Sinn Fein Connolly House Masterplan – Tory cuts on steroids

Devolution in Northern Ireland is in the political equivalent of a hospital high dependency unit with a serious discussion about whether or not it is should head rapidly to intensive care. This deterioration in its health is as a result of the insistence by Sinn Fein to block the next steps of Welfare Reform. This will set out how this approach is a meeting of voodoo economics and crappy politics.

1)      It doesn’t stop any cuts

The premise of Sinn Fein’s approach is to oppose Tory cuts. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t stop any cuts. This approach simply moves the costs from the welfare budget (part of the Annual Managed Expenditure (AME) budget) to the block grant (Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL)). Why pursue a policy that doesn’t do what you say you want it too? It is a failure from the start.

2)      It will magnify and multiply the harm

If Welfare Reform proceeded some people would lose money. Some will actually be better off. The harm to the economy of those that lose out is the multiplier effect of that money being withdrawn from the economy in general and vulnerable communities in particular. The alternative to this is worse.

Under the Connolly House masterplan the money is still lost from the local economy plus we get the costs of not implementing it. The savings of utilising national computer systems will go. We will have to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to create our own computer systems. This will have to be taken from our capital budget, which is a key driver in our local construction industry and the IT contracts could end up with a non-NI contractor.

However, moving the costs to the block grant magnifies the cuts in multiple ways. Each cut will act like a domino that increases the impact and it will be hard to see where or when the dominos stop falling.

Here are some examples:

  • In Belfast there are a number of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programmes that are co-funded by central government e.g. the Waterfront Hall redevelopment. If central government cuts its resources to such projects the Council will have to find the extra resources through additional borrowing or rates hikes.   If the Council can’t find the resources then the ERDF money is lost to our economy and the economic benefit of these schemes frittered away. There will be similar projects across NI.
  • The expansion of Magee has had to be stopped. There is the harm to Londonderry through the loss of the investment but consider the knock on to students. Students will have less opportunity to study here. This will mean having to study in England and Wales at higher tuition fees. The practical outworking of this means Sinn Fein are condemning hundreds of our young people to more personal debt.
  • The cuts have already cost jobs. The reduction in DRD and Health contracts has already led to layoffs. This would continue with further cuts. The result will be more people on welfare. Similarly, jobs in Northern Ireland service the welfare system on the mainland. If we got it alone with our own system those jobs go too.
  • The programmes that people rely on to try and tackle poverty will be reduced in quantity and/or quality. Ill-health is a major contributor to poverty, if we can’t keep the health budget protected we will see reductions in services exacerbating this problem. (The SDLP suggestion of an audit of health offers little but delay. On past precedent external reviews would suggest more private sector involvement which the SDLP generally oppose. So they should be careful what they wish for.) DSD will cut back on its regeneration programmes in the neediest communities. No or poor qualifications are what keep many from the labour market. Training programmes will reduce in quantity and quality and will keep them out of jobs and trapped in the cycle of dependency. In education, the decisions will be around closing schools or cutting back on support programmes or both.

If you protect one part of the budget you multiply the impact elsewhere. The interconnectedness and interdependency of the work of government means moving the cuts to the DEL budget from AME magnifies and multiplies their impact. To sum up, the practical effect of Sinn Fein’s approach is to put the Tory cuts on steroids.

3)      Bad faith

The Northern Ireland Assembly does possess powers on welfare. However, that power always came with the financial consequence. If we exercised those powers we had to pay for them. Sinn Fein and the SDLP are trying to ignore the second part.

4)      Opposed on Principle?

Really?   The block grant was cut by the ConDem coalition government at the start of this Assembly term. After a few extra meetings with Downing Street that didn’t deliver any more money Sinn Fein accepted and voted to implement the budget we were given. Earlier parts of the Welfare Reform programme were passed in the Assembly without SF starting a full blown standoff. This makes the claim of standing on principle nonsense.

There is also the contradiction in the public discourse around it by nationalism. It says it opposes the principle of the changes but then wants more talks to seek more changes and criticises Nelson McCausland for not getting enough changes. What is it? If you oppose on principle a couple of tweeks shouldn’t make it acceptable?

5)      Poor negotiating strategy

If London had wanted they could have told us to like or lump it as regards the Welfare Reform package. They didn’t. They engaged on the issue from the start. They gave us extra time and agreed to a special package of measures to tailor it to Northern Ireland as much as possible. In the Executive this was pursued by the DSD minister Nelson McCausland working with a multi-party Executive sub-committee established around this difficult topic. This is what ultimately led to a package agreed with London and Martin McGuinness.

