Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Haass Talks: three shrugs

Wed 1 January 2014, 9:44pm

As David McCann has noted below the Haass document has been published. I had begun to think of a blog on this subject before I read the draft but had to revise the idea completely, due essentially to the lack of concrete proposals in the final draft. Looking at the document and the number of times it says they were unable to get agreement on things such as the definition of a victim, almost any concrete finding on flags etc. one suspects that one proposal after another was deleted or rendered irrelevantly anodyne until they had run out of useful things to say. This in many ways is axiomatic of the relative failure of our political process: an issue which bears further analysis after looking at the three sets of issues Haass covered.

Parades
Here there were some proposals. However, their “Office for Parades, Select Commemorations, and Related Protests” and then “Authority for Public Events Adjudication” were Quango typed bodies with powers sort of akin to the Parades Commission. The problems would inevitably have arisen after their judgements which would have been perceived or pretended to be perceived as favouring one side or the other. The idea of a code of conduct and all the other proposals sound reasonable but the problem would no doubt have been in interpretation of the code and relating the actions of individuals as either being within or without that code.

On parades many unionists will always downplay every unacceptable action by bands and their supporters and play up the unacceptable behaviour of nationalist protesters. Essentially many in the pro marching unionist community believe that protesters actually want to confine expressions of cultural unionism solely to 100% unionist areas. In contrast clearly nationalists play up behaviour by bands and supporters and many feel that those parading and supporting will bend each and every ruling in every way conceivable in order to cause offence. The sad reality is that the worse actions and fears of both communities have been realised on many occasions. Essentially therefore such is the complete lack of trust between the paraders and protesters that compromise agreements are almost impossible. That would therefore lead to the new Authority making decisions which would bring it into the same level of disrepute as the Parades Commission.

Flags
On flags the Haass document seems to say almost nothing of substance. The document states in place after place that there was no agreement on the relevant subjects. The prospect of designated days for the union flag at all councils would have been unacceptable. Unionists clearly would not have accepted such a compromise re Belfast City Hall and nationalists would not have accepted the flag being required to be flown over the likes of Derry and Newry. The one group to have gained from such a compromise would have been Alliance whose decision in many ways was the catalyst for the flags issue. They would then have been able to present the end result as more pro unionist than the current situation which might have helped assuage their unpopularity amongst many unionists after the Belfast City Hall decision.

On the issue of unofficial flags on public property such as lamp posts there was again no sign of agreement. Even if one had been achieved it is difficult to believe that effective action could have been taken. The police are most unlikely to have been keen to remove flags on lamp posts in areas where their flying is uncontentious to the local people. The police simply have better things to do with their time than take down irrelevant flags.

The idea of a new Northern Ireland flag did seem the one startlingly naïve idea from Haass. In every other way he seemed a man with a fairly good understanding of Northern Ireland and divided societies. However, the simple fact is that unionists have national and regional flags with which whether official (the Union Flag) or now unofficial (Ulster Banner and many others) they are entirely happy: as do nationalists – the Tricolour or assorted other flags. That is of course not to mention the assorted other flags appropriated by one side or the other of which the Israeli and Palestinian flags are the most commonly seen. The very idea of a new flag to which all would supposedly give loyalty ignored the inherently divided nature of those loyalties here and seems a bit silly. Especially silly from a very experienced diplomat with a PhD from Oxford; who has written extensively about other conflicts such as India / Pakistan and who, being Jewish, is likely to have more than a passing understanding of identity issues. Still we can all have odd ideas from time to time.

The Past
On the past Dr. Haass avoided the sanctimonious, self righteousness which so completely flawed Eames Bradley. Indeed the failure of the Haass document anywhere to mention Eames Bradley demonstrates most eloquently the moral turpitude into which those proposals descended and their utterly appropriate rejection by practically everyone in Northern Ireland.

The problems with Haass’s proposals seems centrally that they suggested little more than changing the names of the organisations dealing with the past including relieving the PSNI of the financial responsibility for the HET. The idea of allowing people to give information with limited immunity sounds not completely unreasonable but as demonstrated by The Dissenter here on slugger is actually a very flawed plan. The outworking of the Independent Commission for Information Retrieval could also be problematic with the concern that it might be able to require information from members of the security forces who would be much easier to identify than members of paramilitary organisations. I confess not to seeing such proposals in Haass but there at least seemed some concern amongst the unionist delegates in the talks that such a scenario was possible.

The suggestion of strands of analysis for consideration also seems reasonable especially if the strands can be broadened as mentioned by Mainland Ulsterman here. However, again those look like serious pieces of academic research and probably best left for some time rather than used as part of an almost religious pseudo academic reconciliation strategy so beloved of the letsgetalongerists. In reality such work if done properly would in the short to medium term be more likely to inflame rather than damp down sectarian disagreements here.

The fundamental problem Haass found was that there are two almost mutually exclusive analyses of both the past and even more so the present. Broader unionism and broader nationalism (and especially republicanism) are not going to agree on the past nor on flags nor on parades. For either to win on a given issue results in the other loosing: a classic zero sum game. By tying all three threads together into one proposed agreement one may make the zero sum calculation more complicated but one does not make it go away. Detractors from the agreement can simple point to their sides perceived “sell out” on issue x and conveniently ignore their perceived victory on issue y. By tying all three issues together far from making compromise easier, ironically compromise has been made more difficult as the whole is one giant zero sum.

There are circumstances where opposing sides can agree even in a zero sum situation but that is if there is adequate trust between the two negotiating parties. In our case that trust is simply not there. The hope might have been that such trust would have developed as power sharing went forward. That has been completely incorrect. Indeed due to the carve up rather than sharing of power which our system has created, trust between the DUP and Sinn Fein has if anything, decreased since they took power.

The other potential cause to force an agreement might have been if despite their mutual distrust the parties both would have gained something from a compromise or lost something from failure to compromise. Whilst an agreement might have gained Robinson and McGuinness international plaudits they would not have obtained much in the way of hard benefits and might well have undermined their own political positions. The possibility of threats from without – principally the British Government- might have helped force compromise. However, the current government has been much more keen to let the Stormont administration do its own thing. Furthermore reducing the block grant or threatening the likes of suspension of powers would have been much more draconian than would have been politically justified or acceptable.

The simple reality is that there was not enough incentive for the parties to come to an agreement and too much to lose from entering into an agreement seen by its own side as a sell out. Furthermore despite the failure of an agreement nothing much has changed. We did not actually need this agreement to continue with our current status quo. The system is set up not requiring it, the trust for it is not there and has not been built up in part because of the system we have. As such failure was extremely likely no matter Richard Haass’s skill and efforts or the skills and efforts of our politicians.

