Does Stormont care if Jim Wells breached the code (or just told an unpalatable truth)?

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In Northern Ireland, everything is political. Even the cut and thrust of politics in Stormont outside the chamber. Liam Clarke has the details on Jim Wells near escape from censure by the speaker by a mere two votes.

Unionists voted against punishing Mr Wells while nationalists, the Greens and Alliance voted to suspend him.

So was he actually guilty of breaking a code? No one in Stormont seemed particularly interested in proving it one way or the other. However in a landscape where all politics revolves around the ‘my party right or wrong’ Fionnola Meredith makes an important point:

…it seems to me that Sinn Fein is akin to the straying husband, now committed to matrimonial harmony. He is hurt and outraged because his wife refuses to forget what he’s done in the past, and keeps casting it up to him.

This is exactly the way that Sinn Fein are behaving over Wells’ remarks. In an almost farcically self-righteous response, Caitriona Ruane said that the comments were “about anti-Catholicism, sectarianism and misogyny”, adding that Sinn Fein “will not tolerate bullying behaviour, we won’t tolerate inequality …and we won’t tolerate anyone being treated as a second class citizen”.

Hang on a minute, Caitriona, before you get completely carried away by the sheer force of your own complacent moral piety. Jim Wells may have been guilty of rude, aggressive, inflammatory behaviour. I — like many people — find his personal stance on issues like gay rights, or abortion, repugnant, ignorant and extreme.

But the fact remains that what he said, in this case, was true.

And she concludes:

Sinn Fein regularly lays claim to the secular, rights-based higher moral ground, leaving the holy variety to the DUP enthusiasts, but in this case they are wilfully deluding themselves. It is enough that we have moved on from the foul acts of the anguished past. To mask them with the language of freedom, respect and equality is a step too far.

To mix my literary references, “ORWELL! thou shouldst be living at this hour…”

  • sherdy

    Does the result of that vote now mean that in future no one can be chastised or censured for boorish aggressive behaviour?

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Sherdy. Clearly there’s no adult supervision going on up there. the rights or wrongs of the case in hand in votes will always cleave on the old faultline of community margins. These aren’t statesmen we’re electing the toy parliament.

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

    Surely a matter of Balance.
    I was just watching one hour of Westminster on BBC iplayer and it seems bizarre when a Labour MP or indeed anyone uses a phrase like an “Other Place” meaning the House of “Lords”……..a silly convention which reminds me how theatrical luvvies refer to the Scottish Play.
    Or indeed when a Tory MP or anyone introduces a 10 minute Bill on BBC accounts and goes thru some pompous bowing and scraping…..even to his own amusement….before reaching Mr Speaker.
    So at one level there are downright silly conventions attached to Parliaments….but the enforcement of simple good manners (when people cant seem to behave themselves) is probably a good idea ……(if only) in Parliament.
    I dont like what Mr Wells did ..I think its unacceptable…and mostly Im disappointed because I have attended non-political events where Mr Wells has been just a regular person.
    Like I say its a matter of balance. I dont like the aggression but I dont like over familiarity either. Several months ago I noticed that a Sinn Féin MLA referred accross the chamber to a Minister by calling him “Danny” (Kennedy). In its own way thats unacceptable too.
    Bit of manners …sensible manners without tomfoolery never did anybody any harm.

  • Dont Drink Bleach

    Mary McArdle murdered a young catholic girl as she left a chapel. Jim Wells called Mary McArdle a monster because of her actions. Catriona Ruane – in her defence of catholic killer Mary McArdle – called Jim Wells ‘anti-catholic’.

    [Text removed - quit bating - Mods]

  • son of sam

    Given some of Jim Well’s past form,he is hardly in the forefront of community relations in South Down.However the claim of anti-Catholicism by Sinn Fein rings somewhat hollow given their record of shooting Catholics outside chapels!Apart from the Travers murder,I seem to remember a Catholic policeman being shot by the Provos outside the Graan monastery in Enniskillen.Human rights and the equality agenda didn’t seem to figure highly on the Republican vision then.

  • GavBelfast

    Reads like a fair summation of the situation from Finnola Meredith.

  • Mick Fealty

    I get the need for mannerly discourse. My puzzlement is about where the line is to be between good and proper mannerly discussion and the right to tell the truth as you see it.

    I really don’t think anyone was discussing that here..

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

    But can we handle the Truth?
    Or can we have Reconciliation without Truth? including unplatable truths.
    And are there people who dont want Reconciliation……at any price?.
    And people who want reconciliation just too easily?

    In so far as we have (at best) Stability….then it doesnt seem right to overdo the Truth. Least said soonest mended.
    I have a certain regard for believing that everything in Stormont is a sham and a PR Exercise which we should completely abandon UNTIL we have properly faced up to the Past.
    The current semi-detached position of DUP being in govt with SF while engaging in this kinda thing AND SFs semi detached position of wanting to be in govt without properly addressing the Past are equally untenable.
    Frankly Id prefer to see the whole sham collapse than have this “half in….half out” nonsense.

  • Brian Walker

    The lesson of the whole McArdle affair is surely that everyone not only Sinn Fein will think again about such appointments. SF will have to calculate if it’s worth it, and if they do, unionists will have to consider whether to accept it, or escalate their response next time.

