“A lot of Northern Irish funding rewards bad behaviour” (with few positive outcomes)

Pete Shirlow was in Washington last night, briefing staffers on Capitol Hill about the current situation in Northern Ireland. The US – Ireland Alliance site has his report, which in turn draws on insight and data from two different surveys. Here’s how he opens:

the peace process appears to be moving at two speeds in which some communities remain caught in a perpetual cycle of poverty, sectarian asperity and intra-community devotion whilst others are shifting into less antagonistic positions. These shifts are paralleled by a decline in voting and political participation. [emphasis added]

Roughly, if you are middle class and/or upwardly mobile and living away from the conflict zones of the Troubles (which ended nearly twenty years ago), life is good, and has been getting better.

If you are living where, as the song goes, ‘most of the fighting was done’, less so. These are areas where segregation is deepest and perceptions of threat run ahead of actual danger.

Early conclusions from the Northern Ireland Project, a longitudinal study of relations between political violence and the well-being of children living in Belfast. are as follows:

  1. Despite the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in 1998, segregation and sectarian tension continue to be a lived experience for many people living in  areas that bore the brunt of conflict;
  2. Remaining violence has wide-ranging repercussions on youth and families living in segregated communities, including mental health problems and behavior problems for children and adolescents;
  3. For example, both sectarian community violence and non-sectarian crimeand violence are significant issues for youth in these communities;
  4. Youths’ sense of security and safety about their communities is weakened by continued exposure to sectarian acts. A related decreased sense of security increases mental health problems and aggression levels;
  5. Despite widespread efforts to get youth engaged in cross-community projects,few youth within this study are positively engaging in their communities;
  6. Recorded sectarian crime is falling but the perception of it is rising. The perception of sectarian crimes can be 20 to 30 times higher than what is recorded;
  7. The perception of sectarian violence is the most significant predictor for both communities of a negative attitude to policing;

But it is the quality of life indices that are perhaps most telling. Not all of the mess left behind by our sustained low level conflict are measured in fatality figures. In particular Shirlow highlights the substantial human cost paid by those who took a direct part in the conflict:

Combatants are 4-5 times more likely to be alcohol dependent and engaged in hazardous drinking and 5-6 times more likely to be on anti-depressants/tranquilizers.

Whilst some plausibly argue that we have a highly politicised civil society, there is little sign that that politicisation encourages our politicians to tackle some of the real problems facing Northern Ireland.

For instance, after all the legislation passed, ‘26% of Catholics live in poverty compared to 18% of Protestants’. And…

…high levels of worklessness remain with some 31 per cent of the working-age population not in paid work. This is higher than any GB region and 6 per cent higher than the GB average. In relation to this are high rates of disability and limiting long-term illness, especially mental ill-health. Low wages: the median wage for men working full-time is 85 percent of that for British men. Poor-quality part-time jobs and obstacles to mothers who wish to work; (for more on poverty in Northern Ireland see http://www.niapn.org/)

And from the live feed from DC, the following:

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  • Peter Shirlow madethe same points at SDLP Youths Conference last week? And hard to disagree with him. Near the Great Northern Mall in Belfast…on my way home….I encountered two individuals, clearly drunk who subjected me to racial abuse as I apparently look “English” and also threatened me with being stabbed and ” no camera in Belfast will save you”.
    The fact that they did not fear any consequence was interesting. Perhaps even more interesting was that as Peter Shirlow and aprominent UUP and DUP MLA were addressing the issue of a disenfranchised underclass, people tend to have some sympathy. But the reality is that the people who they were talking about are a feral mob…not in any way political and no different from London, Dublin or Washington DC.
    Peter Shirlow also spoke about a second kind of alienation…one of “identity”….not really a point with which I agree. But importantly it is something which a lot of people are now accepting.

    We are effectively living on foreign aid and donors have to ask the question if they are getting their moneys worth. And the simple answer is no.

  • aquifer

    “A lot of Northern Irish funding rewards bad behaviour” (with few positive outcomes)

    That includes policing expenditure, protecting communities from further violence resulting from sectarian aggression. i.e. Aggressors pay no price for stupid behaviour.

