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By ATWadmin On November 2nd, 2006

Did you see that pathetic sight of Northern Ireland politicians trooping into Downing Street yesterday for "talks" with Gordon Brown – the wannabe PM in waiting – as  to what scale of financial package they could wring out of him in exchange for their complicity in bringing about a devolved administration in Ulster? As if they has ANY chance of gaining major economic concessions from dear Prudence! It shows how puffed up with self-importance this crew really is.

Brown made predictable noises about a …GASP …£50BN financial package over10 years. Most of the money is linked to the public sector (gotta feed the natives, eh?) and Brown was careful not to point out how much would have been invested anyway. The DUP’s  key request for a lower corporation tax rate for NI was booted into touch by Brown, unsurprisingly.

Once upon a time, 30 pieces of silver was the going rate for betrayal – now, thanks to inflation, it is £50bn.

I trust Dr. Paisley re-reads the relevant passages from the Bible before proceeding with this folly.

19 Responses to “50 BILLION PIECES OF SILVER…”

  1. Can someone outline what the likely consequences would be of introducing a lower rate of corporation tax for Northern Ireland? Would this be a matter of allowing the devolved assembly to decide its own rate of corporation tax, or would it be centrally determined by No. 11? Who would administer the revenue from this taxation? Would it go back to the central exchequer, or could NI decide to do with it as it wished?

    I am having visions of Northern Ireland being transformed into a Bermuda without sunshine. Or perhaps, given its security infrastructure, a flypaper for arms manufacturers.

  2. Why did you gasp in the 2nd paragraph, David. Was it mock astonishment, meaning you consider 50 Bn a paltry sum?

    I presume others like me find it difficult to get their heads around this amount. It’s equivalent to about EUR 7 bn per annum, around a third of total NI GDP, but looks small compared to the approx. 100 bn that Germany transfers annually to its eastern state every year since unification.

  3. Cunningham,

    It was mock astonishment!

  4. Nothing to see here, move along. I don’t see anywhere how this is different to what was already on offer to keep Northern Ireland Public Sector Ltd alive.

    50 billion over ten is probably what was going to be spent anyway.

    It seems to me that Brown is saying that he is willing to pay off this generation in the hope of keeping them quiet while he gets on with the business of selling out the next one.

  5. This is good for the people of norn iron, who can make a considered judgement about their future through the ballot box. It might just be time to "move on".
    We’ll have to wait and see.

  6. Northern Ireland would be better served if Gordon reduced expenditure, get us of the dependancy culture and beggin bowl habit and reduce the size of the public sector, dampen down the silly priced house market and so forth.

    These billions are all smoke and mirrors to encourage people to follow the pied piper into the darkness.
    Even if it were real does anyone really believe it would be spent on anything useful like infrastructre or will it be squandered like the billions before on "community" projects and the quango queens.

    Corporation Tax is a red herring, if you add up all the different taxes and costs NI and RoI are much of a muchness. Shame on the dim unionists who don’t see this for what it is, a trojan horse to an all Ireland economy.

    Of course a low tax regime generally could turn us into Monaco with rain, and we could all do very well out of that but as the political and quango classes despise profits and private sector investment that won’t happen. Just look at the wailing from UUP and SDLP when it was suggested that a bit of unused and unlovely land around the harbour should be made available for entrepernerial investment.

  7. ‘Shame on the dim unionists who don’t see this for what it is, a trojan horse to an all Ireland economy.’

    But is it really? Again, I must declare my complete lack of expertise, but it seems that one thing about a different corporation tax rate is that it would attract firms who would otherwise set up operations in other parts of the United Kingdom (as opposed to, say the Republic of Ireland) to set up operations in Northern Ireland instead. That is, NI would have a competitive advantage over the rest of the union. Under such circumstances, it’s ‘UK-ness’ might cement the union, albeit in a radically different way, rather than dissolve it.

  8. The comparitive tax and costs are the issue that keeps investment out of NI, any more so than any other part of Europe.

    What needs to be addressed first is:

    the long term workshy who refuse to take jobs (Strabane)
    the dependency culture
    the organised crime and racketeering the police are instruced to turn a blind eye to
    the vandalism (would you recomend and international executive parks his new company Merc in Belfast at nighttime)
    the filthy streets and booze culture
    the racist attacks
    lack of infrastructural investment
    half witted community activists and academic non entities that get listened to
    the anti-profits rhetoric from UUP, SDLP, Belfast Telegraph et al,
    lack of a grown up political class
    he thousands that vote for Marxist / Maoist regimes, the lack of a corproate economy,
    the fire bombing of shops
    the lack of quality arts and culture
    the segrated education

    No serious investor is going to take NI seriously, whatever the taxes, until that is adressed.