London had shown flexibility. The DUP had acted in the interests of Northern Ireland by pursuing changes relevant to our needs and as good coalition partners by appreciating the added difficulties Sinn Fein faced on the issue. This approach succeeded in gaining the best Welfare Reform offer in the United Kingdom. Sinn Fein walked away from it.

This is what undermines SF (and SDLP) calls for more talks. This strategy was already pursued and pursued successfully but SF and the SDLP walked. Again as they say they oppose on principle now it looks like the previous talks were a conscious con. SF pursued their own talks and got nothing. Villiers has told them there will be no more. Clegg has told them be no more. Cameron has told them no more. Why would anyone take further talks on this issue with them seriously?

6)      Bad budgeting

In general when managing reductions you should try to be as strategic as possible. If faced with a 12% cut you will take different decisions than if you are faced with 4 3% cuts. If you take the 4 decision route you tend to take more short-termist decisions and cause greater harm across a broader range of areas. A number of months ago Sinn Fein dismissed the notion there would be penalties from the Treasury. Now they have arrived they have tried to wish them away. This means the approach to managing the cuts will be through the Monitoring Round process, effectively the salami slice approach. So Sinn Fein’s approach means we are not only getting the cuts but expected to implement them in the worst way.

7)      It destroys the budgetary safety valve

The existing reductions in the budget have been reasonably well managed by the Executive. The protection for health allowed it to at least manage its perennial pressures. Public sector wage restraint also helped. However, a key tool has been the budget monitoring round. It acted as the main safety valve for budgetary pressures particularly on health. The level of the fines we will start receiving will essentially destroy that safety valve.

8)      Treasury smiles

No government programme of welfare changes has delivered the level of savings that were set. The level of savings the Treasury expects will almost certainly not be achieved. However, by SF moving the cuts from AME to DEL spending guarantees they will get every penny they want. Sinn Fein have provided an all your money back guarantee for George Osborne. He should be sending a thank you card to Connolly House.

9)      Goose and Gander

We are essentially 4 years into a 9 year budgetary tightening. The UK is still borrowing billions of pounds and the plan to balance the books is behind schedule. Once we balance the national books we will have to pay down the debt. If we don’t we run the risk of higher interest rates on our borrowing or worse being kicked out of the lending markets and ending up an undiluted austerity programme under the direction of the International Monetary Fund. This dictation by the IMF is exactly the position that Sinn Fein decries for the Republic but they seem content if the UK headed in such a direction.

This also means in the next Comprehensive Spending Review we will see further reductions.     By Sinn Fein volunteering Northern Ireland for extra DEL cuts of hundreds of millions they make a difficult situation disastrous.

10)   Mandate

A Sinn Fein cliché is about recognition of their mandate. Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats all went into the last election accepting reductions in public expenditure and reform of the Welfare System. The national debate was not about cuts or no cuts but the timeframe for them. There was also a consensus that a welfare system that had not succeeded in getting people into work during a period of sustained boom and job creation lasting a decade (even if it had proven to be an unsustainable bubble) had something wrong with it. The political mandate for this was clear.

The expectation that the Labour Party will come riding to the rescue in the 2015 election is a false one. They are being very limited in the promises they make around the welfare system and about spending plans as well. It is highly likely that the special package attained for Northern Ireland already will still be better than what Labour implements in England and Wales. Labour may open the top button of our financial shirt but they won’t be loosening the trouser belt.

In conclusion, the purpose of devolution was to fulfil Northern Ireland’s potential and promise. Sinn Fein’s strategy is making it a punishment. The opposite of what it was intended to be or should be.

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  • Comrade Stalin

    Extremely informative and an interesting insight into some of the technical decision making process, Lee.

    On the last point, I understand that Labour have already committed to the existing Tory spending plans if they are elected in 2015.

  • barnshee


    It IS enforcing a form of accountability– the budget is fixed it has to be allocated.

    Allocate and reap the benefit/odium at the next election. ” You can fool some of the people………

  • Zeno1

    Anyone would think it’s not in Sinn Feins interests to make Northern Ireland work.

  • Mister_Joe

    Excellent commentary.

  • Tacapall

    “We are essentially 4 years into a 9 year budgetary tightening. The UK is
    still borrowing billions of pounds and the plan to balance the books is
    behind schedule. Once we balance the national books we will have to pay
    down the debt. If we don’t we run the risk of higher interest rates on
    our borrowing or worse being kicked out of the lending markets and
    ending up an undiluted austerity programme under the direction of the
    International Monetary Fund. This dictation by the IMF is exactly the
    position that Sinn Fein decries for the Republic but they seem content
    if the UK headed in such a direction”

    What planet are you living on ? Should you not be asking questions like Why exactly is the UK borrowing so much money when they are spending billions upon billions of pounds bringing death and destruction to an ever increasing number of Oil and resource rich countries. Who really does control Westminster ?