    If we are going to spend the money anyway lets spend it on political parties, to create some chance that political competition will develop around good governance instead of the ‘intra sectarian outbidding’ where parties in the middle try to match the sectarian claims of the extremists. e.g. The UUP and TUV slagging off the Maze.

    A political transparency exercise would be good too. How does each MLA stand on issues that are of interest across the communities? How do they vote? Which lobbyists are entertaining them?

  • aquifer

    Security expenditure is a subsidy for sectarian brinkmanship.

    Competent security forces provide a virtual ‘Security Blanket’ that smothers the criminal aggression that results from unmediated and contradictory political claims.

    How much does it all cost?

    Integrated schools clearly cost minus money.

  • FDM

    I have to agree with the OP.

    A major example of this is the Windsor fiasco.

    A big block of money 200-300million pounds was put aside to build a state of the art MULTI-purpose stadium for the ENTIRE population to enjoy.

    The cuckoo in the nest, the IFA [Irish Football Association for those who live in caves] torpedoed the entire gig for reasons which to this day they have not explained.

    They said they didn’t want the stadium at the Maze. Okies. Then they said [in so many words] they didn’t want it on the Ormeau embankment. Then they said they [in so many words] that they didn’t want it at the Danny Blanchflower site. Then the ANISC [Association of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs] stuck their oar in and stated they definitely didn’t want it at the Maze. They did say that Windsor is fantastic lets have it there!

    In the meantime Rugby and the GAA were sated [if not happy] enough to go along with free money and have the “national” stadium built at the Maze. Given the IFA refused and demanded Windsor, rugby and gaelic sports were left hanging. DCAL in their wisdom, under the leadership of that great intellectual and statesman Nelson McCausland, agreed that the money would be split three ways. No national stadium. A revamped Windsor, a rebrushed Casement Park and a lick of paint for Ravenhill. Split future thinking AGAIN from the DUP. See Girdwood decision for more of Nelsons particular talent at religious apartheid.

    The only problem is that the decision by the IFA is highly questionable. It is quesionable because it has never been explained. Neither the IFA nor DCAL have ever put the business case for selecting Windsor Park as THE BEST OPTION before the people who will actually pay for the upgrade, id est me, you and Nigel from Essex. It has been so little explained to the extent that Crusaders FC are currently progressing a judicial review of the decision making process regarding the Windsor upgrade. They have claimed that the the proper due dilligence processes have not been performed in DCAL, that the minister has made an “ultra vires” decision and that the award of all that funding ultimately to Linfield FC to pay for a complete rebuilding of their ground is a breach of European competition law.

    In short it appears that some clearly nefarious deals and decision making have been going on and that the IFA/Linfield are being rewarded [at the minimum end] with 25-30million pounds of taxpayer funding, despite their intransigence. All with no business plan being exposed to public scrutiny over what are public funds. To add to that there is clearly the spectre of sectarianism and a complete lack of “shared future” thinking in the selection of the stadium belonging to the most virulently loyalist football team in top level football. If you doubt that last line then please watch the footage of last years Irish cup final, which due to the nature of the Linfield fans singing, should not have been aired before the watershed, if at all.

    Financial rewards for intransigence, bigotry and an anti-shared future agenda. Whereas there was an opportunity to do the something positive. We can all hope that Mark Langhammer, Crusaders director, and his colleagues are successful in their legal challenge and kick this nefarious deal to touch.

  • Blue Hammer

    FDM

    In terms of your main point about the publication or not of a viable business plan to support the Windsor upgrade there is little I would disagree with – they should either publish or confirm there is nothing to publish.

    One thing you fail to mention is the legally binding 100 year contract, signed in 1984, whereby the IFA undertook to host all NI home games at Windsor Park, with Linfield receiving 15% of gate money in payment for the use of their facilities. At that time, no other NI ground had the ability or potential to host NI games, so Windsor, as the (even then) biggest and best ground in the country was the only option and Linfield, as its owners, had the IFA over a barrel.

    Hindsight is 100%, obviously, and with that it is clear that in 1984 someone in the IFA made a colossal screw-up with the terms of that deal, but 30 years later that is not Linfield’s fault. So by all means build a stadium at the Maze, but NI cannot play there. Which is convenient as no NI fans want to have anything to do with that site, and its soon to be established Shrine to Terror.

