The optics are poor and it looks like “the party comes first” (updated with TUV+DUP amendments & results)

On Thursday morning the Social Development committee agreed to hold an inquiry into the issues raised in BBC NI’s Spotlight programme.

The recalled Assembly will sit in plenary on Monday at noon. After prayers the Private Members’ Business brought by Mr R Swann (UUP), Ms C Ruane (SF), Mr S Dickson (Alliance), Mrs K McKevitt (SDLP) will be the only business before adjournment.

Call for an Inquiry into Allegations of Wrongful Political Interference in the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Potential Breaches of the Ministerial Code and Misleading of the Assembly and the Committee for Social Development

Proposed:

That this Assembly expresses concern at the contents of the major investigation by the BBC Spotlight programme broadcast on Wednesday 3 July 2013; notes the allegations of serious and wrongful political interference in the Housing Executive and that the Assembly and the Committee for Social Development were purposely misled by the Minister for Social Development over his decision to seek a review of the specification for the supply and fitting of double glazing; and calls for a full inquiry into the relevant Minister to establish any impropriety or irregularity as well as any breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

At one level, the result of Monday’s debate has no real impact on the inquiry which the Social Development committee has the power to set up without any nod from the full Assembly.

Monday’s session just is an opportunity for the full Assembly to air their views on the topical issues. The committee itself will dictate the scope of their inquiry and barring any legal advice there is nothing to stop them establishing as wide an inquiry as they desire.

The DUP’s decision to raise a petition of concern will not stop the inquiry and the party’s promised amendmentnot yet in the public domain but must be lodged with the Speaker by 9.30am on Monday morning – will simply weaken the potential perception that Nelson McCausland has been censured.

Yet the DUP’s failure to take their verbal punishment on the chin may harden attitudes on the Social Development committee. After Thursday morning’s lacklustre interrogation of the Nelson McCausland – beginning with the minister being allowed to talk uninterrupted for just short of an hour before ninety minutes of questions – the committee’s performance and approach to their inquiry will be closely observed. To boost confidence in the credibility and accountability of the local devolved institutions, many will be looking for reassurance that “the party comes first” is not the priority of individual committee members, but instead their primary objective should be seen to be truth.

Short of an unexpected outbreak of sunstroke on the DUP benches, without DUP support the original targeted motion would certainly fail to achieve cross-community support. While unpopular with the other parties, the DUP’s promised wider amendment should at face value still garner support from across the chamber … unless parties’ annoyance is great enough to invite tactical voting or a counter petition of concern.

A statement from DUP’s chief whip Peter Weir bats away the claims of their opponents that the use of a petition of concern is an example of “democracy being thwarted”.

[Those] are the very same people who criticise the non-binding and “meaningless” nature of other Private Members Motions regularly debated within the Assembly.

Whilst the motion tabled by four parties is selective and partial the DUP is tabling a much more comprehensive amendment to allow all relevant issues to be considered, including those ignored by the Spotlight programme.

The perception is that the DUP is using a partisan tool to leverage a non-partisan issue. A motion by the majority of parties at the Assembly (and in the Executive) is uncomfortable for the DUP and they’ve found a way to veto it and substitute a less embarrassing question for the snap poll in the chamber on Monday afternoon.

Despite the DUP’s arguments, the optics are poor and it looks like “the party comes first”.

Update – Two amendments have been lodged this morning. The business committee meets at 10am and their decision on which amendment(s) go forward to this afternoon’s plenary session should be known around 11am.

Amendment 1 proposed by Gregory Campbell, Pam Brown, Sammy Douglas, Peter Weir:

Leave out all after the first ‘Assembly’ and insert:

“welcomes the Committee for Social Development’s investigation into the BBC Spotlight programme of 3 July and the allegations made within it; notes that the inquiry will consider the conduct of the Minister for Social Development; considers that such an inquiry should also include the activities, comments broadcast and role of Mr Brian Rowntree in relation to the issues raised including the Rinmore development, the allegations made by politicians and commentators in relation to the issues raised by the programme both during and since the broadcast, the range of companies similar to Red Sky involved in alleged overcharging and the failure of the Housing Executive and previous Ministers to investigate, and the role of previous Ministers in relation to the issues raised; and calls on the Committee for Social Development to request a report from the Police into the allegations of corruption made in relation to the Housing Executive.”

