Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

There are grounds for hope in the Haass document, even the outline of modest solutions

Wed 1 January 2014, 4:17pm

Here’s an early critique without benefit of interpretation. From the language of the paper it’s more difficult than I thought to spot the precise causes of breakdown. That awaits the parties’ own accounts which hopefully will be better than spin. It’s quite true that there’s a great deal in it that can usefully be worked on.  It creates its own pressure. The parties and the governments ought not to be able to let it gather dust. Early indications are mildly encouraging.   The emphasis is on taking responsibility long avoided, building momentum, creating greater transparency and opening up to much greater public involvement.  In many cases it prescribes time lines for action within a couple of months’ time.  For instance it gives a detailed set of timescales for managing each stage of a parade application. This grew ever more complicated with each draft.

Whether “action” amounts to implementation is one thing.  But there is plenty of opportunity here for wider public involvement. If that were to take off, it might in itself dissipate some of the anger and frustration unless the field is left to militants.

Inevitably a new plethora of arms- length bodies with prescriptive new duties is envisaged.

A Commission on Identity, Culture, and Tradition would hold “structured discussions” in public meetings to explore the issues behind the flying of flags.   In practical terms this leaves the door open to maintaining local council option. In councils observing rotation, the mayor to decide?

There is  strong emphasis on community dialogue and mediation over parades and  the expected  two tier structure for managing them ,no longer under the Secretary of State but an arms- length  body at last under the Executive – now cumbrously  called  The Office for Parades, Select Commemorations and Related Protests  and The Authority for Public Events Adjudication.  The emphasis is upheld of  the lawful right to parade peacefully. All politicians would be required to sign up to supporting a lawful ban whether they personally agreed with it or not.

The public would be urged to contribute to “an archive for conflict-related oral histories, documents, and other relevant materials from individuals of all backgrounds, from Northern Ireland and beyond, who wish to share their experiences connected with the conflict.”

The whole package of parades, identity flags and the past  would be managed by another arms length  body,  the Implementation and Reconciliation Group of representatives of the five parties,  “to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of all the bodies outlined in this agreement, and issue progress reports and calls for improvements where necessary.”   I’ll return to this body later.

The most interesting mechanisms deal with the past. The parties unanimously oppose a straight amnesty and have agreed that they should all use their influence to persuade people to come forward with information. It will be interesting to see how or even if this will be taken forward.

The structure neatly splits information retrieval from evidence for prosecutions. A Historical Investigations Unit would replace the HET and the Troubles role of the Police Ombudsman. It would conduct a review of all 3000 cases but not all of them from scratch. It would be given new powers to replace the PSNI in follow-up investigations. There would be no amnesty but the suggestion of legal sanctions for failure to give evidence has not been adopted.

Some commentators fear a structural bias against the police but I see no evidence for this. If up to this point the HET failed to find enough evidence to prosecute lots of police officers why should it be thought that the new HIU would do so, despite the finding of unbalanced treatment of evidence against the police?

More fundamentally why  should any former paramilitary or police officer come forward voluntarily until the threat of prosecutions is safely lifted and they have the other option of the Independent Commission for Information Retrieval (ICIR)?   No one answering the calls to come forward could be prosecuted on the basis of their own testimony. Witnesses could give evidence anonymously through third parties. Families would be given one version of the result and the public another. In the published reports the ICIR could make use of the results of the Investigations Unit but the files of the Information Retrieval Unit would remain closed to the Investigations Unit.

In the real world it seems likely that information retrieval could not make significant progress until  HIU has completed its work and all 3000 files have been closed. That could take years and thwart hopes of giving fuller information to many relatives and the rest of us. This is in conflict with the document’s pious statement that “Northern Ireland does not have the luxury of putting off this difficult, but potentially transformative, task any longer.”    With all the parties apparently opposing an amnesty the only pressure on people to talk might come  by challenging them with  information retrieved from HIU investigations while  protecting their identities.

Its tempting  to conclude that despite all the warm words the main political parties have their own reasons for avoiding facing the issues of the past. Perhaps the most striking single failure was the inability to settle who is eligible for victims’ services when these should so obviously (and legally?) be based on need not reward.

