“nobody has the right to use lamp posts & telegraph poles like a dog marking out territory” #apc13

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Compared with last year, numbers were up at the Alliance party conference.

Parade Commission stand AllianceLots of new faces, including the Parades Commission stand at which staff and commissioners were doing a bit of outreach. [Will the DUP take their money at their conference?] Missing were any flag protests. The PSNI and hotel security were ready – perhaps even expectant – but there were no marches up the Gransha Road to La Mon hotel.

Now that Alliance have two Executive ministers and are established as one of the five large parties – as opposed to not being one of the top four – it’s easy to forget that Alliance still only have eight MLAs. (They’ve also have 43 councillors elected across 14 councils. And an MP too.)

Flags – and the fallout from the Belfast City Hall vote – dominated the conference. Speech after speech made reference to the build up to the vote and the subsequent protests and their affect on the party as well as Northern Ireland in general.

Party president, Councillor Billy Web opened the conference with a well written speech. He said that Alliance’s “long standing policy” of flying the union flag on designated days was “reflects both the constitutional position and diversity of Northern Ireland in a balanced and respectful way”.

Our Belfast Councillors took the position that was most likely to make Belfast City Hall truly a City Hall for all. But as we all know this decision did not come without its difficulties.

Those leaders of political parties with ‘unionist’ in their name have a lot to answer for. Their actions, and at times inaction, demonstrated their unsuitability for office.

When we were threatened and targeted they defended the 40,000 leaflets they had distributed. Leaflets which deliberately stoked up tensions, targeted Alliance and specifically Naomi Long, and this week were glibly described by Mike Nesbitt as ‘part of an awareness campaign.’

When we were attacked their silence was deafening. When this country was in turmoil we were blamed and called pan-nationalists, and accused of seeking publicity.

But those who faced this so publicly did what this Party does best, they stood firm in the face of the storm, took courageous positions and were not swayed from core Alliance values.

A panel of elected representatives spent forty minutes talking from the platform about different aspects of the Alliance’s For Everyone strategy. Chris Lyttle gave an overview, before passing across to his East Belfast colleague Judith Cochrane.


Trevor Lunn spoke about integrated education and Councillor Maire Hendron took up the subject of flags and shared space.


Other parties would do well to copy the next session which allowed four young members to explain why they joined the party and give their vision of a shared future. Powerful personal testimony.


Stephen Farry spoke about how Alliance policy influences the work in his department, Employment and Learning.


No mention of DEL’s once-agreed-now-forgotten demise. There were mentions of labour mobility, integrated teacher training, economic inactivity, the benefits of a lower corporation tax, the ICT Action Plan, NEETS, a 60% increase in publically funded PhDs and an extra 1,200 undergraduate places. Highlighting the necessity for “higher level skills and a stronger concentration in STEM subjects” (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), the North Down MLA said:

Our people are our main asset. It is on the basis of their skills that Northern Ireland will compete with other regions and countries around the globe.

Liberal Democrat MP and deputy leader Simon Hughes spoke very warmly of Naomi Long’s contributions to Westminster, highlighting her – rare in Parliament – engineering background and describing her as a role model.

Naomi Long Alliance for EveNaomi Long – MP and deputy Alliance leader – spoke about double jobbing and party funding transparency, saying that double jobbers’ voting record at Westminster “told its own story”. She commented on “how thin the veneer of normality is” in Northern Ireland.


Obviously unobservant, until pointed out to me during Naomi Long’s speech, I’d never realised the symbolism of stylised ‘A’ of Alliance. The East Belfast MP said that building was so fundamental to Alliance that the A is styled as a bridge.

She rhetorically asked when would there be a better time to make building a shared future a priority? The time for excuses and delay was over.

Solutions to problems and the building of a shared future would never be achieved through riots or separate talks. Instead “inclusive conversation” with other parties and the wider community was required.

Our choice – put bluntly – is between a shared future and a scared future. We are not interested in the politics of fear. Alliance has not and will never indulge in that kind of politics, nor will we allow others who choose to do so to deflect us from the challenge of transforming our community, from making the difficult decisions that are required to deliver that change, or from showing leadership for everyone in our community.

We reject the politics of fear in favour of the politics of hope, the politics of aspiration. Those foundations of hope and aspiration are the base on which this party was built – conceived in the belief that all of the people of Northern Ireland deserved a better, more peaceful and more prosperous future and sustained by the belief that, as a community, we still do.

The politics of hope and aspiration are where the best future lies for everyone in our community. Alliance is the party that will continue to lead the way, in articulating a clear vision of a shared and inclusive future for everyone, the opportunities that realising that potential will bring and in building the bridge to take us there.

David Ford’s thirty minute speech was televised on BBC Two NI [available to watch for the next seven days]. His intended reference to “Mid-Ulster” had to be removed in order to comply with the BBC’s broadcasting restrictions during an election period. [Either all or none of the party leaders get an opportunity to speak about the by-election.]

These last three months have certainly been a tough time for Alliance. But I am sure we are the stronger for it. We have come through the fire – literally – and we have not been found wanting. That strength is recognised by the media, and by commentators who are not always sympathetic. Our growing strength has certainly been recognised by other parties, who pay us attention like never before. When I first became party leader, what they used to call ‘the four main parties’ largely ignored us. They don’t ignore us now.

He referred to “DUP and their UUP lapdogs deliver[ing] leaflets targeting Naomi Long over the flag issue” and asked “why did they deny they were responsible?”

We always put the imprint ‘published by Alliance’ on our leaflets. We are not ashamed of what we say, but clearly the DUP was ashamed of its actions. So ashamed that an elected DUP Councillor claimed he worked for a delivery company when challenged.

David Ford characterised Northern Ireland as being “at something of an impasse”.

… the DUP and Sinn Fein avoiding the difficult issues. Avoiding the difficult issue of a Single Equality Bill, achingly slow progress on the RPA and ESA. No sign of progress on parades and a Languages Bill. They simply fail to follow through and deliver. And, worst of all, they have made no progress whatever on reaching agreement on a shared future. Surely, this is the most pressing issue for Northern Ireland?

Contrast the collective failure of the Executive with progress made in the two Alliance Departments, Justice and Employment and Learning. Look what can be achieved with radical, progressive approaches, based on evidence of what works, rather than hidebound by dogma.

As Justice Minister he avoided critiquing the minutiae of PSNI actions, but said:

The lives – and the livelihoods – of so many are being disrupted by a minority hell-bent on causing disruption, without any thought of the effects of their actions on the people of every part of Belfast, of those who runs shops and provide services, of potential investors who could help provide the jobs we so urgently need.

Yet again, the problems of this society are being played out on the streets, putting enormous pressure on the Police Service. In my position, I am not going to second-guess the difficult decisions that operational commanders have to take in response to street disorder or to give any impression that I am trying to direct political policing. Yet I know that there will be support in this hall and across the community for resolute action against those who continue to disrupt society. Including the resolute action taken against those who have been organising illegal street protests.

I sincerely hope that those who have taken part in illegal protests will now recognise the damage they are doing and call off those protests. But if they don’t, I hope that there will be a united political voice in support of the PSNI as they seek to deal with protests.

A united voice supporting the rule of law, not the weasel words we heard from unionists about the protests at Seaview Football Ground earlier this month. A united voice, not the complaints we heard from nationalists seeming to put pressure on the Police.

There ought to be a united voice supporting the rule of law from every party. Ought to be, but I doubt it. Because too many politicians are unprepared to support the police if it means confronting their own supporters. Alliance politicians don’t pick and choose which laws to uphold, which police actions to support, depending on whether they are perceived to be against “our side” or “their side”. Alliance has always stood for the rule of law, for everyone.

David Ford appraised how unionists and nationalists interpreted “shared future”.

For unionists, it means a homogeneous society, where everyone is supposed to feel unionist, to accept what Peter Robinson calls “the settled status quo”. Where the union flag flies everywhere, 365 days a year. Where the Irish language receives no official recognition. Where the term the “Queen’s highway” is allowed to excuse the designation of entire communities as being the domain of one section of the community only, with the flying of flags and the painting of kerb-stones. Where the Parades Commission is only supported when it takes the “right” decisions for unionists.

For nationalists, a shared future means a version of “parity of esteem” that looks more like “separate but equal”. Where the public demand for integrated education goes unheeded and the logic of training teachers together is not recognised. Where elected representatives will forever have to be “designated” as us or them. Where playgrounds can be named after terrorists because sure its only “nationalist” children who will play in them.

While he’ll not like the comments, Mike Nesbitt will be pleased that he wasn’t ignored by David Ford in his leader’s speech:

Mike Nesbitt will probably insist that I am misrepresenting his party and his politics. He likes to portray himself as a moderate, and committed to a shared future. Yet, he leads his party, day-by-day, ever-closer to the DUP.

In a recent interview in relation to Mid-Ulster, he described a suggestion that voters may wish to know what a candidate’s views were on issues that he might actually vote on at Westminster as – and I quote -“an extraordinary assertion”. He insisted that people always have, and assumed that people always will, vote – and I quote him again – “orange and green”.