    But leaving aside Jim Wells, what was the result? McArdle had already withdrawn, so the point was made without him. The new problem was created by Jim Allister’s Bill. Was it such a bad thing to introduce and then examine it? It comes down to whether it was a parliamentary thing to do or not. It was, whatever you think of Allister’s motives. This is one of the things an Assembly is for.

    The narrowness of censure vote on Jim Wells recognised he was on thin ice, as he seemed to be guilty of harassing behaviour, so the honour of the Assembly was just about upheld. A learning process?

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

    I think Parliamentary rules have to be absolute.
    The answer to the simple question was a member “out of line” and I dont particuarly want to personalise it……..is yes or no.
    That was basically the SF/SDLP/Green/AP position.
    The unionist stance was “well yes he was BUT……”.
    If mitigation has to brought into it, then clearly the absolute nature of rules is completely changed so that it is more or less a subjective view.
    That cant work.
    I dont think it will make SF “think again”….there is a simple generational thing at work here. The availability of ex-prisoners who have been in prison is slowing down.
    In any case is there a significant difference between co-opting an ex-prisoner into the Assembly and appointing one as a Special Advisor? It would at least seem inconsistent position to object to one but not the other.
    Recent Court Cases on appointments might cause a bigger re-think.

  • Dec

    Sinn Fein would have been on safer ground if they’d accused Wells of nauseating hypocrisy:

    http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/irish_news/arts2004/jan19_DUP_UDA-man_selection_odd.php

  • babyface finlayson

    Perhaps in years to come when this sham parliament has collapsed,we will look back on moments like this as evidence that it was all built on sinky sand.
    All we ask of them is to turn up,collect their lavish salaries and try not to f**k things up too much.
    When the parties signed up to the GFA,they agreed to work together, to mutually forget as it were.
    So while Jim Wells may have spoken the truth,he should not be trying to ride two horses at once.
    Either play the game or step onto the sidelines and hurl from there.
    It’s like kids in the playground,safely shouting insults when the adults are there to keep them apart.

  • Drumlins Rock

    to put it in perspective, the biggest assembly row between SF and the DUP, yes SINN FEIN and the DUP !!! involved a bit of petty namer calling in a corridor and whinging in the chamber, which happened months ago!

    Boy have things changed, I’m not sure for the better though, I would rather have them fight publicly over something more practical instead of sneaky back room deals.

    ps. it wasn’t lost by 2 votes as a “petition of concern” was in place so would not have passed anyways.

  • Dont Drink Bleach

    babyface finlayson:
    When the parties signed up to the GFA,they agreed to work together, to mutually forget as it were. So while Jim Wells may have spoken the truth,he should not be trying to ride two horses at once. Either play the game or step onto the sidelines and hurl from there.

    I think that was the original plan. However, the constant whining about inquiries, inquests and investigations from Sinn Fein and the Nationalist community obviously put that part of the agreement on the backburner.

    You can’t expect to whine and moan about what everyone else did, whilst expecting your murder, child abuse, drug dealing and criminality to be ignored.

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

    I have to agree with Drumlins Rock.
    We have sham bonhomie.
    We have sham fights.
    There is absolutely no possiblity that the present arrangements can last more than five years maximum.
    The one thing that cannot be manufactured in any agreement is “Integrity”. Nor simple “Good Will” for that matter.
    Direct Rule? BAck to the Drawing Board?

  • socaire

    I think that, even at this late stage, it may be worth stating that Mary McArdle did not murder anybody but assisted the removal of weapons allegedly used. She colluded with her military colleagues -as one does in war and we all know that collusion is not a crime, don’t we? If it is, then, all the British Establishment is guilty of every wrong and that is why the provos view them as legitimate targets. QED

  • Drumlins Rock

    or simply the normal change of parties at the top? Yes they have their work cut out but that is how democracy works. I always say it takes at least two peaceful changes of government to show democracy is working. we have had one, if a change back happens within the next 8-10 yrs then things are “normal” as they ever will get here.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Some people in the DUP clearly draw their strategy from the Know-Nothings.

    Ian Paisley didn’t know Ulster Resistance were planning to get guns and shoot people.

    High Sheriff Ruth Patterson did not know that the PUP and UPRG councillors were linked to the UVF/UDA.

    William McCrea presumably did not know that Billy Wright was the leader of the LVF. After all, he hadn’t been convicted of anything.

    I don’t mind the DUP throwing their doors open to members of the UVF and the UDA. But I don’t see where they get the idea that they can lecture others about paramilitarism.

  • Barnshee

    Typical stupid politicians IF SF had simply ignored Wells they would have avoided the whole charade – to what loss?

    McArdle`s picture is AGAIN plastered all across the media adding fuel to figure of hate” fire already alight.. Brain dead springs to mind

  • derrydave

    Mick, you’re point re the fact that he had simply told the truth is plainly rather silly and i’m not sure where exactly you’re going with this. If all the parties up at Stormont went about the corridors rudely stating what they held to be the truth to each other then we’d be back in Belast City Council situation in the 1980′s !
    A certain level of professionalism and common courtesy is expected of members of parliament in any democracy – when someone drops below the expected standards then there are rules in place to censure them. Wells should have been censured and that should have been the end of it.
    In fact, let’s ignore the fact that this is a parliament/assembly at all – in any modern professional workplace Wells’ treatment of someone who is a colleague (whether he likes it or not) would be completely unnacceptable and would normally result in HR involvement and some form of censure. It pisses me off that these overpaid underskilled oafs we elect to parliament can’t even behave in a manner that is expected of all us plebs in our normal day to day lives !

