Opportunity Costs of an Impasse include Welfare Reform and Marriage Equality Abolition of the Hated PoC

Sinn Fein says agreement must be reached by Friday or its another (to nowhere). In fact, the only thing that will be forced by then is that Westminster will have to legislate for a new rate to be set.

So the talks will be paused today, not ended. It’s a fairly run of the mill attempt by the SF leader to frame the narrative of these periodic breakdowns (of which this is just the most recent and severe). That it was nonsense seems not to dampen the effect.

The British government seems intent on keeping the possibility of an election (for SF) and/or the option of direct rule (for the DUP) on the table for a reasonable period of time. Both options would render the last election results null and void.

But their preferred option is to get the two back to work: with or without the smaller parties. As well as giving away control of setting the local rate, there are other things that will be put in jeopardy. 

Here’s Eileen Evason, who helped the DUP/Sinn Fein led Executive on their ameliorated welfare reform package:

“We need to start thinking now about which parts of the package should be retained and whether we can help those affected by cuts made since our report: most obviously the implementation of the so-called 2 child policy, cuts to Employment & Support Allowance and the severe limitation in support for widowed parents which is now being put in place.

“I have no doubt that those working with the most vulnerable in our society are anxious to move forward but here, as is the case on so many issues, it is difficult to see how progress can be made without resolution of the current political impasse.”

The voluntary and community sector, already under threat of cuts from the Community Relations Council, are also effectively cut off from by the Office of the Executive.

Sinn Fein appear to be gambling all of its limited gains (jointly won through the DUP) for a highly limited Irish Language Act (both parties tried to get a Bill of Rights through before and failed), and with bids on legacy also being noticeably limited. 

On the future focused side of the ledger, marriage equality is within grasp of the new Assembly (although new elections might actually endanger that possibility by restoring the DUP’s capacity to block such measures in the Assembly).

Long overdue reform of the Petition of Concern is now possible for the new Assembly: if anyone is policy smart enough to come up with an alternative protection? And there are a raft of things that can be done with the balance of power that was not possible before and may not be possible after a re-run.

A long stasis may now suit a troubled DUP, but voiding this election, as SF wants, only risks re-ensnaring a temporarily freed Assembly in the grip of this ongoing domestic within what is likely to remain Northern Ireland’s dysfunctional politbureau for the sake of a long shot to finally take the top seat off the DUP.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’m not sure exactly what you mean by rigid. What sort of figure have you in mind then?

  • NotNowJohnny

    As to what an ILA should contain, I’ve been clear about that before. It should impose a duty on all public bodies to promote and encourage the use of the Irish language. This will enable individual public bodies to determine how the language should be promoted and encouraged in respect of their individual functions. It should also requre the finance minister to make appropriate provision in the budget for the promotion of the language. It should also provide for a review of the legislation to be undertaken after ten years. This will allow the legisltion to be strengthened if necessary. There I’ve done it.

  • james

    “As to what an ILA should contain, I’ve been clear about that before.”

    Sorry, must have missed that.

    “It should impose a duty on all public bodies to promote and encourage the use of the Irish language.”

    Much too vague. This could cost billions – or pennies. Which public bodies? How are they to promote and encourage? Who will monitor this? What are the penalties if they’re failing to adequately do so?

    “This will enable individual public bodies” (which ones? Who elects them? Who do they answer to?

    “to determine how the language should be promoted and encouraged in respect of their individual functions.”

    Again, too vague.

    ” It should also requre the finance minister to make appropriate provision in the budget for the promotion of the language. ”

    Ah yes, appropriate provision. But absolutely no detail on what’s required – so how could a budget possibly be determined?

  • james

    Kicked to the bin, I think.

    Current position seems to be ‘unlimited funding for a USILA and don’t be asking annoying questions on how exactly the money will be spent’

    Try for yourself. A lot of people on here seem to be saying we need an Irish & Ulster Scots Language Act – and fair enough – but there’s only bluster when I’ve asked what that means in practice.