This is the man who was elected leader because of his perceived ability to communicate a distinct identity and purpose for the UUP. Well from what I’ve seen, Mr Nesbitt has undoubtedly much experience of reading from a autocue, but it’s Peter Robinson who is writing his script.

That last sentence was rewarded with sustained applause.

Basil McCrea and John McCallister weren’t name-checked, but Basil’s New Party did get a mention:

Two ex-UUP MLAs are now in the process of setting up a new party. Another unionist party. I acknowledge that it is attempt to move unionism forward, but simply realigning unionism will achieve nothing. Change will only happen when we build a strong, radical centre ground, in total contrast to both unionism and nationalism.

On integrated education:

A Lucid Talk poll in the Belfast Telegraph this week shows that 79% of the population would like to see their children’s school becoming integrated. A school for everyone in the local community. So a target of 20% of children in Integrated Schools by 2020 is entirely reasonable, practical and in line with the wishes of a large majority.

Returning to flags, David Ford clarified the right to fly at home:

And let’s nail the lie before unionists repeat it any more. Alliance respects everyone’s right to fly flags on their own houses, whether owned or rented. But nobody has the right to use lamp posts and telegraph poles like a dog marking out territory.

There was a call for a new political battleground:

The challenge for this generation, for the lifetime of even the youngest person in this room today, is to break out of that cycle of tit-for-tat, short term actions. To find a way to break the strangle-hold that the old politics still has over our community’s future.

To fight a new political battle – not the ancient and outdated battle of unionist versus nationalist, or of orange versus green; but between old politics and new politics; between backward, inward looking politics and forward, outward facing politics; between zero-sum politics and win-win politics; between politics “for our side” and politics “for everyone”.

Let’s be absolutely clear. Alliance is the force by which we will do so. Only Alliance occupies the shared ground where we will have to build a shared future.

Quotes from President John Kennedy about the Apollo space programme …

we choose to do these things in this decade, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills; because the challenge is one that we are willing to accept; one we are unwilling to postpone; and which we intend to win
working class

… and from his brother Robert Kennedy …

Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

… finished the speech.

Alliance has come through the fire of recent weeks, we have been tested and we have not failed. In northern Ireland, we are that change – we can break down the walls – every one of us is one of those ripples, new and old members – all our actions are those ripples building into waves that will sweep away the walls of prejudice and intolerance .

Our momentum will continue to build, our movement for change will continue to grow. Whatever is thrown at us – metaphorically or literally – we will relentlessly: strive for change, lead change and deliver change. We will create a new, better Northern Ireland, based on a new, better kind of politics – a politics for everyone.

After lunch the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers had a déjà vu moment and returned to the same La Mon Hotel platform ten weeks after delivering a similarly all-things-to-all-people speech at the DUP conference.

She spoke about the recent protests, referred to David Cameron’s “personal decision” to host the G98 in Fermanagh, remembered the La Mon Hotel bombing, as “one of most shocking and brutal attacks of the Troubles”, and paid tribute to both PSNI officers policing the streets and to the recent death of Constable Philippa Reynolds.

Theresa Villiers’ sound bite was that solutions can not be imposed from London but instead require “local solutions, local leadership, local drive”. Northern Ireland cannot afford to spend £1 million a week policing protests.

She ticked a box mentioning Corporation Tax, but simply said that a decision had not been made.

Conference closed with a panel of external experts talking about the economy.

Eric Bullick was at the conference for a while, though it would take a miracle for the party president’s wish to come true: “we’re looking forward to welcoming you next year as our second MP”.

A lot of the set piece speeches at the conference were confident and at times more defiant than previous years. The party will be pleased that its relevance extended to attendance at the conference by journalists from the Belfast Telegraph, the Irish News, the News Letter and the Irish Times. In previous years, not all would have attended.

Alliance has become a warm house for disaffected Ulster Unionists: I spoke to several lapsed UUP members who had recently joined Alliance. One had only voted once for Alliance in his life, but now saw them as his chosen political vehicle. I didn’t spot any disgruntled SDLP defectors.

While the babies and toddlers that were ever-present at Dunadry conferences are no longer to be seen [Has Alliance fertility dropped?], many – though by no means all – of the new members were young.

New members spoke about being welcomed and some have already been assimilated into roles within local constituency structures. The test will be whether membership is renewed, and whether new recruits are willing to canvass at forthcoming elections.

While there’s no automatic retirement age, with one MLA in his seventies and another already over 65, Alliance do need to think about succession planning. Relatively few councillors were on the platform today. There was no public mention of a European election candidate – though Anna Lo is being talked about as a possibility – and the unwinnable Mid-Ulster seat was not being used as a means to boost an EU candidate’s profile.

For EveryoneAlliance’s other weaknesses must still be its geographic spread and its middle class niceness. Knocking doors in loyalist inner east Belfast will not be “For Everyone”. Yet as a party, Alliance needs to implement a strategy to more publicly serve – and later attract votes from – working class communities.

Alliance: For Everyone More People Than It Used To Be

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  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Oh, I don’t know.

    Saturday midnight, on the way back from the pub …

    Once one is past the headline, it all makes sense.

  • http://footballcliches.wordpress.com/ footballcliches

    Good post Alan, this is what did stand out for me though:

    ‘I spoke to several lapsed UUP members who had recently joined Alliance. One had only voted once for Alliance in his life, but now saw them as his chosen political vehicle. I didn’t spot any disgruntled SDLP defectors.’

    As has been said before and will be said again, APNI appears to many to be a small ‘u’ unionist party, unless of course all of these UUP defectors have went agnostic on the constitutional question, just saying, like :)

  • wild turkey

    ‘As has been said before and will be said again, APNI appears to many to be a small ‘u’ unionist party, unless of course all of these UUP defectors have went agnostic on the constitutional question, just saying, like’

    many many moons ago, at least 200, i was threatened with disciplinary action at work because i had ‘offended’ an Alliance party member. The offence? I maintained that APNI was one of three unionist parties. To wit:

    The DUP wanted the border sealed off with an electric fence and strategically placed , high calibre, watchtowers.
    The UUP would settle for just the fence.
    The APNI wanted to camouflage the fence with tasteful Laura Ashley drapes.

    Don’t get me wrong though, in my experience Alliance people are for the most part decent and well intentioned.

    can i go have some strong coffee and a bloody mary now?

  • keano10

    Very funny Wild Turkey :)

  • Comrade Stalin

    unless of course all of these UUP defectors have went agnostic on the constitutional question

    As a proportion of the party membership, UUP defectors would number around about 0.1%. Why do you think they have an influence on all the others ?

  • http://footballcliches.wordpress.com/ footballcliches

    ‘As a proportion of the party membership, UUP defectors would number around about 0.1%. Why do you think they have an influence on all the others ?’

    Whoopsie, it would seem I’ve annoyed our local APNI rep on a Sunday morning. Of course, he could’ve answered the point made but instead went a different route.

    I’ll pay you a courtesy and answer your question, though with another question. How would I know? Some may (IJP), some may not (Flash Harry and Paula), the real question is do you and others think they do? Of course, if they don’t have any kind of influence on the APNI the question must be asked why would they want to join in the first place? Are you and others not paying attention to anything they have to say, any of their suggestions, simply because they used to be in some form of the UUP? Did not David Ford himself extend a branch for them to come in and join the flock? Why would he do that if he were not going to listen to anything they have to say, for membership dues? Spare me…

  • sonofstrongbow

    Unionism seems to be the love that dare not speak its name for Alliance types. Having said that if they feel it is impolite to speak of it in public so be it.

    Although perhaps they should think a little more of their public profile. Their one and only MP sits in a ‘unionist’ seat, the councillors fetch up in similar locations. Don’t they hold the mayoralty in Larne?

    Are there any Alliance reps in majority nationalist areas?

    On the Alliance logo; the ‘A’ “styled as a bridge” came as news to me too. If your party banner is designed to send a message whispering it in an inaudible tone might not be the best option.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Whoopsie, it would seem I’ve annoyed our local APNI rep on a Sunday morning.

    It’s foolish of me to allow myself to be wound up by professional trolls repeating falsehoods, I accept that.

    Of course, he could’ve answered the point made but instead went a different route.

    No “point” was made; a factually incorrect and highly clichéd assertion was repeated as truth.

    I’ll pay you a courtesy and answer your question, though with another question. How would I know? Some may (IJP), some may not (Flash Harry and Paula), the real question is do you and others think they do?

    No, the real question is – why do I care ? why do you ? what does it matter ?

    Of course, if they don’t have any kind of influence on the APNI the question must be asked why would they want to join in the first place?

    I don’t know. Maybe, um, they agreed with the party’s policies and wanted to support it in the way that everyone who joins any political party does ?

    Are you and others not paying attention to anything they have to say, any of their suggestions, simply because they used to be in some form of the UUP?

    eh ?