  • Morpheus

    Right people of Northern Ireland – man, woman, young, old, Catholic, Protestant, everyone – bend over because you are about to get royally fecked by a bunch of Tory multi-millionaires, most of whom have never set foot in Northern Ireland, because they made a pledge in a manifesto which they think will get them re-elected again by a bunch of people most of whom have never set foot in Northern Ireland. Feck the people, feck Northern Ireland, as long as they get re-elected, that’s the most important thing.

    And why? Because the people we elect to look after our interests can’t get their act together to go and fecking fight for us. They’ll protest at the drop of a hat about parades and flags but putting up a fight which might actually make a difference in our lives…heaven forbid.

    The First Minister of our country has the audacity to stand up and say that his government have no clue what impact these cuts will have on the people of Northern Ireland but thinks we should just go ahead and do them anyway! Just so Cameron and his Etonian chums can get re-elected again??????

    Bunch of gormless cowards.

  • Mister_Joe

    gormless – thesaurus entry
    adjective British informal
    Synonyms or related words for this sense of gormlessWords used to describe unintelligent people: silly, idiotic, unintelligent, simple-minded, slow-witted, slow, brainless, thick, empty-headed, stupid.

    Good word.

  • chrisjones2

    Its very simple. We have a dependency economy that relies on annual bail outs from England. They are still paying those not not quite as much as before and have asked that we make some reasonable cuts as our share of the plan. This pain has been induced largely by Labour losing control of spending in the last Parliament. Remember Gerry’s Mate ‘Tony I am a pretty straight sort of guy’ Blair?

    We have to make cuts and we have been given the power to choose where they fall – except one of the children is throwing a tantrum and buggering up the whole system to pretend it doesn’t have to do it As for all the Tory Toffs nonsense – so what. Whoever was in power would need to do the same. We spent too much for too long. It wasn’t Tories buying houses in Belfast for 3 x their real value – it was many of us

    I dont want Robbo to go “and fight for us. ” Just who is he to fight for? what about those who have businesses and employ staff? Those who pay the taxes?

    I would also like to see Robbo and Marty take a swinging axe to all the hangers on and wasters who infest our body politic. That should save a few 10s of millions to help pay the fines. The community groups, interface workers, retired parmilitaries, acres of Assembly Staff, stiffed civil service departments half baked agencies and drop outs. But that will never happen becasue they are the ones who vote. Clientism at its finest

  • Morpheus

    Don’t get me wrong Joe, this is probably the best piece I have ever read when it comes to welfare cuts – clear, concise and full of logic and detail and I applaud the author. I am just fed up with how easy our ‘leaders’ have rolled over with no idea how much it will impact the people of Northern Ireland. Are we not worth fighting for?

    Cuts are needed, no one is denying that – not even the Shinners – but do they have to be so deep, so blind, so quickly? Do they have to be on a Tory timescale just to get them re-elected? Labor are fecked for the foreseeable future so we are stuck with the Tories so can they not let off a few notches on the belt?

  • nilehenri

    excellent article. in it’s disingenuity. for a moment there i nearly sf-bashed myself there mr reynolds.

    your post conveniently ignores several base facts, and issues which need to be addressed in order to facilitate a rational approach to the problems we face rather that throwing our arms up and asking ‘but sure what can we do?’ dup-style while silently reaping the benefits of back-room deals which no doubt included marches, marches, and more feckin marches.

    first off the mark it should be noted that norn-iron indeed is a basket case economy. 93% of our moolah comes from england, divvied up using the barnett formula, a tool completely unsuited to its purpose, completely discretionary, with neither scientific nor legal base, and assuming a standardisation across these islands which simply doesn’t exist.

    england opted for cuts, whereas an economic stimulus package would have been a much preferred option, but then we all know that the tories traditionally blame the poor for all their ills. (pension spending outstrips benefits allocation for example. at least here in the north we won’t have to worry too much about that one in the future given the dire employment rates.) public service workers (i.e. the government) account for a huge percentage of the workforce here, much higher than that of the other regions, essentially therefore this is a problem of their (whitehall’s) own making. to ask the communities here to take the responsibility for solving that is a bit brass necked to say the least.

    add to this ‘quantitative easing which basically translates as ‘print money and hope that we’re out of here before the effects are felt’ and you get a more general idea of the mess that we find ourselves in.

    while i am no expert, i believe that you are inaccurate in point number one. the DEL is not the block grant, AME and DEL are divisions that are made from within that total.

