After the election… Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland…

So how was it in Northern Ireland for Sinn Fein? Answer, not bad. The party’s big machine and, by now, well established incumbency pretty much took care of business, whilst the main show went ahead in the south.

One of Sinn Fein’s signal achievements, with the aid of more than a few helpful witnesses in the Northern Irish media, has been to keep relatively private just how little it has done with the substantial mandate it has had in Stormont since the institutions restarted back in 2007.

Since ‘taking power’ in Northern Ireland, the watchword has been: “Avoid making policy, just keep to standing orders”. This is one of the reasons why the party is genuinely impossible to categorise as a creature either of the left or right.

It claims to believe that Ireland’s place in the EU and yet Sinn Fein has never publicly campaigned for a Yes in any referendum from Ireland’s accession up until the most recent votes on Lisbon and the fiscal compact. However hard you look, policy just isn’t there.

After the Assembly elections of 2011 Sinn Fein all but abandoned the proper functioning of their ministerial roles (to such a point that some of their Ministers seem not to understand their own practical briefs) within the NI Executive, shipping most of its real talent and resource to Leinster House.

In Agriculture single farm payments were delayed for up to six months, and latterly (after the elections of course) has come the news that after £17 million and seven years of vacillation their Education Minister has finally scrapped his own party’s plans to set up an Education and Skills Authority.

In the resulting vacuum the central democratic position of the Stormont institutions has been usurped by less than democratic forces in the streets in disputes over Orange marches and the flag dispute. There have been extra parliamentary negotiations in Cardiff, and under Haass.

When SF’s party leader was arrested and questioned as part of an ongoing murder investigation the deputy First Minister even threatened to withdraw his party’s seven year long support for the PSNI (bunny was duly returned to the box on Gerry’s release, and nothing more said).

And yet, tellingly perhaps, aside from triggering growth in the Unionist vote none of the above appears to have either significantly improved or diminished Sinn Fein’s performance in the elections.

Despite a fall of a half percentage point in vote share, the party kept Martina Anderson’s top of the poll position from 2009.

Not a bad outcome for a candidate who seems to have spent much of the official campaign in photo ops with the party’s three successful southern candidates.

Indeed, its notable that this highly flattering crossborder success was the story the party was most keen to push, linking its dramatic increases in Dublin and Cork with more modest structural increases in Derry and Strabane and Belfast councils.

Over on his blog, FitzJamesHorse uses Nicholas Whyte’s projections to to claim a loss for SF, but to be fair to Sinn Fein the differences in the calculations are so minute, these losses just aren’t real.

Now we have the new boundaries (though not the councils themselves) the clock is well and truly reset. All the big changes in local government all went through the system back in 2005. Since then, there has been no such thing as momentum for any of the parties, big or small.

Apart from gentle decline the only other genuinely novel development on the nationalist side of the equation has been the ingress of radical and dissident orientated independents in Belfast and Derry into both Sinn Fein and to lesser extent SDLP territory.

It’s an interesting development, particularly if you consider the increased barrier to entry imposed by the larger DEAs in the new councils. A new political bog meadows emerging from SF’s decided ambivalence towards the institutions its MLAs are elected to.

At the end of the day, the party’s machine is impressive enough to deliver stability in the vote even when the party’s mind is so clearly elsewhere.

They’ve been blessed with a friendly liberal media that growls at every verbal misstep within unionism, and somehow misses every odd or interesting turn in the career of the SF party president.

Under these conditions, the simply need to maintain a new moon darkness over their inactivity in Northern Ireland whilst slipping into rising influence (the veterans of the AC are too long in the tooth to be fooled into taking actual power) in the south.

Another good days work…

Except that far from challenging Unionism’s political strength in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein’s clandestine retreat from its democratic institutions has strengthened the influence of Unionism’s fundamentalist wing over its moderates.

And possibly that of the dissidents too.

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  • Mc Slaggart

    “their inactivity in Northern Ireland ”

    The good ship “Assembly” is

    “Day after day, day after day,
    We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
    As idle as a painted ship
    Upon a painted ocean.”

    Ancient Mariner

  • Zeno

    It’s not really in the best interests of Sinn Fein to make NI a success. The more successful and equal it gets the more people will be contented to live here.

  • Mc Slaggart


    I do not think Irish people particularly worry about “Northern Ireland”. They want their home, town, county to work as that is to the betterment of all.

    SF are not out destroying Northern Ireland its the Unionists….

  • Mick Fealty

    (I’m going to regret asking this) how so McS?

