Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Job Well Done, Margaret Ritchie

I would like to congratulate the Minister for Social Development for standing firm against the UDA, despite attempts by elements from within and outside the Assembly to undermine her. It is quite clear that the UDA should not get their grubby fingers on a single penny of public money.

Of course it comes as no surprise that the DUP threw their toys out of the pram upon hearing the Minister's statement. What exactly do they want- a continuation of funding for those who refuse to decommission? Funny how they didn't display the same attitude in relation to the IRA in recent years. Hypocrisy of the highest order, methinks.

Sinn Féin weren't much better. In the Assembly today they repeatedly asked the Minister the wholly pointless question: "Have you been funding the UDA?" Sinn Féin and everyone else knows the nature of this scheme and the fact that it was inherited from the Direct Rulers. They had ample opportunity to raise questions about this funding both in the Executive and in the Assembly, but said nothing. If they were so concerned about who was receiving this cash, why didn't they call for the funding to be stopped the minute they walked through the doors of Stormont when power was devolved? Interesting how they waited until today to say anything in a vain attempt to win political points against Margaret. Thankfully, they failed miserably.

The fact is that the writing has been on the wall for the UDA and this project for some time. Margaret Ritchie informed the Executive of what was going on. The DUP and Sinn Féin could have raised their 'points' within the Executive, but instead they remained silent and let her get on with it. Then all of a sudden they act shocked at her decision and launch a completely misplaced and frankly embarrassing onslaught on the Minister on the floor of the house.

Thankfully the Alliance had a bit of decency and backed Margaret, unlike the two biggest parties. The Ulster Unionists said nothing in the chamber of consequence, apart from asking about the fate of people employed by the scheme. It wouldn't have killed them to have had the balls to back the Minister, but they don't know whether they're coming or going these days.

At last someone in Stormont is taking real action. The love-in is all well and good for the cameras, but the DUP and Sinn Féin have been too busy enjoying cups of tea and patting each other on the back to start making a real difference to the lives of people here.

Margaret Ritchie has shown the steel and determination to stand up to the UDA and the DUP/ Sinn Féin axis and start to dismantle the mess left by the British Government on this issue. For that, she deserves the full backing of all right-thinking democrats.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well SF and the DUP got it wrong! they totally misread the anger and disgust of the public at the way they have treated a very decent woman - the only one in the executive with balls! (excuse the pun) and then they at the last minute did a U TURN - what's new - SF spend there time U TURNING - they should be called SPIN Fein and the DUP are now more simpering the the UUP now that they have got into power - to keep their Spin Fein friends happy and vice versa
Well done Margaret - people like you are hard to come across in politics in NI - and I wish we had more like you!