    your point number two “the harm to the economy…of that money being withdrawn from the economy in general…” underscores the importance of resisting these cuts, at least until a viable alternative can be found. the private economy will not fill this void, at least not yet. your many scare tactics need pulling up: “IT contracts could end up with a non-NI contractor.” it would be illegal to enforce a local provider. however a local system could be a great incentive to growth. neither is ERDF under risk.

    i could go on and on, but as someone who uses the departments of nelson mccausland and edwin poots as shining examples of how to do things, i think i’m wasting my words.

    to sum up, thanks to years of unionist mismanagement followed by the void of direct rule followed by years of unionist intransigence (ignorance?) vis-á-vis the transport infrastructure, fair and equal development west of the bann, etcetera, etcetera i find it a bit galling that we are asked to stump up the answer ourselves without any rational coherent workable plan being considered, while the dup trust their economic policy to the whims of the literati of twaddell camp.

    westminster isn’t interested, as we saw after the scottish independence debate (debacle?), almost immediately the discussions turned to greater powers for the english regions. so at least we know that the home counties regions won’t suffer unnecessarily. innumerable problems innate to the north face the decision makers; increased susceptibility to fluctuations in interest rates, the current global crisis, negative equity, these cuts hit everyone harder here than elsewhere on the islands, and will have a more negative effect upon the poor.

    to cut to the chase, if things carry on as they currently stand, and unless we see some serious blue sky thinking up on the hill, the only coherent option is further integration with the economic system of the south, with its better standards of living, and a system more tailored to the finer needs of all the people on this island.

  • Morpheus

    You think these cuts are restricted to those on benefits? When £750m a year is not ringing through our tills those who have businesses and employ staff will suffer.

  • Mister_Joe

    Agree, Morpheus; I commented earlier. But our so called leaders on both sides are gormless.

  • Comrade Stalin

    TL;DR. What do you suggest instead of implementing the cuts ?

  • Thomas Girvan

    Yeah sure, The DUP, Ulster Unionists, Alliance Party, TUV, Welsh Assembly, Scottish Government, they are all cowards.
    You are right, they have had mass protests about the Anglo Irish agreement, GFA, flags, parades et al.
    And a lot of bloody good they did!
    We have got to get real on this one.
    Whoever pays the piper calls the tune.
    We are being subsidised by the Westminster Govt.
    If we break parity on our own heads be it.
    By the way, I have never got a penny in benefit in my life.
    I have paid my taxes all my life.
    I am at a stage now when I would anticipate I might be needing a bit of payback in terms of services.
    So what am I going to get? Not too much by the sounds of things, so we can continue in a futile attempt to keep out the tide, to maintain Sinn Fein’s R.o.I. project.
    It looks like Sinn Fein have painted themselves into a corner on this one in alliance with their lap dogs SDLP.
    It looks like we need the powers on this one to be removed from the N.I. Assembly. Either that or direct rule.
    Otherwise I think I will put my name down on the list for a hip replacement now.
    (By the way my hips are O.K. at present but, better to be safe than sorry!

  • Michael Henry

    Most of us pay taxes- most of us get at least one hand out- bad economics is not the people on the doles fault- it’s not foreigner’s fault- it’s the fault of the Tory’s who want to spent 3.5 billion on scout cars this year and billions on nuclear weapons which ( hopefully ) will never be used-

    People knows who’s at fault- so why do they blame those on the dole or blame foreigner’s-

  • Thomas Girvan

    Perish the thought.

  • OneNI

    At the General Election The Conservatives and Lib Dems secured over 56% of the vote (including over 100,000 votes in NI) and both were committed to welfare reform. Moreover the UK government which controls the public expenditure framework for the entire country was committed to reducing the deficit.
    Sinn Fein got 0.5% of the vote, DUP about the same.
    SF accepted partition and recognised the Sovereignty of Westminster when the agreed to the Belfast Agreement and entered office at Stormont.
    Uniquely Stormont has legislative authority over welfare and can decide on its own system – it can decide to keep the existing system (widely recognised as failing) but it cannot expect it to be paid for. There are no ‘fines’ just decisions to be made. There is no ‘fight’ to be had
    If you look back through every NI party manifesto for Assembly elections since 1998 no you know how made detailed, costed, proposals on welfare they contained? Yes these gutless, gormless chums want to pretend to be in power but don’t want to face up to the responsibility. It is SF whose attitude is Feck the people (what have they ever delivered for West Belfast anyhow) and Feck Northern Ireland – as long as it gets them re-elected

  • Reader

    My wife works in a special teaching unit. Last year half of the staff were on temporary contracts. *None* of those teachers came back this year. The cuts are not hypothetical, or future – they are here now. Stormont only had the option as to where they are applied. By default, they *are* being applied across the departments.
    So those tills you referred to are already quieter. Thrashing around looking for a nice option is just a displacement activity. Protest is useless, procrastination is positively harmful. Stormont should deal with the facts in front of them.