  • Mick….Is that really the substance of what FitzjamesHorse is saying.
    Rather his Blog was about SDLP and that the narrative of terminal decline/managed decline is really a bit over stated.
    FJH used Mr Whytes notional figure of 67 seats for SDLP to state that the actual result of 66 was a better result than Alliance loss of two seats and Sinn Feins loss of ten.
    As so much has been made on this site of SDLPs decline, Id hardly describe SFs loss of ten seats as “minute”. I

    As FitzjamesHorse pointed out, the stunning success of SF in the South more than mitigates this (slightly more than) minute loss in the North.

  • Mc Slaggart


    “how so McS?”

    I will assume that you agree with the simple fact that Irish people get on with their lives and try and make there part of it better.

    As for Unionists they are jumping up and down with rage at the sight of “O Neills” on a Tyrone integrated primary school uniform. The fact that the factory is in their county giving jobs to Strabane is apparently of no worth.

    Its the GAA they cry who give work to that same factory rather than purchase cheap from some factory in another part of the world.

  • Mick Fealty

    [Walks off muttering inaudibly to himself ‘you just cannot get the help these days…’]

  • BarneyT

    By definition, SF has to perform a balancing act.

    The assembly has to be regarded as transient, and SF must not forget who they have brought along with them.

    They have to be mindful of 20th century Irish history and avoid the entrenchment that formed in the free state and eventual republic. The wee six was forgotten.

    They have to affect change, avoid taken custody of British rule were possible and keep the prospect of a united ireland on the table.

    Thats not easy.

  • Mick Fealty

    I think you are on to something with your use of the word ‘affect’…

    According to its own tuas doctrine, I guess you are right Barney. But I keep expecting some proof it’s actually working …

    And… Well, there’s always hope I suppose…

  • keano10

    Although the reverse analogy would be that 160,000 people in The North actually believe that Sinn Fein are performing well in this part of the island. The DUP’s intransigence has been a major fault line in the lack of progress on a number of key areas. (Not really alluded to at all in this piece).

    Regardless of that, many, many people within the wider Nationalist community have great admiration of the statesmanlike leadership which has been given by Martin McGuinness in his role as Deputy First Minister. The kind of dignity that his fellow incumbent of OFM/DFM could only dream about.

    That dignity and leadership was also demonstrated in the past year by the most recent incumbent of the Lord Mayor’s office in Belfast who was able to reach across the city in a genuinely good-natured way displaying the type of cross community outreach that is virtually non-existent these days within the main Unionist parties.

    Sinn Fein progresses while Unionism continues to shoot itself in the foot at almost conceivable opportunity. Unionism’s biggest and most destructive enemy has always been itself. There is little sign of that changing anytime soon…

  • Mc Slaggart


    “Walks off muttering inaudibly to himself ‘you just cannot get the help these days…” when one is fighting the “Culture wars”….. with republicans marching in Draperstown and Castlederg….Gerry adams….and worst of all people being told things in Letters….I mean Letters FFS an outrage 🙂

  • Mick, do you think that ties in with what I’ve noticed about what SF do when something happens that they don’t like: they only ever intervene now if the DUP is happy about it. If the DUP’s unhappy too, SF just lets the DUP look intolerant.

  • MYtwocents

    little has been made (including here,) of the development of the anti agreement irish nats mandate seeking, gary donnelly topped the pole in Martys back yard, and as far as my limited number crunching time would allow me to ascertain, the voters for the various independents with links to anti GFA irish nats in the main did not transfer to SF, a lot was made of how from a standing start NI21 got onto the map, should we not look at the “independent” and his/her effect and affect on SF.

  • Mc Slaggart


    “By definition, SF has to perform a balancing act.”

    I do not agree. Northern Ireland is little more than a city state. Some city states can exist for a very long time if they serve a function but once the UK government accepted that the basic premise that their should be an all Island economy what is the function of “Northern Ireland?

    When you know Margret Thatcher was willing to get rid of bits of “Northern Ireland” what is the motivation for the next generation of English politicians to hold on to any of it?

    In the end SF only function is to make the place better. It is up to Unionists to stop destroying the tourism of places such as Castlederg with a blight of flags and endless marching each week. They could at the very least get their flags made locally in places such as “O Neills” in Strabane.

  • Mick Fealty


    The DUP is coming up tomorrow, and that is an issue I want tackle separately with them rather than via SF…

  • socaire

    I noticed that McGuinness had to slap Nolan down tonight when he raised the issue of withdrawing support for the police. Never happened! You have said the same thing so I take it you can provide the link that makes Marty a liar?

