Robinson’s land ‘remarks’ part of a general decline in tone and substance in Northern Irish politics

If Peter Robinson thought he was snuffing out incessant criticism from that turbulent preacher from the unionist back benches, Jim Allister, he was surely misguided. Not least in his follow up remarks in a point of order to the effect that:

…it was “particularly sad that a member of the family wanted to buy the land and was turned down because the family decided to sell it to a republican”.

Two major aspects come immediately to mind:

  • One, his partners in government wasted no time in helpfully translating what ‘Republican’ means in this context. Sinn Féin MLA for Fermanagh-South Tyrone Seán Lynch who said the “tone of Peter Robinson’s remarks are essentially a signal that it is not okay to sell land to Catholics.” Not sure what tone he’s referring to, but anyone with reasonably deep connections to the Ulster countryside knows that ‘selling to the other side’ has been one of the deepest and darkest of the communal sins.
  • Two, whilst it is not clear who Mr Robinson’s source for the story was/is,  Mr Allister has let it be known that his wife’s brother “had made a will some years ago with then practising local solicitor, Arlene Foster.” Ouch!

It’s not the first time Mr Robinson and Mr Allister have squared off over the floor of the Assembly. In neither case has the First Minister come out of it ahead. In fact, in this case he’s getting public criticism for a remark that one person who heard it described as a journey ‘straight to the gutter’.

Mr Allister is exploiting a void that exists between the two parties at OFMdFM, who in the absence of any significant compromises over real world politics are increasingly resiling to a language their own bases understand. Ironically, one corollary of the exchange is that it paints Allister and his family as more liberal than the First Minister himself, at least when it comes to selling land to the other side.

It may be that Mr Robinson’s patience has been exhausted by the widespread public tolerance of Sinn Fein’s celebration of its own less than glorious contribution to community relations; seen by many as an insidious attempt at ethnic cleansing of Protestants from the rural west.

Whether calculated or not, with each misstep these two parties, between them, are ‘leading’ Northern Ireland back to a very nasty place indeed. The underlying tragedy is the apparent lack of competitive alternatives for the broad sweep of the NI population to choose from.

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  • John Ó Néill

    Whatever axis you want to use to measure a decline to Robinsons comments, it’s not inconsistent at all. If you take the general gallop since late last year, of the original DUP/UUP flag leaflet, the ambivalence about the protests and illegal parades, including repeated breaches of PC determinations, Paul Girvan on burning tricolours, Ruth Patterson on murder fantasies (and being tag teamed by colleagues who saw votes in being pictured with her at court), the implicit homophobia of the Health Ministers various policy issues etc, Robinsons comments fit right in.
    If want you go another direction, the Ulster Land and Property Company was only one of various entities setup to stop land being acquired by nationalists, exactly Robinsons was commenting on. ULPC used the Grand Lodge of Ireland as its postal address.

    So this is actually consistent rather than illustrating a decline.

  • Mick Fealty

    I think it marks a general decline in civility (the substance of which has been long term and consistent).

    But the events of the last year denote a rapid retreat from a public position espoused by the FM at the November 2011 DUP annual conference.

    Both the DUP and SF are trying to break with some appalling behaviours of the past.

    But right now, it seems to me that BOTH are back the tribal trough, as evidenced by this remark, and Gerry K’s speech (linked above) at Castlederg.

    There is none of the generosity required by the so-called indigenous deal they supposedly co-designed in any of their dealings with one another, or in the general running of Stormont.

    They used to be happy with colluding to undermine the junior parties and now they are turning on one another.

  • ayeYerMa

    Interesting, though not unsurprising, how what what was Robinson actually arguing in favour of pragmatism towards Republicans and pointing out that Allister does the same thing, is being spun to say the complete opposite.

    In terms of civility it doesn’t seem any different to an average day at Westminster. Yes, it’s pathetic stuff, but the added distortion and spin says more to me about the nature of opportunistic political opponents than Robinson.

  • brian2013

    Robinson’s default response to criticism is to deny, deflect and retaliate. He knows his U-turn on the Maze makes him appear weak and he doesn’t like it, but to respond in the way that he did shows that his thinking remains in the 1970s. Whatever he might say about seeking to build support among moderate/ soft unionist catholics, no right-thinking person of that background should want to have anything to do with the sort of knuckle-dragging thinking and leadership from behind the baying mob he and his party have exhibited recently.
    On a separate not, it’s not correct to equate the recent Sinn Fein behaviour, ill-advised as it is, and the DUP’s approach. The difference is that Sinn Fein is trying to find some way of acknowledging the past while moving on, whereas the DUP is actively fostering a mentality of persecution, paranoia and ‘culture war’ among the grass roots and indirectly facilitating the kind of senseless mob violence witnessed in Belfast in recent months.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’ve another view, about all of this, and that is what we are seeing the devil making work for idle hands. The institutions at Stormont are in fact deeply under stressed with work. And I don’t mean that in a Daily Mail sort of way.

    Denied any form of interdepartmental co-operation at Executive level, Ministers are reduced to low, visionless projects that have to be stand alone.

    don’t get the sense there are stand up rows over policy in Stormont Castle, just long silences whilst Martin waits for Gerry and the boys to tell him that he cannot do whatever it was Peter last asked him to do.

    The drift from real world governance is serialised in these trivial if nasty episodes, which only reinforces (and helps orchestrate) the impression that they simply cannot work together because of the past.

    It kinda suits to a degree, because it keeps the middle classes from taking a deeper interest in what they are (or rather, are not) up to and it enables both to blame each other rather than take any responsibility for the fact they are and have been for some time, Northern Ireland’s new political establishment.

    As Micheal Martin once so memorably put it.

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    It’s interesting and a bit sad that you use Robinson’s vile and ultimately destructive remarks as a sort of Trojan horse to kick the Shinners.

    If Castlederg (which I found offensive and rather desperate) is “seen by many as an insidious attempt at ethnic cleansing of Protestants from the rural west”, as you allege, then does the same apply in terms of ethnic cleansing of Catholics when we have frequent loyalist commemorations of dead terrorists in places like north Belfast, Coleraine etc?

    Or do you still believe there exist only Protestant “reservations” in parts of north Belfast?

  • Cric

    Is Gerry Kelly’s Castlederg speech really a reversion towards the 40 year mean – or has it simply gained publicity because Unionism has become particularly sensitive over the last year?

