Stormont Talks: A Step in the Right Direction?

The Executive Parties have agreed a deal on welfare reform and have sent a paper to the NIO outlining an agreement. Earlier Martin McGuinness tweeted that there had been “a step change” in the atmosphere at the talks. Progress at the talks had seemed unlikely and there were suggestions that they could have drawn to a close today in the absence of signs of an agreement.

On Talkback Gareth Gordon suggested that the £70 million set aside in the draft budget for welfare reform flexibilities has been increased to £125 million and no additional money would be sought from the British Government for welfare reform. Theresa Villiers has stated quite categorically that any additional welfare spending would have to come from the block grant.

It would seem that Sinn Féin and the SDLP have shifted from their previous position of absolute opposition to the implementation of welfare reform. Sinn Féin had released a document with 11 points outlining their stance on welfare reform which has widely been described as unrealistic. Earlier this year proposals were released by the Department of Social Development detailing a package of measures to mitigate the negative effects of welfare reform. It is expected that the new agreement will go further than those proposals but how much further?

There appears to have been limited progress on the past, parades and flags. However the parties have agreed to seek extra funding for dealing with the past and it is believed that the parties will work together over the weekend to find agreement on other issues. It is perhaps counterintuitive that the parties have come to an agreement on the funding required to deal with the legacy of the Troubles without first agreeing on how to take those issues forward.

Focus will now shift back to David Cameron and whether he will be willing to send more money to Northern Ireland to deal with the past. Currently there do not seem to be any plans for him to return to Stormont but the Prime Minister did appear to be open to the prospect of making an improved offer dependent on progress on resolving Northern Ireland’s finances. Now the question is whether the parties’ agreed position will be a step too far.

UPDATE 16:30: Theresa Villiers has said that the government is now studying the parties’ proposals and will respond as soon as possible. She encouraged the parties to continue working and has said that the Prime Minister will not be back in Northern Ireland before Christmas. The BBC have released further details of the proposals with the Executive understood to be seeking £2 billion over a ten year period. This would include extra borrowing power and the cancellation of the penalties for not implementing welfare reform. Also included is the creation of a Peace Investment Fund although exactly how this would differ from the Social Investment Fund is uncertain.

Mark Devenport has details of the breakdown of the parties’ £2 billion Christmas list on Twitter. £800 million to cover voluntary civil service redundancies, £300 million infrastructure projects, £214 million for welfare penalties, £200 million for dealing with the past, £500 million for shared education.

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  • hugh mccloy

    Be interesting to see where this money is found at, as predicted the parties stumble and fall into the line Cameron told them to tow last week

  • OneNI

    So looks like the firm smack of leadership from Cameron has made SF and SDLP blink?

  • chrisjones2

    Yes…Gerry has blinked.

  • Redstar

    Yet again Shinners back down!! 

    What was the point in their own draft document indeed their entire opposition if they were always going to back down and now implement the Tory cuts?

    Furthermore they have also back tracked completely on their ” bottom line” of no deal on welfare without agreement on parades flags etc

  • chrisjones2

    POlitics dear boy,politcs

  • Kevin Breslin

    May I correct you: Sinn Féin and the SDLP opposition was not based on absolutism, it was based on the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats having an irridentist control over HOW to spend what limited funds we do have. These are cuts that are going to hurt the areas where Sinn Féin and the SDLP get votes from more than those of the Alliance and UUP the stronger supporters of austerity (sister parties to the UK government) who are happy want made in Northern Ireland reforms for tuition fees but when it comes to the unemployed their hardships mean very little but an academic exercise for Rowntree foundation think tanks that have little working class insight.

    (Yip, I’m saying for once the DUP is actually the center-ground here).

    Sinn Féin, the SDLP and dare I say it the DUP have insured finance to target the shift that will mitigate the difficulties facing the working class areas who are fighting their way out of austerity. This allows proper reform, this allows the parties to target those in priority need and help others get off the dole. The DUP wishing to take back East Belfast and holding North Belfast would be uncomfortable being seen as the leaders of austerity, when loyalists could stay at home or vote against them.

    Let’s be realistic here, draconian ruthless welfare reform implementation is a multiplier effect on the vices of flags, parading, the past, institutional reform and budget balancing.

    Both parties were willing to budget, so long as people from Northern Ireland had the final authority over where that budget money went to, that’s something which the DUP can sign up to, and which leaves the other two parties who would be happier with more welfare reform towing the line.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Cameron had to give the average person in Northern Ireland £36 extra a year for that wink. Just think the DUP could bankrupt the UK by flirting with him.

  • Morpheus

    This whole Welfare ‘Reform’ debacle has been a disaster from day one. In the true seedy spirit of Northern Ireland we somehow managed to turn something that will affect everyone – especially working families with children – and turn it into yet another grimey green v. orange issue. It’s nauseating in the extreme.