  • socaire

    ” deputy First Minister even threatened to withdraw his party’s seven year long support for the PSNI”

  • Mick Fealty

    Follow the links socaire, till you get to this BBC report (…

    “Mr McGuinness, hinted on Friday that the party may look again at whether it would continue to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”

  • Politico68

    I can only imagine that it must be nigh on impossible for Sinn Fein to act effectively in Stormont. They face Unionist belligerence on a daily basis in the form of blocking anything that even smells of SF involvement. The Irish language act and the Maze agreement jump to mind along with the Racist, Homophobic and carte blanche Prejudice that forms the bedrock of political unionist ideology.

    In any event, it doesn’t really matter. Stormont is no more than a very large waiting room, as long as the public service can keep the show going on the ground; the only thing the assembly has to deliver is an illusion of consensus power sharing for the optics. This keeps Dublin, London and the rest of the world happy. Sinn Fein can show up every day and promptly fall asleep while Unionism continues to cannibalize itself in frustration.

    The media obsession with Adams and Sinn Fein is far from friendly, 90% of coverage in the lead up to the election was negative but surprisingly it had little or no impact on the vote in the north, while helping deliver a surge in the South, West, East and midlands. If Sinn Fein were ever afraid of the damage an unfriendly media might do to the party’s chances, they quickly got over it when Adams was arrested. Marty’s flexing of the party muscle regarding the dark elements in the PSNI showed there would be no messing around. Moreover, recent events concerning the ombudsman’s relationship with the police go along way in proving he was correct.

    The upside of course shows just how solid and organized the SF machine is, even when Adams is deliberately made unavailable. The media pages are pretty much empty of comment on Jean McConville since Adams release, sadly reflecting the view that the circumstances surrounding the tragic and disgusting death of Jean, only holds weight when there is a possibility it can be used to try stop the SF steamroll in its tracks.

    The party vote seems to have settled in the six counties, despite an increase of 30,000 votes since 2009; its percentage share was pushed down due to a Unionist surge. SF will have to work hard over the next year to get more nationalists to the polls before the westie elections. This recent poll was nationwide and maybe resources where diverted away from the North in order to deliver the spectacular in the rest of the country. If this is in fact the case, no such problem will exist in 2015. With the election confined to the North East there will be thousands of Shinners in the rest of the country on hand and eager to do their bit right up to polling day.

    I laugh at the notion of a friendly liberal media ignoring Sinn Fein; if only! A welcome bi-product of SF’s success is the constant in fighting amongst political Unionism. One can only hope that the growth of more extreme elements will grow and develop into a destructive brawl that will hand the first ministry to Marty. Any sign of Unionist consolidation has evaporated. The more pieces Political unionism breaks into, the easier it will be to sweep up and dispose of. SF need do no work here at all. Jim is doing it for them. The Juggernaut Rolls on.

  • “what is the function of “Northern Ireland?”


    To give the right of self-determination to the majority of the territory’s inhabitants.

  • gendjinn

    SF can tread water in the north indefinitely. The big opportunities are in the south and it makes sense to exploit that opening with everything they can, while they can.

    There is little benefit to growing SF in the north, if they become the largest party in the assembly you know there’s a significant risk unionists will collapse it instead of accepting an SF FM. Combined with letting PR & the DUP be PR and the DUP, what more can SF really accomplish in the north?

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s also why they can’t do anything with the ministerial offices we keep giving them.

    I do suspect that in O’Dowd they have someone who has both the talent and commitment to get something done.

    But standing orders is standing orders.

    In my profile of the SDLP I have suggested they should stop sitting on their hands and try to exploit this inertia. I’ll argue something slightly different with the DUP.

    It’s perfectly easy to see what SF the party gets out of it. But unless you are just happy with to take McS’s cynical delight, it’s much harder to see what the party’s voters get out of it.

    And it’s impossible to see what, other than just keeping the bunny safely in the box, everyone else gets out of it?

    ‘Con politics’ indeed.

    If ever there was a time for everyone else in this game to do some very careful stocktaking it was now. This is a very costly way to fund someone else’s political privateering.

    We might all benefit from a little judicious if civil disruption of such admirably accomplished asset stripping.

    As for those helpful witnesses who paint everyone else as fools in SF’s own political dream, they could do with giving themselves and their readers an odd dose of black coffee a bit more often than they’ve recently become accustomed to.

