#Horsemeat? What crisis? Ah, that crisis? (Don’t mention the election) It was the FSA wot done it.

Okay, so there’s a Westminster by election in your Mid Ulster constitutuency. There’s also a crisis in Northern Irish Agriculture that you said you had no reason to believe existed just two weeks ago.

And you’re the Agriculture Minister. Damnit! So you call a cross department presser in the middle of your constituency in the middle of the crisis that you felt did not exist two weeks ago and then point out the fact that the others would not make it (because you gave them barely any notice).

This is on Friday morning, before the latest report from the FSA comes out in the afternoon and tells you that at this stage there is no further escalation of the problem you previously thought did not exist.

You then appear outraged that your Executive colleagues did not hoof it down to Cookstown to help your colleague win a Westminster by election to a seat he doesn’t want address the non turn the crisis has not taken.

“Very important” other should be there says Ms O’Neill. “Deflecting attention away from herself” says the DUP. “No evidence of a significant link between the horsemeat scandal and organised crime in NI” says a spokesman for the Justice Minister.

In the meantime you hoof it into the FSA (a non ministerial body with no friends in Stormont Castle). And whilst no one else is doing it, you have lost ground to make up and joining with the Tories means you salvage something if/when it’s new CEO is made to walk the plank by our former pro Consul..

Humour aside, there is a problem of course. All of these ministers should be working together instead of hanging apart. The local FSA ought to being managed directly by one or at maximum two ministers (Agriculture and Health).

Indeed both have responsibility for oversight of its functions, but as an non ministerial body they have no responsibility for it per se. Thus food safety (which is not YET a proven issue) and food labelling (which IS an issue) has no vocal advocacy inside the Executive.

The end result is that (unlike Scotland for instances) we have another round of absentee politics and politicians desperate to throw the blame on each other (or as in the case of DETI minister, keen not to be anywhere near the problem of what do about the ungovernability of big retail when the balloon rises).

Anyone talking about the economic impacts in the Mid Ulster by election? Invest NI’s record of spend and investment as against the millions poored into East Belfast for instance? Not a bit of it.

“Hold your hour, had have another presser”… as the boul Brendan might have said…

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  • Pete Baker

    The failed mini-Executive meeting at Loughry College is now being spun as a successful Northern Sinn Féin/Southern Sinn Féin meeting. Anyone see Martin Ferris at that press conference?

    And the NI Education Minister is written out of the script…

    It’s as if they don’t think we have a memory. [Or an archive – Ed]

  • Mc Slaggart

    “The local FSA ought to being managed directly by one or at maximum two ministers (Agriculture and Health)”

    NO! (BTW: why in this case do you think that an organisation should have 2 masters? )

    Food Safety Authority of Ireland should carry out their work over the whole Island.

  • Mick Fealty

    Where did I say it should McS? I said it has none that will admit to it, but de facto they look after issues to which Health and Agriculture have final say…

    Therefore we should look to those ministries to pick up the democratic deficit and force the pace on our behalf…

  • “Anyone see Martin Ferris at that press conference?”

    Will this do, Pete?

  • Mick Fealty

    Cookstown Nev? Where’s big John?

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick Fealty (profile) 18 February 2013 at 1:31 pm

    “Where did I say it should McS?”

    You did pick them Agriculture and Health?

  • Mc Slaggart


    “Therefore we should look to those ministries to pick up the democratic deficit and force the pace on our behalf…”

    The Ministers (Mouse) That Roared (1). What mighty powers would our ministers have in a European wide problem? Whom do they have power over in order to “force the pace on our behalf” ?????

    (1) An impoverished backward nation declares a war on the United States

  • Alias

    They could ask former SoS for NI, Owen Patterson, how it works as an exclusive EU competency:

    “While everyone else floundered about, chasing every little new bit of the scandal as it came to light from one end of the EU to another, Mr Paterson was the one politician who immediately grasped the nature and scale of the problem. He saw what needed to be done and he marshalled all the key players, right up to the time when he instigated a top-level emergency meeting in Brussels on Wednesday evening, for himself and six European food ministers, to agree with the relevant EU Commissioner a Europe-wide plan of action that he was proposing to address the crisis.

    What Mr Paterson recognised from the start, unlike any other politician in Britain, was that the root of the problem lay in what had followed when, a decade ago, the EU took over all “competence” to make food law from national governments. It promptly introduced a new set of rules across Europe, to replace the old dependence on regular inspection and testing of foodstuffs with a radical new system. The EU’s version of what is known as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is based on a trail of paper, whereby any food product, as it passes along the chain from one firm to another, must be acccompanied by a piece of paper certifying its nature and contents.

    This system, set up under EU regulation 178/2002, was to be administered by a new European Food Safety Authority, represented in each country by “independent” national food safety agencies, such as that created in Britain in 2002. But the regulation also laid down that ultimate responsibility for the reliability of food sold to the public was placed on the “food operators” at every step along the chain, culminating in those retailers who sell food to the public.”


  • sherdy

    At least we won’t suffer from any cross-contamination with all those, concerned or not, washing their hands of all responsibility.

  • The Raven

    …all of which, as Sherdy alludes to, doesn’t even get close to the issue of the need to take this entire “food chain” apart, look at food education, examine this whole notion of ‘value-added’, realise that people need to pay more for proper food, and that in doing aaaaall that, perhaps we might have an impact on…

    …diabetes, obesity, strokes, heart disease, fair prices for farmers, increased reliance on an internal market and all the spin off that that has for the rural community.

    This is far too big for our folk on the hill. Expect no change. Expect it not to appear on a manifesto.