So the day that started with the promise of a bang, ends with a barely audible whimper…

A long day at the office in Stormont, which began with a Committee of the Economy and no sign of the Committee Chair Connor Murphy or indeed any of the Sinn Fein members. It quickly became clear why as proceedings began.

Despite the impression given in the press all week Simon Hamilton had the active support of the Sinn Fein Minister of Finance for an amelioration of the RHI scheme.  No SF MLA had any objections, or indeed, questions for the Minister.

According to Hamilton’s  ‘conservative’ estimate, the £28 pa million shortfall will be reduced to £2.5M. He added that fear of enforcement may already be reducing the overspend much closer to zero through behavioural change.

Now Mike Nesbitt has called for a seven-day stay on enacting the change to give the Assembly a chance to look at the business case in detail and to test the legal robustness of the approach. A proportionate safeguard from an opposition leader.

But in effect, despite the strident bellicosity of the Finance minister all week, it seems the original SF fox is now well and truly shot. How that plays over the next seven weeks is hard to tell.

It will be a good doorstep line for the DUP which should enable them to segue seamlessly from the controversy that never was to a poor attempt at regicide. Sinn Fein on the other hand always have Aretha…

Riffing emptily off ‘respect’ may play with the base. But there was not one win today for them that I counted. Each criticism (not setting a budget, shelving health care plans, and what looks like a senseless election) was met by the same, it’s the DUP’s fault.

The sheer emptiness of these positions confirms Adams’ diagnostic in his speech to his party’s Cuige Uladh meeting, in which he made it clear that the DUP has consistently wiped his own party’s eye in each of the last ten years.

Why they think going into an election with nothing but their own sense of outrage and injustice is something they can successfully bargain with – particularly since they blinked first – completely eludes me.

Brian’s pre Christmas view was that an election with no premise – other than possibly bankcrupting their political rivals on the opposition benches (a punishment beating you might say, for embarrassing the leader) – is an abuse of democracy.

It’s hard to go beyond that, and Chris’ timely contribution to the Irish News considering the idea that Sinn Fein needs to stop blaming others for their lack of progress:

… there is a pressing need for Sinn Féin to recognise that the party’s own failings to deliver through the institutions were a central contributing factor exacerbating nationalist disillusionment over many years, as witnessed in the declining nationalist turnout at successive elections.

Aretha is a great singer, but it’s only a song. Watch the DUP trash their idea of equality by bring up that Adams quote about it being nothing more than a Trojan horse in order to crush the bastards. And RHI, the biggest scandal ever? All but gone.

As I wrote in the Indo, allowing the expectations of its political base to grow beyond its capacity to deliver has made a rod for Sinn Fein’s back. Its hasty departure allows DUP representatives to argue it was Sinn Fein – not they – who ran from power sharing.

The true extent of that rod may be hidden by the grief of their smaller nationalist rivals. But support for PBP is creeping up not because they’re not hard enough on the DUP but that they are not good enough at delivering for their own core communities.

Meanwhile, Arlene has her Simon, to whom she owes much. At times she cut an undignified figure, and although few of us really doubt she has faced more than her fair share of misogyny her defensive outburst on the matter did her few favours. 

She is also blessed by the weakness of her opponents. It was never likely she would deign to step aside. Politically, had she done so she would have paid far too high a price. SF enjoyed too much the humiliating price Peter Robinson paid in 2015 when Mike Nesbitt walked out over the IRA’s alleged involvement in the McGuigan murder, just to keep the institutions alive.

In sticking to her ground, she has instead called Sinn Fein’s buff in a way that will make it hard for them to ever repeat the same trick. The opposition parties might also like to consider that in making the outsized demand she step aside over a policy matter in the first place they provided the original cover for these empty shenanigans.

Finally, as Brian has noted so well that abrasive personality type has had its day in Northern Irish politics. The First Minister will be fortunate not to pay the price for not admitting her own mistakes.

,

  • aquifer

    “it’s only a song” C’mon. The British Constitution such as it is does not contain a category ‘Catholic sub subjects’, why should the DUP be allowed to pretend that it exists to bring themselves to a red white and blue climax each electoral cycle?