    I’m sure you’ve all read it (and maybe wrote about it) but I found this BBC’s analysis quite interesting – pointing out that Sinn Fein have been extremely quick to denounce dissident violence, while the DUP have been practically silent over that of the fleggers.

    Although this blog loves to sit on a fence, I don’t think even most ardent neutral could consider the ‘decline in tone and substance’ as an each-of-two trend. From my perch it seems more about Unionist electioneering/in-fighting – a return to demagoguery to placate their increasingly petulant working class.

  • Mick Fealty

    TCG…

    For clarity’s sake, an honest question: which of these Loyalist demonstrations you mention were initiated and organised by the DUP?

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    “… just long silences whilst Martin waits for Gerry and the boys to tell him that he cannot do whatever it was Peter last asked him to do.”

    You’ve spun that line a few times now. Do you have any evidence to back it up? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but it’s a big allegation to make – that McGuinness is de facto completely subordinate to Adams – and I haven’t seen you substantiate it.

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    “For clarity’s sake, an honest question: which of these Loyalist demonstrations you mention were initiated and organised by the DUP?”

    Absolutely none of them. Nice diversion, but ultimately you’re saying that loyalist commemorations of dead paramilitaries are not attempts at ethnic cleansing, but Provo commemorations are?

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    Mick – why don’t you answer the question:

    “If Castlederg…is “seen by many as an insidious attempt at ethnic cleansing of Protestants from the rural west”, as you allege, then does the same apply in terms of ethnic cleansing of Catholics when we have frequent loyalist commemorations of dead terrorists in places like north Belfast, Coleraine etc?”

    A simply yes or no will suffice…

  • Neil

    For clarity’s sake, an honest question: which of these Loyalist demonstrations you mention were initiated and organised by the DUP?

    Castlederg was neither organised nor initiated by SF. Supported and attended by SF. Like the the DUP with the Loyalists, only legal and just once.

    whilst Martin waits for Gerry and the boys to tell him that he cannot do whatever it was Peter last asked him to do.

    Yeah it’s Marty holding things up and going back on agreements. Sure.

  • David Crookes

    Never mind the incivility. PR needs to sack his pertinent intelligence-gatherer for spectacular incompetence. Or is he relying on the ability of mud to stick?

    We have to face the fact that in the inurbane world of NI politics, incivility is not a vote-loser.

    Most serious is the problem of understress that Mick identifies. Millions of trees could have been planted all over NI during the years that followed the GFA. What we have in reality is exemplified by the plastic palm-trees outside the Icebowl in Dundonald: useless, barbarous, vulgar, expensive, and embarrassing.

    What’s so great about the survival of an assembly whose visionless and understressed members are content to draw their wages and expenses?

  • Mick Fealty
  • Neil

    OK I stand corrected. I had read that it was organised by the Tyrone Volunteers Committee.

  • BifterGreenthumb

    brian2013 “Whatever he might say about seeking to build support among moderate/ soft unionist catholics, no right-thinking person of that background should want to have anything to do with the sort of knuckle-dragging thinking and leadership from behind the baying mob he and his party have exhibited recently.”

    No right thinking person from any background should want to have anything to do with the sort of knuckle-dragging thinking and leadership from behind the baying mob he and his party have exhibited recently.

  • streetlegal

    It’s a bit rich for someone who lost his Westminster seat because of a rather dodgy land deal of his own to point the finger at another MLA. This is a good example of how much Peter ‘The Fiver Flasher’ Robinson has lost the plot…

  • 241934 john brennan

    To keep the DUP and SF children (voters) happy, the Stormont Punch and Judy show must continue until Haass reports – end of December, or early January? But that is then too near the May 2014 European and Council elections, so the show must go on until after that.
    Moreover, in the interests of balance, Haass can only do a trade off between flags and parades etc., with a postponement of any Border Poll for at least 10 years (2024) – then to be agreed, (like it or lump it) by the United Nations. Otherwise the Punch and Judy show must continue ad infinitum, or until hell freezes over, or until NI21 and SDLP can form a majority – whichever come first.

  • My guess is that Robinson was the recipient of a tip–anonymous or otherwise–about the land deal and that he couldn’t resist using it, before having fully vetted it. It shows that Robinson still remains the political infighter and that he feels Allister’s charges of a sell out on the Maze Prison deal.

    During the British mandate in Palestine there were Arab notables who would denounce Zionism and land sales to the Jews publicly while selling land to them in private. I think that this visceral rejection of economic dealing with the enemy, especially in regard to the land, is quite common in ethnic conflicts. If Robinson’s information is correct, he might be right about Allister being a hypocrite–but he has to be able to produce the evidence.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    From the article on our FM on Wikipedia:

    “He is author of a number of popular books and pamphlets on local politics and history including: The Union Under Fire (1995); Sinn Fein – A Case for Proscription (1993); Hands off the UDR (1990); Their Cry was no Surrender (1986); Ulster in Peril (1984); Carson – Man of Action (1984); It’s Londonderry (1984); A War to be Won (1983); Self-Inflicted (1981); Ulster the Facts (1981); Savagery and Suffering (1975); Capital Punishment for Capital Crime (1974); Give Me Liberty (no date); Ulster—the Prey (no date).”

    I wonder what any American researcher might have thought when he was perusing the First Minister’s write up for background just before the G8 hosting in June last.

    But by far the more interesting point than “Peter in Print against then’uns” is that he is ignoring all the rules that tell us not to do anything that might remind people of our own vulnerabilities and hi-lighting a property issue that must remind us all that his own questionable dealings in Property have not yet been properly investigated. Again Wikipedia on Peter:

    “While the police investigation into the conduct of the Peter and Iris Robinson concluded in a recommendation not to prosecute in 2011, the Standards and Privileges enquiry has still not been completed three years after it was ordered by the Assembly, and remains ongoing.”

    And yes, David Crookes, millions of trees COULD have been planted, but one might just be forgiven for thinking that those DUP fellows hate anything natural that might grow and flourish and will not offer them personally a direct financial profit. Gospel of Prosperity and all that…….

  • Mick Fealty

    Very droll Seaan,

    Let’s try a little bit of cold logic too, in amongst the neatly worked satirical quips?

  • JH

    Part of me wants to think that ‘Ulster’ in ‘Ulster the Facts’ is a verb.

    Ulster (v.)
    Deliberately misdirect, misappropriate. To Ulster the Facts.