  • Mick Fealty

    Just to be clear dd, that was not my point. Rather it is: where do you draw the line between truth telling and unparliamentary behaviour?

    I draw it at our friend DDB here, sloganising in order to avoid debate here on Slugger, so I am hardly going to disallow the idea that Wells should be obliged to behave within certain boundaries in Stormont.

    With the possible exception of Trevor Lunn, who I understand abstained, everyone voted with party. And from the debate at least, it is not easy to see what principle was at stake here.

    I think you can agree with the perfectly reasonable point Fionola makes above, and believe a motion of censure was due for unparliamentary behaviour.

    As Ann Travers notes, Wells would have been better advised simply to walk away. Such flaming is, in fact as Brian highlights above, poor politics.

    Perhaps it arises not simply from rage at the fact of Ms McArdle’s appointment but out of the frustration of what it means to be a government backbencher in a legislative assembly that effectively only ever rubber stamps the deals agreed in Stormont Castle.

    Don’t they all suffer, to one degree or another, from technocratic capture?

  • Pete Baker

    “A certain level of professionalism and common courtesy is expected of members of parliament in any democracy”

    Sadly, derrydave, a certain level of professionalism and common courtesy was absent from SF’s appointment of Mary McArdle.

    Go figure.

  • weidm7

    I refute Mick and Fionnuala’s main points that what he said was true and that one should be allowed to loudly proclaim their version of “truth” in pejorative ways, right into people’s faces.

    I don’t think it takes much thinking to see where the fallacy lies, or where we’d end up if this kind of behaviour became common.

  • derrydave

    Pete, I see nothing wrong at all with Mary McArdle being appointed by Sinn Fein to the position she had. You obviously disagree as is your right, so does jim Wells as is his right also.
    This question is now about the rights and wrongs of that appointment however – it is about how our highly paid elected representatives should behave in their workplace. Jim Wells’ behaviour was pathetic and embarrassing, and in any normal workplace would lead to some form of censure. One further question for you before I sign-off, does Jim Wells snarl at Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Gerry Kelly etc and call them murderers every day he passes them in the corridor ??? The answer is obviously no – makes you wonder why he felt the need to do so to Mary McArdle doesn’t it !

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m not sure where I would have drawn the line myself since Wells’ manner was as much part of the question as what he said. That’s one of the things missing from the debate.

    Also, whilst I might some problems with Wells’ own version of what he said, you can hardly argue that Ms McArdle was not convicted of murder weidm?

    Apart from on the ideological grounds that it was politically motivated.

  • boondock

    What has happened to the well oiled SF pr machine recently. The appointment of McArdle was insensitive, ill-advised and quite simply stupid and just helped remind everyone of their dark past – hardly going to help win votes! Then we only have to look at the papers today to see dumb and dumber. Dumb complaining that Jim Wells is anti-catholic but the terrorist involved in the murder of a catholic on her way out of a catholic church is?
    Then we have dumber still in denial over his discrimination against protestants when appointing the chairman of NI water.
    SF need to promote some fresh faces and quickly get rid of those with ‘dodgy” pasts and get rid of those who are obviously incompetent

  • derrydave

    Mick, ‘telling the truth’ is a completely subjective concept – one that could be used (and is often used) as cover for all sorts of pathetic behaviour.

    To answer your point directly – There is NO line to be drawn between telling the truth and unparliamentary behaviour – I don’t see why anyone would want to draw a line between two very different concepts. You can tell the truth 100%, but do so in a way that is completely unnacceptable and unparliamentary. If Jim Wells had stood in the assembly and objected to Mary McArdles position on the basis of her history and the hurt which could be caused to the victims family then that would be perfectly acceptable. If he snarls and shouts at Mary McArdle and calls her a murderer in the corridors then that is completely unnaceptable behaviour, and he should be censured for it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Dd,

    We crossed there. I don’t have an answer to your question as to the precise motivation behind Wells behaviour was. But as I’ve said before, a little human generosity goes a very very long way (http://sluggerotoole.com/2012/03/14/thank-you-sinn-fein-now-how-about-expanding-the-shadow-of-the-future/)…

    ADDS: Thanks for that last dd… I buy that as a relevant line of argument at least…

  • derrydave

    Mick, does being convicted of Murder in and of itself make someone a murderer ? So someone shoots someone else, you play a part in hiding the guns afterwards – does that mean you’re a murderer – even though you were not there at the time ? I really don’t think anyone with half a brain would consider that you murdered that person. An accessory to murder yes, a murderer no. Just a technical point as obviously republicans would not consider what occurred to be murder anyway (though lets not get into that).

  • derrydave

    Crossed again Mick. Agree that whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation Sinn Fein did the sensible thing in ‘redeploying’ MaryMcArdle.
    My main point in all this is that, putting politics to one side, our elected representative (of both ‘sides’) should show some professionalism and maturity in the workplace. To act as they have repeatedly have done over the years is completely unnacceptable and there should be much stronger measures in place to regulate this behaviour. Thankfully things appear to be moving in the right direction, however it is astounding that this type of behaviour still goes unpunished.