A great role is envisaged for academics and experts especially historians, reporting to an Implementation and Reconciliation Group of political nominees .  However the academics are  naively treated as an on tap resource to be tasked like school pupils for a project . These proposals would need to be redrawn for any hope of implementation.

  • The ‘Commission on Identity, Culture, and Tradition’ would use “ academics and other experts to examine what identity, culture, and tradition mean in the context of a multi-cultural society.”
  • The “archive for conflict-related oral histories, documents, and other relevant materials”  would  rightly be non- judgmental but would exclude “ inflammatory “ material – a potentially unacceptable  constraint. Historians need “the  inflammatory material” and who in any case decides what it inflammatory?
  • The IRG would set the “themes”  and “ assessments of patterns”  for the academics to develop.   Eg:

hypotheses for consideration include: alleged collusion between governments and paramilitaries; alleged ethnic cleansing in border regions and in interface neighbourhoods; the alleged UK ‘shoot to kill’ policy; the reported targeting of off-duty UDR soldiers, prison officers, and reservist Royal Ulster Constabulary officers; the degree to which, if at all, Ireland provided a ‘safe haven’ to republican paramilitaries; intra-community violence by paramilitaries; the use of lethal force in public order situations; detention without trial; mistreatment of detainees and prisoners; any policy behind the Disappeared; or the sources of financing and arms for paramilitary groups.

( Why leave out the role of informers in undermining the paramilitary organisations?)

A Historical Timeline Group, dedicated to developing a factual chronology of the conflict. It should be composed of suitably qualified academics who would conduct a review of a broad range of historical material with a view to producing a timeline of events from 1968 to 1998. The objective would be to provide a factual resource for the work of other projects relating to the past, including but not limited to the archive of personal narratives. Its goal would be to neither condemn nor condone, but rather to offer a contextualised, evidence-based accompaniment for other work on the past.

And all reporting to a body comprised of politicians! The aim is well meaning but nervously over prescriptive, written to avoid any suggestion of blame, designed perhaps to organise material for later analysis and support “reconciliation.” These terms  I’d guess are unacceptable and a breach of academic freedom. Reports based on information retrieval should be entirely independent.

Despite the inevitable criticisms, the Executive parties should be given credit for embarking on the voyage. Now they have to reach port with a new pilot or perhaps the same one.   There are several references to a direct role for the British and Irish governments.  These should be taken up with the same concentration of effort as in 1998 and 2006. Some of the issues are underlying, others urgent. After Hass 2013, they can no longer be ignored without further damage.

Outcomes seem a little clearer. Settle for local option for flags, implement the parades regime with robust community consultation mechanisms, prove to the point of destruction that future prosecutions will be few and  the hopes of some ( how many?) families for more information will remain unfulfilled. A poll of families on their treatment and the choices facing them would be enlightening.  Then widen the canvas, open the archives and leave to the professionals to give an account of the Troubles and their mainsprings. This is not beyond the wit of humankind, given the will.

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Comments (45)

  1. HammerTime (profile) says:

    Union Jack flying showing NI’s constitutional attachment to the UK with the yellow Ulster provincial flag flying beside it showing Ulsters attachment as one of the four provinces in the island of Ireland. Everybody happy, Shirley.

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  2. redstar2011 (profile) says:

    A Commission on Identity, Culture, and Tradition would hold “structured discussions” in public meetings to explore the issues behind the flying of flags. In practical terms this leaves the door open to maintaining local council option. In councils observing rotation, the mayor to decide?

    So when the Shinners are in the top spot in BCC the tricolour flies alone over City Hall?

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  3. Five months to the local elections.
    Five months to sort flags.
    No time for commissions and consultation and reports. All the evidence is already available.
    Sort flags first and the rest will be easier.
    https://whereareyoufrancishutcheson.wordpress.com/sort-flags-first/

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  4. Brian – of course none of these institutions & timelines begin until the agreement is made … so with elections in May, we may have to wait a while.

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  5. redstar2011 (profile) says:

    Apart from the compromise of both or none there really isn’t any other way of both sides flags being represented in a compromise.

