Friday, 14 August 2009

Oh! For flat sake!

SINN Féin is to give up its two London flats in what the party leadership says was an exercise in getting value for money.

It means that the £9,000 per month towards the flats will no longer be paid and MPs visiting London will book hotel rooms instead.

It is tempting to look in a couple of years time to see what the actual saving would be, but that would be churlish and only the sort of person who thinks Gerry and Co were claiming for property they didn’t really use or need would suggest such a thing…

Stormy waters ahead

THE UUP/Tory match up is heading for stormy waters according to media reports.

Conservative plans to introduce more female and Roman Catholic candidates, it has been suggested, could cause dissension within the Ulster Unionist ranks.

But before putting the brakes on the idea, perhaps Ulster Unionists might consider the fact that they would be hard-pushed to do any worse no matter who they field.

Five year plan

A LONG time ago in the USSR – for younger readers that was Russia with knobs on - someone decreed that there should be five year plans to ensure planned development.

This week the Ulster Unionists - in their party leader’s absence (Sir Reg is out of the country) and without recourse to their Conservative bed fellows (you know, that lot that may be in power next year) announced their belief that there should be a five year plan to devolve policing. It is to be called a ‘test period’.

The plan, involving ways and means to extract more money from the cash-strapped Treasury, appeals to conspiracy theorists… and the SDLP…as a sign that the DUP would use the UUP opposition, to devolution of policing and justice, as a way of stopping it without being caught at the scene of the crime.

The Ulster Unionist plan appeared in the document ‘Putting it Right’. Disappointingly for conspiracy theorists, much of the document was about criticising the DUP (or was this a cunning double bluff?!?) and the planning for financial planning of Northern Ireland’s planned economy. Did I mention there was a plan in there somewhere?

But there is a fatal flaw in calling for urgent cost savings – the DUP wants to slash Government departments, which under D’Hondt would mean less Ministerial posts for the Ulster Unionists.

Welcome to NI

NEW PSNI Chief Constable (elect) Matt Baggott looked pretty pleased with himself after landing the top spot here – but one has to wonder what he has thought about since signing on the dotted line.

As a devout signed up Christian, he ticked the DUP’s box; and as an advocate of community policing he ticked the Sinn Féin box.

At which point DUP or Sinn Féin is ticked off by Baggot is a matter of when as to opposed to if; and he no doubt will be ticked off by their contrary attitudes on a regular basis.

As he reflected after his appointment, one wonders whether he took a deep breath and wondered what he had gotten himself into.

Radio talk shows had atheists crying foul over his appointment and dissident republican supporters claiming armed struggle would continue.

Then comes the policing of so-called contentious parades…and then the controversy over the use of Tasers…and then devolution of policing and justice…and then…

A word of advice to Mr Baggott - take the attitude of Sir Hugh Orde and go on TV/radio once a month, disagree with everyone and agree with yourself. It pays to keep as many people as confused as possible as often as possible.

So here we are once more…

SUMMER’S final fling is upon us; the last few weeks to scrape together to get the children new school clothes, wonder how to pay the holiday credit card bill, and yawn at what is now becoming the traditional end of August Parades’ Commission row.

But as this is a new media age we live in, campaigning for and against parades has moved into cyberspace.

The planned Rasharkin parade by the loyal orders this weekend has been labelled contentious and a Parades’ Commission ruling to allow it has been both criticised and welcomed (depending on which of the proverbial sides you may or may not be on).

But there have been extensive tweets from a Twitter on the issue. Sinn Féin MLA, Daithí McKay has as of Friday morning posted 12 Tweets on the parade.

From these Tweets we learn that Daithí is generally opposed to the Parades’ Commission determination, and has given interviews to BBC Radio Ulster, Radio Foyle, UTV and U105 on the matter.

He has also attended a meeting of the Resident’s Association, Tweeted on the ‘anger’ of residents and the fact that a DUP councillor briefly attended the meeting.

The new wave of interactive politicians isn’t quite upon us yet, but the first wave is riding high on the ability to directly offer us their opinions and wisdom without the media filter…but what are we to make of the fact that Daithí is a follower on Twitter of the DUP, éirgrí, the SDLP, the UUP and DUP MLA Michelle McIlveen.

By contrast, the PUP’s Dawn Purvis Tweeted on Friday about how good the Woodstock R&B festival has been!