Where’s Stormont’s incentive for being good at Politics…?

I noticed a tweet from Eamonn earlier on noting how both Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness managed to keep their holidays intact whilst David Cameron had no such luck.

It’s been a strange inversion of past realities to see the British PM running to keep up with the multiple crises besetting his country, whilst our boys take it easy in Florida, or by some fast flowing river in Donegal. Spare a thought too for Enda Kenny et al, whose feet have barely touched the ground since taking office back in February.

In Northern Ireland, summer means long summer holidays, avoiding awkward decisions or talking up what you’re gonna do (avoiding, as much as possible, any allusion to the reality that if either party in Stormont Castle doesn’t like it, it ain’t going to happen). Alex Kane is expansive on the point of Stormont’s dysfunctional lack of productivity:

Four months after the election they still haven’t agreed a Programme for Government. Thirteen years after the first election they haven’t agreed the definition, let alone the agenda, of a ‘shared future’. The programme for local government reform is in tatters; there is no resolution to the farces that are the parades and human rights commissions; there is no progress on individual or collective responsibility; there is no overarching strategy underpinning executive policy; and Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson are, to joined-up government, what the Tellytubbies are to a physical fitness regime.

As if to prove his point, we have the bizarre news that despite the fact Sinn Fein refuses to have anything to do with organising the World Police and Fire Games, due to come to Belfast in 2013, the party’s Culture Minister and Belfast Lord Mayor are off to see this year’s games in New York (price tag, £12,700) in order to promote the very games they purport not to support in the Council.

You couldn’t make it up!

Kane goes on to suggest that Margaret Ritchie is on her way out, but that neither McDonnell nor McGlone have a credible answer to the party’s problems. He gives Conall McDevitt (late of this parish) a dunt on the way too, suggesting he cannot shrug off his role in promoting Margaret Ritchie as swiftly as he would like.

And finally, an apology, to the only man left in the Assembly providing anything like a consistent challenge function, Jim Allister:

Finally – and this doesn’t often occur – an apology: to Jim Allister, as it happens. Before the election I wrote a piece in which I said that if he did become an MLA he would be an un-influential, lone voice, struggling to be heard. Well, he certainly hasn’t been struggling! Indeed, some of the most interesting and relevant questioning of the past few months has been generated by Jim. He has proved himself to be a very effective one-man opposition and even some former detractors have developed a grudging respect for the integrity of his criticisms.

You’d expect someone who has so recently hailed from either of the second placed parties to be so pessimistic. But the problems he points to are real enough. With no competition where’s the incentive to be good (or just to avoid the weirdly contradictory) at doing politics?

It might be argued Fianna Fail’s current malaise resulted from a lack of viable opposition over the last fifteen to twenty years, even though the electorate had the means that the Northern Irish electorate do not possess to pull the trapdoor long before they belatedly did.

More importantly where’s the incentive to hand back what must feel like a good thing (if you’re on the winning team)?

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  • I wonder if being “good” at Politics is actually a Virtue. It is at best a devious kinda game and its probably a bigger virtue NOT to be good at it.
    Id rather have an amateur politician than a “professional” one. Theres more to Politics that having a Politics A Level.
    The current fad for professional politicians coming thru from PR firms and lobby groups and think tanks……and parachuted into safe seats while never having a real job…..or taking the good route to Politics via the local council or trade union.
    Look at the professional politicians in England…………can we take Blair, Miliband, Miliband, Mandelson as being better because they are “professional” but unlikely representatives of Sedgefield formerly……….South Shields, Doncaster and Hartlepool (formerly).

    And Conall McDevitt came into our Politics via the same route, a PR firm and co-option to a safe seat and undue and undeserved influence because of perceived professionalism.
    Its the professionals who screw up more often than the “amateurs”.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Switzerland doesn’t have an opposition par se in their executive but they can be held to account. Three reasons:

    1. Direct Democracy
    2. Concordance system
    3. Intelligent Media

    We voted down AV, smaller parties kept out of consensus for crass territorial-ism and we have a media who cares about personality politics than economic matters.

    We have a long way to go

  • lamhdearg

    fjh, 100%, on professional politicians, no beliefs no morals, just how can i get elected, the one and only reason i hope we keep the house of lords, but on this we will not agree?.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I think the SDLP could also get better ideas on how to oppose things by standing up to things like unity pacts rather than resigning and running away like Alex Kane with his tail between his legs to “play the man or woman” and “not the ball” which is clearly not in his court.