    By definition leaving out one flag/ only flying one flag isnt a compromise

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  6. It is very possible that there will be a United Ireland in the lifetime of our children. Would having either two flags or no flag work here then? I don’t think so.
    Or will there be the flag of the country (then the tricolour) flying on all public buildings on only designated days and no other flags flying on lamp posts?
    The compromise needs to be capable of surviving this possible future change of jurisdiction

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  7. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    martyn what do councils in ROI do?

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  8. weidm7 (profile) says:

    SF should be using these talks and any future high-level talks to extract cocessions on all-Ireland bodies and agendas from unionists. To my mind, they should accept concessions on flags and parades and whatever else in exchange for more all-Ireland bodies, unionist backing for northerners voting in southern elections, a truly all-Ireland television channel and the like. The free staters wouldn’t like it, but it would put considerable pressure on them since it’s an agreement coming from all parties in the north and the considerable nationalist electorate which still exists down south would put pressure on them to accept. To be honest, I think they would agree to it. I mean, what’s the aim here? A united Ireland or pretend immunity for a few volunteers foolish enough to talk to one of these new bodies?

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  9. weidm7 (profile) says:

    Oh, and Brian, I thought ‘Haass had basic flaws. It’s time for the two governments to step up to the plate’? No apology, not even a tiny bit of shame for that stunningly awful bit of analysis posted only about 4 or 5 articles ago.

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  10. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Robbo / Gerry et al “The Haass talks were not a failure”

    Audience

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  11. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Robbo / Gerry et al “The Haass talks were not a failure”

    Audience “Oh yes they were ……. ”

    Robbo / Gerry et al “Oh No they weren’t …….”

    Audience “Oh yes they were ……. ”

    Robbo / Gerry et al “Oh No they weren’t …….”

    Audience “Oh yes they were ……. ”

    Robbo / Gerry et al “Oh No they weren’t …….”

    Audience “Oh yes they were ……. ”

    Robbo / Gerry et al “Oh No they weren’t …….”

    ….. …………………………….continue to 2025 (at least)

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  12. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    45 years ago:
    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/proni/1968/proni_CAB-9-B-205-8_1968-12-09.pdf

    Like Deja vu all over again. Except the size of the Westminster handout( block grant) has, even allowing for inflation, absolutely ballooned.

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  13. notimetoshine (profile) says:

    Regardless of the content of the Haass document, the fact is they didn’t come to any sort of agreement. The content is besides the point, the point is our morons for politicians didn’t do their jobs.

    There seems to be a lot of discussion about the content and not enough about the incompetence of our political establishment. It’s a bloody scandal.

    I don’t know about anyone else but I’m fuming at them. They can’t agree on something as simple as the points covered in the Hass talks, what hope is there for anything else?

    How they can be described as anything other than a failure I can’t understand.

    Obviously a ploy by our political parties to cover up their own intransigence and ineptitude.

    We should suspend their salaries until they come to an agreement, then we’ll see how quickly we get a result.

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  14. sherdy (profile) says:

    The DUP went into the discussions handcuffed to the Orange Order, so there was never any intention of actually ‘negotiating’ anything – they were just going through the motions for the sake of the optics.
    Just imagine SDLP or Sinn Fein had gone into the discussions with some Catholic body, possibly a Jesuit priest as an adviser or consultant.
    There would have been howls of anger from the PUL insisting that there should be no religious interference.
    But yet its okay for the extremist Big Merv of the bigoted Orange Order to be there every step of the way.
    The talks were deliberately set to fail!

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  15. David Crookes (profile) says:

    “The Commission on Identity, Culture, and Tradition would use academics and other experts…..”

    I am going to spew. More big jobs for Walter and the Softies? “Don’t worry, we can afford it. We’ll sack a hundred nurses.”

    Sherdy says it nearly all. “The DUP went into the discussions handcuffed to the Orange Order.”

    If HMG can’t deal with the OO, unionist voters can — by exercising their electoral right in such a manner as to make impossible the appointment of a DUP first minister.

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  16. Morpheus (profile) says:

    “The DUP went into the discussions handcuffed to the Orange Order.”

