McGuinness: in the city of Belfast the UVF, the PUP and the Orange Order are one and the same thing // Robinson responds to the “dictator” deputy First Minister

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The moment that draft seven of the Haass proposals went into the shredder may well have been at 10:45pm when BBC NI’s The View broadcast deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness telling Mark Carruthers:

BBC The View Martin McGuinnessMainstream unionist elected representatives have told me that they accept my analysis that in the city of Belfast the UVF, the PUP and the Orange Order are one and the same thing … I believe it needs to be challenged. Just as I have challenged those so-called republican dissidents who would try to drag us back to the past. [Martin McGuinness]

While there is undoubtedly some level of overlap of members or supporters or sympathisers between those three groups, to group all three together will incite an incredible political backlash (particularly from unionist elected representatives who are members of the Orange Order) [Ed - is "UVF-PUP-OO" the new "Sinn Fein-IRA"?] and damage any modicum of trust that has built up between organisations.

Yet, repeating the same statement at least three four times in the interview, it was clearly a soundbite that the deputy First Minister was intentional about putting on public record. There must be subtler ways of asking unionism to improve its leadership.

Later on in the interview Martin McGuinness suggested that St Patrick’s Day – with its annual pilgrimage to the White House – was “the American’s deadline” for local politicians to come to an agreement … insinuating that their Washington DC invitations (or the level of access they’d receive when they arrived) depended on it.

[There's no predicting exactly when the full interview will appear on iPlayer over the next few days ...]

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Update – First Minister Peter Robinson released a statement overnight responding – in haste – to Martin McGuinness’s “unhelpful and irrational comments”.

He speaks as if it is every other party’s requirement to move to his position – and if they do not then he considers it to be a lack of leadership on their part. He speaks as if he is not one of the parties but rather the controller and dictator of how the process will operate. He appears to believe it is everyone else’s duty to reach an agreement on his terms.

Peter Robinson added …

The Deputy First Minister shows a visceral hatred of the Orange Institution in his interview … I defy Martin McGuinness to deny that Mervyn Gibson’s contribution was anything other than instructive and positive. It is not a revelation to say that there is a link between the PUP and the UVF. Nor is there any news in the suggestion that just as the Orange has within its membership people who are in the DUP, UUP and TUV so too it includes members of the PUP.

… and concluded:

SF should refrain from further public utterances aimed at heightening tensions within the Talks. Let’s have less of the mind games outside the process and more serious engagement within it.

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  • Mick Fealty

    It’s a major element in the findings [http://goo.gl/xxqdY] of the report you’ve just quoted McS. If you have a different explanation drawn from the same HMIC report, I’d love to hear it?

  • Barney

    Mick wrote
    “BTW, DPP deals with whether to prosecute or not, not the HET.”

    I’m aware of the DPP’s role however they can only make a decision on files forwarded to them by the investigating agency. A decision to proceed is/was made by the HET before a decision to prosecute or not is made by the DPP thats why I used the word proceed above.

    We agree that they did some good work but the curates egg needs reform and the two nationalist parties wanted to progress.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick

    “It’s a major element ”

    The fact that the “policy, treats deaths where there was state involvement differently from those cases where there is no state involvement.” the is major element!!

    As you say “old RUC notes would automatically give you a biased result.” I agree and to counteract that if anything the cases with “state involvement” should if anything been held to a much hight standard.

    Instead:

    “Operational Guide that any team could conduct an interview under caution. However, we were told that, in practice, only the red teams – which deals with cases of state involvement – carries out this procedure. ”

    …..

    “On occasion, the HET has given a very liberal interpretation to the term; sufficient information‟.
    “There is a legal obligation placed upon the HET to serve on those representing an interviewee a pre-interview disclosure package.
    This consists of all existing evidential documentation and other material that is relevant to the case.”114

    The HET accepted that this legal interpretation was wrong but said that the teams decided what to disclose on a case-by-case basis. We also found that, if a solicitor representing a paramilitary suspect asked for
    full disclosure, he would not be given it. This apparent lack of consistency has proved contentious. “

  • Gopher

    Interesting interview, Marty seems to becoming a bit unhinged. I’m sorry but the “people” don’t really think anything useful is being done up on the hill. Poots and Kelly are perfect examples unqualified for office to name but two of the legion of incopetants. In fact when turnout falls below 50% there is a case for triggering a referendum for the return of direct rule. Would it hurt Martin just once to say Northern Ireland and perhaps he would sound genuine or do we need a foreign negotiator to bargain that concession.

