I’m not angry, I’m furious with the DUP…

I’m furious.  Sinn Fein’s election slogan ‘Don’t get angry, get even’, doesn’t do it for me on two counts.  Being angry while voting is no bad thing and anyway I am beyond anger with Northern Ireland’s political system and one party in particular.

I remember one of my editors talking to me in the mid 1990s about the latest mess under John Major’s government.  “Paul,” she said, “you and I could do a better job of running the country.”  I agreed.

There is something very unhealthy about feeling you would be better than the government.  We should have some sense of respect for those in power, have confidence in them.  That is not what I feel at present.  Most of us could do better than some in the departing government – especially if we were committed to abolishing the sectarianism that remains endemic in Northern Ireland.

Andrew McCormick nailed it in his evidence at Stormont on the role of special advisors.  But the problem is not just the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, costly though that is.  There is also the Social Investment Fund, how it is used and who benefits from it.  Then there was the Red Sky contract, Nama and the renting of publicly funded offices from associates.

This goes beyond just one party.  The DUP is not 100% to blame for the current crisis, but the percentage is certainly very high in my opinion.  I don’t think any independent minded person can blame Sinn Fein from walking out of government – the withdrawal of the Liofa funds, the allocations of grants for community halls, the funding of bands, the sense that the DUP is looking after just one community, all made the fall of the government inevitable.

The actions of Paul Givan and the words of Edwin Poots in the last few days reinforce the impression that the DUP believes its major role in government is to protect and strengthen unionism.  Meanwhile, Sinn Fein’s task is to promote Irish republicanism.

Where does this leave those of us who do not define ourselves as either unionist, nor Irish republican?  Where else in the world would such a very large section of the electorate be told by their government, so bluntly, that we are not governing for you?

Margaret Thatcher also governed for her own narrow group.  There was very little that she did that I ever supported.  But at least her government was competent.  Yes, she sold off national assets cheap to her own supporters in business.  And I hated her for doing it.  But she was not inept in the process.

If the DUP cannot promise to at least try to govern for everyone in Northern Ireland, then the concept of mandatory coalition is dead.  A voluntary coalition of other parties is perhaps possible, post-election.  If not, and we have to return to direct rule, then – as I suggested last weekend on the BBC’s Inside Business – those direct rule ministers should be held accountable by a working Assembly.  There is no reason for the Assembly to not be operational, just because the Executive cannot function.

When I was active in local politics in England, I realised that politics begins with getting the basic services right.  Until we get Northern Ireland’s health service operating efficiently, all schools providing superb education and those who need good quality social housing being able to get it, then promoting narrow issues is a luxury that we, as a society, cannot afford.  Focus on the day job ministers/special advisors.

It is commonly said that Northern Ireland is an intolerant society.  That is not my experience as someone who has been warmly welcomed here.  Rather, we are too tolerant.  We tolerate incompetence in government that would be unacceptable anywhere else in Western Europe.  Is it too much to hope that this election may express that intolerance, not just anger, in the ballot box?

Paul Gosling is a freelance journalist who lives in Derry. You can follow him on twitter: @paulgosling1

  • On the fence!

    Yes!

  • Sergiogiorgio

    I’d consider voting for you Paul.

  • murdockp

    The more you dig, the more disturbing the findings. From conversations with local traffic wardens who tell me they have no powers to enforce misuse of disabled badges resulting in towns being overrun with blue badges placed in cars with people who have nothing wrong with them through to farmers taking a few quid for heating an empty shed, we have a culture of take for personal benefit but we use our twisted morals to justify our actions. Watching the DUP SPAD’s this culture runs from the top of society to the bottom.

    The question I have for the intellectuals amongst you is why religion free societies such as the UK are reasonably honest whist we are extremely religious but are on the whole easily corruptible as recent events have proved? Would love to know why. I did not expect DUP religious faithful to be as corrupt as the extreme Catholics but they are.

  • Zorin001

    My father has given me examples going back to the 50’s of “brown envelope” culture and graft, nothing has changed.

    The burning of North Street Arcade was my own personal eye-opener, funny how the investigation into a listed building going up in smoke in what was at the time an area marked for development went nowhere…..