    True. Two high profile OO members – one ex-Special Branch and one ex-UDR – plus an alleged member of The Caleb Foundation. Were they ever able to put the needs of the people before the wants of their organisations? Would we be in a different situation if the negotiating team was different?

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  17. babyface finlayson (profile) says:

    redstar 2011
    “By definition leaving out one flag/ only flying one flag isnt a compromise”
    Well it is a compromise, though maybe not a perfect one. I think many nationalists would put up with the union flag on designated days. We are, like it or not, part of the union for now.That would be an acknowledgement of that reality without rubbing peoples noses in it so to speak.

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  18. drmisery (profile) says:

    Sometimes David , I read your input and I think, gee there is hope. Independant thought and an ability to look at another person’s point of view-but then I think its an anomaly, no chance of a collection of lundys.

    You see, as I’ve often said, violence is wrong, there could be no justification for it. But I really think it is harder for themuns to stop and look into that dirty box of lies, untruths etc as the fall from grace is so much harder when you know it has to come.

    I’ve just read the collusion book or tried to. It was very disturbing. On the way to mass the UDR used to park 15/20 yards from the chapel I would say every other week,. Myself and my brothers used to get stopped and interrogated for 10mins or so every time we got to the checkpoint. “Where are you going?” MASS , “where have you been?” AT HOME. “Where do you live?”. Anyhow unbeknownst to me they shouldn’t stopped us unless the ruc was present or so a friend of the family told me, but to put it into context. We had no terrorist connections (that we knew off) but the fact we were young dutiful sons going to Mass would have made us targets. Every other week one of the clown UDR unwashed sort would have sighted us with their rifle while their illiterate friend tried to write an approximation of my name in a black book-which easily could have been forwarded to the local uda which I believe now wasnt even illegal at that time.

    So why the ramble; the pus which lies in our society below the surface needs out.

    The bigots need outed. The hypocritical gay bashers who are gay in politics need outed. The paedo protectors need outed and or jailed. Too much sin and not enough repentance.

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  19. drmisery (profile) says:

    I am sick of unionist politicians. Where are their balls? I can think if comedy answers.

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  20. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, drmisery. I can see what you mean about pus.

    Trouble is that there are too many consentient pustules around. I’m a part-time preacher. I know people who don’t even vote (because they think it’s wrong), but they have a warm sympathy in their hearts with lawless rioters from their own side of the fence, and there is very little that those rioters can do that the consentient non-voters will not excuse.

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  21. cynic2 (profile) says:

    ” I am sick of unionist politicians.”

    Negotiation takes two sides. If themuns wont give an inch why should the Unionists comply. Its all of them who are the problem – not just one side

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  22. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    Cunic2:

    “Negotiation takes two sides. If themuns wont give an inch why should the Unionists comply. Its all of them who are the problem – not just one side”

    That’s an easy get out out clause when one wants to make excuses, which is what many unionists are now attempting to do.

    In reality, you take each case on its own merits, and in this case it was the DUP who refused to compromise, not nationalists. Robinson isn’t strong enough in his position anymore to force through hard decisions. He is a busted flush being outflanked in his own party by hardliners. That has been evident for months.

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  23. SK (profile) says:

    “Negotiation takes two sides. If themuns wont give an inch why should the Unionists comply. Its all of them who are the problem – not just one side.”

    ___

    An utter cop-out. Unionist parties rejected seven drafts of a compromise paper that two objective outsiders considered to be fair, and they did so because they are in thrall to sectarian bigots in caravan in Twaddell. That isn’t nationalism’s doing.

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  24. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, SK. You remind me of Omar Khayyam.

    Think, in this batter’d Caravanserai
    Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
    How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
    Abode his destined Hour, and went his way.

    The idea that we are being governed from that squalid caravan seems less absurd now that those seven drafts have all been rejected.

    We have to get away from the endless cycle in which first ministers come and go, but the batter’d subintelligent caravanserai of lawless loyalism remains undefeated from age to age.

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  25. SK (profile) says:

    A good point made with an eloquence that I can only aspire to, David.