    * We have a First Minister who pushed it from day one in order to curry favor with the Tories and had absolutely no idea what the impact would be on the people he is supposed to represent.
    * We have a Finance Minister who hid in the long grass instead of coming out and removing all doubt by saying “this is how much it’s going to cost our economy, this is the impact it will have and this is what we are going to do about it”.
    * We had the Shinners pretending that we had a choice
    * We had £500m of cuts per year implemented from Westminster.
    * We have had a Welfare Reform bill (another £250m) that has not even been taken to the floor of the assembly for debate yet.
    * We were given the right to vote on a Welfare Reform Bill but it didn’t matter what we decided because had we not implemented it we would have had massive fines anyway.
    * We have had a huge increase in food bank usage and at the same time a huge increase in the number of “I’m alright Jack so bollix to everyone else” commentators
    * We have a IT system that we are supposed to be transferring to that has repeatedly missed its targets, including the massively reduced ones….the list goes on

    The whole thing was a farce from start to finish. It would have saved a lot of effort if Westminster had just imposed the whole thing from the start instead of pretending that we had a choice.

    At least we can look forward to phase 2 of Tory ‘reform’ with the removal of JSA from 18-24 year olds.

    Let’s just hope that the extra £70m can be put to good use

  • Dan

    Cuts…my arse!

  • Megatron_

    Hold on so many people had told me that SF couldn’t compromise here and were happy to “sacrifice” their constituents in the north to enhance their southern prospects.

    I am sure SF will still be a disgrace – just wondering what the attaching narrative will be.

  • streetlegal

    Martin McGuinness was desperate to make some kind of a deal on the budget, so that he could hang on to his office. So in the end he was happy to set aside the entire Provisional Sinn Fein wishlist and to accept the Tory welfare cuts and the austerity agenda. Of course he will claim it as a great victory. But it is clear – the DUP/Conservative coalition held their line and Provisional Sinn Fein conceded all of the ground.

  • chrisjones2

    ” it was based on the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats having an irridentist control over HOW to spend what limited funds we do have.”

    That’s why Gerry asked for an extra £1 billion then.SF Trolls may have short attention span someof teh rest of us dont

  • chrisjones2

    Ha…the bill has now risen from £1bn to £2bn with a large part of it paid to ex cops and lawyers to look at the past and beggar the future

    Always a catch isnt there

    Is ‘no more money’ too hard too understand

  • Sinn Féin and the SDLP have been adamant all along that they would not accept Tory Welfare Cuts. At times they have said they Welfare Reform Bill would not be acceptable in any shape or form and that they would never accept Universal Credit.
    What has changed is that these proposals see the money to improve aspects of welfare reform coming from the block grant. That is entirely inconsistent with both parties previous positions. The £2 billion sweetens the deal for Sinn Féin and the SDLP, although that is unlikely to be the final figure agreed.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Unionist parties and the other British parties don’t shy away when they complain about how EU is telling them how to spend their money, even when they don’t want to leave Europe and are happy with many of the universal benefits to trade and mobility that come from the EU. You be diplomatic and arrange a compromise that addresses as many issues as the relationship can allow.

    The DUP pushed for Welfare Plus solution, because they did agree with the SDLP and Sinn Féin that nationalist and unionist working class areas were going to be the major losers from it.

  • barnshee

    “The prospect of being hanged focuses the mind wonderfully. What we hope ever to do with ease we must learn first to do with diligence.”

    Samuel Johnson

  • hugh mccloy

    We are going to get hit now with the Austerity measures that the rest of the EU and other areas already have endured. The only difference is other areas are recovering from their cuts.

  • barnshee

    !it was based on the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats having an irridentist control over HOW to spend what limited funds we do have.”

    Well its largely their money and
    The assembly COULD raise more money via the “rates” –even charge the “big house brigade” more? Introduce water charges?

    Dependency culture writ large prevails

  • ted hagan

    Well at least Robbo was only currying favour and not currying yoghurt coker colyer

  • Redstar

    Did anyone seriously think Marty was going to give up his chauffeur , allowances, jobs for all his kin and establishment position for something as valueless as principles-

    Excuse the phraseology but you couldnt shift him out of his DFM/ British Govt mouthpiece position – with Semtex!!!!

  • barnshee

    “and turn it into yet another grimey green v. orange issue. It’s nauseating in the extreme.”

    EVERYTHING gets turned into orange and green- surely you realise that now- Its how the society functions- take that away and the whole raison d`etre of the political process here disappears-along with the sinecures that go with it.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sorry, but the vast majority of the money being spent comes from the Northern Irish taxpayer who has no say over reserved powers. Why should we be screwed over because they can add 15% to our total spend?

    Why should those who pay for 14% of the total Northern Irish economy through a subvention dictate how to spend the 86% that Northern Ireland taxpayers provide?

    Northern Irish taxpayers pay for ALL the reserved powers they don’t have a say in, as part of the Barnett Deal:

    These include:

    The expensive Nuclear Decommissioning of power plants they have never used in anywhere in Ireland until the end of time.

    The major London inner city developments that contribute a lot less to the Northern Irish economy than they do to Dublin.