    In essence, ‘we need a lsnguage act, society can’t function or can’t be allowed to function without a language act, but we don’t know what a language act tangibly entails and therefore we can’t disviss a budget – and certainly it can’t be capped’.

  • james

    Well it seems to have gone from ‘Arlene must go – that’s why we collapsed the institutions’ to ‘There can be no return to Stormont without an Irish & Ulster Scots Act’

  • james

    Ok, but how can we set a budget if you’ve no idea what the money is for.

  • Mark Petticrew

    I’m not aware of this west Belfast poll you speak of, but a similar question to that was mentioned in the said 2015 ESRI study; 42% of sampled northerners stating that the government does too little for the Irish language, rising to as much as three-fifths amongst Catholic respondents.

    This combined with roughly 7 in 10 Catholics in the same study expressing a positive attitude towards the Irish language demonstrates that most Catholics do indeed care about it.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Sssh now James or SF will be signing you up ? You sound like their kind off candidate ? Once Presidento Gerry swears you in you have to listen to his famous sing-a-long rendition of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” !

  • North Down dup

    Yes most Catholics will express a positive attitude towards the Irish language, but mos of them will do nothing about it, deep down they don’t really care

  • james

    I’ve no particular talent for nor interest in politics – nor have I any real interest in doing things that might actually bring about a United Ireland, so I think……..

    Hang on….jaypers you might be right! 🙂


  • T.E.Lawrence

    Good to see you on this forum with a different opinion I give you a wee vote up by hitting the wee tag on the bottom left hand corner

  • Granni Trixie

    I’m sorry I simply do not see the financial cost as a red herring, I see it as responsible to ask for the costings of proposed content otherwise it’s like agreeing to hand over a blank cheque or ‘how longs a ball of string’.

  • George

    Or to paraphrase a famous quote: On any occasion that I want to know what the Catholics require, I need only look into my own heart.

  • NotNowJohnny

    If you’d read MMCGS resignation letter you’d know that it wasn’t just about RHI and AF. Did you not read the letter?

  • NotNowJohnny

    As I’ve already pointed out to you the costs will be determined as part of the draft bill and will depend in the content if it. Saying we can’t have an ILA because of the cost makes no sense. Saying we can’t have this in an ILA because of the cost is a different matter. Those opposed to an ILA aren’t arguing for an ILA we can afford. No. They are arguing against ANY ILA on the grounds of cost. That’s why it’s a red herring. By the way do you think our equality legislation and human rights legislation is akin to handing over a blank cheque? If not, why should an ILA be any different?

  • John Collins

    That is to completely miss the point. I am an Irish speaker but of course several Catholics are not. However most of us and a certain number of those of other faiths have a certain affinity for the language, see it as a part of their culture and certainly feel it should not be treated with contempt.
    Arlene’s ‘crocdile’ comments did not go down well with many of this latter group, but I feel she is sensibly adapting a more inclusive looking approach.

  • james

    Yes, and reading between the lines I see it was mainly about political opportunism and a calculated attempt to force a do-over of the previous election as they thought they could ride McGuinness’ ghost to a better result this time.

  • ted hagan

    So I am reading from that, among the crappy insults, that even if Foster had agreed to step aside over RHI, Sinn Fein would still have sought an election. You really should start to think logically.

  • NotNowJohnny

    What you deem to be insults wouldn’t be necessary if you didn’t give the impression that you were oblivious to what has been happening over the last few months. If foster had agreed to step aside, no SF wouldn’t have sought an election. Again this is something which is widely known. I’ll not risk insulting you again by asking why you are not aware of this. It was her refusal to step aside temporarily together with the other issues set out in MMG’s letter which caused SF to seek an election.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Political opportunism is what political parties do. It’s hardly something new. I’m curious about your timings here. Why do you think MMG triggered the election?