  • Well Im sure some of the wannabee politicians in our Think Tanks (one Pressure group actually has a helpful list of signatories to its agenda) would love a career in Politics and are totally indifferent to which Party they should join…the key thing is that they get themselves elected.
    To this end we have seen wannabe professional politicians resign from one or even two Parties.
    Rather like Islington Labourites dispersing to northern constituencies, I suspect that people who have never left South Belfast in their lives will be seeking a nomination in West Tyrone and visiting the local pig mart.

    There are shadowy figures working to place “professionals” in all our Parties. Oh wait…thats actually my conspiracy theory……but the point is that professional politicians is the last thing we need.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Look FJP I am actually surprised at you here, Conall McDevitt’s been working in the party 15 years without a co-option, he was co-opted because Hanna stood down and because he beat Bernie Kelly in an election by the South Belfast SDLP branch. Unless you want to propose that the SDLP bans certain professionals from taking office for generalisations.

  • FuturePhysicist

    So basically, constituency mandate > lone opinion.

  • “summer means long summer holidays, avoiding awkward decisions”

    Perhaps you’re being a little harsh, Mick. Danny Kennedy, the new Minister for Regional Development, has been at his desk and, alongside Moyle District Council, has been prepared to say no to a developer’s request that the Roads Service abandon a portion of public road (near Ballycastle). Had they said yes you can probably imagine that other developers would be lining up to make similar requests. Needless to say, the developer is unlikely to throw in the towel, or indeed the trowel, without a fight.

    The developer has also come to the attention of the authorities at a nearby location (a clachan at Torr) and in both settings Alex Attwood, the new Minister for the Environment, will probably have opportunities to flex his muscles re.planning and the environment.

  • Future Physicist,
    I presume you take my point about Blair, Mandelson and the Milibands and that you are primarily taking issue with the fact that I am linking Conall to them.
    Conalls background is PR.
    He had a background in SDLP Press/Communications Office and was a Special Advisor to Brid Rodgers I think.
    The only time he was ever ELECTED was in May THIS YEAR. He was co-opted to replace Carmel Hanna in early 2010.
    He was chosen over Bernie Kelly ….ie Councillor Bernie Kelly.
    His reputation as a media professional and organiser is I believe over-rated. He is however a brilliant worker.

    But he has been a key figure in SDLPs decline.

  • ….oh and as far as I know the only SDLP MLA signed up to Platform for Change.

  • No…constituency mandate is NOt the only option…..but clearly in England over-used and abused.
    And a danger it will happen here too.
    As with all things its about Balance…..and SDLP has for some years fallen under the spell of “Professionals” and in too much awe of their advice which has been an electoral disaster.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Look in comparison to promotions in other parties, Conall’s promotion was a lot more meritocratic and more in line with the principles of social democracy than some of the promotions within Sinn Féin for example.

    The success of his former career is a non-issue in his current job, and in terms of the party finances, logistics and membership, I am sure he’s not the only one who has a say in that matter.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Constituency mandate is better than crony appointments based on crude interpretations of a quota system.

    In terms of professionals, I don’t see why a PR person, a doctor, engineer, teacher, small business person or farmer has any less say than someone who’s basically been a party person all their life.

    Did John Hume have a politics degree? Did Gerry Fitt or Mark Durkan or Séamus Mallon or Bríd Rodgers?

    Basically you’d be left with the likes of Colum Eastwood in terms of the amateur politicians. No offence to the man

  • slappymcgroundout

    “You couldn’t make it up!”

    Why would anyone need to “make it up”? Jesus, Mick, but think. The party is against. But the two people you reference are representatives of the people and not just the party. Actually a good sign that some understand while they have a party platform, when elected, they ultimately serve the public at large and if the public at large wants… So it is hardly “weirdly contradictory”, to use your phrase.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Anyway back on thread … if we had better journalism who’d stimulate debate rather than debating over debating like this tread typifies then maybe more people would vote.

    People are disengaged by politics and political journalism here has killed debate in my opinion, particularly amongst the young who instead of wondering how parties will tackle youth unemployment, higher education, apprenticeships and diversity of work are instead subjected to media-centric concerns like personality and opposition (unfunded or otherwise)

    A fair few of the same journalists should confess that they voted for a Good Friday Agreement that ensured mandatory cross party coalition on the basis of D’Hondt almost 10 years ago, rather than some crazy revisionist idea that they had known all a long it would make their jobs boring in the future.

    There isn’t any real debate as to WHY an opposition would actually fix anything … look at Belguim basically nothing but an opposition, similar problem.

    More reactionary garbage from the presses I’m afraid.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “You couldn’t make it up!”

