Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Sinn Fein and the Rubicon

Thu 12 March 2009, 2:54am

The reaction to the terrible murders of the last few days has been interesting. Some have seen it as a great coming together of our society and in that coming together have seen considerable cause for hope. Much as I welcome the clear fact that the majority of our citizens utterly reject this violence I am reminded that it takes very few people to sustain a campaign of murder. I am also reminded that as a small child I stood with my parents at a peace people rally: in those days as well practically everyone rejected the violence brought upon us; not that it did much good to stop it.

The political reaction has also been interesting. Many even amongst our seasoned politicians seem dismayed and surprised by what had occurred. Feeling dismay is entirely reasonable; it is something I too felt. Surprise, I would suggest, however, fails to understand the lessons of history. I have frequently suggested that violence might return and I am genuinely saddened by how accurate this blog was (I rarely ask people to read my previous blogs but I would recommend reading this one in light of current events). I really hope and pray that violence will not return any more to our streets than it has already done. I do predict, however, that we are in a situation where unless some action is taken more potent than warm words, we are standing before, at best, a “border campaign” type of violence.

Now having been conciliatory I feel it necessary to mention some home truths which will probably cause considerable anger.
Sinn Fein of all the political parties must have been the least surprised at what has happened. They are an organisation inextricably linked to the (now on ceasefire, I agree) Provisional IRA. That organisation lost a number of members some 10 years ago after its ceasefire and I have little doubt that senior members of the IRA, some of whom are also senior members of SF, know who these people are. In the murder of the two soldiers especially, it is notable that the terrorists, after first wounding their victims, walked over and shot them again. Those are not the actions of panicked young men on their first mission of murder: they are actions of seasoned killers who, I would have no doubt, have killed before. This is a topic I will return to.

Sinn Fein must have suspected that one of the dissident organisations would, sooner or later, manage to murder someone: they may be completely opposed to such a murder but the fact that it was likely must have been obvious to them. As such SF must have thought through a series of possible responses: hence, the long delay before the initial comments is interesting rather than surprising. The fact that SF took three goes to get out a proper condemnation looks more calculated than incompetent. I know this will raise hackles but I would submit that SF knew exactly what they were doing and the stuttering condemnation was because they did not really want to condemn the murder of British soldiers but knew they would have to. Surely some in the republican movement would have heard those comments and interpreted them as showing that SF were doing what they knew they had to and not really saying what they truly felt. Certainly this seemed to be the impression of a number of the local and GB media outlets.

The more rapid condemnation of the murder of PSNI officer Stephen Carroll was probably easier for the republican movement; explicable as it was as the murder of a member of the new police service and not the hated British army. However, the murder of Constable Carroll and the subsequent SF condemnation of it seemed to cause everyone to stop any criticism or even analysis of SF’s previous comments. Sinn Fein now seemed almost heroic in saying what every decent person unionist, nationalist or other has been saying for years. I am also profoundly worried that these dreadful murders will be used as the excuse for further “moving forwards.” Again I did a blog some time ago about the fallacy of seeing Northern Ireland as some sort of Flying Dutchman having to move politically forwards in perpetuity: the problem being that the destination of this movement is all too often seen as towards a pro SF agenda. Indeed I will predict now, that soon someone will tell us that if only policing and justice was devolved, SF would find it easier to persuade republicans to go to the police about the dissidents.

Clearly everyone feels the need to pull together and hence, minimise the risks of this dreadful violence becoming worse. However, I would submit that warm words are not enough and Sinn Fein especially need now to take more specific, concrete and for them uncomfortable steps. I have covered many of these suggestions in my last blog on the subject. I would suggest that Sinn Fein have done a small part of what I suggested but far too little. As well as the people like Adams, McGuinness and O’Dowd condemning the recent murders and calling for all to go to the police, we also need to see leading SF members from the areas known to have strong dissident elements call for the same. Conor Murphy and Michelle Gildernew must be on television and quoted on the Sinn Fein web site calling on their constituents to go to the police about dissident activity. Adams and co need to welcome the deployment of specialist soldiers, if that is what Hugh Orde feels is needed. This is something which I believe John O’Dowd specifically opposed when interviewed this week. The Provisional IRA must provide the police with a full list of the weapons which they had and exactly where and how they were destroyed. They must also tell the police which weapons were removed by the dissidents before the destruction of the stockpiles: this would allow the government and security forces to work out what weaponry the dissidents have and what else they might be endeavouring to acquire.

Returning to the issue of the murderers themselves, McGuinness stated that he did not know who committed these murders. I suspect this is probably true. However, it is also somewhat disingenuous. As I said above these murders were probably seasoned killers, I doubt they would be younger than 35. McGuinness must know who left the IRA at the time of the ceasefires and I would suggest could make a passable stab at the names of the people who committed this foul crime. McGuinness must himself provide or get his former friends in the Provisional IRA to provide the police with a list of the people they think set up the Real and Continuity IRA. He must then tell us all that he has done so. I do not want the names made public just the fact that he has named names.

On the topic of honesty I would suggest that many, not only those in the unionist community, would take the utterances of leading members of SF a great deal more seriously if McGuinness would admit to having been a senior figure in the IRA much more recently than the early 1970s and if Adams would admit to his own IRA membership.

Some have suggested that Sinn Fein has crossed a Rubicon over this issue. I would suggest that there is an opportunity for SF to make such a step but for the moment it is actually making a big splash in the river to distract people from the fact that it is firmly ensconced on the wrong side.

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Comments (62)

  1. TAFKABO says:

    Delurking to say this is one of the most ridiculous blogs I’ve seen on Slugger in many a year.
    I’m only surprised you managed to type the bloody thing at all, considering that you had to tie yourself up in knots to make half the arguments you’re making.
    Oh and as a unionist, let me say that you don’t speak for me and what will be acceptable to me, so don’t make blogs as if you do. I am grateful for the leadership shown in the last few days, and that includes from Sinn Fein.
    If you had a titter of wit you’d realise that what you’re doing right now is exactly what the dissidents want you to do.

