The Stormont ‘House’ Agreement: seven things that need facing


imgresNone of the Stormont parties may be throwing their caps at the moon but they have all signed up to the ‘Stormont House Agreement’ (Why am I thinking Hugh Laurie?) to keep the roof over the Assembly for a while longer. A few things we can say as they wipe the sleep from their eyes.


1. The Welfare Cuts that Sinn Féin fiercely resisted have now been accepted – but there’ll be £2 billion that can be drawn on to soften the landing. But don’t think of it as David Cameron being Christmas-spirited: only about one-third is real money, the rest is stuff we’ll have to pay back. Sometime.

2. We’ll get control of corporation tax. The idea is that this will make the north attractive to big corporations so it’s fair to accept they’ll be happy paying less tax. The idea is that we’ll get loads and loads of jobs. Will we? Mmmm. Wait and see.

3. Money has been made to help victims and survivors of the conflict – but we’re still stuck with what is a victim. And there are all sorts of things like the Oral History Archive where people can tell their story, as they say. And there’s the Historical Investigations Unit (sound familiar) that’ll report in five years time. That sound you hear is a can being kicked up the boreen.

4. There’ll be an Independent Commission on Information retrieval set up by the UK and Irish governments. Information given to it, we’re told, will be protected from prosecution (sound familiar?) and it will have a 5-year life.

5. The Assemble will be smaller  – from 108 MLAs to 90 MLAs – but not until the 2021 election.

6. There’ll be a civic advisory panel to the Northern Ireland Executive. This will give nice little earners to some of the really really smart people in our society. Most of whom will have degrees.

7. The Assembly can sell Belfast Harbour. It should get a few bob for that.

Is this a bright new dawn, a glowing star leading us to the promised land of compromise and respect for each other? Not a chance. We’ve got the money to keep going, but flags, marches and the past – we’ll go on struggling with those, starting with Twaddell Avenue. You might note that of the three, two are almost exclusively unionist obsessions. They will only be resolved when we say Yes to everything unionists demand. To end on an optimistic note: the day when nationaislm/republicanism rolled over and allowed unionist parades and flags to feature wherever the unionist politicians thought they’d like them: gone. Vanished. Never to return.  Which is why parades and flags have been kicked about five years up the boreen. The hope is that by then, even the slowest of unionist learners will have got the message.

So it’s not the Promised Land yet, but we’ve got a road-map. Let’s see who has the brains to make the trip.

17 Responses to The Stormont ‘House’ Agreement: seven things that need facing

  1. neill December 24, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Some interesting points I supect some Southern Irish parties will be interested in SF`s` welfare buckle

    • Jude Collins December 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

      ‘Buckle’…Mmm. Interesting synonym for agreement…

  2. Patrick J Dorian December 24, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    Another Ghost of Christmases past

  3. Sherdy December 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    ‘Even the slowest of unionist learners will have got the message’ – can you point to any faster learners, Jude? We’re still remembering 1690, for God’s sake.
    How come each of our political leaders have a totally different take on what has been agreed?
    But it seems the British and Irish governments will be holding examinations (not the 11+ again) every so many months, but if our politicians don’t pass the tests will it just be financial penalties, or will the more recalcitrant be expelled from Stormont College? Possibly they’ll just have a dunces’ corner – it had better be a big corner!

  4. philip kelly December 24, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    I know its all a bit hairy fairy but i feel its a holding game until after the british elections and the hope that the free state government might fall in the spring forcing an election in the south where the Sinn Fein party will do very well that will put a different colour on the book and any decisions made, as they will then under international law be the guarantors of the good friday agreement and hopefully cameron and his tory friends will have vacated downing street but that wont matter as by then Sinn Fein will be the biggest party on the island and will then be calling the shots ( pardon the pun) so roll on 2015 great poker hand played by Sinn Fein this week

    • Neill December 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      I presume you don’t remember SF’s battle against Tory cuts and as for Labour winning the UK elections don’t hold your breath!

      • Jude Collins December 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

        Neill, Neill, Neill – the point I’m making is one that unionism seems to find it hard to grasp: compromise/agreement with your political opponents is desirable, not a sign of buckling or collapse or failure to maintain not-an-inch. I really really wish unionism would grasp that notion and act on it. For everyone’s sake, not least their own.

        • neill December 24, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

          Yes you are completely right the same is the case in Business however SF said they would never accept tory cuts now if they back tracked on that questions will be asked down south wont they?

  5. Páid December 24, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    Nollaig Shona agus bliain úr fa mhaise duit a Jude agus do na rannacóirí uilig

  6. Norma wilson December 24, 2014 at 6:33 pm #


    On a lighter note…. Did you listen to William Crawley today? He had the head of your church an Archbishop, I cannot remember his name from St Patrick’s in Armagh, any way he sung an Irish Christmas carol in Irish, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, it was beautiful.
    Whilst I was listening to him, some of the words sounded like an Israeli accent strange.

    • ANOTHER JUDE December 24, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

      Well Norma the Christian religion followed on from Judaism so that should not be surprising. Hope you and yours are well, Merry Christmas to everyone here, keep up the good work Jude.

  7. Argenta December 24, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

    Jude.In relation to Paragraph 6,I’m sure you’d be more than well qualified.Martin could put a word in for you!Nollaig Shona duit.

  8. Mary Jo December 25, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    Happy Christmas Jude and friends. Thank you for this blog which keeps me informed as well as entertained.

    • Jude Collins December 25, 2014 at 10:49 am #

      Mary Jo, you are too kind. Have a blast of a Christmas (from the Irish ‘blasta’ – delicious…

  9. PremierMan15 December 25, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Nollaig shona daoibh go léir agus athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh fresin.

  10. fiosrach December 27, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Nollaig Shona duitse a Jude and to the lively collection of cutthroats, reprobates, malcontentents and transvestites that have become attached to you. A laugh a minute especially Merkin from the Saorstáitín.

    • Jude Collins December 27, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

      Go raibh maith agat, fiosrach, agus Shona Bhliain Nua…