  • 241934 john brennan

    “… just long silences whilst Martin waits for Gerry and the boys to tell him that he cannot do whatever it was Peter last asked him to do.”
    My guess is that G. Adams now has little clout in the North. Martin is his own man – but isn’t it clear that when a hard-line/belligerent statement is needed, the words are put into G. Kelly’s mouth? – leaving Martin to play the statesman role.

  • son of sam

    According to the Irish News.the Brookeborough land buyer has no political ties but has a passion for the G A A.In many D U P eyes that is an equivalence to “Republicanism “.Changed times from when Martin and Peter watched a G A A match together!But I suppose with the 2014 elections coming up,both the D U P and Sinn Fein need to convince the troops that they haven’t strayed from “core values”.

  • sherdy

    Is it stupidity or arrogance, or both?
    Robbo, with his complex history with builder/developer Freddie Frazer, has the brass neck to attack Allister over a land deal (and he apparently gets his facts wrong again.
    All we need now is Ian Og, in light of his relationship with Seymour Sweeney, (I know of him) to weigh in behind his leader.
    Oh, I just remembered, he would love to see his boss stew in his own juice!

  • This is just so wrong for the DUP on a number of levels but we are talking principally about morality.

    Allister’s brother in law died from cancer; should anything at all regarding that sad event be introduced into the public arena?

    How did that information enter the public arena?
    Again, a moral question that DUP need to answer.

    Selling to a “republican”? Again, what on earth does that mean? *Code* for selling to a Catholic? And?

    There are issues where Robinson could legitimately attack Allister but he has been extremely badly advised to use this one?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Sorry Mick, like the scorpion, I just can’t help myself. It stops me from punching cushions for a few minutes.

    But seriously for a change, the fact that Peter’s actual behaviour in office that was momentarily glimpsed during the revelations a few years back, has consistantly been put on a shelf and never fully scrutinised by Standards and Privilidges (see Wikipedia and the BBC) is nothing short of scandalous. And with others such as Berlesconi stiff-necking it on larger stages I suppose I can just try and swallow the fact that Peter is just too important to the ongoing status-quo to be required to explain himself.

    And as you say above: “it enables both to blame each other rather than take any responsibility for the fact they are and have been for some time, Northern Ireland’s new political establishment.” Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  • Comrade Stalin

    tmitch57 – I think you have it exactly right. Robinson got rattled, and having recently overheard this bit of gossip, in a fit of pique saw fit to try and channel it into a broadside against Allister.

    I am not sure about the sectarian angle. I listened to Robinson saying this and I took his meaning to be “Jim criticizes us for doing business with republicans, when in fact he does it himself”. I do not think Robinson was speaking with the intention of criticizing the idea of doing business with republicans – which would obviously be very silly considering the fact that he shares power with them.

    I think the real issue here, and it’s a pretty major one, is that it was extremely poor judgment, never mind grossly insensitive and disrespectful, to use a person’s recent death as a political football in a debating chamber. Robinson is clearly rattled by Jim’s sniping and I think he shot from the hip.

  • JH

    For what it’s worth I, like CS, don’t think it was sectarian either. I guess it was meant to expose hypocrisy in Jim’s position.

    Nevertheless, I think it was a moronic thing to say. PR’s always complaining about how the media jump onto everything here, he should’ve known this wouldn’t go unnoticed.

    You get the impression he’s slipping.

  • Comrade Stalin

    JH, yes I think Robbo began slipping a year ago and things aren’t improving.

  • Mick Fealty

    TCG,

    I’ve been pressed with less leading questions by street chuggers for Scientology, or one of those fake sociological surveys the Tories push through people’s doors.

    You know, the type that leaves you feeling you may be a less than fit member of society if you momentarily demur when it asks is it wrong that immigrants claim benefits they aren’t entitled to, before you catch yourself on and figure it’s a none-too-subtle handshake statement not a serious question.

    So, there’s no Trojan horse. There is a reasonable comparison between the unreconstructed attitudes displayed here by the First Minister and a contentious parade run by SF themselves for an organisation responsible for most of the troubles related deaths in a mixed area with relatively good community relations.

    Why make the comparison? Because, as I’ve already noted, these are the powerhouses, both parties, of our power-slicing administration. For our efforts we are being entertained with an unbecoming game of highly negative tit for tat.

    As for the power relations between Gerry and Martin. Which one is leader of the party? Who does Peter report to that’s more senior than him? He may or may not have a seat on the board, but unlike Peter he is not the CEO. His work, therefore, has to be checked.

    As for what’s going on, well the only honest answer is not very much. And there is little evidence that SF politicians in ministerial roles have done anything much since the 2011 election other than the bare minimum, with some of the changes merely following the legacy policies of British direct rule ministers.

    Here’s Newton last week on that ‘odd’ debate on free school meals…

    As David notes above, that’s the more substantial part of my criticism because it is squarely aimed at the two parties who were elected to both to govern and deliver for the people of Northern Ireland. It is a sorry pass when it boils down to the fact our local boys get outclassed and outwitted by the Lib Dems.

    We’re not made of inferior material, but the refusal to admit stress into the institutions is in fact imposing stress on random and highly unfortunate parts of the electorate.

  • John Brennan[5.48] I’m not sure there’s much point in passing the ‘bad cop’ role to Kelly while allowing Marty to keep his good cop’ hat on, [if this is in fact a deliberate tactic], since SF voters will assume it’s Marty holding the whip hand in any case.
    The current atmosphere between the two big parties is similar to the way DUP taunted shinners in early 2010 that they would keep delaying devolution of Policing and Justice just out of bloodymindedness, but in the end SF forced them to come to heel and the Hillsborough talks were the outcome of SF walking out then. Who’s to say this won’t be forced by SF again?

  • Mick Fealty

    Dan, I meant Gerry as in Gerry A, rather than Gerry K…

  • megatron

    Mick,

    The way this OP is written encourages the type of whataboutery we see daily on this site. There are plenty of points to discuss in this episode:

    (i) Allisters attacks on Robinson having an impact
    (ii) DUPs race to the gutter
    (iii) Robinsons leadership of DUP
    (iv) Robinsons First Ministership

    I agree the non working of stormont is an issue but what is the point of seemingly all your opinion pieces on stormont going back to SF/DUP are as bad as each other mantras.

    I am all up for occasional debates on that point but your really seem to bring everything back to it.

    I think you have this para on autotext at this stage:

    “Whether calculated or not, with each misstep these two parties, between them, are ‘leading’ Northern Ireland back to a very nasty place indeed. The underlying tragedy is the apparent lack of competitive alternatives for the broad sweep of the NI population to choose from.”

