Weekly Political Rotation: From Work Events and Jurassic Park to “Educational Apartheid” and Useless George

From work events and Jurassic Park, to “educational apartheid” and George Useless, Andrew Madden takes a closer look at some of the more unusual things about the association and elsewhere this week.

In a day

On Monday, Ulster Federal leader Doug Petty saw criticism of TUV leader Jim Alistair over a written question from the association he posed regarding Covid testing.

Mr Alistair, who has a penchant for being divisive, to say the least, asked the Minister of Health “what precautions are in place to prevent citizens of the Republic of Ireland from taking advantage of free Covid-19 testing kits and facilities in Northern Ireland”, and also inquires about “how broad this is in regions”. frontier.”

The question came amid reports of pharmacies in border areas turning away customers from the republic looking to take lateral flow tests, as they are provided free on the NHS, while you have to pay for them in the south.

Unfortunately, Petty described Aleister 2 as divisive, and said he “simply can’t fathom this nonsense”.

He tweeted: “I’d be happy with my neighbor, the same neighbor who sent ambulances and crews to help us fight Covid….or put in helicopters to help us fight bushfires.”

Meanwhile, the ongoing saga around the Irish Sea frontier erupted, when it emerged that Agriculture Secretary Edwin Potts would submit a paper to the Executive asking for approval to continue Brexit checks in Northern Ireland ports. This increases the possibility that DUP will intercept the checks.

Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill said Mr Potts would act illegally if he went down this path. For some reason I doubt this will upset the feathers of many in the DUP, given that the party has already been found by the Supreme Court to be carrying out an illegal boycott of North/South meetings, without any real action.

Monday also saw the MLAs call up to the educational discussion in the room, during which things took an expected orange versus green turn. Some DUP members criticized the “national front” behind the no-confidence motion, which was put forward by Sinn Fein and supported by the DDP and the coalition.

The Alliance PR team used their social media video editing skills to post a clip on social media of one of these exchanges, followed by screenshots from Jurassic Park and an on-screen text reminding NI citizens of the upcoming Assembly elections, with the message: “Let’s make dinosaurs extinct again.” “.


Tuesday saw an uproar over yet another Downing Street closing party, after ITV published a leaked email from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s private secretary calling on staff to have “socially distancing drinks in Lawn 10” in May 2020. The call has encouraged People are on to “bring your own alcoholic drinks.” and “make the most of the beautiful weather” – at a time when lockdown rules in England have banned large outdoor gatherings.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood had none of it. “Boris Johnson is a con man. The cute figure he loves to show to the world is an excuse for an untrustworthy and cynical politician who thinks the rules don’t apply to him or his inner circle.” Boris Johnson has lost any authority or credibility. he had. The best thing he can do now is resign.”

In Stormont, problems were raised over the Department of Communities’ £2m Winter Fuel Emergency Payment Scheme, after it was found that the scheme had been restricted to 330 payments per day to prevent him from indulging in it. Given that there are between 200,000 and 300,000 NI citizens living in fuel poverty, this is not ideal.

Elsewhere, DUP MLA Jim Wells said his party should not go into government with Sinn Fein if the Republican Party wins the Assembly elections in May and takes the seat of prime minister. Both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have the same powers and status, the difference is only in the name.

Mr Wells said that Sinn Féin as Prime Minister and potentially a Taoiseach position in the Republic would be a source of “huge political fame”. That’s a lot for the “Democratic” unionist party, then.


In Westminster, there were angry scenes on Tuesday when Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared before the House of Commons to apologize for attending the aforementioned Downing Street park party. I say ‘apologies’, he apologised, not for his attendance, but for how he ‘perceived’, denoting irony that he thought it was a business event…despite the invitation to the garden party which states that the invitees bring their liquor.

Even DUP member Sammy Wilson – who is not known to be the biggest fan of Covid restrictions – said before BoJo Commons appeared that he should “get clean” during the lockdown party.

He told the BBC: “As a senior MP told me yesterday, ‘Look at the PM, these are not the first allegations of the parties, and he should know the full extent of what happened in Downing Street during the lockdown.'”

“Instead of letting this drip feed of information show that one thing happened on May 20 and another happened at another time — it has to come clean.

“He must make it very clear that these things are happening, what should have happened, what his involvement in them is, and to kill this story so that every week you will not have a new discovery. People will then make a judgment on the basis of this situation and his honesty about this as it ought to be his future”.

Meanwhile, Stormont’s economics department has been accused of being “silent” over issues with the £100 flagship voucher system, with MLAs saying they were ignored by the department when asking questions about those who lost out on getting the voucher.

Applications for the scheme opened on September 27 and closed on January 7, but so far dozens of people have not received their cards, while others have not been able to use them due to a combination of issues.

“Some people may have simply given up and decided they weren’t going to do it any longer,” MLA Stewart Dixon said.

On the Executive Office Committee, independent MLA Trevor Lun had a Freudian slip when he spoke about Brexit and George Eustis, Britain’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Lunn referred to “George Useless” before correcting himself. ‘Sorry,’ said he, ‘did you say ‘useless’? I meant ‘Eustis.’


On Thursday, there was some heated discussion about the loss of EU funding for Stormont’s economics division. It has previously emerged that more than £100m of core funding previously drawn from the EU’s Structural Funds over the next three years has been lost due to Brexit. This is on top of the £45 million cash increase over three years granted by the Treasury under the proposed budget allocation.

During the Nolan Show Thursday, TUV leader Jim Alistair and SDLP’s Matthew O’Toole clashed over the issue. Alistair said the shortfall would be “ultimately” offset by the UK’s Common Prosperity Fund, which is supposed to offset the loss of EU funding. He also referred to Treasury Secretary Conor Murphy’s planned cuts to departments, as if that made other cuts tolerable.

Mr. O’Toole said that this reasoning “would make the Jesuits a mandate” and was “crazy”.

“It’s just so weird,” he said. “It’s like saying, ‘If you get a cut in your salary, but you also lose some other income – it doesn’t matter what other income you lose because you get a cut in your pay anyway.'”

Last month saw the publication of the Stormont Energy Strategy, which sets a decarbonization goal for 2050, but on Thursday Mike Nisbet of UUP MLA raised concerns about the apparent budget shortfalls associated with the strategy.

During a meeting of the economy, officials were only able to identify £10m of funding for programs included in the strategy, while the actual strategy itself states that £761m is needed this fiscal year for capital spending on energy conversion. I’m not a mathematician, but these numbers are not even close.


Friday saw Doug Petty, the leader of the United Universities Association, take aim at Northern Ireland’s education system, describing the lack of integration between Protestants and Catholics as “educational apartheid”.

Northern Ireland has been corrupted by division, and yet we are not taking the courageous steps to try to deal with that division. Ulster Federal Party believes that our children should move from the playground to the classroom together, and from the classroom to the workplace together.”

We need to end the educational apartheid that is happening here. We need our children to get to know each other from their early years. We need one education system in Northern Ireland that will allow them to do that.”

The Democratic Federal Union (DUP) issued another statement on the Northern Ireland Protocol on Friday, listing seven reasons why Ireland’s maritime border should be cut. Where have we heard this before? Oh yeah, in July last year, DUP leader Sir Geoffrey Donaldson MP set out a series of “seven tests” of any new arrangements the UK government would announce regarding the protocol. This tactic doesn’t seem to work, Sir Geoffrey will probably try a list of eight next time.

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