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

    Whether Sinn Féin or indeed any Party has the right to appoint a murderer to be an Advisor is one issue.
    But political parties DO have a right to do stupid and insensitive things……and their opponents have a right to be pointing that out. Does this kinda behaviour make any real difference as to whether SF will be stupid and insensitive in the Future? No.

    Ms McArdle has not been moved sideways because of Jim Wells. She has been moved to other duties because of the courage of her victims sister.
    Of course many victims are courageous but not all are articulate.
    And the most effective victim is the articulate victim. For example a few years ago the McCartney sisters from Short Strand were able to get under the skins of SF in a way many other victims could not so do.
    Victims of IRA violence, loyalist violence, State violence are not always articulate (and perhaps thats why they need an articulate voice to speak for them) and as a consequence IRA, loyalists and the State have got away with being stupid and insensitive……and much else besides.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “ORWELL! thou shouldst be living at this hour…”

    By George, Orwell would have slammed the would-be censors:

    If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

    On the other hand, he would have given Jim Wells a touch:

    Political chaos is connected with the decay of language… one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.

    but I can’t see Jim as a revolutionary:

    During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

    Finnola Meredith’s blast at errant husbands (as distinct from wives/partners) needs to be seen in the context of this quote:

    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

  • Framer

    It is ludicrous to suggest as Socaire does that someone who actively participated in a murder although without pulling the trigger is not guilty of the crime of murder.
    McArdle did not collude, whatever that means, and there are as many definitions of collusion as there are stars in the sky, she murdered and was found guilty of murder.
    It is a stark fact. She was caught and convicted. We are told endlessly by Republicans that, for example, the IRA did not carry out the Northern Bank robbery because no member was found guilty but when a member is found guilty of murder we then have to believe she was only a teeny weeny bit guilty, or not even guilty at all.

  • derrydave

    Framer, If you term this incident as murder, then it’s obvious that she was an accessory to murder. It’s ludicrous to claim she murdered someone when she wasn’t even physically there.
    By law she was convicted of murder – that is very different from saying she murdered someone. You can’t murder someone without even being there when the act was committed by someone else.

  • SK

    “I think that, even at this late stage, it may be worth stating that Mary McArdle did not murder anybody but assisted the removal of weapons allegedly used. She colluded with her military colleagues -as one does in war and we all know that collusion is not a crime, don’t we?”

    ________

    She played an integral role in a terrorist operation where the life of an 19 year old girl was intentionally ended.

    She is absolutely a murderer.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Drumlins Rock[11.20]
    I think that when the flipover of the community margins has happened, Jim Allister will then be demanding mandatory coalition to avoid real democracy and that will be a sign that democracy can be made to work here, and only then. Of course unionists will throw their toys out and prefer direct rule to catholic majority rule.

  • Greenflag

    babyface finlayson @ 22 November 2012 at 10:31 pm

    ‘All we ask of them is to turn up,collect their lavish salaries and try not to f**k things up too much.’

    That’s about the most that can be expected . And of course try NOT to mention the war .

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

    In her very moving testimony, Ms Ann Travers so far as I am aware did not conflate the appointment of Mary McArdle with the behaviour of Jim Wells and the motion of censure.
    As the thread is essentially about the Assembly and Jim Wells, I dont see how….in this case….the appointment itself is the issue.

    Understandably Ms Travers case has been supported by DUP, UUP, Alliance, Green, SDLP.
    The case has been made here that the actual 51-49 vote was on tribal lines. Clearly not the case for AP and Green.
    We kid ourselves that there are difficult decisions in life….”I dont know what to do”. Actually I was brought up to believe that “when you dont know the right thing to do……..just do the right thing”. Surprisingly applying that rule makes a lot of difficult issues easy.
    Rather than wondering if the Assembly was right or wrong…..lets not kid ourselves. The real question is what we would have done if one of the 108 MLAs.
    We are all pretty political aware…sometimes attached to parties (I am) and sometimes designated unionist or nationalist or other by choice or by reading years worth of posts.
    Would we have been “tribal” or considered it logically?
    Either way I dont think many would have really agonised.
    Clearly there is a tribal response. And a logical response and they are not necessarily different.
    I dont say this to work out how people would have voted….fantasy politics.
    Rather I ask so that we can look at real conscience.
    I dont even want to know answers.
    But putting the question “does Stormont care….?” passes the buck to them……..in a way which is a tad unfair.

  • Mick Fealty

    Yes, thank you FJH… Off the point lads… we’ve had that discussion a dozen times before… The question is should Jim Wells have been censured, or not.

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

    Yes. Your own thoughts Mr Fealty?

  • derrydave

    Yes, obviously he should have been. Ignore the politics – look at the workplace you work in today and think about what would happen if you behaved towards a colleague the way Jim Wells did. Why should these people be exempt from normal workplace expactations ?

  • Alias

    Is there really any room for debate on the issue? He breached the code on a technicality and some form of censure was therefore required on a technicality.

    Once the two Shinners decided to go squealing to the Committee on Standards and Privileges to make a big drama out of it rather than simply tell Mr Wells to stop pointing his offending finger at them and speak politely or not at all, and once he conceded he pointed said finger, what more is there to it?

    He was absolutely right not to apologise to the two drama queens, however, even if not doing so gave them the drama they wanted out of it.

    Given the “excessive personal attack” on Mr Wells by Caitriona Ruane quoted above is also a breach of the code, perhaps Mr Wells should report her on that technicality…

  • Alias

    “Ignore the politics – look at the workplace you work in today and think about what would happen if you behaved towards a colleague the way Jim Wells did.”

    They’d probably fire the murderer, conceding that it was a bad idea to hire one in the first place.

  • ayeYerMa

    Comrade Stalin, regarding the DUP: “But I don’t see where they get the idea that they can lecture others about paramilitarism.”

    The usual typical nonsense, but not surprising given Alliance-supporting types like to play the “just as bad as each other” game to make themselves feel all smug and superior, no matter what the actual facts are.

    After the last Assembly election it was revealed in a BBC documentary that 19/29 Provo Sinn Fein MLAs had “served” (well, let out early) prison sentences after being convicted for terrorist offences, including the Provo leadership itself. If I were in the DUP I’d be taking a lot more people like you to court for trying to even make such comparisons with such innuendo-driven implications and dubious facts. The DUP need to continue lecturing terrorists and their appeasers in the Alliance Party on their dubious morals.

  • derrydave

    Alias, they wouldn’t. If someone was hired despite what they had done in the past, and had not tried to hide what they had done, then there would be absolutely no reason or justification for firing that person. Firing them on this basis would actually result in the company in question being certain to have an unfair dismissal case go against them. Never let the facts get in the way of your nonsense though, eh !

  • derrydave

    One final point – there’s quite a few people in my work who I dislike for varous reasons (as I’m sure they do me) – however I act professionally and treat all my colleagues with respect and common courtesy as they do with me. If I behaved like Jim Wells did towards any colleagues I wouldn’t last 5 minutes round here ! I work for a professional organisation which has expectations of it’s people which preclude this type of behaviour. I make no apologies for finding it extremely irritating that our politicians are not held to the same high standards that we in the private sector are ! Pathetic behaviour from a grown man.

  • Mick Fealty

    FJH,

    “Your own thoughts Mr Fealty?”

    Well, as you well know I am a stickler for good behaviour. But I am struggling to find a precedent for this kind of out of chamber incident in any other parliament.

    Is there any provision for it in Erskine May?

  • galloglaigh

    Any thoughts on the fact that it’s a workplace Mick?

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

    Nothing in our system is remotely like Erskine May.
    Was actually thinking this morning that there must be some pretty heated exchanges in the corridors at Stormont…..I suppose thats what that warren of corridors is actually for.
    But if I was (say) walking down a Stormont corridor to find the Toilets and I was berated by some MLA for something I had blogged.
    I might just be wearing a Visitors Pass but Id call Security. Or the PSNI if it was bad enough.
    Does a MLA have more rights than a Visitor? I suppose they do.
    If Jim Wells was speaking an unpaltable Truth it is probably one shared by his DUP colleagues and beyond.
    But seemingly they dont do this kinda thing?
    The Troubles are over. Or they arent.
    I declare an interest……albeit a small one.
    In August 2011 I attended the Launch of Líofa. Just about the first major thing to take place in Stormont after the Assembly Election. A female assistant to the Minister Caral facilitated me getting a pic of myself and the Minister. From photographs I have seen I believe that person was Mary McArdle. She was helpful. Would I have reacted differently if I had known about her past?
    No…….and heres the rub. I am a 60 yr old man from West Belfast. I know more than one person like Mary McArdle. And far too many like Mary Travers RIP…….and they were not all klled by Republicans.
    I dont have the luxury of being on the high moral ground of Jim Wells.
    Maybe some would consider me a child of a lesser God.
    And an observation from that same day……it was obviously after the summer recess and at least two unionists attended….together.
    Seemed to be a lot of small chat about holidays.
    It actually seemed to me ….civilised.
    Of course at that early stage it is more than likely that neither knew who the Ministers Special Advisor might be.
    I have not seen a list of the eight abstentions this week. But it would be a tad hypocritical if they backed Wells.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin
  • Alias

    “If I behaved like Jim Wells did towards any colleagues I wouldn’t last 5 minutes round here ! I work for a professional organisation which has expectations of it’s people which preclude this type of behaviour.”

    You would if you were working with Gary Glitter and called him a pedo. Your fallacy is to conflate two totally difference set of circumstances and then to claim that because behaviour x isn’t acceptable in y case that it isn’t acceptable in z case either.

    Doubt it? I can refer you to tons of comments from nationalists on this very board complaining about the employment of Billy Parker.

    Most folks, I surmise, would emphasize with Mr Wells and understand that others placed him in a difficult position. Virtually no one would pretend that working alongside Gary Glitter or McArdle would a normal working environment.

    That’s probably why ex-cons have such a low prospect of employment. Fortunately for the Shinners, they have Her Majesty’s shilling to rely on…

  • derrydave

    Your whole arguement can be thrown out the window by simply recognising the fact that Jim Wells works every day with Martn McGuinness and Gerry Kelly, yet somehow manages to control himself. Yet other people placed him in a difficult position to such an extent that he couldn’t control his manners when face with Mary McArdle ??! Just to re-iterate in case you and Jim have forgotton – Gerry was convicted of planting a bomb which killed one person and injured 200 others – he also went on to shoot a prison officer in the head. Mary hid a gun after someone else used it to kill someone. Hmmmm.
    And re Billy Parker – if a colleage of his spoke to him at work in the manner that Jim Wells did to Mary McArdle then they would have been censured by Asda – absolutely no question ! Thanks for providing this example.

