Jude Collins

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Nelson, the NIHE and poor Jenny

Well. This morning finds me saddened. My old chum Nelson McCausland, who as you know is concerned about bigotry and sectarianism, particularly in people like me, is now at the centre of a political storm. There’s even talk of recalling the Assembly to look at the relationship between the contracting firm Red Sky and the DUP. 

I didn’t see the Spotlight programme which gave the detail of this particular storm, but there appear to be allegations that staff members of the Housing Executive took bribes from contractors. There are also claims that Lisburn DUP councillor Jenny Palmer, who was on the Housing Executive board,  was put under pressure by Nelson’s special adviser Stephen Brimstone to vote in a way contrary to her conscience.

(That hollow laughter you hear is coming from Sinn Féin. “Did they say something about special advisers? The people who were horrified that anyone with a past could be considered as a special adviser? Here, pull the other one!”. )

Something I hear quite frequently is that there’s a tradition of brown baggery south of the border and that leading parties there, especially Fianna Fail, are innately corrupt when it comes to money and politics. This is usually followed by a distinction between such corruption and the way those of us north of the border conduct our political affairs. Yet this morning we hear talk of bad things about Red Sky, the contractors at the heart of this dispute. There are allegations of poor workmanship, charging for work not being done, charging for non-existent buildings - and attempts to put Red Sky back in the game under a different name. 

I don’t know if any of these allegations are true. But if they are,  it confirms what I’ve held for a long time: claims that we northerners have a craggy integrity when compared with our wheeling-dealing fellow-countrymen south of the border is miles off the mark. If we appear less corrupt it’s because we haven’t had the opportunity to be corrupt or that we haven’t been caught being corrupt. Yet.

But let me stress again: my heart is sore this morning for my old chum Nelson and any suggestion that he was involved in this matter in any way is of course bogus.  A finer, more up-standing, less-bigoted man could not be found in the DUP or anywhere else.
Excuse me - I have now to tend to my cat, which has fallen suddenly ill. 


  1. Poor Nelson indeed obviuosly we all have to wait for further evidence but it certainly didnt look too good last night. The Northern Ireland executive ministers in general seem hugely out of their depth

  2. The Assembly Ombudsman’s superiors in OFM // DFM will make sure the Assembly is found totally innocent of all charges. That’s what the Assembly Ombudsman is paid to do, isn't it?

    Not according to Tom Frawley, ‘The purpose of my Office is to ensure that every citizen in Northern Ireland is served by a fair and efficient public administration that is committed to accountability; openness; and quality of service.’

    About accountability:

    1. Tom works for the people he investigates, this is unacceptable.
    2. Have the PSNI expressed an interest in this case or are laws only for little people?
    3. If pursued would we see a Public Interest Immunity Certificate issued?
    4. What, if any role, in refusing FOI queries do the Intelligence Services play?
    5. If they play any role at all, not saying they do, in the refusal of FOI requests then why is it in the interests of national security to suppress information that might hold politicians to account?
    6. Weren't the DUP talking about ‘Untouchables’?
    7. Do some in the DUP believe they are ‘Untouchable’ by law and therefore assume that 'teflon like quality' extends to other useful ‘Agents of Influence’?
    8. Who gets those get of jail free cards?
    9. How does that help public confidence in the Assembly?
    10. We have to see ‘the Big Picture’ here, don’t we?
    11. What happened to the Barry Gilligan case?

    So to recap Tom’s office reports to the people he is supposed to investigate. PSNI investigators seem ‘intensely relaxed’ about wrongdoing in the NI Assembly.

    1. What happened about the lough keepers Inn case for instance?
    2. Why weren't Martin and Sinn Fein all over that?
    3. In this case Red Sky is in OFM’s constituency, how can Police and NI Ombudsman Office protect the integrity of that investigation?
    4. Imagine the pressure to find all concerned blameless?
    5. What will Peter Robinson do to separate himself from an independent investigation required to restore confidence in the NI Assembly?
    6. Will OFM // DFM start answering FOI requests?

    On Scrutiny Committees:

    Yet again we see people from a Scrutiny Committee shocked on TV.

    1. Are these people looking at Government processes as they happen or waiting for discoveries to happen?
    2. It seems to me to be a tad too late to scrutinize after the event, where is the prevention in the system?
    3. Of course if you prevent too much then one of your ministers might come into the firing line?
    4. Is there any point in reporting wrongdoing to the PSNI or the NI Ombudsman Office if certain people have unlimited get out of jail free cards?
    5. How do we protect those two whistle blowers in a country where parties have historical links to armed militias and the Intelligence Services?
    6. Why was this investigation concluded at the end of an Assembly term?
    7. Will it be remembered by the next Assembly term?

    Shouldn't we scrap this system?

  3. Ms Palmer told the Spotlight programme: "He (Mr Brimstone) said 'the party comes first, you do what you're told', otherwise there's no point in me being on the board, if I wasn't prepared to do what they asked me to do."

  4. We are the same, north & south, after all.

    FF/FG/DUP: different snouts, same trough.

  5. You cover up things yourself. One of my previous comments never got past your own form of censorship

    I don't mind this fact as it just proves your house like everyone else's is made of glass as well.