    Did not David Ford himself extend a branch for them to come in and join the flock? Why would he do that if he were not going to listen to anything they have to say, for membership dues? Spare me…

    Alliance is open to everyone who wants to see Northern Ireland work and who thinks there should be a shared future. What’s the problem ?

  • http://footballcliches.wordpress.com/ footballcliches

    ‘Unionism seems to be the love that dare not speak its name for Alliance types. Having said that if they feel it is impolite to speak of it in public so be it.’

    I know, right? Also, I’m agree with sos, this must be a first or a warning that the apocalypse is imminent.

    As for CS, tetchy this morning, are we cupcake? You are all too easy to wind up and then you like to descend into personal insults. Have at it, by all means but try and focus and stay on point.

    Alan kindly noted that he saw a number of former UUP people who have become disgruntled and moved to APNI. He also noted that there were seemingly no former SDLP folks there. Now you can take that up with him. I merely noted the oft quoted observation of many here and elsewhere that APNI is a small ‘u’ unionist party, and that’s fine. They are in many ways as I don’t see them campaigning for a UI and they want to work the status quo so that it’s better for us all within the UK. Again, this is perfectly respectable but also it’s unionist and that’s fine with me, just don’t try and insult our intelligence that it is anything other than that. Now, if you want, let’s go over what you had to say, shall we chap?

    ‘It’s foolish of me to allow myself to be wound up by professional trolls repeating falsehoods, I accept that.’

    Tsk tsk. Unfortunately, I don’t get paid for commenting, I do this all for the fun of it :)

    ‘No “point” was made; a factually incorrect and highly clichéd assertion was repeated as truth.’

    A point was made, one you just don’t like and are seemingly unwilling to actually tackle without descending into childish name calling, please, do try harder.

    ‘No, the real question is – why do I care ? why do you ? what does it matter ?’

    Why do you care? Only you can answer that?

    Why do I care and What does it matter? Simples, you’re a party in government and if you want my vote I expect your party to be honest with me and not to use the kind of unimaginative, dead and hollow management speak that I have to hear in work; it’s meaningless and I find it insulting to my intelligence. These shrill replies I and others get from APNI folk when we point things out is no way to build consensus and may be one of the reasons why you are pretty much a party of Greater Belfast and it’s commuter towns.

    ‘I don’t know. Maybe, um, they agreed with the party’s policies and wanted to support it in the way that everyone who joins any political party does ?’

    Really? All APNI members do this? What like during that vote for marriage equality a while ago because remind what was the party policy and how’d that vote go? Did everyone agree with party policy there? Are you trying to tell us that there is no debate in the APNI about policies, no disagreement, that everyone just signs up on some kind of dotted line to agree with all of the APNI’s policies?

    ‘eh ?’

    Please refer to the question, you’re a big boy now, aren’t you?

    ‘Alliance is open to everyone who wants to see Northern Ireland work and who thinks there should be a shared future. What’s the problem ?’

    I’m sure it is CS. Tell me, will you guys be campaigning for a UI anytime soon? It may come as a surprise for you but I too want a shared future for all, only I want it in a UI, that’s my aspiration.

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

    AllianceParty are “agnostic”on the border
    They claim that they are a Party for unionist,nationalist and …those who see themselves in another way.
    They say a Party for “everyone”.
    The “agnostic” tactic is one that has suited them. A fig leaf,some might say.They are apparently against labelling…we might see them increasingly describe themselves as “pragmatic”.
    Do those defectors really have just 0.3% influence.
    I was at The Dunadry when Harry Hamilton and Paula Bradshaw were warmly welcomed into the Party.
    Is Ms Bradshaw a member of Alliance Party Executive? How many on that Executive? Twenty? That…if she is a member would give UUP defectors 5% of influence there.
    Did not Harry Hamilton stand as an Alliance candidate just four months after the Dunadry welcome? What percentage of defectors stood as AP candidates….0.3%.
    Going back to October 2010 on Slugger we have had some discussion about high profile UUP defections and the possibility of their influence and/or fast tracking.
    It’s both a good thing and a bad thing for Alliance?
    AS in the main post here, they are now attracting UUP voters who never voted Alliance. Have high profile defectors given up being unionist AND Conservative….or merely decided that the Alliance Party is the place to Persie that.
    The Alliance Party can nibble away at soft unionist votes in tandem with nibbling at soft nationalist votes. Indeed they have done disproportionately well out of it.
    But the implosion of UUPchanges that dynamic. To get those votes the Alliance has to be more overtly unionist….
    I can’t blame David Ford for being muted in respect of the “new party” Alliance people have made no secret of the fact they wanted Basil and John….although in the latter case this was never likely.
    They now have a new party in the Centre….rather like the Women’s Coalition. This Party is overtly liberal unionist. That has to be a challenge to Alliance.

    I certainly welcome Fords statement about flags on lamppost s etc. But a little surprised that he makes a point of saying his Party respects the right of homeowners and tenants to fly a flag. Presumably ALL flags.
    If the barriers do come down in ten years, it seems counter productive if Cupar Street is flying British flags and Bombay Street is flying IrisH flags.
    The walls would still be there….just invisible.
    But it is a welcome step.

  • Roy Walsh

    They’re a Unionist party because their party constitution states they support the union with Britain, there’s nothing small ‘u’ about that.
    Ford sounded yesterday like he was appealing for votes from the alleged unionist catholics, especially those in his own south Antrim constituency, bordering Basil’s Lagan Valley and in east Belfast where the DUP’s flag protest will see the vote to them fall sharply as young DUPpies are bussed to polling stations to get rid of the hated, Naomi.

  • http://dreamingarm.wordpress.com CW

    When I saw the picure at the top of the page I got a little confused as I never knew that Alexei Sayle was in APNI.

  • Granni Trixie

    Footballcliches: On Slugger I have often referred to difficulties in achieving consensus on particular policies and how to deal with issues within Alliance. I tell this
    to point to a reality which is far removed from a cliched image of everyone nicely agreeing to whatever is proposed.

    What I find especially interesting however is identifying the kinds which go through on a nod and those which whip up the blood (apparently). Seems to me those of a moral nature are those which are most contentious,for example from the warm response to Maire Hendron when she outlined the trail of events leading to ”that’ vote there was wholehearted agreement to how Alliance
    Councillors voted on flags. Yet at an Alliance (decision making) Council meeting same sex marriage whipped up feelings on all sides of the debate before a majority agreed on a policy. It is worth pointing out also that the decision making structure allows for a teasing out of opinions leading to consensus rather than a top down approach.

    I also find it amusing when Sluggerites and others outside the party come up with theories regarding Alliances strategies for disguising our true unionist leanings.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Roy :

    They’re a Unionist party because their party constitution states they support the union with Britain, there’s nothing small ‘u’ about that.

    Hilarious. The Alliance Party Constitution is a 16-page long and rather boring document describing the internal structure and procedures of the party. Committees, associations, quorums, membership rules, votes, all that sort of stuff. No policy details, ideals, or anything else are contained therein.

    Football:

    Alan kindly noted that he saw a number of former UUP people who have become disgruntled and moved to APNI.

    Yes, indeed they have. And ?

    He also noted that there were seemingly no former SDLP folks there.

    Andrew Muir who is a councillor in North Down was formerly in the SDLP. But far be it from me to inject any facts into the conversation.

    I merely noted the oft quoted observation of many here and elsewhere that APNI is a small ‘u’ unionist party, and that’s fine. They are in many ways as I don’t see them campaigning for a UI and they want to work the status quo so that it’s better for us all within the UK.

    Now that you have clarified your definition of unionist as anyone who isn’t actively campaigning for a UI (“if you’re not for us, you’re against us”), I think I can safely establish that there is basically no point in even attempting to have a rational discussion with you.

    I’m sure it is CS. Tell me, will you guys be campaigning for a UI anytime soon? It may come as a surprise for you but I too want a shared future for all, only I want it in a UI, that’s my aspiration.

    Good for you. Please continue campaigning and building consensus by criticizing anyone who disagrees with your view on constitutional issues as unionist. I wish you all the best.

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

    I didn’t know Andrew Muir was ex-SDLP and Comrade Stalin is absolutely right to draw our attention to this.
    I believe that an Alliance councillor in Down Council area (Patrick Clarke) is actually a former SDLP councillor. Presumably he was also in attendance yesterday.

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

    I didn’t spot any very recent SDLP defectors, whereas I couldn’t help but trip over converts from the broad church of Ulster Unionism.

  • http://sammymorse.livejournal.com Gerry Lynch

    there were seemingly no former SDLP folks there

    I was there with work and noted Councillor Andrew Muir prominently positioned in the foyer for much of the day. Cllr Patrick Clarke was also floating around.

    I met a former SDLP, now Independent, councillor there as well.

    Really must stop defending the Alliance Party when people attack it, but I have this funny thing about facts.