    The DUP are subverting good public order and should be brought to book.

  • mickfealty

    How? What I mean is that, yes, it’s a popular line: but it comes with no policy weight (https://goo.gl/wKZ0aR). The fact that the DUP have made the original cause of the controversy go away in such short order will weigh heavily in any upcoming talks.

  • Lionel Hutz

    It does have to be remembered that the key opposition demand was for a public inquiry. The call to step aside came from the response to that demand. It was justified. The DUP were ruling out a public inquiry.

  • mickfealty

    We should remember too, that that was in deference to SF’s position. It’s been clear since before Christmas the DUP wanted an inquiry (it’s their only reliable way of getting out from under this mess).

    The question was only over which type: Public or Independent. And SF was dead against the former.

    I think it was Claire Hanna who suggested in the chamber yesterday that SF might be running scared from a Public Inquiry because it would certainly reveal who knew what about this matter and crucially, when you take into account the joint DUP/SF slandering of the ETI committee, when.

    I think there’s something in that.

  • J D

    Sounds to me like you are predicting the DUP will be returned with increased numbers.

  • mickfealty

    Any one, who knew anything about the effect of taking 18 seats out of the chamber would know that’s a nonsense. NOw I know you think I talk nonsense at times, but even I’m not that thick!! 😉

  • Teddybear

    Ok, perhaps not increased numbers in absolute terms but increased share of the seats

  • Lionel Hutz

    Yeah exactly.

  • mickfealty

    I wouldn’t be so bold this far out. But the seat thing only adds further inscrutability to the results.

  • Jag

    Dear Mick, when legislation is to be introduced at Stormont, there’s an officer called the examiner who scrutinises the legislation to see if it makes legal sense. That didn’t happen with Si’s amendment yesterday. Legislation which tears up a contract is inherently dodgy, and I haven’t heard an independent legal commentator support the unilateral welching on a contract.

    Think about it, if it really was that easy, wouldn’t the DUP have tabled the legislation a year ago. It’s batsh*t crazy and should be called out as such.

    This election is about RHI, £400m of overspend, heating barns with open doors, or Ferrari showrooms, £1.60 for every £1.00 of energy used, extending the scheme to allow certain people to fill their boots, certain people making out like bandits, boilers, pellets, dragging feet to address the overspend, Jonathan Bell, the refusal to establish an inquiry, the refusal to stand aside and accusing your critics of misogyny, playing chicken and spouting crap about love glasses. None of this changed yesterday. I wouldn’t like to be a DUP rep campaigning on doorsteps in winter.

  • Lionel Hutz

    We’re not going to take it as read that this legal change can be made are we?. I find it very hard to understand how it could be made.

    I listened to Sammy Wilson on Nolan yesterday. I’d embed the audio if I knew how to do it. Sammy was explaining to a caller why they delayed the introduction of the tiering from 1st October to mid November. He said that the reason for that was that people who has installed boilers by October needed notice before the cap was introduced. This was their legal advice? I hAve heard this before. And it may be correct.

    But how can the DUP claim they were required to give notice to those who acted on the pre-cap rates to allow them to get through the process on the hand and then on the other hand say that having given them that notice and those applicants having availed of it, the DUP can retrospectively cap the rates anyway. Bear in mind that we are talking about half the applicants there. It doesn’t make sense.

    I’ve seen more than a few experts say that this change can’t be made. A legal challenge is inevitable. I’m kind of an expert too, and I can’t see how it can be done. Unless there is something in the legislation that allows them this wriggle room.

    Retrospective legislation will be struck down if they affect vested rights. This goes to the core of our legal system. These changes will also be in the form of regulations which are even more vulnerable to being struck down

  • J D

    Ahh, sure I had to give it a lash 😉

  • hotdogx

    Do you think they would take such a risk?
    Unlikely I think, it would ruin them if it came out

  • aquifer

    Looking up close there is little or no policy weight, like the straw on the camel’s back, but pulling back and looking back it becomes more a matter of optics and tone. The DUP do more megaphone than tone.

