“It was crazy to allege that the Irish government isn’t working for the interests of [northern] businesses.”

This is worth noting. It relates to Arlene’s accusation aimed at the Republic accusing them of poaching FDI opportunities away from NI.

In reply to a written question from Cavan Monaghan TD Brendan Smyth, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor noted (scroll down to Question 506) this last week:

Both agencies under the aegis of my Department, Enterprise Ireland (EI) and IDA Ireland, engage with relevant bodies in Northern Ireland to pursue areas of mutual advantage. Developing all-island initiatives and cooperation can, in certain circumstances, better build our competitive advantage internationally.

In the period 2010 to 2015, Enterprise Ireland had representation from Northern Ireland on 12 trade promotion visits while IDA involved companies from Northern Ireland on 3 occasions.

Extensive links have been forged by EI with various agencies and bodies in Northern Ireland. In particular there is close co-operation between Invest Northern Ireland (INI) and EI.

A Memorandum of Understanding is in place between EI and INI to enable clients of both agencies to access market services, trade missions/fairs, seminars and to provide INI clients with access to EI management development programmes such as Leadership 4 Growth and the International Selling Programme.

There is also close collaboration between EI, INI and InterTrade Ireland (ITI) on the specific Cross Border programmes which are run by the latter body, in order to ensure effective operation and non-duplication.

Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Invest Northern Ireland cooperated in relation to a Trade Mission to Singapore in December 2013 which was specifically targeted at companies from both jurisdictions who are active in the aerospace sector.

In 2015 and 2016 IDA Ireland in co-operation with EI, Department of Foreign Affairs and INI hosted a dinner in the Irish Embassy in London to coincide with the Irish Aviation Purchasing and Management Exhibition.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone added his own remarks in the Irish News this morning:

Most people know that business owners in Ireland don’t know borders. In the agri-food sector many of the big businesses are owned by southern based firms. It was crazy to allege that the Irish government isn’t working for the interests of all those businesses.

“The figures obtained through Daíl questions show clearly that Enterprise Ireland have been working hard to bring investment across the island with no regard for the border and the DUP have produced no evidence to suggest otherwise.”

The Irish News also carries a comment from a DUP spokesman:

“It is very clear from the Irish Government Contingency Framework that it was seeking to exploit the EU Referendum result and attract business to locate there instead of within the United Kingdom.

“Publishing figures which don’t include the year in which the referendum took place is unlikely to shed a great deal of light on the Republic of Ireland’s approach.”

Hmmm, nice sleight of hand there DUP. That particular year would be the current year, for which there is unlikely to be any collated figures, erm, since this year‘s not over yet.

As Smith himself notes in the same piece:

First Minister Foster’s comments were designed to drive a wedge between economic and business relations on either side of the border, when what we need to attract investment to the island is a stronger bond between the various agencies and bodies.

This approach will build on the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement and has the potential to reap huge rewards for the entire island.

And how would you expect him to say anything else? There’s only one viable (and peaceful) way forward for constitutional Republicans north and south, and that’s to seek to be an honest broker for economic development, north and south.

“A civil war is not a war, but a sickness”, wrote Antoine de Saint Exupery, “the enemy is within. One almost fights oneself”. Thirty years of bitter conflict has left a credibility gap, too easily and too rapidly filled with cynicism and doubt.

That is precisely why we should be extremely vigilant about the stories we tell ourselves.

The border has always been problematic, but whatever complications Brexit brings, the only choice is to continue developing the conditions where all forms of cross-border life – economic, social and/or political – remain viable (regardless of whether or not unification commands majority support).

, , ,

  • Brian Walker

    There is cooperation in some sectors, competition in others and both in others still. Isn’t that how trading works with neighbours?

  • mickfealty

    Totally Brian. I covered that in the previous post I’ve linked above. Most of the big economic poaching is likely to carry on via Dublin London rivalry for which NI might be a secondary beneficiary.