    Why would anyone need to “make it up”? Jesus, Mick, but think. The party is against. But the two people you reference are representatives of the people and not just the party. Actually a good sign that some understand that while they have a party platform, when elected, they ultimately serve the public at large and if the public at large wants… Is hardly “weirdly contradictory”, to use your phrase.

  • Mick Fealty

    I do get that that’s why they are going, but it is also politically incontinent Slappy. It’s called having your cake and eating it.

  • IJP

    It’s not unreasonable, if you believe you have something to offer, to seek swift election as Conall did. If he believed he could do better than those currently operating the system, why should he meeky “wait his turn”? Frankly, the problem is we have too many politicians coming through constituency offices with no real experience, not that we have too few.

    Even then a difficulty, I think accurately pointed out by Mick, comes if you can’t grasp the limitations of political power.

  • keano10

    Sorry Mick but I think your glowing description of Cameron is somewhat at odds with reality here. The rioting in Tottenham began on Friday and it took Cameron until the following Tuesday to unshackle himself from his little soiree on The Italian Riviera. He wined and dined the whole weekend (and beyond) while London raged and burned. It was only whena few of his own party backbenchers became openly critical that he finally showed up. Even then he was reluctant to be filmed with the public.

  • Mick Fealty

    Keano, glowing? How so?

  • Neil

    As if to prove his point, we have the bizarre news that despite the fact Sinn Fein refuses to have anything to do with organising the World Police and Fire Games, due to come to Belfast in 2013, the party’s Culture Minister and Belfast Lord Mayor are off to see this year’s games in New York (price tag, £12,700) in order to promote the very games they purport not to support in the Council.

    From the article:

    However, a City Hall source said: “Sinn Féin politicians go to exciting foreign destinations to talk about these games. But the party isn’t so keen to put the elbow grease into organising them at home.

    “Sinn Féin won’t sit on the board set up to administer the games here. As the largest party in Belfast, it was entitled to a seat but rejected it without explanation. So the seat went to the SDLP’s Pat McCarthy.”

    Where in there do you get the wild and I would obviously inaccurate idea that they don’t ‘support’ the games? I would suggest that taking international trips to talk up the games or in the example given to ‘deliver the winning bid’ indicates a fair amount of support for the games.

    In 2007, Sinn Féin’s Fra McCann and two other councillors flew to Melbourne to make the successful bid for Belfast securing the games.

    So, in short, they rejected one seat without explanation but are continuing to put in the legwork. Ni Chuilin is the minister who would obviously be selected to go due to her role out of the entire assembly. Nothing to see here.

  • “It’s not unreasonable, if you believe you have something to offer, to seek swift election as Conall did. If he believed he could do better than those currently operating the system, why should he meeky “wait his turn”? Frankly, the problem is we have too many politicians coming through constituency offices with no real experience, not that we have too few”

    Frankly the problem is that we have too many politicians coming thru PR offices and joining a political party…….indeed more than one political party to further a career. I merely make the point that in the case of Conall McDevitt, the SDLP would be grong to think he wasa guru because of the PR background……and perhaps other Party/Parties might feel the same about investing too much hope in PR gurus.

  • quality

    fjh

    There is no real point behind this question (ha!), merely interest, would you believe that his previous career is more relevant to his standing in the party than his years in the party?

    I would say the SDLP’s identity crisis runs far deeper than PR/think-tanks (heaven forbid!)/professional politicians. The casual nationalist electorate (not core SDLP voters) have abandoned them in favour of Sinn Féin, since they became firmly focused on the ballot box. I guess in their eyes, they had a choice to either out-green SF or out-beige them, they chose the latter. I wouldn’t necessarily trace that choice to the professionalisation of politics.

    Sinn Féin were/are everything the SDLP weren’t/aren’t – organised, in their constituencies etc. That rot goes back way before McDevitt’s tenure, and is perhaps a better place to start to draw conclusions from.

  • Langdale

    In this piece for the Bel Tel on August 5 (sorry, I don’t know how to provide ‘links’) Kane set out a strategy for the SDLP and UUP

    —————————————————————————

    Only way back for smaller parties is to flee Executive

    The SDLP needs more than just a new leader; it needs to form an Opposition at Stormont with the UUP, writes Alex Kane

    Friday, 5 August 2011

    A successful political leader needs two key qualities: a clear, unambiguous agenda for the way ahead; and a ruthlessness which allows them to impose general discipline and keep potential rivals in their place.
    Gerry Adams and Peter Robinson have those qualities; Margaret Ritchie doesn’t. So it’s probably no surprise that Patsy McGlone is challenging her for the job. He has, it seems, been listening to the grassroots.

    But leadership isn’t about listening to the grassroots. Leadership is about having your own ideas and then persuading your members and the wider electorate that you – and you alone – are the party’s best hope.