  • ted hagan

    As has been said many times before, up until very recently Sinn Fein was more than wiling to stand by their DUP partners and hector and mock the opposition parties when they raised criticisms. Sinn Fein was more than willing to sit back when it first learned of the RHI overspend. Sinn Fein was all too willing to sit back when the media exposed the RHI scandal and when the opposition parties finally woke up to the enormity of it.
    It is only when Sinn Fein realised the anger within the grassroots of a perception of feebleness at the top that the party that it went on the warpath, effectively pushed McGuinness aside and called an election after belatedly calling a full inquiry into RHI which has come about anyway. So, what we get is a needless election that will cause havoc with the public of Northern Ireland and send out all the wrong signals to potential investors.
    Don’t get me wrong, the DUP cocked this whole RHI up. It has shown arrogance beyond belief. Arlene Foster is obviously incapable of being first minister with indscipline running rife within her own party. But it the case of the chaos we find ourselves with the political institutions foundering, I’m afraid it has taken two to tango, the DUP AND SF.

  • ted hagan

    ‘I did not expect DUP religious faithful to be as corrupt as the extreme Catholics but they are.’

    Don’t be too surprised. Money seems to be a big thing among the fundamentalist wings of these two religions.

  • Ballyhackerer

    Totally agree – I think there should be a public inquiry into the competence and the intellectual ability of the Assembly and Executive in actually running the place…

  • David

    The DUP are a microcosm of American religious fundamentalism, where ”laying up riches on earth” is something to be admired, homophobia is excused with selective bible quotes and supposed holiness justifies false superiority and arrogance.

  • Enda

    It’s called hypocrisy. When you walk with the Lord, you can do no wrong.

  • mickfealty

    Surely that’s just an empty trope Pat? Or have you data to make it stick?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    One of our cryng needs in the 1960s was for serious equality legislation, but we are all the poorer for this apparent policy within our political parties of, as the wise and venerable Tom Lehrer once said, “no discrimination on grounds of intellegence.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Depends on which Lord the person walks with! Just one example from the great age of the Covenant:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Weir

    Not that I’m making any insinuations against any particular sect or individual, mind…………

  • anon

    A few carefully chosen words of scripture can be used to justify anything. Slavery was defended on the basis that the Bible permitted it. And if all else fails, you can always repent and ask forgiveness.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    A friend of mine ran one of the shops, so the “inside story” in all its gruesomeness is most familiar……..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Considerable local interest in “Prosperity Theology” in certain circles…….:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology

  • North Down

    Name me one, born again dup religious faithful evangelical who is corrupt,you are getting mixed up with fundamentalist and evangelicalism

  • Ballyhackerer

    Actually I should have extended the list of things to be looked at by this Public Enquiry to include ‘wisdom’. Have you noticed how young most of the Spads are….? They may have some intelligence but I doubt if they have much wisdom, which sadly can only come with age and experience….

  • Zorin001

    I hung about the Arcadia cafe in my youth so i’ve probably heard the same tales

  • North Down

    There is no prosperity teaching in the dup ,religious sense, that David and Ted hagen are trying to apply

  • SeaanUiNeill

    North Down I’ve certainly come across a lot of it being discussed amongst numerous DUP party supporters across south Antrim, and it seems to be very popular in a number of local gospel halls. Even if the DUP does not have “prosperity theology” as a direct project out there on its manifesto, it in a very general sense has imbibed the broad idea that wealth in this world is what happens to good people, and that scrupulious honesty need always come far behind anything which ensures political gain.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    North Down, the problem is that if a person is actually named then they may sue the website and the poster for defamation, and the laws on this are considerably stricter than they are across the water. But such behaviour in individuals is well discussed across the community, and is evident for those of us who recognise the signs in how such accusations are handled. Just to suggest how impossible it is for anyone who knows the truth to actually get ot out there, remember how Jimmy Saville or Cyril Smith could agressively eyeball anyone who accused them of misdeeds while they lived, backed by their phalanx of defamation solicitors.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Myself also, although I was a little less “grey” than nowadays.

  • North Down

    Very interesting that some people from a gospel hall back ground would follow prosperity teaching, I know a few people who attend a gospel hall, very rich lots of them farming background , but wouldn’t teach prosperity teaching, they have very sound teaching when comes to the bible, sometimes come across as we are right and your denomination is not , prosperity teaching is you gave and god will gave you tenfold back in the money sense, which I believe is false teaching , very big in America

  • Fear Éireannach

    I’m not a great admirer of SF and they have very little credibility in general in saving taxpayers money, However, the general trend of SF actions has been to support the institutions of the GFA, while the DUP is the opposite. One for you, one for me might not be a very sophisticated political philosophy, but one for me and none for you is even less likely to work in NI.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Odd then that the people in the 26 counties are now wealthier than those in the 6, they must be very good people indeed.