  • Morpheus

    As I have said over and over and over again, I am not against cuts. The UK debt alone (£1,377 billion in Q1 2013, increasing by around £2 billion each week) is testament to the fact that we can’t keep going the way we are going.

    I want to know that the people we pay enormous amounts of money to to look after our interests know what impact it will have on the people of Northern Ireland and have a plan in place to mitigate the huge loss the cuts will have to the NI economy. I want to know that there’s something better in place than “feck it, we have no clue what the impact will be on the people we represent but let’s do it anyway.”

    If Simon Hamilton (an MLA I have a lot of respect for) stood up and said that the NICVA report isn’t accurate and confirmed that £XXXm will leave the NI economy every year which will result in A, B and C and we are going to do D, E and F to mitigate the loss then great, there’s a plan at least. I have seen nothing even close to that – in fact our First Minister has confirmed that he doesn’t know what the impact will be but advocates doing it anyway.

    The case needs to be publically made by all our combined representatives, shoulder to shoulder, – because these cuts are going to affect everyone regardless of religion, age, sex – to the Torys that cuts are necessary but just not so quickly, not so deep and above all, not so blind. Hundreds upon hundreds of millions of pounds will not be going into the NI tills every year because of a pledge in a Tory manifesto. They have secured their next term in office, Labour are screwed, so why not put the timetable back a few years and spread the pain over a longer period and get this IT system in place that they are still struggling with.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you, chrisjones2! I’m a communitarian, but the problems created by simply borrowing and borrowing to fund welfare in England is bad enough. having 70% of our wages bill directly or indirectly subsidised from state funds is a recipe for disaster. And who would really, really notice if “all the hangers on and wasters who infest our body politic” lost public funding? Another place would be the vast bill of upper level civil service pensions. Perhaps a fair single level pension for the civil service and ex-politicians would be in order.

    But vastly inflated sums are being spent on farm payments, a sizeable proportion to “farmers’ who simply own land and rake in rents from actual agricultural producers alongside their unearned farm subsidy. Slight of hand, yes, and there are plans to do something about it, but giving enormous subsidies to the land wealthy simply for owning land would be one place to start before cutting into real social need. How do you stand on the slight of hand subsidies Morph? The Etonians are an easy target that deflects attention from our own undeserving rich’s state life-support.

  • chrisjones2

    Sorry about your wife. What a pity we dont spend more on contributors like her than ‘former’ thugs [paid at home to stop them throeing bricks (or worse) at their neighbours

  • Morpheus

    As CJ says, sorry to hear about your wife.

    My point is that we have a potentially massive tsunami coming our way because of a Tory manifesto pledge – made by unscrupulous Etonian multi-millionaires who haven’t set foot in Northern Ireland just to keep them in power – and the attitude of our leaders who usually protest at the drop of a hat is “ack sure, we’ll let it hit and see what happens.” They have set aside a £30m hardship fund which will not even touch the sides if the anticipated £750m per year comes to pass.

    The objective is supposedly to get people back to work – I say again, what work?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes, yes, yes, but what can we do? the purse strings are controlled by Westminster. If they, hypothetically, actually withdrew all funding, we would have little by way of non-state related income anywhere to tax to help our fellow citizens avoid starvation. And yes, yes, yes, what work? But until we have a viable economy we are going to be as dependant on “famine relief” from our “masters” over the water. He who pays the piper must always call the tune, and no amount of posturing can change that simple fact.

    Independence means a great deal more than simply the privilege of voting for someone to administer the hand outs from the final source of power. It means creating a real economy that can permit us to truly ignore them when they tell us to do things harmful to our fellow citizens. The Irish Irelanders of the first years of the last century knew this simple lesson that most of our contemporaries seem to have forgotten. But then we are being bailed out to forget it and simply become subservient to the politicians and the bankers. The “Etonian mafia” are simply the most obvious fringe of it all.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thats the problem with dependency. Someone else in in charge.

  • Reader

    Morpheus: As CJ says, sorry to hear about your wife.
    I appreciate the concern, but fortunately she was made permanent before the welfare reforms/cuts issue reached Stormont. She saw friends and colleagues lose their jobs, which upset her.
    I’m familiar with the debate over stimulus versus savings. However, Stormont is not involved in that debate, which is dealt with way over their heads. Stormont needs to deal with the matters that are within their power.