    There can be no progress while political unionism remains under the thumb of those who consider compromise to be an act of betrayal.

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  26. Coll Ciotach (profile) says:

    It is not necessarily a bad thing when negotiations break down, perhaps they reflect what can be achieved and what cannot and allow a new more realistic view to arise.

    Unionist have learned nothing from the past, rivalling the Bourbons in their inability to learn from their mistakes.

    Unionists intransigence to the civil rights campaign and its extreme violent reaction and suppression sowed the dragons teeth which led to the rise and justification of nationalist counter force.

    Stormont then crumbled under the weight of the resultant turmoil, an achievement for nationalism which should never be forgotten or downplayed.

    The fruits of inability to adapt to new realities was laid bare as the next 30 years was lost to violence until the GFA offered a route out for unionism, “Sunningdale for slow learners” is not a jibe at Republicans, it is more applicable to Unionism.

    But things have moved on from the era of the GFA, a new generation has been reared with new expectations and a new reality, the GFA was minimalist 20 years ago for nationalism and is no longer enough.

    The new realism unionism has to come to terms with is this different demography that exists since the demise of the Stormont regime, the violence its policies precipitated and the peace negotiations which resulted in the GFA.

    This new reality were the Irish cultural identity, as a separate identity from a faux Val Doonicanesque “Come into the parlour there is a welcome there for you” Irish one, or a more colonial based British one, is going to become more vociferous and assertive.

    Unionists has just shown that is incapable of reconcile themselves with that development and to negotiate the way forward. Thankfully there has been no unionists backlash as of yet and no nationalist counter.

    On that score we are achieving something.

    But change will happen as it cannot be stopped. The reality will assert itself.

    Unionists may be engaging in a rear guard action trying to promote and preserve the cultural mores of the past Stormont regime but they are doing themselves a disservice as there is now no control, no roadmap and no rules.

    Nationalism is now only constrained by itself in how it asserts its demographic advances. There is nothing to stop nationalist councils progressing as they choose.

    Perhaps a memorial in town centres for murdered provos to counter UDR memorials?

    Perhaps a cenotaph and yearly parades by the great and good to commemorate the heroes of 1916. And why not? Sauce for the goose.

    The resultant fracturing of the north along the lines of identity will destroy, thankfully, the chances to create a “Northern Ireland”, scuppered by the failure of unionists to compromise, the all duck or no dinner approach is going to put them on a severe diet.

    But there again maybe nationalist do not understand the viewpoint of today’s unionism.

    Is unionism able to compromise? Perhaps they see what is on the horizon and are asking what is the point of having the border if in reality you end up with two Irish states of near cultural hegemony? Perhaps they believe that it is best to go down fighting?

    No matter, the current political settlement is changing tone and no one can stop the change. Unionism has rejected this opportunity to control the change. They do not want to be associated with change that challenges the shibboleths of the past, that way always leads to electoral demise so perhaps they will find that change will control them.

    On another note, for the life of me what were SF and the SDLP even thinking of to endorse this document.

    The tone was atrocious, the proposals supportive of the unionist position. If this was a bluff then it is a dangerous one. Thankfully the unionists do not know when they have won. All duck or no dinner gets nationalists a feed every time.

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  27. cynic2 (profile) says:

    ” it was the DUP who refused to compromise, not nationalists ”

    That depends on where you start!!!! But anyway where is the evidence for that?

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  28. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    Cynic2:

    “That depends on where you start!!!! But anyway where is the evidence for that?”

    Have you not read Gerry Moriarty’s Irish Times column or the London independent’s editor’s comment? Or is your head deliberately in the sand?

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  29. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “An utter cop-out”

    Really – it depends when you start. You seem to think that Haass was just another means of leveraging Unionists into something that Nationalists want. That’s not what negotiations are about.

    I personally think that the protesters at Twaddell are nuts. But why are they there? In protest at their parades being banned

    Why were they banned?

    Because nationalists objected and they misbehaved and because they are protesting because ‘their’ flag was removed from City Hall

    Why was it removed?