    Trident – a weapon of international penis waving that is a bigger threat to the UK and Ireland than any other countries in the world as it is useless against the real nuclear threats to the UK such as dirty bombs, nuclear power plant failures, the failure of Trident’s nuclear engine and the hijacking of Trident by suicide bombers.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Mark Durkan said on the matter what the problems were for the SDLP

    “The Secretary of State has to accept that there have been valid concerns behind all the questions that have been asked about the feasible delivery of universal credit. There is also real confusion about the differing answers that have been given . Those concerns extend to Northern Ireland, where people are concerned about the implications for hard-pressed families and for local and regional economies. Given the question mark against the overall business case, is it right for the Assembly to be brow-beaten by the Treasury, through threats of cuts to other budgets, into passing the karaoke Bill that would legislate for universal credit?”

    Gerry Kelly’s words on Universal Credit were as such:

    “The British Government itself is not even in agreement on cuts. The Liberal Democrats voted against their government partners on the bedroom tax, uniting with the Labour Party to do so.”

    Labour has also vowed to do an urgent review of the plans to introduce Universal Credit, the North Belfast MLA said.

    Mr Kelly added: “Clearly the cracks are starting to show as people begin to witness the devastation of these cuts, thousands being made homeless, a startling rise in malnutrition, dependence on food banks and charitable donations, and an increase in crime involving the theft of basic necessities.

    “Tory cuts would impact on all communities here, from Shantallow to Sandy Row, from Ballymurphy to Ballybeen.”

  • barnshee

    Dave will be delighted if you will settle for the tax raised in NI

    Pay all your own bills -he won`t ask for any contribution for any other expenditure..

    PS -15% won`t look at it

  • Comrade Stalin

    We had £500m of cuts per year implemented from Westminster.

    Just curious. In your cuts calculations have you accounted for the reduction in the amount of income tax being paid ?

    I calculated that on a salary of £15,000, a person is paying £1000 less tax in 2015 than they will have been paying in 2010. I also worked out across the workforce that there is a drop in income tax revenue from Northern Ireland somewhere between £414m and £784m (see my working here).

    To date, I haven’t heard a single person on the side of opposition to welfare reform proposing to reverse the income tax cuts in exchange for an increase in the subvention.

    The whole thing was a farce from start to finish. It would have saved a lot of effort if Westminster had just imposed the whole thing from the start instead of pretending that we had a choice.

    This is unbelievable. Several of us have spent the last several months trying to explain to you, and others, that we didn’t (in practice) have a choice. You’re right – it would have saved a hell of a lot of effort, but it wasn’t the people in Westminster who were delusional.

  • Gopher

    The First and Deputy First Ministers office have issued a statement on behalf of the executive

    “The settlement of the Welfare problem,
    which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a
    larger settlement in which all Northern Ireland may find peace. This
    morning we had another talk with the Sinn Fein leader , Mr Adams, and
    here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as ours. Some
    of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just
    like to read it to you: “ .. We regard the agreement signed this morning as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go
    to war with one another again or jeopardize our Executive salaries.”
    “My good friends, for the second time in our history, an Executive
    First and Deputy First Minister have returned from Louth bringing
    peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you
    from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Kevin, if you’re going to correct people it’s best not to circulate untruths yourself :

    Alliance and UUP the stronger supporters of austerity (sister parties to the UK government)

    Alliance do not take the government whip, and voted against the government.

    Alliance opposes welfare reform.

    What Alliance, and others, have been saying is that we have to play the cards we have been dealt. That is not supporting austerity, that is accepting reality.

    Sinn Féin, the SDLP and dare I say it the DUP have insured finance to target the shift that will mitigate the difficulties facing the working class areas who are fighting their way out of austerity

    The SDLP are sister party to the Labour Party who have committed themselves to the Tory spending plans including welfare reform. The DUP who you cite as some sort of centre ground advocate have clearly aligned themselves with the Tories with an eye on a confidence and supply agreement in 2015. I have no idea why you trust any of these parties when they claim that they are protecting the working class.

    Let’s be realistic here, draconian ruthless welfare reform implementation is a multiplier effect on the vices of flags, parading, the past, institutional reform and budget balancing.

    In all of these debates nobody has yet explained to me exactly what is draconian about the welfare reform plans other than the bedroom tax. I noted the other day that Sinn Féin were arguing against the £26,500 benefit cap – who benefits from that ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Why should those who pay for 14% of the total Northern Irish economy through a subvention dictate how to spend the 86% that Northern Ireland taxpayers provide?

    They’re not dictating.

    Northern Ireland politicians are free to spend the money how they wish.

    The problem is that if Northern Ireland operated its own welfare system it would be significantly more expensive to do so.

    This is rudimentary stuff which we’ve discussed here many times over. Welfare spending is subsidized by central government over and above the allocation from Barnett, in exchange for Northern Ireland agreeing to operate the same scheme as England and Wales. Northern Ireland is free to break from this; but it must lose the subsidy and run the system itself.