    The SDLP is dying on its feet because few people – including its own members – have a clear idea of what it actually stands for anymore. All its territory has been occupied by Sinn Fein.

    Indeed, the SDLP has the same problem as the UUP: it’s not the leadership issue which needs sorted; it’s the role, relevance and identity issues.

    So whoever follows Ritchie (and, yes, I think she will lose) needs to have a more convincing platform than ‘I could do better.’

    In hard political terms, membership of the Executive is doing the SDLP and UUP no good. They cannot hope to revive while remaining in that straitjacket.

    Similarly, it’s far too simplistic to suggest that both the SDLP and UUP need new, younger, more vibrant voices as leaders because the DUP and SF have reinvented themselves and found new ways of working together.

    The truth is the DUP and SF have simply settled for a permanent stalemate in which they will forever circle each other, fudging where necessary, vetoing when essential.

    Having younger, more media-friendly figures at the helm of the UUP and SDLP won’t matter unless the people concerned have a clear, deliverable programme for shifting the existing carve-up and pushing Northern Ireland into a genuinely new political era.

    The most obvious way would be for the UUP and SDLP to jointly market themselves as the alternative to the DUP/SF carve-up.

    That would require the UUP and SDLP to jointly create an Opposition. They would need to reach agreement on their own Programme for Government and work out agreed responses to Executive policy.

    The DUP and SF will find a variety of reasons for complaining about such a development, but then they would, wouldn’t they?

    And it doesn’t really matter that Opposition structures don’t exist at the moment; once the UUP and SDLP established themselves in the role, it wouldn’t take long for the media, the general public and the Speaker’s office to catch up.

    I see it as a win-win for the UUP and SDLP. If they stay in the Executive, then they remain trapped, unable to criticise credibly, or effectively, because they are part of it and unable to carve out a clear identity for themselves because they will always be dwarfed by the Big Two. And come elections, the DUP will still play the SF First Minister card, while SF will also play it, but with a different emphasis.

    The SDLP and UUP should avoid the inevitable rush towards yet more reviews, consultations, reinventions and wild-goose chases after mythical demographics.

    If they want a chance of being big players in government again, then they must first prove that they can work comfortably and effectively together as the government-in-waiting.

    It gives them a role; it gives them relevance; it attracts media and public interest; it gives them a purpose and direction; and it gives them a chance to shine in their own light, rather than being shadow players. All in all, it would be good for government and even better for democracy.

    The SDLP and UUP should look upon this strategy as the Field of Dreams option: if they build it, they may be genuinely surprised by the numbers of people who come to it.

    The task for both parties is the same: they either work together for a joint revival, or they die slow deaths separately.

    ————————————————————————

    It seems to me that there is much there for both parties to think about.

    LP

  • “Quality”,
    Like Ive said, its all about Balance.
    I like Conall McDevitt. Hes the most enthusiastic politician I have ever met. Also the hardest working.I dont think his previous occupation is relevant except in the sense that he represented something “new” in SDLP terms and he impressed people by knowing how to use a lap top and blackberry. Both talents that I dont have.

    I dont doubt his presentational skills but he has helped point the party (and supported a leadership) in a direction which is at best wrong-headed and worse electorally damaging.
    In reaching out to people (who would never spit on the SDLP if it was on fire) the SDLP have lost more first preference votes than it gained in second preferences.

    It has been a triumph of Packaging over Substance. And thats a PR influence. Conall is about 42 ish and he needs to spend a little further down the SDLP ladder before he can climb to near the top again. And he should.

    My point however was more about “professional” politicians being over-rated. As if there was a specific skill set attached to being a politician than trumps being committed to a Party, an Ideology or Voters. Id rather have the late Johnny McQuade than any identikit Consensus wannabee (negotiably UUP/AP/Conservative/SDLP) churned out by a Think Tank.

    Having a A level in Politics doesnt make a politician.
    There is a growing cadre of “consensus” wannabee politicians who are networking like crazy on Facebook in admirable cross-community ways and not missing a vol au vent event in the Long Gallery or a Platform for Change or similar event. “Bigging themselves up” and on occasions each other…..they lack committment except to themselves.
    Unfortunately they are also being “bigged up” as relevant by lobby groups who are sometimes head hunting and earmarking others for big things.

    The really amusing thing is that most couldnt get elected…..or arrested.
    The Voters have more sense.

  • Mick Fealty

    Neil,

    You can certainly extrapolate that conclusion from Niall and Caral’s trip but you can also extrapolate the opposite from the absence of SF councillors from the council committee.