It is also the case that few normal people in Northern Ireland were that desperate for an agreement. A few may have been foolish enough to think their side could win a huge victory but that was never a real option. There are also the letsgetalongerists desperate for an agreed shared Northern Ireland where we all elect moderate politicians and make daisy chains together instead of marching and protesting (or ignoring it) all summer. However, again they are in actual fact a tiny minority. For all the rest of us the process was not that big a deal and avoiding “our own” side making an embarrassing surrender was probably more important (though still not that important) than making a compromise. Rather at this time of year there was the remains of the turkey to eat up, films to watch on TV and the credit card bill from Christmas to worry about.

Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on Delicious Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on Digg Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on Facebook Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on Google+ Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on LinkedIn Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on Pinterest Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on reddit Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on StumbleUpon Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on Twitter Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on Add to Bookmarks Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on Email Share 'Haass Talks: three shrugs' on Print Friendly

Comments (84)

  1. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Thanks for the analysis.

    One area where I do agree is that I am not sure the issues in Haass are important to most people.

    To what you say I would add: nearly everyone I spoke to (and these are all well-educated people who take an interest in important political matters such as migration, Eurozone woes, economic inequality, global poverty, etc) didn’t really understand what the issues were in the Haass talks, particularly on parades and the past. They showed no evidence of having even thought about them.

    I didn’t know Haass did his DPhil (PhD) at Oxford. I wonder if he was a Rhodes Scholar? In any case he does seem to be a very well qualified person, and I think he conducted himself very well, as can also be said of Prof O’Sullivan. I am impressed at the Executive Parties for signing up such an impressive team.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  2. redstar2011 (profile) says:

    Yeah it was all really worthwhile!!!!

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  3. David Crookes (profile) says:

    No one should blame our two American visitors for failing to make a silk purse out of a pig’s hindquarters.

    Their document brings together the sub-intelligent yacking of spoiled children and playground bullies. It should be put in the bin at once.

    No more big words, no more quangos, no more academics, no more commissioners, no more forums. HMG must do its job and set terms for the continuance of the union.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  4. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    I see that Prof O’Sullivan also went to Oxford, and did a MSc in Economics there and a DPhil (PhD) in Politics there.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  5. notimetoshine (profile) says:

    As all our political establishment seem to be doing, you seem to be drawn into the details.

    Is it not enough that they failed to make an agreement on what are essentially fringe cultural/legacy issues that have been blown out of proportion by political opportunists?

    At the end of the day Haass was a reasonable agreement, with endless input from all sides and realistically it was the best bet for a deal. The fact that they didn’t want one/couldn’t make one leads me to believe that with elections coming up, it’s the perfect distraction from the assemblies poor show in legislating and governing.

    You state

    “The simple reality is that there was not enough incentive for the parties to come to an agreement…”

    of course there wasn’t, no money on the table, elections coming up and a seeming lack of interest from Westminister/Dublin.

    But again it all boils down to the fact that the Haass talks and the lack of agreement are simply going to be used as another smokescreen to allow the parties to prevaricate when it comes to governing this blighted province.

    “For all the rest of us the process was not that big a deal and avoiding “our own” side making an embarrassing surrender was probably more important (though still not that important) than making a compromise.”

    The above quote is very apt. That BBC poll that was commissioned earlier in December showed clearly a lack of real interest amongst the population against clear interest in the economy, health, education etc. Certainly people wanted a deal but in the grand scheme of things….

    The Haass talks were a farce. Our politicians are incapable of decisive action without threats. We have ministers taking each other to court over their decisions and they are in the same government! But of course very little attention to an utterly shocking piece of incompetence was paid. Why? Because it was easier to talk about flags….

    The world could be coming to an end and they would still be talking about flags. But the people of NI (those who vote anyway) are responsible, they elected these politicians based on sectarian lines, you reap what you sow.

    I despair.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  6. Billy Ghoti (profile) says:

    Is there no chance the parties would agree on an official flag for Northern Ireland? There isn’t an official Northern Ireland flag at the moment.

    Now, every municipal area in the USA has an official flag, every county in the RoI has a recognised flag, every country and state/statelet in the world, bar one, has a recognised/official flag.

    The Union Flag is the official flag of the UK, the Tricolour is the official flag of the RoI. NI doesn’t have a flag.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  7. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    “I see that Prof O’Sullivan also went to Oxford, and did a MSc in Economics there and a DPhil (PhD) in Politics there.”

    And then a lucrative career dispensing anodyne waffle and much nodding of heads. Haas and O’Sullivan are in the business of making (lots of) money out of cultivating meaningless crap that appeals to the media.
    It’s not Science or even evidence based. It’s lucrative ‘facilitating’ bullshit. A PhD in Politics is as legitimate as a PhD in Astrology. The homage paid to these feeble non entities is pathetic. If a result was required, Henry Kissinger’s the man.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  8. Red Lion (profile) says:

    The Haass process just sums up the failing cancel-each-other-out politics of old/current Stormont dysfunction.

    It’s unsustainable and a new generation is coming through, with increasing awareness of how these has-beens are failing NI.

    I think a sea change of increasing support for middle ground parties like NI21, alliance, is slowly occurring. I think people are realising they have to make their vote count, and a quiet, modest politicisation of previois non-voters is taking place.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  9. Red Lion (profile) says:

    Ps I think Haass was being quite astute in suggesting a new NI flag.

    It got public interest going beyond the usual tribal SF-DUP core, and served to highlight there is a wider audience in NI to which the polarised parties should be taking more account of, and moderating.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  10. Billy Ghoti (profile) says:

    “Ps I think Haass was being quite astute in suggesting a new NI flag.”

    A “new NI flag”? How can there be a “new” one when there isn’t a current one?

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  11. slanlot (profile) says:

    The entire charade was a lack lustre attempt of appearing to move reconciliation forward, to be seen as at least trying to do something. It was clear from the beginning that nothing of any significance was going to be achieved because we can’t even agree on the naming of our city on the Foyle. Once again the taxpayer has had to fund this gabfest of futility and once again we are back where we started. The political pundits will be doing the political post-mortems , the usual suspects will be posting and trying to score points but the fact still remains that here in the north east corner of Ireland we really do not like or trust each other and that is not going to change anytime.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  12. WindsorRocker (profile) says:

    I believe Unionism missed a trick in not arguing for or accepting the need for a NI specific flag.

