It's warm up North


#1283

Nope. I said, if you really can be bothered to check (and I seem to preoccupy you to a slightly uncomfortable degree) that the only thing it may do is shake loose a united Ireland mate.


#1284

Shocking behaviour.

THERE HAS BEEN condemnation from across the political spectrum of poster placed on a Newry bonfire taunting Willie Frazer about the killing of his father.

Police are treating it as a “hate incident” and said they investing whether a crime has been committed.

It’s reported that the bonfire was built to mark the anniversary of the introduction of internment without trial.

Pictures of the bonfire have shown that it featured a placard with the words: “Willie Frazer have you found your daddy yet?”.

Frazer’s father was a part-time soldier in the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment when he was shot dead by the IRA in 1976.

Frazer has campaigned for the remembrance of victims of IRA violence and as a loyalist activist he has been a controversial figure, prevously attempting to organise Love Ulster parades in Dublin city.

Speaking to BBC’s Good Morning Ulster today, Frazer said that it was upsetting for his family to see the bonfire.

#2I was disgusted, not only for myself but for the family circle. There’s a very big family and a lot of children and great grandchildren and for them to see this. People tell us to move on but there are children and great grandchildren asking what is this all about. When is this going to stop, this intimidation?"

Frazer said he believes he was targeted because he is “hated” by some people in the area for highlighting examples of IRA violence, like the Kingsmill massacre.

Local Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard tweeted yesterday that those who made the bonfire were not republicans.

“If you think this type of behaviour makes you a republican you’re a fool, a hate crime pure and simple and should be roundly condemned,” Hazzard said in a tweet that was retweeted by party leader Mary Lou McDonald.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney tweeted that the bonfire was: “Disgusting and should be loudly condemned!”.

In a statement, the PSNI said it had received reports that offensive material was placed on the bonfire.

“As a police service we recognise the hurt and frustration that this has caused, to many in the community. The display of this material has been perceived as offensive and distasteful,” the statement continued.

“Police are treating this as a hate incident and should evidence come to light that a crime has been committed and suspects identified they will be brought before the courts . This incident has been widely condemned by all representatives of the community in the Newry area.”


#1285

Welcome to last week! Latest furore is over a bunch of fake tanned nordies fat wans singing oo aa up the ra with the wolfe tones at feile an “pobail”…
I had the severe misfortune to be at a wolfe tones gig years ago in the west county. Full of morons not to mind the wankers on stage.


#1286

Are you related to the Frazers?


#1287

Stop prying.


#1288

Yes or no?


#1289

Disgusting behaviour. That has no place in society.


#1290

Shameful behaviour.


#1291

Here’s a beauty


#1292

Wow. That’s superb.


#1293

Proving the old saying that all politics is local. Those DUP buckos are quicker out of the blocks than their southern counterparts ( Healy-Raes) excepted.


#1294

Maria doesn’t know.whether to stick or twist

“In Cookstown, former Sinn Fein activist and current Lisburn and Castlereagh SDLP councillor, Maria Cahill, will attend the return leg of the Last Saturday parade in Cookstown before attending a dinner hosted by the Royal Black Institution in Clogher”


#1295

#1296

The ruc/psni have finally made arrests in relation to the Loughlinisland massacre.
They’ve arrested the journalists who identified the murderers.


#1297

Sorry tale of failure, fury and farce unfolds
Scheme that cost taxpayers £490m exacerbated by official ineptitude
Article image
Former DUP minister Jonathan Bell with his solicitor Denis Moloney arriving at the Renewable Heat Incentive inquiry at Stormont. PHOTOGRAPH: NIALL CARSON/PA WIRE
GERRY MORIARTY
A sorry tale of failure, fury and farce emerged from the Renewable Heat Incentive inquiry after three days of evidence from senior Stormont civil servant Dr Andrew McCormick (right) and from former DUP Minister Jonathan Bell.

As well as his oral evidence, Dr McCormick also provided more than 1,100 pages of written evidence, documentation and annexes.