  • Morpheus

    You can write it off with a ‘yes, yes, yes’ but there are real people at the end of all this and the government work for the people, not the other way around. Have a look at how the child poverty in Northern Ireland will be impacted up to 2020:

    You can write that off as ‘yes, yes, yes’ and rest easy knowing it won’t be your children but a lot of others are not in the same situation.

    As I said cuts are needed, that is obvious and even the Shinners are not denying that But they need to be smart/fair and before hitting those who can least afford it they need to trim the fat first.Our politicians should be standing up and saying that instead of rolling over asking for their bellies to be scratched. can you tell me that we have trimmed the fat? Can you tell me that these cuts are fair when multi-nationals are being let off with multi-billion pound tax bills?

  • Morpheus

    And Stormont can’t come together, shoulder to shoulder and say “Oi Westminster, we appreciate that cuts need to be made and we need to do our part but these cuts in their current format will have the following impact on the people of Northern Ireland so we need to look at this again….A, B, C, D, E, F…Z?”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Read a bit closer, Morpheus, I’m agreeing (and don’t I know it!) that its going to hit real people with real lives, I just do not see how you or anyone can force the Westminster administration to do anything they do not want to do. They hold the purse strings, they have to account to their bankers who bankroll their bizarre and usually ill used borrowings, they are not actually accountable to us beggers with our feeble hands held out, other than through the local ballot box results, and when has that ever changed anything? They are intimidated by Stormont, perhaps? Even if Stormont was speaking with one voice they’d laugh it off. This is what democracy really turns out to be when we are dependent on Westminster to bankroll us, and they are dependant on the good will of the people buying bonds and the global big boys in banking.

    We are simply not holding any cards in our hands, so please tell me if I’m wrong in this!

    So our failure to actually create meaningful, non-dependent economies in both parts of Ireland (impossible anyway when one part was simply a dependant part of the UK and the other a dominion of the same, or a republic with its banking system pretty integrated with that of the UK) now comes home to roost and we have only the power of the Big Issue seller to make the rich and successful feel uncomfortable.

    I’m not writing off anything as “yes, yes, yes’ I’m asking what can we actually do other simply say its all so unfair.

  • Morpheus

    It may or may not be a futile exercise but if our representatives show a united front and point out the devastating impact of these cuts on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland then at least we will have put up a fight and not simply rolled over. And if the same happened in Scotland, Wales and England then maybe they will budge a little. Maybe not but it’s at least worth a try.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Well, Tacapall, the one thing they have not been doing is to intellegently think about developing a local economy over and abouve paying civil servants to shift paper and play video games.

    Back in 1900 Irish Ireland identified the key to real independence as the creation of a genuine local economy that fulfilled peoples lives creatively. With partition both parts of Ireland were economically crippled, and restrained in developing anything seriously on a local scale. Now we are entirely dependent on handouts up in the wee six, even for all those nice white collar jobs that persuade our new middle class that they have made it. They are just as much “beggers” for alms from Westminster as the poor welfare dependents they so despise for not getting on in life. And as long as the Westminster administration is bound hand and foot by their funders, we are all expected to just shut up and do as we are told. So much for the expensive farce of elections, we might as well simply let the global banking concerns appoint a local manager for us all and save the bother of such pointless voting. As Yeats says, “Stay at home and drink your beer and let your neighbour vote, Says the man in the golden breatplate, under the old stone cross.”

    If we are ever to actually realise a strong free culture amongst us that will nurture our entire people, the first step will being able to tell the bankers where to put their bond purchases.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear Morph, “but if our representatives show a united front”. Are we talking about DUP/SF et alla? Yes, and I’d love to see Kropotkins mutual aid society active amongst our communities, doing away with any need for the pointless representative system and nurturing all to the benefit of all, but its as realistic as asking Santa to bring us world peace (or at least some sense of a single local interest in this devastating certainty).

    All we can do, like Dáibhí Ó Bruadair is point out the iniquity of it all, and the coming “Shipwreck”.

    “Mairg nach fuil ‘na Dhubhthuata.”

  • Morpheus

    They should be big enough and ugly enough to realise that religion and their political differences doesn’t come into it – Catholics, Protestants, atheists, young, old, gay, straight, Orange, Green etc will all be hit. And hit hard.