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  2. slug says:

    Turgon

    What worries me is much less to do with top down issues. Frankly I am happy enough with McGuinness and his statements side by side with Hugh Orde.

    What worries me more is the quality of thinking, the level of sectarianism, in society, that has emerged in some of the responses to these atrocities.

    The episode has drawn my attention to attitudes that still prevail in repubican areas – atavistic attitudes – which no doubt have counterparts in loyalist areas. A tribal mindset. When you have got away from hearing people thinking like that, you forget these hatreds are still live, and it is a shock to be reminded that others still have them.

    We still have a very broken and bigoted society which is particularly obvious in the deprived areas, and this episode has drawn attention to that.

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  3. sllug says:

    PS some of the comments on this forum are also incredibly tribal, and at times like these you can see the most atavistic coming out.

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  4. slug says:

    Yes TAFAKABO, I should add like you do that Turgon does not speak for me as a unionist. I was happy with Martin McGuinness’s response this week.

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  5. dewi says:

    If Sinn Féin et al do what you ask Turgon how would that help? Apart from some Unionist gloating don’t you think the danger caused amongst elements on the other side might be more significant?

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  6. PaddyReilly says:

    A famous French clown did a routine in which he was searching for his lost key underneath a gas-lamp. Passers by came and helped him. Eventually they became impatient and asked him was he sure he lost the key in this spot. No, he motioned, over there. Then why are you searching here they asked? Because it’s light here and dark over there he replied.

    In the current emergency, we have murders committed by RIRA and a murder committed by CIRA. So, we might legitimately ask our resident clowns, why are you rabbiting on about the non-existent, historical, weaponless PIRA? The answer is simple. PIRA has a membership overlap with Sinn Féin, and it is the political eclipse of SF we desire above all things, and which consumes our interest at the moment. The tears which we shed over our lost peace and dead state servants are of the order of crocodiles.

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  7. TAFKABO says:

    One thing I always noticed about some republicans was how much they tried to convince me that I’d be very welcome in a united Ireland, only, when you got down to the detail it was on the understanding that every expression of Unionism and Britishness on my part was removed.
    What we have here is basically the same thing reversed, some Unionists pay lip service to sharing power with republicans but they don’t seem to understand that republicans are bound to think and act, well, like republicans.
    Republicanism is a valid ideology, we can’t force people to love all things British.
    There’s a lot of Irish republicans who don’t want to see people killed but neither will they lose much sleep over dead British soldiers, and that’s just something we have to accept.
    We can’t make people’s emotions a precondition to peace.

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  8. 6 County Prod says:

    Turgon! warm words, what warm words?

    ‘Traitors’ and ‘betrayal’ are hardly warm words.

    The position and attitude of the TUV and indeed Idiot Empey have been quite undermined by the events of the past 36-48 hours. When political leadership was desperately needed, robbo and marty stepped up to the plate and provided it, and a potential crisis has been well dealt with.

    The people of NI do not want to go back to how things were before. The dissidents want to use violence, and the TUV wants to use ridicule and fear mongering to return to the past. Turgon, whoever you are, let it go. Times have changed. We have moved on. Deal with it, and cut out the drivel.

    You want warm words? Here’s some warm words, Don’t worry, be happy!

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  9. villager (profile) says:

    “McGuinness must himself provide or get his former friends in the Provisional IRA to provide the police with a list of the people they think set up the Real and Continuity IRA. He must then tell us all that he has done so.”

    Wise the bap.

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  10. Silverline says:

    It seems Turgon if the TUV get their own way there will be a return to violence aswell you really should look at what direction your leader and party will take us, is this what you want?

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  11. It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it says:

    Turgon,

    this is an imperfect peace. When a line is drawn in the sand there will be those on ether side who will feel betrayed at the compromise. These people exist on both sides of the line.

    The GFA/STA was a deal in reality between the Provos and the British – not a brilliant deal for Unionism nor Nationlaism but one that most can live with.

    The significance of the transfer of policing powers is that it was part of that deal and failure for the British to keep their word by twisting Unionist arms into agreeing or punishing them with Dublin influence if the dont will push us dangerously back form whence we came.

    It will be a massive propaganda coup for the dissidents if Wee Reggie’s reckless suggestion of delay is taken up by the DUP as it will almost certainly lead to the collapse of Stormo.

    If Stormo goes the events of the last few days will probably be a lot more frquent as Nationalist trust in the British will have evaporated.

    Although Wee Reggie is probably motivated by a desire to Lundify the DUP as they did unto his party and the UU is probably an insignificant player at this stage – but it is the suggestion that the Tory government in waiting is in agreement with this policy that is genuienly frightening.

    You aint going to get all you want from Marty and Co but where we are and where we need to be is a hell of a lot better than where we might end up if the political/peace process is not completed.

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  12. Sammy Morse says:

    I’ve heard this said, including by some Alliance people, and frankly Turgon, I think it’s a red herring. There’s no doubt that the IRA could provide a comprehensive list of who left 10 years ago and who left more recently.

    But there’s equally little doubt that Military Intelligence, MI5 and the PSNI could provide exactly the same list of names. And already have.

    ‘The dogs in the street’ also know who was behind the Craigavon murder. Not who actually pulled the trigger, but the names of every dissident Republican in Lurgan and Brownlow are known to the security forces and the IRA. So while Marty and John O’Dowd were both clear and unambiguous in saying that people should provide information to the police, in that case there is little, probably nothing, the IRA could provide that the police don’t already know. But members of the public might well know vital bits of information, perhaps seemingly unimportant, which will lead the police to a successful conviction, and I hope that people heed McGuinness and O’Dowd’s words.