  • Charles_Gould

    Perhaps best if they leave Haass to one side for three or four years and come back to it with new people.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Son of Strongbow

    You see the “compromise” supported by Sinn Fein was not a “compromise” the unionists agreed with.

    McGuinness in his interview says he is asking unionists to explain what their objections are, precisely. Which to date, they haven’t.

    Your comment here suggests that a compromise exists that unionists could agree with. Would you care to lay out for us what exactly that is ? Because I don’t think it is.

    Let’s take an example. During the talks, the unionists refused to sign up to the idea of a code of conduct for parades. Is there anyone out there defending the unionist position who can possibly justify the idea that nobody on parade should have to abide by any rules ?

    If the unionists cannot and will not compromise, or publish what compromises they would be willing to run with (in the way that Martin McGuinness did in his interview – sincerely or otherwise) then how can anyone conclude anything other than that they are running in fear of extremist elements ?

    Rewatching McGuinness’ interview one more time I can find nothing in the content I can substantially disagree with. I’d quibble over what his idea of a compromise or a proposal is but he reflects my frustration, and the frustration of a lot of people, with the failure to do a deal. At least he is arguing forcefully that a deal is required – the unionists are simply stalling for time.

  • David Crookes

    CS: “…..the unionists refused to sign up to the idea of a code of conduct for parades.”

    Civilized unionists will want to play their part in the punishment of these Lilliputians at the next assembly election. The Lilliputians really do believe that “nobody on parade should have to abide by any rules” — unless he is a Catholic, which of course is different altogether. (Protestants must be allowed to march along Royal Avenue. Catholics must not. Proof: last year.)

    An Ulster Protestant called C S Lewis put it very well. “The dwarfs are for the dwarfs.”

    I’m still staggering about in a daze after reading that article about Tom Elliott and Willie Frazer.

  • Neil

    As CS (and myself recently) has said, if the Unionists could please express which concession they would like Nationalism to make that might help. But we all know what the truth is: they cannot state their demands because they know that they are ridiculous. Of course the OO should agree to a code of conduct, after all they deplore the ‘hangers on who create all the problems’ everyone else is just there for lemonade and buns in the field and to celebrate their Christian heritage.

  • Neil

    Apologies for the multiple posts, but I would add, it’s not in Nationalism’s interest to make this state work properly which is what the Haass proposals are aimed at. Any Unionist worth the name would want the problems sorted, meaning people start getting on with their lives, earning money for their kids and generally making the best of what we have. But as per any number of examples Unionism is British only when it suits them, disposing of British laws they don’t like etc. 5 years ago I was supremely pessimistic about our chances of achieving a United Ireland in my lifetime. My new found optimism is down largely to Unionism. Keep it up lads.

  • Gopher

    CS, I was a bit underwhelmed with Martins compromises they were a bit like I wanted to go out with Beyonce but I’ll compromise and go out with Ann Widdecombe instead, they were a bit on the abstract side. There was absolutely no substance to the Haas document in fact its only redeeming feature is people now know what amorphous means because of it.

    I dont want a code of conduct for the OO I want them to become extinct or else kept in A Safari Park for tourism purposes along with people who cant say Northern Ireland.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Neil,

    I don’t think unionism actually has any demands other than that nationalists don’t get their demands. They are not proactive; they are reactionary.

    As I pointed out before, there’s a whole bunch of things unionists could have asked for – and got – in exchange for a code of conduct, to soften the “blow” (as if being asked to simply act like civilized people is a blow). Increased funding for rural Orange Halls, for their refurbishment or modernization, for example. Or a commitment by nationalists to guarantee the right to march subject to the code of conduct.

    The unionists simply either don’t want a deal or can’t sell one.

    Gopher,

    I agree with you that SF started out from demands which were undeliverable and are suggesting that they stepped back from those. But that’s more than we’re getting from unionism, who are making demands which are undeliverable and refusing to step back from them.

  • SK

    As a southerner, I must say it’s interesting to watch unionists grapple with the idea of “compromise” for the first time

    It’s like watching those monkeys at the start of 2001: A Space Odyssey

  • Comrade Stalin

    There’s a short clip of Robinson here trying to suggest that poor Martin is under some sort of pressure. Nice try but I don’t think that’s it Peter.