    People ask for parity of esteem and equality etc. A new NI flag would have given unionism a chance to reach out and show it understands that a large minority of people have a different cultural identity. That doesn’t mean that UK sovereignty is anyway diluted but a move to an NI specific flag would have given the Union Flag its place as the state flag of the sovereign country which would deserve respect and be used in a moderate way like designated days. It would also have removed the argument for the Tricolour to be used to represent those of an Irish identity as the new NI flag would represent all cultural identities.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  13. notimetoshine (profile) says:

    @ Bluesjazz

    I would be careful judging her doctorate in politics until you know what it was on, could have a been a statistical study and it most certainly could have been evidence based.

    More importantly you seem awfully critical of Haass and O’Sullivan. Might I be so bold as to suggest that your ire is misdirected and would be better placed with the sectarian do nothing bigots that make up our political establishment.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  14. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    @notimetoshine

    Nope, they’re carpetbaggers. Any sixth former could have come up with that all inclusive ‘draft’. A computer algorithm is all it includes.
    “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone”
    Westminster holds the purse strings. As Captain O’Neill so lucidly pointed out. As the tap of free lunch is slowly turned off…then what to do? The Republic has no money (or desire) to save us. The majority of people don’t vote. It’s direct rule, with RoI involvement in an advisory role. But then there’s 108 MLA’s and a whole lot of bloated admin staff going to have to find REAL jobs??? The horror.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  15. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    It is quite clear that both Haass and O’Sullivan have had stellar careers subsequent to Oxford, so that they are undoubtedly people with high levels of ability.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  16. notimetoshine (profile) says:

    @Bluesjazz

    Of course most people don’t vote why would they?

    Our MLAs aren’t fit for purpose, and the democratic deficit caused by the forced coalition is a joke. Just look at the farce caused by the agriculture and finance ministers.

    I really think we should have a government of technocrats professionals from across society with no party affiliations.

    I think an awful lot of people are sick of republicans, loyalists, unionists and nationalists. They may self identify as one of those groups, but you put their kids education/prospects/health against fringe cultural issues one would hope they would choose wisely.

    If the don’t they don’t deserve decent government.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  17. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    “I really think we should have a government of technocrats professionals from across society with no party affiliations.”

    Er. What would happen if they decided it would be a good idea to privatize the Belfast Port, raise University Tuition Fees, impose Water Charges, cut railway investment, etc.

    For all your protestations, our ministers pay close attention to what the voters want, and that is not such a bad thing.

    Moreover, ministerial responsibilities keep the politicians in the land of real decision making.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  18. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    notimetoshine

    I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said.

    Just the facts.

    I don’t vote. In fact I don’t know anyone who does. Like you say, why?

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  19. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    BluesJazz

    It is your moral duty to vote.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  20. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    “Er. What would happen if they decided it would be a good idea to privatize the Belfast Port, raise University Tuition Fees, impose Water Charges, cut railway investment”
    Charles.
    That’s all paid for by Westminster. As is our free prescriptions and bus passes at 60. All very well, until the English taxpayers start to ask why some pet cats are well looked after and most are left to run feral.
    This will be asked.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  21. notimetoshine (profile) says:

    “For all your protestations, our ministers pay close attention to what the voters want, and that is not such a bad thing.”

    Seriously?

    Well now I’m going to take an educated guess and assume that for instance the people of NI want the mess with the ESA and uncertainty in education sorted?

    Or the personnel crisis hitting the health service?

    Or the segregated society we live in?

    I can keep going…

    But more importantly, with the forced coalition we have in stormont it doesn’t really matter who you vote for because their manifestos have to sync with the other parties. And of course what happens if that party doesn’t get the ministry related to your area of concern?

    The ministries are run almost like mini executives (for health for education etc etc), we only have to look at how Poots carries out his ‘duties’ or indeed the fact that two ministers went to court to resolve a difference in policy.

    There is no coherent policy in Stormont, no great plan, it is ad hoc and always over ridden by sectarian politics.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  22. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    Turgon

    What the Dickens?!

    First, parades:

    At present, nationalists don’t even NEED to exaggerate or play-up the bad behaviour of a minority of bandsmen, in fact, any one from the nationalist community who does blow parading behaviour out of proportion or ‘travels to be offended’ is giving the pro-marchers some sort of straw to clutch on to with regards to defending the behaviour of some of these bands and their hangers-on.

    If there was no exaggeration or no travelling martyrs then what defence would be offered?!

    Some of the more religious politicians from the unionist side could at least reprimand the parading behaviour on the grounds of Christian principles but they won’t even do that lest they go the way of the Rev Bingham who dared to speak out against the consequences of the Order’s actions (the Quinn brothers).

    And as for flags:

    “The idea of a new Northern Ireland flag did seem the one startlingly naïve idea from Haass. In every other way he seemed a man with a fairly good understanding of Northern Ireland and divided societies. However, the simple fact is that unionists have national and regional flags with which whether official (the Union Flag) or now unofficial (Ulster Banner and many others) they are entirely happy: ”

    Uh uh.

    No.

    Net.

    Doesn’t fly Hilary dear.

    Too many times we hear from unionist quarters a very simple ‘ and that’s that’ response.

    NI is as British as Finchley – and that’s that’

    NI is part of the UK and the UK’s flag is the Union Flag – and that’s that’

    They are a group of men walking to church – and that’s that’

    By the same token they anti-NI flag argument is hoisted by it’s own petard:

    All regions of the UK have their own flags except NI – and that’s that’

    Ergo, problem. i.e ” NOT so British after all as we constitute an anomaly”

    Ergo, Mr Unionist “we’re so British” Politician is obliged to address this problem or risk (once again) looking like a hypocrite.

    Many unionists might be pleased with the unofficial ulster flag.

    Well good.

    And tough.

    It’s not a flag.

    So it’s no good pretending that it is.

    We don’t have one and it’s embarrassing.

    If unionists really are ‘that’ British then they should act like it and address this oddity amongst the British Isles.

    No one every said there would be a flag that everyone would love.

    That’s pretty much impossible.

    But there is clearly discontent at the situation.

    And if Loyalists don’t like whatever the new flag may be, well then good, it has the advantage of being one of the few flags that won’t be attached to lamp-posts every summer.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  23. drmisery (profile) says:

    Excellent an gob.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  24. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “At the end of the day Haass was a reasonable agreement ”

    No it wasnt. It was a set of half completed proposals with none of the fine detail that would mark real agreement. As a measure of how bad things are today we have the Great Tarnished One Uncle Gerry Adams trotting out the old Parity of Esteem guff he was spouting 15 years ago

    Even the slogans are just dusted off from the past because no-one can be bothered with any new thinking and the reality is that the Community are far ahead of the politicians who are wedded to their old hard core hard line voters on the extremes

    Enough of this. Abolish Stormont. Devolve all the services to the Councils,bring back limited Direct Rule and to hell with the lot of them?