    Because Alliance wanted to curry favour with Nationalist Voters and in any case there was a good case for only flying it on designed days

    Why wasn’t that negotiated? either the Nationalists nor Unionists was prepared to and Alliance were seeking political advantage

    ……… 30 years of Violence

    ……… Sunningdale

    ……… Stormont

    ………. Civil Rights

    ……… Partition

    …. William of Orange

    ……. Cromwell

    ……… Henry VIII

    ……… Henry II

    Where do you want to start?

    Let me give you a concrete example. Lets suppose we get this new Parades Body suggested by Haass. What will the possible agreement be that will restore the OO parade down Garvaghy Road? Or Ormeau Road? or Crumlin Road?

    What conditions would apply to allow any of those parades it to proceed? Are SF open to negotiate on these or not?

    Under what conditions would Gerry Adams and all his former colleagues in “The Movement” suddenly recover their memories and tell the whole truth about their activities? Including Jean McConville and who kept the deal from the Hunger Strikers?

    Lets be clear …I am not arguing for the Unionist position on any of this just commentating on the political realities.. At times the Unionist are politically inept and next to clueless. The DUPs position on issues like abortion, gay rights etc is scandalous …….. but abusing them wont make them go away.

    SFs really big problem is that for years it blamed the Brits for everything. Its now having to fact the fact that the Brits who matter live here and they have to come to terms with them just as the Unionists have to find an accommodation with Nationalists.

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  30. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “Have you not read …..”

    I have read them all. But the bottom line is this was not supposed to be a vehicle to just leverage unionism……

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  31. cynic2 (profile) says:

    PS I am gobsmacked that you regard the London Independent as a newspaper of record!

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  32. tacapall (profile) says:

    “PS I am gobsmacked that you regard the London Independent as a newspaper of record”

    Obviously the News Letter is more your taste Cynic –

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/haass-offered-nothing-to-unionism-1-5781804

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  33. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    Cynic2:

    You fail to acknowledge nationalism having to make compromises in those Haass talks and convince yourself it’s poor wee unionism being ‘leveraged’ by everyone from Washington to Dublin to London. Indeed you sound like Jim Allister.

    In reality, nationalist leaders clearly have the ability to convince their electorate to accept things they don’t like whilst unionist leaders are too weak to do the same.

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  34. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Tacapall

    Newsletter – sorry to disappoint but its a rag. Irish News is infinitely better than News Letter and Bel Tel

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  35. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Republic Of Connaught

    That sounds awfully like ‘

    its all themuns fault …cant trust those Prods ……shiftless ……… idle …….. dolescum / scroungers ………..just breed and breed …………….they are thick more than devious ……priest ridden (For Priest I mean OO Ministers) ……..keep coal in the bath ……never wash their childer ……… eyes too close together ……. mono-brow comes from inbreeding ………. wouldn’t have a prod about me’

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  36. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    Cynic2:

    It sounds that way because you’re feeling sorry for yourself and looking for pity.

    Unionism lacks political leadership to push through hard decisions. If the choice was given to unionist people via referendum, I believe they would have accepted the Haass agreement.

    Now dry your eyes.

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  37. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “Now dry your eyes.”

    Unionists aren’t the ones crying and deriding others.

    Your ersatz indignation is wearing a bit thin but still serves to expose the underlying bigotry of your proposition. Prods exist. Unionists exist and include a lot of non Prods too. Republicanism lost the war and lost the hearts and minds on reunification

    As democrats we are happy to work and live with you in this United Kingdom. Enjoy that and get over it

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  38. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    Your extremely peurile ranting and raving doesn’t mask your embarrassing attempts to deflect attention away from unionism’s abject failure to compromise after wasting an American diplomat’s time for six months, Cynic.

    The DUP were too politically weak to make an agreement; there’s really no need for you to demean yourself trying to defend them.

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  39. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Republic of Connaught

    Oh dear. Diddums is throwing the Teddy out of the pram isn’t he/ she

    Your extremely puerile ranting and raving and man playing doesn’t mask your embarrassing attempts to deflect attention away from SFs creation of this crisis by its abject failure to compromise and negotiate over 10 years, most recently wasting another two Americans’ time for six months, (The woman had a role as well you know)

    Sinn Fein were too politically weak to reach a real agreement and move towards an overall accommodation, instead playing zero sum sectarian politics Meanwhile Stoops were trying to play the “me too greener than you “game.