    As a Linfield fan, I also agree with your hope that the Crues win their legal bid. I have no desire to watch Linfield play in a 20,000 capacity stadium with only 2,500 people in it. It would be like Queen’s Park at Hampden – dead atmopshere in a ground we could NEVER fill. My ideal would be for the IFA to buy themselves out of the LFC deal, giving us sufficient money to raize Windsor to the ground and rebuild a tight, compact, modern 5,000-7,000 capacity ground fit for our purposes. We could aspire to grow our attendances to fill it, and the improved atmosphere would assist with that, rather than the opposite effect in a 20,000 capacity empty bowl.

    Finally, at the risk of engaging in whataboutery, Linfield are not the only team, either here, in RoI or in the rest of the UK whose fans sing off-colour songs. That, sadly, is the nature of football fans worldwide. I’d be interested to know your view on the Leeds fans’ Munich songs, Celtic’s pro-IRA chants, everybody’s “Always the victims, it’s never your fault” Liverpool songs, and how they are any worse or better than the “Billy Boys”. Or is it only “virulent Loyalism” that gets your goat?

  • FDM

    @Blue Hammer

    “So by all means build a stadium at the Maze, but NI cannot play there.”

    Linfield dictating what the “national” team does? Tail wagging the dog is it not?

    “My ideal would be for the IFA to buy themselves out of the LFC deal, giving us sufficient money to raize Windsor to the ground and rebuild a tight, compact, modern 5,000-7,000 capacity ground fit for our purposes”

    Your deal is with the IFA, not my taxpayers money. If you can get sufficient funds out of an organisation that is posting a deficit this year then good luck to you. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO DIP YOUR HANDS INTO THE TAXPAYERS POCKET. We [the taxpayer] have NO contractual agreement with Linfield.

    Also in the existing contract it was Linfields responsibility to keep he stadium fit for purpose for international football and meet all the legislative requirements of a modern stadium, including Health and Safety. Windsor is in fact a dump and UEFA have said that it is not fit to host international games. On international nights, and probably tomorrow as well, they have to have a fire engine and crew in the stadium, so heightened is the risk of fire in the dilapidated ground. Hence it could be argued very strongly that Linfield are indeed in breach of the contract and the IFA would therefore be within their rights to walk away. The IFA own one of the stands, they gave an interest free loan to Linfield to build another, they paid for the press facilities, the CCTV, the PA system, the changing rooms and the new pitch. What do you guys own at Windsor that YOU have actually paid for?

    Really what you have implied there, many times, is that you are holding the taxpayer to ransom through the conduit of the IFA. A shameful state of affairs.

    Why can Linfield not stand on their own two feet like the rest of the clubs?

    It seems Linfield feel they have a God-given right to sponge off the rest of us and demand the money with clear menaces into the bargain! What do we owe you? Bugger all thats what!

    Linfield have had a long and glorious history of sectarianism on and off the pitch. The only reason you started playing Catholics was UEFA told the IFA that if you didn’t start then they couldn’t sanction the IFA having the contractual arrangement with the club. Seems that money is the only cure for sectarianism at Windsor?

    Just as the original article posed,why should Linfield FC be funded for not keeping their side of the bargain? Why should their bad behaviour be bonussed!

    Rattle your begging bowl in front of Jim Shaw. I gave at the office and have no more to spare for you.

  • Morpheus

    Why don’t the IFA ‘do a Rangers’ and liquidate the IFA and start a new-co? The new-co would not be bound by any 1984 contract to Linfield and they can go their separate ways.

    The new-co can then use the £25m to build a new national team stadium NI and Linfield can do what every other club does and pay for their own stadium/upgrades/maintenance without the IFA covering their wage bill each year. Let them struggle the way the other clubs do so at least there is a level playing field

  • FDM

    @Morpheus

    Suggested the same idea years ago. The problem is the same one as in 1984. Linfield negotiating from both sides of the table. Turkeys voting for Christmas.

  • DC

    Have to say I was one of those struck by the vision of a new shared stadium, but actually that would only have been a cherry on a cake which isn’t there. so just a cherry.

