Arlene says ‘it’s dangerous to transfer to nationalists’, but without cross community transfering it’s just another standoff…

I can only assume from the demeanour of DUP friends that this latest statement comes in reaction to wisdom distilled from the doorsteps… “It is dangerous to advocate supporting candidates who are Pro-United Ireland above preferences for fellow unionists. The greater the number of nationalist MLAs elected the stronger the push will be for a Border Poll.” She then goes on to point out that neither the SDLP nor the UUP had enough candidates in this election to supplant either the … Read more

“We say it’s highly improper and unorthodox, effectively OFMDFM are seeking to resist the grant of leave against the Department of Justice.”

A Belfast High Court judge has adjourned the application for a judicial review of the controversial new law criminalising the paying for sex following a last minute intervention by the Northern Ireland Attorney General on behalf of the Office of the NI First and Deputy First Ministers (OFMDFM). Interestingly, as the BBC report notes A barrister representing the [NI Department of Justice] confirmed it was not opposing Ms Lee’s application for a judicial review of the new law, on the basis that an arguable … Read more

“We need to sort out a dysfunctional and deeply cynical approach by the dominant parties.”

There’s a strong sense of politicians going through the motions each time there’s a plenary debate on Northern Ireland issues. Two exceptions this afternoon were Paul Murphy of the Anti Austerity Alliance who gave a pretty blistering account of SF’s role in the signing up to the so called fantasy budget, and Micheal Martin… I’ll add Murphy’s speech when we get the text, but here’s Martin’s in full: The sad reality is that the situation in Northern Ireland is now … Read more

Northern Ireland Executive has been ignoring the financial crisis since 2007

In the BelTel, Liam Clarke has an excellent summation of just how Stormont’s Executive got itself into this mess: The origins of the crisis lie in 2007, the final year before the property crash, when the Executive parties agreed a number of eye-catching giveaways. Water rates were set aside, at a current cost of £180m a year; our leaders held regional rates down, giving us the lowest household taxes in the UK, and there were also free prescriptions for everyone … Read more

Lord Chief Justice Morgan: “Our system of government depends on mutual respect between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary…”

The BBC reports that, after waiting 8 months for a reply, Northern Ireland’s most senior judge, Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan, has made public a letter of complaint he sent to the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers about comments made by a NI Executive Minister in the Assembly.  From the published text of the letter in the BBC report Dear Peter and Martin RULE OF LAW Regretfully, I am writing to you about comments made by a Minister … Read more

“Run like a huckster’s shop” – Redux

[No change since June 2009, then? – Ed]  Have there been any consequences…?  A BBC report that the DUP and Sinn Féin have, belatedly, agreed the outcome of the semi-detached polit-bureau Northern Ireland Executive’s June budget monitoring round was met with understandable criticism from the other NI Executive parties. Justice Minister David Ford, who leads the Alliance Party, described the situation as “shambolic” while the Ulster Unionists and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) said they had been kept in the dark about … Read more

The next Chief Constable… is George Hamilton

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…  Having “unanimously” agreed to appoint Matt Baggott as PSNI Chief Constable in 2009 for his strong advocacy of “community-style policing”, the Northern Ireland Policing Board, or its party political members, might be said to be experiencing buyer’s regret. Alternatively, those same political parties have undermined the outgoing Chief Constable throughout his tenure by putting their own party political concerns ahead of the ‘greater good’ – by word, and by deed.  [“ahem* – Ed]. ANYhoo… with Matt Baggott announcing his … Read more

Green ‘dismissal’: “There are no policy issues, because the people you are talking about remain in the party”

Liam Clarke has been asking some useful questions around Sinn Fein’s silent dropping of Leo Green: Green said he had renewed his membership of Sinn Fein on January 24 and that he had not left over any single issue. We are none the wiser except that this man, who cut his political teeth under IRA army discipline, is not about to break ranks with his comrades and speak his mind. The rumour is that, among other issues, he felt the … Read more

Nigel Dodds: “Sinn Fein’s problem is that they can’t take a decision within their own party”

Sometimes it is hard to know whether to laugh or cry when dealing with NI politics. [Might be better if you’d just stick to walking the dogs? – Ed]. Ah, so. Here’s Nigel Dodds riposte to Martin (just remember, there’s a war an election on): Sinn Fein’s problem is not that they can’t reach agreements with unionists but they can’t take a decision within their own party. On the introduction of the National Crime Agency to Northern Ireland, there are … Read more

NI Justice Minister: “I trust that the executive will recognise that it is the right decision, and that I was right to make it”

In the aftermath of the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers/Executive/Assembly/Policing Board members semi-detached polit-bureau’s kerfuffle over the NI Justice Minister’s proposed changes to the criteria for the next Chief Constable, Liam Clarke reveals some significant correspondence on the matter.  Firstly, the Chief Executive of the NI Policing Board, Sam Pollock, tries his hand at herding cats to put some manners on members of the Board. In his letter to Policing Board members, Mr Pollock wrote: “I am disappointed in the … Read more