  • barnshee

    “it’s the fault of the Tory’s who want to spent 3.5 billion on scout cars this year and billions on nuclear weapons which ( hopefully ) will never be used-

    As I endlessly point out -its their money -they can do what they like with it
    NI has the same option– on the money received -do what you like with it -or try raising more yourselves –or nip next door and beg for/ask for a few Euros ? as Dave has apparently said -not another penny

    PS spending millions on weapons which will never be used is Keynesian economics— Keynes proposed paying to bury money and then pay to have it dug up to create activity

  • nilehenri

    an informed debate with someone who could be bothered to read my opinion first.
    failing that i’ll make it quick and snappy: reunification, sooner rather than later. too many people have died at the hands of shoddy politicians here already.

  • OneNI

    Sorry Morph that ‘ the Torys that cuts are necessary but just not so quickly, not so deep ‘ line is just a cope out.
    In reality the Tories have only managed to reduce spending at the speed and depth that LABOUR planned.
    Moreover Osborne has been proved right in his predictions if we have gone slower, less ‘deep’ things could have imploded and that we have hurt the less well off hardest.
    Stormont is engaged in a delusion. But fools no one in reality

  • OneNI

    Reunification. nilehenri although Osborne helped bale out the Republic that was due to a vested interest in keeping their economy growing I don’t think the English could be convinced to take the Republic back into the UK.
    However it might be worth trying. The UK can borrow money much more cheaply and could more easily accomdate the Republic’s crippling debt (though it has plenty of its own!) this – combined with the savings on the Republic’s budget from having to pay for the trappings of Independence could really help get the economy in the 26 counties back on its feet

  • OneNI

    ‘Irish Ireland identified the key to real independence as the creation of a genuine local economy that fulfilled peoples lives creatively’
    ‘Irish Ireland’ – you mean Dev, IRA, FF and other wingnuts?
    It only took until the 1980s and the mass immigration of the 50s,etc for the people to see through the craziness of ‘socialism within one country’ plied by nationalism.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, Irish Ireland, not the Mickey Mouse version. As AE said in 1923 about “Dev, IRA, [what would become] FF and other wingnuts”:

    “The champions of physical force have, I am sure, without intent, poisoned the soul of Ireland. All that was exquisite and lovable is dying. they have squandered a spirit created by poets, scholars, and patriots of a different order, spending the treasure lavishly as militarists in all lands do, thinking little of what they squander save that it gives a transitory gilding to their propaganda.”

    The Irish Ireland I’m refering to was a self reliance, non-cooperation movement inspired by (on one stream) Kropotkin (not Marx) and in turn, through the Antrim man James Cousins would inspure Gandhi’s non co-operation alternative to shooting and shouting. the intention was to craete a real economy, not simply to meet English demands for produce, producing pennies in the present at the expense of creating real careers (not simply slave jobs) for those whow ould be forced to emigrate by their lack.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And they just vote for the same people anyway every time. Ever since 1922 the only accountability has been for how hard you can denigrate them other ones.

    i once heard that the definition of insanity was doing the same failing thing over and over and expecting it to work the next time. Was that a definition of Democracy, did someone say?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Actually Keynes was very clear about the requirement for effectiveness from money spent. He said that it would only act as a stimulant if genuine “effectiveness” could be shown to occur. He would be horrified at the bizarre simplifications about public spending on anything creating recovery that are being touted everywhere today.

  • nilehenri

    the presbyterian community in ireland suffered horrendously under the english regime, oneNI, i wouldn’t dream of putting them through that pain again.
    in the meantime we distribute all that english money to your ‘focus’ and ‘research’ groups to keep them from shooting each other. tell me, do you get off on kids suffering? enjoy the jpegs.

  • nilehenri

    one more, doesn’t seem to post above.

  • Zeno1

    Dáibhí Ó Bruadair

    Such a disappointment to discover he wasn’t Darby O Gill. ………. ah well.

  • Zeno1

    It is funny that people still do that voting thing, but thankfully that will die out, The trends are good.

  • Thomas Girvan

    Was that the Eurovision Song Contest?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hopefully! Sometimes bad habits can be unlearnt. Then someone might just think of something more effective for expressing and effecting genuine public opinion than simply picking (expensively!) a varing set of “masters” every few years. Or in the case of the wee six, an unvarying set of masters.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hey Zeno1, sorry to stretch you by having the poet’s name in Irish, for I know that some of my fellow citizens usually have problems seeing book learning as any use after they’ve done a degree, got on in life, and are getting £45.000 up per annum. David O’Brouder is a possible English version for the (sadly) monolingual. But check him out:áibh%C3%AD_Ó_Bruadair

    Particularly you might recognise the fulsome sentiments of “Mairg nach fuil ‘na Dhubhthuata” (although please note it’s meant to be ironic!) There’s a half decent translation in “An Duanaire: Poetry of the Dispossessed.” And a very spirited translation in Michael Hartnett’s “Ó Bruadair: selected poems of Dáibhi Ó Bruadair.”