    By that i mean the money is probably better spent on facilities that can improve the level of sport being played here than just building a new ground on which to play it. Better to have quality training facilities that could be used by all sports like good quality training grounds, a gym, classrooms for teaching tactics and sports qualifications, money to employ coaches to work up new training skills and develop techniques, money to bring in out of work or retired managers to work alongside the IFA and local clubs to improve the level of collective thinking going on around tactics and management strategy in regional/local football. Not just football, generally, big sports getting together and putting their heads together to improve the level of sport on offer in n ireland – i’m thinking along the lines of the GAA manager? going over to celtic as the person provided something that celtic didn’t have, it was a performance consultant role i think offering a psychological development role or something…not just about physical also the mental. things like that need to happen here.

    I read a book about the now retired dutch footballer Arthur Numan, in it he said when he was coming through as a young footballer and involved in the national squad he was not just coached football; he was trained up to cover a wide range of sports and sporting disciplines so that it could not only benefit him personally in terms of his footballing game for instance by being able to do gymnastics it also made him more agile (i remember him playing for rangers and getting grounded by a tackle and then getting up to his feet via a backflip – not many FC Province players could do that), but it also meant that if the football didn’t work out for him he would have a qualification at the end of it, he would be able for instance to teach P.E in schools. So that seemed to me like real quality investment in a person it was also ‘an out’ for him if football failed.

    Things like good diet as well and having the money to invest all of this sports science and training would be of more benefit to sport in general than just a shared stadium on which to play a crappy level of football on or rugby or whatever. I look at some of the players coming through for FC Province and they look smaller in definition and weaker than those successful teams and you think these guys need more time in the gym and on the whey powder or something!

    Although I did notice that Jonny Evans seems to be bucking that trend, he has a bigger physique, probably Fergie told him to build himself up or otherwise he’s out, because he would get out-jumped and out-muscled in defence in the EPL.

    Basically you need to be athletes first in today’s game or sport and i am not sure that that sort of mindset is embedded in FC Province and its youth.

  • Barnshee

    “We [the taxpayer] have NO contractual agreement with Linfield.”

    Nor the IRFU or the GAA or the IFA –NONE of them should get a penny of taxpayers money

    It seems they all feel they have a God-given right to sponge off the rest of us and demand the money What do we owe them? Bugger all thats what!

  • Mick Fealty

    HOw did we jump to football?

  • Morpheus

    Rewards.

    Linfield getting a £25m new stadium plus £600k a year to cover their wage bill at the taxpayers expense while the rest squeeze every pound until the Queen squeaks.

  • Blue Hammer

    Mick

    FDM and Morpheus are suggesting that Linfield’s “bad behaviour” is being rewarded with taxpayers money.

    Looked at objectively, signing a voluntary, yet legally binding agreement with the IFA to host 100 years of NI matches at Windsor in exchange for 15% of the gate was simply good business, not “bad behaviour”, but why let the truth get in the way of sectarian hatred and lies. Linfield have a deal, adn are quite correct to ensure that changes to that deal are not detrimental to the interests of Linfield FC. If the IFA wish to move matches to the Maze Terror Shrine, Blanchflower Stadium, Ormeau Park, North Foreshore or anywhere else, they can buy out the contract. Where they get the money to do so from is neither my, nor Linfield’s concern, but I would imagine this would have been factored into any business plan for the TerrorDome.

    Having checked with the clubs concerned, I note that Glentoran received no payment for the use of the Hoval for the CAS Final, Glenavon never receive anything for the use of Mourneview for NI U21 games, and the North Belfast big two allow use of Seaview and Solitude (NB who paid for their 4G pitches??) to all comers for no financial consideration. Oh, wait. . . .

    Life in a glass house, eh?

  • Morpheus

    “FDM and Morpheus are suggesting that Linfield’s “bad behaviour” is being rewarded with taxpayers money.”

    I suggested nothing of the sort. Between which lines did you read that rubbish?

    And please, save me the sectarian hatred bollix – I never mentioned it and neither should you.

  • Blue Hammer

    Morpheus

    Line one: Thread Title: “A lot of NI Funding rewards bad behaviour”

    Line two: Your comment “Rewards. Linfield getting a £25m new stadium plus £600k a year to cover their wage bill at the taxpayers expense while the rest squeeze every pound until the Queen squeaks.”