    The Massarene murders are a more problematic case on all sorts of levels. The professionalism of the hit has been commented on ad nauseam but it was a politically sophisticated hit as well. Attacking a barracks due to close within a year makes no sense in terms of prosecuting a successful guerilla war, but a lot of sense politically. The political process required all of us to turn a blind eye to some truths that were politically uncomfortable. For the Shinners, that was that NI remained unambiguously a part of the UK, garrisoned by British troops. The blind eye was possible as the average Republican was unlikely to come into contact with British troops on duty, indeed unlikely to come into contact with them off duty in any form indistinguishable from tourists on a stag weekend. The dissidents poked what is for Republicans a raw wound of the continued British presence, and did it successfully for about 24 hours before political reality, and the fact that the overwhelming majority of Republicans have no desire to go back to the horrors of the past pulled them into line.

    I think it is imperative that the Massarene killers, who clearly have the capacity to cause sustained problems over a number of years if they have the wit to not suddenly start thinking they are Carlos the Jackal, are caught and sent to jail for a long time. But who are they? If the IRA know who they are, then the rest of us could make a fair stab. But I’ve yet to hear any sustainable theory as to who they are. They are most likely from South Derry, but could be from East Tyrone. Or from Belfast or North Armagh or frankly anywhere and the car dumped outside Randalstown was a deliberate decoy. Maybe a former comrade recognises the MO of the attack and could help indentify likely suspects. If so, I hope they make what is undoubtedly a difficult decision and contact the police, or a Sinn Féin representative who can pass the information on, for the sake of the future of their children. But let’s be honest, that’s a long shot.

    But let’s come back to that South Derry theory. By the end of the Troubles, there were basically only five IRA units left in sufficient order to maintain attacks at any tempo – North Armagh, South Armagh, East Tyrone, South Derry and, although heavily penetrated, Belfast. Now, elements of North Armagh left the Ra ages ago, to which effect we now all sadly know, and the rest are loyal to the leadership, and overall it was a smaller outfit. The four really effective IRA areas have basically behaved themselves and supported the leadership – there have been ‘police’ actions, sometimes brutal and some outright criminality, but none have carried out attacks of any political moment since the turn of the century. And although all have lost personnel to dissident groups, none of those members have been able or willing to mount serious attacks since Omagh. No doubt the fear of retaliation by the Ra kept some of them in their boxes as well.

    But if we now have dissaffected former members of a professional and sophisticated IRA unit willing to carry out attacks and no longer concerned about retaliation from a disarmed PIRA, then this society has a major problem. And while I think it’s important that the leadership of mainstream Republicanism assures the rest of us that its commitment to peaceful means remains absolute, it also needs to communicate to the Republican grassroots what it means to be a radical Republican in the new NI. That’s a difficult tightrope to walk, and the rest of us need to give them space to do it. And the Republican vision will not involve having tea and buns with the Brigadier Commanding or popping off to the see the Band of the Royal Irish in action. And the Republican vision will probably annoy the rest of us at times, from other Nationalists right through. And no doubt we will annoy them. But, hey, that’s democracy for you. It’s better than war.

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  13. The Spectator says:

    Turgon

    I’m not a unionist of any stripe, so I won’t get into the same level of detail on your views as mirror of unionist thought as The Artist, although they are certainly worth reading. TAFKABOI never struck me a particularly soft on terrorism.

    My old English master used to say that you knew when a writer had fallen in love with their own opinion, and forgotten their own relative unimportance by counting the number of ‘I’s in his work.

    There are at least 30 such first person pronouns in your short piece, and a great many of them lead only to an expression of your own feelings.

    “I welcome”, “I feel” “i hope” “I do not want” etc, etc, etc.

    If there are actual arguments to be made, we can and should debate, discuss, refine. But very few people here are the least bit interested how you (or anyone other Slugger scribbler, for that matter) ‘feel’, or even what you ‘feel’ you must do – it simply smacks of giving your own emotions primacy over logic or reason.

    As for what little there is to actually debate in the piece, you say that surely Adams and Mcguinness must know the identity of the dissidents.

    Leaving aside that such knowledge is fairly irrelevant for the purpose of catching and prosecuting these people (you need evidence connecting them to the crime for that – see Hoey, S), are you really suggesting that the PSNI and MI5 don’t already know well who the dissidents are?

    Really?

    Perhaps its just me, but that strikes me as unlikely in the extreme – a fact backed up by the early Craigavon arrests – the police already seem to have a pretty good idea who to shake down.

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  14. The Spectator says:

    Sammy

    sorry, you beat me to it.

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  15. Sammy Morse says:

    Leaving aside that such knowledge is fairly irrelevant for the purpose of catching and prosecuting these people (you need evidence connecting them to the crime for that – see Hoey, S), are you really suggesting that the PSNI and MI5 don’t already know well who the dissidents are?

    Really?

    Meanwhile on planet Prodiban:

    “Hiya Hugh, it’s Marty here. I was just wanting to help you ought with that Massarene investigation and heres a couple of boys in Lavey you’ll be wanting to speak to. I’ve got the addresses and phone numbers, but we’re short on e-mail addresses and Bebo pages because they left in ’98 and the digital revolution wasn’t really in full swing back then.”

    “Ta very much Marty. I’ll just send a snatch squad to Bellaghy and lift them and we’ll have them off to the High Court this afternoon. Nah, mate, don’t worry about the forensics, that’s a load of old crap. If Martin McGuinness says they’re dissidents trained by the IRA, that’ll be enough to convince the judge. You chaps OK with Diplock?”

    “Aye, no sweat Queie, are ya still going to be at the Ulster Hall tonight for tae watch the Band of Royal Irish with the Brigadier. He’s a quare wan, isn’t he, said I would have made good officer material.”

    “Sure, Marty. After our visit to the British Legion pensioner club I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Well, ta ra for now.”

    Oddly, the Prodiban vision of what Marty should be doing is close to the Conto vision of what Marty is doing…

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  16. picador says:

    Here Turgon. You have forgotten to demand that all Sinn Féin MLAs fly the Union Flag (the right way up) from their houses on the Twelfth.

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  17. Belfast Gonzo (profile) says:

    I’ve no great love for the Shinners, but I don’t think Turgon will be happy until McGuinness himself walks into a police station holding two fellas by their their collars, shoves them into a cell and declares that it was themmuns what done it.

    Even then, I suspect he’ll have a niggling doubt.

    I find it strange how someone can base their life on something that no evidence exists for, yet have so little faith in others. If I wasn’t an athiest, I’d call it un-Christian.

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  18. slugprod millionaire says:

    As a unionist I would like to point out that Turgon does not speak for me.

    Yes McGuinness is a Provo. Was the leader of the Provos. Did all manner of repugnant things in the name of Republicanism.

    But you know what I just don’t care. To me that was all in the past. I am more worried about the future. I will not hold him to account for his past deeds, I will only hold him to account for what he does now and what he does in the future.

    Everyone needs to move on and be realistic. There are two tribes in NI and that isn’t about to change anytime soon. We each get to pick our representatives and they have to deal with the situation at hand. So all this crap about the past has to stay in the past. No matter what it was. So no more public inquiries and no more investigations of any kind.

    Draw a line in the sand.

    So McGuinness would have been judged harshly if he had done the usual shinner double speak. but he didn’t. He said what needed to be said.

    And for that alone Unionists like myself should be content.

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  19. Scaramoosh says:

    Turgon

    I am not prepared to belive that there is a God, until you provide me with the boarding passes for the Arc.

    But on that theme, I begin to see the foundations upon which your rather blinkered philosphy is based – the Old Testament;

    “An emphasis upon God’s demand for a repentant heart as the basis for forgiveness, while not totally absent earlier (see Ps. 51), gained its full expression in the prophets (Isaiah 1:10-18; Jeremiah 7:21-26; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-27). This element does not negate but rather deepens the understanding of the sacrifice. The Old Testament sacrificial system could never give once-for-all forgiveness. It had to be repeated over and over (Hebrews 10:1-4).”

    On this basis, we bgin to understand why it is, that no matter what McGunness and Adams do, it will never be enough for you.

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  20. skullion (profile) says:

    “…a passable stab at the names of the people who committed this crime..” and presumably this will count as evidence will it?The list is endless.Why demand condemnation from SF when you ignore and belittle it anyway.
    On the topic of honesty why don’t DUP release the names of the members who tried to dissuade loyalists from calling a ceasefire.Your a unionist why don’t you have a stab?

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  21. ulsterfan says:

    I have noticed over the past few days former IRA members coming forward and starting to tell their side of the story which inevitably implicates the leadership.
    watch this space.

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  22. Henry94 says:

    TAFKABO

    One thing I always noticed about some republicans was how much they tried to convince me that I’d be very welcome in a united Ireland, only, when you got down to the detail it was on the understanding that every expression of Unionism and Britishness on my part was removed

    Those republicans don’t speak for me. In my opinion one of advances Irish nationalists (including myself) have made is in coming to understand that unionists are really British and not just Irish people who didn’t know it yet.

    They will still be British in a united Ireland just as nationalists are still Irish in the current constitutional set-up.

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  23. dub says:

    Turgon,

    The piece you have written above is worthless and revealing of a mindset that, were it to be prevalent in leadership circles in our society, would be one seeking out and relishing confrontation, violence and conflict. Also I would like to point out that devolution of p and j was a policy which was agreed upon at St Andrews. The only differences have been over timescale. Such a piece of drivel is not going to cause anger by the way, only derision, a bit like the reaction to someone who spends hundreds of words explaining why he feels in no way Irish at all, not in the least tiny bit, just does not feel it, but suddenly, when cornered, says “Oh but i am Northern Irish”. Even your fancy prose style seems to have deserted you.

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  24. fin says:

    “They will still be British in a united Ireland just as nationalists are still Irish in the current constitutional set-up”

    Interesting comment Henry94, and even more interesting would be to hear unionist thoughts towards been in a similar situation in a UI.

    The right to a British passport and to consider yourself British is onething, however, I wouldn’t expect unionists to feel comfortable in a UI if say, ‘Irish’ politicans kept demanding that a tricolour was flown from every public building, or refused to accept any British-Irish bodies established to ensure a closer relationship between both islands, or to have no checks in place to ensure policing, politics and public bodies represented the unionist community, or what if 10 years into a UI a politican went on TV and bragged about the funding his party had secured for the Irish language, AoH, the GAA and had ensured that recent laws made ‘Irish’ people more comfortable and unionism has got nothing. What if in the Dail, when a unionist political representative got up to speak on a day to day issue he/she was heckled for been a Brit. Would unionists in a UI feel comfortable if politicans electioneering revolved around ‘vote for me or a unionist politican might get elected’.

    Would they feel apprehensive if Irish soldiers paraded through Belfast having returned from the Lebenon, cheered on by a tricolour waving crowd, what if a group of RIRA volunteers walked the route in front of them also.

    All in all I don’t think unionists would feel comfortable in that kind of Ireland.

    But, I think thats what they fear, because thats what NI is all about.

    Does the devolution of P&J, North-South bodies, an Irish Language Act, 50-50 policing, as few flags as possible, not parading where you’re not welcome, does all of this make you feel less British?

    Would the granting of these things have stolen alot of the oxygen from people like the CIRA and RIRA?

    A lot has been posted here regarding SF in recent days, and very little regarding the DUP’s behaviour, I for one think the DUP have realised that they are now committed to the peace process, they can’t walk away anymore. They’ve also realised that not only are the naysayers of the TUV their opponents but also the naysayers in republicanism and they have a responsibility to fight both in the political world. I hope a light has come on in Robbo’s head and he understands that the TUV will never be happy but by playing ball with nationalists 90% of NI will be, I think SF reached this point sometime ago and realised that recognising NI, decommissiong, accepting the PSNI doesn’t make them less Irish or a UI further away, it just gets rid of some obstructions. The people who would not accept this are the people who will only accept a UI, immediately and tough if you didn’t like it.

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  25. 6 County Prod says:

    Ah, but that’s the issue, Henry. Who are the British and who are the Irish? It is easy to throw labels around without any understanding of what those labels actually mean or represent.

    I am reading a book at the minute called The Origins of the British by Stephen Oppenheimer. He has combined genetics, climatology, geology, archaeology, linguistics, culture and history to reconstruct and explain the roots and differences of the various peoples inhabiting the ‘British Isles’.

    If his conclusions are correct, then we are all mad in the head for arguing and fighting the way we do over a few thousand square miles of lakes, mountains and bog, beautiful though they are.

    Recommended reading!

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  26. twilightoftheprods says:

    As a unionist, Turgon doesn’t speak for me either. Not simply ideologically – but I’m also dismayed at the (for the most part) unthoughtful unction that has oozed automatically from the commentariat across all media. This is a prime example.

    Too much sermonising, too many ‘I’ s from this poster – there is nothing wrong with sunstantive debate but these posts are puffed up and self regarding rather than focused and insightful. We need to hear an anti agreement unionist but ther eshould be proper analysis. The politics is getting drained out of a lot of this – to its detriment.

    There ere too many easily reached for condemnatory adjectives, and i think the call for mainstream republicans to spill their guts of old information is more a call for sack cloth and ashes than co-operation with the rule of law. I’m not interested in croppies lying down. Not only is it unjust, but there is just too many of the buggers.

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  27. I see Jimbo has a letter in the NL stating that SF know who did it and should pass on a short list of suspects to the Police.

    Is this the best that Jim can do and is the blog by Turg the best he could do?

    The fact is that the Police more than likely do have a short list.

    As for his bring in the SAS – and do what? Storm craigavon in an embassy style swoop based on a “shortlist”?? that would hardly be sensible..

    Just what planet is the TUV on these days?

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  28. Henry94 says:

    6 County Prod

    Who are the British and who are the Irish?

    That’s one we each have to decide for ourselves. For me gnetic origins have nothing to do with it.

    If somebody lives on the island and wants to be part of the Irish nation then they are Irish as far as I’m concerned.

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  29. frustrated democrat says:

    Policing and Justice

    Just imagine that policing had been devolved would the First and Deputy First ministers have been able to present a united front.

    Their views on the subject are not in agreement, while P& J are still in Westminster they can comment free in the knowledge that it not under their control and does not drive them apart.

    I think Empey is right we are not ready for this contentious subject to be in the hands of local politicians as it could be too devisive in the current climate.

    Let the local politicians sort out what they have first and let them be able to agree.

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  30. Greenflag says:

    Belfast Gonzo,

    ‘I find it strange how someone can base their life on something that no evidence exists for, yet have so little faith in others. If I wasn’t an athiest, I’d call it un-Christian. ‘

    Strange ? Par for the course in many instances :(

    ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we pracice to BELIEVE’

    Not to worry -Turgon believes in the TUV and God . I’m not sure in which order . At least God doesn’t exist . Northern Ireland might have a better future if the same could be said for the TUV :(

    While the dissidents have the power to ‘upset’ the peace process they have no possibility of dragging Northern Ireland back to the past .

    The TUV have asssuming they get the requisite political support for their policies are nothing other than pre 1969 Unionism and all the ‘blind ‘ ignorance and stupidity that that ‘unionism’ represented .

    You don’t have to support either Robinson or McGuinness or their parties to see that they have both responded in a responsible manner to these atrocities.

    These ‘dissidents’ are going nowhere but they might be forgiven for believing they might be given some of the hysterical rantings emanating from TUV territory :(

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  31. fin says:

    FD, granted they are not in agreement on P&J,
    should they also return Education to Westminister due to lack of agreement. Also the Dept of Culture is a bit of a battleground so off it goes as well, oh and then there’s health, and the treasury and…..

    Gosh, there’s nothing left for the assembly to manage, lets close it down and admit that the attempt to introduce democracy to NI has failed.

    Joint authority anyone!

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  32. Henry94 says:

    FD

    I think Empey is right we are not ready for this contentious subject to be in the hands of local politicians as it could be too devisive in the current climate.

    I think the opposite is true. Real responsibility makes people step up to the mark. But the best reason for devolving the issue is because it would give the whole community a sense of ownership of policing. We don’t have that now in the way it exists in England and Ireland.

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  33. Sammy Morse says:

    And anyone reading the London press over the past few days can’t fail to be struck by how poor the English understanding of this place is. That’s another good reason to have devolved P&J. We need one of our own – I don’t really care if it’s David Ford, Alban McGuinness, Arlene Foster, Conor Murphy – but we need one of our own in charge of the most sensitive job in government here, because they need to understand this place intimately.

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  34. It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it says:

    Sammy Morse

    excellently put. But… if could be permitted a small (but totally justified ) dig at the Alliance party – its a pity this type of clear thinking did not arrive with them a bit earlier when Wee Davy a few months ago was sounding exactly like Wee Reggie.

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  35. Ignatius Reilly says:

    Fellow de-lurker TAFKBO probably said it most eloquently, but I reckon Villager said it best:

    Wise the bap.

    What a rant that was Turgon (whoever you may be). Reminds me of the sort of drivel spewed forth by columnists in the Murdoch Press, who seem to have the same aims as the ‘dissidents’, i.e. to sink the peace process.

    Just a side-note: if McGuinness knows ‘who these people are’, don’t you think many others, including Police/Army/Security Services know also? I mean, I personally could hrow you a couple of likely names, based on what we already ‘know’ about Omagh etc….

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  36. Rory Carr says:

    Turgon has done us all somewhat of a favour here with his above essay insofar as he has reminded us all unionist, nationalist, loyalist and republican just how much the mindsets of the republican dissidents and the TUV ( who might be termed DUP Dissidents) have in common, both desperately striving to drag everyone back to the, for them, comfortable certainties of conflict and hatred and suspicion of ‘the other side’.

    How much more mature has been the reaction of the spokesmen for the loyalist paramiltaries even than that of Turgon and the TUV.

    The reaction from all sides of the community whether speaking to journalists, attending silent protests and especially here on Slugger (and more especially on this thread) indicate clearly just how far out Turgon’s thinking on this is and more especially just how far out of touch he is with the thinking from the unionist community which is clearly much more progressive than he imagines (or I should guess, feels comfortable with). It may not have occured to him that whatever differences we may have we are not so addicted to them as not to allow for accomodation of the others’ views in order that that peace and progress may prevail and develop and that we are prepared to exercise a strong measure of goodwill and trust accordingly.

    But, as I have said, the reaction on here to Turgon’s essay has been heartening and without it we may not have had the opportunity to learn of the honest, clear, progressive mindset across the community divide that will not allow its commitment to peace to be derailed by egotistical reactionaries from either extreme. So, for that at least, well done Turgon.

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  37. joeCanuck says:

    I have just read Reg Empey’s latest rant on the Belfast Telly site. Quite disgusting the way he is trying to make political capital out of these two tragedies.

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  38. Greenflag says:

    6 county prod,

    ‘ I am reading a book’

    About time :)

    Brilliant -an advance on previous form :)

    ‘He has combined genetics, climatology, geology, archaeology, linguistics, culture and history to reconstruct and explain the roots and differences of the various peoples inhabiting the ‘British Isles’’

    Even before the findings of modern genetic research , Carletoon Coon the American anthropologist made a good stab at the origins of the people of these islands back in 1948 !? . He got some of the ‘terminology ‘ wrong but the gist of his thesis was that the majority of the peoples of these islands have their ancestry in the people /peoples who made their way here after the last age i.e some 9,000 years ago and these people came originally from the ice age population refuges in south western france /northern spain , northern italy and the balkans . The ancestors of all these peoples would have entered Europe circa 35,000 years ago and would have lived as hunter gatherers in small groups ( 30 people ) widely distributed over ‘habitable ‘ parts of the european continent . These people ‘fled’ to ice age refuges in the south when their rich hunting grounds started to turn to tundra. These people ‘donated ‘ some 80% of the genes of present europeans with the remaining 20% coming into Europe via the ‘neolithic’ revolution and the subsequent spread of middle eastern farming technology and know how .

    The later additions of conquering Celts , Anglo Saxons etc etc was based on 19th century ‘heroic ‘ history mythology and the need to justify future ‘heroic ‘ events i.e the conquest of other parts of the world because of the ahem ‘heroic past’. The quest for the Holy Grail during the First Crusade was in reality based on a seach for loot (Dosh) as the profligate new post Roman Empire western Kings were financially broke and some (Richard the Lionheart) had made matters worse by expelling their former finance providers i.e the small jewish financial community .

    ‘If his conclusions are correct, then we are all mad in the head’

    Even if Oppenheimer’s conclusions are incorrect your ‘mad in the head’ thesis would apply anyway here is only one human race anyway. There are of course thousands of ethnic and cultural groups which differ outwardly and inwardly from each other as a result of the ‘plasticity’ of the human animal in response to changes in climate , environment, and natural selection . Some 85% of human genetic differences occur ‘within ‘ ethnic populations with a further 10% among related regional populations and 5% with the rest of humanity . All testimony to the short ( 150,000) year old estimated existence of homo sapiens on the planet.

    So if it’s mad for Unionists and Republicans to slug it out in Northern Ireland over their perceived mythological differences then it’s equally mad for Israelis and Palestinians , Germans and French , Xhosas and Zulus , Japanese and Koreans , Turks and Greeks etc etc and every other war in history for it’s been mostly until recent times near neighbours fighting each other for reasons that are innumerable but at the end of the day come down to scarce resources , money , women , land and not forgetting the ‘true ‘ invisible being .

    I recommend Darwin’s Ghost by Steve Jones as a good antidote to those still seeking the ‘truth’ about the human (includes British )condition.

    ‘If a man will begin with certainties , he shall end in doubts ; but if he will be content to begin with doubts , he shall end in certainties ‘

    attr

    Francis Bacon ‘Advancement of Learning ‘

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  39. Sammy Morse says:

    Other Sammy, you may – but only if you find me a quote of Fordy sounding “exactly like”, or even remotely like, Wee Reggie.

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  40. Greenflag says:

    sammy morse ,

    ‘Anyone reading the London press over the past few days can’t fail to be struck by how poor the English understanding of this place is.’

    That was always the way Sammy :) . But don’t be disappointed . Can’t blame them -bigger things on their minds and I don’t mean the Empire and all that ;)

    That’s another good reason to have devolved P&J. We need one of our own – I don’t really care if it’s David Ford, Alban McGuinness, Arlene Foster, Conor Murphy – but we need one of our own in charge of the most sensitive job in government here, because they need to understand this place intimately.’

    While I agree that ‘sensitivity’ in response is probably politically astute in prsent circumstances . However if these dissidents up the ante as it were then a vacancy may arise for a northern Michael Collins approach . I suspect that in the present climate it would’nt matter much wheter said Michael Collins was Protestant or Catholic as long as he/she gets the job done !

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  41. It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it says:

    Sammy Eile,

    I dont keep an archive of Wee Davey’s statements but are you suggesting that during the summer he did not say police and justice should not be transferred?