  • David Crookes

    New film: S*A*S*H*

    It’s 2014, but it might as well be One Million Years BC in Orangutan. Starring Beyoncé Knowles as Raquel Welch, Ann Widdecombe as Tiocfaidh Yer Ma, and Debbie Harry as the High Sheriff.

    Sorry, boys, but the weekend has started.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    How could we have missed it all this time – everyone is out of step except those actively marching where they are not wanted.

  • Reader

    Neil: …but I would add, it’s not in Nationalism’s interest to make this state work properly which is what the Haass proposals are aimed at.
    - which sort of backs up the ideas of those who think that SF are faking support for a deal and probably faked support for successful compromise, doesn’t it?
    But I wouldn’t go so far as you along that particular road – I think the nationalist parties are well aware that their constituents want a bit of comfort while they are waiting for a united Ireland, and that SF in particular are keen on looking like reasonable people to voters in the RoI. So SF may well have wanted a deal so long as it didn’t upset the ex-Provos too much. But without a deal, plan B is to look like they tried – whatever the impact might be on the chances for picking up the pieces.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Neil
    Do you really believe that it’s not in nationalism’s interest to make Northern Ireland work? I have come across many loyalist’s who have said the same thing about living in a state ruled by Dublin.

    The leadership of the OO in Belfast, is arrogant to the extreme. The lack of Christianity shown by a so called Christian organisation is appalling. They should be obeying the teachings of Christ and not hardline loyalism. The DUP and the UUP should not be supporting them if they disobey the law, and that law is the parades commission rulings. It was a disgrace that Mervyn Gibson was negotiating for unionism at the Haass talks. He wasn’t representing me.

  • Delphin

    I think it is wrong to assume that a functioning state suits unionists. It will suit most normal folk who just want to get on with their lives and are comfortable with being British – but not the DUP. They need the confrontational, non-functioning “coalition” with SF to survive electorally.
    Obviously SF are in a similar position, but their ambition in the South constrains their natural bigotry.

  • IrelandNorth

    The inclusion of the Reverend (Rev) Mervyn Gibson on the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUPs) negotiation team in the Haass/O Sullivan (H/O’S) commission was not uninteresting, since the Rev gentleman is not, as yet, a public representative, but merely chaplain to the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland (GOLI). Was this compensatory for the DUP leader/Nth Ireland’s First Minister’s conspicuous absence of association to any of the orders. Is the DUP now the DUP/OO, whatever about the presence or absence of any flirtation with third force loyalist paramilitarism.

  • DC

    If unionists had been thinking and looking for movement by relevant political leaders they might have been clever by asking whether limited immunity would be taken up by certain SF members to give a lead to the community at large – seeing as the whole peace process has been driven top down.

    The minions are not going to open their mouths while big marty and Gerry say nothing about what they got up to. The discussion needs to be opened up from the top down at ‘commander’ level then the foot solider will follow.

    You might say what about the brits and all that well the british army is not my deputy first minister at the moment and doesn’t have a democratic relationship with me if you like in that neither the old RUC or British army is governing over me unlike Marty.

    No agreement on flags is indicative of the whole Haass event so I think blaming unionists is silly.

    Although Unionists need to come out and explain positions better and try and not get so worked up over Marty who is talking shite and clearly on the wind up because no one has given him any intellectual challenge in general and in particular to Haass, so he just talks shite and gets off with it.

    The PUP has been there in support of Twaddell and that needs explained but it’s also a good chance to restate why it is there and how it is entirely different to being one and same as the OO – and the connection to the UVF and conflict transformation this needs explained.

    The DUP likewise needs to explain the complex relationships out there, than just shout back at Marty in denial. Marty knows to the ordinary person his straw man might cut the mustard, look and appear as true, as in reality it is a very complex relationship out there within unionism and one v difficult to disentangle so it will be hard to peel away the layers of lies he has wrapped this one. Comrade being an example of buying into this based on guilty by association and going with they are all one and same just like Marty.

    I think maybe limited immunity for Marty might have given him something to think about in terms of taking a lead himself on the past, whether he might like limited immunity applied to himself as a ‘pilot’ or forerunner to a wider process of something similar. In a bid to help kick start the process on discussing the past by key players.

  • David Crookes

    Alan says, “The leadership of the OO in Belfast, is arrogant to the extreme. The lack of Christianity shown by a so-called Christian organisation is appalling. They should be obeying the teachings of Christ and not hardline loyalism. The DUP and the UUP should not be supporting them if they disobey the law, and that law is the parades commission rulings. It was a disgrace that Mervyn Gibson was negotiating for unionism at the Haass talks. He wasn’t representing me.”