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  25. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    Turgon,
    Thoughtful post, enjoyed it and agreed with most of it. But I differ with you on a new flag – it needs to garner some broad-based support of course but I think it would be one way of marking (1) a new start; (2) get past the ‘zero sum’ game on flags you mention; (3) signal that people from both communities are investing in the longer term future of Northern Ireland as a shared place (not clinging to a more Protestant past or hoping for Catholic supremacy through birthrates). Could be an important signal of seriousness about making things work.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  26. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    At the Commonwealth Games does England use the Union Fla or the England Flag?

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  27. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    Charles

    I ‘think’ they use the St George’s Cross, unfortunately the only pic I could find was from the Daily Mail so I refuse to lodge that as ‘evidence’.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1317384/2010-Commonwealth-Games-opening-ceremony-Athletes-meet-Prince-Charles.html

    In any case, what people in NI fail to realise is that the rest of the world equates ‘British’ with ‘English’.

    The words and the flags are practically interchangeable to the rest of Earth.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  28. Stewart Finn (profile) says:

    @Am Ghobsmacht

    You do have a point in there but I don’t think it necessarily contradicts Turgon’s claim that the pursuit of a new flag was naive…I wouldn’t use that language but it certainly wasn’t attainable.

    There are two major issues, the first is that the perceived (by some Unionists/Loyalists) dilution of the importance of the Union flag makes political Unionism highly unlikely to entertain the idea from a defensive position…and any regional flag would be a Northern Irish flag which Republicans are massively unlikely to agree to and even less likely to actually identify with….so (and this is the main issue) essentially no one whose voice is listened to within the constitutional debate wants a new flag. It would be a much more popular idea among the general public but trying to achieve it politically is where the ‘naive’ argument holds water.

    Unfortunately you, Haass or anyone trying to apply logic to this wont work. Logical or not, Unionism being happy with current emblems means there is a lack of political will….even if there was an acknowledgement within Unionism that NI needed an official regional flag, it wouldn’t matter, there would be no reciprocation from Sinn Fein as having such a flag would be a cultural (as opposed to practical-which is probably how they view the Assembly) recognition of partition.

    On issues like dealing with the past, I could at least make up or hypothesize about a compromise which might be palatable to a majority, but on the issue of flags I cant see one unfortunately..there are only a couple of alternatives to the designated days status quo: joint recognition with tricolour (not going to happen), 365 Union flag (not going to happen) or a new flag (which there is no political will for).

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  29. It’s worth pointing out – to both sides in NI – that the outside world consists almost entirely of letsgetalongerists.

    That’s why such odd-sounding letsgetalongerist proposals as the new flag get an airing.

    From the outside (I live in England), it looks like the Unionists won, so what are they complaining about? – why not make a few symbolic concessions so the nats feel happy. After all (false comparison coming…) the ANC made a load of concessions to try to make white South Africans feel happy, including a chunk of Die Stem in the national anthem, and creating the new flag instead of just the ANC flag (etc)…

    Of course, Unionists don’t feel like they won. The Union is not going to end, but the Union isn’t what they were fighting for; they were fighting for their national identity. And their national identity is much more about Union Jacks flying everywhere than about the PM being David Cameron rather than Enda Kenny.

    The ANC got to elect Nelson Mandela as President; having Peter Robinson as First Minister isn’t a comparable symbolic victory for unionism; and it’s the symbols of the unionist identity that matter to the flag protesters, not the actual political governance.

    PS, you do fly the Ulster Banner at the Commonwealth Games and at NI football games, the only two occasions when a flag is actually required to represent NI. Perhaps a new flag, for those purposes only, might not be a bad idea?

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  30. iluvni (profile) says:

    A new flag?…..the Cross of St Patrick was acceptable to the five parties on the PSNi crest, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t fly on public buildings.
    How could any of them object?
    Were they asked the question during those months of talks?

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  31. cynic2 (profile) says:

    ” it looks like the Unionists won ”

    Militarily and in terms of hearts and minds that’s true. But Unionist politicians contributed little to that so they daren’t admit it. Instead they seek to set up Bogey Men which the lumpen voters need the politicians to protect them from.

    When you can get elected on 7000 votes lowest denominator is the way to go,

    The best thing the SOS could do would be cut the number of MLAs by say 40% – that would concentrate minds and drive a lot of the chaff (who posture but dont like hard work) out of politics

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  32. Charles, we use the Flag of St. George at the Commonwealth Games (as we do for our football and rugby teams). We’ve switched recently (2010) to using Jerusalem instead of Land of Hope and Glory as the victory anthem in the CG.

    In other sports, the FA, RFU and RFL use God Save the Queen, and the ECCB Jerusalem; not having any English national political representation means that each sport makes its own mind up.

    I believe that NI uses the Ulster Banner as the flag and Danny Boy as the anthem at the Commonwealth games. I would suggest that a national anthem would be more of a priority than a new flag, given the dreadfulness of that piece of music.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  33. The reason that the unionist politicians can’t admit they won is much simpler than that. If the union is safe, what’s the point of a party for defending the union? So they have to pretend it isn’t safe.

    The problem with cutting the number of MLAs is that you end up concentrating more power in the hands of the big parties; the minor parties exist on those fifth and sixth seats.

    The only way around that would be to change the boundaries, but that would be a lot harder than just cutting the numbers – look at the ruction a boundary change for the House of Commons caused.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  34. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    Richard Gadsden:

    “From the outside (I live in England), it looks like the Unionists won, so what are they complaining about? – why not make a few symbolic concessions so the nats feel happy.”

    You cannot win a game that hasn’t ended, Richard. And unionists are well aware that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, the IRA army council leaders, are still very much playing the game. Except now they’ve won international respect as ‘peacemakers’ and are making electoral gains across Ireland along with their new found international respectability and power within NI.

    I can understand unionists’ frustrations seeing actual former IRA leaders in Stormont. But because Ulster unionist politics is so enmeshed in sectarianism – two orangemen were leading the DUP delegation with Haass – it’s hard to feel too sorry for them. They know that Northern Ireland, the state founded to continue Protestant hegemony in Ulster, is being eroded internally every year from the growing Catholic vote.