  • Mick Fealty

    What can I say, other than you haven’t heard the last of it? 😉

    Robbo’s gaffe is compelling (and repelling), because under pressure from Allister we hear a truth which rarely escapes the grid politics of Stormont these days.

    Of course it’s appalling, but it is also trivial. The identifiable gap between the OFMdFM parties (and which this sorry episode is but a symptom), which is getting larger may be less appalling but it is in fact a far bigger problem.

    As we already know, the devil makes work for idle hands, mar a dearfa.

  • Charles_Gould

    Bad from Robinson. Damages him.

  • son of sam

    So much for the confidentiality of wills.It will be interesting to see if that fine Fermanagh paper The Impartial Reporter throws any further light on the story tomorrow .Surely a classic instance where a good investigative paper can do some digging.

  • Seamuscamp

    Mick

    “Let’s try a little bit of cold logic”
    Ah yes, logic.

    “They used to be happy with colluding to undermine the junior parties and now they are turning on one another.”
    How do we get from a spat between Unionists to a confrontation between SF and DUP? You no doubt see a thread or conjunction, but it eludes me. Help me, please!

    But please leave out the special pleading:
    “There is a reasonable comparison between the unreconstructed attitudes displayed here by the First Minister and a contentious parade run by SF themselves for an organisation responsible for most of the troubles related deaths in a mixed area with relatively good community relations.” The seal has gone on the pump when you equivalence a nasty (and lying) ad hominem in the legislative chamber with a political speech delivered to a like-minded audience. If this is “reasonable” to your mind, it isn’t “reasonable” in any general sense. .

  • Rory Carr

    I understand that the details of a will become public knowledge following the decease of the one who made the will and once probate has been obtained. Details of land deals are also available from the Land Registry, so really speculation around who leaked what is a waste of time.

    Confidentiality, or rather a breach thereof, is not at issue here. What is so glaringly in the limelight is Robinson’s appalling descent into the gutter in a foul attempt to slander a political opponent in an almost Freudian slip manner by accusing him of an act which would amount to a type of social malfeasance in the constituency that both Robinson and Alister share – i.e. selling Prod land to a Taig.

    Nor do I think that Robinson’s outburst was as a result of having too much time on his hands or that Sinn Féin bear any culpability tor Robinson’s boorish manner – that he has cultivated entirely by himself. In that regard we may say that he is a self-made man.

    I too think that it is a pity that Mick has attempted to use this example of Robinson’s recent vileness by diverting us all into that cul-de-sac where abides Slugger’s bete-noir, the coalition that is.

  • Mick Fealty

    Seamus,

    We’ll just have to differ on that… Here’s a good chunk of Nolan from this morning, on the wider ‘crisis’ [it’s a crisis Jim, Gerry, Martin, Gerry but not as we know it]…

  • “I understand that the details of a will become public knowledge following the decease of the one who made the will and once probate has been obtained. Details of land deals are also available from the Land Registry, so really speculation around who leaked what is a waste of time.”

    @Rory,

    I doubt if Robinson has the free time to go perusing the Land Registry on a regular basis. My guess is that he was tipped off by a fellow estates agent or someone else. Robinson could then go to the Registry–although it appears that either Allister is lying or Robinson did not do this.

  • Mick Fealty[9.24] I’d rather forgotten Gerry A existed, even though we share the same birthday on Sunday week,[6th Oct] he having 7 years more than moi.

  • tmitch[1259] It appears Peter only had to have a chat with his ‘erstwhile FM understudy’ Arlene, to get the inside info. Amazing the way you can get the shortcuts to the game, innit?.

  • @danielsmoran,

    But if Arlene herself is implicated in the deal, why would she tip off Robinson about it?

  • Rory Carr

    The point I was attempting to make was that, given the information is available publicly, it matters not how it might have actually been obtained, or from whom, and any speculation on professional impropriety could prove costly to no good purpose.

  • But if Arlene herself is implicated in the deal, why would she tip off Robinson about it? … tmitch57 26 September 2013 at 2:29 am

    Well, if Robinson is an embarrassment to the party as a ineffectual impotent leader and serial abuser in trust positions …. a politically incorrect dinosaur in these new smarter intelligent times of virtual reality play …… such a juicy, too good an opportunity to be missed tip off, would be just too good an opportunity for a lightweight bully in a tea shop to miss and also result very conveniently in an indelible bigot sign being firmly anchored to Peter to drag around for ever and a day and give Arlene and Ian Jr. a much better chance at being real big cheeses rather than artificially processed slices on the big stage and round tables.

    After all, the DUP is and has been going nowhere fast for the last decade, and surely that is down to current pathetic sectarianism and non-existent novel leadership.

    And Haass thinks he is going to achieve something memorable talking to such folk? Oh please, pull the other one, squire, it’s got bells on it.

  • iluvni

    Imagine watching the clip of Robinson making his thoroughly inappropriate comments, then viewing the smug shower of nodding donkeys sitting around him and having it on your conscience that you’d voted for any of them.

  • Padraig Van Zandt

    As one proper lawyer from the dreary steeples said at the time:

    “Castlederg is but one of the many tests of their good will presented to political unionism. There will be many more.”

    That ethnic cleansing line made by OP is offensive.

    As is your ongoing assertion that MmcG needs sanction from GA. Bunkum.

    SF accept the north is unadministerable but will take part in the charade for a while longer.

    And you also wonder why the SF high command choose not to talk to you.

  • David Crookes

    Great posting, iluvni (4.18 am).

  • tmitch[2.29] Acase has been made by amanfrommars as to why Arlene would tip Peter off, to tip him over the edge into an untenable position, which he might or not pay for with his job. I agree with Comrade that PR was simply pointing out Jim’s inconsistencies and I was surprised at the other parties who pounced on the implied sectarian angle. Pure opportunism.

  • Mick Fealty

    Padraig,

    I’m sorry you find my scepticism offensive.

    Let me try to explain further what I mean by each of those elements you highlight. What I said was “seen by many as an insidious attempt at ethnic cleansing of Protestants from the rural west”.

    This is important. Perception is crux in both cases. Robinson’s remarks were legitimately translated by Sean Lynch in the way I’ve quoted him above. John’s reference in the first comment on this thread of the ULPC gives important context to that perception too.

    But there is also no doubt that the IRA’s campaign in border areas was widely interpreted as having a dual function spreading fear amongst Protestants whilst taking out ‘legitimate targets’.

