Why does the Office of the Executive need not less than SIX SpAds?

One of the things highlighted by last night’s interview was the alleged behaviour of SpAds. Now as Sammy Wilson pointed out these guys don’t have any power. But nor, as it happens, has the Office of the Executive, formerly known as OFMdFM and “the lost world” amongst others.

It’s a bureaucratic construct, headquartered in the Scottish Baronial pile known as Stormont Castle, whose job has been to ensure any agreements between the only two parties holding the offices of First Minister and deputy First Minister are implemented.

It was one of the conditions laid down by the DUP and SF that their numbers should be tripled from one to three each: despite the fact they have very little in the way of direct executive responsibilities.

In Jonathan Bell’s mind, if not in actuality, these guys are enforcers. But now the actual Executive is only made up of DUP and SF MLAs their role is likely to be diminishing rapidly in the political ecosphere of Stormont.

Now they’re part of the public story. Something, I would guess, none are happy about. The idea, put about by Arlene last night, that Jonathan Bell would have intimidated her and someone like Timothy Johnston, whose reputation as a tough-minded fixer precedes him, is risible.

So why does the Executive need them (at £92k per head, they’re not cheap) anymore? The RHI story suggests some may even be becoming a liability.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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