  • Comrade Stalin

    okay. So why isn’t Kelly proposing to increase regional taxes, offsetting the £1000/year tax cut that a person on £15,000 has received ?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Why are Northern Irish voters and taxpayers to blame for the creation of the Barnett Formula? This was voted primarily by English, Scottish and Welsh MPs.

    Seems it’s used for no other purpose but blackmail, rather than address regional imbalances like it was intended to do.

    Should we also give Enda Kenny his fair share of the Regional Development budget for the roads and hospital investment he’s provided, maybe Junker’s lot could have a say in Veteranary schools and Housing Benefits for all the CAP subsidies and Peace funds they’ve given, and then there’s Obama too with the International fund for Ireland, certainly enough to force through fracking in Fermanagh.

  • barnshee

    Repeats
    Take the tax raised in NI. Set up your own revenue service and live within the taxes raised. Don`t bother with that nasty old Barnett thing- Dave will be delighted

    I don`t think Enda has sent any money yet

    PS The nasty Brits pay more into the EC than they get back

  • aber1991

    There are many people who seem to be unable to grasp that elementary fact about life in Northern Ireland – and most of them are residents of Northern Ireland.

  • aber1991

    How do you know about Catholic girls?

  • Thomas Girvan

    Stormont may be saved!
    Joy sweeps the nation, there will be dancing in the streets.
    I wonder will there be street parties organised to celebrate the deal?
    The Christmas Fairy has come to our rescue.
    There will be peace, happiness and harmony across the land!
    Halleluiah!

  • Redstar

    Indeed Thomas

    This is time for celebration.

    Literally 10s of millions on its way to fund around 10 new unelected quangos staffed undoubtedly by more friends/ family of the cabal already with their noses in the trough.

  • barnshee

    “How do you know about Catholic girls?”

    Copped my first feel on one (at a 12th Bonfire of all places)

  • Kevin Breslin

    Enda has invested in road schemes, the Altnagelvin radiotherapy centre and the Dublin hospital Northern Irish parents will be sending children to for heart surgeries, he also has provided money to the Orange Order and other cross border projects. As for the EC Northern Irish farmers need the CAP money they can get even it’s completely against the UK government’s and most of the Brittish (highly urbanised) population’s interests, completly blind to the fact that the UK punches above its weight when it comes to the EU, stopping the Tobin Tax, saving the rebate that countries like Germany don’t have to pay, avoiding Schengen and the Eurozone, if the UK has a problem coming from Europe it is because British politicians have created it, they’ve used every bit of the leverage they have got from the net contribution short of returning to the expensive days of imperialism and forcing other countries to comply. The Eurosceptic opposition harks back to colonialism, through a trade in jingoism and defence through xenophobia, but that promises nothing in terms of control because the global value of British jingoism is less than the price of vomit and petty xenophobia is no deterant to the ardent criminal migrant, so all the rubbish that comes with UKIP and the rest is pandering to stupid fantasys more prevalent in the wrecked authoritarian countries like Zimbabwe and DR Congo.

  • aber1991

    What was she doing there? Why were you molesting a Catholic? I disapprove of miscegenation.

  • chrisjones2

    Dear Santa

    Please can we have some pressies for Christmas and we promise to be good boys and not to fight in the playground anymore, or let our mates parade in collarettes or stick their hands up the wee girls skirts anymore without callin the peelers. We promise there will be no more robbing banks or smuggling cigarettes or dodgy diesel.

    The presents we would allis like is

    £2 BN in cash money then we can choose what presents we would like ourselves

    No more nasty letters from Uncle George

    Uncle David to get a stocking full of dirty coal because he was very nasty to Uncle Gerry and made him look an oul edjit and nearly made him cry as he had to ask Mary Lou what the word “No” meant

    Auntie Edna to give us another £500m or so for the road to nowhere that Marty really really wants and has funny dreams about

    Two canteens at Stormont. One serving Curried yoghurt every day (subsidised of course) and one where it is banned and all garnishes must be green and contain shamrock no matter what the time of year

    A £10m overpass as Ardoyne shops so the Prods can pass there without having to see a Catherlick about the place and high enough so the bricks cant reach up

    Uncle Peter to stitch up all the party colleagues who are plotting against him so that he remains FM for ever as he says he is the bestest at that Job

    Uncle Gerry to be snowed in in his wee cottage (which he doesn’t own but is domiciled in ) in County Louth for the next 6 months by unseasonal snow fall that lasts to July and cuts off all communications and streams of orders

    Youris

    Peter and Marty

  • Kevin Breslin

    The only disparity comes from a necessitated implementation delay, something as you say we can do and not have dictated to us. What you have mentioned validates my point that it is subsidised rather than given. The previous poster had been arguing for effective direct rule over welfare which would have seen complete parity with limited concessions and those who contribute and collect the vast majority of those benefits having little say one way or another.

    That is clearly wrong.

  • chrisjones2

  • Kevin Breslin

    The regional rates are being increased by the inflation rate of 2.7%, given only half the population gets the income tax cut and on average (£25,000 a year ) that cut is about £700 a year for the average income bracket effected 10,000-30,000, with many workers not getting inflationary pay rises, this near about breaks even to cover it. Then we will probably see double inflation being used (regional and council rates) to bring in some more.