  • ted hagan

    I cited an obsession with money, which many of the born-again crowd seem to have, from my experience. I didn’t cite corruption. Sorry if you are offended. it is simlpy an observation. I think some, and I emphasise some, see it not just as the road to salvation but also to useful connections and a fancy big home.
    I also believe many are sincere Christians.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m C of I myself, ND, and that local rarity, an actual Anglo-Catholic. But I do encounter a number of evangelicals amongst my good friends, and although many are serious and self-analytic in their understanding of scripture, quite a few of those others I generally encounter in everyday life are not deep thinkers, are easily influenced by the pressing requirements of what will apparently enrich them financially, and willing to be told by friends, especially influential lay preachers, that their sharp practice and self-interested predations on neighbours is not inconsistent with being good Godly people. Such individuals apparently believe that all they have to do is simply mouth a formula asking for forgiveness and a loving God will ignore over and over how they act against others to enrich themselves. My own stricter upbringing would demand an analysis of the meaning of an action, the excising of all identified self interest from ones motivations and some personal recompense for those harmed, not a serial repetation of the glaring fault. Like yourself, I believe that Prosperity Theology is a selfish and mendatious misunderstanding of something far less materialist.

  • Liggy85

    When the start of March comes, take that rage and put it on the page. 😉
    There are alternatives to government. I’m an Alliance Party member and proudly so. In my party colleagues I see people who are willing, eager, and hungry to work for the people of Northern Ireland. I also see people who are more than capable of performing the task to the best of their ability.
    I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but I hope you’ll consider a vote for us. 🙂

  • North Down

    Yes many of the born again have lots of money (not me) most of them are good Christians, and good to there neibours, for me there is many a so called Christian and lots in the dup who are only Christian by name and so far away from salvation, I understand were your coming from in your post, good post

  • ted hagan

    Appreciated.

  • North Down

    There are many evangelical beleavers who belong to church of Ireland, your minister should be one ,if not shouldn’t be in the pulpit, your right about when you say a formula about forgaveness people come up with, which is a load of rubbish, they should look at how jesus tought about how to forgive

  • Slartibartfast

    As my wise old da says “Everybody knows their legal rights but not their moral wrongs”

  • Skibo

    Murdockp “as the UK are reasonably honest”. I think you are being disingenuous. The fact that you are not in the middle of the UK looking at the finances and seeing the way schemes are set up there does not mean that they are any less susceptible to corruption than anyone else.
    The human race in general is greedy for ones self. That is what makes them the survivors. No party is any greater or lesser than the other.
    I get amused at people thinking a return to direct rule would be the perfect solution to get rid of the muppets on the hill but all we will be doing is replacing one set of muppets with another set.
    The NHS is in a worse state than it is here. the Surrey Council are about to have a vote to raise the council tax by about 15% to pay for all the services that they cannot afford at the moment. If it doesn’t pass they will start cutting services. That is what we will have ahead of us.
    As for your final line in comparing levels of corruption and expecting devout Catholics to be more corrupt than the DUP faithful, I as a Catholic take offence at the surmise that being a devout Catholic leads to the idea that the person is corrupt!

  • murdockp

    Take offence, everyone in NI takes offence, all part of the problem.

    I am catholic too which is why I said what I said. In my church you will see the cars parked outside with the fake DLA badges, people with brand new DLA cars yet no disability, people on the dole and working at the same saying their prayers, yet if you told them they were doing wrong they would look at you as if you had horns growing out of your head.

    I stand by what I said.

  • Slartibartfast

    What makes me angry/despair is that out of all this controversy and nonsense is that I have absolutely no faith that anything will change after this election. We will have all this mud slinging, all of these allegations, all of this evidence etc yet when all is said and done we are likely to end up with all the same faces in all the same places (barring maybe one or two shuffles here and there).

    Then a couple of weeks after that it will be the same bitter politicians getting involved in the same petty disputes that they have for my whole life.

    Where are the real alternatives? I’ll give my vote to the smaller parties by default just because I don’t want to vote red or green, not because I wholeheartedly agree with their policies.

    I dream of a day when a political campaign is run here focusing on what we will do to help jobs, make more affordable housing, improve education, help the health system instead of the same old whataboutery it always descends in to.

    What hope does the rest of the country have of healing divides when those in charge are the ones fuelling that divide so much.

    “The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity” – I hope we have finally reached the point were the best have found their conviction.