    Unless I am missing something blindingly obvious?

  • PaulT

    “You couldn’t make it up!”

    Actually Mick you have just made it up, which a very quick Google search would show.

    Sinn Fein lead the only political representation on the Board which is the department of Culture and Belfast Council.

    Thats the reason why Sinn Fein reps are going to the games in the US.

    A Ltd company has been set up to manage the games, Sinn Fein or indeed no-one in Belfast Council is entitled to a seat because the company is backed by DCAL who are funding most of the costs of the games.

    Pat McCarthy got the role because he led the bid in Oz when he was Lord Mayor.

    Belfast council, including Sinn Fein is working hard on doing their bit.

    really shit spin on what could actually be held up as NI bodies and reps quietly working well together.

  • PaulT

    The Ministers PR when appointed
    “The Minister continued: “I am fortunate to be coming into this role at such an exciting time on the sporting and cultural calendar. With the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games only a year away and Derry hosting the City of Culture in 2013 and the World Police and Fire Games taking place in Belfast in 2013 also, I will be seeking to maximise the benefits from all of these great occasions and to use these opportunities to showcase the North on the world stage.”

    2008
    “Sinn Féin MLA Paul Butler has said that DUP shenanigans over the stadium at the Maze-Long Kesh will scupper the hosting of the World Police and Fire Games due to be held here in 2013.

    These games have the potential to bring huge economic benefits to our local economy but this could be lost if a decision is not made soon over the stadium. It is estimated that the games will benefit the local economy somewhere in the region of £20 million and substantial media coverage around the world. ”

    Or recently in Stormont
    Carál Ní Chuilín (Sinn Féin)

    Fair play to Kieran. I welcome your positive use of the Irish language.

    A company limited by guarantee known as 2013 World Police and Fire Games Limited has been established by my Department to deliver the games in 2013. The company was registered in Company House on Monday 28 February 2011.

    A chairman and board of directors have been appointed, and they are now responsible for taking forward the delivery of the games. Following a competition, a chief executive for 2013 World Police and Fire Games Limited has been appointed and will take up the post on 21 June.

  • Neil

    Unless I am missing something blindingly obvious?

    Well if you can extrapolate that Sinn Fein purport not to support the games by delivering the winning bid, then one of us is certainly missing something.

  • PaulT

    Yes Neil, or indeed why they opted for the Dept responsible for the games as a ministry.

  • PaulT

    Although speaking of dear Conall, his contribution to that debate in Stormont was poor, even by his standards, as other MLAs asked about costs and opportunities for their areas, dearest Conall asked……

    “er how many countries and participants are there?”

  • Mick Fealty

    PaulT,

    As anyone who examines your own record in debate ( such as it is) here on Slugger, you are not well qualified to be condemning others.

    In particular, your grasp of detail is poor. Here’s the telling detail you and Neil, for reasons best known to yourselves, seem to have overlooked:

    “Sinn Féin won’t sit on the board set up to administer the games here. As the largest party in Belfast, it was entitled to a seat but rejected it without explanation. So the seat went to the SDLP’s Pat McCarthy.”

    Selling something in NYC you can’t find a councillor in Belfast to back is surely bizarre? But where’s the incentive to guard against such ridiculous forms of double think?

    I mean on one, pragmatic level, if you can get away with it, fair play to you. But the comaprison with FF’s rosy path to hell was an attempt on my part to flag up the dangers of such indulgence before they hit.

    And let me be clear, the link to Alex’s piece is that it is the solid state system of government that allows for such indulgence: I’m not for a moment suggesting that it’s personal.

  • stewart1

    So the Breen World Police and Fire Games story is basically nonsense !

  • Neil

    In particular, your grasp of detail is poor. Here’s the telling detail you and Neil, for reasons best known to yourselves, seem to have overlooked:

    “Sinn Féin won’t sit on the board set up to administer the games here. As the largest party in Belfast, it was entitled to a seat but rejected it without explanation. So the seat went to the SDLP’s Pat McCarthy.”

    I overlooked this?! That truly is a shock as I had pasted it into my comment.

    So do you accept or not that delivering the winning bid for the games was a strange method of showing your lack of support?

    Selling something in NYC you can’t find a councillor in Belfast to back is surely bizarre? But where’s the incentive to guard against such ridiculous forms of double think?

    You know something we don’t Mick? The statement which I both overlooked and referenced already it was entitled to a seat but rejected it without explanation. suggests a certain amount of pissing in the wind. Why did they reject it? Do we know? Obviously not.

    But back to the only point I was trying to make:

    You say SF purport not to support these games. How does that square off with their delivering the winning bid?