    They have few good friends. They are bad at the business of politics.

    Their balance of political payments is in the red, no more credit is due.

  • aquifer

    Yep a Public Enquiry for this one invites more scrutiny later.

  • Karl

    “The controversy that never was..” Jesus wept. Did the DUP press office tell you that?
    Given the facts about the flaws inherent in the scheme, the implementation, lack of scrutiny, absence of checks and balances, upsurge in take up, delay in halting, Bells insight, magic solution produced on the last day all under 4 DUP ministers, there are many ways to describe this debacle, however, uncontroversial is not one.
    Something stinks to high heaven and if a subsequent enquiry brings in SF, all the better but I am not buying for one second that this goes away on the doorstep because after knowing about this issue for 18 months the DUP say its fine as we’ve worked out a way to bypass contract law and need it approved in the next 3 hours.
    I dont know why you let the DUP off the hook so easily on this when its quite apparent that your line would be the opposite if SF had been responsible for the scheme.
    FOI required to provide transparency into Sluggers funding. Is Micks house heated by an industrial boiler? Where do the vast profits generated from site sponsorship actually go? Is Slugger part of a Russian plot to undermine the most successful democratic experiment in western europe in the last 30 years? We must have answers.

  • mickfealty

    Don’t disagree with that. But, again, that’s just another construct of SF running to election.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I think it’s fairly clear that Sinn Fein knew were well appraised of the entire farce for at least a year. The extent of that knowledge would be embarrassing for them.

  • mickfealty

    I don’t go to any press office for anything other than clarifications. And I’ve been consistently calling this an overshoot from the start. Letting them off the hook is making outsized accusations that then let’s them off the competence hook they ought to have been on. Simon’s fix will now eclipse Arlene’s epic screw up.

    Well done lads.

  • mickfealty

    You’re better placed than me in this Lionel, but there’s two stages here . Intermediate, and longer term.

    Short term they can flush out all the potential challenges via consultation.

    Besides, which judge will affirm the right to a contract that allows people to needlessly burn public money?

    And that’s all the fix is intended to do.

  • Granni Trixie

    Mick
    We obviously live in different worlds. I disagree with your reading – that in standing aside at an early stage in the scandal would have left AF more disadvantaged than she is presently. I think many of the public and most political parties expected her to do so not try to brazen it out or as you have it ‘call sf bluff’. Her tactics have painted herself into a corner. Yes, sf have much to answer but you can’t dump her crass behaviour on anyone but herself.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I don’t understand how it’s a fix yet. We could just as easily call it a stunt. A stunt which would have been brought about whatever happened in the last week…..

    There are massive ramifications to what is being suggested by this fix too. It would kill any confidence that people could have in any future grant or subsidy scheme ever offered by the Executive.

    If you can get the first Minister writing to your bank guaranteeing long term payments and still the Executive renege’s. …what won’t they renege on

  • Jag

    “that’s just another construct of SF running to election.”

    Lost me there, Mick. But what you’ve written above sounds like a construct of the DUP framing (or attempting to frame) this election.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I don’t know. And I could be wrong too. There’s maybe something I don’t know about this process.

    Id imagine that a big question would also be…which brave soul wants to take that case. It’ll be someone with a sympathise story to tell. And there do appear to be a few that fit the bill.

    Id say though that in the first instance, there would be a judicial review. And a leave hearing for that judicial review may be heard before the election….

  • On the fence!

    So basically the RHI “crisis” had no need to be a crisis?

    A wee nod, “right boys turn the heat down a bit and stop dragging the arse out of this”, and the spending “overshoot” is practically zero already.

    Not that the shinners REALLY care anyhow!

    Interesting analysis.

  • Gopher

    At face value on a point of honour I believe Foster should have resigned. However I believe it is her personal right if she believes she is innocent to ask for a burden of proof of her guilt and incompetence to be supplied. The demand to step aside is out of line with natural justice. The fact is she has the protection of a POC to do what she pleases and SF have effectively withdrawn complaining about their own rule. No POC and she would be gone!

