Last Friday I debated Bumper Graham, the assistant general secretary of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance, on Radio Ulster. The topic was his union’s call for industrial action to oppose the cuts the public sector in Northern Ireland.
It’s fair to say it got rather heated.
To listen to Bumper you’d think he was talking about Northern Ireland’s own money that was being withheld from it. You’d think a great injustice was being served upon a self-sufficient people. You’d think the people of Northern Ireland were being robbed by their own leaders. Please. Give it a rest.
Northern Ireland is a beggar.
Bumper and his ilk are quite happy spending to their hearts content because ultimately they’re not spending their own money. They’re spending the money of taxpayers in England. To the tune of some £7bn every single year* (for a population the size of a handful of London boroughs).
And let me be clear, as someone born and raised in Northern Ireland who now lives in London and will never return to the province, I feel sickened by the way ‘my country’ comes cap-in-hand; particularly at a time when the people in England have their own financial challenges to contend with.
And don’t give me the ‘Northern Ireland is a special case’. For sure it has significant issues associated with the Troubles, and yes a degree of support is needed, but ultimately it’s people like Bumper who make Northern Ireland the basket case it is.
It’s people like him who the cut the feet from under any attempt at developing a thriving economy. It’s people like him who create the incentive for so many young people in Northern Ireland to leave as soon they possibly can.
After all, what opportunity is there in a nation which wants nothing more than to live off the hard work of others. It’s pathetic, and so long as there are people like Bumper around that’s how it will stay.
*See the 2007 Oxford Economics report: Regional Contributions to UK Public Finances. It’s also worth highlighting a recent quote from Owen Paterson: “77.6% of Northern Ireland's GDP is dependent on state spending."
UPDATE09/06/2011 0930 @belfastjj has pointed out that he thought that this post was referring to the people of Northern Ireland on Twitter and asked that I clarify that that is not the case. Needless to say, I’m happy to offer that clarification. I am talking about the nation itself and the leaders. In fact, when you get to the heart of the issue, the fault really lies at the leaders’ doorsteps.