Triumph of tactics as OFMdFM parties extend their ‘paternity leave’ from partnership government

So, in a rush so here’s a few garbled thoughts on the departure of David Cameron at 10 of the Clock this morning.

  1. On first face this is another triumph of tactics over strategy. We (and nor, clearly, is the NI press pack) are not privy to the conversations that persuaded a Secretary of State who expressed herself sceptical of the possibility of a deal and change her mind and bring in the head UK’s head buck with his ‘fat wallet’. But someone clearly did. Was it just to show they can still pull in the PM at will? If it was, then they’ll find the next time they want to pull a stunt it will be a little harder.
  2. The little reliable information Slugger has is that Sinn Fein are still not moving on Welfare. That has always been deal breaker. It was clear from the get go this was a deal breaker. So was this a last minute switcheroo their idea? We don’t know for sure, and nor does anyone else outside the negotiating chamber. The sheer lack of information has fueled a lot of uninformed speculation.
  3. Much of the talk of progress has been founded on such speculation. I suspect that’s informed by comparisons with previous more successful negotiating process. There is no sign here of a linear progression of any sort, just the long continuation of gridlock in government. And neither of the two establishment parties can expect to suffer by the increasing disengagement of voters.
  4. There are precedents for what we are seeing here. Forget all the intangible stuff around the past, parades, etc. As Tommie Gorman noted that all relies on money. And money here is the central issue. Why did the state of California go bust? Very simple. Political deadlock and inability to agree on money bills. The blockers in that case were small state Republicans who found themselves semi permanently excluded from power by voters.

Only thing is that here even after such ‘a catastrophic fiscal event’ both parties will be sustained by the continuing refusal to deal with sectarian conflict and (just as importantly) the causes of the sectarian conflict)… Can’t argue with Micheal Martin’s take on the matter…

The latest failure to make progress in the North will be greeted with frustration rather than any great surprise.  As I have repeatedly said over the last number of years, the combination of Governmental disengagement, Northern Ireland Executive dysfunction and Northern political party cynicism is a mix that is undermining public confidence in the process on a daily basis.

“The inevitable blame game and recriminations have already started, but what the principle players in this latest failure do not appear to appreciate is that the public in the North and the public throughout the country are losing faith not only in the performance of the current structures but in the structures themselves.

  • aor26

    Did Michael martin just blame the British government, the Irish government and the northern Ireland executive parties and then lament that the blame game has commenced ??

    So everybody is to blame except Fianna Fail then.. Hmmm

    Martin shares at least a bit of blame himself. He is leader of one of the main parties south of the border and has had nothing useful to say or constructive to give as regards the North since he became party leader. He is also motivated by short term gain and any mutterings he has made on Northern Ireland have been motivated by a chance to get stuck into Sinn Fein as he fears they are going to give Fianna Fail a bloody nose in the next election.

  • barnshee

    These clowns remind me of the toddlers who put their hands over their eyes at a perceived danger. –Can`t see it so its not there.
    A period on dole is required for all concerned.

  • Sharpie

    Micheal Martin has been the one Southern leader who has engaged continuously with the situation in Northern Ireland. Despite Fianna Fail’s economic legacy – their interest in, knowledge of, and engagement with the issues up here stands far above anyone else’s.

  • Sharpie

    The negotiations are dead, long live the negotiations

  • Morpheus

    I can’t see the point in SF fighting the last installment of this round of Welfare ‘Reform’ any more. Let’s face it, £500m a year has already been implemented from Westminster through cuts to incapacity benefits, tax credits, child benefit, housing benefit etc. so resisting the bill currently sitting in stagnation at Stormont seems almost pointless, what’s another £250m a year among friends eh? We’ll just have to see if the Tories go ahead and add to NI’s woes by removing JSA from 18-24 year olds and lowering the benefit cap from of £26,000 to £23,000 a year as planned.

    Working families with children are already hit hardest and food bank usage is skyrocketing but so what? We have an abundance of “I’m alright Jack so bollix to everyone else” types here to clog the airwaves with their nonsense.

    Meanwhile big business walk away from tens of billions in avoided taxes every year. Go figure.

  • Morpheus

    It would never happen because nests are well and truly feathered but how much Karmic justice is there in the thought that our politicians would come to rely on the Welfare state they decimated and had to use a food bank for food instead of a photo op

  • aor26

    ‘their interest in, knowledge of, and engagement with the issues up here stands far above anyone else’s.’

    that must mean the rest other parties Fine Gael and Labour are truely clueless about the North. As far as I’m concerned his engagement has been useless

  • Metro

    The problem is there is no political fallout from this failure. The elections next year will be fought on “us against them” and only one constituency will have to be fought for (East Belfast). The same clowns will get voted back in. The time for a period of direct rule is now.

  • Practically_Family

    You don’t think that there’s a potential for fallout from a period of direct rule then?

  • Sharpie

    Now that’s stating the bleeding obvious. Just because he himself engaged doesn’t mean he was acknowledged never mind heeded – he wasn’t in power.

    Southern priorities for the past six years were not about a parochial squabble in another jurisdiction.

  • Dan

    Time for a few million to be invested by the Treasury into the investigations teams to specifically target welfare fraud in Northern Ireland.
    I’m all for shrinking the size of the public sector, but I’d quite happily see those teams expanded ten fold for a couple of years.
    I’m sick to the back teeth of Sinn Fein’s whinging about welfare when we all know it’s all about their own vote continuing to scam as much money for fk all from the Brits.
    …and don’t spare the investigations into the scammers on the Prod side either.

  • Morpheus

    What a moronic statement.

    Do you think it’s just SF voters on welfare? Little secret for you- poverty doesn’t give a crap if you are Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Atheist, Jew or whatever.

    Do you honestly think these cuts won’t hit Sammy from the Shankill just as hard as it will hit Sean from the Falls? It’s the working families with children – regardless of religion – who will be hit hardest.

    Again, an absolutely moronic statement. After that I am surprised you even had the intelligence to log in

  • Metro

    I think big funding decisions need taken and they need to be followed through – in particular, we need the size of the public sector to be smaller. Our political class are spenders not savers and are not able to make the big decisions. Maybe devolution can be brought back once these big decisions are made, but the current scenario needs to be challenged. What can be worse?

  • Dan

    Dry your eyes.
    I made it quite clear that the Prods should be investigated just as much as the other lot….but sure, you ignore that as usual.
    The days of turning a blind eye to welfare fraud just to appease the peace process industry need to come to an end.

  • Morpheus

    Of course welfare fraud needs to come to an end, especially those unionist voting scroungers who cost the exchequer millions upon millions policing Twaddell and bleed the very system dry that they are supposed to be loyal to.


    Oh yeah and the other ones too.

    See what I did there?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hey Morpheus, the simplest way to cut all this nonsense about welfare fraud would be bring in a universal basic income such as the Swiss were recently considering (close run vote!). This takes away all the issues of “having the state on” the Puritans get so obsessed about, gives uncomplicated survival funds to us all and underpins creative thinking about growing the economy at a micro level by ensuring that our baby “entrepeneurs” can eat and heat without watching out for the Bank foreclosure on their loans. It effectivly sets all those civil servants policing the benefits system free to do something that actually helps people. Much of the cost of a basic income would be met with that money saved from the old cat and mouse game of demonising the needy poor buckled onto what we already pay out in benefit.

  • Dan

    Only you seem to have an issue with investigating all welfare fraud though.

  • Morpheus

    No I don’t, I have written about strengthening the system extensively on here. I do have an issue with idiotic statements like the one you made above

  • Rick Shaw

    There needs to be a complete audit of all the monies that have gone through Stormont. The RSI scandal is the tip of the iceberg, There are in every nationalist area offices rented/leased to groups directly controlled by SF. There are more prisoner groups than taxi depots and that is saying something. Who after 20 years need these groups when there is a probation service. Who owns the buildings they are based in and who do they pay rents to. The fund that the first and deputy first minister put aside (£70 million), I believe, should be put into front line services. We often hear people suggesting that there should be a box on a ballot paper saying none of the above, that would be pointless. What should be included on all ballot papers is a box for, 1. Direct rule from brittain. 2. Direct rule from Dublin and 3. Joint rule by both London and Dublin. I reckon if people had that choice they would begin to re-engage with voting. Somebody needs to do something radical because those who are leading in government now are happy to see people not voting, despite what they may say. Because if you are not voting, you are not voting against them. This leaves both sides holding the keys to the castle, bestowed upon them by their loyal supporters. Wake up folks

  • Gopher

    Looking at what the BBC were saying was the document, there was no deal just a mechanism to get the parties through the next election to fall out in 15 months time

  • Thomas Girvan

    Yes I did, you put your foot in it!

  • Dan

    I think the appropriate reply to you is ‘Meh’!

  • In God’s Country

    It is self-evident that the British have no desire whatever to take back up the reins of governing Northern Ireland alone (“would that we could get out forever”, they are undoubtedly muttering to themselves). As such, one can be confident in the belief that this “walk-out” stunt will be followed by giving the parties the financial package they want.

    The real question is whether the DUP will continue to put the interests of atavistic scumbags in a Union Jack-bedecked caravan at Twaddell above those of everyone in the Six Counties.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Met – see definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. See Stormont. Direct rule or a revolution but our clown show is over.

  • I’d have thought Micheál knew how to spell ‘principal’. Odder still to find him with a ‘principle’…

  • Martyn

    How about compulsory voting where every ballot paper includes “none of the above”. If “none of the above” wins, then there is a re-run, with “all of the above” banned from standing again?

  • babyface finlayson

    Perhaps he was referring to Sinn Fein and the DUP as ‘principle players’, both playing at having principles.

  • I think you’re being excessively indulgent re Micheál’s spelling , bff. Maybe next time he ventures over the border we should set him a spelling test and then an ethical test…

  • Croiteir

    Michael Martin only cares for the south – he never bothered with Bertie Aherne’s attempt to move into the north, all announcements on the north was done with an eye on the Dáil or to protect Fianna Fáil inaction and betrayal of northern nationalism.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Martyn, I wonder just how long such a system would last until the expense of the endless fortnightly elections broke the budget! Choosing names by lottery would be just as effective and cheaper, and might get some real talent up on the hill for a change.

  • Martyn

    I agree that a random selection of the people I know, the great majority of whom would never put themselves forward as political candidates, would do better than our 108 MLAs. It is almost as if wanting to be elected is adequate proof that you are not fit for the job!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    My own thoughts exactly, Martyn! I’ve been putting up a few quotes from Emma Goldman recently on Slugger.

    “The average mind is slow in grasping a truth, but when the most thoroughly organized, centralized institution, maintained at an excessive national expense, has proven a complete social failure, the dullest must begin to question its right to exist. The time is past when we can be content with our social fabric merely because it is ‘ordained by divine right,’ or by the majesty of the law.”

    Unlike most other people who have been simply looking at Beppe Grillo’s curley hair, I’ve been looking at the actual Five Star movement programme. Some interesting attempts there to get right away from the tendency of the representative system to attract narcissistic types with nothing to recommend them beyond their belief in their own abilities and their drive to benefit from the system. While I’m usually told that such ideas (Five Star) are “Utiopian”, almost anything is going to work rather better that what we have at present.