  • derrydave

    ps presume you meant empathise ? Just takin the opportunity to be a pedant as someone else done it to me earlier :-)

  • Alias

    derrydave, that’s the odd aspect of it: that there is an element of ‘selective offence’ in objecting to Ms McArdle but not Mr McGuinness. It’s a case of how some folks in that bizarre Assembly cope with that – blank it all out or just try to.

    Anyway, this is the section of the Code of Conduct that Mr Wells fell foul of:

    “It is acknowledged that the exchange of ideas, and opinions on policies may be robust but this should be kept in context and not extend to individuals being subjected to unreasonable and excessive personal attack. Members should keep in mind that rude and offensive behaviour may lower the public’s regard for, and confidence in, Members and the Assembly itself. Members should therefore show respect and consideration for others at all times.”

    Now, given that his offence happened outside of the Assembly, the Code will also apply to Caitriona Ruane’s “excessive personal attack” on him so he should report her to the Committee and let’s have a repeat of this farce…

  • UserAinm

    You mean Billy Hunter for the record, who, if a colleague used his past to verbally attack him, could have quite rightly expected disciplinary action to have been taken.

  • Greenflag

    ‘does Jim Wells snarl at Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Gerry Kelly etc and call them murderers every day he passes them in the corridor ??? The answer is obviously no – makes you wonder why he felt the need to do so to Mary McArdle doesn’t it !’

    A) She’s female -it’s easier to snarl at women I guess .

    What I don’t understand is why McArdle did’nt slap Wells in the face ? It did’nt do Bernadette Devlin any harm smacking that old gin soak Maudling ?

    Wells sounds like a right eejit -perhaps he’s just a cantankerous old fart lacking the usual social skills ?

  • Sp12

    “She’s female -it’s easier to snarl at women I guess .”

    Wasn’t it a girls GAA club he had a go at recently?

  • Kevsterino

    I think it is reasonable to ask why Mr. Wells reserved this bit of vitriol for Ms. McArdle, who one could presume has less blood on her hands than some republican notables who are men.

    I think it makes him look unmanly. I don’t remember ever reading about him making similar statements to a single man, and there are more than a few from which to select one.

  • pauluk

    “anti-Catholicism, sectarianism and misogyny”, Sinn Fein “will not tolerate bullying behaviour, we won’t tolerate inequality …and we won’t tolerate anyone being treated as a second class citizen”.

    What a nauseating example of SF projection!

  • Alias

    “You mean Billy Hunter for the record, who, if a colleague used his past to verbally attack him, could have quite rightly expected disciplinary action to have been taken.”

    Again, this is bogus comparison. Members of parliament can only be sacked by those who elect them.

    Plus, of course, the Code of Practice doesn’t apply in workplaces.

  • Alias

    Incidentally, in regard to introducing murderers and other degenerates into a workplace, I wonder if existing employees would have a case to sue the employer for mental distress or, if they refused to work alongside them, have grounds for claiming constructive dismissal?

  • Greenflag

    Alias @ 23 November 2012 at 10:08 pm

    ‘Incidentally, in regard to introducing degenerates into a workplace, I wonder if existing employees would have a case to sue the employer for mental distress or, if they refused to work alongside them, have grounds for claiming constructive dismissal?’

    I would’nt imagine so Alias . Wall St and the City of London would have to close up shop in that case . The current practice seems to be to get the ‘fall guys ‘ the lower level gobshites to do the jail terms and few enough of them too.

    No you’d have to have Trade Unions established in the financial sector to get any kind of moral behaviour emanating from that cesspit of degeneracy and as we both know Trades Unions have all but disappeared from the private sector which is just one more reason why the western middle classes from Washington DC to Berlin are in the midst of the biggest cull since the 1930′s !

  • UserAinm

    Alias

    I was simply correcting you on a person’s name and a point of common employment law/hr practice. I’d like to remind you though that you introduced him to the argument to back up a flawed point that you were trying to make.

  • UserAinm

    Alias

    On this point

    “Incidentally, in regard to introducing murderers and other degenerates into a workplace, I wonder if existing employees would have a case to sue the employer for mental distress or, if they refused to work alongside them, have grounds for claiming constructive dismissal?”

    There wouldn’t be a case to answer, if someone has done their time then whether you like it or not their debt has been paid and they are entitled to employment.

  • derrydave

    Bogus comparison Alias ? hahaha – as UA points out, it was you who brought Mr Hunter into this – equating his treatment by commentators on Slugger with Mr Wells treatment of a colleague in his workplace. Now if that’s not a bogus comparison then i don’t know what is :-)

  • Alias

    What argument? I was pointing out your fallacy:

    “Your fallacy is to conflate two totally difference set of circumstances and then to claim that because behaviour x isn’t acceptable in y case that it isn’t acceptable in z case either.”

    I then pointed out that murderers are treated differently in workplaces to further highlight derrydave’s fallacy that they are treated the same. If you want to prove that the opposite is true then good luck finding the statistics to show that employers do touch that ilk with less than a forty foot barge pole but I think you’ll find that rather difficult to do…

    The Billy Hunter case and the Mary McArdle case both serve to illustrate the point.

    Likewise, if an employer hired Gary Glitter and the rest of his employees walked out, I think you’d quickly find that the employer would realise the error he made and act to correct it.

    Why would it be otherwise? Just because nationalists voted for murderers, considering that ilk fit and proper to hold office, doesn’t mean that others share that view. It’s shameful to vote for murderers and their supporters (not saying you did), so while pretending that they a nicer breed of murderer in order, presumably, to feel better about a choice or to deflect criticism of it is an understandable tactic that is all it is.

  • Alias

    Incidentally, just in case UA tries to wiggle out of it, the comparsion made that is “bogus” is to compare an employee who can be fired with an employee who can’t be fired. As I helpfully pointed out:

    “Members of parliament can only be sacked by those who elect them. Plus, of course, the Code of [Conduct] doesn’t apply in workplaces.”

  • Alias

    Greenflag, I’m prone to taking a thread off-topic occasionally but rarely as brazenly as you just did. Wall Street? Berlin? Washington? Six (hundred) degrees of separation?

    Insofar as I can project any relevance into your post, it appears to be some spurious join along the lines of “Wall Street employs unethical and greedy people so it is excellent practice to elect moral degenerates to public office and to employ them as ministerial advisors.”

  • derrydave

    Alias, are you completely unable to consider the possibility that republican ex-combatants may not be moral degenerates ? And that they may instead have been fighting for a cause they believed to be just ? Or to comprehend the fact that a vast section of the population vote for these people because they do not in fact believe them to be moral degenerates at all ? It is a very commendable act to stand back and try to see the world through someone elses eyes rather than to blindly stick to your own one-sided dogma. It also often leads to enlightenment and understanding, and an ability to work with those of a completely different viewpoint to make a better future for everyone !
    On that light note I hereby withdraw and get back to the real world where the swimming pool is calling :-) Slan !

  • UserAinm

    Jim Wells isn’t a member of parliament as far as I know.

    That aside I agree with you that he can’t and shouldn’t be able to be fired by anyone other than those who elected him as an MLA. He has a mandate, that is the most important thing in democratic politics and that is why he is where he is. So while I may disagree with Jim politically and not be one of his voters, while I may think all those things that people say about him being a mysogynist and an unreformed bigot, may be true, I have to accept, as someone who believes in democracy, that he is there by the will of his constituents.

    That does not however give him permission to roam the halls of Stormont behaving as he likes. As a God fearing Christian as he claims to be I see little of Christ’s behaviour represented by him here.

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

    Again we seem to be straying from the point that Mr Fealty asked…….how would we actually have voted ourselves.
    Not everything can be in Erskine May.
    For example while there might well be a dress code in the Assembly Chamber. But wearing politicised Tshirts in the corridors may not be good form….but could the Assembly act?
    If a MLA casually abused anyone for any reason……surely that doesnt need spelt out.
    The Assembly has been criticised for its delay in acting, yet we seem no closer to a “vote” here.

  • Alias

    “Alias, are you completely unable to consider the possibility that republican ex-combatants may not be moral degenerates ?”

    Why don’t don’t you explain to be the moral correctness of murdering a teenage girl as she left a place of worship with her family and of attempting to murder her father? I’d really love to be enlightened here as I am currently at a loss to grasp the finer points of the moral system that exhorts this act.

    “And that they may instead have been fighting for a cause they believed to be just ?”

    Would that cause be administrating British rule for high salaries and great pension entitlements because that’s the cause they signed up to. Now, many unwitting apologists for murder and murderers, you make the dismal error of believing their propaganda that murder is acceptable if the murderer claims to have committed the murder for a political reason. So, by that warped logic, Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik is actually not a murderer because he had a political motive. Likewise, murdering blacks is acceptable if the act has the political purpose of limiting immigration or other political purpose. If that is the case then murder by loyalists is also acceptable since it also had a political purpose.

    That nothwithstanding, self-appointed ‘moral murderers’ do not have the right to violate the human rights of others or to ignore calculations such as whether or not such a murder camapign is just or likely to acheive its supposed aim.

    What exactly was the political aim of mixing sugar with petrol and firebombing it onto the skin of Protestant civilians at La Mon? Was the aim acheived? If it was, does it matter that some of those people are still receiving skin grafts all this time later? When those folks who had their limbs torn off by the Shinners are changing their dressings, what exactly about what was acheived for the common good via their suffering should console them?

    “Or to comprehend the fact that a vast section of the population vote for these people because they do not in fact believe them to be moral degenerates at all ?”

    And thank heavens there’s a border between us and that ilk (if nothing else, a border that was firmly consolidated by the actions of the Shinners)

    “Jim Wells isn’t a member of parliament as far as I know.”

    Pure desperation.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Kevsterino,

    That is a very good point. Gerry Kelly shot a prison officer in the face, why doesn’t Jim yell “murderer” at him ? Have to admire the courage of these big men dishing out abuse to a woman ..

  • galloglaigh

    I guess I deserved that one :)

  • derrydave

    You could’ve saved an awful lot of time Alias by simply admiting that unfortunately you are stuck blindly to your own one-sided dogma, and therefore unable to comprehend that others look at our recent history quite differently to you. Hey-ho – not gonna waste my time replying in kind to your mail with my own list of grievances and ridiculous comparisons.

  • forthman

    So Alias is the self appointed spokesperson for the victims of La Mon? Using other peoples suffering to further your own narrow agenda is a bit low. The bombing of the La Mon was a terrible mistake which the IRA have appologised for. In fact, if republicans were the moral degenerates that Alias states, why didn’t they have a La mon every second night? They certainly had the capacity to.
    Could Stormont function if all sides took the liberty to speak the ‘unpalatable truth? I doubt it! For instance, the fact that Jim Wells, a man known for his love of walking(through Dundalk waving his passport), is a long standing member of a party who’s senior members were part of ‘Ulster resistance’. That shadowy far right group who imported weapons from the murderous apartheid regieme, to fuel a murderous unionist onslaught against the entire northern community.
    One day senior unionist leaders will be outed over their murderous associations, and the stench of hypocrisy will be overpowering.

  • derrydave

    Alias, your logic appears to be that violence / murder is never justified. That is great and life would be good in that little fantasy world. Meanwhile back in the real world it is a simple fact of life that violence is often justified and often required for a multitude of reasons. Probably every nation state on the planet has been formed of the back of violence and murder.
    If you accept therefore that violence and murder is sometimes justified, then the only arguement here is that you believe it was not justified in NI’s particular circumstances, whereas others believe it was in fact justified in our particular circumstances. Either you believe that republicans as a whole are simply evil and moral degenerates (absud to think this of such a broad section of your neighbours) or else you accept that their view was somehow that the violence was necessary in the circumstances (you don’t have to agree, just accept that their views were very different to yours).
    Bleating about particular horrible instances of violence or graphically detailing the results of some of that violence is pointless as I could detail very similar horrible results of violence (from occasions / situations where you believed that violence was justified). This just turns into a viscious circle of utter pointlessness, and stirs up emotions to what end ?
    We should be thankful that, regardless of the rights and wrongs of our recent history (upon which we will NEVER agree), there is little to no violence now. The only way for us to make any progress as a society therefore is to accept that others see the past very differently, and to move on and try to work together to build a future in which our children can thrive and succeed. Seems reasonable, no ? What other alternative is there ???

  • babyface finlayson

    derrydave
    “Either you believe that republicans as a whole are simply evil and moral degenerates (absud to think this of such a broad section of your neighbours) or else you accept that their view was somehow that the violence was necessary in the circumstances”.

    It is possible that people believed the cause to be just, but were disgusted by the means used to fight it.

    Perhaps you are right that we as a society need to move on, but you absolutely cannot refer to ‘bleating’ when victims are trying to highlight the wrongs done to them. Victims are entitled to bleat for ever and a day if they need to.
    Victims do not owe the peace process their loyalty.

  • Barnshee

    ” you accept that their view was somehow that the violence was necessary in the circumstances (you don’t have to agree, just accept that their views were very different to yours).”

    You then have to accept the views of those who use violence in response – “violence was necessary in the circumstances”

    What crock of shit

  • galloglaigh

    You then have to accept the views of those who use violence in response

    Are you advocating DDB’s ‘counter’ terrorism argument?

  • Barnshee

    Are you advocating DDB’s ‘counter’ terrorism argument?

    in no circumstances -there is no “good” violence

  • derrydave

    Barnshee,
    I’m not saying that you have to agree or accept their views – simply saying that it’s much better to accept that they view the circumstances and their actions in a very different manner than you yourself do. If you simply think that your political opponents are evil and morally degenerate, then there is no real hope for the future and no real prospect of you building something together with them. This applies to those who have the political mandate which demands that you work with them for the betterment of all. I do not think it is any co-incidence that Sinn Fein have the political mandate that they do whereas the PUP and UDP have none.
    The facts are that a significant proportion of the population believe Sinn fein to be genuine decent people who are worth voting for – they obviously accept that they are not inherently evil or degenerate, and that there were therfore legitimate reasons for their actions in the past. There are not many people who believe the same to be true of the PUP or the UDP. Without going into it much more, it is pretty obvious why this is the case.
    Babyface, you are correct in that victims are entitled to ‘bleat’ as much as they want. It does not mean that significant decisions with regard to the future of our province should take into account this ‘bleating’. Harsh but true – emotion unfortunately must be set to one side as it is not a good basis upon which to make decisions. It is also often the case that the ‘bleating’ that takes place is not by the victims themselves, but instead by political opportunists who are simply using the victims for their own political reasons.

  • andnowwhat

    DC dropped a link in the previous page but didn’t post an extract;

    ” The DUP has been challenged to reconcile the appointment of a former loyalist paramilitary as a party officer with its refusal to talk to republicans who have turned away from violence.

    Nationalist and republican politicians last night (Sunday) questioned the selection of ex-UDA man Gary Blair, given the DUP’s stance on contacts with Sinn Féin.”

    “However, the DUP insisted Mr Blair had turned away from all forms of illegal activity and there was a “world of difference” in talking to Sinn Féin.

    In 1993 Gary Blair pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to aiding and abetting in the murder of Sinn Féin election candidate Malachy Carey.

    Mr Carey (36) was shot by the UDA in December 1992 as he walked along a street in Ballymoney, and died a day later in hospital.

    Blair was freed from the Maze prison under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 2000, one of six Loyalist Volunteer Force prisoners released.

    It had been reported that by early 1998, he had moved to H-Block 6 in the jail, a wing controlled by the LVF.

    Two weeks ago he was elected as a party officer to the Ballymoney branch of the Democratic Unionist Party.”

    Does Wells act the hard man with Gary Blair?

  • andnowwhat