  • Skibo

    I cannot comment on the DLA cars. No doubt that will all come crashing down if direct rule comes to the fore.
    My problem with your statement is the impression that all Catholics are corrupt especially the more devout ones.
    As for those who break the rules, they get away with it because we cast a blind eye to it. The same with claimants who are working. As a member of the construction industry, it can be so difficult pricing work against people who you know are throwing a man cash.

  • North Down

    Very well said, I would love to see Nolan put in the same effort into the welfare scandals as he has done to the heating scandal, talk about public anger, a certain party will want to stay far away from this scandal

  • the moviegoer

    Religious people feel their motivations are good, that their actions are all done to praise God, so even if their actions end up causing trouble it doesn’t matter because the motivation was pure. The end-result is less important than the sincerity of belief that it was right and done to praise God. The devout self is an extension of God and God can do no wrong. Faith in God is a false security blanket that prevents people from thinking critically and looking objectively at the world around them, hence climate change denial comes from a religious viewpoint because they simply can’t comprehend that God would let the world die.

  • the moviegoer
  • J D

    Marx already nailed it. Religion is the necessary glue for keeping the people subjected to the monarchy. No more, no less.

    Spirituality on the other hand does not require the failures, excrescences and carbuncles that rudely besmirch the foul visage that is religion.

    If you can grasp the distinction then you can grasp freedom also.

  • the moviegoer

    Here’s a study which attempts to explain it. Interestingly, it finds that in religious societies corruption still persists even after controlling for the effect of socioeconomic development and, in a useful piece of ecumenism, concludes that religious denomination doesn’t matter – all religions are equally corrupt.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/epiphenom/2014/01/religious-countries-are-most-corrupt.html

    The main point seems to be that religions promote hierarchies and elitist divisions between the faithful, less faithful and unfaithful, creating a culture of insiders and outsiders where cronyism and favoritism thrives. The rich in society promote their position as a sign of God’s favour, thereby causing a dilemma for the devout poor because changing the social order would be defying God’s will.

    The authors conclude: “Considering the variety of corruption measures, the reliability of data, and the large number of included countries, we have to conclude that religiosity not only does not impede corruption but tends to promote it… Based on the above-mentioned arguments, we may conclude that while religiosity provides guidance on morality, some of its characteristics practically promote corrupt business behavior.”

  • Enda

    They must have skipped over the part of the their Bibles that deals with camels and the eye holes of needles.

  • Enda

    Ah, the West Bow. There’s a little Irish bar beside there that I sometime frequent, as a current Edinburgh resident. An interesting story however, and as an Edinburgh resident of 4.5 years, one I’m not overly familiar with.

    I have noted in the past that some, (not all) from the evangelical, born again camp to be of a mindset whereby they feel they’re absolved from all wrong doings. In fact, I came across a few occasions where I’ve found some of their motivations and humor down right confusing, not to mention very unchristian like.

    Far be it from me to criticize someone’s character flaws, but when a person purports to be of a certain moral standing due to a claimed personal relationship with a loving deity, then I think I can be forgiven for expecting a certain humility from that person. Also when it comes down to debate on anything from climate change, to evolutionary biology, their inability to use even the slightest of amount of abstract thought can be perplexing.

    I suppose what Christopher Hitchens, said about the literal mind not understanding the ironic mind sometimes rings true.

  • Katyusha

    Isn’t it more the case here that it takes two to tango, but the DUP don’t want to tango and insist on dancing whatever way they damn like instead?

  • Nevin

    “Andrew McCormick nailed it in his evidence at Stormont on the role of special advisors.”

    A transcript of Andrew’s evidence to PAC on Wednesday is now online. The Permanent Secretaries’ Group (PSG) meets more or less on a weekly basis where PSs can flag up issues of concern tour de table:

    Mr McMullan: There was a systemic failure from the top of the Civil Service right to the bottom. You said that you spoke to the head of the Civil Service. Who was that?

    Dr McCormick: Malcolm McKibbin.

    Mr McMullan: How much did he know about the whole scheme?

    Dr McCormick: He will have had very limited involvement, and that is entirely normal and routine in the context of all that time, up until it got to high-level attention in January 2016.

    And what about the Independent board members who are there for their professional expertise? They don’t get named in the PAC session but they do feature in the DB minutes:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e3c6c76b6b3fd29950cd892d662edcbadc1d4b5c6f6b7b05499d8c2e18440c79.png

    One very important part of the whole debate is to remember to look at it not through what we know now but knowing what we knew then. In summer 2015, we did not know how bad this was.

