MEP smackdown on Stormont! Or maybe not!!

3 12 2008

Staff at Bobballs are always interested in the important work of the OFMDFM committee. Hopefully the committee will soon confirm its EU evidence session with MEPs on Friday 12.12.

Not completely sure what that will entail… but sounds great! Though we respectfully suggest a break in the usual formality. Most usually, people who are called to the committee are invited to answer questions put by committee members. On this occasion we urge MEPs to rock up, turn the tables and deliver the MEP smackdown.

Why? Because local administrators screwed up and £53m must be handed back to the EU (Balls passim). Presumably this type of funding would have gone to the community and voluntary sector (already pressured by tighter government budgets and the HLF commitments to the Olympic Games).

What could that money have meant to the constituents of OFMDFM committee members?

So much criticism is made of the EU – that it soaks up taxpayers’ hard-earned cash in exchange for regulations and red tape. But in this instance the EU handed out a few bob (£53m!), gave us a wink and said ‘Git yourselves somefink nice darling’. Well we didn’t.

This is a total screw up. Why can’t MEPs ask those charged with scrutinising our administration what they are doing to find out where it all went wrong/how it got salted away?

Otherwise, the OFMDFM committee event could be a good stage for another frothy Allister performance. He can be doubly incensed over spending in N/S bodies at a time when EU funding is being frittered away.

In fact he probably needs to find the energy to be trebly incensed so as to include his indignation re. Hans Pottering and the £10m ICCT centre. Actually, quadrupally incensed in order to float a balloon on his Trojan candidate theory (Dodds runs, wins, resigns, installs anonymous hack, and all without stepping back from his current jobs??).

For Jim and Bairbre, the opportunity is less good. Both have been slow to ease into campaign mode (though Bairbre needn’t worry too hard. She ought to have an ICCT centre to brag about during Easter commemorations and then for the anniversary of Bobby Sands’ death just a couple of weeks before polling).

Which leaves Jim. Danny Kennedy will want to direct Jim towards the positive aspects of the Tory/UUP deal and being endorsed by Cameron at the UUP conference. But that will attract sniping from others, so it’s not much to go on. Jim must come across as the senior statesman – we expect him to rattle out CV for the pleasure of Hansard at every given opportunity.

But if he raises the £53m with the committee he is seen as an invigilator for best practice and a defender of community interests. In partnership with edepartment/Council of the Regions etc, Jim could pledge to do all in his power to bring some of that £53m back to these shores.

There is opportunity in this committee meeting for good media if its handled right. For example, Friday is a bad day to do bradocast – but the Unionists just need to make sure the News Letter is pre-briefed with a story for Saturday. Let the Unionist squabbling commence!

For Bairbre, Staff at Bobballs suggest she doesn’t need to do anything. Be quiet and see if the Unionists don’t scramble for attention and tear lumps out of one another. But whatever you do, Babs, promise us you’ll stay away from that Adams. He’s a wrong’un.

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