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “No POC and she would be gone !” Yip agree, but after this election if the DUP fall below 30 MLAs “No POC and she IS GONE !” One can only hope so ! She has been a total disgrace !

  • Gopher

    So the point of no judge wanting to be more unpopular than George Jeffreys was valid?

  • Jag

    “which judge will affirm the right to a contract that allows people to needlessly burn public money?”

    A judge familiar with contract law! Because if a judge were to tear up that contract, then a precedent is set for all contracts where it’s assessed one party is getting a bad deal.

  • Karl

    Simons fix?? Simons proposal.
    Lots of questions to be answered. A large part of it seems to be about behavioural change. Pah. Maybe while the media heat is on.
    Legalities still need to be sorted out. Confidence in future executive initiatives may be hit.
    A cobbled together proposal presented at the last minute, to allow DUP reps to say on the doorstep that its sorted, is not a solution.

  • Gopher

    Where the public purse is concern I assume apart from the public pressure there would be pressure “legally” from above, so if anyone makes a mistake (sic) like this in the future with like say a defence contract that makes this look like small beer there will not be your precedent

  • Teddybear

    My take is that the disinterested will become ever more so. The only people who will turn out will be the extreme (unionist republican and centre)

    My money is on the following;

    DUP 30
    SF 27
    Alliance 8
    SDLP 10
    UUP 10
    PBP 3
    GREEN 1
    TUV 1

  • johnny lately

    “Why they think going into an election with nothing but their own sense
    of outrage and injustice is something they can successfully bargain with
    – particularly since they blinked first – completely eludes me.!

    I dont think you understand the depth of feeling within the nationalist community Mick at the antics of some DUP ministers especially Paul Girvan who it seems has found another wad of millions down his sofa to announce more grants of millions to mainly unionist towns on top of his grants to the pot pourri of loyalist bands and loyal order halls across Northern Ireland, this man is giving away money to his own tribe at the expense of others like it is going out of fashion yet the same man claimed he stopped funding for disadvantaged children wishing to learn Irish because of lack of funding.

    The nationalist people will speak for themselves Mick in the next election and believing that outrage is limited to Sinn Fein is simply sticking ones head in the sand.

  • Obelisk

    I also do not recognise the situation Mick is painting. For it to work, we have to accept that the voters are going to forget just how incompetent the DUP were in allowing the abuse of the scheme to continue as long as it did. Not to mention that, thanks to Jonathan Bell, there is now a strong suspicion that it was not incompetence but a wilful choice to defraud the public. I can’t see that happening. Nor do I understand why Mick seems willing to paint what happened yesterday as some sort of DUP masterstroke that solves all their issues. It was not and it did not.

    As for Sinn Fein’s issues…yes, they had rings run around them constantly. And they attempted to justify it on the grounds they were trying to make the executive work. As a justification it works because it is true. Who knows, maybe voters are mature enough to accept that reasoning. And given the desire to give the DUP a bloody nose I see manifest in every conversation, news posting and social media site with some notable exceptions, it might help some voters to give the Shinners a second chance.

    But no, the situation for the DUP is far from as rosy as painted above. They have to pray they can shove it onto orange and green issues before the end. Sinn Fein might be focusing on that too, but the UUP and Alliance will be hell bent on making RHI the centrepiece of the Unionist campaign. The people are in a febrile mood and we will see the results in early March.

  • Nevin

    “Finally, as Brian has noted so well that abrasive personality type has had its day in Northern Irish politics. The First Minister will be fortunate not to pay the price for not admitting her own mistakes.”

    Mick, despite or because of your and Brian’s remoteness from the action, it seems you each lack a certain facility for getting behind MSM froth. There’s so much more to problems around governance here than our lightweight MSM can fathom. How many examples of abrasive behaviour does it take for it to sink in that it’s a human trait, a trait reinforced by our ongoing though much less bloody constitutional tug-of-war? It’s still my contention that the gaps in the paper trail are so numerous that it will be difficult to pin down responsibility for debacles, large and small, that have occurred, say, since 2007. Meanwhile, the legacy victims as well as the victims of bungling bureaucracy don’t rank terribly high in the MSM’s struggle for audience.