    I seem to remember it was some sort of torturous self-serving logic about the assembly not working properly and therefore he was not going to help to make it work properly – it was all classic ladders and buckets and red noses stuff.

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  42. Sammy Morse says:

    I dont keep an archive of Wee Davey’s statements but are you suggesting that during the summer he did not say police and justice should not be transferred?

    No he didn’t. Trust me, I was there. He said we weren’t going to take it if circumstances didn’t change. Circumstances were the deal being negotiated behind our backs and the job being presented to us as a fait accompli after we’d been backed into a corner by NIO spinmeisters. And so far, those circumstances haven’t changed, although clearly others have.

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  43. PaddyReilly says:

    if McGuinness knows ‘who these people are’

    The fatal flaw in Turgon’s rant which we always need to keep in mind is that we are all getting older- and more irrelevant- and yet we always forget this.

    The notion that Martin McGuinness has useful information on what the contos of Craigavon are up to is akin to the idea that the head of the British Legion knows what is going on in the mind of a gang of hoodies. The young man of 17 arrested after that murder would be fairly representative of the age group of the new warriors.

    Sinn Féin is well on the way to being the new Fianna Fáil and Fianna Fáil has moved into the ecological niche left vacant by the Conservative party. Consequently, another niche is left vacant, and young men on council estates who want to take a potshot at a policeman (a class of people who exist in other countries without them believing that they are part of an army of national liberation) will soon be moving to claim the dreaded three letter title- and future veteran status.

    Unless of course Ireland is united in the meantime, in which case they will have to face up to the fact that they are just young men who want to shoot policemen. Or possibly they will just remove the ‘Irish’ from their title and present themselves as proletarians or something.

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  44. picador says:

    It seems that Reg Empey is picking up on some of Turgon’s suggestions by demanding that SF hand over the names of those who left in 1997.

    Laughable stuff from a desperate and incompetent politician. The dissidents must be positively rooting for a Tory win in the next election, if the editorials of the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the posturing of their ‘Ulster’ leader are anything to go by.

    Let’s examine Reg’s demand.

    Who is to say SF is not co-operating with the PSNI already? I’d be surprised if they weren’t. But publicising the fact would play directly into the dissidents’ hands.

    The split was in 1997. That was 12 years ago. Any list of names would be hopelessly out of date rather like the internment list in 1971 – and we all know where that got us?

    MI5 & Special Branch had the Provos thoroughly penetrated back in 1997. They already have the list of out of date names. Furthermore, in spite of the recent strikes, MI5 have the dissidents thoroughly penetrated now. They know the names.

    Reggie’s statement is foolish, irresponsible posturing. He does not have what it takes to be a leader.

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  45. joeCanuck says:

    Reggie’s statement is foolish, irresponsible posturing.

    Couldn’t agree more. See comment #12 above.

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  46. deirdre nelson says:

    Sammy Morse is spot on about the London papers and their lack of understanding. Wee Reg has been dreadful over the past week or so and if the Conservative Party is taking advice from him or Lord Trimble then God help us.
    I’m inclined to think we need P+J devolved but please can someone tell me how it’s going to be funded- I’m not ideologically opposed, just worried about the bills.
    As for Turgon and the TUV, I begin to think some of them want to return to the past as it’s right in their comfort zone.
    Also, until the Tory Party understand more about NI they should stay on the mainland and play there. A ham-fisted security reponse and over-reaction by the Briish will do massive damage here, short and long-term.
    Also agree with comment about them shooting police regardless- look at deprived areas elsewhere

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  47. John Maxwell says:

    Why wouldn’t the IRA hand over all the names of those who supposedly left mainstream republicanism to the police? Regardless of what the security forces know (and one really has to say that they seem to be ignorant themselves at the moment, calling for Special Forces to be sent in before the attacks and, now that the so-called dissidents have shown they are capable of murder deciding they don’t need them any more – political pressure telling?) surely it would demonstrate Republican good faith.

    And why doesn’t the local media cover Adam’s outrageous comments? I would suggest it is because they have a vested interest in supporting the process.

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  48. fin says:

    bitterly disappointed with Sir Reg, I honestly thought the UUP would evolve into something a bit better once Trimble got booted upstairs, I wonder how long Herman will stay onboard. Its even more distressing that the DUP now seem to be the most reasonable unionist party, has everyone else lurched to the right or have they lurched to the centre?

    I don’t understand this funding malarky for devolving P&J, what is the extra expense outside of the ministers office?

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  49. 6 County Prod says:

    Greenflag,

    Wow! Impressive off-the-top-of-the-head stuff!

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  50. John Maxwell says:

    “As for Turgon and the TUV, I begin to think some of them want to return to the past as it’s right in their comfort zone.”

    deirdre nelson,

    That’s right. Blacken the name of your opponents and try to associate them with violence when they point out the uncomfortable truths.

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  51. deirdre nelson says:

    John Maxwell- Jim Allister wants to send in the SAS. If that’s not harking back to the past and looking to kick it all off again then what is it? As for blackening their names and associating them with violence- you’re doing it all by yourselves, you don’t need my help;-)
    Not uncomfortable truths,how do you know Sinn Fein hasn’t passed on info to police? you’re making an assumption based on your particular prejudices like the rest of us do. Nothing is ever going to be good enough for the TUV, they simply want a return to majority protestant rule, imho, and that’s not going to happen. Neither is a United Ireland btw.
    Jim Allister’s inflammatory statements are nothing short of a call for violence, now go away and let the rest of us who see a future get on with building it.

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  52. pól says:

    Imagine a public transfer of information on former members of Sinn Féin to the police. Turgon, do you seriously believe that this would solve any of the problems we are facing at the moment? Rather, it would cause more fracturing of the Republican movement, inevitably leading to more bloodshed. Yet this is what you demand. Sinn Féin may well give information privately, but this is just another “photo’s of decommissioning’ manoeuver. Lets face it, all you want is ash and sackcloth*, and nothing will do you until you see Martin marching down the Garvaghy Road whistling the sash. You’ve clearly no interest in peace between Unionists and Nationalists, just peace for Unionists.