    By that rationale their lack of support for the RUC was expressed through the delivery of hugs and kisses.

    If you could respond to that point I was making, instead of some other point you’d prefer to respond to that would be great? Square the delivery of the winning bid with their lack of support for me if you can.

  • PaulT

    “Sinn Féin won’t sit on the board set up to administer the games here. As the largest party in Belfast, it was entitled to a seat but rejected it without explanation. So the seat went to the SDLP’s Pat McCarthy.”

    Is that the Board or the limited company Mick, any links?

    Pat was appointed to the limited company, the company was formed and the directors appointed by DCAL, a SF ministry.

    And here’s the invitation from Pat McCarty and the Chairman

    “Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service HQ

    1 Seymour Street

    LISBURN

    BT27 4SX

    Patron: Dame Mary Peters

    http://www.2013wpfg.com

    16 June 2011

    Dear Lord Mayor,

    Ref: 2011 World Police & Fire Games New York

    As may know the 2011 World Police & Fire Games are being hosted in New York between 26th August and 4th September 2011.

    The 2011 Games will provide an excellent opportunity to promote the 2013 World Police and Fire Games which will be hosted in Belfast between 1st and 10th August. Representatives of the 2013 WPFG Planning Team will be attending the New York Games to promote Belfast 2013 and to learn from the experience in hosting the event.

    Whilst in New York there will be a number of opportunities to promote the Belfast Games including:

    Meeting potential teams for the 2013 Games at Belfast’s promotional stand
    Attendance at the New York Opening Ceremony
    Northern Ireland 2013 Promotion Night at the New York Athletic Club
    Host city hand-over event as part of the New York Closing Ceremony

    On behalf of the Board of 2013 World Police and Fire Games Ltd I would like to take this opportunity to invite you as Belfast’s First Citizen to attend the New York event in order to promote the Belfast Games in 2013.

    During the Closing Ceremony the World Police & Fire Games Flag will be presented to the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Police Service of Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service. This will symbolise the handing over of the Games to Belfast.

    When in New York you will hopefully have the opportunity to witness some of the sporting events and experience the size and scale of the Games.

    A brief itinerary of the programme of events in New York is attached for your information. More detailed information will be provided in relation to the activities when it becomes available from New York.

    DUNCAN McCAUSLAND

    Chairman

    2013 World Police & Fire Games Ltd”

  • Mick Fealty

    Neil,

    You may have included it, but you have overlooked the contraction.

    That would be selling [er, delivering] ]the games in NYC, but apparently refusing to take the seat them in Belfast on the organising committee.

    Simples. Or what did I miss? Do we have to go to diagrams?

  • Mick Fealty

    Paul,

    I do get your point. It just doesn’t contradict mine.

  • Neil

    Simple is right. You say they don’t support the games.

    I say delivering the winning bid is a strange way of showing that.

  • Mick Fealty

    Why refuse to sit on the committee then? I understand you may not know the answer, but the inference in the action of their council representatives is surely that they don’t support it and will take no practical part in its actual delivery?

    We know where ‘whatever you’re having yourself’ politics has landed the Republic; which is the point I was trying (but apparently failing) to make above.

  • Mick Fealty

    An addendum: Guys, this is not a big point. For the life of me, I don’t see a big political issue of principle here so I am puzzled as to why it has happened. But it is on the face of it, a weird contradiction.

    In short, I’d welcome a correction.

  • Neil

    Why refuse to sit on the committee then? I understand you may not know the answer, but the inference in the action of their council representatives is surely that they don’t support it and will take no practical part in its actual delivery?

    Maybe, or perhaps they do support (as the trip to Australia by two shinners to deliver the winning bid might suggest) it but not to the extent that they can afford to commit a significant amount of time to what is likely a thankless task. Any number of reasons could apply, without the insinuation that Ni Chuilin is off to NY on a junket, as opposed to fulfilling her designated role.

    But sure run with the innuendo that the Sport’s Minister is bilking the public purse for a massive 2.5k per person to promote these games in NY. She must be flying Ryanair and staying in a hostel.

    I just shudder to think what the slugger response would have been if she hadn’t gone, and left it to someone else to fulfill her duties. No doubt some here would be calling for her resignation.

  • Neil

    In short, I’d welcome a correction.

    Simplest explanation I’d say. SF Councillors busy on their own roles and with other things. Stoops have plenty of time on their hands.

  • PaulT

    Yes it does Mick, in every way.

    In fact what are you now talking about, the committee, the board, the limited company? collect your thoughts and let me know.

    Is it the Development Committee? Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and other Sinn Fein councillors are on it?