    Incidentally, Sinn Féin run councils like Omagh and Fermanagh have among the highest rates/income in the region.

  • Kevin Breslin

    What we also see is that these income tax cuts are offset by the British government by a VAT rise, since NI is a high consumption-low investment-low saving economy, much of the salary rebate from the income tax cut gets returned anyway. That should also be factored in to revenue reductions.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Barnshee, NI has a Budget Expenditure of 11.3 Billion for 2015. Any estimates as to what it’s Revene shall be ?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Dickson’s arguements to push through the reforms are second only to Hamilton’s.

  • Kevin Breslin

    For the record I can easily settle for what tax raised in the Republic secures down there and pay my way without any real use of a public service short of the tax office, post office, and the protection by the Garda… you are the one enthusiastic about how a cabinet of English millionaires believe money should go. They don’t want Northern Irish people to be dependent on them, they want people here to be more like those in the Republic.

  • chrisjones2

    Yes…they too are vote buying troughers not a responsible government

  • Comrade Stalin

    given only half the population gets the income tax cut

    The tax cut effects everyone, including people who are on welfare payments, as most benefits are taxable.

    that cut is about £700 a year for the average income bracket effected 10,000-30,000

    Stuff and nonsense.

    The table below shows the difference for each salary between 2010/11 and 2015/16 for each salary level in terms of tax and NIC.

    £10000 : 930.72
    £20000 : 951.42
    £30000 : 851.52

    No idea where you’re getting £750 from.

    with many workers not getting inflationary pay rises, this near about breaks even to cover it.

    Inflation or otherwise – the point is that the government has cut taxes and cut spending in line with this (although not as much). If Sinn Féin want welfare payments to remain at the 2010 levels, why aren’t they also insisting that tax should also remain at 2010 levels; or proposing an alternative alignment of the tax system ?

    Incidentally, Sinn Féin run councils like Omagh and Fermanagh have among the highest rates/income in the region.

    It is the regional rate, not the local rate, that is relevant and Sinn Féin haven’t said a word about raising revenue within Northern Ireland to match their spending plans.

  • Comrade Stalin

    What we also see is that these income tax cuts are offset by the British government by a VAT rise

    Evidently you have already worked out the numbers for this, so perhaps you could share them rather than having me go to the trouble of working it out ?

  • Bryan Magee

    Good point. I believe the tax cuts in this form (raising tax thresholds) have actually been quite beneficial to a lot of NI taxpayers because there is quite a large proportion of NI’s population that earns quite low salaries.

  • barnshee

    Er– it was all between consenting teenagers

  • barnshee

    Any estimates as to what it’s Revene shall be ?

    HMRC tax revenue per person in 2012-13, excluding revenue from North Sea oil and gas, is 26% lower in Wales (at £5,400) and 23% lower in Northern Ireland (£5,700) than in UK as a whole (£7,300). This largely arises because Wales and Northern Ireland have less income and wealth than the rest of the UK and correspondingly raise less revenue per person from all the main taxes on earnings, savings and profits: income tax, National Insurance contributions (NICs), corporation tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax and stamp duties all yield at least 25% less revenue per person in both Wales and Northern Ireland than in the UK as a whole

    http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/6881

  • barnshee

    Repeats

    UK pays in more than it gets back The EC is con

    “Dublin hospital Northern Irish parents will be sending children to for heart surgeries”, The NHS will pay for the treatment

    “he also has provided money to the Orange Order and other cross border projects. ” The OO?? Fools and their money are easily parted

    “As for the EC Northern Irish farmers need the CAP money”

    CAP is an EC scam to suit French farmers— farmers in general benefit-its still a scam

  • aber1991

    I disapprove of Catholics having sex with heretics. Miscegenation should be made a criminal offence.
    When I become Pope, I will change the rules so that any Catholic who has sex with a heretic will be expelled and never allowed back again.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    NI Strategic Policy Division & Personnel (dfpni) conducted a estimated NI Net Fiscal Balance Report against 2011-12 figures in March 2014. They came up with
    Total Revenue 14.1 Billion
    Total Expenditure 23.8 Billion
    Deficit -9.7 Billion
    Am I correct in saying that if there was an All Ireland tomorrow the Republic of Ireland would have to find another 9.7 Billion per year for NI ?

  • barnshee

    “Am I correct in saying that if there was an All Ireland tomorrow the Republic of Ireland would have to find another 9.7 Billion per year for NI ?”

    Shush shush you will frighten the politicians —think of the trouble if this gets out

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Well it was only a dream in winter wonderland anyway ! Cheers and Merry Christmas !

  • barnshee

    In my day there was a fair bit of mutual “molesting”
    I wish you well in your journey to Papacy and good luck to any attempts to reducing “miscegenation”

  • aber1991

    Thank you. Lest the Pope be accused of sectarianism (perish the thought) I might restrict sex to Christmas. There is far too much of it (sex) (and Christmas too) but some of it seems to be necessary – unfortunately.