  9. A lower corporation tax for NI would undoubtedly attract investment. This £50bn stinks of "bribery" to me. Of course I want my wee country invested in but not as a payoff to appease certain factions. For example urban/rural regeneration and job creation is good. Propping up pressure groups (of whatever persuasion) with any of this cash would be abhorrent to me.

  10. NRG

    I don’t agree with all your points (mainly the ones that are no different to the rest of the UK and the ROI) but I agree with a good many of them. My bro drives a humble Corsa but it seems the residents of Belfast are incapable of walking past his car without doing something to it e.g. he’s had to buy 6 new wing mirrors in 2 years! Community "representatives" are always proxies for some hoodlum element whether loyalist or republican. The academics probably live on the Malone Road (at best) or more likely anywhere but NI. The surge of racism really bugs me, if someone comes to NI to work then I’ve no problem with them (ref:our long term workshy). Most SF voters don’t even know they are voting for marxism all they care about is a "united" Ireland and their dole money.

  11. SBK,

    I sympathise with much of what you say.

  12. Wouldnt it be great if NI didnt need the 50b investment though. If NI had a strong enough economy could it not exist on its own…

    However the problem is that in my humble view there are a lot of barriers to NI ever having a successful economy.

    1. Education. Im sure the NI education system is as good as any in the rest of Europe, but whats the point in educating your youth if they ae all going to jump ship to Dublin or London as soon as they are qualified.

    2. Financial control. Even if a NI parliament was up and running in perfect harmony tomorrow, NI would still not have control over finance. And wont ever. because having control over finance would allow for a divergence with the rest of the UK economy and would hence be viewed by Unionism as a weaking of the link with the Union. Control over finance is essential for attracting inward investment, as it allows a nation to sell itself in the world market by competing with the type of incentives it likes. That said, I thought it very strange that all of the major Unionist parties were looking for a lower corporation tax, as again, by NI having a different corp tax rate it would open the door to the different regions in the UK asking for different tax rates in all matters, VAT, duty etc and would eventually lead to the breakup of the All UK economy

    3. The Union Question. The problem here in my view is that the Union question will never go away. There will always be a section of the community with eyes towards the south. The Union question will always come first in NI politics and distract politicians from the real work. Sectarian politics will always get in the way of making financial decisions to the benefit of NI. The ROI had to dump its 1916 bagage in the 1980s before it began to prosper. Looking at a priorities in an Election in the ROI and the NI problem hardly makes the top 10 list. Its there, but its not the core issue. Can anyone ever really see the Union issue not being the first issue that a party in NI sells itself with. Why is this a problem, well its a problem because of the amount of effort that addressing it takes up. Taking time away from other very important issues.

    4. Safe Investments. Economics supercedes politics. Companies just want to make money, in what ever way they can. As someone pointed out earlier, I think, companies do not see borders. An investment in the ROI at the moment is pretty safe. Its unlikely that your business is going to be firebombed. You wont have to pay off the local paramilitary unit. Goverment decisions are made to help and encourage good business. The government is not a forced coalition government. Yes, FF cant make decisions without first agreeing with the PDs, however the divide between SF and DUP and Nationalism and Unionism in general is much bigger then any thing that might exist between two political parties in the ROI. What might be good for the economy in NI will not get passed because it might lead to closer cooperation between the ROI and NI, even though most normal states in Europe might make similar decisions every day of the week. Companies like to be able to influence governments. We see the results of this influence quite regularily. In NI its twice the work, as you have to influence both communities, or alternatively you have to go above their heads to the UK government ( who have the real control anyway), and this will just iritate the natives.

    5. The Pain. NI is too heavy reliant on a drip feed from the UK for public service jobs. NI politics is far from stable, and its therefore unlikely that, in the absence of alternative jobs, that any politician will call for the necessary public sector job cuts that would be required.

    At the end of the day, I cant ever see the day where economic sense is not overruled by on the gounds that it might threaten the union. For me this is the biggest thing which will prevent NI from achieving the economic success that it has the potential to achieve. All political parties in NI agree that direct rule from the UK government has been a bad thing for NI. decisions were and are made without local considerations. This will continue to be a problem in the area of economics. Was one of the reasons the americans went for independance not that they recognised that the ability to control taxes was essential for the best interests of the colonies. Does the same not apply in NI.

    Im sure there are many more. But these are just a few off the top of my head.

  13. Kloot,

    1. Too true, I fear and the others can just land a comfy public sector job. No need to show initiative.

    2. Unionist politicians mouthing off about changing the corporate tax rate were either lying to their constituency or don’t have a clue about EU law, not to mention the problems this would cause the UK Exchequer. Incompetent or liars.

    3. The Republic didn’t drop 1916 baggage as such, it realised that economic and political pragmatism was the order of the day.