    I’m sure there were other important reasons for the shift from Republican stronghold of Galbally in the east to mixed and relatively moderate village of Castlederg than just p!ss!ng off the local Protestant minority testing “the goodwill of political unionism”.

    Then you protest my contention that Martin has to get even the smallest detail past Gerry, yet you also say “SF accept the north is unadministerable but will take part in the charade for a while longer.”

    Here’s my own reasoning from earlier in the year on RTE: http://snd.sc/173U9xL and Gerry the following week dodging the question (although not denying it either): http://snd.sc/15wE9pR.

    I’ve not really changed my mind on that since.

    In shorthand: Martin’s status within the party is junior to Gerry whilst Peter can make decisions on behalf of the whole party in situ. And because there is sooo little product coming out of OFMdFM someone has to be systematically applying the brakes.

    Note, we are talking here of politically uncontentious matters, not big stuff like the Maze which was in the bag before this unnegotiated flag nonsense kicked off.

    Your own remarks confirm exactly whom the suspect is likely to be.

    The party spin is that there is crisis in the political process. Yet Peter and Martin have both said they are in problem solving mode. I’m inclined, at this stage, to believe Martin and Peter (and your good self) rather the party spin.

  • Mick Fealty

    On your point about the high command, if they were willing to talk once in while, I might occasionally get to say some of this stuff to them in private rather in the 51st comment on a blog post.

  • “After all, the DUP is and has been going nowhere fast for the last decade, and surely that is down to current pathetic sectarianism and non-existent novel leadership.”

    @Marsman,

    And I thought it was only six years ago that the DUP did a 180 and entered into power sharing with SF to emerge as the largest party in the Assembly and then confirmed it four years later. As with so many other words, there must be a special meaning for decade that is peculiar to Northern Ireland.

  • Think the Impartial Reporter was mentioned in this thread:
    http://www.impartialreporter.com/news/roundup/articles/2013/09/26/402412-land-sale-centre-of-row-at-twelfth/

    Arlene is making sure everyone knows it wasn’t her stirring the pot.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, that, but this too…

    The Impartial Reporter has learned that two “leading lights” in Brookeborough Orange Lodge were forced to apologise to Mr. Allister in July after an argument at the Twelfth parade in Ballinamallard in which they claimed that he had sold the Brookeborough land to a Catholic. The incident prompted Mr. Allister to go to his solicitor claiming he had been slandered. Rather than facing a court appearance the two Orangemen issued letters of apology to Mr. Allister.

    I don’t want to get myself into hot legal water with Jim, but ‘slander’? Really?

  • I find it fascinating how every occurrence has to have an equal and opposite equivalent.
    I believe the term is “Whataboutery”.
    Robinsons remarks were clearly sectarian. Full Stop.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    tmitch57: “And I thought it was only six years ago that the DUP did a 180 and entered into power sharing with SF to emerge as the largest party in the Assembly and then confirmed it four years later.”

    You do realise that in saying this you’re just outlining how, “the DUP is and has been going nowhere fast for the last decade” after all you cannot seriously think that being the largest party in Stormont actually means anything important to anyone other than the DUP MLAs. After all the only members of the population who may be finding this fact useful are the land developers.And the very reason that the DUP are “the largest party in the Assembly”….”is down to current pathetic sectarianism and non-existent novel leadership.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I forgot to add “Oh how I love a bricolage!”

  • Mick Fealty

    Dub, here’s my own personal definition of that term: http://goo.gl/VaQrx. For me the defining aspect is evasion. I’d be interested to hear your challenge, if that’s what you think I’m guilty of here?

  • Mick,
    You read between my lines. Impressed. I’ve read that link and I would agree with it but here’s my take: Evasion is correctly identified as the purpose. It always was and it will continue to be.
    I think there is a new meaning to the word though. It is becoming increasingly rare to find any sort of commentary that fails to provide some sort of “balance”. Polemicism seems to be an almost dead art.
    Unfortunately the comparisons that result are often innapropriate or plain silly.
    In my view, that is the new whataboutery. The application of balance for the appearance of balance.
    It actually convinces nobody and changes no opinions

  • ThomasPaine

    Mick, you may not be guilty of evasion but it has long been my opinion and that of others that you are prone to equating one misdemeanor, no matter how vile, from one side, to another misdemeanor, no matter how trivial, from the other side. This is still whataboutery.

    Bangordub has hit the nail on the head above. You are inflicted with the same desperate disease the BBC is. We understand it is your intention to be balanced, as it is the BBC’s. And many posters on here, including myself might I add.

    This however does not mean you can not run a piece slating one political elite, without then finding a way to criticize one of his/her political opponents in the same story/on the same day. That is not balance. That is insulting to any Slugger reader with half a brain. By all means attack any politician who deserves it. But do so for the right reasons and not because you think it will hurt your readers’ perception of your impartiality if you do not.

    You also state in your post at 2.39pm that as there is so little product coming from the OFMDFM someone must be systematically applying the brakes, and that this someone is obviously McGuinness as he is junior to Adams in his party while Robinson is the head honcho in his.

    Such analysis completely overlooks the fact that since May 2010 Robinson has not led his party. On the sixth day of that month or shortly thereafter he decided it would further damage his career, or end it altogether, if he was to actually lead.

    He has since not made a single decision without first getting the express consent of the baying mob he himself mobilized in an effort (which will no doubt be successful) to take back his Westminster seat. No, regressivism, rabble rousing and tribalism would be the tactics from that point forward.

    McGuinness has no such concerns when it comes to leadership. No baying mob and no Gerry Adams to stop him doing what needs to be done. Example? Dissidents murdering policemen = he’ll call them traitors to Ireland. Loyalists attempting to murder policemen = Robinson afraid to disown them.

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    Naw, didn’t think you’d have the balls to give a straight answer Mick.

    Do tell me more about those ‘Protestant reservations’ in north Belfast…

  • Mick Fealty

    There’s something in that DB. I’ve always taken the view that working for balance rather than truth (even if it struggles to get recognition from others) is a waste of everyone’s time.

    The worst type of balance is Kremlinology that tells you just want the great and the good are thinking (or rather what they say they are thinking) rather than any kind of analysis of what they might actually be up to.

    That’s one reason why I liked the BBC’s Breakout programme on the Maze prison escape, because it spent time telling the story carefully from one side (http://goo.gl/YrdKpp):

    I don’t think I was striving for balance here. I pretty much laid it out on a plate re Robinson.