    Smart Executive positioning would look for advantages whichever way it cuts, balancing loses in one direction with wins in the other. But of course that would require some actual co-oordination and co-operation at cabinet level.

    Not just a series of sham fights run for the optics, as this above average effort from the SDLP notes….

    https://twitter.com/SDLPlive/status/797109549077557249

  • Kevin Breslin

    As far as I have seen so far the DUP doesn’t offer any competition just complaints. They’ve cut higher education budgets and will shed no tears that less people are learning STEM subjects, foreign languages or business skills … then wonder why my generation are not boarding business class flights to New York to bring investors here.

    The big problem is that it would mean the DUP having to change their “Kulture” to use the German word.

  • ted hagan

    The DUP remarks are an illustration of the maturity of Dublin diplomacy compared with the small-mindedness and infantilism of a party that includes Sammy Wilson, Gregory Campbell and Ian Paisley jnr within its ranks. And that’s only a small sample of its pygmy politicians.

  • Nevin

    Patsy McGlone; “Enterprise Ireland have been working hard to bring investment across the island with no regard for the border”

    The EI site paints a different picture. Here’s a map of its Irish sites: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a4660a0ccc4b094463f88f8c17197cfddb161637c75d02e4c5031a2c9a5dcd60.png

    It also has three ‘Borders’ offices. The Irish government will quite naturally be putting the businesses in its own realm at the front of the queue.

  • mickfealty

    What authority do you think they might have to put offices in Omagh or Enniskillen, or even Ballycastle Nev? I’m interested to know.

  • Declan Doyle

    Its nuts, simply nuts. The border counties on both sides need cooperation north and south to benifit both sides at the same time. Companies who have an interest in Fermanagh or Louth or Derry or Donegal will look at the ‘broad offer’ and make their decision based on good business, not DUP paranoid hysterics.

  • murdockp

    I have actually evidence of Invest NI targeting ROI based companies to relocate to NI. what makes it hyprocital for me is they are treating jobs that already exist in ROI as new jobs and subsiding wages at 12k a job and calling the jobs new jobs.

    if anyone journalist wants to see the evidence let me know.

  • billypilgrim1

    The DUP are actively working against the material interests of the people who live here, including their own voters.

  • Declan Doyle

    Yes and all just to avoid sharing a crust with the priest ridden savages down the road ;(

  • Declan Doyle

    Murdock, contact the Journal.ie. they will run with that. No point contacting the Indobots.

  • Declan Doyle

    It doesnt matter where the business lands. We are a reasonably small Island with good transport networks and excellent roads in the South at least. Wherever one lives in the country; be it Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Kerry or Derry; as long as the investment lands on the Island of Ireland; keeping our skilled talent (esp our young) here at home rather than emigrating to the UK or further, then everyine’s a winner.

  • Nevin

    Mick, you missed the ‘Borders’ nuance! Perhaps the ‘consulate’ in Notting Hill, Belfast includes such activity in its brief.

  • Nevin

    Declan, agencies headquartered in Dublin and Belfast take a different view as we saw at the time of the announcement of The Gathering when Belfast got twenty-four hours notice of a project that had so much Strand 2, even Strand 3, potential.

  • Nevin

    Belfast and Dublin struggle when it comes to acting as kind and compassionate neighbours and this is a natural consequence of the ongoing but lower key constitutional tussle.

  • Declan Doyle

    The gathering was an act of desperation to get some cash flow going in an almoat bankrupt state. It was advertised for over a year, if the North wanted in on the act, there was nothing stopping the executuve making an approach to be included.

  • Nevin

    Tourism Ireland was tasked by Belfast and Dublin with ‘marketing the island of Ireland overseas’ yet Dublin went on a solo run – and the SDLP blamed Arlene Foster, the then tourism minister!

  • billypilgrim1

    Such is unionism.

    SF perhaps feel they can’t make the point that the DUP are actively working against the interests of the people who live here, but the SDLP really ought to be all over this.