    There’s really no need for you to demean yourself trying to defend them The harder you try the more embarrassing it gets.

    Now diddums, just relax, Have another drink and bask in the joy that you are at peace in a democratic United Kingdom. A country that respects your rights and has permitted – nay steered – Republicans into constitutional politics after their abject military and political defeat in their sordid little ‘war that (ironic innit) set back Irish Unity by perhaps 50 years or more’.

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  40. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    Cynic:
    I must hand it to you: a brilliant strategy. When talks break down, and every objective media source in Ireland and Britain points to the unionists being to blame, you dismiss these sources and still blame the nationalists who publicly agreed to the document! Genius!

    Head up backside politics at its very best. Be proud, Cynic. Circle those wagons. And remember your little battle cry: No surrender. I picture the poor unfortunate woman in Belfast city hall crying those words with her union jack when I read your posts in this thread. The poor woman, with a better education, might even be you.

    “Now diddums, just relax, Have another drink and bask in the joy that you are at peace in a democratic United Kingdom.”

    Again, highlighting your brilliant intellectual skills. In reality, (something you are clearly struggling with) I’m from the west, not north of Ireland; but your sly cunning deducts that I simply must be a northern fenian because I could not possibly have such distaste for unionist cowardice otherwise. No one must question unionist leadership cowardice and intransigence lest they be a northern fenian, or in league with the fenians like Mr Haass clearly was by the end. We won’t even mention that Catholic Irish American redhead that was with him, or unionist tempers will really boil.

    Your circling of the wagons has certainly made me smile, Cynic. I’m sure everyone reading the Irish and British newspapers who blamed unionism for the failure to reach a deal will now ignore those journalistic reports and conclude that Cynic2 was wiser than all the rest.

    You have, if nothing else, given a perfect illustration of a certain kind of closed minded unionist psyche which repeats to itself ad nauseum. “We’re always right, and even when we’re wrong and everyone says we’re wrong, we’re still right”.

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  41. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Now Connaught. Every time I hand you a spade you dig deeper and deeper

    ” every objective media source in Ireland and Britain points to the unionists being to blame ”

    There you go again with simplistic generalisations. What you need to realize is that you have to accommodate the Brits who live here, not the rest of the UK. We have had to accommodate republican murderers …we ask much less of you or rather much less of our fellow citizens in de Nurth as well as those who dont have the luxury of residing here

    “The poor woman, with a better education, might even be you”

    Again you know nothing about me so you don’t deal with the issues or arguments. You just abuse and sloganise

    ” given a perfect illustration of a certain kind of closed minded unionist psyche ”

    There you go again with the racial stereotypes. In all my posts recently you seem to have missed these quotes from me on Haass over the last few weeks

    ” Newsletter – sorry to disappoint but its a rag. Irish News is infinitely better than News Letter and Bel Tel”

    ” 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,”


    “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”

    ” Haass must have been in dispair locked away with these people for all that time ”

    ” what people do when they don’t trust each other

    Precisely.

    And some don’t want to trust each other as well – its not just about holding agreements , its about always stiffing the opposition (after you have first stiffed the smaller parties from your own side). No vision. No committment to any shared future”

    “I agree but that requires goodwill and there ain’t any.

    This is the whole problem under Haass. Unionists perceive (rightly or not) that Republicans are not playing the game. Republicans equally have some grievances over parades etc and milk these to the hilt. The SDLP try to out-green SF by voting to name parks after murderers and calling for the release from prison of a man who tried to murder a fellow Unionist Councillor. Its all toxic.

    Unionists perceive that they are discriminated against through constant manipulation of the institutions designed to entice SF into the light of democracy and now ruthlessly manipulated to attack their culture. They see SF happy to just sit tight and lock tehse ‘gains’ in while seeking new ‘concessions’ for any agreement.

    They are too lazy and unfocused to deal with that politically themselves”

    Anyway ….this has now gone on so long that you petulance is getting plain boring. I am happy to let the readers decide.