    My ‘mistake’ was pointing out (not for the first time, as others have pointed out above) that politically, these two parties are joined at the hip (which kinda spoils the lets dance on Robbo’s grave sort of schtick some were trying to get going), and that that is crucial context for anyone who wants to understand why the political process always seems to be unravelling.

    The problem with balance first and last is that it doesn’t ever admit that there may be something new to understand about the situation. The kind of courageous journalism that went into the making of Breakout is too often missing in the mainstream these days.

    Where I am coming from is the idea that these two parties in particular have responsibilities that they should be called to account for now, not at some point in the future when everyone gets so insufferably p!ssed off with them that the powder keg blows again.

    I get the distinct impression a lot of journos already assume that this is what’s going to happen, and at no point do some ask themselves, what are these guys actually doing pretending they are not married, out in the street shouting at each other at the expense of the people who put them in Stormont to get stuff done.

    The crux for me is that Robinson could not bring himself to defend his relationship with SF when attacked by Allister, because increasingly there is very little (for the precise reasons Padraig suggests) created value to account for.

    This is getting to be dull stuff, because we keep hearing about how unionism is falling apart. In fact, as I have said many times before Unionism is a competitive market, and Robinson is alive to that in ways that Martin and Gerry don’t have to be, since there’s little or no competition in northern nationalism. But I think it has been an utter fallacy to believe that that competition actually makes him weak.

    Put it this way, who’s up and who’s down at the end of the summer?

    Robbo could have ditched the Maze much earlier (he’s been publicly carrying that idea since shortly after the 2007 election). Now, he’s got about the only thing that SF care about stuffed in a paper bag under the negotiating table.

    As I read it, SF are the ones who go into the Haass talks weaker as result of the treating the last two years as though the DUP were teetering on the brink.

    As for evasion, if you want to talk only about trivia, shriven of its proper political context, fine. But I’ve no intention of providing it for you… 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    Feel free to join the grown ups TCG, when you’re ready?

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    If you’re not up for talking about those famous reservations then maybe you could tell us more about the black propaganda surrounding the Ardoyne Virgin statute.

  • Barnshee

    “SF accept the north is unadministerable but will take part in the charade for a while longer.”

    A moot point -the problem is that the time servers in the house have very little to actually administer They are the delivery boys in the supermarket set up by the UK government —bound hand and foot by their dependence on the taxpayer. As long as no (or few) goodies fall out of the basket and the they get reasonably fairly handed out the UK Grocer won’t mind.

    Stuffed with public sector jobs to help buy silence./peace the MLA;s essentially are reduced to bickering. Tune them out

  • Comrade Stalin

    SF accept the north is unadministerable but will take part in the charade for a while longer.

    This comment from someone further up the page implies that at least some people think that SF has a viable plan B.

    The British government’s plan B is a return to direct rule with some kind of joint authority. Let’s look at that for a second. Firstly it’s putting people in London back in charge of things. SF don’t want that, even if those folks in London throw them the odd bone now and again – say, for example, dropping the oath in the Commons. Secondly, they’re assisted to some extent in this effort by the government in Dublin, which is probably the most hostile Irish government from Sinn Féin’s perspective since the time of the 1994 ceasefires. This situation isn’t going to improve as Sinn Féin are actively targeting the old Fianna Fáil voter demographic.

    Anyone who thinks that SF calculate that they somehow stand to benefit from a collapse is in cloud cuckoo land.

    The DUP likewise do not stand to benefit. Having just fucked over the Tories over Syria and contributed in their own way to Cameron’s personally embarassing defeat in the Commons, they’re not likely to be a welcome presence anywhere around Whitehall for the foreseeable future. But even leaving that aside, none of their fruitcake and thoroughly out-of-step demands around flags, marching, gay marriage, abortion or any of these other issues are likely to get a sympathetic hearing in London.

    All of this adds up to what is essentially a cold war style MAD arrangement where neither side can pull the rug out from the other without severely damaging themselves in the process. Anyone who thinks that either side has the upper hand in this arrangement is sadly mistaken.

    There is one plan I think which is afoot, though, and that’s the plan to get rid of Peter Robinson. Sinn Féin may be doing what they did to David Trimble – they smell the scent of blood on Robbo and they’re poking at the the DUP by talking up their IRA past and making provocative comments in the hope that Robbo will walk away. Robinson is clearly not his in-control self and he gives off the impression of a man beleaguered. Have SF concluded that they can’t deal with him anymore and they want to undermine him until he goes ?

  • Zig70

    So on the view tonight no nationalist mentioned it was a sectarian comment and Jim’s offence missed the sectarian jibe at himself. I never considered Alex to have any political cut and O’Dowd loves to play statesman. You always get the impression SF think their is limit to how much they can get away with robbo. Are they all just fearfully holding onto their wee ministries?

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “The British government’s plan B is a return to direct rule with some kind of joint authority. ”

    Do you understand that “direct rule” and “joint authority” are mutually exclusive.

  • Comrade Stalin

    McSlaggart, I wasted a lot of time and ruined a thread the other day explaining things to you in painstaking detail and you still didn’t follow what I was saying. Once bitten twice shy.

  • Comrade Stalin[11.22] Robinson acts as he knows, the game is up. He’s just treading water and knows he has gutted himself by the letter from america. The fit of the head staggers against Sunny Jim is an unannounced admission that he’s lost the plot and needs to be replaced as Duplicity head honcho before further damage is shipped by the Party that must come First. Couldn’t make it up territory, lol

  • Mick Fealty

    CS,

    I know what you mean about McS, but he has a point. JA is the bogeyman people (including Paisley Senior) like to use to keep unionist dissenters in line.

    That said, you are spot on re the MAD scenario. Everyone is damaged if it collapses, that’s why Peter and Martin are in ‘problem solve mode’, whatever Gerry says on the floor of the Dail.

    As for Robinson, they have been trying to damage him over the two or three years. They can try to do a Trimble with him, but since they have no assets left to bargain with, and neither the Irish or British governments making themselves available to be gamed, it’s just them, the DUP and Haass at the table.

    And the MLKC is now firmly underneath (which is why, at the time, I asked you why you thought Robbo’s move was a U Turn). This may account for some frenzied talk amongst SF MLA’s in the school Assembly canteen recently.

    The DUP for their part, massively miscalculated on the flags issue. Many of them think they were right on the issue, but they had no idea the PUP would outrun them on the streets and they would lose control so spectacularly.

    The real thing to notice, as regards the current difficulties in OFMdFM, on that was that flags was not subject to any serious negotiation between SF and the DUP on the City Council, even though it was under active consideration since at least the resumption of the new City Council in 2011.

    The flags crisis has created real problems for the DUP in some working class areas particularly where the UVF are the predominate paramilitary organisation, and they won’t have any idea just how much until the next election.

    I’m not sure it is any wiser to transliterate that trouble into the end of Robinson. Sure, SF would love to see it happen, in the same way Paisley loved to see the decapitation of the UUP over all those years. But that does not mean, as so many people assume, that it WILL happen.

    The DUP is a Machiavellian kingdom, much like SF, where overthrowing the leader is a tough assignment. (BTW, both calculate NI politics is a similar entity). Once you have done that, it is relatively easy to hold for a very long time.

  • Gopher

    I don’t really think Peter (or the DUP) were worried about the accuracy of the accusation just the inference. Inference is as good as the truth in Northern. Ireland’s political system. It’s an old tactic made famous by a certain American Senator. Jim Allister game relies on being on the front foot on the back he is not just as menacing. Dirty little move by the DUP but it worked, Allister plays for sympathy always a poor position for an attack dog. Nationalists reinforce the DUP’s standing trying to spell Catholic’s out of Republican. Another victory in the trenches for Peter and DUP. Funny they did not look so assured in the open ground on Gay marriage or care homes. Some day the penny will drop.

  • Morpheus

    I don’t think SF want to get rid of Peter Robinson because they know he is the best of a very, very bad bunch. There is no way they would push for Robinson to go in the hope that Dodds, Donaldson, McCausland, Poots or any of those other right-wing, fundamentalist nutters would take over.

    “Massively miscalculated on the flags issue” is an understatement to say the least. The flag situation was talked about for years before it happened and they did bugger all to prepare those whom they represent so what did they do? They distributed 40k leaflets targeting someone who isn’t even on Belfast City Council and tried to sneak around delivering them because they didn’t have the balls to put their party logo on it, denying it was theirs until they were caught. They unleashed a beast that they knew they couldn’t control and the end result was bullets in the post, firebombs, death threats and the attempted murder of a police officer. So yeah, ‘miscalculated’ is an understatement.

    If the OO don’t get exactly what they want out of the Haass talks then they will be the ones who will decide if PR goes. He won’t be pushed by SF, he’ll be stabbed in the back. The OO might have only 2% of the population in their ranks but they have a grossly disproportionate number of members in the upper echelons of power in this country so let’s not forget that.

    PR knows the way NI needs to go but he won’t be allowed to take the party there because too many in it haven’t got an ounce of diplomacy between them and live by the ‘No Surrender’ and ‘Not an inch’ bollix that is plaguing us all on a daily basis.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick,

    I had hoped people would understand that it in fact is possible to have direct rule and joint authority at the same time. This existed between 1985 and 1998. The British may not call it “joint authority” but in reality they will set up some sort of informal arrangement with the Irish government and consult them on sensitive issues. And, as with 1985, there’ll be damn all the unionists can do about it.

    Some sort of formal constitutional situation where the Irish government actually sign off on legislation in NI is not going to happen, but this is not necessary for the unionists to see their position eroded.

    Haass feels to me personally at the moment like a side show. I find it interesting that the big parties have not chosen to send their leaders to the negotiating table. I’m sure in December Haass will publish a proposal document which, like other similar documents such as the “Mitchell Principles” will be rapidly consigned to the dustbin.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Morpheus,

    Back in the early 2000s many of us used to believe that SF would act to save David Trimble because the prospect of the DUP taking over unionism was genuinely horrifying. Of course, as we now all know, it does not work like this.

    Once you’re in a position of power you have real responsibilities and any future DUP leader will be under the same pressures that Robinson now is.

    If the goal is to extract tokenistic concessions such as the Maze peace centre or Irish language signs etc. Sinn Féin would find the British government itself a much more pliant negotiating partner than the unionists and their interests would therefore be to let the institutions collapse. You may recall shortly after devolution was restored that when the unionists rejected Irish language legislation, Gerry Adams appealed to the British to legislate over the heads of the assembly on the basis that this was necessary to fulfil its part of the Agreement. I thought that was very revealing.

    So even if you put a nutter in charge of the DUP they still face the choice of shooting themselves in the foot or figuring out a way through the maze.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Comrade, I remember reading “all that anti-sematism is just window dressing to attract the extremists. Once Hitler is actually in power…..” somewhere.

    “So even if you put a nutter in charge of the DUP they still face the choice of shooting themselves in the foot or figuring out a way through the maze.”

    For some of these people the “Rapture” is just around the corner, and there is no real need to plan for a long term political future. I’m serious. Its a significant factor in their “pave the world” thinking and in their attitude to renewables and climate change. And it shows up in the oddest places in face to face discussions with DUPers.

    Its the daily presence in the DUP “intellectuals” mental landscape of these “looney” issues that us serious practical commentators just do not want to feed into the equation. These ideas are just too self-evidently flakey. But they haven’t gone away, you know. It’s the total irrationality factor simmering throughout the DUP pot that cannot be addressed by appealing to the kind of checks and balances that contain our own “decent person” behaviour. The shock of Dr No being (seemingly) pragmatic after he actually saw off the UUP has blinded people to the real dangers of what may occur when “Dodds, Donaldson, McCausland, Poots or any of those other right-wing, fundamentalist nutters would take over.”

  • Morpheus

    I am in favor of bringing down Stormont CS for the sole reason that The British, Irish and America Governments will make sure that the GFA is implemented in its entirety because Stormont couldn’t be trusted to do it on it’s own.

  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    Sinn Fein undermined Trimble and the DUP took the reigns of Unionist champion. 100,000 unionist voters stopped participating in the electoral process. Not solely for that reason but you would imagine it was a contributory factor. If SF can wangle so a memeber of the OO and even better a Caleb Foundation acolyte became leader this would force more socially liberal unionists into the non participatory camp. Appealling to the hardcore flegists would drive the DUP more to the right as they would make up a larger proportion of the active electorate, while at the same time isolating the DUP even further from moderate unionism and mainstream views across the social spectrum in London,
    As a result, less common ground with the british political establishment and a small DUP vote leading to a SF First Minister.
    Tah Dah

  • Morpheus

    Count Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli more like 🙂

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Sooner or later we will be reaching a point where Unionists may even greet Martin’s coronation with relief.

  • Padraig Van Zandt

    Thanks for the engagement Mick and points taken but still think Robinson is a straw man.