    That’s what’s wrong with the SDLP. They never give their natural support base any red meat.

  • billypilgrim1

    Seriously, who cares?

    And what does all this have to do with the Athboy Strategy and Rathlin Island ferry scandal?

  • Nevin

    “Seriously, who cares?”

    Some do, some don’t, bp.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    I hope the DUP leader and first minister is ready for the futureshock she is bound to experience when she moves forward in time from 1960 (or is that 1690) to 2016 when she travels to Dublin for her meeting with the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

  • Roger

    20th largest island on planet earth. Still a “reasonably small” one?
    People living in UKNI can’t “emigrate” to the UK.

  • Nevin

    That Executive photo-op looks like sham togetherness!

  • Kevin Breslin

    Perhaps, and perhaps Political Unionism wants cross border investment done through IntertradeIreland which certainly doesn’t have any regard for the border?

  • Reader

    billypilgrim1: Seriously, who cares?
    Well, all of the people who want north-south cooperation care. We now know that list doesn’t include you or the DUP.

  • Nevin

    I’m not familiar with ITI’s role. Is it engaged in FDI?

    It’s my impression that InvestNI supports local businesses on INI, UK, Ireland and island of Ireland missions.

  • billypilgrim1

    I mean about The Gathering – a minor tourism event from several years ago.

    Nevin seems to think that because the Dublin government perhaps might have done more for the north back then, they have no credibility on north-south issues now. A silly argument, in my opinon.

  • Tochais Siorai

    The Gathering was only 3 years ago and was surprisingly quite a big success seeing it was drummed up at fairly short notice – estimated 200.000+ extra visitors. It did help revitalise the tourist industry not long after a period when the Republic had got a reputation for high / rip off prices. The powers that be could and should have made it a more all Ireland affair and hopefully lessons were learned in that respect.

    However, it certainly shouldn’t take from the fact that Foster and the DUP are making right eejits of themselves with their latest shenanigans.

  • Skibo

    The DUP have shown with their comments, a concern at the warming of relationships across the island. They see the Irish Government standing as if to defend the rights of all within Northern Ireland and are worried that their people may start looking south instead of east for protection and sympathy.
    That is the only reason for their attacks on the Irish Government.
    They see anything that breaks down the fears that Ulster Protestants would have of the South, as an attack on the Union with Britain.
    I believe that is also a reason that previous Irish Governments have not pushed the Irish reunification plan.
    Time for change. Time to express what we have in common and what makes us different from Britain. Time for an all island approach across the board.

  • Skibo

    Was The Gathering not a year in setting up? The official report stated the set-up time even in the South was too short and should have had a two year lead-in.
    I don’t believe the South kept it a secret. Did Arlene not make any inquiry about a joint venture or offer funds. The South invested 13m Euros and although it did not achieve the proposed extra visitors, it was still deemed a success.

  • Nevin

    Skibo, The Gathering was a tourism initiative aimed at the Irish diaspora and so, as an island matter, came under the remit of Tourism Ireland. In that context, the Irish government acted in bad faith when it disregarded its partner, the Executive, by doing a solo run as I pointed out earlier.

  • Katyusha

    If they had to rely on the Executive it would never have been executed. Better to do a solo run than have the whole project frustrated by political stalemate and sectarian grandstanding.

  • Katyusha

    No point in people learning STEM subjects or foreign languages, they’d have to emigrate to make use of those skills anyway!

  • Katyusha

    It’s reasonably small in the one metric that matters here, which it’s a relatively short distance to travel to pretty much anywhere on the island. We act like Dublin is a long way away, but if you plotted a locus of everywhere within a three-hour drive it would cover the vast majority of the island and all of its major population centres.

    Emigration from Ireland as a whole is one of our most major social issues and we aren’t going to solve it through pedantry or a mindset that thinks “GB isn’t really another country, they’re not really emigrating.” The causes and the effects are the same, whether people are leaving to GB, America or Europe.