    Agree 100%. The New Testament instructs Christians to submit themselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. A ruling of the parades commission is an ordinance of man. We need some of the sash-wearing Rev Drs to explain these two simple facts to their flocks.

    IrelandNorth, that is a brilliant coinage. For quite some time a great high priest of unionist rectitude insisted on talking about “Sinn Fein / IRA”. Maybe now we should all start talking about “DUP / OO”.

  • Mick Fealty

    Neil,

    “it’s not in Nationalism’s interest to make this state work properly which is what the Haass proposals are aimed at.”

    I think this is what nationalism could do with having a bit of a domestic about. At the moment I’d say this an accurate description of how SF’s war time leadership sees it, and since they are the only nationalist party showing any form of leadership I’d argue that this is what most are assenting to if not directly voting for.

    But I genuinely wonder (not for the first time here) just how sustainable that is over the long road. It’s certainly true that remaining in the UK after a thirty year ‘war of liberation’ in which most victims were Irish presents a serious challenge to create any meaningful advance towards a UI.

    As it stands we’re just being fed a diet of discord and dysfunction. Having nixed the HET, the Haass talks achievements far from advancing the cause of victims has removed one moderate form of relief. And so it goes.

    I’m having to work hard these days to keep suspending my own disbelief that we’re not engaged on a long term programme of dismantling all the provisions of both indigenous deals SF once lauded so enthusiastically.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Comrade Stalin[11.35]Robinson was pathetically reduced to insulting tv viewers intelligence by pretending he thought Marty meant that members of OO, UVF/PUP were all aso members of the other two groups, when he understood perfectly, that, as Brian Feeney appearing after him, clarified they were making ‘common cause’ only.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick

    “I think this is what nationalism could do with having a bit of a domestic about. At the moment I’d say this an accurate description of how SF’s war time leadership sees it, and since they are the only nationalist party showing any form of leadership I’d argue that this is what most are assenting to if not directly voting for.”

    I do not understand what you mean by all that…trying for a bit of PG Woodhouse…??

    “I’m not absolutely certain of the facts, but I rathe fancy it’s Shakespeare who says that it’s always just when a fellow is feeling particularly braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up behind him with the bit of lead piping” PG

  • Comrade Stalin

    Neil,

    Apologies for the multiple posts, but I would add, it’s not in Nationalism’s interest to make this state work properly which is what the Haass proposals are aimed at.

    I must disagree with you here and repeat my thesis of recent times once more.

    A cursory reading of the census, the election results and the various polls suggests that we are likely to remain in the union for the lifetime of most of the people who live here.

    It is therefore very much in the interests of the nationalists who live, work, are employed or own businesses, pay tax, and own property within this part of the world that it is at least stable and that it works well enough to keep them (and their offspring) in the manner to which they are accustomed. When all of those factors are taken into account, the matter of reunification is no longer an open and shut case for SDLP and SF voters making their decision in the referendum.

    The nationalist political strategy since 1998 and just before has been about building and governing Northern Ireland in a stable fashion. Call it an interim solution if you will, but it must be stable and must work, and nationalist politicians know this. I’m pretty sure Martin McGuinness and even Gerry Adams would tell you this, if not quite in the terms I have described. It is quite clear that republicans and nationalists in government have been working to try to stabilize and solidify devolution; not crash it.

    Indeed, the narrative that SF are currently pushing out – as can be heard by devoted republicans on twitter – is that if the IRA did not win reunification, it won equality, civil rights, rights in employment/jobs and so on. Whether they intend to or not, and whether it is accurate or not (it’s pretty damn inaccurate if you ask me) republicans are claiming that through their actions they have successfully reformed the Northern state to the point where it is acceptable and which makes the failure to achieve reunification palatable. If you take that argument to its natural conclusion you can see, as I have suggested, why a small but significant number of nationalists will secretly vote to retain the union.

    You are right with the rest of your observations that the biggest threat to the union comes from the people who claim to be most loyal to it. While nationalism may find comfortable compromise on issues of government and administration, they are less likely to compromise quite so easily on the cultural issues remaining to be solved.

