The Irish News today goes back to a strange little communication from OFMdFM last July 18, which laid out ten achievements. As it notes in its editorial:
The statement was sent out one evening during the holiday period via email without any form of briefing. Further details were said to be unavailable and interviews with ministers were firmly ruled out, although it was claimed that the various initiatives would be brought forward over “a number of weeks”.
But they note upon examining in detail (and they give over three pages of analysis) those promises, just three out of ten have been fulfilled. In fact, like too much else emanating from Stormont Ministries:
“…the ten achievements turned out to be largely aspirational in nature and several of them can be seen in retrospect to contain aspects which had little factual basis.”
It is particularly alarming, given the damage caused to community relations since the loyalist flag protests began in early December, that OFMdFM’s commitment to pursuing its Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI) strategy has so little credibility.
Now, it is not as though people in civil society in Belfast were not expecting the publication of CSI. From what’s known about it, few think it fits the fluid changes that have taken place on the ground, or that it takes sufficient account of future change. But it does exist, honest.
In fact the Irish News reminds us that in July (this is after all the controversy of Ardoyne and St Patricks had taken place), the document was expected to be published in September. Yet, as they note:
Nothing actually happened in September, the OFMdFM declaration was not updated and the vital CSI strategy remains just as much a mystery as it did five years ago.
What needs to be directly challenged is the idea that an administration should want to release a list of achievements but display an unwillingness to deal with the related questions which will inevitably arise.
The lack of accountability is striking, and not just in OFMdFM. Ask yourself with the heat and fire over the horsemeat issue in the House of Commons and Dail Eireann this week, there’s been little more than a ministerial statement from the Agriculture Minister (which was strangely consistent with the position of the UFU’s position , of “nothing to see here, now along and buy our burgers please”).
Amongst the three successfully completed pledges, one is the announce the Victims Commissioner. Amongst those not done is re-advertising the Ilex chair post. Not exactly the toughest of political challenges.
Which begs a lot of questions about what’s really going on up at Stormont Castle? And of Martin and Peter, what are you doing (or not doing) up there? And why are you not doing it?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty