Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Ian Paisley jnr, Tony Blair, David Hanson and the Saint Andrews Agreement, October 2006

I've just received a copy of a Jim Allister press release containing the following information released under a Freedom of Information request:

Requests to the Government from Ian Paisley Jr.

The Prime Minister has considered your requests and has agreed that we should try to respond positively. I will ask my officials to scope the issues set out below and report back to you once I have considered their findings

  1. £1m over seven years for the North West 200
  2. Resort Spa Planning approval inc. 200 homes
  3. St Pats Barracks - future use to be discussed with MP
  4. Giant's Causeway - Private Sector land to be included in development
  5. A26 upgrade - Ballymena to Ballycastle
  6. Ballee(?) lands - judicial review to be dropped
This letter should be regarded as a statement of intent. I should be grateful if you would provide some further detail on each item. My office will discuss with you at the earliest opportunity.

David Hanson
Minister of State
Northern Ireland Office

Here's a bit more about the Ballee affair, reported on the BBC, from an earlier post on Slugger O'Toole:

Three quotes from Ian Paisley jnr:
“There are six businessmen involved in all of this case” (repeated several times)
“if Mr Sweeney contacted me, of course I did (surely they’re on first name terms by now)
“I have no idea in terms of the business agreement that is in place between my constituents and their business partners ... I’m not privy to any of that, don’t want to be privy to any of that”
I googled with “sweeney ballee” and came up with this (delivered:12/06/2006) and this (Delivered: 16/02/2007) i.e. there has only been one developer in the relationship since February - Junior’s long term associate, Seymour Sweeney, yet Junior continues to fixate on six.
Who were the Six?
“Covenantors" means each of B J Eastwood, Kevin Lagan, Seamus McCloy, Seymour H Sweeney, R John Walker Snr and Thomas Wilson
It was down to Five by May, 2004.
“The members of the consortium were to comprise the appellant and the respondents together with Mr B J Eastwood who subsequently decided not to participate. The solicitors produced a document which was sent to the parties at the end of April 2004, the solicitors stressing that there would be no further amendments to it. It was to be signed by noon on 5 May 2004.”
It was down to One by February, 2007.
Who were the solicitors who produced what subsequently turned out not to be a binding agreement?
When the agreements with the former owners were completed it was agreed that the appellants’ solicitors should be instructed to draw up a written contract to record what had been agreed between the proposed members of the consortium.
The appellant was Seymour Sweeney so were the solicitors, er, Carson McDowell? If so, is there a sufficient separation between property developers and their solicitors and (very) senior civil servants - not to say, ministers?
Junior, apparently, was not privy to any of this ...
NB This might be the resort spa reference on the east bank of the River Bush just north of Bushmills.
Bombshell or damp squib?
BBC report - audio file

Allister follow-up statement