  • sherdy

    It is edifying to see that some on the PUl side can have the bravery and honesty to take a more balanced view of the politico-religious debate in this almost Godforsaken part of the world.
    If only more could receive the ‘epheta’ blessing and be more ‘protestant’ about it we could have more hope in the future – a future where no one would worry or care much whether we were in a united Ireland or part of GB, as none of us would be disadvantaged in any way, Irish or British option.

  • David Crookes

    “One and the same thing…..”

    Headline in today’s BelTel: “Ruth Patterson’s attendance at TUV rally fuels defection rumours”.

    What a coup that would be for the TUV, and what a reward for members of the Mighty Phalanx who supported RP on the day of her court appearance.

    The loyalty of certain politicians is a very subtle affair. Are the DUP and the TUV becoming (to use the DFM’s words) “one and the same thing”? Are the two thorns in each other’s flesh mutating into a Hybrid Tea rose?

  • Reader

    danielsmoran: that, as Brian Feeney appearing after him, clarified they were making ‘common cause’ only.
    So, in order to understand what Martin McGuinness meant, we have to ignore what he actually said?
    We need better local politicians – we shouldn’t need partisan journalists to interpret for us.

  • Kevsterino

    @Comrade, I can see your point regarding nationalists and republicans trying to make the state of Northern Ireland a functioning entity, but with an important difference with the past Stormont regime. That difference being the equality agenda. The impression I get from over here is that they believe that if equality succeeds and the place becomes as Irish as it is British, unionists themselves will make it unworkable. I must say it looks like they are onto something.

  • Mick Fealty

    So long as having to defend the union always matters more than making NI work, we aren’t going anywhere kev… :-/

    Someone on another thread noted how Salmond has steered clear of the cultural issue and by doing so he’s built a broad and attractive alliance for Scottish nationalism.

    My own view, and I’m happy to be called on it, is that we are in danger of steering the communal Jeep back into the quaggy marsh from whence we have so recently emerged.

    And possibly for no better reason than because we can’t be bothered to think of a better way to get to where we each want to go?

  • sherdy

    Very interesting, David.
    If Ruthie is soprano she might move with the song ‘La donne a mobile’.

  • David Crookes

    Mick, a healthy-looking church in NI recently folded up for no apparent reason (no big doctrinal questions, no big personality clashes, no obvious factionalism). People who try to account for its demise talk in terms of no real energy, no real conviction, and no real direction.

    I wonder if something similar is affecting the unionist parties. Every year PR stands up at his party conference and articulates some kind of all-embracing vision. Not long afterwards he picks up the vision, like Marty Feldman, and smashes it with a hammer.

    Sherdy, that is a possibility, but she might end up sounding like Florence Foster Jenkins doing Queen of the Night! Type the following phrase into Google and listen if you have a minute — provided that you haven’t ingested a lot of liquids recently.

    Florence Jenkins massacres Mozart

  • Comrade Stalin

    Kevsterino,

    You are not far wrong. This is the time honoured tradiiton of unionists snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Nationalists are joining with them and respecting their veto, and they can’t handle it.

    Mick,

    The parallels are interesting with Scottish independence. The Scottish nationalists are proposing to keep the pound and the Queen in exchange for Scots having the right to run things as they see fit. Some Irish nationalists are occupying a not wholly dissimilar position.

    The DUP and SF are being kept in place by mutually assured destruction. The extremists either do not understand this or are intentionally ignoring it. Who stands to lose more if devolution collapses ? Ideologically – Sinn Féin; practically – unionism.

  • Mick Fealty

    I broadly agree CS. They are occupying a not wholly dissimilar position, but are not yet pro-actively looking for ways and means of leveraging it for their own ends.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick

    “making NI work”

    Why bother?

  • sherdy

    David, – Florence may not be a Montserrat Caballe but I think I’ rather listen to her than Diva Ruthie, especially if she was accompanied again by that phallic phalanx. But then, as you say, that groupetto may be singing their swan song.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “Who stands to lose more if devolution collapses ? Ideologically – Sinn Féin;”

    If Unionism brings down “Northern Ireland” then sf lose nothing.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, sherdy. I wonder if unionism has put a wazzle in its throat and started to sing its own swan-song.

    Here’s what worries me about our present unionist politicians. Imagine that HMG said tomorrow, “That’s it! We’re through with you losers. Thousands of UN troops are on their way. UI starts in two weeks. Negotiate yourselves the best deal you can get with the present RoI.”