  • Kevin Breslin

    If the Common Agricultural Policy is a scam, no Northern Irish farmer should avail of it, and we should not avail of the lower food prices that it provides.

    Likewise the Peace Funds, the funds to Scientific Research and Development all things Northern Ireland benefits from.

    If it’s beneficial to French farmers it’s equally benefitial to British, Irish, Northern Irish farmers you fool … the hint is in the word “Common” … what it is not beneficial to are financial speculators and television celebrities like Farage who don’t want to pay any tax towards food production period.

    Northern Irish farmers are free to boycott and hope that somehow the Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farages of this world can provide an exportable commodity to the continent to subsidize their income with.

    They’re TV celebrities they can parasite off hard work of British people and make millions scamming these workers that there are easy solutions to the hard knocks world of economics! Farage milks the additional UK contribution on inflated expenses, when was the last time Farage came up with a policy to help a working class Brit get off the dole queue? Never, it’s just a blame the immigrants, take the money scam. One my friend, you have sadly fallen for. He blamed immigration for his inability to get through a toll bridge on Wales!!!

    How is the UK economy going to grow when instead of developing food and technology, how can you make money exporting a “massive sense of entitlement”? What country in the world would pay for that? Without the EU, without Norwegian Oil Funds, or Swiss Banking, where does it go? It ceases to be the middle man between North America and Europe, it ceases being the attractive university area for Chinese students, it ceases to be part of an economic obstacle to Russia, or a market connection to India and Brazil. It would still have an immigration problem but this time isolated from the likes of France and Germany and possibly even Ireland who can all help provide information and intelligence.

    Do you honestly think there are other countries out there who feel indebted to Britain’s sense of entitlement who will import opinions of the TV celebs for hard cash and labour?

  • barnshee

    “If it’s beneficial to French farmers it’s equally benefitial to British, Irish, Northern Irish farmers you fool … the hint is in the word “Common” … what it is not beneficial to are financial speculators and television celebrities like Farage who don’t want to pay any tax towards food production period.”

    Cap has a main function –to protect the (particularly the French) farmer from world competition -at the taxpayers expense (German and English taxpayers mostly)
    The EC is very keen on ” no barriers in the EC” It is less keen on no barriers with the rest of the world

  • Comrade Stalin

    The only disparity comes from a necessitated implementation delay, something as you say we can do and not have dictated to us.

    I don’t understand what you mean. What is “necessitated implementation delay” ?

    If you’re trying to say that there is no additional subsidy – you are simply wrong. Listen carefully and I will explain it again.

    The welfare system in Northern Ireland receives an additional subsidy over and above the Barnett allocation. Dating back to 1998 there is an understanding between HMG and the Executive that HMG will fund the cost of the welfare system above Barnett in exchange for the Executive agreeing to maintain parity with the welfare system as implemented elsewhere in the UK. This subsidy is worth a substantial sum at the moment – I don’t have the figures but its in the order of several £100m.

    It is clear that it is entirely possible for us to run our own independent welfare system. But if we did so – breaking parity – we would lose that huge subsidy. We would also have to build and implement our own local administration systems to run welfare.

    Given the above, it is clearly nonsense to make claims about people over in London dictating our welfare system. They do not dictate our welfare system. They offer us a generous subsidy to run it a certain way, and up until now we have chosen to accept it. We are entirely free to raise our own local funding and run welfare how we see fit.

    The previous poster had been arguing for effective direct rule over welfare which would have seen complete parity with limited concessions

    But that’s what we already have. Complete parity with no> concessions. What else do you think we’ve got ?

    and those who contribute and collect the vast majority of those benefits having little say one way or another.

    I don’t understand this part either. What say do you think those who collect benefits do not currently have, and what say do you think they should have ?

    I hope you can straighten out your argument a bit as it isn’t at all clear to me what point you are trying to get across.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Why are Northern Irish voters and taxpayers to blame for the creation of the Barnett Formula? This was voted primarily by English, Scottish and Welsh MPs.

    More bizarre wittering. We are part of the United Kingdom. We are allocated a £10bn subsidy by the UK. Which part of this are you unhappy about ?

    Seems it’s used for no other purpose but blackmail, rather than address regional imbalances like it was intended to do.

    Barnett was not intended to address regional imbalances and it quite clearly does not do this.

    I am lost as to the “blackmail” thing. Complaining that Barnett is unfair is one thing (it is unfair) but how can the blackmail accusation be levied given that the funding decisions are not subject to political control ?

    Should we also give Enda Kenny his fair share of the Regional Development budget for the roads and hospital investment he’s provided

    Eh ?

    How the Irish government chose to spend the money they raised from their own taxpayers is their business. Why should it be anything to do with the British ?

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think the point you’ve missed is that the Republic of Ireland does have the right to invest in a road in the North, but can’t send the Garda over the border to apprehend someone damaging it. By barnshee’ logic, if the Republic paid for it, then they have a fair share in maintaining it.