  • Politico68


    Your talking in riddles again. Can I ask, what are these standing orders? judicious if civil disruption …accomplished asset stripping? What are u referring to? odd dose of black coffee? I just don’t get these phrases and sentences, I am not trying to be rude, its just really hard to follow your turn of phrase sometimes ;-/

  • Naughton


    To be fair all of our parties are policy light, and where they have ‘policies’ those are inevitably short termist populist positions to shore up the vote.

    We are still mired in the worst economic crisis in 80 years, where is the bold thinking from any of the parties?

    We have endemic levels of poverty and generational economic inactivity, any fresh thinking there?

    Educational underachievement that shames us all, any ideas guys?

    The point that if Sinn Fein are for something invariably means many unionists will unthinkingly oppose is a fair one. But it also fair to say that with the exception of the clearly capable John O’Dowd Sinn Fein hasn’t impressed even in management roles in government (Catriona Ruane anyone?).

    I am not so sure that continuing to meander along is a viable option as it is leading to further drifting to the extremes and which ever parties preside over that will eventually suffer electorally, but not before the rest of us rue their incompetence and inaction.

  • Gopher

    The bottom line is SF state “accept our analysis” Would they care to explain exactly what it is? Essentially the electorate outside the enthusiasts are bored guessing or not interested any longer.

  • Charles_Gould

    SF have gone into reverse in Northern Ireland – the last two Euro elections have seen successive vote share falls. No other party has experienced that.

  • mjh


    The fact of the matter is that no-one has laid a glove on SF electorally.

    Whatever they are, or are not, doing in the Executive that will not change until their political opponents stop pretending that 20 years of decline is a great victory and work out what they are going to do about it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Saints preserve us from ‘futuring’… Charles, how so?

  • Charles_Gould

    Agree with Mick’s point about standing orders.

  • Mc Slaggart


    “To give the right of self-determination to the majority of the territory’s inhabitants.”

    That is implicit for every Nation1 the fact that its made explicit in the GFA/Belfast agreement details that its not a fixed state for this particular region of the UK.

    “National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent.”

    Woodrow Wilson

  • IJP

    Is not the problem, though, that they could have all the “policy” they want (in NI) but still be unable to deliver any of it.

    The real issue is their inability to compromise, surely?

  • Mick Fealty

    It is a problem. But I don’t think that is actually the problem.

    I’d cite lack of vision for one, plus an unwillingness to take risks in one of the most ‘insulated-from-risk micro democracies’ in the western world.

    The policies are exactly not rocket science, but even before these detailed matters there is the far bigger problem is the sheer lack of political presence in the institutions.

    IMHO, that’s the real long term danger here…

  • socaire

    As Jim Allister says, the Stormont set-up is not democracy. A gerrymandered compulsory coalition is not western democracy as we know it. It is a three legged race where neither side can make progress without the other. This is ‘smart’ English thinking on how to rule savages. This is the wisdom of Solomon. How can any politician shine when all decisions are subject to immediate veto. How can any forward movement be made in this hide-bound fiasco. Get a government and an opposition and then get the English out.

  • Charles_Gould

    Their most obvious portfolio – education – is seen as a Horlicks. Or rather, Horlicks after Horlicks after Horlicks. Ruane the most unpopular of all ministers, and the least effective in good politics.

    A low quality of education outcomes for deprived people, and serial lack of interest in integrated education. Successful legal challenges by the integrated sector in recent times on a failure to fulfill the statutory obligation to promote this sector. A minister who now reacts angrily and defensively rather than offering something constructive. Money wasted on the ESA fiasco, now abandoned. SF’s Serial Failures.

  • Jagdip

    The Shinners realised over the past 18 months that their money and efforts would be better focussed on the Republic which is ripe for political change. Peter Robinson made that comment back in April, and I don’t think he was jostling for position when he made it; it’s just a statement of fact.

    Whether the Shinners win 24/23/22/21/20% of the vote in NI isn’t really that important. The demographic trend and trajectory suggests that if push comes to shove, and they throw the kitchen sink at a NI election, they can probably get 30%.

    Meantime, down South, they’re now pulling in an extra €4m per annum. In GE2015 (that’s what Paddy Power predicts), they’ll double their 14 TDs, treble their three senators, and double their party stipend from the Irish state. They’ll be pulling in an extra €2m.

    The SF strategy is probably therefore to build its capacity in the South where it has the most benign political environment, it will intensify its campaign to get a foothold in, and then colonise the unions, and when the time is right, which might be sooner rather than later, it will focus its resources on NI.