    And of course there’s nothing they can do about it. That’s why they’re never happy. They know the direction the province is heading whether it’s partitioned from the rest of Ireland or not.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 1
  35. Seamuscamp (profile) says:

    Let’s suppose a new flag was agreed by the politicians.Does anyone think there would be no Union Flags on lampposts, no flag-burning, no painted kerbstones, no triumphalism?

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  36. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Its really about finding something that everyone can agree on. The new NI flag doesn’t have buy in from either side so has to be parked.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  37. “Northern Ireland, the state founded to continue Protestant hegemony in Ulster”

    This, I think, is the key point.

    If the purpose of Unionism is a PUL hegemony, then they have lost, will lose and cannot win. No-one gets to be a hegemony in western democratic countries any more. You have to treat tiny minorities with equal respect and value: look at Germany’s new third sex. Trying to oppose that – as the Tea Party are demonstrating in the US, and as UKIP will discover in England – is howling against the moon.

    If the purpose is to keep NI in a union with England, then they can do that for as long as they can keep a majority of the vote, which is going to be a while, and would be even longer if they were to forge a NI national identity, which at least a large fraction of Catholics will want to join on a letsgetalongerist basis.

    Remember all those Catholics who identify as Northern Irish – you could build a huge majority in NI between PULs and letsgetalongerist Catholics. That probably means things like a new NI flag, a new NI anthem, and generally chucking every symbol of both PUL and CNR in the bin and pretending that it’s an entirely new country that came into existence on Good Friday 1998 and that it never existed before. Of course, PULs don’t want that kind of identity. Which rather proves that it’s the sectarian identity, not the union itself that counts.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  38. Nevin (profile) says:

    “now they’ve won international respect as ‘peacemakers’”

    RoC, Richard Haass had the measure of Gerry Adams and his ilk:

    After a few minutes of talking about ‘inching forward’ the peace process, Haass finally snapped. ‘If any American, service personnel or civilian, is killed in Colombia by the technology the IRA supplied then you can fuck off,’ he shouted, finger jabbing towards Adams’ chest. ‘Don’t tell me you know nothing about what’s going on there, we know everything about it.’

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  39. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    “Remember all those Catholics who identify as Northern Irish – you could build a huge majority in NI between PULs and letsgetalongerist Catholics.”

    Indeed. But those ‘Northern Irish’ Catholics are still very content with an Irish cultural heritage and bonds with the south, despite liking the benefits of an economy like the UK. The Protestant who identifies as ‘British only’ will always try to paint the south and Irish culture as alien to him. This will cause internal antagonism with the Northern Irish Catholic who might be pro union but still feels culturally Irish.

    So partition or no partition, the ‘British only’ Protestant is facing a bleak future if he cannot adapt to new realities on the ground. After centuries of being the big dog in the Ulster kennel, I’m not sure he can adapt. I suspect he’ll make life miserable for everyone.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  40. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    Nevin,

    I doubt there’s much the Americans don’t know about Adams and the IRA.

    But he’ll still be invited to the White House on St Patrick’s day with McGuinness.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  41. David Crookes (profile) says:

    GA’s recent history has the effect of making his magisterial statement of today sound like the pitiable murine squeak of an extraneous irrelevance.

    There are two days of the year when I try to keep a bag over my head. One of them is 17 March in its American manifestation.

    I feel a bit grieved that the caravaneers were consulted and we weren’t.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  42. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    David Crookes:

    “making his magisterial statement of today sound like the pitiable murine squeak of an extraneous irrelevance.”

    Your posts are often worth reading for the turn of phrase alone. :)

    That should be engraved on Adams’ headstone.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  43. David Crookes (profile) says:

    You’re too generous, RoC. I was struck by the last sentence of your 3.45 posting. “So partition or no partition, the ‘British only’ Protestant is facing a bleak future if he cannot adapt to new realities on the ground.”

    Too many of our unionist politicians are either men who lived through the Troubles, or Joyless Young Fogeys who want to perpetuate the world of their elders. Both sorts have a proclivity for vulgar culture-free materialism.

    Last night I watched a Miss Marple film in which one old lady, confronted by a new Deco house, said something like, ‘I detest change. That’s why I married the Major.’

    The days of Cap’n Anneal, as he was known in Ballymena, and of the Major who followed him are long gone: but some of my folk are still hankering for the Brookeborough days.

    A guaranteed unionist first minister allows such persons to imagine that nothing fundamental has really changed. That’s why, even if I was still the out-and-out unionist that I used to be, I would be hoping for something different after the next election. Nothing less will persuade our ones that the old world has gone for good.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  44. Nevin (profile) says:

    “even if I was still the out-and-out unionist that I used to be”

    Are you uneasy about calling yourself a nationalist, David? It’s much like being a unionist – just a different political entity.

    “Nothing less will persuade our ones that the old world has gone for good.”

    The current world isn’t much to revere, especially if you live in communities that are under a loyalist or republican paramilitary yoke. Blair and Ahern carry a huge responsibility for this descent into paramilitary ‘justice’.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  45. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “I see that Prof O’Sullivan also went to Oxford, and did a MSc in Economics there and a DPhil (PhD) in Politics there.”

    @Charles,

    Much more relevant than where Haass and Sullivan got their doctorates is their real world experience. Haass handled South Asia for the first Bush administration and thus is familiar with the Kashmir problem. He spent two years in Belfast during the second Bush administration. He has also written extensively about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about Cyprus and South Africa.

    ” If a result was required, Henry Kissinger’s the man.”

    @Bluezjazz,

    Even the great Kissinger–and I say that quite sincerely–failed to deliver an agreement for Rhodesia and Namibia in 1976. Why? For the simple reason that the situation wasn’t ripe for resolution–the same reason Haass failed. In Rhodesia Kissinger pressured Ian Smith through South Africa but had no leverage over the African nationalists. Robert Mugabe didn’t want to compromise as he wanted a military victory. The situation wasn’t ripe for another three years.

    In NI Haass had no leverage over rival political parties that were preparing for elections and at least some of whom were frightened of part of their base. Kissinger’s real secret is that he wouldn’t commit himself to mediation unless he thought he had a real chance at success.

    Haass can now claim that he has mediation experience in NI, something that he couldn’t claim from the Bush administration when the GFA had just been completed and a temporary compromise on weapons patched up either just before he arrived or shortly after he arrived by the two governments.

