Kicking the [financial] can down the road, again.

According to the BBC’s Mark Devenport, The Treasury has been asked to supply Stormont with a one-off loan of between £100m and £150m to ease its budgetary crisis, the BBC understands. According to the reports, the proposal was discussed with the UK Treasury by the NI First Minister, the DUP leader Peter Robinson, and the NI Finance Minister, the DUP’s Simon Hamilton.  Whether that occurred before, or after, yesterday’s ‘special’ meeting of the NI Executive isn’t entirely clear.  From the … Read more

Lord Chief Justice Morgan: “this is a case about political failure”

Not the Haass talks.  You can keep your nose pressed against the windowpane with David if you’re hoping for a scrap of comfort from that.  No, this is about the continued dysfunctional approach of the two main parties of the Northern Ireland Executive semi-detached polit-bureau to the process of government – as defined under the current administration. Sinn Féin’s pre-Christmas (23 Dec) defence of the Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill’s unilateral decision to re-allocate €137 million of EU funding over the next six … Read more

G8 Summit: “Of course, the event did not come for free…”

As the BBC reports, the Northern Ireland Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, has revised, upwards, his estimate of the cost of the recent G8 Summit in Fermanagh.  Here’s the relevant extract from Hansard There has been much focus on the cost of the G8 event.  The most important thing is that we successfully delivered a safe and secure event, and, for that, I give my sincere thanks to the PSNI. Of course, the event did not come for free, and, … Read more

G8 Summit: “Gardaí will place a particular emphasis on securing the Border…”

According to the Northern Ireland Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, the NI Executive will face a bill of £6 million from the £60 million total cost of hosting the G8 Summit in Fermanagh on June 17th and 18th  – the UK Treasury is expected to provide the rest of the funds required.  But, as the Irish Times reports, the neighbouring state on the island is also making preparations. Some 900 gardaí will be in the region for the period covering the … Read more

“The Committee views this matter with the utmost seriousness…”

The BBC reports the Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) press release on their report in response to NI Audit Office report into the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme – the actual PAC report is here. In general there’s little new information on the NI Department of Agriculture’s mishandling of the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme – the largest capital grant scheme ever run by the Department of Agriculture, through which some 4000 farmers received grants worth £121million  – an earlier draft PAC report was leaked to the … Read more

Ministerial U-turn on NI Water Chief Executive’s terms

After his very well publicised threat to resign, the acting Chief Executive at Northern Ireland Water, Trevor Haslett, appears to have got what he wanted – a £20,000 pay rise [and a two year contract? – Ed].  From the BBC report A spokeswoman for the Department for Regional Development confirmed the deal. “Northern Ireland Water needs leadership and stability,” she said. “Trevor Haslett has demonstrated that he is the best person to lead NI Water through the winter that is almost … Read more

Every little helps…

I DOUBT if our Sammy has been down at Writer’s Square lately, or whether he’s been flicking through the pages of Tescopoly – but there’s little doubt he has managed to piss off one multi-national more than our tent-dwelling comrades have. And after reading Tesco director David North’s threats the other day about cutting job creation and investment here if Sammy goes ahead with plans to impose a large retailer levy, I rather sympathise with Sammy. North said last week … Read more

Quick. Look busy…

Whether you’re the UK Home Secretary keen to be seen to be responding to riots on the streets of London, or the Northern Ireland Finance Minister calling a local “emergency meeting” about a global financial crisis.  Appearances are everything… [Until someone asks a “stupid” question – Ed]  Indeed. Pete Baker

“I do think it would be seen as a failure of the assembly…”

The BBC reports the concerns of Northern Ireland Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, about the potential need for an emergency budget if the NI Executive fails to agree a draft budget.  From the BBC report Mr Wilson said some ministers had been co-operating with his department. “It would be wrong to blame everybody and I hope everyone doesn’t get tarred with the one brush,” he said. “I do think it would be seen as a failure of the assembly … Read more

“there was good news and bad news…”

The still-Northern Ireland Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, won’t be making a formal statement to the Assembly until September, but he’s written to MLAs to inform them of the NI Executive’s decisions about this year’s additional cuts in departmental budgets.  From the Belfast Telegraph report In a letter penned to MLAs he said: “The main issue facing the Executive in this round was how best to address the £127.8m reduction in funding arising as a consequence of the announcement made by … Read more