  • mickfealty

    Maybe. I just know the trend is downwards in nationalism. And playing this card has not worked for them before.

  • Redstar

    Surely it’s unlikely Dup will drop below 30

  • johnny lately

    Yes the nationalist turnout has fallen considerably for reasons such as those I’ve mentioned above and no doubt Sinn Fein will highlight those issues but the main focus will be ensuring maximum turnout and using that turnout as a yardstick for a border poll if there is a return to direct rule.

  • mickfealty

    All that needs to happen in a way is for the smaller parties to hold their ground against them. That’s what should happen if the natural justice were to hold. Trouble is that we know from our long experience of the Peace Process™ that NI is a consequence free zone.

    That’s why all the opposition parties (not just the official Opposition) should go on the offensive and point out it was their strength and consistency in the face of both the government parties that forced the government out of office after just seven months (five, if you count holidays).

    Trouble is they are likely to adopt a conservative electoral strategy that means they cannot volubly claim they should be given more seats to do the job properly with.

  • mickfealty

    Behavioural change is not part of his estimates. He said that that is not yet quantifiable, but speculates that it could further close the gap. Apologies if I caused any confusion on that.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Redstar – It is possible if 1. Non-Voters come out and vote 2. Non DUP Voters transfer their vote right down the card !

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Wow! That is the best example of super spin I think I have ever come across. The ‘Nothing to see here now move along’ attitude reminds of the 80s and 90s FF attitude to their many scandals in the South.

    Are you correct? Can the public be so distracted away from the facts and the truth that the whole thing ends up looking like a Republican plot to damage Unionism (which is essentially what you are saying)?

    Seven weeks of Nolan shows on this and we will have an election. Lets see.

  • mickfealty

    It took SF less than half a day to ‘clear’ their leader of any wrongdoing in the Aine Tyrell case. I would like to think it takes more than shouting “bang, bang you’re dead” to come good in an election.

    But I’ve been wrong about these things many times before today…

  • Obelisk

    I don’t expect them to go below 30. I think someone here did a rough calculation based on last year’s results and said that with five seat constituencies, the DUP would have ended up with 33 seats.

    It’s as good a measurement for their success as any so if they lose four seats and go under 30, they lose their monopoly on the POC (which should be reformed regardless before Stormont comes back). So if they keep 33, I’d regard it as a DUP win.

    If they get between 30 and 32 its a small loss, but one they can obfuscate by the change from six to five seats. If they lose the POC by going below 30, that’s something the public will pick up on and the perception will be of a DUP defeat.

  • Karl

    I still dont buy his solution but only time will tell. However, his proposal has served its purpose, in that its muddied the waters to allow DUP sell it as a solution on the door step.
    The outworkings will only manifest themselves after the election by which time it will be too late.
    In truth, it may allow some DUP voters who were going to abstain vote for them using this fig leaf. Its not going to convert any unionists to nationalism.
    This election will be won on turnout. I note your comment that nationalism is on a downward trend and that this tactic hasnt worked in the past. You may be right but Brexit here is the key for re-engagement of the youth and the disillusioned.
    If you are right, then more people will continue to switch off, but like in the US, when they do re-engage it will be at the more extremes of politics to find solutions to decades of political inertia.

  • mickfealty

    That looks to be in zone alright. How do SF drop just one, though? You thinking Mid Ulster? If they get one back in FST I make that 9 SDLP. Also, I think it’s going to be tasty for SF and the SDLP in North Belfast.

  • mickfealty

    “The outworkings will only manifest themselves after the election by which time it will be too late.”

    – Yep. Totally agree. That’s exactly why I’m of the view the election is merely to cover in partnership embarrassments.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    It doesn’t do any good to be either in denial about the seriousness of a situation or to simply pretend its a flash in the pan.

    Practically every commentator North and South over the last week have given the Shinners credit for seriously attempting to keep the institutions on the road in the face of DUP intransigence and arrogance. Even Hanno in the Sindo at the weekend found it unusually difficult to cut the legs from under them.

    I wont bite the whataboutery above, different circumstances, different times and totally different issue. Parties support their leaders. No surprise.