Amendment 2 proposed by Jim Allister:

Leave out all after ‘glazing’ and insert:

“; and having no confidence in the Minister for Social Development calls on him to resign.”

Update on voting –

  • Amendment 1 (DUP) defeated – Ayes 34; Noes 55.
  • Amendment 2 (TUV) defeated.
  • Main motion defeated (required cross-community support) – Ayes 54; Noes 34.

Total Votes 88; Total Ayes 54 [61.4%]

Nationalist Votes 32; Nationalist Ayes 32 [100.0%]

Unionist Votes 50; Unionist Ayes 16 [32.0%]

Other Votes 6; Other Ayes 6 [100.0%]

Main Question accordingly negatived.

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  • cynic2

    If they use a petition of concern it doesn’t look like the party comes first – it looks like they REALLY have something to hide on this one.

    So who will dare use the privilege of the House to make the allegations or ask the awkward questions

    And why was McCausland so keen to act for a Company not in his constituency? Whose hand was guiding all this?

  • cynic2[11.27] UTV clearly hates this story, they want to move on to have orgasms over Norn Iron as a tourist magnet and this pesky mess gets in the way of their DUP love-in. The DUP are in meltdown mode as Nelson puts them in Hitler territory. How has Robbo sunk so low? Those 40,000 leaflets don’t look so clever/clever now, Do They?????

  • Mick Fealty

    As you say Chris, a proper inquiry will get us to the truth of the matter… I’d query whether the Assembly parties have the political will to really get down to brass tacks…

    Remember the great fuss SF made when a copy of the PACs draft report was leaked to the press? I suspect that was done to circumvent internal pressure to condition it’s negative findings against the DRD…

    Indeed we found pressure to protect institutions almost everywhere we looked, even at times on the NIAO…

    I’d like to hear from a properly independent review of contract management in the NIHE, going back to 2000…

    Everything else is for the optics…

  • cynic2

    I wish that an inquiry would but I doubt it.

  • pauluk

    Yes, Alan, you’re right, it’s all about optics. Obviously other parties are trying to harm the image of the DUP with exaggerated charges.

  • Alan in Belfast “….unless parties annoyance is great enough to invite tactical voting…..”

    That’s exactly what I posted the other day is likely to happen as the other parties will be determined enough to prevent a spoiling DUP amendment being effected in order to force the DUP to press the nuclear button and convince even more unionist voters that they’ve got something serious to hide. It’s desperate stuff and the fact they are indulging in these spoiling tactics shows Robinson’s judgerment is really at sea these days as it was when he sent out the leaflets.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Peter Weir is actually right. Even if this motion passes it means nothing. It binds nobody to conduct any kind of inquiry. Indeed I’m not even sure what the legal basis for an assembly inquiry is.

    Mick,

    I’d like to hear from a properly independent review of contract management in the NIHE, going back to 2000…

    Everything else is for the optics…

    As I said yesterday, there are two issues. One is corruption within the Housing Executive, a problem which predates the DUP (and probably predates devolution and the whole nine yards).

    The other one is bent ministers colluding with suppliers in an environment where party political donations are secret. I’m at a loss to understand why you are continuing to dismiss this as mere optics or politicking. It’s extremely serious. No doubt some parties are seeking to press political advantage but that does not mean the issue is being conjured out of nowhere.

    pauluk,

    You don’t think the DUP harmed their image themselves then ?

  • I’ve updated the post with the TUV and DUP amendments which are under consideration by the Business Committee this morning.

  • D.A.

    Looks like a massive DUP witch hunt against Brian Rowntree.