    *or should that be sash and sackcloth?

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  53. John Maxwell says:

    deirdre nelson,

    How is calling for the SAS to be sent in a call for violence? Do you associate them with violence? He called for the SAS, not the UDA.

    Secondly, I note you choose to ignore Adam’s uncomfortable statements and, indeed, the comments of a Sinn Fein councillor who said that the murder of the police officer was different from the murder of the soldiers. What is that supposed to mean?

    ” now go away and let the rest of us who see a future get on with building it.”

    What a tolerant attitude! It will be some future with gunmen allowed to parade as men of peace and any attempt to expose their equivocation attacked.

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  54. Henry Weeks says:

    Turgon when your opponents resort to redicule you know you’ve scored a point.

    What seems to be being said is “understand Sinn Fein’s context and history and realise that they cannot say more”. Ok then so fence-sitting is acceptable when there is murder on the streets?

    Additionally what is implied is “we don’t care about unionists’ interpretation of the situation”.

    It seems unimportant that unionists may ask themselves ” do these people (Sinn Fein and the murderers) not share the same antecdents, are we wrong to think that SF may have some special knowledge about them?”

    Is condemnation, saying it’s “wrong”, “counter-productive”, as good as it’s going to get? At the same time as a Dublin SF representative is saying that military bases should be closed and troops returned to Britain, is that not the murderers goal as well? This view comes very close to saying it was the soldiers’ fault for being killed.

    Being part of the new political dispensation in Northern Ireland must mean walking-the-walk as well as talking-the-talk. Not to be seen to do so will erode confidence.

    Unionist sensibilities matter every bit as much as Republicans’.

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  55. It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it says:

    Sammy Eile,

    not really sure what you were saying there – your clarity on earlier posts seems to have evaporated when it came to Alliance policy – no suprise there. This is what Wee Davey had to say as quoted on Slugger. This is a “NO” however you want to dress it up in confused Alliance party speak.

    ““The reality is the executive in place has failed to tackle a range of problems from education to rural planning to the Irish language and the proposed Maze stadium.” “And the thought that they need us to take on a department they can`t deal with, on top of all the others they`ve been unable to deal with properly, is just bonkers.”

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  56. Greenflag says:

    6 county prod ,

    ‘Impressive off-the-top-of-the-head stuff! ‘

    Naw more like a stream of consciousness which is the proper antidote to the turgonic reactive TUV stream of ‘unconciousness’ which shows all the adaptive qualities of a rabbit stuck in headlights :( I mean in reference to the latest atrocities .

    It’s been noted that when some people see a fish tank they notice only the fish and never see the water . Without water the fish can’t live . You can try to kill the fish by catching them one by one by hand . It saves a lot of time however if you open the water valve and leave said fish high and dry .

    Sending in the SAS at this stage is to revert to the handgrab of fish approach . The last time this was attempted it took 35 years to restore the bowl to a semblance of ‘normality’ such as is possible in an abnormal State as NI. The Robinson /McGuinness approach seems to me to be better suited to the new Northern Ireland than the TUV fixation or ‘turgonic ‘view of events :(

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  57. pól says:

    What seems to be being said is “understand Sinn Fein’s context and history and realise that they cannot say more”. Ok then so fence-sitting is acceptable when there is murder on the streets?

    Henry,

    “Because these people, they are traitors to the island of Ireland.”

    If that is considered fence sitting, most people must have fence poles sticking out of their arses. No matter what SF do, some unionists (and republicans for that matter) won’t be happy.

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  58. The question of whether SF should pass intelligence to MI5 is moot – it is already happening, as confirmed by the IMC:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article4693038.ece

    I seem to remember SF confirming this after dissident activity in North Belfast, but I can’t find any record quickly enough.

    The reason they are not announcing this from the rooftops is presumably to maintain republican unity. Let’s not forget that is what we all want. Let the passing of intelligence continue, but it would be infinitely better to have enough oversight to know that it was being acted upon in the public interest, a point underlined by the response to the recent Panorama on Omagh intelligence.

    Regarding local figures, I think this is a case of damned if you do etc. The best message management is through a minimum of senior figures. Were there any opposition, you can be sure it would have been picked up, and that’s not been the case. It’s safe to presume that the entire Assembly group is on the same page.

    Btw, Turgon,

    I think they mistake your modest self-deprecation for a lack of argument. Time to assume the mantle of commentator perhaps?

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  59. picador says:
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  60. Comrade Stalin says:

    Sammy etc,

    I don’t think so :

    ““The reality is the executive in place has failed to tackle a range of problems from education to rural planning to the Irish language and the proposed Maze stadium.”

    Translation : the executive is crap.

    “And the thought that they need us to take on a department they can`t deal with, on top of all the others they`ve been unable to deal with properly, is just bonkers.”

    Translation : the executive is so weak that it cannot agree that any of it’s constituent political parties should take on a politically sensitive job.

    I don’t see a “no” there.

    Surely you’re not dancing on a pinhead ?

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  61. It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it says:

    Comrade,

    are you serious?

    If you give a list of reasons why you dont want to do something – then that means you are against it – ie you are saying NO.

    I put it to you that in fact you are the said dancer with pins you great twit.

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  62. Pam says:

    To be honest, I am not an expert on NI, but there are three aspects that catch my imagination – why there is always the bitterest fight around extremely small pieces of land; how it was possible for the Irish retain strong sense of self-Id despite centuries of British rule. Speaking about the other parts of Europe or the world, it looks as if alongside globalization there’s the rise of what might be called ‘tribal thinking’ – take the recent impasse in Belgium.

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