south, here they have the luxury of being able to talk twattle knowing they have not got to make it work. The north is different, they are actually going to have to try (or of course not) to do what they promise.

    The good news is both party’s have had a go. Its not sectarian pie in the sky any more, now its financial pie in the sky…

  • Alan, is that the shadow of a gunman I see in one of the images? :L

  • DC

    The first thing that strikes me is that despite Sinn Fein handing out its manifesto on a memory stick that party seems outdated whereas the DUP more modern.

  • Nevin wins today’s Sean O’Casey prize for literary reference!

  • DC

    I particularly like this in the DUP manifesto:

    Use hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards to promote the new Northern Ireland and Belfast as a City of Music.

    It chimes with my belief that politics should shift more into the popular culture to shake off or supplant the old outdated religious/ethnic/national cultures.

    There is a little known company in Belfast – Sonic Academy – which is doing a lot of innovate work in the dance music field – it set up at the right time when music shifted over from analogue and turntables to MP3s and digital PC-driven music.

    http://www.sonicacademy.com/

    While it wouldn’t complete the picture of Belfast being a ‘music city’ it does show that there is a grain of truth behind the vision because Belfast does have an electronic dance culture of sorts and Belfast could become better known as a city that produces modern electronic dance music.

    Compare that to Sinn Fein and its:

    Promote a ‘growing-your-own-food’ culture by supporting allotments and community farms.

    I sense an urban / rural divide here between the two parties.

  • These are great initiatives from Sinn Fein, great to see them plowing forwards with these new ideals. Representation for northern MP’s in the dail will be a struggle, but it is an essential step on the road to unity.

  • DC

    typo *analog.

  • Alan, here’s my Heaney entry :L

    “Between my finger and my thumb
    The squat mouse rests.
    I’ll dig with it.”

  • RyanAdams

    Sinn Fein; Different election, Same old shit – Have a look at the W2010 Election Broadcast and contrast with this years assembly – Dont think they even bothered to change some of the prompt cards, in particular;

    “Others pay lip service to a united Ireland, Sinn Fein make it their priority”

    and

    “Sinn Fein are the only people that care about the ordinary people”

    At least the DUP had the b*lls to try something entirely different – I think they have very subtlely rebranded themselves holding on to their traditional ‘orange/free p’ vote, while trying to pull more votes of the UUP and to an extent Alliance. You just have to look at the DUP education policy and Peter Robinson’s remarks a few months ago.

  • DC

    RyanAdams

    I agree with you the DUP is attempting to stretch into more modern territory, whether there is any real truth in what they aspire to remains to be seen. And with this new stretch into the more modern there still remains a lot of the old DUP in place.

    Because of this there is a bit of contradiction of styles there in its manifesto (perhaps a something for everyone).

    Take these two comparisons:

    1: Use hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards to promote the new Northern Ireland and Belfast as a City of Music.

    2: Develop full weeks of high quality Province-wide activities to complement 12th July and St Patrick’s Day holidays.

    Number 1 is clearly more far more modern in outlook, it is popular culture, which by its name and nature is entirely less devisive in terms of community identification – everyone likes a bit of dance music and ‘coolness’.

    Number 2 is a dressing up of old and outdated unionism.

    Perhaps the DUP could try turning its homepage orange for the 12 July lol as well!

    The two manifesto proposals highlighted above probably carry different sets of supporters with different age ranges, possibly not?

    But the stretch into new territory is certainly being attempted by the DUP.

  • DC

    And also the DUP are pro-business, everyone knows this because sure look at how Iris helped to set young Kirk up!

  • pippakin

    dc

    SF below the belt! LOL. Iris will be keeping a very low profile this election, she is unwell….Religious bigots are usually also the biggest hypocrites on the grounds that they have a personal hot line to God and he will forgive them.

    The DUP do appear to be reaching out whilst simultaneously retaining the old 12/7 diehards. I’m not sure its physically possible to do both but well done PR, and I do think it has to have been him, for pushing it through.

  • nightrider
  • Oscar

    And also the DUP are pro-business, everyone knows this because sure look at how Iris helped to set young Kirk up!

    Spock wud be dissappointed.as the poet said;blow yer own furrow….

  • HeinzGuderian

    dg

    The essential stop on the road to unity………..have a titer of wit,boy. Irelands credit rating is 1 pint above JUNK !!

    The United Kingdom has never been so strong………………well,not compared with the keltic Tigger shambles !! 😉

  • Oscar

    DC:Number 2 is a dressing up of old and outdated unionism.

    No. 2 could mean ‘squeeze harder and a new manifesto might pop up…

    RyanAdams;Sinn Fein; Different election, Same old shit –

  • Cynic2

    Alan in Belfast

    You just haven’t reached jaded old hack stage – yet

  • Cynic2

    “Promote a ‘growing-your-own-food’ culture by supporting allotments and community farms.”

    Do we all get a free shillelagh and a goat sorrrr?

    Sure it will be great seeing all them allotments on the sides of the Black Mountain growing cannabis for the local market to reduce our reliance on imports

    Then we can also claim that dem Proddies have driven us up onto unproductive hill land and the bog meadows while they luxuriate on the rolling pastures of North Down

  • Cynic2

    ” but it is an essential step on the road to unity”

    Aye but it will be like Connor’s motorway from nowhere to nowhere. And sure isn’t it great to see Gerry campaigning for a referendum on the border …when SF fought for the legislation to be framed so that one cannot be held unless the British Government thinks the vote will be yes for unity. So we demand publicly something that we have privately ensured cannot happen….and then blame the Brits and the Prods.

    So I suggest that the NIO call the bluff, change the legislation and call one. It might be a tad sobering for some who promised ‘a united Ireland in my lifetime’.

  • I take it after 2 launches Alan had run out of patience with manifestos, so didn’t make it round to the 3rd manifesto launch today, the Green Party at the Ramada Encore Hotel?

  • separatesix

    I wonder if the DUP can look forward to getting a few Alliance transfers this time, what with them going all soft and all.

  • iluvni

    Must say, Simon Hamilton’s mauling by Nolan this morning was hilarious.
    Great to hear the meaningless bullshit in the DUP manifesto being torn to pieces.

  • Backbencher

    iluvni
    I only heard the second half of the interview on Nolan and from what I heard I would have to agree with you, I thought Hamilton would have performed better than that, is he not supposed to be a rising star in the DUP?

    On the other side, namely SF, I doubt if this elect is going to be the great success that many have been suggesting. Had a look at the figures last night and can’t see where their gains are going to come from. A possible gain in Upper Bann would offset a lose in Lagan Valley returning them unchanged at 28. They have no chance of grabbing the First Ministers post.

  • Driftwood

    The DUP arrived at my abode with literature for their 4 candidates in Strangford. Not sure if it was Hamilton. Anyway the guy refused to answer my query on the age of the Earth and scuttled away. The ‘achievements’ of each candidate were listed on the leaflet.
    Simon Hamilton’s achievements were ‘being voted best up and coming politician’ on SluggeroToole and having an advice centre in Comber.
    Michelle McIlveen’s achievements were being a sunday school teacher and having an advice centre in Comber.
    Jonathan Bell’s achievements were a crap degree from QUB and being an ‘evangelical christian’.
    Billy Walker didn’t list his academic achievements, preferring to remark on his loyal order membership, and support for the David Healy mural in Killyleagh.

    Not exactly Harold Wilson or Margaret Thatcher, but there you go.