It was heavy going wading through all that material. Dr McCormick admitted to a tendency to “prolixity” – the chairman of the inquiry, Sir Patrick Coghlin said he could “make the law look simple” – but when he finally finished his discursive testimony on Tuesday evening a picture emerged of political and official ineptitude – if not worse – together with petty political infighting and jealousies.

That was compounded by the written and oral evidence to the inquiry from Mr Bell who referred to quarrels with his former special adviser Timothy Cairns and what he believed was a concerted attempt to smear him over the RHI fiasco.

The RHI scheme was introduced by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) in 2012 when Arlene Foster was its minister. It wasn’t until May 2015 when the DUP’s Jonathan Bell was minister and Dr McCormick was its permanent secretary that anxieties started to ring.

Finally twigged
It was finally twigged that unlike the scheme in England and Wales there was no cap on subsidies in Northern Ireland and that this official and political blunder could land the Northern Ireland taxpayer with a £490 million bill. This despite the fact that between 2013 and 2015 whistleblower Janette O’Hagan made a number of fruitless attempts to warn politicians and civil servants that the “more you burn, the more you earn” scheme really was, as Dr McCormick acknowledged, a “catastrophe”.

Attempts were made to cap the scheme in the summer of 2015, but the corrections did not happen until November, which allowed for a spike in applications that will greatly add to the overspend.

In April Dr Andrew Crawford (right), a special adviser to Ms Foster when she was at DETI and in the Department of Finance, admitted to the inquiry that he had inappropriately passed on information about the scheme to a number of relatives.

Evidence also was given this week by Dr McCormick of allegations that Dr Crawford was a “prime mover” in delaying the implementation of the cost controls and that Timothy Johnston, then the party’s special adviser to the then first minister Arlene Foster and now chief executive of the DUP, “had also been involved” in the hold-up.

Jonathan Bell in an interview with BBC’s Stephen Nolan blew the whistle on the RHI catastrophe on December 15th, 2016. But, the inquiry learned, ahead of that interview and much to the annoyance of the civil servant, Mr Bell secretly recorded Dr McCormick to try to “establish the credibility of his [Mr Bell’s] stance in going to the BBC”. Mr Bell also secretly recorded DUP Upper Bann Assembly member Carla Lockhart, the inquiry learned.

Dr McCormick also in his written evidence said he was “very surprised” that as part of that BBC exposé Ms Foster responded “to the effect that she had no idea” about the possible special adviser involvement in delaying the implementation of cost controls.

These are some of the serious claims the inquiry is exploring. But also there were elements of farce about some of the evidence this week.

For instance we learned of Mr Bell’s anger at not being invited to meet the then mayor of London Boris Johnson when he visited Wrightbus in Ballymena in 2016 and how some of Dr McCormick’s time was taken up in trying to dissuade Mr Bell from pushing for an official investigation into the snub.

There also were allegations that Mr Bell threw a punch at his DUP special adviser Timothy Cairns and tried to break his finger. Mr Bell said the incident never happened and was part of a “massive smear” against him. It also appeared during the week that unelected DUP special ministerial advisers wielded more power than the elected Ministers, a point reflected in how Mr Cairns felt empowered in a confrontation with Mr Bell to declare to him, “Now you’re going to listen to me big balls.”

Through Dr McCormick it was also clear that civil servants did not have a high opinion of Mr Bell’s capabilities.

‘Awkward incidents’
There was reference to “several awkward incidents” during a trade and jobs-seeking mission to the United States in January 2016 and how after a late night dinner and drinks the minister was in too “tired” a state to perform constructively at a meeting the following day.

Regularly during the three days of evidence the inquiry chairman expressed astonishment about the whole debacle, as well as appearing to be amazed that special advisers to ministers should have so much power.

He also displayed incredulity that there was no written record of who decided not to pull the reins on the highly lucrative but disastrous scheme.

It was “frustratingly mysterious”, agreed Dr McCormick.


#1298

I see a form of direct rule is being introduced — Top civil servants are being given permission to call the shots.


#1299

They’re a strange crowd up there.


#1300

What’s changing?


#1301

The weather.


#1302

Bloody nordies. Can’t be up to them.