  • Is that third PBP you’ve predicted Gerry Carroll’s running mate in West Belfast or Fiona Ferguson in North Belfast? Either way, both seem a bit of a stretch.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    You think the UUP, Alliance, PBP, TUV,UKIP,SDLP are really going to let the DUP push the RHI scandal into the background of this campaign?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Yip below 30 and it is a massive loss and Queen Bee Arlene can add another distinction to her Guinness Book of Records profile to read to her Grand Children later on in life as the only NI Women to do ………………

  • Teddybear

    SF lose one in Upper Bann. SDLP lose a few from West Belfast and perhaps W Tyrone

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Which Green have you losing out ?

  • Teddybear

    PBP in Foyle and two in West Belfast. The second seat at the expense of SDLP and not SF. little chance of unionist seat in West belfast now so loyalists will shift their voting patterns elsewhere or not vote at all

  • Teddybear

    Bailey in South Belfast. People forget that 6 seaters allow
    Smaller parties to succeed
    As it encourage people to be flamboyant in how they vote. A 5 seater will be harder to meet quota and will make people a little more conversative about who they vote for

    The Greens are not PBP. PBP voters are v angry and v angry people vote. Nice middle class weekend welly wearers and here today gone home at weekend students, don’t

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Mick has a point,Sinn Fein have become weak not just over the last few
    weeks but over a much longer time probably 5 or 6 years,.the last election
    thought them nothing either.they were lucky to come out with as many seats
    as they did.,Ruth D Edwards writing last Sunday told us there was evidence
    swirling around that both supporters of the D.U P and Sinn Fein were cleaning up with the R.H.I scheme,. coming on top oft the bags Sinn Fein made of looking for an inquiry,.. you would think they would be shouting it
    from the treetops, after all they were very quiet until spotlight and the
    Nolan show got their teeth into it.

  • Obelisk

    That analysis only works if you ignore what was either incompetence or collusion in the scheme functioning as it did in the first place. Cleaning up or mitigating the mess does not suddenly make it all better!

  • T.E.Lawrence

    So you have 2 DUP 1SF 1SDLP 1Alliance return in SB. I think Bailey is home on Alliance and SDLP transfers and 1 DUP is gone ?

  • mickfealty

    I think it’s nearly impossible for SF to hold on to three in Mid Ulster though. There’s not going be enough for three quotas there.

  • T.E.Lawrence
  • mickfealty

    I also accept it may be possible for the SDLP to hold onto ten (which is evens for them), but the pressures are going to be immense for them in four seats. Interestingly, I had FST, EL and NB ahead of WT.

    I reckon that if they lose WT, it’s good night SDLP. But there’s unlikely to be two rebel SDLPers in the field against McCrossan this time.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Did Ruth offer any proof?

  • mickfealty

    That conversation I started the linked off with a few years back in my view showed the weakness of Miliband, his unwillingness to get his policy hands dirty. I clipped it off Radio Four for posterity: https://goo.gl/Zg08ku.

  • Teddybear

    Good points. I’ll do my homework seat by seat and will repost

  • file

    There will be legal challenges to the rabbit out of Hamilton’s hat. And his fix is just for financial year 2017-18 anyway.

    He does not appear to have fixed the Auditor’s current refusal to approve spending at all on a tranche of payments – spending on which remains irregular – nor to sign off the accounts for 2015-16.

    “My report below reviews results of my audit of the Department’s 2015-16 financial statements and sets out why I have decided to qualify my regularity audit opinion in relation to two issues:

    : expenditure amounting to £11.9 million which was incurred without the necessary approvals in place for the non-domestic Renewal Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme (paragraphs 4 to 16) and is therefore irregular; and
    :because I was unable to obtain enough evidence to be assured that expenditure on the non-domestic RHI scheme amounting to £30.5 million had been incurred for the purposes intended (paragraphs 17 to 27). This was due to the fact that I did not consider that the systems in place to prevent or detect abuse of the scheme were adequate.”