    It’s the same with the British government, they can’t use raising the subsidy to force its agenda either on the National Crime Agency, on tuition fee rises, on getting the fools on Twadell Avenue to accept a democratic decision on designated days that happens elsewhere in the UK, on welfare reform, on a whole list of things.

    The Barnett Subsidy and the Republic’s investment are not bribes for power so that people can play ball here. If the UK government want to undermine the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement for its own conveniences then it does play into the dissident Republican rhetoric about people in Northern Ireland being nothing but slaves.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sorry but this is a nonsence, no one is shoving pain au chocolates and creme brûlée down your throat, if you want British food buy it, buy it despite the fact that it too has been subsidised against the global markets. Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda get loads of cheap food from Africa, Latin America, Asia at ridiculously cheap rates from cheap labour and you think that any Europeans, including the British are immune to that? You must be the only fool in the world that French cuisine is not in demand and would get nothing without a Anglo-German subsidy, but then also believe that the reputation of British grub has fallen a long way from its pre-ECC peak in the 1970s because it signed up to CAP.

    France is also a net contributor to the EU!

  • Kevin Breslin

    No, for one thing the revenue were spent on one group of people to carry out one set of tasks and they expended that money paying another group of people to work on tasks and they spent the same money. After recycling the same revenue three times, we’ve managed to spend it three times without any increase in revenue. It’s called financial liquidity, money isn’t food, it doesn’t just go once someone uses it.

    In a real budget it’s income vs. expenditure not revenue vs. expenditure.

  • jammc98

    Well aber1991, if you’re a troll you’re a damn good one. Congrats.

  • aber1991

    No, I am not a troll. I am a Catholic.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Thanks Kevin for the feedback. The Republic of Ireland Budget for 2015 is :
    Revenue £37.6 Billion
    Expenditure £42.1 Billion
    Exchequer Balance £ -4,5 Billion
    But again it is a Revenue V Expenditure Budget. I hear what you are saying about a real budget being Income V Expenditure. If someone has estimated a Balance Sheet for NI accordingly I would be interested to have a look at it.
    I still believe that if there was an All Ireland tomorrow it would be economically unsustainable. I just don’t see How or Where the Cash is coming from to incorporate the 2 jurisdictions.
    Again I am interested if someone can show me differently.
    Thanks for the debate and have a Merry Christmas.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think the point you’ve missed is that the Republic of Ireland does have the right to invest in a road in the North, but can’t send the Garda over the border to apprehend someone damaging it.

    You’re right I’ve missed the point. What is it ? That we don’t have a united Ireland because the Irish police have no jurisdiction in NI ? What’s that got to do with anything ?

    It’s the same with the British government, they can’t use raising the subsidy to force its agenda either on the National Crime Agency

    The NCA isn’t covered by Barnett (as it’s national expenditure, not identifiable regional expenditure) but actually they can and are doing so. Northern Ireland has less policing resources available to it as a consequence of not adopting the NCA. This is a budget cut.

    The Barnett Subsidy and the Republic’s investment are not bribes for power so that people can play ball here.

    The only person saying that they are is you making up nonsense arguments that make no sense. I still can’t tell whether you are saying the government are wrong to issue a subsidy or not.

    If the UK government want to undermine the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement for its own conveniences

    [facepalm]

    The UK government runs a large country called the UK, of which we are a tiny fraction of the population. It has a mandate to implement welfare reform, and it is doing so. This is nothing to do with undermining the GFA. It is to do with a duly elected UK government implementing manifesto commitments.

    There is nothing in the Good Friday Agreement about how Northern Ireland is funded. The current system of funding has been in place since 1998. At no point did republicans or anyone else act to negotiate a different system.

    then it does play into the dissident Republican rhetoric about people in Northern Ireland being nothing but slaves.

    Now you are saying the UK government’s opinion on budget should be formed by the warped attitude of dissident republicans.

    I still don’t know what your actual argument is. If welfare funding from the UK is a bribe, are you saying that they should withdraw it ?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Maybe Alliance wants to, perhaps that’s why Alliance were happy about Farry introducing a Made in Northern Ireland solution to tuition fees but was so ambivalent or hostile against the creation of a mitigation fund for people on welfare. Don’t people on welfare vote for Alliance? Do you think that the left wing Protestants in East Belfast had a certain love for Margaret Thatcher?

    The fact that 2% of the UK could get left with 0% of the power even with a subsidy is exactly why many people think getting 20% of the power of a recession hit and austere United Ireland is still preferable to isolation from democracy, heck Anna Lo buys into this argument. So if it is a bribe then people here must be willing to accept it. The majority of people don’t accept it.

    A recent poll favoured renegotiation and even public sector cuts to the alternative which resulting in a reform that relies on auditing the disabled and jobseeker in a time of austerity. There are significant populations of all three. What we have now is probably the equillibrium of all three.

