Arlene Foster: does she believe that standing aside and being stood down are the same thing?

So. Arlene Foster is now happy to have an investigation into the Cash for Ash financial outrage, and says that since she’s no longer First Minister (as a result of Martin McGuinness stepping down), an inquiry needs to be launched and a general election avoided.

Arlene is like a teenager member of a family who’ve been running a joint small business.  Then sums of money start going missing from that area of the business overseen by the teenager. There’s a family conference and it’s decided to make a methodical search of the teenager’s room. They ask the teenager to step aside so they can get to the bottom of this missing money thing, but the teenager refuses. “Why should I stand aside – I’ve done nothing wrong! Leave it – I’ll check the matter out myself. Let’s get back and run our business as usual.” The rest of the family point out that they can’t go back to business as usual until the truth about this missing money is established. “Well I want to be there if there’s a search – I have done nothing wrong!”

Finally, as a last resort, the family march the stroppy teenager to the spare room and insist that she stays there. When she tries to emerge and block the search, they lock the spare room door. As they head along the landing towards the teenager’s room, they hear a voice from the spare room shouting: “I’ve changed my mind! I’ve decided I won’t stand in the way of you searching my room. OK? I’ll stop obstructing you!” Several members of the family point out that she’s agreed to stop obstructing because she can no longer obstruct, not because she’d had any change of heart.

I know the parallels aren’t exact, but the core situation is similar. Arlene, who had refused to step down and who drove Martin McGuinness to take the step that he did, is now declaring that she is no longer an obstacle to an inquiry so what’s all the fuss?

Last night I tried to explain the political situation here to a friend of mine in Canada. It took some time because he kept breaking in with exclamations of “You’re kidding!” and occasionally even stronger language. When I’d finish the whole Cash-for-Ash-and-After saga, there was a sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line. “You know” he said, “when I was a boy my father ran an animal sanctuary in Ontario. I remember one day he brought home a bag containing a weasel. Your story reminds me of that day, and the way the bag bulged and heaved as the weasel jumped about.”


15 Responses to Arlene Foster: does she believe that standing aside and being stood down are the same thing?

  1. paddykool January 11, 2017 at 9:49 am #

    Ha ha ….ooooh yes!

  2. Jim Neeson January 11, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    Nice one Jude, like the weasel bit, reminds me of someone!!!

    • Carrie January 11, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

      Someone on a political forum last night calling the DUP and British goverment the “Axis of Weasel”

  3. Oriel27 January 11, 2017 at 10:09 am #

    Last night listening to RTE1 Radio, the Late Debate, Gregory Campbell clearly stated that they will now facilitate an inquiry in to the RHI scandal and that Arlene will stand aside. He also said the DUP will support a temporary replacement for Arlene. Pat Rabbitte (Labour) also suggested that SF should have a temporary replacement for Martin McGuinness as the investigation is ongoing.
    The DUP last night were clearly operating in desperation mode. They are running scared of an election. All other comments were suggestions on how to keep the current regime going.

    I say now, kick the DUP now while they are in desperation. The serpent must be killed while we have the chance.
    If SF change their mind on having an election, i will never ever ever vote for them again (North or South).

    • TheHist January 11, 2017 at 11:01 am #

      “The DUP last night were clearly operating in desperation mode. They are running scared of an election.” Totally agree – miraculous recovery from their initial point on no return / compromise. Foster did in hours, what took Paisley decades to do – renege on word. But on the whole, the DUP are merely in begging mode, when they clearly have been the cause of their own demise.

      “If SF change their mind on having an election, i will never ever ever vote for them again.” I think amongst Sinn Fein grassroots, there is no appetite to try and salvage anything from the current arrangement or as referred to as the “status quo”. Sinn Fein have been quite unequivocal and unambiguous in their statements since Monday – they, I feel, are committed to an election. Michelle O’Neill stated yesterday that SF will “not be re-nominating a deputy First Minister before the election.”

  4. TheHist January 11, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    On reflection of this whole debacle, I feel that Sinn Fein have been tactically more astute and clinical than the DUP in recent weeks. I was first to criticise them when they refused to collapse the institutions on 19th December. “Grave consequences” they warned off and grave consequences they delivered, all at the behest of DUP arrogance.