  • Katyusha

    It also has three ‘Borders’ offices.

    Of course it does. It’s a region in severe need of investment.

  • billypilgrim1

    Fair points all round.

  • billypilgrim1

    Probably a fair point, Nevin. Just not an especially relevant one.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Fair point, Katyusha. The branding of tourism in Ireland is largely dependent on it being, well, distinctively Irish, and we know who’s not going to be having that. Northern Ireland isn’t good at tourism. Why doesn’t the Glens attract anywhere near the number of visitors as say Kerry, West Cork or Conamara. Why does Rathlin attract nowhere near the number of visitors of similar sized islands in the West? What about the Sperrins? Fermanagh? Beautiful places but are they anywhere near reaching their tourist potential?

    Why not?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Same as it ever was…..”

  • Old Mortality

    ‘…when the Republic had got a reputation for high / rip off prices.’
    And if that wasn’t enough, they invented ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion’ to cream off even more from the more witless tourist (usually American).

  • Kevin Breslin

    Nah, you can use STEM skills in a nuclear disaster zone for crying out loud.

  • Skibo

    Nevin, you and I both know that the DUP did all they could to minimise partnership across the border. I think it would have taken very little from Stormont to have been made a partner in this project. I believe one for the ways the Gathering failed was there was not one overall body controlling it. That and the time span to organise it. That said, there were 114 different gatherings within the north. Not bad for an area where the assembly took no interest and I believe put in no money. The South investsed 13m Euros.

  • Nevin

    bp, I’d label it very relevant. It shows not only Dublin’s disregard/contempt for the Executive but also for the 1998 Agreement.

  • Skibo

    Of course Stormont is not to blame! The lack of interest from most Unionist politicians to the strand two parts of the GFA has shown the Dail the that Unionism has to be dragged kicking and screaming into the system.
    Easy to sit back, not take an interest and then blame the other when you don’t get picked fore the team.

  • Nevin

    Skibo, it would also have required sensitivity and good manners from Dublin. The good neighbours approach might or might not have achieved a more positive outcome. I dabble in genealogy and it’s often struck me that not enough thought is given to the interests and concerns of the Diaspora.

  • Nevin

    bp, your ‘silly argument’ doesn’t relate to anything I’ve said – or think!

    When you think of the size of the Diaspora it’s a huge resource for Tourism Ireland to tap into.

  • Katyusha

    Now you’re talking. Are we creating the disaster zone, or cleaning it up?
    Might return home if the money’s good.

  • Skibo

    Nevin, The Gathering was the brain child of Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport. It was ran in partnership between Tourism Ireland and failte Ireland. Imaging our boul arlene in the middle of that.
    It is recommended to have at least five years between it and the next so why not have one for 2021. An all Island Gathering with very interesting centenaries to celebrate?

  • Nevin

    If Varadkar had shown some imagination as well as respect , that could already have happened.

  • Skibo

    Nevin a pair of carpet slippers would not have made any difference. The fact that the idea came from the Dail would have been enough to turn off all DUP interest. I myself cannot understand why as I look on even the name as more of an Ulster Scots title.
    I too dabble a bit in genealogy. The Yanks and Ozzies love it. We should have made more of the Gathering but I blame Stormont for not showing more interest. Good neighbours require your neighbour to be interested in the conversation.
    Refusing an invitation to a discussion this year to discuss the best for the island as a whole shows Arlene has very little interest in opening conversations where she can be seen openly taking part.
    Her refusal to attend the 1916 commemorations was a further example as if one was needed.

  • Skibo

    Nevin I quote the story of the boy who cried wolf.
    DUP have shown little to no interest in cross border cooperation.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    DUP does not have either ‘culture’ or ‘kultur’. Just metaphorical ‘revolvers’.

  • Nevin

    Skibo, it seems the Minister was wearing hob-nailed boots, not slippers!

    I don’t see why, in this instance, that Stormont is to blame when the blame lies at the Dáil door for not operating through the terms of the 1998 Agreement; Arlene was given 24-hours notice of the tourism project.