    “The idea of a new Northern Ireland flag did seem the one startlingly naïve idea from Haass. In every other way he seemed a man with a fairly good understanding of Northern Ireland and divided societies. ”

    Much of mediation consists of trying out ideas, particularly when one is desperate, because nothing else seems to work. There are countless American proposals to the Israelis and Palestinians that are just as naive.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  46. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    David Crookes:

    “A guaranteed unionist first minister allows such persons to imagine that nothing fundamental has really changed. That’s why, even if I was still the out-and-out unionist that I used to be, I would be hoping for something different after the next election. Nothing less will persuade our ones that the old world has gone for good.”

    That realization will become clearer and clearer to them in the coming years. They can’t stop change, but they can make life miserable for everyone in the province if they choose. Last Christmas proved that. Unionism needs strong, honest leadership and it isn’t getting it. Robinson has been outflanked by hardliners, and is on the way down.

    The thought of Dodds, Wilson or Foster as DUP leader does not give one hope for the future.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  47. tacapall (profile) says:

    “The current world isn’t much to revere, especially if you live in communities that are under a loyalist or republican paramilitary yoke. Blair and Ahern carry a huge responsibility for this descent into paramilitary ‘justice”

    Nevin and the other side of that coin is the PSNI continuing the RUC practice of allowing their agents free rein to terrorise and intimidate the communities in which they live. Nothing much changes in the ghettos and regardless who rules the roost we’re still cannon fodder.

    http://www.u.tv/news/Hundreds-at-illegal-city-street-race/54902879-e217-4535-a970-f8c5cbc89cdd

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  48. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Nevin, unease doesn’t come into it. The word NATIONALIST tends to be construed in only one manner. (So does the word PROFANE, which can mean either SECULAR or BLASPHEMOUS, but which nearly everyone construes as BLASPHEMOUS.) Until some term is created to denote someone who believes in an all-Ireland monarchy I shan’t use the word that you have used.

    Of course the present world isn’t much to revere, but NOTHING will be achieved by blaming figures from the past for its unvenerable aspects. That sort of activity belongs to Walter-and-the-Softies coffee-morning discussion-groups.

    Most of the paramilitary criminals who presently engage in crime do so by choice and of their own free will. Superannuated Blairs cannot be invoked as the wee devils wot make them do it.

    Those who want to do something serious about Ireland will be obliged at first to trade in boot-and-fist simplicities if they are going to achieve anything. When forests fall, chips fly.

    People who decide to create a new forest must stop their ears both to the eternal lamentations of the old chips, and to the clever verbalist antics of homo sundaypaperus and homo cocktailparteius.

    I’m saying THE PRESENT WORLD STINKS, SO WE SHOULD CHANGE IT.

    Losers say THE PRESENT WORLD STINKS, BUT IT WAS THEMMUNS WOT DONE IT.

    Losers are people who never move on. They represent their own immobility as the product of high intelligence and lofty principles. They know why everyone else is wrong. They cultivate exquisite miniature gardens of bonsai sophistry, because every single thing about them is miniature.

    Bah! What Northern Ireland needs is A GREAT AXE. GB doesn’t want us. We are doomed to be the permanent Mad Relation in the Attic for as long as our presence in the UK is tolerated. One reason why GB doesn’t like us is THAT MANY OF US ARE BARBARIANS. In expensive suits, it many be, but barbarians nonetheless.

    Our barbarity will have to die before a UI is possible. So a sensible advocate of a UI will need to have some programme for raising the cultural and spiritual level of the population. It isn’t a matter of persuading everyone that a new political framework is desirable. It’s a matter of getting ourselves to admit that NI stinks because many of us stink ourselves.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 1
  49. sherdy (profile) says:

    David, – You have to put a bag over your head on St Patrick’s Day. Surely Paddy didn’t put an ugly curse on you so you have to hide for his special day.
    If the American doc and prof are so omniscient how come they hadn’t the basic wit to stay the hell away from here?

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  50. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, RoC. Indeed! Nothing can reverse the trend.

    Sherdy, if I knew where you lived I’d come round to visit you with my werewolf mask on. But to be serious, I reckon that R & M were motivated chiefly by good will. Of course the truth may be that they’re both wild masochists.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  51. socaire (profile) says:

    Is this a new flag for ‘Northern Ireland’ or a flag for the ‘new Northern Ireland’ and will ‘Ireland’ have to erase the orange bit from the Tricolour and why oh why, Turgon, didn’t you post this thread before this sham fight started? Sure it almost ruined Xmas for ordinary decent people (who vote UUP).

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  52. drmisery (profile) says:

    Go pastor crookes. I am impressed as I agree. Honesty, courage and determination are all lacking, there seems to he little hope, happiness or joy in unionism.
    Why is a skile always so forced or indeed delivered with smugness. The problem is they set their mighty chins to the wind, knowing a change is gonna come while secretly plotting their exit strategy to mainland Britain where their kids probably are.

    Leadership? Paisley was a leader. Jim allister is a leader ( of a small band it must be said). Real risk taking is incompatible with calvinism is it not?
    So d.crookes, much as I view you as pragmatic, we need atheists who will gamble and negotiate on Sundays. No change until next census

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  53. Nevin (profile) says:

    tacapal, if the boy-racers aren’t discouraged by the possibility of bones being shattered by iron bars or joints by the Belfast 6-pack then they won’t fear the police, the courts or the Minister of Justice.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  54. Nevin (profile) says:

    David, nationalism can be pro-monarchy or anti-monarchy so you can wear that Irish nationalist label with pride.

    “It’s a matter of getting ourselves to admit that NI stinks because many of us stink ourselves.”

    Is this lay-preacher speak? I threw in my lot with the likes of Ray Davey and those wonderful young folks in Coleraine and I’ve no regrets.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  55. Nevin (profile) says:

    [contd]I’m an enthusiastic user of Facebook and have reconnected with some of my old Corrymeela and JCSS associates. Forty years on I was delighted to receive this message: “Nevin, I can’t believe you remember me. I remember you and the exciting horizons you opened up for me.”

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  56. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Bravo.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  57. Nevin (profile) says:

    David, all this social capital stuff probably brings out the best in people whereas politics seems to have the opposite effect.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  58. The biggest political issue at the minute is the falling turnout at elections, falling from 70% in 1998 to 54.5% in 2011.

    What effect will the end of the Haass talks have on this trend? Will the trend continue, in which case the turnout in May 2011 could well be below 50%. Or, just possibly, might the trend be reversed by enough people deciding to vote differently next time?

    https://whereareyoufrancishutcheson.wordpress.com/two-ways-of-looking-at-it/

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  59. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Yes. John Buchan was far more able than most of his fellow-MPs, but he never got a full cabinet post because he was seen as having far too many friends on both sides of the house.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  60. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    DC,
    “GB doesn’t want us.”
    If GB has a view at all. And if it does, does that actually matter much?

    We tend to overrate the importance of what people here (I write from England) think about NI. Mostly they are apathetic about it. It has no more significance really than their views on Scottish independence – as long as the English are willing to tolerate Scotland and NI as parts of the UK if those areas so choose – and they are – their further views about us are neither here nor there really. The key point is, feelings in England don’t run very deep on NI and the right of NI, Scotland and Wales to choose their own futures is well accepted.

    But I agree with a lot of the rest of your longer post. There are a lot of people in NI, not just politicians, who seem to operate without a moral compass. And they have been indulged, big time, for too long.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  61. Gopher (profile) says:

    Perhaps if turnout goes below 50% there is a case for saving money by closing the assembly and returning to direct rule. With the new super councils is there any need for the assembly?

    I think the solution to the turnout lies in putting politics back in the hands of the people. Next election there should be a referendum on bringing abortion law into line with the UK, a referendum on the A5, a referendum on passenger duty, corp tax, an amnesty and a new flag. Our politicians are too scared to govern so let the people do by referendum. Direct Rule and referendums and save on the farce up on the hill.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  62. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Right, MU, thanks for refining my rather brash overstatement.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  63. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    Gopher-spot on-in every way.
    You’re speaking for the 50+%.
    The abortion thing is a farce anyway as you can buy abortion pills online for £20. Just google. And they’re perfectly safe up to 12 weeks.
    The Assembly is a Hammer movie Peter Cushing medieval tribute act. Without Veronica Carlson, but I digress.
    The simple fact is that devolution for NI is an expensive waste.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  64. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Do you mean Veronica Dobson, BJ?

    Of course you’re right. A horror film called THE CARAVAN whose monsters write the script.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  65. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    I nearly wrote that DC, Freudian I know.
    Actually, Ingrid Pitt was my fave, but no local references there. The Collinson twins I had in mind earlier in reference to Peter Cushing and the NI assembly.
    Twins of Evil???

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  66. New Yorker (profile) says:

    Sometimes agreement is encouraged by an incentive. Why not freeze all MLAs salary and expenses until they reach agreement and a plan of its implementation? After all, they are not doing their jobs so why are they still being paid?

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  67. megatron (profile) says:

    I can see from a Unionists pov the attraction of direct rule. The real problem is governance – regardless of the Scottish referendum result there is almost certainly going to be much greater devolution to scotland and wales. The next part is going to be some addressing of the English question which logically would be outside westminister (although location could be westminister and it might be MPs who run the thing…). Regardless, all areas of the UK will govern themselves to a large extent. I dont think it will be feasible for NI to say they cant do it and want the UK gov (which at that stage might just be concerned with defence / foreign relations / non devolved matters) to add local government of NI to its list of duties.

    It certainly wouldnt be a good look if NI basically said it was ungovernable. There is no going back to the 70s / 80s /90s anymore – the government infrastructure wont exist in the future.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  68. BetsyGray (profile) says:

    If there seems to be a constant stalemate in politics up at the big house at Stormont…(no surprise there)…..and if direct rule is the option some prefer….then so be it….merely confirming that we are dealing with a failed political entity that is Northern Ireland. In that no matter what is conjured up and put together it can’t function properly due to its hammer horror genetics……the same fate that was bestowed on Charles II of Spain.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  69. Barnshee (profile) says:

    “Nevin and the other side of that coin is the PSNI continuing the RUC practice of allowing their agents free rein to terrorise and intimidate the communities in which they live. Nothing much changes in the ghettos and regardless who rules the roost we’re still cannon fodder.

    http://www.u.tv/news/Hundreds-at-illegal-city-street-race/54902879-e217-4535-a970-f8c5cbc89cdd

    So the PSNI are employing “agents ” to steal cars and shit all over West Belfast ?

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  70. Barnshee (profile) says:

    “It certainly wouldnt be a good look if NI basically said it was ungovernable. There is no going back to the 70s / 80s /90s anymore – the government infrastructure wont exist in the future.”

    The politicians in NI have been shafted by the brits

    The whinging locals are now in charge (Tho even now they have no real appreciation of how NI floats only by taxpayer largesse) Having conned the local politcos into taking charge there is no way the brits are bring back direct rule .

    Can`t agree on implementation of Benefit reforms ?

    That £5m off the subvention- ta very much

    Fuck about with education and Local Authority reform ?ah well that all out of a (reducing) budget -on you own head be it.

    Brilliant hit them where it both hurts and becomes immediately obvious – in the bank balance

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  71. David Crookes (profile) says:

    BJ (sorry to be frivolous, but that’s how I stay sane), the Bella Twins might do a better job of sorting out Stormont.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  72. drmisery (profile) says:

    Blues jazz. You’re on dangerous ground if you suggest misoprostol is perfectly safe . Nothing is, but dont let me detract you from the usual factual inaccuracies! ! If you are not a medical practitioner and giving such serious advice….

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  73. DC (profile) says:

    The abortion thing is a farce anyway as you can buy abortion pills online for £20. Just google. And they’re perfectly safe up to 12 weeks.

    Written like a true lad, proud of ye!

    Although the reality is no one is going to let their wife/partner/gf/fb buy ropey pills like that online there are risks even if the pills are of good quality such as ehm bits of the embryo/foetus not fullly discharging after ingesting pills and needing surgically removed. You’ll not get that treatment for £20 on Google!

    The harsh reality is that I have no doubt single women who have got up the duff by accident without said partner/bf do do what you have done and do indeed have ‘Google’ as their ‘God’ and buy online.

    I also blame the lack of legal abortions in NI as a driver of suicides here, kids growing up unwanted and unloved right from the start “yeah son you were unwanted after a night of drunken lustful sex with some random, one-night stand type thing, but mummy never had the money to pay privately for an abortion after the morning after pill failed”. Suicides may well be the outworkings of having a bigoted – taliban-esque -approach to reproduction here, it’s a failed approach.

    Shameful behaviour of our politicians and Alliance party – David Ford as the justice minister of all persons – should be doing a lot more for the rights of individuals in relation to that issue, rather than fcking around with flags and being found impotent.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  74. sherdy (profile) says:

    DC, – If your drunken friends who were ‘fcking around’ had all been found impotent, their children’s problems might not have arisen.
    David, – You say that frivolity keeps you sane. Would you not be the last one to know?