    4. Nail on head. One of the main reasons the Republic is doing well is that all the parties would pretty much follow the same economic policies. Business likes stability and they know any Irish government would nearly listen to them first before anyone else. A stable business environment where you know there will be no unpleasant surprises is more important than anything.

    5. There is nobody in Northern Ireland strong enough to impose the harsh economic regime the place needs to recover and prosper.

    It’s grim up north and will continue. This generation has been bought with this money which will maintain the status quo for another decade while sending the brightest east and south.

  14. Public sector funding eh? Well…

    News reaches me today courtesy of the Irish Independent website. It’s this:

    Nearly half abused women can’t get through to helpline

    EMERGENCY pleas for help from thousands of abused women are going unanswered because of a lack of resources.

    In 2005, some 10,504 calls to the Women’s Aid helpline went unanswered.

    This amounts to two out of every five calls made to the helpline and represents a 73pc increase in unanswered calls in just four years.

    Last night, a spokesperson for the voluntary organisation warned that the problem would get worse unless the Government followed through with its promise of an additional €100,000 in funding.

    The new figures from the Women’s Aid annual report show a 30pc increase in calls in a 12-month period.

    Full story here: http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=1716246&issue_id=14832

    Let’s be clear on this. The British Government have already tabled their "offer", whatever that means, and today the Irish Government stated that THEIR offer was in preparation. Minds boggle.

    Yet much-needed money is being withheld from the Rape Crisis Centre in Northern Ireland: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/5400194.stm

    We are not talking billions here, not even millions, but enough to cover a couple of small salaries.

    I emailed Liz McManus, an Irish Labour TD. This is what I said:

    Dear Liz,

    I’m sure you were as disturbed as I was to read about the shortfall in funding to the Women’s Aid helpline.

    It’s difficult to fathom that in our time, in a wealthy first-world country, €100,000 cannot be found to keep this organisation afloat. That 2 out of 5 phone calls go unanswered because of lack of funding.

    Let’s put this in perspective. The State employs a civic body to protect its citizens: it’s called An Garda Síochána. Why then should Women’s Aid, a body that protects MORE THAN HALF of Ireland’s citizens, be a voluntary one? Can anyone give an honest answer to this?

    I believe it’s time that this serious question were addressed in the Oireachtas.


    No reply yet but early days. What applies to Ireland can apply equally to NI. I haven’t noticed any mention of even a fraction of those £50b being earmarked for the Rape Crisis Centre. Nor do I hold out much hope. It is, after all, only a "women’s issue".

    Or is it?

    Well the truth is that it’s an issue which affects all of us: men, women and children. Wife battering and prolonged emotional abuse can have a devastating effect on the children of a relationship, who then carry those attitudes learned into adult life. This leads to increased crime and a more violent society. So it’s in ALL our interests to put a stop to it.

    After all, we all want the same things, don’t we? 😉

  15. Fanny

    It’s a big question. Who should fund these things. I noticed this from Childline.

    "How is ChildLine funded?
    It costs over £10 million each year to
    run ChildLine’s helpline and support
    services. Ninety per cent of ChildLine’s
    income is raised each year from the
    public, business and grant-making
    trusts. The other 10 per cent is raised
    from central and local government."

    If I had to chose, I would say that Childline is the most important helpline there is. I suspect that they are more effective for not being mainly publically funded.

    I totally agree with your point about the long term impact of how children are treated and, even speaking with hardnosed self interest, I want today’s children to be afforded real protection so that my twilight years will be less blighted by the adults that will result.

  16. "I suspect that they are more effective for not being mainly publically funded."

    Sorry, Aileen, can’t agree. This reads as a cop-out line from any government re any charity that should not by right BE a charity.

    Childline is one such, alongside the two I mention. As I said, our taxes pay for our civic protectors, i.e. the police, so why not for all the OTHER civic protectors as well?

    Maybe in a century or two hence. [Fanny sighs deeply.]

  17. Fanny

    you miss my point. Whether or not it is a cop out by government has nothing to do with whether or not it is more effective by not being so funded.

    I could be wrong but I suspect that 100% governemnt funding would mean 100% government interference, to the detriment of these children (and me in my dotage)

  18. Perhaps, but do you think that government interference (i.e. money) in the Women’s Aid helpline would result in fewer of those unanswered calls being answered?

    Bed now. Been a long day for me. I’ll pick this up another time. ‘Night, sleep well.

  19. Fanny

    not sure. but it might impact on the quality of how those phone calls get dealt with. The selection fo the volenteers, their training and supervision. I am absolutely convinced that, like Childline. if the person/child gets confronted with the wrong response it can be far far worse for them than if ther had been no helpline.

    Nite nite!