Meet the Office of the Executive (just don’t ask about the NI Executive)…

So, we’re going to get a shake up in departments, and there’s going to be some changes round here (as I am told my granny used to say through a finely sustained and indulgent smile when her kids had made some sort of mess or other).

Usually when such changes happen in Whitehall or in Dublin it is with regard to some policy change provoked by the incoming administration. In this case there is or will be no such change. So we can suspect that in some cases there are hidden agendas afoot and in others, none.

Indeed, we are reassured by the soon to be renamed OFMdFM [what, no wee ‘d’-ed acronyms any more? – Ed]:

“No functions are being done away with, and no policies terminated. Staff will follow functions, and there may be a certain amount of early disruption. But once the changes have been effected, there will undoubtedly be greater efficiency.

“There will be fewer ministers and departmental hierarchies. Permanent secretaries, central management units, press offices and support functions can all be rationalised.

“The Executive has also agreed the drafting of a Departments Bill and a Transfer of Functions Order to provide a legislative basis for these changes.

No change there then. There’s been some concerns that the Arts, Culture and Environment have been completely done in away with [The Philistines! – Ed], but the really sneaky sleight of hand here is the reappearance of OFMdFM as The Office of the Executive.

If the distinction between Council of Europe and the European Council gets people confused (and there was much less artifice in that change), then how precisely will people distinguish between the Northern Ireland Executive and the Office of the Executive?

Just optics, of course. But nonetheless a fairly Kenny Craig (look into my eyes) attempt remove the core power sharing functions of the Executive from public view.