Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Oral Questions

Today I took my turn at Oral Questions and we covered a wide range of issues during the questions and supplementaries.  They included funding for tuition and instruments for bands, improvements to sports facilities, sports stadia, the Ulster Museum and cross-border bodies.

Ian McCrea asked about how I might make savings on the cross-border meetings with the minister from the Irish Republic and I explained that I was following the good example of my predecessor Gregory Campbell by holding the cross-border meeetings about languages and waterways on the one day and in the one place, thereby avoiding the need for two journeys and two separate meetings.

I went on to explain that the next meeting in Northern Ireland, in December, would be held in the DCAL offices in Belfast, thereby avoiding the need to hire a hotel or some other location for the meetings.  I even suggested that on some occasions it might be more appropriate to conduct our business by video-conferencing, saving time as well as money.

This proved too much for John O'Dowd of Sinn Fein, who stated most emphatically that even if it was held in a bus shelter, it was still a North-South meeting.  I took the opportunity to thank John O'Dowd for his helpful suggestion that we hold cross-border meetings in a bus shelter, which was something I had not considered. 

Alex Attwood of the SDLP suggested that we could save money by scrapping the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and creating an 'All-Ireland Arts Council'.  It is amazing how insular some politicians are, especially Alex.  They seem to have a fixation with a single island and are so narrow-minded that they cannot cope with the possibility of reaching out beyond that to a more inclusive understanding of culture.

Stormont is geograpically closer to Galloway than Galway and whilst it is good to have cultural cooperation with our neighbours in the Irish Republic, we must also remember our close cultural connections with Scotland and the other regions of the United Kingdom.


  1. Yes,Stormont is closer to Galloway than to Dublin just as Dover is closer to Pas-de -Calais than to London;however Counties Armagh,Derry,Fermanagh,Tyrone(also,presumably, part of the Minister's writ) precisely NO MILES respectively from Louth/Cavan/Monaghan and Donegal. So if O'Dowd and Atwood are "insular" then Nelson is "peninsular" or even "sub-provincial".

  2. cruachlainn - You seem to have missed the point of my last two paragraphs. Those who think only in the context of an island are insular and exclusive. Those who consider both the North-South and East-West dimensions are inclusive.