Jude Collins

Saturday, 5 October 2013

"Everywhere there's lots of piggies/Leading piggie lives" - old Beatles song

Sometimes the Stormont foreground is so crisis-ridden, we forget the important background work. That’s where the calm everyday business of government goes on,  where the machinery is kept cranking by nameless people. Well, except your name is Mary McArdle or Paul Kavanagh.  If that's your name you lose your job.

Their mistake, you see,  was they belonged to the wrong party. If they’d belonged to, say, the UUP or the Alliance Party or DUP, they’d have been OK. In fact, there’s a reasonable chance they’d not only have had a job, they’d have been related to the person who gave them the job. 

Some figures. Of SDLP MLAs, some 21% employ relatives.  The UUP beat that - 23% of them keep it in the family. Alliance notches 25%, and one-man-band Jim Allister employs his daughter. But the DUP make them all look like amateurs. Of their 38 MLAs, 33 employ relatives. That’s 61%. All working away, bringing home an honest crust to feed the family.

Take the DUP MLA Robin Newton, now. He told the Nolan Show he hadn’t interviewed his wife for her job as his office manager because she was well-qualified anyway. “My wife’s previous experience and whole career has been based on working as a personal assistant to someone at a fairly senior level in commerce and the running of a small office. Carol and I have worked together and it seemed to be a natural progression”. His wife and son between them brought home over £60,000.  Oh, and his daughter got nearly £14,000 for doing some, um, research and secretarial work over an 18-month period. Nice work, as the old song said, if you can get it. 

It’s becoming a bit like the house of Windsor, up in Stormont. If you’ve got the royal blood coursing through your veins, the job’s yours and the public money that goes with it. Interviews? Open competition? Testing the ability of one applicant against another? Sure what would you bother with that carry-on for.  And don’t say it’s illegal because it isn’t.

But hold. There may yet be changes.  Pat McCartan, chair of the Independent Financial Review panel, says one option that might be considered would be ensuring that there is open competition for any jobs. One option. Might be considered. Don’t you go giving yourself a hernia there, Pat, rushing at it. Sure who’s better equipped to put their snout in the public trough than an MLA’s own family? 

By the way, did you know that George Harrison's mother came up with that final line of the Piggies song: "What they  need's a damn good whacking"?  Don't know what put that in my head.


  1. Hey Jude
    Another Beatles song from the White Album comes to mind when thinking about parades.'Why don't we do it in the road?
    And given your fondness for Mrs Windsor may I add:
    'Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl, wanna tell her that I love her a lot but I gotta get a bellyful of wine.'

  2. Everyone knows that Mrs Harrison came up with that line Jude. To here you sure yud think we're all in need of yer learning. Sure everyone knows Lennon's Sexy Sadie isnt about a girl at all, but about a white haired man who goes about chanting a mantra. My wee lad thought it was about a girl who chairs debates on RTE..but he's only five, God love him. Ah the bliss of ignorance.

  3. Sinn Fein and whatever semi-covert, CIMIC inspired, PR pay check you might draw are the establishment now. You aren’t plucky rebels; you’re with the rich powerful people pretending to be plucky rebels.

    Sinn Fein is a well-funded, well-organized electoral machine including American backers with deep pockets and a turnkey, British-funded, community worker patronage system. The real talent behind the scenes in Sinn Fein is as good as any of their opponents, for example Ted Howell, a strategic genius. They hardly need him because the faux attacks from British commentators and some Americans are straw men style inoculators to create the illusion of war by other means.

    Those dastardly foes from across the pond with thousands of years of collective organizational memory in counter-insurgency never hit the target because they don’t want to. Seriously the NSA record the entire lives of everyone in Northern Ireland, GCHQ has full access to that information, if they really wanted to crush Sinn Fein as a party that would be pretty easy to do. They had them bugged all through the troubles. Telecom traffic analysis alone would show the whole picture. The dirt must be there. So why don’t those die-hard enemies of the rebels use it?

    Let’s nail the lie, the Brits and Americans (BAP) love Sinn Fein, if they didn’t Sinn Fein wouldn’t exist. They provide the illusion of a struggle, there’s no struggle, welfare cuts will happen. People will die because of those cuts; Sinn Fein will pretend to care to increase their vote. Nothing will change, is West Belfast a Socialist Utopia? Hardly! If it was Sinn Fein would disappear and a more middle-class party would emerge from their talent. The voters are a means to an end, their misery is important to the system of patronage that keeps Sinn Fein and the SDLP on top.

    You and your establishment friends are the Darth Vadars wheezing imperialist propaganda into the blogosphere from your safe middle-class living rooms stroke death-stars. You became an overt Republican the second it didn’t cost you anything to be one. You must have felt like Kim Philby or Tony Blunt in the privileged atmosphere of you cosseted academic past, secretly longing to be on the front lines with Gerry and Martin. Oh if only they’d had an officer of your caliber.

    I recommend paintball for some catharsis. You can leave the body padding off for some realism if you want. But for pity sake stop faking a struggle between rich imperialists and their well-funded water carriers.

    1. Glad u got that off your chest

    2. I'm so glad I make you happy, it's what I live for!

  4. So is it your contention that the S P A D s keep the machinery of government working?Some might think that it is the humble civil servants who perform that task.Is there really a need for so many S P A D s? In that party of equality,are some more equal than others?For example if your name is Kearney or Maskey,progress seems to be faster!

  5. Looking forward to your reply to Anonymous (18 38) above! Are you an overt or covert Shinner?!!

  6. You didn't quote any percentages for Sinn Fein MLA's, perhaps its because they don't employ relatives, I don't know. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but was Mary McCardle's present position not brought about by the result of a voting procedure similar to the recent one regarding ( can't resist it) flegs. While I'm for the fleg vote I'm against the Stormont vote. But that's damn democracy for you. By the way hope your percentage figures are'nt as erroneous as your reproduction of George Harrison lyrics.

    1. Nepotism is particularly egregious as it benefits your closest circle and thus benefits you. It certainly seems the Unionist parties are most guilty of nepotism.
      One could argue that the the appointment of SPADs without interview is almost as bad,discriminating against those better suited to the post.
      What were Mary McArdle's outstanding qualifications in the area of culture for example?

    2. In the area of culture? Presumably some in one area of culture like her former employer.

  7. Paul Kavanagh employs his wife in the party.

  8. Of their 38 MLAs, 33 employ relatives. That’s 61%.
    Need to get the calculator out...

  9. Could somebody out there tell me the percentage for Sinn Fein MLA's who employ relatives. Do the TUV not top the poll with 100%?