  • Morpheus

    SF are in a unique position when it comes to delivery for their voters. The Detail shows us that 80% of the MOST deprived wards and 30% of the LEAST deprived wards are Catholic – a terrible state of affairs – but is this a greater indictment on:
    1. the nationalist politicians for not delivering for their voters or
    2. decades of unionist misrule for allowing (dare I say designing?) it to happen?
    The average nationalist will undoubtedly put it down to the latter letting the nationalists politicians off the hook for non-delivery of equality and feeds the ‘unionist discrimination’ beast that little bit more.

    The A5, perfect example. I have yet to hear anyone put the blame for the failure of that project on the doorstep of the nationalist politicians, instead blame was laid at the feet of unionist politicians who scuttled it because they viewed it as a ‘Famine Road’ from Donegal to Dublin (including their plans in their manifesto) and bollix to the NI taxpayers who are to this day absolutely screaming out for it.

    SF are in a unique position that as long as they put up a fight any lack of delivery is put down to “ah well, they tried but look what they were up against”

    The problem SF face in the future is pushing for development in Catholic areas to address the imbalance highlighted above. The recent debacle with the social development fund shows that political unionism won’t allow 80% of any available funds to go to the Catholic areas and 20% to go to the Protestant areas even though that’s the what the figures show – they would rather hand back hundreds of millions to Westminster

    And if they ‘allow’ large scale investment in catholic areas to address the imbalance there would be cries of ‘themuns get everything so they do” from the loyalists so I expect the road to total equality to be very stop-start and hard fought for in the future.

    Unless we go to Plan B…

  • RegisterForThisSite

    “….Follow the links socaire, till you get to this BBC report …

    “Mr McGuinness, hinted on Friday that the party may look again at whether it would continue to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”….”


    Actually Mick, here’s a better link to the “hint”


    Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said that Sinn Féin will be monitoring the situation in relation to the arrest of its leader Gerry Adams.

    Mr McGuinness said that if the situation is “resolved in a satisfactory way”, the party will continue to “support the reformers who have made a massive contribution to policing”.

    He added that if it “does not work out the way that it should”, the party will review the situation “in the context of continuing with a positive and constructive role in a vitally important peace process”…..”

    He was on Nolan this morning, and dealt with it again

    I see Gerry Adams is off to Downing Street to meet the Primeminister to discuss Welfare reform in Northern Ireland, is this a first for a murder suspect (where is the DPP file BTW)

    Meanwhile I see the DUP are busy trying to ensure the brethren can complete their march home.

    But then again they’ve already had their meetings at Downing St to find out what was in it for the DUP if they’d support the Tories over in London, my prediction is Robinson in The Lords before the next general election.

    Think that goes someway to giving you an insight as to how unionists are destroying NI not republicans.

    Not convinced, then pop over to nuzhound and read down the headlines that mention the Uionists and those that mention Republicans, and you’ll get a picture on where unionisn expends it’s energy, here’s another “hint” it ain’t on making NI a better place

  • MYtwocents

    reposted due to mods being, A busy, B asleep, C getting security clearance from the incell.

    little has been made (including here,) of the development of the anti agreement irish nats mandate seeking, gary donnelly topped the pole in Martys back yard, and as far as my limited number crunching time would allow me to ascertain, the voters for the various independents with links to anti GFA irish nats in the main did not transfer to SF, a lot was made of how from a standing start NI21 got onto the map, should we not look at the “independent” and his/her effect and affect on SF.

  • RegisterForThisSite


    speaking for myself a SF supporter, I think it’s great news, I have fairly high hopes for Gary Donnelly, once elected you have to start talking to people, even just those who voted for you so I hope he can build a mandate and open a door for others to join the political arena. It is the way forward.

    Interesting development with the hotel bombing and also the decision to go a head with the PSNI recruitment event, Gary has already defended the bombing, will the XIRA return the serve, if a hotel manager can defy the armed wing of the dissident republican movement that’s a tad embarrassing although another attack is probably not a good idea (public opinion and security) so what to do.

    Is it possible that dissident republicans might decide the war is unwinnable and give politics a chance, after all the political wing has been making the right noises for a while and this attack may have come at a convenient time, what with Donnelly just having been elected.

    Is Gary the new Gerry?

    Why am I happy, well firstly for every voter SF has lost to dissident republicans they have gained 10 or more, the icing on the cake is SF may possibly have their own TUV in the making, keeping them honest and giving them cover.

    Is Gary the new Jim

    However, the bombing and other things may well result in Gary been hamstrung by dogma and ideology unable to articulate the dissident viewpoint and sink under a barrage of criticism for not condemning things and stuff. Give up and retire or lose his seat.

