TUV’s Allister on Executive: “dismal failure, woeful squander and hopeless disconnect”

TUV party logoThe TUV met in Cookstown for their conference today. As well as speeches by the party chairman, party president and party leader, there were 15 minute contributions from outsiders on the subject of economy & business, economy & agriculture, culture parading, health abortion and sport boxing.

Jim Allister’s full speech wasn’t available in advance, only some short extracts. Based on past performance, he’s likely to divert from his script and extemporise anyway. I’m sure there’ll be a report on Sunday Politics tomorrow morning as well as UTV Live with Allister’s ‘best bits’.

Like the other party speakers before him, Allister referred to the murder of prison officer David Black who lived in Cookstown early in his speech. It was a reminder of

… [terrorism] which came straight out of the IRA/Sinn Fein manual ‘Murder They Wrote’. This IRA murder was just as odious, just as hate-filled and just as deviant as those of their Provo blood brothers, for whom the reward was terrorists in government.

Sinn Fein condemnations are meaningless so long as they fail to give up those their IRA trained who still practice their trade of murder – because the killers of David Black were no novices. Nor, have we heard anything of the weaponry. Why? Was it more of that which was supposedly decommissioned?

I salute the Black family for having the strength and courage to cut through the hypocrisy and pretence by telling McGuinness and Sinn Fein to stay away from the funeral. There is a message there for those who day and daily clutch Sinn Fein to their bosom in government in Stormont. Tough words don’t cut it when contradicted by actions that live by the mantra ‘what Sinn Fein wants, Sinn Fein gets’ in Stormont.

On opposition in the Assembly, Allister said:

… the fact that even our opponents recognise the worth of the TUV contribution in the Assembly, demonstrates the growing relevance of the TUV message that government without opposition is not just absurd, but anti-democratic.

By demonstrating the effect even a one man opposition can have we have pushed this issue of democratic deficit up the agenda, with others now increasingly conceding that the case for a democratic opposition is unanswerable.

Only the vested interest of the DUP/Sinn Fein cabal stands in its way; the sooner the SDLP and UUP recognise they are but their doormats in government, rediscover their dignity and independence and step out to distinguish themselves in opposition, the sooner will this fundamental of democracy return to Stormont.

Allister had further criticism about the Assembly and in particular the Executive which he characterised as “dismal failure, woeful squander and hopeless disconnect”.

Bloated with 108 MLAs when half would be enough, 12 departments when 6 would do, waste beyond belief on 161 spin doctors, £5m on hospitality, £400,000 on photographers, an undisclosed sum on foreign travel and still £100m to squander on useless north-south bodies and £20m on a shrine at the Maze.

Meanwhile, unemployment spirals upwards and all the DETI minister can assure us is that we’re not as bad as Dublin, to which nonetheless the Executive seeks to tie us ever closer, be in energy, trade or tourism.

Since the DUP came to power there have been 133 official north-south ministerial meetings, while only a handful of face saving east-west get-togethers. And, just this week I unearthed that under this regime you the Northern Ireland taxpayer pay over £13m pa to give free education to students from the Republic of Ireland!

Opening the conference, Party Chairman Ivor McConnell quipped that “while we enjoy nothing better than a spot of Peter and Marty bashing you will see from our line up of speakers and the topics being covered that we do have other interests”.

Unfortunately, our time will not be taken up examining and critiquing the legislation passed by our devolved government. Whatever else you may accuse our legislative assembly of its not producing too much legislation. The reason for this dearth of new laws is not because our MLAs are suffering from exhaustion. Stormont only sits two days a week and even at that attendance figures are disappointing.

Neither are the assembly members fatigued by the scale of their constituency work. They each have approximately just a third of the electors per assembly member compared to their Welsh and Scottish contemporaries. A very strong argument for cutting the number of MLAs.

McConnell also raised the influence of Dublin and Europe in his short speech.