    Enda has simply repeated Leo’s earlier blunder.

  • billypilgrim1

    Does it really?

    Are you sure you aren’t exaggerating just a tiny bit?

  • Nevin

    Tourism Ireland comes under the remit of the NSMC and Dublin ministers acted unilaterally. Disregard/contempt reflects a likely range of attitudes by different Ministers in their dealings with the Executive.

  • billypilgrim1

    You are drawing apocalyptic conclusions from a minor and anomalous instance.

    Your argument is a conclusion in search of evidence.

  • Croiteir

    For you need to put manners on them fenians at all times

  • Croiteir

    Didn’t Arlene refuse to take part?

  • Croiteir

    The Glens, a territory with bugger all to do, lonely little villages bereft of economic, social and cultural investment, with only seas and hills to look at or take a walk through.

  • Nevin

    Do try to show some self-restraint, bp!

  • Nevin

    Yes; you can read the Assembly debate here.

  • Nevin

    Sorry, Croiteir, there are no special privileges for any group.

    I labelled Arlene the Norn Iron lady so a degree of sensitivity is required to avoid an outright rejection of a proposal that might be acceptable, if handled differently.

  • billypilgrim1

    Dublin tries very hard to be a “kind and compassionate neighbour”. Belfast – by which I mean unionism – regards that kindness and compassion as a threat.

    No-one in the world except (some) unionists is in any doubt who’s the problem here.

  • Nevin

    Yet, as I’ve already pointed out, Dublin ignored the remit of Tourism Ireland.

  • John Collins

    Well Kilarney and parts of Scotland have little else either and they attract plenty tourists.

  • billypilgrim1

    Let’s compare, for example, the world-class tourism product in County Kerry with its woeful counterpart in County Antrim. And tourism IS a product, rather than something that just springs naturally from the ground.

    Kerry has a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Skelligs. Antrim has the Giant’s Causeway – which is much more accessible and famous. The Antrim Coast Road is, for my money, every bit as beautiful as the Ring Of Kerry. Places like Cushendall, Cushendun, Carnlough, Waterfoot, Glenarm, Bushmills and Ballycastle are potentially at least as lovely as Sneem, Waterville, Kenmare, Caherciveen, Dingle etc. Kerry has great beaches, which Antrim doesn’t really. But Antrim contains a major city in Belfast, whereas Kerry is quite remote. Antrim has two major airports, Kerry has one small regional one.

    In Kerry, they know people won’t come for the weather, so they work hard to ensure it’s a place where people can play great golf courses, fish great rivers, hike or bike great mountains trails, stay in world-class hotels, eat some of the finest beef, lamb, salmon and shellfish in the world. They have kept and maintained hundreds of their most characterful old pubs, and there’s entertainment in them every night.

    Given its location and relatively sparse population, Kerry could be forgiven for being Ireland’s poorest county. Instead it’s the third-richest. It’s a major tourist destination on a global scale.

    Compare with County Antrim. We had the Troubles, of course, but with each passing year this becomes more of an excuse than a reason for the poor-quality tourism product here. They had Troubles in Kerry too, in the 1920s, far more severe than ours. Their Victorian-era tourism product was destroyed. They rebuilt it.

    Antrim could be offering so much, but the product simply hasn’t been built. And while I’m talking specifically about Antrim, the point generalises.

  • billypilgrim1

    What you’re actually talking about here is unionism’s refusal to help itself.

    Unionists need to grow up.

  • billypilgrim1

    “They see anything that breaks down the fears that Ulster Protestants would have of the South, as an attack on the Union with Britain.”

    And they’re right about this, because the Union is totally dependent on this fear.

    Partition and the union are intensely negative, destructive and impoverishing forces in our lives. And unionists have made it their raison d’etre to defend them. Small wonder they are by now such a profoundly reduced people, in almost every sense.