    So Gary won’t be the Messiah, he’s just a naughty boy…….

    Whatever, you are right, it deserves more coverage, unfortunately any coverage here or elsewhere ain’t going to be good at least in the beginning, up to Donnelly where it goes after that

  • Zeno

    The problem with our local Politicians is they are a one trick pony. They are good at getting elected, and staying elected, but that is where their ability ends.
    The problem with the electorate is they have unrealistic expectations. They elect people who don’t have any proven ability to create Jobs or Investment and then whinge when they don’t. It’s like putting Rotweilers in a room and expecting them to manufacture TV Sets.

  • RegisterForThisSite


    “…proven ability to create Jobs or Investment and then whinge when they don’t….”

    And which country or government are you comparing them to, in the South they’re mostly school teachers in GB they are mostly public school educated career politicians. Dave, Nick and Gideon being prime examples, they’re also running the country at the moment, the alternative is Ed another example.

    Alan Johnson was Ed’s first Shadow Chancellor, here’s a snippet from Wiki

    “… left school at the age of 15.[3] He then stacked shelves at Tesco before becoming a postman at 18.[2] He was interested in music and joined two pop music bands.[3] Johnson joined the Union of Communication Workers, becoming a branch official. He joined the Labour Party in 1971, although he considered himself a Marxist ideologically aligned with the Communist Party of Great Britain.[6] A full-time union official from 1987, he became General Secretary of the union in 1992….”

    So just what do you expect from an MLA?

  • Zeno

    Do you not hear the constant whinging?
    The politicians are known for their lack of achievements or in some cases their complete incompetence. They are not interested in making NI a better place. They are interested in keeping it as it is and retaining their Jobs.

  • socaire

    Mick/Registerforthissite: No there’s extrapolation and there’s fantasy. McGuiness did not say or hint that support could/would be withdrawn from the PSNI.

  • Politico68

    This is the problem with a lot of media reporting and other commentary, they reorganize statements to suit their own agenda, thereby giving the impression that something shocking has been said when in fact it hasn’t. This in turn creates confusion with the public and gives political opponents something to jump on. As far as Stormont goes I really don’t see any improvement coming soon, the DUP are too scared of what’s going on around them to seriously engage with proper parliamentary politics and all that goes with it. Sinn Fein are more than capable, but u can’t sail a ship if you got no crew.

  • Mick Fealty

    Listen, I will happily buy that argument if I can see something that confirms it. Sometimes political parties use such rather language intended for affect rather than effect.

    In the meantime we have a BBC report which gives a clear contemporary impression of what seemed to be meant.

    To be clear about your own original query, I am not making this stuff up even if someone else clearly was.

    Leastways the Bunny is firmly back in the box, which is nice.

  • “I do suspect that in O’Dowd they have someone who has both the talent and commitment to get something done.”

    I must say I had to smile at that observation, Mick. Have you not been paying attention to the sleight’s-of-hand? Or to the spending of money refurbishing facilities that are about to close?

    Parents and teachers have been told that St Joseph’s College in Coleraine is being earmarked for phased closure from September 2015 in a radical shake up of post-primary Catholic education in Coleraine and Portstewart, The Coleraine Times can exclusively reveal.

    This will mean that there will be no admission from Year 8 at the Beresford Avenue school from that date and closure would take effect from August 31, 2017. .. Coleraine Times 28 May 2014-p99

  • Politico68

    Bunny back in box? What’s this?

  • Mick Fealty
  • Politico68

    ….ah would u stop already !

  • Mick Fealty

    You did ask… 🙂

  • megatron

    I think the bunny back in the box meme might be past its sell by date.

    On SF – promotion of O’Muilleoir and his methods could go a long way to solving some of its problems in the north.

    I do get the sense (as a SF voter) that there dont really know where to go in the north. I think the time is coming where they have to go somewhere, anywhere. Maírtín won’t stand still.

  • RegisterForThisSite

    “….Do you not hear the constant whinging?
    The politicians are known for their lack of achievements or in some cases their complete incompetence. …”

    Again I must ask with even more urgency with which government are you comparing them, I mean this place with politicians who run the state like a successful PLC, who create jobs and and wealth, where people don’t find fault with how they are govern, I want to move there now,

    Yeah know I wrote the above and two things popped into my head,

    1) those planes the gov spent several billion, and they were delivered so late the gov just spent another billion to chop them up.

    2) the aircraft carriers that kept going up in price because the gov couldn’t make their mind up on what planes to use, and ended up with a ship and no planes to put on it.