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  75. DC (profile) says:

    Sherdy

    Well my point is that Alliance should be using up its pot of power and political vitality if you like on key issues that are of real importance to ‘ordinary’ people and no doubt a lot of people – certain individuals – would have been genuinely v v grateful for proper progress on the abortion issue, rather than wasting said pot of power pointlessly on the union flag like Alliance have done, which will in all likelihood all but finish them off next election in Unionist areas.

    Wouldn’t it have been better to burn out over something worth the fight like abortion, than the way they are going to go out and for what, a flag that most of their voters if pushed probably would have liked to have seen left up and left alone, some newer voters of Alliance prob have no passion one way or the other on the union flag, passions lying elsewhere, perhaps sexual orientation, equality issues.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  76. sherdy (profile) says:

    DC, – You may well have a point about Alliance, though I wouldn’t necessarily agree, but trying to illustrate your argument by talking about your drunken mates ‘faking’ about and causing unwanted pregnancies is a strange approach.

    Of course you’re under no obligation to take my word for anything – nobody ever voted for me.
    But I suppose, in my favour, I had the little bit of wit to not ask anyone to do so.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  77. DC (profile) says:

    Oh I think you misunderstood, I am accusing the Alliance party of fucking around with flags and being found impotent – they made the issue a live one in belfast city council by voting in change – than nullifying it – and when they tried to make designated days a regional thing during Haass they failed to produce agreement to make that happen.

    They drew attention to themselves and people will see that the way designated days operates is only to reduce the union flag, designated days would have needed to been implemented regionally for Alliance to sell it as a win-win because other councils that didn’t fly the flag would have been made to put it up.

    I’m actually genuinely regretful designated days wasn’t agreed especially for those that backed the GFA and peace thinking it was about respecting the constitutional position, also it’s a bit rich if not utterly pathetic mocking loyalists over 95% reductions in union flag flying whenever Nationalists can’t find it in them to raise it by 5%, up from zero.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  78. DC (profile) says:

    It’s not just about knocking Alliance.

    It’s almost impossible to vote for any Unionist parties, friends and family and colleagues everyone I know of think the DUP as leaders of Unionism are a complete joke, sniggering over not negotiating on Sundays and the utter incompetence of Poots and sadly the bigotry found in various policy positions.

    As leaders of Unionism they make the whole of unionism a joke, almost unvotable – and in relation to abortion everyone knows if it were to happen in their own families, unwanted pregnancies, we all know what they would do, just like Iris was a hypocrite, normal voters, ordinary families have seething contempt because no doubt it would all be done privately and hush hush.

    It’s time for a bit of compassionate, vote-worthy, Unionism.

    And if anyone thinks those two complete jokers heading up NI21 are going to be just that, I really doubt it!

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  79. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Cracker, sherdy (9.15). Gave a great lycanthropic laugh when I read it. Must go and have a very late dinner.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  80. sherdy (profile) says:

    DC, – I know nothing about you, not even if you’re male or female, but I get the feeling that you are a seriously disillusioned idealist. Unfortunately the world is full of people with feet of clay. Very few of us are ‘sine cera’.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  81. DC (profile) says:

    Remember Naomi Long was voted in because of a powerful amount of ‘seething contempt’ for the DUP and I reckon that reflects the desperation out there within certain sections of unionism to produce that sort of outcome.

    I think it is clear signal as to which direction Unionism needs to go, more towards the compassionate end than bullshit bravado nonsense, funny enough the most compassionate of DUP leaders was big Ian for that one year or so he had ‘doing power’ with McGuinness. He got there as a result of winding up the majority of Unionism in the other direction to the one he ended up going in during that wee year in power as first minister!

    Yes indeed what was it you were saying about sincerity…

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  82. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    Dr Misery/DC
    Know quite a few people who have bought the online abortion tablets. They are medically prescribed by doctors. Including mainland UK.
    Cheaper than the flight to Liverpool or Glasgow.
    What’s the big deal? It’s a common occurrence.
    And not a criminal offence, as the internet is a Westminster matter, thankfully, not a local Free P medieval matter.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  83. DC (profile) says:

    BluesJazz

    You’re funny!

    I am not a doctor or super knowledgeable about women’s health matters and family planning, but what if the online abortion pill doesn’t work fully? It’s possible for the embryo to survive it then definitely has to be surgically aborted after due to likelihood of it being born disabled. You would be left going private again and off to England.

    I think the woman is supposed to take a pregnancy test one month after the abortion pill to make sure it has worked as sometimes the test shows up as pregnant whenever it is the ‘remains’ the gunk if you like still left in there that hasn’t come out naturally but should have – this needs ‘removed’. If the woman were to do nothing and leave it it might become infected. That might be a big deal to some or a concern?

    But generally I agree if I were a woman, perhaps young person pregnant stuck for cash I would do it – Google it, get the pill and fingers crossed and all that. I imagine those, unionist-leaning women perhaps, young women maybe, maybe not, possible unionist voters, if stuck in that position must surely have nothing other than the utmost contempt for those politicians supposedly in favour of the UK and Union – yet deny them what is FREELY available to others on the NHS in the UK.

    The DUP et al need to have a bit more respect for their own citizens and constituents, constituents who respect their right -the DUP’s etc- to religious beliefs and so on, but those beliefs shouldn’t be forced on the health service and made to have an impact on voters own private lives in this way, esp seeing as most voters do not subscribe to their fundamentalist beliefs. We all know what our beloved politicians would do if it happened to one of their daughters or perhaps to one of them!? You don’t even have to look at Iris for hypocrisy, Gerry Adams got his private parts looked at privately over in America.

    The fundamentalist bigots up in Stormont have Talibanised NI’s NHS.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0
  84. IrelandNorth (profile) says:

    The northern nationalist quality tabloid quoted one talks participant as describing the talks as being like carving a turkey, with each draft representing a slice taken off in favouur of Ulster unionism. So how come the Democratic Unionst Party (DUP) rejected the seventh (and final) draft? Were turkey bones only aacceptable to them. Perhaps appropriate to post-Christmas festivities. But to paraphrase an Americanism: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” If it already exists, don’t reinvent it! The much neglected Saint Patrick’s saltire could have been flown solo over BCH with considerable cross party allegieince.

    What do you think?
    (Log in or register to judge or mark as offensive)
    Commend 0

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Copyright © 2003 - 2014 Slugger O'Toole Ltd. All rights reserved.
Powered by WordPress; produced by Puffbox.
328 queries. 1.160 seconds.