    Our present unionist politicians would be obsessively concerned with flegs and Orange marches. They would do NOTHING for the huge majority of Protestants who aren’t obsessed with flegs, and who have NOTHING to do with Orangeism.

    It fills me with horror to know that the likes of Mervyn Gibson and Tom Elliott would be appointed to speak for thousands of intelligent people who are able to read serious books.

    I can’t vote for these losers ever again. To use the DFM’s words once more, their political world and cultureless barbarity are “one and the same thing”.

  • Kevsterino

    @Comrade, I don’t understand how Sinn Fein loses ideologically were devolution within the UK should fail. What am I missing?

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “For quite some time a great high priest of unionist rectitude insisted on talking about “Sinn Fein / IRA”. Maybe now we should all start talking about “DUP / OO”.

    @David Crookes,
    It’s a bit more complicated than that. It would be correct to speak of the UUP/OO as the latter had reserved seats on the Unionist Council, the governing body of the UUP. The DUP had a relationship with the Independent Orange Order, which I think has largely faded away. This was parallel to Paisley being head of the Free Presbyterian Church. Now that the DUP is presenting itself as the mainstream unionist party it has more of a cooperative relationship with the OO, without, however, having formalized it as the UUP did. Sinn Fein/IRA was just the unionist term for what Provisional Republicans referred to as the Republican Movement.

  • David Crookes

    OK, tmitch57, that was only what one of my old country neighbours would have called “oul badness o crack”. I wasn’t being serious. But of course in literal truth you’re right and I’m wrong.

    What you call the DUP’s “cooperative relationship with the OO” needs to give way to a cooperative relationship with the whole unionist electorate, if not with the whole public. To many people it seems that in recent weeks the DUP has cooperated with the OO by fawning on its back like a spaniel and asking the OO what it must do next. Many unionists are going to abstain in the next assembly election for one reason — Mervyn Gibson.

    Thanks for your posting.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Kevsterino,

    It’s possible I might be overanalyzing things a bit.

    SF have sold devolution as a step on the way to a united Ireland on the basis that it repatriates powers from Westminster back here. You might have noted in the above M McG interview (not sure if it can be seen in the US ?) that at the end when the interviewer suggested that the Secretary of State could convene talks, McGuinness ruled this idea out emphatically.

    If devolution fails, the powers will be returned back to London. That’s a problem. Even though, in a lot of ways, SF would have few problems getting the British to agree to more concessions over flags, language, north-south co-operation and other things.

  • David Crookes

    The fact that MMcG is actually able to rule out the idea of talks convened by the SoS shows what a pale and diluted thing the union is today.

  • Charles_Gould

    I would argue its best to leave flags, parades, the past for a couple of years until after this wave of elections. People can return in a cool-headed environment. They are not urgent issues, from what I can see no “ordinary” person is that interested in them.

  • Charles_Gould

    If voters want to make NI work better (within a better Ireland and a better UK) AND if they think the present two are not doing a good job, THEN there are other parties to vote for next time. It’s called democracy.

  • Kevsterino

    @Comrade, That’s a little clearer. I believe that as things stand, Sinn Fein and the SDLP both appear more reasonable than the DUP/UUP/TUV. On the one hand, you have McGuinness declaring republican wreckers are traitors to Ireland. I found that pretty convincing as to his commitment to the new dispensation. On the other hand, I haven’t found any Unionist leader making any equivalent commitment regarding the loyalist wreckers. It makes McGuinness’ point about the Belfast OO nexus with the DUP and UVF/PUP all the more believable. From the outside, that just looks like stupid politics. But evidently, that stupidity is what is required to be elected as a Unionist in Northern Ireland in 2014.

  • Mick Fealty

    Kev/CS,

    It’s all just buzz (like Bloomberg’s 9/10 experts who were certain Moodys would keep Irish bonds at junk, until they raised them to investment grade 24 hours later).

    Focus on Stormont. Is it falling? Not that I can see. Could it? Oh yes. Will it? Maybe, maybe not. But do wake me up when/if it does and I’ll tell you what I think then.

    SF are more than capable of triggering a proper crisis. It’s pretty much all they’ve done since they took office.

    Perhaps they’d want to make a bit more headway in the south first? Or perhaps they’re just happy that enough of us think that that’s what they’re up to?

    In any case, no one else is getting a look in…

  • Charles_Gould

    Kev

    I get the sense that this position does not the UUP and DUP electorally

    My impression is that few unionist voters can see what Haass offered them. The document having been circulated, I don’t see a great many people nationalist or unionist who feel the document would really have made much substantive difference.