    …mmmmhhhh,,, guessing you want out of the UK and a move to this other place you keep mentioning but are too coy to name, don’t blame you mate it sounds unique

  • RegisterForThisSite


    “Have you not been paying attention to the sleight’s-of-hand? Or to the spending of money refurbishing facilities that are about to close?”

    While a pleasant respite from the Athboy stuff, this is also a hoary old chestnut for you Nevin, though I notice the backlinks to your blog are sometimes to new content.

    However, have you not being paying attention to the minister,

    “Stormont’s Education Minister has challenged Assembly Members to name a school or sector that he has discriminated against.”

    I suggest you get your stuff off to your local MLA (don’t forget backlinks to your blog) and for goodness sake don’t go all Boston Tapey on us and disappear under a rock. Go Team Nev!!

  • RegisterForThisSite


    “….In the meantime we have a BBC report which gives a clear contemporary impression of what seemed to be meant.

    To be clear about your own original query, I am not making this stuff up even if someone else clearly was.

    Leastways the Bunny is firmly back in the box, which is nice….”

    Mick, possibly Gerrys Bunny is akin to Schrodingers cat and was both in and out of the box simultaneously in a quantum physics thingy sort of way. Because when I listen to MMcG’s interview on Nolan this morning he defo said he hadn’t threatened anything, challenged Nolan to listen to the press conference and point out the ‘ Hint’ and Nolan left it, curious indeed the location of this bunny

  • Mick Fealty

    The #ConPolitics tag (which Pete invented just for this particular story) was appropriate. In fact the ‘threat’ was ludicrous (go ahead, shoot the bunny, ‘make my day punk’ to mix film line), and was never intended seriously.

    What Martin actually said was…

    “We are very thoughtful and we are very reflective but I think if such a scenario does develop then we will sit down and we will reflect on what will be an even more serious situation than the one we face today.”

    Less Schrodingers Cat, more David Brent.

    Maybe he was trying to signal something to someone: perhaps those nervous recipients of GK’s letters? We simply don’t know. We are never told (and we are not expected to ask such stupid questions).

    But in denying that his words meant what everybody who heard him at the time seemed to have thought they meant is just another debasing of the party’s currency (a direct consequences of avoiding accountability from the press or anyone else).

    Dan Brown and DaVinci’s code comes to mind.

  • RFTS, I can see you don’t like light being shone on dark places – but there’ll be no respite for the defenders of poor or corrupt governance 🙂

    Why is money being spent on premises that have been earmarked for closure? I’ve provided the link to the expenditure on St Joseph’s College in Coleraine and the ministerial presence. Is it surprising that the official announcement about closure was withheld from parents and pupils until after the minister had been and gone?

    I’m told that about £450,000 has also been spent recently on Coleraine High School for Girls and its also scheduled for closure. Can you explain why public money is being squandered in this way? This has happened across the sectarian sectors, indicating a departmental role.

    MLAs, councillors and members of quangos have merely demonstrated how ineffective they are and the local media is largely reduced to publishing official press releases. A senior NEELB official seemed anxious to persuade me not to say too much as decision taking was ‘sensitive’ but that sort of approach cuts no ice with me – nor does ministerial and commentator bluster or abuse 😉

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “A senior NEELB official seemed anxious to persuade me not to say too much as decision taking was ‘sensitive’ but that sort of approach cuts no ice with me.”

    Quite right too Nevin, when “sensitive” simply means not wanting the public to know about something the department is doing that harms them in some way.

    As you know, there was a lot of rumour about some elements of Alex Attwood’s ridiculous Runkerry decision, for one thing, that was too “sensitive” to air , and that was something that looked on the surface to have had a very public debate in the media.

  • Seaan, all our public bodies are guided by the terms of a Model Publication Scheme ie they are expected to make available agendas, minutes and reports on which decisions are based. Possibly as a consequence of FoI requests, minutes will soon be almost information free yet the MSM has little to say on such an important aspect of governance. [H/T to Slugger bloggers]

    I caught out NEELB officers when they withheld minutes and when they ‘corrected’ the results of a consultation yet NEELB board members, as far as I know, carried out no investigation. As far as I can see, these members do little more than nod through decisions taken by officers. I’ve not looked at any ‘guidance’ the officers may have received from the Department of Education.

  • RegisterForThisSite

    @Nevin, aaaahhh come on, I asked you not to go all Boston Tapey on us at what do you do, you’ve posted about dodgy things in education for ages you’re still doing it, yet when the minister says he’s tired of the unfounded snidey comments and to put the facts to him directly, what do you do, you carry on with the snidey comments.