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  42. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    Cynic2:

    You do realise that every negotiation in the history of mankind could fail with the side who couldn’t deliver then resorting to the very weak: “They wouldn’t give us what we wanted.”

    The very purpose of calling in two Americans for six months, was to hammer out a fair agreement. What you’re saying doesn’t change the fact the unionist negotiators were either too inept to get the right deal or they simply weren’t willing to compromise to get the deal. Take your pick. Either way, the nationalists were ready to play ball. So blaming them for having better negotiators who got what they wanted or being simply more willing to compromise on things they don’t like is just ridiculous.

    Incidentally, I’m guessing you were/are in favour of the GFA? Do you honestly think with the likes of Jeffrey Donaldson and Mervyn Gibson negotiating it would even exist?

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  43. cynic2 (profile) says:

    You are still not reading posts just wittering way on your own agenda.

    The bottom line is simple.

    To do a deal you have to negotiate to get to a point where you are both satisfied. SF didn’t and the DUP didn’t. That’s both of them unsatisfied. Whether Republicans like it or not they have to come to an accommodation. That means they cant have everything they want – not a position they are used to. So do the DUP. We aren’t anywhere near there yet

    Crying to Washington London or Dublin is pointless as is shouting ‘themuns wouldn’t agree’. They don’t want to know and may rightly say ‘sort it out yourselves’. So unless Republicans stop shouting and start listening (and vice versa for the DUPs) noting will happen

    As for your last point, assuming Haass were implemented, whats your estimate of the SF leadership telling the truth about La Mon, Bloody Friday, Castlereagh, Northern Bank, Jean McConville and all the bits before after and inbetween?

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  44. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    “To do a deal you have to negotiate to get to a point where you are both satisfied. SF didn’t and the DUP didn’t. That’s both of them unsatisfied. Whether Republicans like it or not they have to come to an accommodation”

    You aren’t accepting the widely reported fact that Sinn Fein and the SDLP would have accepted the deal. Whether they were satisfied with it or not doesn’t interest me; that they would sign up to it is what matters when you want to get things done in politics.

    “Crying to Washington London or Dublin is pointless as is shouting ‘themuns wouldn’t agree’. They don’t want to know”

    History has proven that the only way things get done between the two tribes in the north is through the involvement and hard pushing of London and Dublin, with Washington involvement. It’s isn’t pointless at all; it’s entirely necessary that they make the parties sign up to agreements or nothing ever gets done, especially with unionism.

    “As for your last point, assuming Haass were implemented, whats your estimate of the SF leadership telling the truth about La Mon, Bloody Friday, Castlereagh, Northern Bank, Jean McConville and all the bits before after and inbetween?”

    My honest guess is Sinn Fein will never really tell the truth about the past. How can London or Dublin or anyone else force them to tell the truth unless they produce damning evidence? Did they tell the truth during the Smithwick tribunal to a Dublin judge? Not by Judge Smithwick’s reckoning.

    If you really think progress for society in the north should be made dependent on the IRA ‘telling the truth’ about their actions in the past, then someone may as well turn the lights off in NI right now. An international truth commission might be the best way to extract truth; but who can verify these truths they offer?

    Some solution has to be found to explore the past, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the present and future.

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  45. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “You aren’t accepting the widely reported fact that Sinn Fein and the SDLP would have accepted the deal.”

    Please read the above. A deal isn’t a deal until its a deal. Both sides need to sign up. You need to listen – without Unionist agreement its history. there is none. It doesnt matter who else signs up to it or says ‘that’s good boys’ – unless the DUPs accept it it isnt a deal

    “hard pushing of London and Dublin, with Washington involvement ……..make the parties sign up to agreements or nothing ever gets done, especially with unionism.”

    Read above re Haass seen by Unionists as a vehicle to leverage them again. Nice to see you now agree with that assessment

    I actually agree completely with your last 3 paragraphs. See some of my earlier posts. As a form of Government this process is next to dead now and needs revival – on an agreed sensible fair basis that respects both communities who on the whole are way ahead of their ‘leaders;’ in what they want for the future

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