… are we only half British? Well we probably are. Nationally, Westminster is subservient to Europe. Locally, we effectively have joint rule. Between, the Joint Secretariat, the North-South Ministerial Council and Parliamentary Forum and a Stormont Executive where republicans have the power of veto –nothing happens without Dublin’s consent and the approval of those whose raison d’etre is the destruction of Northern Ireland.

Is this democracy? No. It’s a long term, gradual process- with the pretence of democracy but in reality it’s a one way street -of continual harmonisation which will eventually leave us in a united Ireland which is part of a united federal Europe.

The twin bogeymen of a united Ireland and a federal Europe!

Introduced as “like Moses, the years haven’t dimmed his strength” TUV president William Ross used a News Letter column by unionist commentator Alex Kane to explain that unionists had been “conned”.

I have some quotes here, which illustrate this journey for one political journalist commentator:

(a) It’s not just the Executive which is dysfunctional, it’s the whole political and governmental process,

(b) The Provisionals are now co-equal governors of Northern Ireland. It seems not unreasonable to conclude that violence did result in victory for them.

(c) SF embedded in Assembly and Executive is the Ballot papers phase of the overall struggle.

(d) On Hillsborough – it is a bad deal, full stop.

(e) The biggest mistake I have made in my political career was my support for the Belfast Agreement. I should have gone with my gut instinct in 1998.

There is a lot of the same in Alex Kane’s Newsletter columns and it all comes down to his admission in the last quote. What he has written has been repeated in tens of thousands of Unionist homes across this Province. They know that they were conned.

Ross finished his speech with commendation for the TUV’s party leader.

That is where TUV comes in. We were not conned, we knew from the first what the consequences would be, and that is why we opposed those agreements then and oppose them still

I say to the thousands who want change, you can make the change but you won’t make it by watching Jim Allister on TV and cheering him on from your armchair, as so many do. Change doesn’t happen that way. Change happens when you make it happen. I didn’t say someone will make it happen, I said when you, the stay at homes, make it happen. Nobody else is going to do it for you. Others promised and did not deliver, Jim Allister promised and is delivering.

Jim, former friends attack you because they know you are right; you are attacked because you remind them of what they once said they were – you are the constant reminder of the moral, political and constitutional standards they claimed to defend. They know they broke under pressure and succumbed to flattery and your presence is a constant reminder of how far they have deserted the ideals they once proclaimed.

We in this Party salute you and thank you. We ask the Unionist people to consider where they have been brought to and then to support the principles the man and Party that seeks to restore integrity to Unionist politics.

This afternoon, the party members will hear from UKIP’s deputy leader and MEP Paul Nuttall. (I doubt that UKIP’s MLA David McNarry will be in the audience! Updatehe was.) Conference closes with a ‘covenant commemoration’ by historian Jonathan Mattison. There didn’t seem to be any women speaking.

It seems likely that the TUV and UKIP will not compete against each other at the 2014 European Elections. However, whether the combination of two shades of unionism will appeal to NI voters is less than guaranteed.

To follow what’s happening at the conference, follow the tweets from Sam McBride and the TUV’s Conference account.

– – –

In the extracts and speeches the TUV supplied, it is a conference about criticism rather than solutions. Shrinking the number of Assembly MLAs or Executive departments won’t on their own fix government. Nor are there any clues as to the TUV’s approach to the economy (other than reducing government waste) and job creation.

The inclusion of outside voices in the morning – and UKIP in the afternoon – shows the TUV adopting a model that other parties picked up on over the last few years of conferences. While some of the voices are clearly independent – Roger Pollen/FSB – others like David Brewster (a local historian) and Liam Gibson (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) will be less challenging for delegates with their message. But will the voices heard at today’s conference widen the TUV’s remit, or will the party remain the traditional unionist watchdog, barking at the larger parties?

The media love Jim Allister. He’s against the kind of things everyone expects him to be against. And he’s an ever ready source of sound bites.

Over the course of his legal career as well as his five years in Europe and representing North Antrim constituents, Jim Allister must have come up against all kinds of injustices. One day I hope he surprises me by running with an issue that isn’t predictable.

But there are so few surprises. Has Allister ever found an issue that he could work alongside the SDLP with to sponsor a debate in the Assembly? Is he fully using his talents and influence – and his seat in the Assembly – for the good of Northern Ireland? Or is he focussing his fight against the machine, conservative evangelical values and the flag because that is easier?

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  • TheGoblinPrince

    Jim Allister is a strange one. I understand he is extremely hard working, but his anti-everything stance seems to be a waste of his talents. He’s clearly articulate and believes there should be an opposition at Stormont. But I’m not sure he’s going about it in the right way. Does he really believe everything he says? Or is it purely for the benefit of the press so he appeals to certain part of the electorate? I’m really not sure.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Alan, will there be some audiboos later to get answers to the questions you’ve posed?

  • Greenflag

    Allister on opposition at Stormont ,

    ‘demonstrates the growing relevance of the TUV message that government without opposition is not just absurd, but anti-democratic.’

    Worked well enough for 50 plus years 1920 -1974 did it not ? But things were different then eh? Whatever happened to the good old days when there was robust Unionist party government and powerful Nationalist and Republican opposition which could have won any NI election during those 50 years and if you believe that you’ll believe that little red riding hood ate the the big bad wolf.

    Sorry Mr Allister your unctious pietizing is falling on mostly deaf ears . The world and his wife know how anti democratic the Stormont parliament was both in it’s formation and it’s later gerrymandering of constituencies . But you never mention that ‘highpoint’ of Stormont democracy oddly enough ?

    No doubt a few theoretical unionist ‘democrats’ will buy into the Allister message . The harsh truth is NI was never a ‘democracy ‘ in the true sense of the word. It never had the constitutional basis of a true democracy which is why it did’nt become one and even now it’s on a long term path to ‘maybe ‘ becoming a normal democracy .

    As for ‘half British ” thats not the half of it . I’d guess as British as the size of the financial subvention .

    This is just Ian Paisley’s Dr No days /decades being revisited on unionist voters in another bout of deja vu . I guess Allister the Allosaurus missed that asteroid during the Cretaceous :(

    Someday Allister may discover that Northern Ireland can only have a chance of becoming a real democracy under two conditions -either directly integrated into the UK on the Finchley model or as part of a UI .
    By itself it’s condemned to an everlasting ‘limbo democracy ‘ neither one thing nor the other -a ‘Potemkin Statelet ‘ surviving on Westministerial munificence .

    It’s as good as it gets for another 25 years at least . So move along TUV -theres nowhere else to go !

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    A joint TUV-UKIP run at Europe looks like a prospect.

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    Nevin – I’m not at Cookstown, so no audio from me. But I believe the TUV are videoing the conference and will upload it to YouTube.

  • http://[email protected] Conquistador

    @Greenflag. There was never any gerrymandering of Stormont constituencies.

  • Alias

    “By demonstrating the effect even a one man opposition can have we have pushed this issue of democratic deficit up the agenda, with others now increasingly conceding that the case for a democratic opposition is unanswerable.”

    Dan Hannan described Allister as one of the most effective MEPs he’d ever seen in the EU parliament and most objective observers would have a similar view of his performance in the Assembly but it’s hard to know how much of that growing public awareness of the democratic deficit is down to the formidable Jim Allister’s one man opposition’ and how much of it is down to a woefully dysfunctional administration that even 161 spin-doctors can’t spin to the public as being effective.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Has Allister ever found an issue that he could work alongside the SDLP with to sponsor a debate in the Assembly?”

    Alan, the 1998 Agreement on the constitutional arrangements puts the TUV and SDLP on either end of the tug-of-war rope; there’s limited scope for common cause. Also, the TUV isn’t in the Executive so that gives it greater freedom to criticise our governance and to expose misgovernance.

  • Jack2

    Allister isn’t my type of Politician but he is 100% correct on the issue of waste. Stormont is vastly bloated with a lot of jobs for the boys.

    / Just me or does Jim seem a little “refreshed” when on
    T.V? Perhaps its the lights.

  • weidm7

    Some unionist commenters might be able to enlighten me about this point: Would most unionists agree with Mr Allister that north-south bodies shouldn’t exist or would they like to see a certain amount of north-south cooperation on some issues? I guess a wider question would be, how do most unionists feel about their republican northern neighbours and their southern neighbours, is there any sense of affinity or connection there?

    Please excuse the tangental, naval-gazing question but I’d love some considered answers if anyone is interested in giving some.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I would warn William Ross, there’s something ominous about quoting the “biggest mistake” of a “political career” when said person’s political career is completely dead. I would challenge Alex Kane to join UKIP if he really believes he’s got a political fight left in him, otherwise “let it go” man!

  • Neil

    Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, has been branded “the personification of evil” by the leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV).

    He’s good value is Jim.


  • http://www.e-consultation.org/ davenewman

    The opposition at Stormont has more than one person in it. Why hasn’t Alistair found an issue he can work with Steven Agnew on?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “raised the influence of Dublin”

    Alan, are you not understating Dublin’s role in the governance of Northern Ireland? Have you examined the actions of Dublin civil servants in day-to-day decision making here since the arrival of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement? I recall giving a member of the TUV an outline of some actions that I was familiar with and he was disinclined to believe me.

    I would disagree with the portrayal of SF MLAs as Dublin puppets; Dublin will decide what is in the interests of its own government, even if that means acting hypocritically on matters such as restorative justice.

  • http://[email protected] Conquistador


    Some unionist commenters might be able to enlighten me about this point: Would most unionists agree with Mr Allister that north-south bodies shouldn’t exist or would they like to see a certain amount of north-south cooperation on some issues?

    I guess I just view it as ‘necessary nonsense’, to borrow a phrase.
    The only thing that I can remember doing is coming up with the idea that the A5 should be a dual carriageway, which now is going to eat up all our road budget for the foreseeable future.

  • Greenflag

    @ Jack2 ,

    Allister isn’t my type of Politician but he is 100% correct on the issue of waste.

    Is he ? It depends on what you define as waste .Many might say say that the biggest waste has been the almost 40 years of the ‘Troubles ‘ -the thousands dead and maimed and or traumatised for life -the destruction of billions of pounds of property and the accompanying waste of several decades of the local NI politicians refusing to compromise or agree a workable solution .In the end it was the British Government backed by the Americans and the Irish Government which finally got some kind of political ‘normality’ to take root in Northern Ireland . Had any solution been left to the likes of Allister or Paisley or Adams or Trimble themselves Northern ireland would today have no Stormont never mind no opposition at Stormont . And it could (the troubles ) been a whole lot worse.

    So while Mr Allister may be praised by the ilk of Dan Hannan -another neo con Thatcherite and anti EU freak (but they both draw the EU’s euros just like others draw the Queen’s shilling in the lesser Union) -he has nothing to offer the people of NI except a past which never existed and a ‘future’ which envisages a return to democracy at Stormont where it never existed ? .

    ‘Stormont is vastly bloated with a lot of jobs for the boys.’

    It is and so is every other Parliament/Assembly / Congress etc in every democratic country on the planet . It’s driven in the main by OPM (Other People’s Money a.k.a taxation )

    The ‘private sector ‘ in Northern Ireland nor anywhere else has never been able to provide full employment .
    The elected politicians of all parties know this and thus take action to inure themselves and as many as possible of their family and friends and supporters /voters as they can without being a) caught or b) accused of nepotism or corruption . part of the bag of tricks of becoming and remaining a successful politician is being able to toe that fine line without tripping over it .

    I too would like to see an opposition at Stormont . The only possibility is an SDLP/Alliance /UUP combination but can anyone imagine the TUV in such an ‘opposition’ . In any event the UUP may be an election away from extinction ?

    As I said above earlier -it’s a s good as it gets -another 25 years of limbo politics -barring of course any ‘black swan ‘ events .

  • Greenflag

    Conquistador @ 17 November 2012 at 5:20 pm.

    ‘There was never any gerrymandering of Stormont constituencies ‘

    That would depend on which ‘historian ‘ you choose !

    I’m sure you won’t deny that the Londonderry /Derry Council was gerrymandered . There are other ways to gerrymander to produce artificial majorities as is seen below

    Losing 8 unionist seats was obviously intolerable for some ?

    ‘The Government of Ireland Act prescribed that elections to the House of Commons should be by single transferable vote (STV), though the Parliament was given power to alter the electoral system from three years after its first meeting. The STV system was the subject of criticism from grassroots Unionists but because the three-year period ended during the Labour government of 1924, the Stormont government decided not to provoke the known egalitarian sympathies of many Labour backbenchers and held the second election on the same basis. The loss of eight Unionist seats in that election caused great acrimony and in 1929 the system was changed to first-past-the-post for all territorial constituencies, though STV was retained for the university seats..

    Gerrymandering also affected Liberals , Northern Ireland Labour, and Independent Unionists .

    The boundary changes were not made by an impartial boundary commission but by the Unionist government, for which it was accused of gerrymandering. The charges that the Stormont seats (as opposed to local council wards) were gerrymandered against Nationalists is disputed by historians. (since the number of Nationalists elected under the two systems barely changed), though it is agreed that losses under the change to single-member constituency boundaries were suffered by independent unionists, the Liberals and the Northern Ireland Labour Party.

    Here’s the full link if interested


  • Comrade Stalin

    Whether or not Alistair is “effective” depends on how you see things. If the plan is to engage in bitter point scoring, tribalism and carping from the sidelines, sure he’s effective.

    It’s a real shame his undoubted skills are not being put to use to benefit everyone. But at the moment, I gather most of his time is spent writing letters to ministers asking probing questions, in the hope of uncovering a nugget he can use to embarrass the government with.

  • pauluk

    Jim knows all about failure.

  • TheGoblinPrince

    Comrade Stalin, but is that a bad thing? It means the government has to do things properly. I don’t agree with Allistair on possibly anything, I think his political views are crap. But I respect the way he does a decent job. If he does look for something to embarrass the government with then good! It means they have to behave properly.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Whether or not Alistair is “effective” depends on how you see things.”

    CS, how we see things might be little more than a reflection of personal prejudices. [ps Jim’s surname is Allister]

    Someone I know of in north Antrim has had a very raw deal both from a private company in receipt of public money and from the related supervising government department. She sought help from an Ombudsman and it may well have been fortuitous that he was London-based and not Belfast-based.

    Just a few days ago, MLAs on the department committee were invited to raise the issue in committee but they chose to remain silent; the issue wasn’t even on the related department briefing. It’s good that there are at least some MLAs who are prepared to aid victims of Stormont misgovernance.

    I’ve also noted recently [in above link] that although Ministers claim to be following Westminster best governance practice they are not doing so. Perhaps this is an issue that Jim and others could take up.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Agreed Nevin, exposing the executive for things like that is much more useful than using Assembly time to attack things like the Irish language, mandatory coalition or the north-south ministerial bodies.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    ‘N Ireland was never a democracy in the true sense of the word….’
    Not only that, GF but it depended on electoral abuse to continue beyond the 1950s with a nine county catholic share of 43%, otherwise it wouldn’t have been worth their trouble setting it up. So with gerrymandering the essence of it’s existence, it was easy to see why the Derry corporation were able to get away with their stitch up for so long causing the troubles to break out in the sixties.,

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “north-south ministerial bodies.”

    CS, I’d have thought the best way to take some of the sting out of the N-S debate would be to have a more balanced approach to the development of NI’s ‘external’ relationships.

    For example, I’ve suggested that coastguard and helicopter SAR arrangements should have been taking place at Strand 3 level ie involving London, Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff. The London-centred approach appears to have been an unmitigated disaster; regional control centres are being shut down before the new centralised centres have been built and tested!

    Here’s a bit of my correspondence with Dublin:

    D: I can confirm for you that this Department is following with interest the consultation process which is currently under way with regard to the future of the coastguard station and the associated search and rescue arrangements, and will continue to do so.

    N: Are these crucial matters of co-ordination and search and rescue not being thrashed out at Strand 3/BIC level? If not, why not? It seems such an obvious area for co-operation and harmonisation.

    D: No reply

    I think a more balanced approach could lead to a more constructive engagement by Unionists, including the TUV.

  • michael-mcivor

    The TUV logo has got a union jack on it despite the fact that the TUV does not stand for elections in england-scotland or wales-

    Apart from other unionists is there a political party anywhere in the world which has a flag on their own logo of a place where they dont even stand for elections in-

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin, I think you are either mad or a chap with a lot of time on your hands. Why on earth would you waste time write to the government of an outside jurisdiction – which has no mandate from you and therefore no obligation to represent your interests – rather than pursuing this matter through elected representatives either here or in the Foreign Office on London ? They’re probably laughing at you.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “exposing the executive for things like that”

    It goes much deeper than the Executive, CS, it’s the whole governance process. Slugger O’Toole appears to be very reliant on MSM engagement but, as you can see from some of the stories I post on NALIL and link here, the MSM appears to be rather reluctant to say too much.

    An interesting observation from a journalist came my way some months ago: “The editor is very interested in stories about X.” Perhaps the editor then isn’t so interested in stories about Y which could explain why this one, though flagged up, hasn’t (yet) been covered :)

    I’m able to work with all parties but it’s far from easy to get them all to pull in the same direction :)

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “therefore no obligation to represent your interests”

    Why would anyone laugh at me, CS? I’m not articulating a personal interest; I’m simply availing of the structures of the 1998 Agreement and Dublin is a signatory to that agreement.

    Had you given this a little more thought you might have realised that, say, a helicopter from Sligo will be called upon to rescue a victim from Fair Head, near Ballycastle. Communication from Fair Head to Bangor CCC may have been relayed via the about to be closed Clyde CCC. It therefore makes sense to have co-ordination and harmonisation across these islands.

  • wild turkey

    “Jim knows all about failure.”

    well then PaulUk, Jim will fix it.

    like the song sez, ‘she knows there’s no success or failure, and a failure is no success at all’.

    but hey staying with the reality of failure, hope you filed the quote below to your political wisdom and prescience in the ‘astute folder’

    ‘You have to congratulate Mitt Romney for running a more than decent campaign.

    Absolutely correct. And it is why there is going to be a big surprise tomorrow. Most people are sick if the bickering, and Romney, for the most part has stayed above it.

    It`s not over until it`s over, and definitely not over until the fat lady sings. Here`s hoping for a `decent` new era in American politics.’

    new rules cracker.

  • Republic of Connaught

    “dismal failure, woeful squander and hopeless disconnect”

    That would just about sum up the TUV’s election campaigns.

  • Covenanter

    “‘N Ireland was never a democracy in the true sense of the word….’
    Not only that, GF but it depended on electoral abuse to continue beyond the 1950s with a nine county catholic share of 43%, otherwise it wouldn’t have been worth their trouble setting it up. So with gerrymandering the essence of it’s existence, it was easy to see why the Derry corporation were able to get away with their stitch up for so long causing the troubles to break out in the sixties.,”

    The Northern Ireland border was decided by the Boundaries Commission in the 1920s. It was agreed between the governments in the south and the north. There was no gerrymander and it is exactly that sort of ignorance of the facts that has led thousands of republicans into careers of terrorism and atrocity.

  • Comrade Stalin


    Did you parse what I said ? Especially the “no obligation to represent your interests” bit ? Civil servants have better things to do than waste time dealing with busybodies outside their jurisdiction.

    You might be better off writing to the President of the United States asking him why he’s still covering up the Roswell incident.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    CS, you really ought to read the 1998 Agreement and that Dick Spring briefing; the briefing was kindly supplied by a DFA civil servant. You might even learn something about the activities of Dublin civil servants here on the Solutions Ireland website.

  • pauluk

    Like I also said, Wild Turkey, a successful smear campaign, a strategic tear and good storm will get you everywhere. They got BO 0.5% over 50. Who can argue with that overwhelming mandate?

  • Reader

    michael-mcivor: The TUV logo has got a union jack on it despite the fact that the TUV does not stand for elections in england-scotland or wales-
    The union flag is the flag of the UK, and the TUV stands in the UK.
    The nearest example I can think of is historical: SF didn’t stand for election anywhere, back in the day, but I think they still used the tricolour as their symbol.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin, you’re in your own wee world there. The government in Dublin isn’t elected by you. What obligation has it to respond to any of your queries ? Why aren’t you writing to the foreign office whose government is at least nominally accountable to you ?

    pauluk, time to stop digging.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    CS, I’m operating in the ‘wee world’ of the 1998 Agreement [map included], an agreement that you seem to be either ignoring or cherry-picking.

    The exchange with Dublin was merely part of a wider but disjointed conversation that was taking place across these islands; Daithí McKay wished the focus to be placed on Strand 2 but I felt that Strand 3 was more appropriate, not least in the context of the Irish Sea.

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    Comrade Stalin – play the ball not the man … you’re coming close to a yellow card!

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    Link to News Letter’s article on the conference, including discussion about UKIP’s plea that TUV don’t stand against them in Europe and split teh anti-Europe and Anti-Executive vote.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The UKIP deputy leader denounced the EU, describing it as “a European Union that hates democracy, it hates the will of the people” and urged stronger links with countries such as India, Australia and Canada, adding: “I say that our future lies with our commonwealth.”

    Which future is this Farage talking about ? Australia’s main trading partners are China , Japan and Indonesia , Canada’s is the USA and India’s is with it’s neighbours and the Middle East .

    What do any of these countries need from the UK that they can’t get from other closer suppliers ?

    Meanwhile in the real world 80% of UK trade is with it’s EU partners .

    No wonder Mr Farage’s comment met with no applause or visible reaction to the suggestion.!

    Mr Farage may not quite understand the fine lines that exist in NI politics. While it’s ok to rail at the EU and to detest Sinn Fein and denigrate the Republic whenever an opportunity arises it’s quite another matter to tell Ulster’s Farmers assuming there were some present that they’d be better off outside the EU . I mean anybody with a grey cell or two would know that Northern Ireland’s farmers would be more than capable of competing with Australian and Canadian counterparts never mind the Indian ones . I mean NI farmers would have the benefit of ‘small scale ‘ economics to help them against the massive county size agricultural combines that run agriculture in Canada and Australia .

    Labour will be the next British Government if the Corby by election means anything and latest polls have 44% for Labour with the Tories 10 points behind .

    UKIP + TUV = Greek New Dawn = Nowhere to go

  • michael-mcivor


    ” SF didn’t stand for elections anywhere back in the day ”

    Well Sinn Fein had elected members in the 70s-80s-90s and on and on-maybe you mean further back in the day-

    TUV party chairman Ivor McConnell did wonder in his speech if the TUV was Probably only half British-makes one wonder-

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Ivor McConnell did wonder in his speech if the TUV was Probably only half British”

    I think that would me a misinterpretation, Michael :)

    are we only half British? Well we probably are. Nationally, Westminster is subservient to Europe. Locally, we effectively have joint rule.

    This isn’t a reference to the TUV but to the status of Northern Ireland within the UK. If the rest of the UK is only, say, half-British in an EU context then NI is only quarter-British when you factor in joint rule. On those occasions when London more or less rubber-stamped a Dublin proposal – eg the Drumcree debacle – it wasn’t British at all – at all :)

  • michael-mcivor


    ” This isn’t a reference to the TUV but to the status of Northern Ireland within the UK ”

    Bit of both i think as the TUV is only a northern Irish party which they admit to and not a british one-they are not even a half British political party-Just a part Irish party-this is the only place where they will stand for election-

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Michael, you’re using Nationalist, not Unionist, political language/labelling. cf John Hume: “Irish unity is a matter for those Irish people who want it persuading those Irish people who do not. .. by the Irish people I mean all the people who live on this island.”

  • Greenflag

    Covenanter @ 18 November 2012 at 9:49 pm.

    ‘There was no gerrymander and it is exactly that sort of ignorance of the facts that has led thousands of republicans into careers of terrorism and atrocity.’

    Rubbish Cove -Go read some of the official HMG Reports on Londonderry City Council and I refer you again to the link .


    Even prior to the establishment of Northern Ireland in 1920 -two of the then NI counties which had nationalist majorities voted for SF in the 1918 election .

    What led thousands of republicans and nationalists into conflict with the NI establishment in the 1960’s was the result of decades of discrimination and Unionist intolerance of the minority’s sense of nationality and sometimes mob led disrespect for their religion . There were of course many other reasons and any HMG Report on the ‘Troubles ‘ will supply you with more than enough social , economic and employment date in both the public and private sectors to appraise you of the facts -assuming you have any interest in the facts as opposed to your own ideology ! The Unionist gerrymandering of Londonderry City Council just provided one spark to revolt . One man One Vote had a powerful appeal to democrats everywhere .

    Note I’m not stating the violence was justified . Anybody with half a brain would wish that it never happened -but then as we know from history be it in Ireland or anywhere else -that a tipping point eventually arrives when the status quo no longer works or can no longer work . The UUP of the 1960’s were trapped between their blind ideology of the time and a failure to deal with the changing society around them .

    Today’s Northern Ireland parties have a somewhat better chance of dealing with the past and the future . Whether they do so or not is up to them .

    “‘N Ireland was never a democracy in the true sense of the word….’

    It was’nt . The State was a unilateral carve up in 1920 based on a sectarian headcount . That was , is and remains the source of it’s political and constitutional difficulties . We can all hope that the current political parties at Stormont will continue to work together to enhance ‘democracy ‘ and to ensure that all of the people of NI get the representation they want and deserve .

    The difference between 1920 unilateral coup d’etat and the GFA 1998 is that the former had the support of just the majority Unionist protestant support which came to 65% of the then population .

    The GFA got the support of 90% of the NI Nationalist population and just over 50% of the NI Unionist population or when both were combined some 70% of the total NI then population .

    That extra 5% in 1998 as compared to the 65% of 1920 is what gives the current NI State the kind of democratic and constitutional legitimacy that the pre 1972 Stormont could never claim and expect to be believed by anybody other than Unionists themselves .

    But even 70% is a low threshold for the longer term viability of any state . Ideally a figure of 90% plus ‘acceptance ‘ of the state’s constitution and it’s longer term continuing existence is what’s required to maintain continuing democratic legitimacy .

    You can have all the political divisions and parties -left -right and centre etc and their differences may be profound on aspects of policy but as long as the vast majority see their state be it France or the USA or Germany or Russia as their ‘democracy ‘ then such a state can be said to have ‘staying power ‘ come what may .

    Northern Ireland is not in that category yet . And while there may be some turbulence with Scottish independence in the offing I would guess that the UK or it’s direct descendants will also have the kind of staying power as noted above.