“Sinn Féin is replacing a number of Councillors at City Hall…”

DUP MLA, and junior minister, Robin Newton, appears to have rattled the cage of fellow Belfast City Councillor, Sinn Féin’s Tom Hartley, with his speculation “about Sinn Fein removing six of their current Councillors” on Belfast City Council. “It seems that the current Sinn Fein group is seen as being too soft and is perceived as having become institutionalised and establishment friendly. It looks like the extreme socialist wing of Sinn Fein is unhappy with the performance of the current supposedly … Read more

Rocky (A5) road to Dublin?

As the Irish government clings desperately on to both the country’s economic independence and to its tiny Dáil majority whilst simultaneously promising the Plain People in the South more pain in the shape of less pay, fewer jobs and disappearing public services it may seem surprising that they are still funding that road which winds its way through the middle of the Ulster countryside and for no obvious electoral advantage. Of course, all political parties in the South insist that … Read more

“it’s up to the Executive whether to sell assets like Belfast harbour”

The Northern Ireland Executive met today [To decide what planet they’re living on? – Ed] to discuss the outcome of the 2010 Spending Review.  Apparently, they now want to meet with either the “Coalition Government” or the “London Government”.  In their statement they can’t decide which. Perhaps the UK Government would do?  How about the Northern Ireland Secretary of State?  He is a member of that government, after all. And as the NI Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, told the BBC “This is … Read more

Owen Paterson: “I don’t know what planet they’re living on.”

That was Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson’s reported response to the reaction of our special little pleaders to the outcome of the UK Government’s 2010 Spending Review.  And he has a point. The NI First Minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson, claimed the cuts were ‘worse than feared’ . But his party colleague, and NI Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, has stated that “Whilst the level of budget reductions we are facing is unwelcome, and will present a serious challenge, it comes as … Read more

“There can be no greater endorsement of our world class skills and knowledge base…”

I’d welcome Peter Robinson’s call to end state-funding of faith-based schools if I thought he was serious about separating church and state. But he’s just as unlikely now, as he was then, to intervene whenever a supernaturalist Minister attempts to influence what’s on display in our museums, or at our World Heritage site, or in schools within the Lurgan District Council area. And what is Sinn Féin’s position on the DUP leader’s de-segregated objective? The Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s … Read more

Robinson: “This will test the enthusiasm of the Executive for making savings in local government.”

As Brian has already noted, Northern Ireland First Minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson, has set out his views on the desirability of a “single educational system” here.  As, previously, did the NI Secretary of State.  We’ll wait to see if the deputy First Minister is still “all for it”. But in his speech Peter Robinson also tackled some of Sinn Féin’s recent economic proposals. From the DUP leader’s speech Another red herring thrown across the debate to deflect attention from the issue … Read more

“However we can’t invite ourselves…”

Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, was quick to claim a victory for OFMDFM’s “united case” after NI Secretary of State Owen Paterson said “Having had discussions with the treasury, we are confident that having spent £9.8bn since 2005, that by 2017-18, we will be on track for Northern Ireland to have spent £18bn.” But economist John Simpson was already looking at the potential small print Economist John Simpson told the BBC that he believed a total of £14bn will … Read more

GAA: the Nation’s desire to live her own life, to govern her own affairs.

A question in the Assembly from Michelle McIlveen to Nelson McCausland suggested that Unionists are effectively barred from joining the GAA. While I’m delighted another DUP member has taken the time to read the GAA Official Guide, something many members have never done, I’m surprised they seem surprised to find an Irish cultural and sporting organisation doesn’t have a Unionist ethos. Both McIlveen and McCausland call for the GAA to change its rules. For those of us with experience of … Read more

Is it right they rule by rote?

I’m off on a wee rant below, apologies. While Eamonn’s reproduction of a UUP communication to members has transitory interest, it could open up a broader discussion on the internal democracy of our political parties; how they manage policy setting, media protocols and transparency. A party wracked with disagreement and conflicting messages for nearly two decades like the UUP is long overdue a leader to stamp internal discipline and defined direction for external eyes. The immediate threat of ‘you go … Read more

NI Environment Minister’s “retreat from Moscow”

I mentioned that the public inquiry into the John Lewis development at Sprucefield has been delayed due to legal concerns about comments made by the NI Environment Minister, the DUP’s Edwin Poots.  The BBC reports that Lord Justice Girvan has asked the Attorney General to consider contempt of court proceedings, despite a statement from the Minister being read out in court today.  And, it would appear, not just in regard to the Minister.  From the BBC report Lord Justice Girvan said [the Minister’s statement in court today] did not “sit … Read more