    I think you are now man-playing the minister,

  • RegisterForThisSite

    A police officer it was the law that he had to be arrested in front of media cameras

    Extending his arrest to show him old news paper cutting and stuff on the internet.

    And then a quick run around all the dissidents who had proclaimed him a murderer in the press who then (Like young Nevin here) suddenly clammed up (and still remain silent – unlike Nevin)

    And here we are, Gerry is off to meet the Prime Minister as a murder suspect (surely a first) and we are still waiting on the PSNI scrapbook of Independent newspaper cuttings and SluggerO’Toole printouts to be sent to the DPP.

    I suppose there is comedy there but it’s all PSNI being the Keystone cops.

    Although we now know that the keystone cops are refusing to cooperate with the state over 60 murders, and they refuse to release details of retired officers meetings, those meetings were at times led by Drew Harris who arrested Adams and Judith Gillespie who David Ford tried to shoehorn into the shortlist for the CC job by changing the criteria.

    As a nationalist, I too see rump of the RUC and old school bigotry running through David Fords ministry.

    It’s time to finish Police reform in NI and it’s time to open up the MoJ job to every party. Ford is playing politics with the job so everyone is now just as qualified as him

  • Mick Fealty


    Nevin has always read the hugest inferences into the smallest detail, so I concur on that one. St Josephs certainly looks like some form of incompetence, but whether it’s the minister’s or departmental officials is far from clear.

  • “St Josephs certainly looks like some form of incompetence”

    Would you care to comment on the money that’s also being spent on Coleraine High School, Mick? Or the ‘adjustment of figures’ in a public consultation but no corresponding change to the percentages? Or the withholding of minutes and an attempt to claim that the minutes were always on-line? Or the announcement to parents and pupils after the Minister had gone? I’ve provided the evidence – and I’ll leave it to others to draw the inferences.

  • “I think you are now man-playing the minister,”

    RFTS, judging by your liberal use of derogatory comments others might well conclude that you are, er, man-playing me 😉

    When I accused the Minister of putting out a mixed message about area plans I posted the evidence from his own comments. The same link illustrates the double standards used in the definition of a voluntary grammar school. In the Catholic sector in the Coleraine area it applies to two all-ability schools whereas in the case of the CAI-CHS combo the size of the new school is based on current A and B figures.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nev, no. I put a fair bit of effort into writing the piece above. I’ll happily be drawn into talking about that. If you want to host a conversation about stupid decisions by the NEELB please do it on your own site?

  • “I’ll happily be drawn into talking about that.”

    Mick, I did challenge your assessment of the merits of John O’Dowd at 5 June 7.42 pm above and used the NALIL links as evidence, including the Minister’s mixed message.

  • Mick Fealty

    Yes. And I responded about the lack of clarity therein. I have no time for the politics of small mistakes.

    O’Dowd’s problem is that there is no evidence that he or his party has done anything with Education other than tinker.

    What you are talking about may simply be the unintended consequences of tinkering rather than overhaul.

  • Larne man

    No SDLP party profile? Undoubtedly the only party with no positive outcomes whatsoever from May’s elections.

  • “I do suspect that in O’Dowd they have someone who has both the talent and commitment to get something done.” and “O’Dowd’s problem is that there is no evidence that he or his party has done anything with Education other than tinker.”

    Mick, I can see no evidence that O’Dowd has either talent or commitment, a point you appear to concede in your second assessment.

  • Politico68

    Nevin, who in Sinn Fein would you say has talent and ability?

  • P68, I thought talent and ability were synonyms.

  • Mick Fealty


    Trust me, I’m a blogger.. 🙂

  • Politico68

    Nevin, try again?

  • Zeno

    “Mick, I can see no evidence that O’Dowd has either talent or commitment, a point you appear to concede in your second assessment.”

    You got to love it though when we have a Minister for Education who doesn’t have a single GCSE.

  • “Nevin has always read the hugest inferences into the smallest detail, so I concur on that one.”

    Mick, I think I prefer Seaan’s, “I really must say that your NALIL blogs are a model of responsible and yet informative commenting. I will try to follow your excellent example.” 😉

  • MYtwocents

    The Devil is in the detail.

  • MYtwocents

    After the election… Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland…

    Business as usual cherry picking what truth we are to learn


    “Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly will not attend a hearing of Westminster’s ‘On the Runs’ inquiry, his party colleague Martin McGuinness has said.”