NI Justice Minister: “It is important to note that, in setting some minimum standards, I am not prohibiting the Board from adding to these minimum criteria…”

Whilst Brian may regard them as “surely sensible” changes to the criteria for the next Chief Constable, and they may well be, as I mentioned in updates to a previous post, no sooner had the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, the Alliance Party’s David Ford, announced those changes than the NI First and deputy First Ministers promptly agreed to exercise their prerogative to call his decision into the dysfunctional NI Executive semi-detached polit-bureau  [Where it will be put to the sword… – … 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

“creating consistency between each of the devolved institutions across the United Kingdom”

While the bullshit distraction that is the DUP/Sinn Féin “Building a United Community” paper [pdf file] was being paraded across the airwaves last week – Think of it as a revamped Contested Space Programme [Don’t tell the International Fund for Ireland – Ed], pre-empting consultation on area-based planning, and Girdwood times 10.  [And another non-working working group? – Ed]  With 3 representatives from the DUP, 3 from Sinn Féin and 2 each from the other 3 Executive parties… ANYhoo…  The NI … Read more

OFMDFM spokeswoman: “The Defamation Bill was never considered by the Executive”

In the Belfast Telegraph, Liam Clarke has a glimpse behind the curtain at ministerial manoeuvring around the failure to consent to the UK Defamation Bill.  From the Belfast Telegraph article UK-wide legislation like the Defamation Bill can be extended to here by a motion of ‘Legislative Consent’ passed at the Assembly. A minister, though, must submit proposals to the Executive. The Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP), which is headed by Sammy Wilson, is responsible in this case. On May 22 … Read more

Theresa Villiers: “our economic package will be closely linked to, and conditional on real progress by the executive…”

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, was in west Belfast today on the 15th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement.  Here’s a couple of lines from her press statement The Agreement called for ‘reconciliation, tolerance, and mutual trust’ and as I’ve travelled around Northern Ireland, I’ve seen many fantastic initiatives that are bringing different parts of the community together. Forthspring Inter Community Group and the Argyle Business Centre are two great examples of the courage, leadership and tenacity that local … Read more

“unless it’s because politicians in Northern Ireland want to be able to sue newspapers more readily…”

Some interesting added detail in the News Letter report following up on the story of the Northern Ireland Executive’s failure to consent to the Defamation Bill going through the UK Parliament.  To begin with, it’s claimed that it wasn’t the Executive after all… Last Wednesday, the News Letter revealed that the Defamation Bill – the first reform of the UK’s libel laws since the 19th Century – had been blocked from extending to Northern Ireland by Stormont’s leaders. However, the … Read more

“Our job is to express the concerns as we hear them in the community…”

If it’s not Sinn Féin complaining about ‘political policing’, it’s the DUP. Mr Robinson said that trust needed to be rebuilt. “It’s important that the police gain the confidence of the unionist community, or regain the confidence of that section of the unionist community who have lost confidence in the police, by showing that his actions were entirely even-handed,” Mr Robinson said. “Our job is to express the concerns as we hear them in the community. [Good to see both parties are still … Read more

Peter Hain: “I took some risky decisions to engage with people who were on the fringes…”

The BBC reports more self-aggrandisement disguised as political comment from the erstwhile Secretary of State for Wales, etc, Peter Hain.  From the BBC report “In Northern Ireland, I think there is a particular issue with the loyalist community and I do not think the government is doing enough to engage with them,” [Peter Hain] said. “I took some risky decisions to engage with people who were on the fringes and some actually almost in uniform as it were, in paramilitary … Read more

“Leaders welcomed the opportunity to meet and engage in a discussion…”

According to the BBC report, after a “meeting at Stormont Castle, which began at 0930 GMT and lasted almost eight hours, [and] was supposed to take place last week but was cancelled after some parties refused to attend”, “The leaders of Northern Ireland’s five main parties have reaffirmed their commitment to the rule of law”. Phew.  That’s a relief… Although, it’s not entirely clear from the reports which “leaders” they mean exactly.  [Was Gerry there? – Ed] The UTV report has some … Read more

“they demonstrate clearly their disdain for the democratic process”

The semi-detached polit-bureau are at it again.  Whatever ‘it’ is…  [Headline-grabbing? – Ed]  Possibly…  There’s certainly a lack of detail.  In the absence of a sitting Northern Ireland Assembly to question them, and with no NI Executive meeting for them to jointly chair until September, the NI First and deputy First Ministers issued a statement last night.  [It’s a Queens’ Speech! – Ed]  Indeed. From the OFMDFM statement Commenting, Ministers said: “We are pleased to be able to give some detail on … Read more