    In these past few weeks Sinn Fein have allowed the DUP the space to be their own biggest liability, the space to damage their own credibility amongst their electorate and the space for the DUP to show who their really are – opponents of Nationalism / Republicanism first, against the principle of parity of esteem second and dictatorial in style, third – all with a crass inability to understand and read public outrage or for that matter care. Their lack of humility shows what they really think of the electorate, both green and orange. Their arrogance, egotism and hubris have resonated, with their political opponents, Sinn Fein, appearing compromising and conciliatory (until Monday). The somewhat tactical public “bullying” by the DUP of Sinn Fein resulted in what we all like see happen to the bully, they get knocked down a peg or too and made to reconsider their actions / inactions. The DUP have been nothing more than an embarrassment. I feel Sinn Fein were always going to collapse the institutions but allowed the DUP to publicly humiliate themselves first – The DUP were never going to back down to recommendations from Sinn Fein. Paul Givan justified and typified the DUP attitude the other day, “no-one tells the DUP what to do.” Some attitude from “partners” in government. In essence, Sinn Fein have given Foster enough rope from which to hang herself and her latest actions, I feel, indicate she knows this.

    • Oriel27 January 11, 2017 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks Hist for the great and accurate summary of events. One has to commend the Sinn Fein strategists, the really got this bang on. Back in the 19th of December and many months before it, i was shocked at how much SF were pandering to the DUP, in away SF displayed a inferior stature to there superior masters, the DUP. Its been clear for years there was never equality. Sure the DUP didn’t ever sign up to the GFA.
      But i can see now how it was panning out, they were letting them make fools of themselves.

      But will SF be allowed to play for an election? I sensed from the radio last night, the both governments could pressure them into working with the DUP.
      Pat Rabbite (all though not in government), clearly said that the government are solely worried about Brexit, and there is an urgency that both sides of the border have a government in place in the event of Brexit negotiations. In essence, he is correct, the Brexit urgency must surpass this current debacle (i myself living 1000ms on the southern side of border, am very worried about Brexit).

      I wonder is the British government secretly hoping there is no government in place in the north, no DUP Brexit voice, so they can just dump the north or enforce a Brexit border at the Irish sea?? Its looking very much they want less to do with the north.

      • billy January 11, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

        stormont will have no say in brexit.

        • fiosrach January 11, 2017 at 2:26 pm #

          What about the cosy place that Jeffrey and Nigel occupy in London as kingmaker for the Tories?

    • Ryan January 11, 2017 at 6:53 pm #

      I agree with much of what you say TheHist.

      I also think SF have really had enough. They have listened to their grassroots and responded to their concerns: no more of the status quo and Stormont wont be reopening unless Nationalists have parity of esteem, equality and fairness. That might translate into: Bill of Rights, Irish Language Act, basic Respect and funding for inquests. Its outrageous that I even had to type that last part: “funding for inquests”. The DUP is, or was, literally stopping inquests because they know what the outcome of those inquests will be: more exposure of the RUC/UDR/British Army wrongfully colluding or murdering people. Think that one over for a second… can you possibly forge a working relationship with such people?….

      Máirtín ó Muilleoir epitomized Sinn Fein’s new attitude with his last action as Finance Minister: he got the Union flag removed from his East Belfast work place. The Gloves really have come off…..indeed Mairtin recently said that Paul Girvan’s scrapping of £50,000 Irish Language bursary and granting more than £200,000 extra to Loyalist bands was the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.

      PS: Colum Eastwood, the SDLP leader, has openly called for Joint Rule. He has said that Tory Rule will not do for the Nationalist community and its time for Dublin to step in and jointly run the North. I agree with him 100%, its time Sinn Fein demanded this also.

  5. Michael January 11, 2017 at 11:15 am #

    For someone with a legal background, Arlene just doesn’t seem to get the concept of “standing aside without prejudice”.

  6. Perkin Warbeck January 11, 2017 at 11:37 am #


    Why did La Snarl stand for the DUP?
    How to understand this devilish sup?
    Talk of sucking diesel
    With words of weasel
    Was she (gulp) stood up by the UUP ?

  7. Ryan January 11, 2017 at 6:39 pm #

    Anyone hear the latest? The Irish News has reported that a Shed in Fermanagh has went on fire. The fire destroyed 8 Bio-Mass Boilers and 14 Tons of Woodchips. Yes, 8 Biomass boilers and 14 TONS of woodchips. Yes, in county Fermanagh……just hours after Arlene Foster backed an independent investigation into RHI and SoS James Brokenarse said that an investigation will get underway in a matter of days……

    Coincidence?…..a wise old man, I don’t have a clue who, once said: “There’s no such thing as coincidence”…..

    • jessica January 11, 2017 at 6:51 pm #

      Perhaps that is part of the DUP plan to resolve the issue Ryan, send their paramilitary buddies out to torch them all.

      Problem solved 🙂

      • Ryan January 11, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

        “Perhaps that is part of the DUP plan to resolve the issue Ryan, send their paramilitary buddies out to torch them all”

        I wouldn’t be surprised Jessica, sure didn’t they do plenty of that during the Troubles? The Ulster Workers Strike springs to mind, when Unionist paramilitaries and Political Unionism openly rubbed shoulders together. Lets not forget 39 innocent people were murdered by Unionists in those 2 weeks and over 300 injured…..