    The DUP used the issue as a stick to beat Sinn Féin with just to quash the open resistance and concern within its own party and to antagonise a petition of concern. Sinn Fein and the DUP had an agreement on welfare reform but both tore lumps out of one another when it didn’t suit their grassroots.

    What would undermine GFA is not welfare reform but bringing down the institutions without local consent to implement it.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I suppose when you take the overall UK figures you’ll realise that it too is in debt and in deficit, a deficit which is probably a lot bigger than the EU contribution, something that it invests in expanding its market and reducing international regulations, and a deficit which is mitigated by the contributions of legal immigrants.

    You would struggle to find a Western European nation that is sustainable on current balances.

  • Redstar

    Alliance have confirmed the the unionist parties have refused to even discuss parades.

    Given that SF has said they will only agree to a deal if ALL issues including parades are agreed- let’s see if SF are true to their word

  • Kevin Breslin

    The £750 comes from the Conservative Party’s own tax calculations website when applied to a Belfast resident. If that cut is increased by 25% due to Barnett because they don’t adjust for Northern Ireland then I will admit fault here. This is also the same site that claims 600,000 workers are having reduced income tax, ignoring the fact it is clearly inclusive of the low end workers who weren’t paying it anyway.

    I do have an ad-hoc calculation but I’m basing them on some reasonable heuristics.

    The lower quartile of workers and the unemployed paid no income tax even before the income tax was made. This is quite a reasonable assumption to assume 25% of local workers earn less than 10,000 a year, maybe 7,000. Nothing they have gets taken from them, so nothing lost.

    The second quartile gets reduced income tax across the board. This 25% of the working population is the critical mass of the tax cut comes from.

    The third quartile gets tax reductions at the low end and tax increases at the high end due to tax bracket adjustments within it that roughly balance out.

    The fourth quartile of workers income tax is unaffected.

    So already the income tax cut applies to 25% of the working population. How much of the population pays the regional rate? At least 3 times that number with a bit of margin of error? Raising the regional rates by inflation at a time when many workers don’t get rises in line with inflation means rate payers from all tax brackets including those at the high end do contribute to fund the the things regional rates were designed to pay such as regional development, environment maybe the capital costs effected by health and education. I believe regional rates weren’t designed for Health and Education and Policing revenue costs, these should have some parity with PAYE.

    There are obvious adjustments to include such as salary rises and cuts, the effects families living together have on rates, the border worker adjustments which are not straight forward, e.g. some income taxpayers for example would not have to pay the regional rate because they don’t live here, while others pay the regional rate because they live here but as they work in the Republic, their income tax has to be adjusted accordingly.

  • barnshee

    Please explain the difference between “Income” and “Revenue”

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think it’s quite clear we need to temporarily catonize Ardoyne-Twadell like Berwick upon Tweed or the Treaty Ports until a political solution can be found, and so the rest of the place can move on. Move the civic forum there and let the local OO, CARA, GARC, the Twadell lot, the Ardoyne residents and even the residents who booed the Holy Cross residents up the road a bit come to their own Seperate powersharing arrangement.

  • Redstar

    Good thinking Kevin but I am just interested in what spin SF will put on this their latest climbdown

  • Kevin Breslin

    Revenue comes from the French revenier, to describe money within a cycle of spending. Income clearly includes the revenue but also includes things like government savings, bond holdings, and procured assets which are not coming from revenue.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I don’t understand what you mean when you claim the UK government is cutting welfare and subsidising it at the same time. As if it was giving more at a time it is giving less simultaneously.

    Isn’t it more logically to say its reduced its subsidy and we’ve reduced our rightful share too, rather than claiming the UK government is in some magical fuzzy state where it simply subsidizes heavy and austratizes aetherally those on welfare here at the same time?

    The UK has reduced its overall subsidy on welfare here through its so called reforms and will do over several years after this agreement gets implemented. If it didn’t, then it didn’t really introduce any reforms, even bad ones.

    What bothers me the most here though is that you and barnshee can somehow think that because the Uk government pays a subsidy it can dictate that true welfare reform could happen here even without the intervention of local politicians and more importantly the local people. I’m not attacking the British government but you lot, because even the British government isn’t that naive. It had 30 years to reform welfare under (in)direct rule, and the previous parliament had about 40 years too, how sucessful was that?

    Truth is, without localised knowledge and localised prioritisation of strategies that subsidy does nothing to reform welfare.

    How arrogant!

  • jammc98

    So am I, but you’re quite knee-jerk aren’t you. You’re the most Catholic Catholic I’ve never seen.

  • aber1991

    You are very correct – except that I accuse you of understating the amount of the contribution which the taxpayers of the Mainland make to the financing of the public services of Northern Ireland.

    Please stop wasting your time arguing with Nationalists. They are, for the most part, good genuine people who have a United Ireland on the brain. They genuinely believe that a United Ireland would cure everything – from mouth ulcers to piles. So please leave them alone to enjoy their delusions.

    The enemy of the Northern Ireland Catholic is NOT the British army, the British government or the British people. Our enemies are the Protestant people of Northern Ireland e.g. YOU and people like you.