    Between those two lines it is quite clear, I’d imagine.

    As far as sectarian hatred, I apologise unreservedly to you for including you in that comment. FDM should have that one all to himself.

  • Morpheus

    @Blue Hammer

    Apology accepted. But for the record, I agree with FDM.

    I fail to see how my comments say that Linfield were rewarded for bad behavior.

    I simply do not think it is fair or acceptable for Linfield – or any club for that matter – to be the recipients of a £25m new stadium paid for by the taxpayer plus a £600k a year payment from the IFA while the rest of the clubs struggle to make ends meet.

    A tenant does not pay for their landlord’s house to be knocked own and rebuilt before resuming to pay the rent again. It just doesn’t happen. If the 1984 contract is the issue then they should form a new company who are not bound to that contract – à la Rangers.

    I see no benefit to the taxpayer and I see no benefit to Linfield who will have games with 95% of the stadium empty. They should build a 5k-seater and fill it to the rafters each week with a bit of atmosphere. Hardly rocket science.

  • Blue Hammer

    Morpheus

    As regards Windsor, you will see from my previous comments I agree with you on the best solution ground-wise for Linfield. A new 5-7000 capacity stadium would be perfect.

    But with the “contract” in place, guaranteeing 15% of home gates that’s not going to happen. So we need to look at how to move forward which meets the needs of NI and Linfield. I have no interest in NI or where they play. Those who do follow them would not accept the TerrorDome. The IFA remain hamstrung by the deal signed in 1984. The only way forward is for the IFA and Linfield to renegotiate, and as things stand Linfield hold the whip hand in those negotiations.

    Disappointing that you agree with FDM on my club. The club you describe is not the one I follow. While fans may be nearly 100% PUL, the club has a long history of cross community team make up, and community outreach across the M1.

  • Perhaps instead of saying a two speed peace process we should say we have a happy and free flowing highway on one side that is flanked by a putrid and landlocked gulley.

  • Ruarai

    Thought this was an odd line for an academic:

    1.10. The bedding down of devolution seems to have drawn some Catholic respondents according to the Life and Times Survey away from a desire for Irish unification. In 1998, 49 per cent of Catholics wished for a reunited Ireland compared to 33 per cent in 2010

    Where’s the evidence of a relationship between the drop from 49-33 (parking, for now, debates about the veracity of both surveys) and the “bedding down of devolution”??

    Is there any evidence for this?

    Plenty of things could explain such a drop – not least the collapse of the Southern economy – but the objective of a study should be to explain the drop, not simply make leaps that suggest or assert relationships, unsupported by analysis or evidence.

    Also, it’s odd to suggest that during the last decade devolution has “bedded down”. One could suggest that, I suppose, but the last decade is more a story of what what has failed to bed down: huge chunks of the GFA remain unimplemented.

  • Coll Ciotach

    and you know what? It is all the Catholics fault for sending their children to Catholic schools – if only they would stop that.

  • FDM

    @Morpheus

    “A tenant does not pay for their landlord’s house to be knocked own and rebuilt before resuming to pay the rent again.”

    A point that has been made before and highlights the nefarious nature of the relationship between the IFA and Linfield.

    @Blue Hammer

    “Where they get the money to do so from is neither my, nor Linfield’s concern, but I would imagine this would have been factored into any business plan for the TerrorDome.”

    Where else are the IFA going to get money except from the taxpayer? Why would an IFA contract with local government of indeed with any other third party have anything to do with Linfield football club? It again underlines that Linfield basically “own” the IFA and can control their decision making. This is reason enough for the IFA to cut all business links with Linfield FC.

    “the club has a long history of cross community team make up, and community outreach across the M1.”

    Which is of course why UEFA threatened the IFA that they could not countenance a continued relationship between the IFA and Linfield unless the latter changed their sectarian ways and started playing Catholic players.

    Tell me it isn’t so?

    @Mick Fealty

    “HOw did we jump to football?”

    We jumped to an example involving hundreds of millions of tax payers money being misappropriated without proper transparent decision making from government to parties and influential groups that have a let us say sullied past and present in terms of financial handling and indeed are not on message with a shared thinking future. The latter being government policy in the region.