John Lewis inquiry delayed due to Minister’s comments

Official statements by the then Northern Ireland Environment Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, have already been quashed by one member of the judiciary because they unlawfully changed planning policy to “give greater weight to [the] economic considerations” of any proposed development.  Now the BBC reports that the Planning Appeals Commission has confirmed a further delay to the public inquiry into the John Lewis development at Sprucefield.  The reason?  Legal concerns about comments made in a recent interview by the current NI … Read more

“this may suit political parties with a deeply rooted sense of conflicting priorities based on ethnic division”

The BBC reports criticism of the DUP/Sinn Féin drafted Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration, all ‘motherhood and apple pie’, by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.  The Trust’s report is available here [pdf file].  And from the Trust’s press release [pdf file] The study, carried out by the Institute for British Irish Studies at UCD, Dublin, identifies three key areas of concern. Celia McKeon of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust discusses: “Firstly, the research has indicated that the new policy framework … Read more

UUP must accept decline is not temporary but a generational shift

UUP banner logo - slightly cropped

Excellent analytical piece by the former UUP, now DUP member, Lee Reynolds (and late of this Parish) at the Critical Reaction blog on the roots of his old party’s underlying malaise. It cuts much more deeply and finely than any rash analysis of a single constituency. For instance, he highlights the essentially introverted nature of the beast: The UUP’s years of success had led to a complacency that blinded it to a steady decline in organisational capability. Its record of … Read more

OFMDFM abandon Draft Public Assemblies Bill?

The BBC report follows the lead given by the Northern Ireland First Minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson, in blaming the Orange Order’s rejection of the proposals for the withdrawal of the draft Bill on Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests. But abandoning that Bill conveniently avoids the First and deputy First Ministers having to fulfill their commitment to deliver in legislation the agreed outcomes of that working group – and their special advisers… The legislation they proposed was, after all, “built on ignorance of the law, plain stupidity, arrogance, … Read more

FMdFM: “It was important that we were there and right that we were there…”

The First and deputy First Ministers continue their evasive response to criticism of their failure to accept their invitation to attend Pope Benedict XVI’s official welcome on the first-ever papal state visit to the UK. One’s clinging to his political psychosis/comfort blanket, the other’s claiming they were double-booked.  That’s why you have junior ministers, guys. As for the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister’s claim that he “also [has] some grounds for believing [a Papal visit to Ireland] could happen as soon as 2012”.  What grounds would … Read more

NI Energy Minister: “I have received assurances from ESB on a range of issues relating to the transaction.”

The BBC reports that the Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson, wearing his other hat as leader of the DUP, and out-going UUP leader Reg Empey have jointly written to the Irish government to object to the proposed sale of NI Electricity (NIE) to the state-owned Electricity Supply Board (ESB).  NIE is currently owned, through Viridian, by Arcapita, a Bahrain-based bank. A RTÉ report adds It has emerged that Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and outgoing UUP leader Reg … Read more

OFMDFM’s dilemma

Nevermind the Presbyterian moderator, at least he’s going to be there.  Our own little Process™ might have got a special mention as Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Edinburgh today on his first ever state visit to the UK, but no-one from the Northern Ireland Executive was there to hear it – despite an invitation being sent to the Office of the First and deputy First Ministers. Apparently that’s what happens when you can’t meet the Pope/Queen without meeting the Queen/Pope… Adds  An otherwise somewhat unbalanced BBC report notes … Read more

Dealing with cuts “will present the Executive with its biggest policy challenge to date”

There’s been much public posturing from the two main [mandatory] coalition parties here following comments by the Northern Ireland First Minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson, about the expected cuts in public expenditure. Reported attempts by the deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, to play down suggestions of a split appear to have fallen on deaf, non-Ministerial, ears within his own party. Mark Devenport tells us that DUP sources reckon there’s a difference between the public line being pushed in Sinn … Read more

Tony Blair: “We were absolutely open with people.”

It’s worth noting Tony Blair’s response to Reg Empey’s claim that “We now know that the foundation of St Andrews was built on lie after lie.” Here’s what Tony Blair told the Irish Times “That’s absolute nonsense,” he retorts. “One of the things I have done in the book is that I have tried to be honest. Now what people actually sometimes say is that we want a honest politician. “They say ‘hey, you are not a saint. That’s not … Read more