    I wonder what Jenny Palmer would have to say about that?

  • Mick Fealty

    excellent work Allan….

    any comment CS?

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, he was chair for eight/nine years… On what basis should we give him a bye ball?

  • cynic2

    I think the Board in NIHE deserve it. There was rampant abuse of public money corruption and theft and it wasn’t managed or detected.

    BUT when nits detected and a Minister steps in to try and protect a company screwing the public purse, juts what tare the electors to think?

  • While covered in the generality, all three amendments avoid specifically singling out the Social Development minister’s special advisor.

    I’m a little surprised that Jim Allister hasn’t called for an independent review – or SoS intervention.

  • cynic2

    I note that the DUP proposal cleverly tries to limit the scope of investigation to the Spotlight Allegations and Broadcast + Rhinmore. No investigation of who lay behind any intervention then. No examination of WHY the Minister intervened or who put him up to it and no nasty questions about any links between Red Sky and DUP Members.

    Above all nothing to even consider any additional material that the BBC may have on these matters that their lawyers wouldn’t allow them to broadcast

  • cynic2

    “Mr Norman Hayes (Red Sky) is not a member of the DUP, has never contributed to the Democratic Unionist party, has never been a fundraiser for the Democratic Unionist Party.”

    A very carefully worded response from Robin Newton but it doesn’t answer the full question. Why for example did he single out one director.

    SO:

    1 did Red Sky as a company contribute to the DUP or any member of the DUP

    2 did any Director of Red Sky or the Company Secretary contribute to the DUP ir any member of the DUP

    3 did any DUP MLA or MP or Councillor at any time receive hospitality at any stage from Red Sky any of the Directors of Red Sky or any associated companies

    4

  • D.A.

    It would be interesting to look into the backgrounds of the other directors of Red Sky Holdings to see if there were any connections to the DUP.

    I notice that one of them had property development interests in the past.

  • There’s a whiff of sulphur in the air, but haven’t seen a smoking gun yet.

    Neither the Committee last week nor any journalist since has produced the documentation or slam dunk evidence that proves anything much. Some may be reluctant to raise a row because, as CS says, problems seem to go back further at NIHE than Mr McCausland. Faux outrage?

    There is an overall sense of something rotten, somewhere. Lots of questions and finger pointing. Where is the hard investigative evidence? Paper trail? Something more than he said, she said? It is one thing to believe in what is going on, quite another to *know* what is going on.

  • iluvni

    The DUP referred to a SDLP connection within the production team involved in the making of the BBC programme?
    Who were they referring to?

  • Mick Fealty

    One thing I found unnerving was the suggestion by Ed Poots under privilege that Spotlight was biased because one of the production team was a relative of an SDLP Councillor.

    I have problems with the framing of the programme, I have more with a governing party that resorts to its asymmetrical advantages to attack journalists rather than defend its positions…

  • Mick Fealty

    “A son” I think he said.

  • iluvni

    Did he say it was biased on account of that?
    I’m not sure he did, but it certainly was an interesting revelation all the same.

  • cynic2

    “one of the production team was a relative of an SDLP Councillor”

    As a Unionist he could be the nephew of the Pope for all I care. I just want honest transparent non-corrupt Government

  • pauluk

    The cunning technique of those who hate the DUP is simple: throw as much mud as possible at them knowing that when the mud is cleaned up and the facts are revealed, most people will only remember the mud.

    The objective, especially for people like Jim Allister, is to create lingering doubt (he’s trying to scrape up a few extra votes). If all that mud was there, there has to be something to the allegations, right?

    Sad how political goals can bring out the worst in some people.

  • pauluk

    This is the same technique that Greenwald has been using in his anti-NSA, anti-American crusade.

  • If this was in a “normal” democratic state, there would be resignations or firings rather than a circling of the wagons and singing “la di da, I can’t hear you”.

  • Mick Fealty

    Greenwald has scored quite a few palpable hits. And not just over NSA secret arrangements. The US Constitution is an imperfect document but it enshrines (in a very protestant way) the right of citizens queation the decisions of those with power.