    SF will always push the envelope – it’s what they do and they do it very well. First Ministerdom and SF in power in the south will shatter all of the fake consensus which has mostly pervaded since 1998. That’s the plan B. Turn the North into Derry.

    The North is the size of Durham County Council and the South the size of Birmingham. The attention this place has gotten over the years is a disgrace. Cameron knows this and is right to keep his door shut.

    The current attempt to Westminsterise our parish pump of an assembly will cease when the plan B kicks in.

    The 6 counties has more STATE (Osbornes Treasury) reliance than communist Poland so administering this place was always going to prove tricky – disentangling will prove much easier…

    Perception and reality – indeed – very state broadcasterish (bbc). Without using loaded terms as ethnic cleansing – what is your view Mick on the reality of the brains and brawn from nationalist Ireland who inhabit the law firms of England and the mines of OZ.

    Other wisecrack merchants like N. emmerson tell us today that Willie has a point. Get real.

    We are the ones who have been failed by Peter the Estate Agent – who has been given far too much leeway to date.

    Modern SF from the 80’s see Ireland as a single issue problem, the border, but the new breed of SF are now safe in the knowledge that partition is in it’s death throes and are starting to prepare for building the new republic.

    Well might people laugh at industrial wages and the like but these are principles.

    Let’s defer to the 14yr old Ballyshannon Guinness swilling Tony Blair – the politicians politician – who was utterly seduced by the SF high command.

    Tiocfaidh Allah.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “This existed between 1985 and 1998. The British may not call it “joint authority” but in reality they will set up some sort of informal arrangement with the Irish government and consult them on sensitive issues. ”

    Did the Irish Goverment call it joint Authority?

  • Comrade Stalin

    McSlaggart – don’t know, don’t care.

    Padraig, that load of nonsense barely makes sense. Sinn Féin are not going to get into government in the RoI and even if they did they wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near NI, for exactly the same reason as a unionist will never be appointed NI Secretary of State in London. You’ll see an FF-FG coalition before that happens. They had their chance to take power in Ireland two years ago, when the political establishment was at its weakest, and they missed it.

    I think an SF First Minister is inevitable, though, within the next ten years or so. The DUP are burning up their transfer prospects fast.

    Morpheus, the GFA is fundamentally about powersharing. If powersharing is abandoned there is nothing left to implement, which is why this won’t happen. SF will not pull out of the government because they do not support what they would see as the reimposition of British rule in Ireland and they certainly don’t want their enemies in Dublin taking charge.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “don’t know, don’t care.”

    I have no objection to you making up your own version of what is meant by “joint authority”.

    Could you plese clarify the term when you use it again along the line of “Comrade Stalin “joint authority”” so we can clearly identify its not the one that the Irish and British goverment would be setting up.

  • Morpheus

    Not so sure CS. This is from earlier this month:

    “IF A GENERAL Election was held today, the preferred coalition among the electorate would be a Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin pairing, according to the latest MillwardBrown poll for the Sunday Independent.”

    http://www.thejournal.ie/fianna-fail-sinn-fein-coalition-1063656-Sep2013/

  • Comrade Stalin,

    I’m in agreement with McSlaggart: what was in effect in NI from Nov. 15, 1985 until April 9, 1998 was a system of formal consulting not joint authority or joint rule. It amounted to an elaborate scheme to give input to the SDLP into the NIO through Dublin without the NIO seeming to favor one party over the others. Dublin had no responsibility for the decisions and no guarantee that their recommendations would be implemented or even taken seriously. If you read the memoir “An Accidental Diplomat” (published in the mid-1990s in Dublin) there is a section on what it was like to work at Maryfield under the AAI. The account is one of lots of parties and very little work, which would not have been the case if the diplomats were actually responsible for the policies.

    Joint authority or joint rule would mean a formal system in which both governments have a mechanism for jointly making decisions and policy. It would probably involve equal numbers of people from each side on all the decision-making bodies. I believe the only modern example of joint rule was that of Sudan before independence jointly by the Egyptian government and the British government (colonial office).

  • Comrade Stalin

    tmitch57/McS,

    I’m talking about de facto joint authority. You guys are nitpicking over irrelevant details.

    The Prime Minister would phone the Taoiseach and ask his opinion about something he was considering doing in NI. If the Taoiseach said no, the Prime Minister wouldn’t go ahead with it. On paper, no derogation of sovereignty has taken place. In practice it very much has.

    Just because there is no guarantee that the Irish government’s opinion would have to be accounted for does not mean that this would represent a significant weakening of the unionist position.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “You guys are nitpicking over irrelevant details.”

    When the Theory Doesn’t Fit the Facts, Print the Theory

    http://chipssilicon.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/when-the-theory-doesnt-fit-the-facts-print-the-theory/

  • “The Prime Minister would phone the Taoiseach and ask his opinion about something he was considering doing in NI. If the Taoiseach said no, the Prime Minister wouldn’t go ahead with it.”

    Comrade Stalin,
    Actually no one needed to phone the taoiseach, if there was an appointment to be made Maryfield would call up the SDLP or vice versa and a name would be given that Maryfield would then submit to the NIO. What the NIO did with it was their business. If the SDLP felt really strongly about it after the fact, they could complain to the taoiseach, but it wouldn’t necessarily do much good. The SDLP and their voters don’t vote in the Republic.

  • Comrade Stalin

    tmitch57, I am not talking about Maryfield. I am talking about a hypothetical future scenario where powersharing has collapsed and the British Irish agree on how Northern Ireland should be governed while trying to avoid drawing the attention of unionists to how they are doing it.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin (profile) 28 September 2013 at 5:11 pm
    tmitch57,

    “I am not talking about Maryfield. ”

    Yet earler you posted?

    Comrade Stalin

    “This existed between 1985 and 1998. The British may not call it “joint authority” but in reality they will set up some sort of informal arrangement with the Irish government and consult them on sensitive issues. ”

  • Comrade Stalin

    McSlaggart, you are boring me and everyone else to death with your stupid questions and inane attempts at point-scoring.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    The only reason why I responded to your post was that:

    I consider ““direct rule” and “joint authority” are mutually exclusive””

    Since that you have spent your time making your “point” they magically do.

    You clearly stated that for you it existed between “1985 and 1998”. If it was not on “Maryfield” then what was it?

  • Comrade Stalin,

    I guess I mistook your conditional use of would for meaning repeated past action.

  • Padraig Van Zandt

    Comrade Stalin

    As long as it only barely makes sense – fine with that.