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Johnny, I would like to think a Nationalist anger surge might lift the fight closer to the DUP nose but the chances are slim. In the last ten months 60,000 people have been struck off the electoral register, mainly from areas such as West Belfast, Foyle and Tyrone. It would take a literal Tsunami to do the job correctly.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Ruth said evidence was swirling around that supporters of the D.U.P and Sinn Fein were cleaning up,You know the agenda, spread the blame.However,the Shinners should be
    shouting for the names to be published..

  • Anthony O’Shea

    You are correct regarding the trend of course and despite this scandal their is little to suggest Nationalists will actually vote with their feet particularly with ten of thousands being struck of the electoral register. But, is this the strongest policy that Unionism has currently? Depending on Nationalism to just stay at home? The worm always turns at some point.

  • file

    It was Stephen Nolan who forced them out of office.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    They have been shouting for names to be published, MoM made that clear in the Assembly on a number of times and through the media. Moreover, the party have sent word throughout the entire membership that if anybody is in this, the time to fess up is now.

  • file

    Trends change, that is why they are called trends.

  • file

    Details? Why were they struck off? Were they dead? Or moved house?

  • Anthony O’Shea
  • On the fence!

    So briefly we will park any overwhelming desire to stick the feet in to the DUP and take a potentially different analysis.

    There HAD to be a scheme, there HAD to be a certain number of takers, and there HAD to be a certain spend, or penalties would apply (good old EU!).

    Even after running for a while none of the targets were being met so the financial incentive had to be increased to meet said targets. It has been reported that there was a clause built in to the scheme ensuring that people would NOT waste heat to generate revenue. That plainly was not applied so is that the fault of the DUP or simply typical civil service incompetence? I certainly would have no difficulty in believing the latter no matter what the scheme and no matter what political party involved!

    Then add in possibly a minister with an axe to grind (maybe even personal, who knows?), a First Minster who is plainly not suited to the job, and a partner in government looking for an excuse to get out, and you arrive at where we are now.

    In this scenario, the DUP is certainly involved but are they necessarily to blame?

    In fact it wouldn’t be hard to come to the conclusion that the EU themselves are more to blame than the DUP as they were the ones demanding such a ridiculous abomination of a scheme in the first place!

    But that REALLY wouldn’t suit many peoples agendas now would it.

  • file

    RHI has not gone away. And it will continue not to go away. Especially when Nesbitt has his Assembly adjourned debate un-adjourned on Monday.

  • file

    Foster promised that she would set in train a Public Inquiry within 24 hours about 144 hours ago now. What is stopping her?

  • Aye, Attwood’s a goner. Carroll got over 8,000 last May increasing from 6,798 in 2015, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if the total PBP vote became a 5 figure sum this time round.

    There’s roughly 1,500-2,000 Éirígí votes in the west as well as some 4,000-plus unionists, all of which could make a cumulative impact if applied tactically.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Did anyone bother to find out if those boilers in the shed that went on fire were working boilers.

  • Obelisk

    They ran the scheme in Great Britain and they didn’t run it into the ground there. As the failure is plainly local, responsibility lies with the party who were entrusted with setting up scheme. Especially as we all know the ruling parties at Stormont operate their departments as independent fiefdoms,

    Besides this scheme is only part of why I have the overwhelming desire to stick my boot into the DUP. Their long running daliance with scandal (remember Red Sky?), their contempt of Irish Nationalism, their hypocrisy in extolling the value of local culture as long as it was their culture and their marginalisation of mine, their blocking of marriage equality, their flagrant abuse of the petition of concern turning a tool of minority protection into a shield for the own petty machinations. Their support for Brexit, their probable preference for a hard border as a psychological wall between them and the south regardless of the damage it will to the north, their xenophobia of anyone who is different (well I guess anyone who is different can still be trusted to go to the shops for them)…do I need to go on?

    RHI has just been the catalyst for the immense anger we feel against this backwoods party over a whole range of topics. It’s not going to be enough to dethrone them, they are too big for that. But I’ll settle for giving them that electoral black eye.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    So much for contract law after that.

  • On the fence!