    I the Dissenters put it well. I smell sulphur, but don’t see the smoking gun. There has to be evidence of some form of benefit. Given what’s been recorded I see some dodgy reasoning and a general lack of candour. And in the Poots comment a ‘lets throw the kitchen sjnk at it’

  • Submariner

    cynic2 (profile) 8 July 2013 at 8:00 pm
    “one of the production team was a relative of an SDLP Councillor”

    As a Unionist he could be the nephew of the Pope for all I care. I just want honest transparent non-corrupt Government

    God I never thought I’d agree with a Unionist. Well said that man.

  • Comrade Stalin

    pauluk,

    I know it’s a complete waste of time to try to get a decent debate out of you as you seem to be the sort of chap who throws nonsense out there and never comes back to defend it, but … what mud are you talking about ? All of these allegations have a factual basis. What’s your preferred theory of why the DUP intervened despite the testimony of one of their own councillors on the HE board to try to reverse a decision on a contractor ?

    Mick,

    Having seen the amendment and the performance in the assembly today all I can say is it looks a lot like whataboutery to me. Both the text of the amendment itself (which was transparently designed to take the focus away from the issue of the DUP’s relationship with Red Sky) and the behaviour of DUP MLAs. Robinson barracked the Speaker with Points of Order to try to get Jim Allister to reveal details of his relationships with developers. Another MLA did a “what about Gerry Kelly” intervention on Catriona Ruane.

    Gregory Campbell, Robinson’s preferred attack dog, went off on one about the BBC – shooting the messenger.

    I was reminded of Robinson’s 2010 interview with Seamus McKee. A rewatching of that interview will reveal that Robinson was technically correct in his defence to Seamus. But that wasn’t what did the damage – it was the attitude of arrogance and bad temperedness in the face of serious accusations which did. The danger for the DUP is that the public perceive them as screaming in the trap after having been caught red handed.

  • Comrade Stalin

    thedissenter said:

    There’s a whiff of sulphur in the air, but haven’t seen a smoking gun yet.

    then Mick added

    I smell sulphur, but don’t see the smoking gun.

    Obviously explaining this to you guys isn’t working so I’ll try another way.

    Can you explain why the DUP tried to force their board representative to change the HE decision over Red Sky’s contract; and can you explain why the DUP put it about that the decision to end the contract was motivated by sectarianism despite the DUP councillor and Orange Order member of the board reporting that it wasn’t ?

  • Comrade Stalin[9.07] Re last para about Robinson tetchy interview back then Today in assembly when he got up to taunt JA anbout developers, I thought he just looked defeated knowing his hour has past and no retrieval of carrer legacy possible now. This term already holed below waterline after just two years. Electorate will vote with feet to bring the Stormont curtain down well before Easter 2016.
    Devolution already failed here twice now.

  • Mick Fealty

    CS,

    On your 9.20, no, I can’t explain any of those matters, other than to say that most of it amounts to politicking… I’ve still to see anything other than an abuse of process in evidence here… Reprehensible, it may be. But smoking gun, it ain’t..

  • Comrade Stalin

    Politicking ?!?

  • Mick Fealty

    I want to say more about this later in the week (if I get the chance), but suffice to say, I’d be looking at outcomes, rather than political positions in order to come to a clear conclusion of wrongdoing…

    You know, like a Minister being found guilty of practicing discrimination in the appointments made under his direction of his department

    What queers this pitch for the DUP was the agressive lobbying by the party leader and his E Belfast constituency colleague Robin Newton… and their apparent initial certainty that RedSky was being made a scapegoat when awarded a contract to do work in Republican west Belfast…

    This is what I am struggling with with this story… where’s the incriminating outcome? It might be there, but I don’t see anyone offering the evidence for it…

    I would like to have seen this level of widespread enthusiasm in the press for the NI Water story, which yielded only the second ever suspension of a British Permanent Secretary in over 150 years within 24 hours of Jamie Delargy’s excellent UTV report on the matter

    But you could have heard a pin drop anywhere else but the News Letter and Slugger when that happened

    I am also struggling with Alex Attwood’s assertion that this is about money (don’t start me on the brown envelope association from an earlier speaker) and political parties…

    NO major party backed the Friends of the Earth’s recent campaign for reform of party funding in order to bring about transparency…

    I don’t doubt the DUP’s hostility to the NIHE. I don’t doubt either that some of it is unreasonable, revisionist and wrong headed… Nor do I doubt that the powers that be do not have the capacity to properly assess value for money when it comes to delivery public services by private contractors…

    But we undervalue language (and politics) when we mistake partisan handling of any given issue with the politically important idea of corruption

  • Devil Eire

    Mick Fealty:

    ..suffice to say, I’d be looking at outcomes, rather than political positions in order to come to a clear conclusion of wrongdoing…

    So it’s just the successful corruption we need to worry about? If your criterion had been applied, there would have been no political career repercussions from the British cash-for-questions or cash-for-influence scandals.

    ..but we undervalue language (and politics) when we mistake partisan handling of any given issue with the politically important idea of corruption…

    A question: how do you know that the actions of the Minister are due to his “partisan handling” rather than corruption? It seems you have pre-judged the matter.

    WhatAbout all the other bad apples in the barrel? Indeed, some are very, very rotten. Let’s also deal with them when they likewise flagrantly invite our suspicions.

  • Mick Fealty

    I am open minded. I’m just not rushing ahead of the evidence. Call me picky, but I want to see the money and/or the brown envelopes before I go repeating someone else’s political attack line…

    It certainly paints a poor picture of the party. Its reluctance to enact the libel legislation (though there is not one other major party who does not endorse that stand), adds to a general impression of shiftiness.

    But coming back to the original Spotlight programme, the fact that the Turkingtons story was brought in it tells you that they didn’t have enough in the main drag of the Red Sky narrative to have anyone bang to rights..

    And yet even here, there is not even a evident hint of a money trail. Here’s Sammy Wilson:

    We were told that there was some kind of cover-up. A cover-up where there were minutes, where Ministers were briefed, where officials were present, where the outcome was known and where there was no benefit to either of the two companies.

    To be clear, the Minister still has not answered the question as to why he met with the company without the presence of the Administrator. But I’m not jumping into the same foxhole as everyone else.

    “Let’s also deal with them when they likewise flagrantly invite our suspicions.”

    Like Constable Savage?

  • Sean Og

    There’s a rush by politicians to blame non-executive board members (NIW) or the chairman (NIHE) when things go wrong.

    If you “follow the money” I would be looking closely into the role of the CEO and well paid senior management team. They are the people in day to day control of any organisation.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sean Og,

    Well, that is where it could start to get properly embarrassing for the DUP… Note Patsy McGlone’s intervention on Mark H Durkan’s contribution http://goo.gl/8PSnc:

    …one contractor that the Minister made allegations against had one of its contracts looked at over a nine-month period and an alleged £130,000 overpayment amounted to a £3,000 overpayment?

    Few accountants can tell you about whether a contract was fulfilled by looking at books. Odd I know, since the taxpayer pays these guys shedloads of money every year to ‘keep us straight’.

    We know that NIW had to collapse a case they had been taking against Steria largely because they had lost the services of a forensic accountancy firm which had the capacity to read payment figures against performance on the original contracts.

    Which may in turn lead us back to question the DUP’s ‘big idea’ that the NIHE had done anything irredeemably wrong in the first place.

  • Morpheus

    So what happens now?

    Does the committee meet over the summer recess to conduct it’s investigations? When do the PSNI get involved? Who decides if the PSNI should even get involved? If the Minister refuses to step aside what safeguards are in place to ensure that key documentation doesn’t go walkabout?

  • Delphin

    The whole thing could be just a sectarian squabble, I suppose. That would be par for the course. The reputation of the DUP in general, and the FM in particular is such that graft and corruption is assumed.
    If Mr. Poots is seriously suggesting that the BBC is biased because one of the production team is related to a SDLP councilor, it demonstrates a disturbing level of paranoia within the DUP.
     I think BBC editorial policy is aimed to reflect the way middle England  likes to see itself- tolerant, liberal, secular. 
    A million miles away from the fear and loathing of the born agains in the DUP.

  • Mick Fealty

    For broader reference, here’s UTV’s Stormy Waters documentary which is replete with outcomes…

  • Devil Eire

    Mick Fealty:

    “To be clear, the Minister still has not answered the question as to why he met with the company without the presence of the Administrator. But I’m not jumping into the same foxhole as everyone else.”

    I see – you didn’t like who you saw in the most popular foxhole. So you dug your own ‘Nothing To See Here’ foxhole and jumped into it instead. Congratulations, but that doesn’t meet my definition of open-mindedness.

    My own impression is that the Minister, perceiving sectarian discrimination of a ‘protestant’ company undertook sectarian promotion of a ‘protestant’ company. No brown envelopes needed. And, yes, for NI this would equate with ‘urinating in a public convenience’. The trouble for the Minister is that his zeal has led to some dubious meetings and actions which have raised legitimate questions of graft.

    Questions which should be asked with an open mind, and answered. Taking a diametrically opposite viewpoint for fear of being a part of someone’s ‘political attack line’ is not an analysis.

  • Mick Fealty

    You see, you cannot describe the problem and resist the temptation to scale itup by exaggeration. I’m not worried in the least by who I share a foxhole with, I’m more concerned not be misdirected away from where the real trouble is likely to be…

  • CS[9.20] Here’s an idea for those currently voting DUP, If you switched to DUP [while holding your noses] in the early’s 00s from UUP, all you need to do to dump them back where they were for 35 years, is take your vote s back and give instead to any other unionist party That will finish them The smell from the DUP is even worse than in 1999.

  • Devil Eire

    You see, you cannot describe the problem and resist the temptation to scale itup by exaggeration.

    You see, you cannot read a reasonable framing of the situation without crying ‘Nothing to See Here!’.

    But I was, frankly, amused by this:

    I’m more concerned not be misdirected away from where the real trouble is likely to be…

    So acknowledging that the Minister has questions to answer would distract you from what exactly? Writing a searing exposé of the [insert ‘real trouble’ here] for Slugger O’Toole? Or perhaps you might miss an opportunity to link to someone else’s searing exposé.

    One dimly senses the nebulous edges of a vast conspiracy. Who exactly is trying to misdirect you from the ‘real trouble’, why would they bother and what is it anyway?

  • Mick Fealty

    You are just making stuff up:

    …acknowledging that the Minister has questions to answer would distract you from what exactly?

  • Sean Og

    LIve now on Radio Ulster – Nolan having a go at Alex Attwood about his oversight of the Housing Executive during his time as Mininter.

    Margaret Ritchie (former leader of the SDLP) was DSD Minister for even longer.

  • Mick Fealty

    That has been coming for quite some time…

  • Mick Fealty

    If my memory serves these accounts of Red Sky’s shoddy work began to emerge around about the time of the big freeze (or just before it in early 2011/late 2010). Paul was particularly prominent in calling for action and was offering to share his dossier on Red Sky’s shortcomings.

    Despite my previous asking him directly on Twitter, he declined to share it with me. I suspect he was not keen since we’d just put his own party minister through the wringer over NI Water and no doubt put some pressure on him personally as the Chair of the PAC.

    As you can see from this tweet, it was the SDLP Minister they were campaigning against at the time. The actions of the DUP minister were taken in the context of this high pressure campaign from SF to strip RS of the contract and give it to someone else.

    My albeit febrile understanding is that this ‘flipping of contracts’ was the critical reason the Minister wanted to extend the RS contract until he got a singular handle on what was actually going on.