  • Zeno1

    “Hey Zeno1, sorry to stretch you by having the poet’s name in Irish,”

    Not at all. He sounds an interesting character. It just that I was thinking we were going down the route of Darby O Gill as Secretary of State, Pony Sugrue as Ulster Unionists, Michael as Northern Nationalists and King Brian as the Westminster Government. Ah well.
    I’m not completely sadly monolingual. I can speak some very bad German.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    My abject apologies on behalf of the Irish language community! And there was me thinking you were refering to Herminie Templeton Kavanagh’s stage Irishman as played for Disney by Sean “Canary” as the Disney producers called him.

    Dáibhi Ó Bruadair was an Irish language poet active over the Restoration, who described the creation of an Cromwellian planter state (just as much the enemy of the Scots planters of the wee nine as it was then), saw an attempt at balance under that great and good man, Jmaes II & VII and the final sucess of commercial interests in 1690. a good counterfactual for a lost Ireland that would have had an inbuilt balance for tolerance.

  • Morpheus


    I give up

  • Morpheus

    Excellent comments from the UUP’s Michael Copeland today:

    “I stand here with the two great power blocs to my left and right: the land of “This must be done” and the land of “This will never be done”. The truth is that, until we see that which is to be done, it is hard to make up your mind. This legislation has been bogged down, I think, since 2012. At that stage, the Minister brought it forward, seemingly trying to implement it in its totality, including clauses that applied discounting as income compensation paid as a result of the London bombings. That was a slap in the face for many people here who were victims of bombings in the past.

    We will not support the motion or the amendment. The Minister needs to bring forward the Bill and let the Chamber do its legislative job, which is to decide on it. It is wrong to assume that Northern Ireland is getting away in the smoke, because, to be frank, some of the reforms across the water have been shambolic. Universal credit was expected to be rolled out by the end of 2017. As of last month, 11,070 households were receiving universal credit. The policy in GB is clearly failing, and I see nothing to reinforce the view that it will do anything other than fail here. DWP is 986,740 short of the original target of moving one million people to universal credit by April. In fact, Iain Duncan Smith also missed his own revised and much downgraded target of 184,000. Given that there are currently 11,000 claimants, welfare reform is not working well there either. There are massive flaws, not least the fact that the male to female ratio of claimants is 7:3, with the vast majority of claims being from unemployed people under 25 — the easiest demographic to separate. Considering that universal credit is estimated to cost the taxpayer £12·8 billion, if progress is not made soon, the cost of this will be over £1·1 million for every person currently claiming it.

    Welfare needs to be reformed to make the system better and to make it work for people who need it. I have buried people — I am sure that many of us have — from my constituency who took their own life because of the outworkings of the previous system and the current system. I see little in the proposals thus far that indicates that we have taken any cognisance of the sheer and utter desperation of a vast demographic.

    Fighting a DLA appeal on behalf of someone who took their life because you were not available on the day that they needed you to go to an appeal is a very heavy burden. I am sure that there are others in the Room who bear it.

    Essentially, this is a row between the DUP and Sinn Féin. It is down in the castle. Sort it out. Bring us the legislation, and, when you do, we will tell you what we think

    I cannot remember a single thing that was given by the Minister. It had to be forced or drawn; it was protracted. That takes little cognisance of the people listening to this. The demographic that will be the most seriously affected is not the scroungers, even though they do not really exist, or the unemployed; it is low-paid working families with children. On the day that I sat on this seat and listened to a debate about how this was about making work pay, there were 67,253 people in receipt of unemployment benefit and 4,700 available jobs. It does not take you to be a mathematician to work out the odds on that.

    If this must be done, bring it forward and do it. The proper place for legislation is in this Chamber. A debate of this nature a few days before it serves no purpose except to add further concern for those who are afraid of change, whether that change be good or bad. Looking at the mainland, we can see that this has not been well done well. It has not been efficiently done”

    From Alex Kane today:

    DUP attacks UUP over welfare reform. I was told Michael Copeland had threatened to resign UUP whip if they backed it— Alex.Kane (@AlexKane221b) September 23, 2014

  • Glenn Clare

    And has to pay the bill.

  • Glenn Clare

    Here is the reality the country is in debt, but why should the shinners let the facts or the truth for that matter get in the way of anti British/Tory propaganda.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Strictly speaking, Glenn, mo chara, “And has to pay the interest!”

    Imagine anyone actually borrowing money so that Stormont might exist!

  • nilehenri

    no lol. it would seem that we’re not as good at that as we used to be!