    Is it the Board, it doesn’t have individuals but the organisations on it include Belfast Council and DCAL, so all political representation is SF

    Is it the Limited Company? It was set up and is monitored by a SF Minister.

    Incidently Mick, SF weren’t offered the seat on the ltd company (if that is the one you think you are talking about) as its an outside body, selection is by d’Hondt and SF and DUP were next in line.

    However, that offer was made almost a year ago, the appointments were only made a few months ago.

    Between, D’Hondt and the appointments, SF had become the most represented party involved in the games, clearly, giving the seat to the ex-Lord Mayor who led the bid made sense. Not least as it helps to build bridges between the SDLP and SF in Belfast after so many stupid arguements over the role in the days before d’Hondt

  • Local hack

    On another point

    With the MLA taking months off for summer and months off for Christmas, (or winter) then is the amount of weeks they work comparable to the wages of a professional footballer – in England, not here.
    Is it not time they did away with any breaks and concentrated on getting something done?

    And
    Jim Allister has surprised us all, if he can keep away from his traditional backward looking rhetoric then he may find himself appealing to moderates, deciding to take power with the shinners and entering power-sharing Oh…..

  • PaulT

    Hello Mick, I know your busy, but as you answer other peoples posts why can’t you answer mine? you slagged me off earlier, so man up

  • PaulT

    you’re – even

  • What is holding the whole (unsatisfactory) edifice together is the low level of violence. We’re still recovering from the years of violence and often horror. It’ll take a generation before we can become “normal”.

  • pauluk

    Joe, I think you’re right. What was it the man said: jaw jaw is better than war war?

  • FuturePhysicist

    The casual electorate from the SDLP’s base have not abandoned it for Sinn Féin as Sinn Féin are fairly stagnant now and reaching critical mass if it hasn’t already… the casual electorate from the SDLP’s base are either not voting or deciding to use their first preference to big up a no chancer like Paul McFadden or Eugene McMenamin.

  • Mick Fealty

    I will, in good time.

  • Mark McGregor

    I’m kind of with PaulT on this from back reading minutes of the SP&R Committee.

    DCAL initially set up a stakeholder Group in 2008 and offered the Council representation on it which it took up via council officials.

    In 2010 when DCAL set up the delivery vehicle the SPV it offered the council two places. After consultation the SP&R Committee agreed these two places should go to the DUP and SF on the basis of further running d’hondt.

    This was in Oct 2010 and it seems neither the DUP or SF took these place before the council dissolved in April 2011.

    Then when the new council took office in May 2011 the 2 places on this were part of a d’hondt allocation for numerous external groups with multiple council places. So the two roles on this became part of a selection exercise for ca. 100 positions (to be honest I didn’t count).

    SF didn’t take a place on this group; they didn’t on the Lagan Valley Park Committee etc. either but did on the Linenhall Board (no DUP, UUP, SDLP or Alliance there) for example.

    So they’ve decided at some point to prioritise elsewhere. The same finger could be pointed at the UUP and possibly Alliance.

    The conspiracy theory on this is pretty weak given the endorsement they’ve given the games throughout the years. There may have been a change of thought – proving that is very much the job of those making the allegation and seems very far from concrete.

    BTW: Fealty I’m incredibly pissed off that I’ve ended up having to read numerous sets of committee minutes because you raised this issue. That wasted drinking time I’ll never have back 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    I feel obliged to work a little further on this before giving an answer. Mark has kindly shared the fruit of some of his work on this. But I still have a few more avenues to explore. A clear statement from the party might help put us out of our misery.

  • Mark McGregor

    Mick,

    As I mentioned when we talked, I think the main thing that would shed light on this is any of the parties represented on council revealing how d’hondt ran for these external bodies.

    If SF, or for that matter the UUP or Alliance, declined to pick one of these roles while taking other less high profile positions there may be a charge to answer.

    Though, as I said to you earlier, it’s up to them to prioritise how they see fit when d’hondt runs just like at Stormont and letting this go could be totally understandable if they wanted some other position

    It may be high spending and a reasonably high profile event but it only runs to mid term (2013) and won’t actually benefit any party rep involved, while taking a position that lasts the full term (until 2015) might.

    Hey and why am I defending SF on this? Surely that’s Flash’s job – and it can’t be too hard if even old anti-SF me can generate quite a lot of legitimate interference…

    The only fuel to the conspiracy that SF didn’t want to touch this is – it is me and PaulT (off the internet) giving the strong rebutal while the shinners aren’t bothered.

  • PaulT

    “As anyone who examines your own record in debate ( such as it is) here on Slugger, you are not well qualified to be condemning others.