    Not all debates perhaps focus on what you like, but you cannot say that this content does not fit the framing of the original post.

  • Blue Hammer

    FDM

    Linfield have a deal with the IFA. If the IFA want to break it they’ll have to pay. That’s just common business practice. I’ll say it again – how the IFA fund that buy out is not Linfield’s concern.

    To clarify your position, are you suggesting that the IFA should walk away from the 1984 deal and go with the TerrorDome plan? If so should Linfield just acquiesce quietly and give up their guaranteed income stream without a peep of protest?

    Personally I wish they had done just that, but only after settling with Linfield who could then have built a ground suitable for Linfield FC. The proposed upgrade looks great, but I don’t fancy rattling around it for the next 50 years.

    In saying that, it was great to see Windsor so packed yesterday, despite it being by the Gurns and the Reds.

    A reminder of how it used to be. And maybe will be again.

    BTW – Linfield changed their approach to the CNR community many years ago not due to UEFA pressure, but because it was the right thing to do. Hopefully Cliftonville will consider reciprocating sometime soon.

  • FDM

    @Blue Hammer

    “Linfield have a deal with the IFA. If the IFA want to break it they’ll have to pay. That’s just common business practice. I’ll say it again – how the IFA fund that buy out is not Linfield’s concern.”

    If Linfield breached the terms of the contract then the IFA are perfectly entitled to walk away. Saturday demonstrated how unfit for purpose Windsor really is. The Reds could have sold another 5,000 tickets and Windsor couldn’t do it, because it is a wreck, id est it is not fit for the purpose.

    “To clarify your position, are you suggesting that the IFA should walk away from the 1984 deal and go with the TerrorDome plan?”

    Since we are talking taxpayers money then I would be happy with the best financial case. Something that Linfield, the IFA and DCAL seem to have absolutely no interest in letting the public [who are paying for it] see the details of the plan. Hence the trip to the High Court this month.

    “BTW – Linfield changed their approach to the CNR community many years ago not due to UEFA pressure, but because it was the right thing to do.”

    Who do you think you are kidding for goodness sake? Linfield appointed their FIRST catholic captain in 125 years in 2011. It took you until the 21st century to replicate something that Cliftonville had started in the 19th century…

    Name all those Catholic managers you have had?

    Cliftonville have had Billy Sinclair, Liam Beckett, Stitt etc…

    Name all those Linfield presidents from the Protestant community?

    Whereas we have had Jimmy Boyce since before there were dinosaurs.

    On Saturday McGovern and Smyth started as a centre-half pairing with Stevie Garrett on the wing. Shocking.

    The Reds were also the first club to play a player of colour in the Irish League.

    Davy McAlinden from the Shankill, ex-player was immediately picked-up as our U21 team coach when he retired [due to injury] from football this year.

    “Hopefully Cliftonville will consider reciprocating sometime soon.”

    Sorry we will have to leave the sectarianism to Linfield and the Northern Ireland football team. It is not what we do at Solitude.

    But staying with the subject, which is funding.

    Linfield PAY YOUR OWN WAY and stop SPONGING off the rest of us!

    BTW, can we get a tax rebate for you finishing 29 points [10 games] adrift of the Reds this year? Thats not value for our taxpayers money now is it?

  • Barnshee

    “21st century to replicate something that Cliftonville had started in the 19th century”
    Ignorance is bliss check your history
    The rise of “catholic” Cliftonville is a relatively recent event mostly due to the Prod decline in N Belfast generally and their disappearance from places like Brookvale and Fortwilliam Area

    In the (admittedly dim and distance past) when I lived in Brookvale Cliftonville was an “amateur”club. Jimmy Boyce is a survivor from that era.
    This was all before Cliftonville were adopted by PIRA/SF supporters

  • FDM

    @Barnshee

    Thanks I know my clubs history.

    Just the facts Barnshee, just the facts. If you had any that supported your skewed view of reality well you would produce them.

  • Barnshee

    “Just the facts Barnshee, just the facts. If you had any that supported your skewed view of reality well you would produce them.”

    Repeats –In the (admittedly dim and distance past) when I lived in Brookvale (1959-1961) Cliftonville was an “amateur”club. I was a sporadic supporter depending of work there were no sectarian trappings– the ethos as far as I can remember it were the focus on the amateur aspect of the club, but what would I know I only went to the games.

