OFMDFM’s ‘non working’ working group on Cohesion, Sharing and Integration…

Interesting piece from David Gordon which amplifies that point about political indolence in Northern Ireland in the last post. David Ford is complaining that despite assurances from the Deputy First Minister on the floor of the Assembly:

“If you are looking for a sign of what I hope will be real progress, you should take heart from the fact that, in the meetings that the First Minister and I conducted with party leaders in the aftermath of the re-establishment of these institutions, there was common cause, in that we all needed to work together.

I think the fact that we have appointed representatives from each of the parties to try to achieve a consensus leads us to believe that we can come out at the other end with a CSI strategy that is acceptable to all the main parties in the Assembly.”

Erm, but as David notes, neither of the current incumbents of Stormont Castle could find the time or head space to nominate for this as yet still not working working party:

A spokesman for the Office of First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) said they had “formally requested nominations in May and repeated the request in June at a meeting of party leaders. Responses have only been received from SDLP and UUP in recent days. It is hoped that a meeting of the group will be convened as soon as possible”.

However both the SDLP and UUP said they had responded to the requests in June.

As with much else in Stormont Politics, it seems perfectly acceptable to say one thing in public and do (or rather not do) something entirely different in reality… So if you are expecting resolute action any time soon (beyond the sacking a few politically disposable victims, if and when available), just don’t hold your breath…

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  • They did commit to this in 1998: “5. We acknowledge the substantial differences between our continuing, and equally legitimate, political aspirations. However, we will endeavour
    to strive in every practical way towards reconciliation and rapprochement within the framework of democratic and agreed arrangements. We pledge that we will, in good faith, work to ensure the success of each and every one of the arrangements to be established under this agreement.”

    However, the 50%+1 ‘settlement’ automatically created a tug-of-war where a mutual veto meant movement in lots of areas became impossible.

  • PaulT

    Or Mick possibly everyone is largely telling the truth.

    Stormont was in recess from 2 July 2011 to 4 September 2011,

    so I imagine the SDLP and UUP may well have responed in June and the OFMDFM got their responses in September.

    In fact the story you (and others are spinning) is equating ‘launch’ with a request for nominations shortly before summer recess which have now been received. In reality the process of nominations seems to have taken, say, 6 weeks. Is that an unusually long time, don’t think its the kinda thing any party would convene meetings about, rather cover it via email and phone and discuss it at a scheduled meeting. All in all, getting the invitation, asking internally for nominations and deciding on a name is probably about a 6 week process

    Is this a story? whats your point here Mick

  • PaulT, I take your point except that I think that 2 weeks rather than 6 should have given sufficient time.
    The underlying thrust of Mick’s post, I think, is that Stormont really is quite dysfunctional. If so, I agree.

  • PaulT

    Well Joe, most ‘admin’ type deadlines tend to be 4 weeks, cancelling a service or paying an invoice etc, so I’d say 2 weeks is a bit silly.
    I’d add that I can’t see this group as being a priority for any party apart from Alliance as its their patch, hence Ford is the one complaining, as such I doubt anyone was panicking to nominate for a group that wasn’t going to really do anything for the next few months because Stormont was shut and they probably had other things to finish up, surely this was obviously something for the new term and not the old one.

    dysfunctional, all political assemblies are dysfunctional in my opinion, is Stormont more dysfunctional than most, probably, but all things considered the fact that its still ‘functioning’ is a credit to all parties involved, even the TUV are inside the tent now!

  • ..the fact that its still ‘functioning’ is a credit to all parties involved..

    No argument from me PaulT. It is quite amazing, actually, but there is a lot of room for improvement. I am an optimist by nature and think/hope that improvement will come.

  • Mick Fealty


    Did you read the highlighted bit?

  • PaulT

    Yes Mick, Just thought the 2 month break explained that particular incident, and I agreed the Assembly is dysfunctional, just not with this topic

  • Mick Fealty

    Check it for tense.

  • PaulT

    sorry Mick, you’ve lost me, is it the bit in italics, where he says they’ve appointed people?

  • Mick Fealty

    Yes. That was May. The invitations did not actually go out until June. And it is now September.

  • PaulT

    But your own blog quotes someone as saying

    “A spokesman for the Office of First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) said they had “formally requested nominations in May and repeated the request in June at a meeting of party leaders.”

    Is the issue at what point can he say they’ve appointed people, I suppose if by then he had already said to the parties “which person from your party to you want in the working group” you could pull him up on it, but its petty. Its a positive spin, but harmless, the individuals were named a few weeks later (according to the parties) and prob approved recently

  • Mick Fealty

    But it wasn’t true.

  • PaulT

    yes Mick, but the invitations had been sent, its been happening for a few years, the decision had been made, invites sent requesting who was going to be in the group, ….er….sorry Mick, I can’t see anything bad in it.

    But yes, it wasn’t true, could it be that McGuinness didn’t know, he knew the invites had gone, presumed the names were in…..

    Geez don’t know Mick, but, is it an issue. Sounds like you are saying he told a blatent lie and I say he presumed (wrongly) if it was a lie it must have been for a reason. Which is?

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, all we know is what we know. It was a statement to the Assembly. It wasn’t true. At the very least it is a pretended action where none existed nor exists. If you have something that falsifies that, feel free…

  • Actually, this reflects the attitude of an autocrat who imagines that once he says something, it automatically happens. Now an experienced project manager would not assume that, but check and check again.

  • PaulT

    Mick, I think my point was, what was the purpose of the lie?

    Unless you can point out an advantage to the lie, or a reason why he couldn’t possibly not know the correct answer than its not worth discussing. Especially as we are talking about a few weeks

    If you ask me what time it is and I say 3:30 and its actually 4:30, well unless you suspect I had a reason to lie to you you’d believe it to be a fairly honest mistake.

    …..unless you intensely disliked the person who told you it was 3:30, well then in your bitterness you might believe anything….

  • PaulT

    Alternatively Mick, as it was ‘formal’ invites going out possibly all the parties had nominated already ‘informally’