    Yes but there was a much greater take up of the scheme over there at lower rates. The fact is, the scheme here had to be made financially attractive enough to enable the targets to be met. Like it or not, that is NOT the fault of the DUP or indeed any other party in charge of a department who helped in recruiting for it.

    Now plainly it wasn’t policed properly afterwards, but I doubt that anyone will be surprised by that at all in this day and age. Or as the saying goes, “never attach malice to that more easily explained by incompetence”.

    However, your second paragraph I believe tells the real story. For many this place is just still too red, white, and blue isn’t it? Well unfortunately as that becomes obvious over the coming weeks as the real reason many see for this election, it’ll be all the DUP need to sweep majestically back in to where they were.

    Possibly even stronger than ever!

  • mickfealty

    You’re correct. It’s not a strong policy, but weak ones can have a powerful effect over time.

  • Obelisk

    You seem as eager to exonerate them as I am to find them culpable. Seems neither of us is free of the taint of tribalism. I want to see the worst in the DUP because they stand for everything I think is bad in society.

    On the other hand, I feel with the DUP it really isn’t very hard to find the worst about them. As for coming back ‘stronger than ever’, I hope not. If ever a party needed a bloody nose, it’s them and if there was ever a time, it’s now.

  • Jag

    I bet if SF rushed a Bill to the Assembly compelling us to love and respect each other, Mick would be sceptical about its legality. “But, what judge in the land wouldn’t uphold such a law?”, eh Mick.

  • mac tire

    “For many this place is just still too red, white, and blue isn’t it?”

    His second paragraph spoke of scandal, contempt of Irish Nationalism, hypocrisy, their blocking of marriage equality, their flagrant abuse of the petition of concern, support for Brexit (against the majority here), preference for a hard border as a psychological wall, their xenophobia of anyone who is different.

    And you call this red, white and blue? The vast, vast majority of the real red, whites and blues across the water would have no truck with your definition of it.

  • the moviegoer

    The collapse of the executive over a scandal of this magnitude (490 million is not small potatoes) sets a good precedent about what is expected of parties, ministers and civil servants going forward. A scandal of this magnitude would lead to ministerial resignations at least or government collapse down south and in most jurisdictions.

    An inquiry is well and good but the experience of inquiries down south, of which there have been plenty in the past 20 years, is that they drag on for years and mostly end up letting people off the hook. Anybody found culpable has already left the political stage and they usually have no legal status. The public has lost interest by the time findings are published and few lessons are learned.

    Elections are what focuses minds and I see no harm in the executive collapsing as a result of this. There is a lot of alarmism about the collapse of the executive but SF will not refuse to work with the DUP after an election. They want to be seen as a sensible party these days. I am a bit surprised by the hysteria over the snap election. Is the spectre of violence still so strong that even gross incompetence and (alleged) corruption must be indulged to the hilt at every turn in order to ward it off?

  • Anthony O’Shea

    That story seems to have dissappeared

  • On the fence!

    “You seem as eager to exonerate them as I am to find them culpable.”

    Not true, if you look at my previous postings (as you can!), you will see quite plainly my contempt for the DUP as a party.

    That however should not override my, or anyone else’s, ability to remove one’s self from any initial gut reaction and judge a situation dispassionately and therefore, hopefully, more fairly.

  • On the fence!

    “And you call this red, white and blue?”*

    No I didn’t actually. I just think that some things, including RHI, are being used as an excuse for deeply rooted sectarianism.

    In fact, the RHI “scandal” is starting to look like a sideshow already.

    *Oh, and in case you’re wondering. Yes I would (and have) replace “red, white, and blue” with “green, white, and orange” and aim it at plenty on the “other” side in the same way.

  • file

    merci

  • Anthony O’Shea

    failte romhat

  • JOHN TURLEY

    There will be a hell of a bang for the D.U.P If half of what Mr Bell said last
    night turns out to be correct.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    or put on the back boiler,still there is no smoke
    without fire.Jonathan Bell is very angry.will they be
    able to shut him up.

  • Mirrorballman

    “The controversy that never was..”

    See the front pages of todays papers? Johnny Bells allegations this week? Yep definitely “The controversy that never was..”….