    Repeats the rise of “catholic” Cliftonville is a relatively recent event I certainly cannot remember much republican support before the 70`s.
    Hint “relatively”

  • SDLP supporter

    I think the soccer club squabbling is a diversion from the core points that Pete Shirlow is making. The fact is that concepts such as voluntary and community have been completely devalued here. There are something like 30,000 in this sector in the North and a significant number of them are salaried, paid from sources such as Peace Funds, IFI OFMDFM slush funds, etc. Those salaried people are not ‘voluntary’ and for some their main object in life is to get ‘mainstreamed’, tha is on the public sector payroll. In some areas all the external money has done is to create a cadre of paramilitary-connected elites who have ‘non-jobs’ because of who they know

    The real scandal in NI is that the electoral wards which were identified as deprived in 1971 are by and large the same areas in 2011. That is an indictment of the sheer waste of the billions spent and provided by the generosity of the outside world and, in a lot of people, has just led to self-regarding narcissism. For example, the clown in the Nolan Show tonight who thinks that the Long Kesh/Maze shrine thing will be as big a “tourist draw” as Auschwitz. I’m prepared to bet everything I have that it will be nothing but a continuing drain on the taxpayer.

    Time to close down Peace Funds, IFI and the like.

  • Barnshee

    “In some areas all the external money has done is to create a cadre of paramilitary-connected elites who have ‘non-jobs’ because of who they know”

    Er– this applies to virtually all the public sector in NI and of course the ultimate gravy trains of Local Authorities and the Assembly

    The British government has bought peace -how long they will continue to fund it -that`s the question

  • Taxpayer subsidation of professional sports is not a problem that is restricted to NI or even the UK. It seems to exist throughout the English-speaking West if not all of Western Europe. This is because many people think that all the government does is waste money and they feel entitled to have it spent on something that they enjoy. They don’t seem to understand the philosophical point about not spending public money to subsidize private for-profit corporations like sports franchises.

    But to get on to the actual topic of this thread….It would seem that NI is suffering from many of the same problems as Bosnia. In Bosnia ethno-nationalist parties dominated politics and so became the parties in government when a peace deal was worked out. Bosnia also has a form of power sharing with many more layers than in NI. The EU has seen fit to subsidize the various ethno-nationalist parties in power and the corruption that they represent as they don’t want to risk war breaking out again. The Shinners, DUPers and loyalist parties are all very good at working the same type of scam in NI. The main difference is that the level of European financing for NI is, I believe–I don’t have budgetary figures here–much lower for NI than for Bosnia. Most of the subsidy is being paid by the British taxpayers and a small amount by Irish taxpayers (for roads and other infrastructure).

    I think that both places would be better off if a form of power sharing were instituted that required all parties in power to have a minimal amount of cross-community support. If this were the case Alliance would be dominating the Executive, the DUP, TUV, and SF would be frozen out and the UUP and SDLP would be much more accommodating. Instead we have a system that encourages ethnic outbidding.

    Unfortunately, the theory of consociational democracy or consociationalism was developed by a Dutch-American political scientist on the basis of four Western European countries with only two of these having ethnic divisions and none having gone through an ethnic war as happened in NI, Bosnia, Lebanon, and Cyprus. So far NI has been the most successful example of power sharing in that type of situation, which is not saying very much. The rival approach that I mentioned above has only been tested briefly in Nigeria in 1979 before a coup ended democracy there and in the Fiji Islands. So all of you are essentially guinea pigs. I know from conversations that I had with John Alderdice at the time of the GFA that Alliance was not really in favor of the consociational approach because of its very bad track record. But the SDLP and UUP were in favor. The DUP boycotted the negotiations and SF was still arguing in favor of a 32-county state.

  • Morpheus

    “Taxpayer subsidation of professional sports is not a problem that is restricted to NI or even the UK”

    The issue is not state subsidization of professional sports. The issue is state subsidiation of a particular club within a particular sport while the rest struggle to survive and compete. In this case it’s Linfield but it could just as easily be Cliftonville, Dungannon Swifts, Coleraine or Glentoran etc..