  • http://bangordub.wordpress.com/ Bangordub

    Gerry,
    Quite right for alliance people to defend the party. The interesting thing to me is how tetchy people in alliance get when attacked by other parties. I thought that was the point of politics? lol

  • Granni Trixie

    Alan

    I suppose the thinking behind who defects from where is that it is a (very rough) marker as to breadth of party appeal. Well,with this in mind, can I say that in the last week or two I was talking to a person in their early twenties who joined Apni last year pre-flegs who told me that he had joined the DUP in his teens. (Up ballymena way).

  • aquifer

    “Our choice – put bluntly – is between a shared future and a scared future.”

    Good solid soundbite from the young civil engineer.

  • http://footballcliches.wordpress.com/ footballcliches

    Folks,

    All should calm down a little here. Now Comrade has kindly noted that there indeed was ONE former SDLP person there and Gerry has noted 2 more, very good folks. Perhaps because there were so few of them it has made it quite easy for them to be identified.

    However, Alan then goes on to note that he was apparently ‘tripping over’ disillusioned UUP folks, and again, that’s perfectly fine; they have found a home in APNI and I’m sure they’ll make a wonderful contribution there.

    Granni,

    ‘On Slugger I have often referred to difficulties in achieving consensus on particular policies and how to deal with issues within Alliance. I tell this
    to point to a reality which is far removed from a cliched image of everyone nicely agreeing to whatever is proposed.’

    Thanks for that, I imagined that was the actual case as opposed to this answer I received from CS,

    ‘I don’t know. Maybe, um, they agreed with the party’s policies and wanted to support it in the way that everyone who joins any political party does ?’

    which gave me the impression of diktats being agreed to from upon high. Like every party, there is disagreement within and then (hopefully) a consensus. The point I was making was that if you have a lot of UUP defectors all of a sudden coming into your party then perhaps this will start to change the policies of your party, but someone isn’t willing to answer the question and is using a rather shrill and prickly demeanor in their replies, sticking their fingers in their ears and going NA NA NA NA NA NA NA.

    Comrade,

    ‘Now that you have clarified your definition of unionist as anyone who isn’t actively campaigning for a UI (“if you’re not for us, you’re against us”), I think I can safely establish that there is basically no point in even attempting to have a rational discussion with you.’

    Well, will APNI be campaigning for a UI anytime soon or for the status quo? I still haven’t got an answer on that one. Also, please do point out how what I have said re not actively campaigning for a UI is an irrational way to describe a party of any kind that may be unionist. You are right though, you don’t have to have any kind of a discussion with me, it’s SOT afterall, only I do find it quite hilarious when APNI members do this in public with the electorate when they ask this genuinely rational question.

    ‘Good for you. Please continue campaigning and building consensus by criticizing anyone who disagrees with your view on constitutional issues as unionist. I wish you all the best.’

    It’s going swimmingly CS, many thanks.

    Look, word to the wise here. Nat parties actively campaign for a UI as the alternative is the status quo, if you are not campaigning for a UI it goes without saying then you want the status quo, therefore this is something of a unionist position. Now, if you can point out any flaw in this position, please let me know as I will eat humble pie, but if you think by coming at me with rather shrill replies and deciding not to answer questions is the way forward then I wish you all the best of luck building consensus and gaining seats in predominately nationalist areas.

  • Roy Walsh

    CS, go back and re-read it, I first did as a fresher in 1987, and again, while back at QUB in 2007, I think the relevant Article was Art. 16 which states they will support the union so long as the people of NI want to, a true cross community party wouild be neutral on this issue but it is there.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Roy,

    I have a copy of the Alliance constitution in front of me and checked it before I replied. I can’t verify Article 16 as you said, because there are only 12 articles in the constitution (as of December 2010). As I tried to tell you, none of them are anything to do with policy.

    The Constitution is a rather uninteresting legally-worded document governing the rules and procedures. It’s so boring the party don’t even publish it on their website. Believe me, it is of no interest to anyone except people who are participating in or organizing party business.

    Bangordub:

    Quite right for alliance people to defend the party. The interesting thing to me is how tetchy people in alliance get when attacked by other parties. I thought that was the point of politics? lol

    I’m happy to debate the rights and wrongs of Alliance policies and things Alliance people have done (or not done). I’m not convinced that I’m required to be polite to people who repeat clichés that are decades old and which have been comprehensively dealt with here and elsewhere. I’m also not sure what I’m supposed to do with people who obviously know nothing about Alliance and yet claim to be better informed about what it stands for than I am.

    Footballcliches :

    Now Comrade has kindly noted that there indeed was ONE former SDLP person there and Gerry has noted 2 more, very good folks.

    Yeah but hold on. You’re saying that three defectors from the UUP mean that Alliance is unionist. Now that we’ve identified three defectors from the SDLP why doesn’t that mean Alliance is nationalist ?

    The point I was making was that if you have a lot of UUP defectors all of a sudden coming into your party then perhaps this will start to change the policies of your party

    Change what policies ? You’re the one saying Alliance is unionist, what are they going to change ?

    but someone isn’t willing to answer the question and is using a rather shrill and prickly demeanor in their replies, sticking their fingers in their ears and going NA NA NA NA NA NA NA.

    Your observations are clichéd, boring and the ill-considered work of a prejudiced idiot. Come up with something original or factual and put it to me and we can debate it. Don’t present made-up speculative bollocks and try to pass it off as an argument.

    Look, word to the wise here. Nat parties actively campaign for a UI as the alternative is the status quo, if you are not campaigning for a UI it goes without saying then you want the status quo, therefore this is something of a unionist position.

    According to your laughably ridiculous thesis, the Dáil is full of unionists. Apart from Sinn Féin none of them are campaigning for a UI. Yes ?

  • http://ansionnachfionn.com/ An Sionnach Fionn

    Interesting that David Ford mentioned a “Languages Bill” (plural) rather than simply an Irish Language Act. I have been suggesting for some time that the solution to the impasse on Irish is an “Official Languages Act” making Irish and English co-equal languages in the north-east of the country.

    That might make it more palatable to the British Unionist minority in the region as well as matching the spirit/letter of the Belfast Agreement.

    One hears on the grapevine that both SF and the SDLP are contemplating suggesting something along these lines. The only deterrent seems to be the worry that Unionists will insist on the inclusion of the Irish-Scots dialect of English alongside mainstream English in order to stymie the solution through prohibitive costs or public ridicule.

    Perhaps the AP have a similar bilingual legislative solution?

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    While I endorsed UCUNF, I was never a member of the UUP and have never voted for it – even when instructed to by the Alliance Party in 2001!

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    At lesst two of the Alliance Party’s 43 Cllrs were formerly in the SDLP.

    So some above obviously weren’t looking too hard!

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    To be honest it suits Alliance for Nationalists to try to pass it off as “unionist”.

    Firstly, it shows up just how sectarian those Nationalists are, resorting to false labels rather than real policy argument.

    Secondly, it enables the party to pick up more and more disaffected SDLP and other previously Nationalist voters who are quite frankly bored to tears with people telling them a utopian united Ireland is round the corner when it self-evidently isn’t.

  • http://footballcliches.wordpress.com/ footballcliches

    Very interesting stuff once again. Let’s review, shall we? I make an assertion that APNI is unionist with a small ‘u’ and also ask will all of those former UUP members whom Alan was tripping over at the La Mon go agnostic on the union or even try and shift policy a little. Personally, I think this an honest question to ask and it has been asked by many others. In return, I get:

    i) insults,
    ii) questions avoided, and
    iii) strawmen arguments,

    all hilarious stuff, and I do mean that. I clearly have struck something of a raw nerve with CS, why ever so? If my comments were so ‘clichéd, boring and the ill-considered work of a prejudiced idiot’ then why did he not just let it pass?

    Then there is the rather laughable argument that,

    ‘According to [my] laughably ridiculous thesis, the Dáil is full of unionists. Apart from Sinn Féin none of them are campaigning for a UI. Yes ?’

    This is news to me. I do suspect he actually meant to use the term ‘partitionists’ as I am aware of no Southern political party wanting to join the union once again, however, maybe he can shed some light on this?

    My point is this CS, whether you like it or not. You may have already had this argument or debate before, but by shouting people down, accusing them of being prejudiced or just throwing aspersions about people that are completely unfounded and using this as a cover to not actually answer any questions, even if delivered with a sly dig on occasion on my part, merely shows you up. I’ll venture you didn’t have a debate last time, you probably just shouted every one down until the thread came to its natural conclusion.

    IJP, for whom I actually have some time for (best of luck with your new endeavors btw chap) comes forth with the following:

    ‘Firstly, it shows up just how sectarian those Nationalists are, resorting to false labels rather than real policy argument.’

    If I am resorting to false labels please do show me. I would love someone from APNI to actually have a decent, non-hysterical argument about this for a change and I think that could definitely be you or any one else.

    I have made a simple assertion which to clarify was applicable for political parties here in the North, that you are either working for the status quo (unionism) or a UI (nationalism). I think that’s a fairly reasonable observation, yet CS decides he will shout this point down and hurl as many unfounded assertions as is humanly possible. I actually LMFAO today.

    ‘Secondly, it enables the party to pick up more and more disaffected SDLP and other previously Nationalist voters who are quite frankly bored to tears with people telling them a utopian united Ireland is round the corner when it self-evidently isn’t.’

    A sensible assertion, though one I would challenge. I do not see in too many constituencies where APNI is enticing formerly Nat votes to them, maybe S. Belfast, but where else? And, if they are, are you sure it’s because of SDLP supposed rhetoric regarding a ‘utopian united Ireland’ or maybe something else?

  • FDM

    @IJP

    To be honest it suits Alliance for Nationalists to try to pass it off as “unionist”.

    Firstly, it shows up just how sectarian those Nationalists are, resorting to false labels rather than real policy argument.

    Secondly, it enables the party to pick up more and more disaffected SDLP and other previously Nationalist voters who are quite frankly bored to tears with people telling them a utopian united Ireland is round the corner when it self-evidently isn’t.

    —————————-

    No bitterness on show there IJP.

    The only place you will find Utopia is in a book. If this is your Utopia here at the minute [or any point in time you would like to suggest over the last 90 years] then you can have it.

    If Irish nationalists are are being disingenuous about calling Alliance a Unionist party, then how dishonest is it of Unionists parties to call themselves such when really their agenda is actually protestant nationalist.

    David Fords antagonism to the Bloody Sunday inquiry and the Irish Language has been put in the shop window by David Ford.

    If you are that antagonistic to anything Irish that you actually put that in the public domain aren’t you really one/two feet in the PUL camp?

    The reason the place is so very far from Utopia is because the Morlocks were in charge of the place for such a very long time. They had time enough and power enough to make a heaven on earth and look what they did to the place. Tell me it isn’t so?

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    FDM

    Your direct equivalence between Nationalism and the Irish language rather proves my point.

    Alliance is not ethno-nationalist – and much the better for it.

    FC

    Go raibh maith agat, a chara!

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Alliance supports the constitutional position of Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom. We know that this belief is shared by the overwhelming majority of our people and that provocative debate about it has been the primary cause of all our most fundamental troubles. The link is in the best economic and social interests of all the people of Northern Ireland, and we will maintain that only the people of Northern Ireland have the right to decide any change by voting in a referendum.” .. 1975 APNI manifesto

    APNI has long since passed into no-man’s land and, if anything, appears to be more antagonistic towards unionist parties than towards nationalist ones. It has a very low to zero profile in mainly nationalist council districts.

  • FDM

    @IJP

    Your direct equivalence between Nationalism and the Irish language rather proves my point.

    Alliance is not ethno-nationalist – and much the better for it.

    ———————————-

    Only if you are on medication.

    “If you are that antagonistic to anything Irish”, note I didn’t say anything about nationalism there, what I said is Irish. Are the two the same in Davids and your head? Surely you just proved my point. The Irish language is Irish is it not? Not the sole preserve of nationlists.

    Alliance is definitely not ethno-nationalist. It is seen and identified by many [rightly in my view] as basically a small-u Unionist party. Rather than being “neutral” on the Union they are actually neutral on expressing the fact that it is pro-Union. Not having the guts to express what it really has as one of its core values.

    I think the Basil and John party will demonstrate where Alliance USED to get their votes from.

  • Granni Trixie

    FDM
    You misrepresent DF (and I have listened to him often)
    alliance and its leader wholeheartedly accept the findings of the Saville Enquiry. As
    Bloody Sunday was the catalyst which spurred me to join Alliance, I am sensitive to such matters.

    Football cliches:gottcha. It is very revealing that you say,
    ‘Working for the status quo’ = unionism as APNI does not work FOR the status quo. Accepting that it remains within the UK as long as that is what people want is not the same thing. Why can you not accept that A Broad church party exists where certain values bring people together not labels such as unionist or nationalist. I personally cannot identify with either but do with
    British-Irish or Northern Irish.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    footballcliches, the constitutional question tops the priorities of the DUP, SF, SDLP and UUP. APNI therefore could provide a home for smaller ‘u’ unionists, smaller ‘n’ nationalists as well as all those others who are indifferent to the question.

    There’s no APNI representation or presence in Moyle DC that I’m aware of and when I sought assistance from some APNI MLAs for victims of poor governance or possible misgovernance it proved to be a waste of time. On a slightly positive note, the encounters were civilised.

  • FDM

    @Granni Trixie

    You misrepresent DF (and I have listened to him often)
    alliance and its leader wholeheartedly accept the findings of the Saville Enquiry

    —————————-

    Rather than misrepresent him then, lets see what the man wrote himself without embellishment .

    Mr. Ford called the inquiry “pointless”.

    He then went on radio to stick both feet in his mouth by saying…

    “I personally don’t think that I am the only individual in Northern Ireland who feels the spending of £200m on enriching lawyers rather than dealing in a different way with the needs of the victims is a fairly ineffective way of dealing with the problem.”

    Saville was important because it exposed the British Army and the British government for what they are/were.

    Murderous, lying rats.

    They also exposed for the world to see what a mockery the British police, justice and judicial system was and is.

    Ford is another of those who don’t want the inconvenient past picked at because it won’t win him votes in the PUL community which is where Alliance gets its votes from.

    Fortunately he can’t help himself sometimes and we can see where he really stands.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Only if you are on medication.”

    FDM, why do you feel the need to link illness to opinions you disagree with?

  • FDM

    @Nevin

    “Only if you are on medication.”

    FDM, why do you feel the need to link illness to opinions you disagree with?

    ———————————–

    He wasn’t offering an opinion though was he. He made a statement that I had equated the Irish language with nationalism, which I clearly had not done. He actually proved my point by making this slip.

    Rather than call someone stupid or condemning them for refusing to accept the FACTS of what I had written I would prefer to let them off the hook with a transient illness which will pass and restore them to a state of sentient equilibrium.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “They also exposed for the world to see what a mockery the British police, justice and judicial system was and is.”

    FDM, would the world notice – or care – without taking into consideration the actions of their own governments? I’ve drawn attention to two claims by Sir Patrick Mayhew which didn’t match the evidence I assembled but not even a single Slugger blogger got overly excited.

    I dare say ‘murderous lying rats’ have been elected at the ballot box and have had the cheek to demand that victims and others respect their mandate.

  • http://footballcliches.wordpress.com/ footballcliches

    Hi Granni,

    Thanks for the reply.

    ‘It is very revealing that you say,
    ‘Working for the status quo’ = unionism as APNI does not work FOR the status quo. Accepting that it remains within the UK as long as that is what people want is not the same thing.’

    Are you working for the North to be in a UI? If not then it would appear to many that you are working for it to remain in the Union, otherwise known as the status quo. Or, if I may refine ever so slightly, by omission on the part of APNI in not working for a UI, it in effect means that the status quo (the Union with England, Scotland and Wales) remains. Would that be a better description?

    ‘Why can you not accept that A Broad church party exists where certain values bring people together not labels such as unionist or nationalist. I personally cannot identify with either but do with
    British-Irish or Northern Irish.’

    Actually, that’s quite revealing of you now Granni and what you probably think that I am thinking or am I reading far too much into it? I do not try and conflate or confuse discussions concerning a person’s identity with the constitutional position of the North. You will note I never once discussed how one identifies oneself and if you wish to call yourself by whatever tag, have at it, no skin off my nose.

    Further, whilst I have enjoyed opening a can of worms here, and taking this thread off on a massive tangent (apologies Alan btw), I note that I haven’t even gotten into the cultural war that is identity and national aspirations, and for the sake of all, I won’t as it is unrelated to my original point. My point in this matter is solely in relation to the APNI appearing to me and many others to be small ‘u’ unionist and when Alan noted that he ‘didn’t spot any very recent SDLP defectors, whereas [he] couldn’t help but trip over converts from the broad church of Ulster Unionism’ this only helped confirm an association that I and many others make.

    Even you Granni noted an ex-DUP supporter in APNI that you have met. Am I and many others to believe that people such as this have had some kind of Road to Damascus conversion to being agnostic on the Union all of a sudden?

  • FDM

    @Nevin

    The difference is matey all the murderers on Bloody Sunday were allowed to get away with it.

    Despite all the evidence not one of them has seen a second of jail time.

    If you had that level of evidence on Gerry or Martin or whomever do you think that they would have evaded a session in dock followed by a session in Maghaberry? Backside.

    The DUPers don’t seem to have a problem with terrorists in government anymore . Here is a picture of Robo glad-handing one of them

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2010/12/07/ex-uvf-prisoner-joins-dup/

    Whats that world that begins with the letter ‘H’ that springs to mind?

    Come on you all know what it is!

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “He actually proved my point by making this slip.”

    FDM, you could have made your point without resorting to gratuitously offensive language.

  • http://footballcliches.wordpress.com/ footballcliches

    Hi Nevin,

    ‘the constitutional question tops the priorities of the DUP, SF, SDLP and UUP. APNI therefore could provide a home for smaller ‘u’ unionists, smaller ‘n’ nationalists as well as all those others who are indifferent to the question.’

    Agreed, but I hope you see the point I’m trying to make. Whilst it is definitely a receptacle for all of those voters in varying degrees and for various reasons I venture that by act or omission, as it is a Northern party not working to a UI it is in many ways for the constitutional status quo which is a unionist positon. Again, that’s perfectly fine with me, it’s a legitimate aspiration that I have come to recognise after my earlier years.

    ‘There’s no APNI representation or presence in Moyle DC that I’m aware of and when I sought assistance from some APNI MLAs for victims of poor governance or possible misgovernance it proved to be a waste of time. On a slightly positive note, the encounters were civilised.’

    If memory serves me right, a family member of mine’s father used to do some speech writing for an APNI member or pol in that area many moons ago. She has fond memories of who it is and I will need to fish out who exactly it was rather than these rather vague assertions.

    Also, I too have found them to be (in the main) quite civilised and civil folks, though my bringing up this question or point always seems to strike a nerve with them and I would appear to stand a better chance of getting an answer from Grizzly himself on ‘you know what’ than from APNI on this one.

    As for poor or misgovernance, it is something I personally detest; once a company secretary, always a company secretary.

    btw Nevin, where in Moyle is it you’re located, Cushendun per chance?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Whats that world that begins with the letter ‘H’ that springs to mind?”

    H-block? There has been immunity for state actors and informers as well as for ‘good’ loyalist and republican paramilitaries. Justice is not the hand-maiden of insurrection.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “it is a Northern party not working to a UI it is in many ways for the constitutional status quo which is a unionist positon”

    footballcliches, I would phrase it differently; I think APNI currently supports ‘whatever you’re having yourself’ – UK, now and in the past; UI when or if the change comes about. It’s been caught in the spotlight because of its ‘king-maker’ role in Belfast City Council.

    Curiously enough, the actions of the nationalist parties have often been detrimental to the UI project whereas APNI has been neutral.

    “btw Nevin, where in Moyle is it you’re located, Cushendun per chance?”

    I’m in the Causeway electoral area but I get calls for help from as far away as Cushendun :)

  • Granni Trixie

    FDM

    You again represent misrepresentation. DF (in an email leaked by the SDLP,have I got this right?) was offering advice in an email to a lib dem before a visit to NI. DF was NOT saying that Saville itself was pointless. And he apologised in a visit to Derry to the families for any in sensitivities in the (private ) email.

    When DF talked later about the financial cost of Saville that is a separate matter. I actually thought myself that the legal profession were paid too much for an enquiry which made the mistake of not having a time limit. result information overdose. Think about it. For those of us who never doubted the wrong Of Bloody Sunday and the blackening of the names of the dead,Saville was unnecessary. The justification was the families wanted a public expression and presumably as evidence for the benefit of doubters .

  • http://footballcliches.wordpress.com/ footballcliches

    ‘I would phrase it differently; I think APNI currently supports ‘whatever you’re having yourself’ – UK, now and in the past; UI when or if the change comes about. It’s been caught in the spotlight because of its ‘king-maker’ role in Belfast City Council.’

    Oh, I imagine they would be most accommodating if a UI is voted for, however, at the moment I see their actions or more likely inaction on the issue as basically unionist lite.

    ‘I’m in the Causeway electoral area but I get calls for help from as far away as Cushendun’

    Beautiful spot. Moved Mammy FC to Cushendun a while ago and having read your posts and the blog on occassion I thought you may have been the infamous ‘Randal the Abstainer’, a man wholly dedicated to the village and preserving it for the better, or at least I hope :)

  • FDM

    @Granni Trixie

    You again represent misrepresentation.

    —————————————

    No acmy dear friend what I did was re-publish what the man has written and what the man has said.

    Like any politician I didn’t know and lets face it, most AP politicians I don’t know, I gave David Ford the opportunity to tell me who he is.

    He told me and never in life would this man get my vote. Pre-inquiry statements such as Fords could have been used to prevent the inquiry ever taking place. Saville was important. Saville had to happen regardless of the cost.

    Ford should been cute enough to realise this. However I think because the British government, army, police and judiciary were about to take a massive bashing his personal ego and bias couldn’t stand his own silence on the issue. So he blurted out his jaundiced opinion. Alliance party colours are yellow are they not?

  • FDM

    @Nevin

    “Whats that world that begins with the letter ‘H’ that springs to mind?”

    ——————————–

    The word WE were both thinking of was HYPOCRITE.

    Nevin I think you would do anything, say anything to stop a mirror being held up to the PUL community in the light of its actions during the conflict.

    I think about 20 states have a criminal offense on their books relating to Holocaust Denial. I think we should seriously think about an analogous system, perhaps of civil fines, for people in our society like Nevin who refuse to come to terms with the terrible role the state and the PUL supremacist community had in the conflict in this region.

    Perhaps when they have to hand out 60 quid every time they want to be a provide some WASP whitewash to the past then they will start to bite their lip.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Nevin I think you would do anything”

    FDM, no great amount of thinking on your part is required. You can read my thoughts here and here.

  • Granni Trixie

    FDM
    You prove my point again.

  • FDM

    @Nevin

    FDM, no great amount of thinking on your part is required.

    —————————–

    Och you know you have to make exceptions for we thick Irish types. We do without thinking, say without cognition, hear without listening and see without any form of perception.

    Jeesh I wish I had written such pearls like those presented in those online links.

    I guess I will have to content myself with my own published papers in peer reviewed international journals.

    Maybe in the future I should just wing it by blogging instead, skip the lengthy review process and all that and this nonsense about providing evidence for what you have proposed and placing it in the proper context of what has been published previously.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “my own published papers in peer reviewed international journals”

    FDM, I hope you refrained from gratuitously offensive language directed against ‘Irish types’ and folks afflicted by mental illness.

  • Reader

    FDM: I think we should seriously think about an analogous system, perhaps of civil fines, for people in our society like Nevin who refuse to come to terms with the terrible role the state and the PUL supremacist community had in the conflict in this region.
    Surely there needs to be an agreed narrative before you can even begin to punish people for diverging from it? And what happens if nationalists diverge from the official narrative?
    Let’s start here – can you quote something that Nevin has said that should be punishable by a fine?

  • FDM

    @Nevin

    FDM, I hope you refrained from gratuitously offensive language directed against ‘Irish types’ and folks afflicted by mental illness.

    ————————————————–

    Whats that Nevin, when you can’t win an argument you say??? I mean that really is scraping.

    “Our individuality could be expressed through our anthem “Danny Boy”‘

    Such a new idea, so fresh.

    @Reader

    “Let’s start here – can you quote something that Nevin has said that should be punishable by a fine?”

    How about a general prosecution for crimes against the keyboard?

  • Reader

    FDM: How about a general prosecution for crimes against the keyboard?
    Like a fixed penalty notice if Microsoft Word underlines ones stuff in green? Or would you need to be the judge and jury?

  • FDM

    @Reader

    Like a fixed penalty notice if Microsoft Word underlines ones stuff in green? Or would you need to be the judge and jury?

    ——————–

    The trivial stuff to one side, I would say Gregory Campbells comments on Channel 4 in the wake of the findings of the Saville Inquiry would reach a threshold for me for something to happen.

    I think you could ask a very simple question as the threshold question.

    Were people murdered in Derry by British soldiers on Bloody Sunday?

    I think a legislative move to make it a crime to say “No” to that question would be welcomed by most law abiding people in the UK and Ireland.

  • Comrade Stalin

    So let’s sum up the rather interesting combination of facts I have derived from this thread so far.

    - anyone who fails to campaign with sufficient zeal for a united Ireland is automatically a unionist.

    - Irish politicians who don’t campaign for a united Ireland are, for some unspecified reason, exceptions to the above rule because they are not campaigning for re-entry to the United Kingdom. (??)

    - It is unclear whether Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama or Kim Jong-un are unionists, but given their absence of campaigning for a united Ireland the conclusion seems clear.

    - “campaigning for a united Ireland” does not need to consist of anything other than having a strapline on your website and waving a flag. Oh and Prods aren’t allowed as they’re obviously unionists.

    - anyone who suggests that the Bloody Sunday inquiry was a vehicle by which large numbers of lawyers enriched themselves to reach an entirely foregone conclusion is guilty of heresy and is automatically, therefore, a unionist.

    - Paula Bradshaw’s presence on Alliance Party Executive means Alliance must be becoming unionist. Yet, Andrew Muir and Patrick Clarke’s presence (both of them ex-SDLP) on the same executive does not mean that Alliance are becoming nationalist.

    - The presence of Stephen Douglas (an Irish citizen who wrote a letter to a newspaper and described himself as a “republican”) on the Executive and as acting General Secretary in the party HQ in the recent past does not make Alliance nationalist either.

    - the Bloody Sunday victims are a political football.

    - despite Alliance having no policy on constitutional matters and despite Alliance supporters and representatives repeatedly stating that they are not unionists, they secretly must be for reasons which are so far unclear. After all, it is well known (among certain contributors to this thread at least) that being secret unionists and lying about it in public is a good way to win unionist votes. (scratches head)

    - Alliance must be unionists even though loyalists (goaded by unionist politicians) are burning down their offices and intimidating their elected representatives over the accusation that they are implementing a nationalist agenda.

    - unionist parties like Alliance routinely invite Irish government representatives such as Enda Kenny (2010) to speak at their party events.

    - anyone who vigorously denies the offensive and incorrect assertions about Alliance’s policies is a crazed, abusive lunatic.

    - “football cliches” is a political philosopher-king whose novel and far reaching discovery that Alliance are really unionists because they’re not nationalists means that he is a mature, carefully considered and well balanced contributor who is entitled to a fair response and to be treated as an intelligent debater.

    Thanks guys. I’ve learned a lot. Please keep going.

  • Roy Walsh

    CS, you’re right, large numbers of Lawyers enjoy chocolate!

  • DC

    People giving off on facebook tonight about Alliance lighting up the City Hall green for St Patrick’s day along with SF and SDLP – is this true?

    Alliance is constitutionally unionist but absolutely not culturally unionist in any way at all. A faceless sort of unionism, a unionism without any heart or soul or passion, perhaps it’s actually a kind of 21st century big house unionism.

  • DC

    although in fairness, there are people, active politicians in alliance that really don’t care one bit about the union. i would wager that’s on the basis that they are so over-qualified and intelligent that they themselves can fit into any labour market comfortably. So any switch of systems and detriment is offset as they are financially well off and can cushion any blow and are able to stay well off due to skills etc, whereas those lower down might have a reliance on the british welfare state more so. just surmising.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Whats that Nevin”

    FDM, you’ve dug yourself so far into that gratuitous hole that you can’t see what you’ve posted. Stop digging :)

  • DC

    Re St Paddy’s day – the union flag will be up too, it will be a green tinged union flag.

    Maybe Unionists will get BCH lit up Orange on the Twelfth, orange fest and all that jazz, no? :)

  • http://footballcliches.wordpress.com/ footballcliches

    Great insights there CS and a great pleasure ‘debating’ a few of the facts. I do look forward to you actually engaging in some form of a debate in the near future, leaving the strawmen arguments and insults at the door like the rest of us adults :)

    You never know, you might actually persuade us as to the merits of some of your arguments, as opposed to persuading us that you have some less than charming attributes and don’t like scrutiny of your beliefs. I’m off to work now, ta-ra

  • Reader

    FDM: Were people murdered in Derry by British soldiers on Bloody Sunday? I think a legislative move to make it a crime to say “No” to that question would be welcomed by most law abiding people in the UK and Ireland.
    Great – make it illegal to disagree with the outcome of an inquiry on an event. And of course, that way we never need to have a second inquiry, because the results of the first are sacrosanct.

  • FDM

    @Reader

    Great – make it illegal to disagree with the outcome of an inquiry on an event. And of course, that way we never need to have a second inquiry, because the results of the first are sacrosanct.

    ——————————

    There was a holocaust. Genocide happened.

    British soldiers murdered what they would call British citizens on what they would call British streets in Derry on Bloody Sunday.

    1 radian is 180 degrees divided by PI.

    Some things are just facts. Can you accept facts today or is PUL cognitive dissonance still corrupting your normal thought processes?

    @Nevin

    “Oh Danny Boy, the bland, the bland are calling…”

  • FDM

    @DC

    Alliance is constitutionally unionist but absolutely not culturally unionist in any way at all. A faceless sort of unionism, a unionism without any heart or soul or passion, perhaps it’s actually a kind of 21st century big house unionism.

    _________________________

    The good Lord bless you DC for proving a point I have been making on here for months now.

    What you, the DUP, the UUP, the TUV, the PUP and the rest of the loyalists and the majority of the PUL community are in fact PROTESTANT NATIONALISTS. Not Unionists at all. It is a misnomer.

    “not culturally unionist”. WHAT THE BLEEP does that mean? The Union refers to a constitutional link. Culturally Wales, Scotland, Lower England are very, very different to the residents of West and East Belfast. I know because I have lived in Wales, Lower England etc…

    Those cultural trappings you are banging on about are actually that lovely blend of WASP supremacist “protestant [but in many cases sans reformation]” ideals that would be an anathema to your average Welsh, Lower/Upper England and many parts of Scotland residents.

    Alliance are pro-union, i.e. pro the constitutional link. They just dropped all the WASP supremacist protestant nationalist guff which so entertains you and the rest knuckle-dragging us back to 1973.

    You have given the game away! Again bless your cotton socks. Bless you.

  • Reader

    FDM: There was a holocaust. Genocide happened. British soldiers murdered what they would call British citizens on what they would call British streets in Derry on Bloody Sunday. 1 radian is 180 degrees divided by PI.
    Agreed; agreed; agreed and agreed.
    Now – how about this one. “It is morally wrong to make it illegal to disagree with a commonly held belief.”

  • FDM

    @Reader

    Now – how about this one. “It is morally wrong to make it illegal to disagree with a commonly held belief.”

    ————————–

    You are wriggling. But it won’t do.

    A fact is different from a commonly held belief.

    It used to be a commonly held belief that the world was flat.

    It isn’t because we have non-negotiable truths from several objective viewpoints that prove our planet is spherical [if not a perfect sphere] in shape.

    I don’t think it reasonable however for society to penalise an individual for believing the world is flat, since their failure to recognise truth in this instance is not offensive. Annoying but not offensive. You see an instance where it would be morally wrong to make this “illegal”.

    It is clearly offensive for people to deny the holocaust, or Bloody Sunday, since the overt attempt to repudiate the uncontestable and verifiable objective truth of what occurred is completely unacceptable.

    That would represent an instance that would and is in at least 20 countries [in the case of the holocaust] that it is the moral stance that this is indeed a crime against society. Ultimately for fear of repetition, we enforce that we collectively learn from the mistakes of the past.

  • Reader

    FDM: “It is clearly offensive for people to…” & “Ultimately for fear of repetition, we enforce that we collectively learn from the mistakes of the past.
    Actually, I disagree with both of your arguments for repression.
    On the first, I don’t think that either of us has the right to demand that no one say anything that might offend us.
    On the second, using the holocaust as an example, I have seen holocaust deniers gutted in debate over and over again in 20 years of online dispute. It’s not an attractive scene, but it is better than the alternatives – repression, and letting the idea quietly fester in families and small communities. Far better to drag these ideas into the light than to lock them up in the dark.

  • FDM

    @Reader

    I am all for civil liberties. If you recall most of the people murdered on Bloody Sunday were there because they wanted civil rights denied to them by an unjust state. So the state arranged for the death and injury of a significant number of them.

    However no-one has the “right” to be grossly offensive.

  • Reader

    FDM: If you recall most of the people murdered on Bloody Sunday were there because they wanted civil rights denied to them by an unjust state.
    Not really. I was only a youngster at the time but I’m pretty sure that most civil rights issues were already addressed and it was specifically an anti-internment march.
    Oops – what was the penalty for disagreeing with you? Sixty quid?

  • Reader

    Oh yes, and your assertion that it was deliberate act of the state goes well beyond the evidence, I find it offensive and therefore I want £60.

  • FDM

    @Reader

    I thought the right to liberty and freedom was a right?

    Or do we not get those as subjects to the crown?

    I thought due process under law was a right?

    Or do we not get that right as subjects?

    The two rights above are considered to be civil rights. What are descending into AGAIN is a bit of Bloody Sunday denying. They were anti-internment activists, i.e. IRA sympathisers and therefore deserved to die by firing squad.

    Thank god I am not you.

  • tacapall

    http://www.u.tv/News/DUP-MP-in-Kia-Provo-name-change-bid/6cc8cbb9-32e0-4c10-837d-46a3dab066ab

    A DUP MP has raised concerns in the House of Commons over car-maker Kia naming a concept super-mini the ‘Provo’ – tabling a motion calling for the name to be changed.

    “There can be little doubt about the offensiveness of the name, not least to those who suffered directly at the hands of Provisional IRA sectarian murderers. Gregory Campbell, DUP”

    Gregory had nothing to say about the recent upsurge in flying parachute regiment flags by loyalist in Derry it seems only unionists can be offended.

  • Reader

    FDM: They were anti-internment activists, i.e. IRA sympathisers and therefore deserved to die by firing squad. Thank god I am not you.
    I have already agreed that protestors were murdered on Bloody Sunday, so it’s far too late to be putting words in my mouth now.
    Internment isn’t a breach of Civil rights; it may be a breach of Political or Legal rights, depending on the legal framework or implementation. The distinction is here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_and_political_rights

  • tacapall

    I would argue that internment is a breach of a citizens civil rights if it was carried out by individuals in an ad hoc manner to silence your political opponents, people you dont like or distrust or citizens innocent of the above. The many cases of torture that accompanied the round up and target group, makes the British version more of a cull and an attempt by them to bear their teeth and intimidate an already oppressed community.

  • FDM

    @Reader

    French national motto “LIBERTE, egalite, fraternite” To be seen on the exterior and interior of every Mairie in France.

    US Declaration of Independence “Life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of Happiness”.

    Proclamation of the Irish Republic, “The Republic guarantees religious and civil LIBERTY…”

    As you can see in proper forms of government, i.e. REPUBLICS, liberty (freedom) is always in the headlines for the rights of a citizen.

    It really is a core reason why we need to cut loose from that constitutionless, archaic and decaying mess that is the UK. No rights which are inalienable, including the right to life of which so many were arbitrarily taken under government orders on the streets of Derry on Bloody Sunday on that horrific day in 1972.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    tacapall @ 4:04 pm:

    Yes, there’s been a thread on politics.ie about the Kia Provo.

    I have to say it was a lot more fun (especially trying — and succeeding! — in beating the censoring soft-ware) than this benighted shouting-match.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FDM:

    Alliance are pro-union, i.e. pro the constitutional link. They just dropped all the WASP supremacist protestant nationalist guff which so entertains you and the rest knuckle-dragging us back to 1973.

    Alliance is not pro-union. Some of its members are.

    Not all dogs are puppies.

  • Comrade Stalin

    As you can see in proper forms of government, i.e. REPUBLICS, liberty (freedom) is always in the headlines for the rights of a citizen.

    If that is the case, how could the wide scale abuse, including serious sexual abuse, of people under Church institutions such as the Magdalene laundries, the Christian Brothers etc etc possibly have happened ?

    It really is a core reason why we need to cut loose from that constitutionless, archaic and decaying mess that is the UK

    I can’t quite figure out whether you are a hypocrite or are just very poorly informed.

    Firstly, the UK has a constitution. If you were to pull it apart and write it all down in one place, you’ll have a document that looks almost like the Bunreacht. Take away the monarchy and replace with the elected President and it’s pretty much the same setup.

    (Don’t get me wrong, the monarchy is a bloody stupid idea and the House of Lords is certainly an anachronism. But British democracy was the model for that which currently exists in Ireland. )

    Secondly, the Irish constitution does not prohibit wide scale abuses. Internment was introduced in Ireland by Eamon De Valera and he used it to round up the remnants of the IRA in the 1950s. That was all constitutional, and still is. The Offenses Against the State Act is far more hardline than any legislation that exists in the UK. A person can be convicted of membership of an illegal organization on the word of a senior police officer.

    In addition a state of emergency existed between 1972 and 1994. This is supposed to be a measure which applies temporarily. Under the Irish consitution, while a state of emergency exists no law can be struck down as unconstitutional if it exists for the purposes of preserving the state or protecting public safety. This provision is practically a blueprint for someone wanting to set up a dictatorship.

    Perhaps, as a nationalist, you might want to spend some time reading up on the history and a few political facts about the country you’re trying to persuade everyone that we should be a part of.

  • FDM

    @Comrade Stalin

    Alliance is not pro-union. Some of its members are.

    —————————-

    Well at least we don’t have to ask where the leader leans.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Well at least we don’t have to ask where the leader leans.

    I can’t recall the leader ever commenting on his position on the union.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Well at least we don’t have to ask where the leader leans.

    And he’s a Prod as well. Which is probably what you’re talking about here. After all, if you can ascribe secret motivations to people, I can talk about what your secret underlying motivations are, right ?

  • FDM

    @Comrade Stalin

    I can’t recall the leader ever commenting on his position on the union.

    ————————-

    To be fair I think the wider perception is that he doesn’t need to. His other musings on other issues rather place him on one side of our constitutional divide.

    If this perception is in error then again you can lay the blame at Davids door since it is he who has helped forge his public image.

    In either case the perception is always the winner.

  • FDM

    @Comrade Stalin

    And he’s a Prod as well.

    ——————————

    Great. Can he juggle and would he be available for my sons Bar Mitzvah?

  • Comrade Stalin

    To be fair I think the wider perception is that he doesn’t need to. His other musings on other issues rather place him on one side of our constitutional divide.

    What, you mean like being a Prod ?

    If this perception is in error then again you can lay the blame at Davids door since it is he who has helped forge his public image.

    That would be his public image among nationalists who refer to him in hushed tones as “one of them” ?

  • FDM

    @Comrade Stalin

    What, you mean like being a Prod ?

    ————————————–

    Everytime you write Prod its really shocking. It was even worse when I wiki’d him and he turned out to be English as well.

    I mean talk about getting dealt a bad deck.

    Then I sat back and said to myself “hang on here a minute. Wasn’t the best man at my wedding a Prod and English?”

    Then I said to myself “maybe my objections to two feet in the mouth, Tom King style, David Ford are probably based on the fact that the guy keeps saying/writing things in public that I don’t agree with.”

    Maybe rather than having things said about him in hushed tones he should actually like have a public POLICY stance on an issue? Or is that going too far for the Alliance Party to actually have some policies that you can’t make like wallpaper about? Ouch.

    But you are right I am probably just bigoted against Prods and Englishmen.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FDM, did you just trot out the “some of my best friends are prods” defence ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I hope a good nationalist such as yourself vetted your best friend for his opinion on the cost of Bloody Sunday.

  • FDM

    @Comrade Stalin

    “some of my best friends are prods” defence ?

    ———————————-

    I think I just gave a little insight into my personal life experiences, hopefully you don’t feel shocked by that. I know that Alliance supporters have this holier than thou attitude about being the only evolved political sensibilities in this region. The sanctimonious catchphrases of APNI catch the back of the throat like incense.

    I personally think in retrospect the 200million spent on the Saville Inquiry was not money well spent. Regrettably every penny of it was entrirely necessary. Why? Because it is a concrete example, which cannot be denied, of the British state at war with a section of its own citizenship. It illustrates to all in the world the kind of barbarity that happens when the state loses its sense of what is right and unleashes its dogs of war on its own populace. Fascism in action.

    “The cost of Bloody Sunday”.

    Now there is a pregnant question.

    The cost in lives that day and as a consequence in the following years?
    The cost in people maimed that day and as a consequence in the ensuing conflict?
    The cost to the economy of 30 years of war following?
    The cost of peace following 30 years of war?
    The cost to the people of GB?
    The cost to the people of Ireland?

    What your heroic leader failed to do was to look holistically at all of the above. It really isn’t something you can be cheap enough to hang a monetary expense upon. David Ford ‘outed’ himself as a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    But sure like you said really insightfully in so many words on the other thread, one side is as bad as the other.

    How trite.

  • Granni Trixie

    Look,the country does not have finite resources. Bloody Sunday enquiry did not have to cost what it did – with hindsight isn’t that obvious? And without wanting to get into whataboutery, it leaves less for investigating other equally deserving cases. Especially when for ,many of us we didn’t need an enquiry to tell us a terrible wrong was done on Bloody Sunday, compounded by subsequent unjust government statements.

    In contrast, note
    the example of how the current enquiry into historical clerical sexual abuse is going about its business – it has limited resources and has
    to report back within a couple of years ….Wereas Saville had no such restriction in place, which I thnk was a mistake. Think of it – all that money went to legal people ….NOT towards helping the families.

  • FDM

    @Granni Trixie

    Foul deeds will rise,
    Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.

    Hamlet, (Act I, scene II)

    Thats what Saville was really about. Hamlet suspects Claudius of murdering his father. He has the will but it is his efforts that help him to uncover the truth of it.

    Saville cost 200million to lift the veil.

    Up until Saville the UK was probably seen, in some corners at least, as a cradle for justice, fair play and democracy.

    Saville took a chainsaw to the bough and the cradle most definitely fell.

    People saw the British state for what it really is. Murderous, lying, xenophobic and ultimately corrupt to its core.

    Corrupt to its core?

    Bloody Sunday took place on 30th January 1972

    Colonel Derek Wilford, British Army officer commanding the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment Derry, was decorated personally by the Queen in the New Years honours list for Jan 1 1973 he was appointed OBE.

    How sick is that.

  • Granni Trixie

    FDM
    As indicated many times already, I am in complete agreement that foul deeds were done against the victims of Bloody Sunday and their families. Neither do I need you to explain Hamlet to me (my favourite Shakespere play despite teachmg it over 20 years).

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “With the constitutional question effectively settled for now by the Good Friday Agreement” .. David’s speech

    Unbelievable! He still doesn’t get it: a shared future here requires shared sovereignty for its foundation; you’d think he might have learned that from his time in Corrymeela. Bashing unionists and nationalists is most unlikely to significantly enlarge the pool of potential APNI votes.

  • Granni Trixie

    No Nevin, you appear not to get the difference it would make if insteqd of viewing issues amd problems through the prism of what suits unionism/nationalism, one adopted a different perspective such as that advocated by DF.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Granni, David’s different perspective is currently set within the context of UK sovereignty – flying of the UK flag on designated days – bashing unionists a little bit more than nationalists. My everyone approach, in so far as that is possible, is shared sovereignty with strong bonds to other parts of these islands as well as to the wider world. David and the APNI are all over the place; it’s unfortunate but hardly surprising that they’ve found themselves in no-man’s land.