    I am not saying the minister does not have further questions to answer on the matter, particular an open and honest account of that meeting without the administrator (his reasoning just doesn’t stack up for me). But it seems to me some attempt to stop the flipping of contracts prima facae might give the Minister a legitimate reason for getting involved early in temporarily extending the contract.

  • Mick Fealty

    Devil?

  • Devil Eire

    Mick:

    This statement from me was (according to you) exaggerated: The trouble for the Minister is that his zeal has led to dubious meetings and actions which have raised legitimate questions of graft.

    Here again is your own take: I am not saying the minister does not have further questions to answer on the matter…But it seems to me some attempt to stop the flipping of contracts prima facae might give the Minister a legitimate reason for getting involved early in temporarily extending the contract..

    In other words, we have had two different reactions to the appearance of a cozy relationship between the Minister and contractors to the NIHE (don’t forget about the windows):

    We both agree that questions need to be answered, but while I can think of a variety of reasons (some unsavoury) why the Minister might have done what he did, you are very determined to think of a reason to let him off the hook. My response is “the optics are poor, we need to be reassured”; yours is “the optics are poor, but it’s probably ok”.

    The appearance of a cozy relationship between a Minister and contractors to the NIHE should be lanced for the sake of a healthy democracy. Of course you haven’t got one but you might at least recognize what it should look like. Or perhaps you don’t want to learn anything at all from the experience of the jurisdiction to the south?

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m semi permanently plugged into the discourse around corruption (and how to deal with it) in the Republic. And I have a fair idea of what it looks like in the north.

    The biggest problem in reporting corruption is getting past the gatekeepers, both internal and external.

    You need hard hard and incontrovertible evidence even to begin to get the story out, and for that you need more than a single reliable source.

    I am deeply concerned about the proper management of contracts with the private sector.

    And, for the record, Red Sky deserved the limited amount they got for treating the public purse with such contempt. But nearly all the reported offences took place before the DUP took office.

    I get itchy when I see the narrowing of frames, and when we are invited to judge on the basis of suspicions…

    What we need to learn from the Republic is that whilst kicking politicians is liberating emotionally, and kicking them out is what is good for the country, we also need to pay attention to the substantial issues of governance.

    Five years after the Anglo Tapes were recorded, everyone has vented but what do we know about who did what or how it happened. And how do we stop it happening again?

    Unfortunately when you just remain on the political plane, all that happens is that you drive up public cynicism without ever getting to understand what the problem is…

    I’d recommend you scroll back for the non political origins of the NI Water story, and see how it ended up in politics: http://goo.gl/0KirU.

    My fear with this story is that it will begin and end as little more than a frothy political cappucino…

  • Devil Eire

    Five years after the Anglo Tapes were recorded, everyone has vented but what do we know about who did what or how it happened. And how do we stop it happening again?

    Anglo was only one side of the problem. The other was the culture of the Galway tent.

    You are downplaying the significance of this latter aspect in order to focus attention on what you see as the substantive issue.

    That’s your agenda and your choice, but in the long run it’s a mistake.

  • Mick Fealty

    What I’m saying is the Galway tent was dealt with by the defenestration of FF,, but it was not the root cause. I interviewed Justin O’Brien, then of Queens back in 2001 who said Irish financial governance was a ticking time bomb…

    It was known about, but no one dealt with it in govt or opposition. That’s what still needs fixing!

  • Devil Eire

    What I’m saying is the Galway tent was dealt with by the defenestration of FF

    That was merely a short-term solution. I’m surprised you think that anything was really ‘dealt with’ by the inevitable ouster of FF after 15 years.

    but it was not the root cause.

    Your logic is overly-reliant on the ‘exclusive or’. The meltdown to the south was due to a mixture of both incompetence and corruption. Tackle one and not the other, by all means, but don’t pretend that corruption is not a problem. Transcend the politics by arguing for more transparency in political donations, for example. Alliance’s amendments are a step in the right direction.