    Well there was no project management in place and risk management appears not to have been fit for purpose, not even until June 2016:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/00023ce3f7582b261f2073eb2f1d43af5b82af06ab7c5b0875c49699ef642df0.png

    The accounting officers during the scheme were the PSs, not the SpAds.

  • file

    Pray do tell to those of us not so grey and wrinkly. What is the inside story? Who burned the Arcade?

  • file

    Ted, up until very recently, the opposition parties were in the executive too.

  • file

    Some people are born wise, but for some that is not half-true; and so they are not half-wise.

  • file

    Sorry for your trouble.

  • file

    Look on the bright side: we fet rid of one MLA per constituency. The less elected representatives we have in this God-forsaken, talent-poor, provincial backwater the better. keep having elections and keep reducing the number of MLA by one per constituency until we have vote them all away.

  • Zorin001

    Unfortunatly this is one of those situations where stating in black and white would probably lead to legal action. If you have a search online for North Street Arcade fire 2003 you will likely come across the answer.

    Its a pity that the Portadown News archive is down as it spelt out the answer.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you, Enda, could not have put it better myself.

  • LordSummerisle

    “your minister should be one ,if not shouldn’t be in the pulpit,” I beg your pardon ? Perhaps you need to learn exactly what the focus of our worship is.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Welcome back, fellow ritualist……..

  • LordSummerisle

    Always a pleasure Seaaan, always a pleasure. Occasionally I can be moved to post…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    In its absence, your wisdom is much missed!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Zorin has answered for me while I was away in the real world. As he says, naming names would lead to a defamation action, or at the very least a quite correct removal of the post to avoid serious legal consequences for the Slugger team. Our defamation laws are more stringent than those across the Irish sea, perhaps because more needs to be hidden here.

    Oh, and grey I may be, but you can forget wrinkly as I still have the even skin which living a virtuous life has permitted me to retain. Do I perhaps ahve acase for a defamation action?

  • North Down

    I wasn’t trying to be rude, are worship is all about the Lord jesus and saviour, you need to try and lurn what evangelical means my friend, every preacher many many years ago used to be evangelical even in the c. o, i, if your truly born again your a evangelical, every born again belever will tell you your minerster r paster, has to be born again,

  • North Down

    I wasn’t trying to be rude to you earlier, might have came across wrong

  • mickfealty

    Er,

    “…those democratic nations today that are the most secular, such as Scandinavia, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, etc., are faring much better on nearly every single indicator of well-being imaginable than the most religious nations on earth today, such as Colombia, Jamaica, El Salvador, Yemen, Malawi, Pakistan, the Philippines, etc.”

    Sorry, but I think he’s confusing correlation with causation. He doesn’t mention Saudi for instance?

  • Paul Gosling

    Saudi is in deep trouble financially and politically

  • mickfealty

    Fair comment Paul, but don’t you take my point?

  • the moviegoer

    See the link in the post above to murdockp. That study focuses more on corruption. Several studies have shown this link and even a cursory glance around the globe suggests it.

    Saudi? Come on. Once the oil runs out that place is going back to the desert like it was 100 years ago. Name one other Saudi export.

    The North is itself the obvious example. I’d go so far as to say the failure of the Northern Ireland state over the past 100 years isn’t so much a failure of political unionism as it is a failure of liberalism. Religion gets off the hook way too easily when analysing the problems in NI so as not to cause offence. 100 years ago unionists weren’t banging on about being British, it was always about “God and Ulster”. The Britishness was merely a mechanism to preserve that, a convenience if you will. The problem with the North is it went from the Reformation to the Industrial Revolution and bypassed the Enlightenment.

  • Hugh Davison

    That’s gas:)

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you Hugh. Weir presided as chief military officer at the execution of Montrose, and incidently at the execution of on eof my ancestor’s cousins. He is rather a by-word for shady doings linked to religiious fanaticism in my family.

  • aquifer

    This rings true. We alone are blessed by god so let him judge, don’t inform on one of our own congregation and let us all down, none of us could possibly be criminals for then I am only as good as one too, he may be a crook but at least he is not one of themmuns, he must have done it for the best of reasons as we go to the same church after all, they have the law but we have the almighty.

  • Pasty

    The DUP forced the introduction of the Welfare Cuts that are in the process of hitting home to those receiving benefits, both in work and out of work benefits. At the same time the DUP’s friends, and with every passing day it adds more of their family members, are getting paid for letting the taxpayer pay for their heating. The DUP and their friends and family are milking it