  • Nevin

    bp, I’m pointing out the Minister’s disregard for the remit of Tourism Ireland viz to market the island of Ireland to the world beyond these shores.

  • Skibo

    Nevin, it is difficult to include someone who cannot stand the sight of you and who’s supporters would castigate you if you did get involved.
    I do blame the minister in charge of tourism at that time. Had she wanted to be involved, I am sure there would have been no barriers other than those in her cold hard heart!

  • Skibo

    Nevin, it is much simpler to accuse the Tourism Minister in the Dail of acting unilaterally. At least he did act, not like the ineptitude shown by our minister of the time.

  • Nevin

    Skibo, I made the unilateral point 21 hours ago. The Dáil minister was expected to act, in the first instance, through Tourism Ireland, the NSMC agency.

    This is probably not the only time that the Agreement has been cherry-picked – or wholly disregarded.

  • Nevin

    Skibo, has it not sunk in that she wasn’t asked? Here’s a snippet from that debate:

    Mr McKay talked about why the Department was not engaged on the issue of “The Gathering”. I was told about “The Gathering” initiative — and members of the SDLP might like to take cognisance of this issue — one day before it was launched in Dublin at the Clinton Global Initiative.

    I must have a closer look at this claim:

    I am more than happy to look at genealogy tourism; we are doing a lot of work on that in North America through Tourism Ireland mailshots.

  • Skibo

    Nevin I will reiterate, The Dail cannot be blamed for Stormont inaction. Stop complaining and demand your ministers get involved. They don’t have to be asked to get involved. It is their job to put the wee north forward. Stop complaining!

  • Nevin

    Skibo, I’m blaming the Dáil minister for failing to act through the NSMC channel. Here’s what I said at the time:

    Many in the Diaspora will think of Ireland as the island home of some of their ancestors, an island of 32 counties. However, this event, though promoted abroad by Tourism Ireland, is being organised by Fáilte Ireland on behalf of the Irish state ie Northern Ireland is not included.

    Needless to say, Northern Ireland MLAs managed to confuse themselves over these two different Irelands and both Dublin and Belfast have failed to take account of the needs, desires and widespread roots of the Diaspora.

    You might note that I pointed the finger at Belfast too.

  • mickfealty

    That’s not nuance Nev. That’s just shouting at the trees ???? in another forest ???? altogether… ????

  • Nevin

    Patsy seems to have got the wrong end of the stick. The Irish government’s selfish state interest is clearly articulated in this response from the Minister:

    Developing all-island initiatives and cooperation can, in certain circumstances, better build our competitive advantage internationally.

    In case I need to spell it out, the ‘our’ refers to Ireland, the state, not Ireland, the island.

    As for FF’s Brendan Smyth, the Agreement has three strands, not one, and, as I pointed out earlier without challenge, INI is involved in missions et al in all three strands. His anti-Arlene spin could well attract a handbagging.

  • Skibo

    Nevin, I would like to look further into that too. I am having difficulty finding any information. I cane across a PDF analysis of The Gathering and one of the complaints was it should hale been led by one body instead of an amalgamation of Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland.
    Is Tourism Ireland not an all Island body to market the island as a whole? Should Ni not have had an influence there anyway. This shows my lack of knowledge in how my own country is marketed.
    i firmly believe that there should be one body marketing the island as a whole, not just over tourism but FDI also.

  • Nevin

    Skibo, AFAIK Tourism Ireland is a limited company acting under NSMC direction as the marketing agency for the island but Fáilte Ireland and Tourism NI are responsible for tourism product in their respective jurisdictions; Fáilte Ireland provides about 75% of TI funding, according to this ten-year old report [pdf file].

    Northern Ireland is also marketed internationally by Visit Britain, the inappropriately named UK tourism promotion body . I’ve seen a reference to a TI/VB memorandum of understanding but not seen the detail. Arlene unsurprisingly makes a reference to VB in that 2012 Assembly debate.