    In particular, your grasp of detail is poor. Here’s the telling detail you and Neil, for reasons best known to yourselves, seem to have overlooked:

    “Sinn Féin won’t sit on the board set up to administer the games here. As the largest party in Belfast, it was entitled to a seat but rejected it without explanation. So the seat went to the SDLP’s Pat McCarthy.” ”

    Mick, is it fair to say your journo skills are poor even by NI standards or even as a blogger.

    I called you out on this days ago and you now appear to be hiding behind a red herring. Even with my poor grasp of detail I immediately knew that that statement was false.

    possibly you could just post what you want to say, decide if its the committee, limited company or board you think you mean.

    More importantly as your post claimed SF had no interest in the games has being shown to be more poor journalism why do you need to focus on appointment to the limited company (if thats what you mean) there’s lots of quotes posted here, mostly from me after an exhausting 2 minute google search which proves that SF are more than keen on the games.

    So far, your debating skills appear to consist of some mild man-playing (the savaging by a sheep line comes to mind) and ignoring me.

    Mmmmh you really are a master debater

  • Mick Fealty

    You’ve tried to call me on several things and each time you disappear for a while when it all goes wrong.

    What I pointed to was a report detailing quotes from several sources claiming that SF earned themselves a place on the board of the SPV and they refused to take it. Nothing I have found since falsifies that.

    The best you can argue is that I should not infer the party has a problem, when they’ve not said they have.

    But, it happened. There does seem to have been something of a shift in attitudes from Fra McCann and Danny Lavery’s warm support for the original bid to a colder attitude towards the pre-election co-options.

    I would just like to hear why. I’m not in a position to say why, but there is a de facto contradiction, until someone in a position to know tells us how the circle gets squared.

  • PaulT

    No Mick, I think its fair to say that myself and others get bored waiting for replies when we pull you on your poor hack skills.

    More than happy to hang around if you are now up for a dose of house cleaning, esp as I’m still awaiting several answers from you.

    I am concerned though as its taken you a week to actually decide on what committee/board/ltd co. you were talking about.

    Firstly, whatever one it was, it is a red herring. I called you on your comment that SF wanted nothing to do with the games. You haven’t even attempted to back that statement up.

    But, fuck it, lets continue with your Gadaffi defence.

    Perhaps you’ll explain why at a following meeting it was a DUP councillor who proposed a motion which was carried to seek clarification if the two positions on SPV should be allocated via d’Hondt or if the committee Chair and Vice Chair or their nominees could take the roles. To my knowledge SF didn’t vote to seek clarification and therefore wanted the position for themselves.

    To me (and I’d presume other rational people) I suspect that the clarification was it didn’t have to be via d’Hondt and SF not having a majority on the committee were pragmatic and teamed up with the SDLP to ensure a nationalist got the role.

    But hey Mick, I’m sure your superior grasp of the details will shoot me down in flames. If not this year than maybe next year

    And no, I’m happy for you to show me that the party has an issue with the games, I’m not happy for you to display poor blogger skills by voicing an opinion and making a really poor effort to back it up.

    Show me some facts Mick, not just mad ramblings from the Slugger Compound.

    This is an example of mad rambling

    “What I pointed to was a report detailing quotes from several sources claiming that SF earned themselves a place on the board of the SPV and they refused to take it. Nothing I have found since falsifies that.”

    What report? that story from another hack that has been ripped apart already?

  • PaulT

    Just to add Mick, one of the sources in your ‘report’ was the individual who proposed the motion to find out if the seats on the SPV had to be allocated via d’Hondt, so he was surprisingly keen to prevent SF having a right to a seat they apparently didn’t want.

    As you say yourself

    You couldn’t make it up!

  • PaulT

    Mick, popped back to see if after a week you had managed to produce a single reply of any standard, sadly no.

    However, I happened to notice your opening line on this blog.

    “I noticed a tweet from Eamonn earlier on noting how both Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness managed to keep their holidays intact whilst David Cameron had no such luck.

    It’s been a strange inversion of past realities to see the British PM running to keep up with the multiple crises besetting his country, whilst our boys take it easy in Florida, or by some fast flowing river in Donegal.

    I have no idea exactly how many holidays Martin and Peter have taken, but I am aware that David is currently on his fifth, yes fifth holiday of the year so far.

    So while journalists are being critical of him over this you appear to be saying he’s the hardest worker in the country as no-one else has interupted 2 holidays in a month to do their job.

    Like you say yourself

    You couldn’t make it up!

  • Mick Fealty

    And you appear to be enjoying yourself!

    Like I said before. You’ve asked me to research this matter further. Which I will. But all in good time.