    As for a future version of The Gathering, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism NI could easily establish a joint team for product development and implementation and TI could promote it, with a little help from VB.

  • Skibo

    Right, this is starting to make sense but at the same time put a small hole in your argument that NI was not involved in The Gathering.
    Failte Ireland, from what I can make out was the main organiser in The Gathering but Tourism Ireland was involved also and had three permanent staff seconded to the project. As such, Ni had an input.
    For the future Gathering, it may be prudent for Tourism Ireland to be the driving party with Failte Ireland and Tourism NI being subservient.
    Visit Britain should be left to follow their name. We are too small a part of UK to be lost in the overall picture.
    I still maintain that DUP inactivity in cross border operations are the main problem.

  • Nevin

    Skibo, the Irish tourism minister put the cart before the horse. The Minister should have consulted initially with the Belfast executive as it was an all-island NSMC matter. As you already know, the first Arlene was told was a day before the project was announced. This sort of breach of the 1998 Agreement by any of the administrations is most unlikely to have a positive outcome; you’ve just seen what happened to Enda’s unilateral all-island move.

  • Skibo

    Nevin, you and I both know that not all discussions and conversations are minuted. I would be surprised if that was the first time that Arlene heard about it.
    I would suggest though, that it was easier to say it was, as to not have to work proactively with the demon south.
    Too often the Irish Government has tippy-toed round Unionism for fear of spooking them. Time for the Dail to stand up and push for collaboration of the two houses on an all island basis.
    It is working very well with Brexit. Oh sh1t not a great example. Arlene should have been given more notice, maybe she could have attended the all island event on that.

  • Skibo

    Another thing Nevin, and only a proposal by me. If Arlene had got fully involved in The Gathering and showed that the DUP can work proactively with the Dail, she would not be leading the party now.

  • Nevin

    Thanks for the conversation, Skibo; I don’t think there’s anything more I can add. On the matter of minutes, I was told by someone who was in a position to know that Laurence MacKenzie was greatly agitated when he discovered that the NI Water Executive Team minutes were online. This came to light when I quoted from them!

  • Skibo

    Nevin I had a look through the headings for the meetings for Culture Arts and Leisure, assuming that would have been the department to consider The Gathering. No sign of any meetings on Hansard but I am not surprised no meeting was held.

  • Nevin

    I can see how you might think that, Skibo, but tourism is the remit of Department for the Economy, formerly DETI.

  • Skibo

    Apologies for my distinct lack of knowledge of the breakdowns of the Stormont ministries. When I think about it, tourism brings in finance and as such should be within the Economy portfolio.

  • Nevin

    The number of ministries has been pruned but it’s most unlikely the quality of governance will improve.

  • Skibo

    Nevin can we really say the level of governance in NI is any worse than any other democratically elected assembly?
    I believe the hospitals are open for business, the schools are educating children, the roads are being built and repaired to an extent, the poor are being protected by a welfare package the envy of England.
    Are we really that badly off? I know there is an overlap of services resulting in increased costs for the same level as is enjoyed elsewhere. We also have a bloated civil service when we know the system could run just as efficiently with a 30% reduction in staff.
    This is all a result of the Troubles and the fact that a large extent of the NI economy was based on anti-terrorism. We are moving slowly into a shared society.
    As far as I can see there are two views of what a shared society actually stands for in NI. In Nationalist controlled areas it is a “both or non” system. In Unionist areas it is “you can share our British culture with us, sure aren’t you taking the Queens schilling anyway”
    Sometimes I wish moaners and begrudgers could be flown off to see what other countries offer. My relations in USA point out that they have held down two and sometimes three jobs to ensure they can provide for their families. How happy would we be if the only level of social services was that supplied by USA or pay for all their medical bills.
    We do not realise just how good we actually do have it.
    I would however promote how much better it would be if we achieved reunification and all in this country was working for the better of THIS country and not sitting with the begging bowl out looking for the next handout from Westminster.
    Apologies, rant over!