    There is a lot of discussion about who is “to blame” on Slugger, but I get the impression not very many people who have a strong attachment to the ideas in it – the part on flags is total cop out, the part on the past seems to give wrong-doers immunity, and the part on parades seems not very different from what we have.

  • sherdy

    Charles, – You suggest that the talks be left until there are cool heads, and that ‘ordinary’ people, whoever you might judge them to be, are not interested in them.
    Some people may not be directly interested in them but we are all adversely affected by them. And if you are waiting for cool heads, there are always people with the intention of hotting heads, so delay is never beneficial.

  • David Crookes

    If we had to deal with a crisis involving unemployment, thousands of pitiably paid jobs, sink schools with multitudes of uncontrollable pupils, hundreds of teachers having their health ruined by malignant theoreticians, struggling hospitals, overpaid lawyers, incorrigibly rapacious bankers, and failing pension funds, we should forget about the past, impose a code of conduct on marchers, and fly flags on designated days.

    Instead we propose to talk at length about more than three hundred silly proposals, and we think about shovelling money in the direction of lawyers, academics, and more accursed quangos.

    The trouble is that we have to deal with exactly such a crisis as I mentioned. When are we going to grow up? We need a Tito to say bang-bang-bang, that’s the way it’s going to be. No more enquiries, marchers will behave themselves or go to jail, and shut up about flags.

  • Charles_Gould

    Sherdy

    “Charles, – You suggest that the talks be left until there are cool heads, and that ‘ordinary’ people, whoever you might judge them to be, are not interested in them.
    Some people may not be directly interested in them but we are all adversely affected by them. And if you are waiting for cool heads, there are always people with the intention of hotting heads, so delay is never beneficial.”

    The ordinary people are those who I interact with and chat with. Really no sign of interest in the actual issues of Haass. If anything Haas seems somewhat negative: wrongdoers getting immunity, nothing whatsoever on flags, and nothing much different on parades. Underwhelming. Irrelevant, and not either urgent or important to ordinary people. If they can’t agree now, leave it a few years and whoever is FM and DFM then (Michelle O’Neill and Simon Hamilton) can try again, in a less hot-housed way perhaps.

    There is much more important things for the MLAs to focus on: health, education, economic development..

  • Charles_Gould

    Looks like we’re going to host a Quarter Final at Ravenhill when the new stand opens in April. A few minutes of the game v Leicester left. Nailbiting stuff. Yay!

    Forget Haass, think about Pienar.

    Relax, be happy folks! NI’s a great place with a lot going for it.

  • sherdy

    Charles, – I think you were paying more attention to the rugby when penning your reply to me.
    Maybe you’ve always lived in the lofty leafy avenues of NI where the troubles have virtually never affected the ‘nicer people’.
    You have never been ‘down and dirty’ with the less fortunate amongst us and have rarely shown much sympathy, never mind empathy.
    Oh, I had better shut up – preaching isn’t my forte. Mea culpa.

  • Charles_Gould

    Sherdy

    I think NI politicians are “failure junkies”. They actually seem addicted to talking about things they know they don’t agree on.

    Seems to me better to forget the issues in Haass and just do the things that they can do that are much more important anyway: health, education, economic development.

    Parades are a problem not because of the legislation, but because of the attitudes of the people. As for the past – there is no enthusiasm for any form of immunity – I can’t bring myself to endorse immunity in my heart. My policy on the past: learn its lessons but move on.

    Why make things more difficult than things need to be? The issues in Haass divide the parties. Best to leave them and focus on that which can be done, not those things that are too difficult.

    Health, education, economic development from now on.

  • David Crookes

    Sherdy, I nipped out there to visit one of my loved ones in the care home across the road. Each ‘care assistant’ gets a little over six pounds per hour, works a twelve-hour shift, and renders such unfailingly affectionate care as makes me feel ashamed.

    On the Newtownards Road, where a lot of my friends live, ordinary people like you and me have been wound up by politicians so that they will vote a certain way, go back to their homes, and be forgotten about for ever afterwards.

    Some of our politicians are kidding their voters that a return to as-you-were flegs and marching is possible. They will do ANYTHING to get votes. They will even keep quiet about gangsterism. I needn’t say keep quiet. Some of them will even consort with gangsters at fleg-related events.

    Instead of trying to attract employment to a stable country, and instead of trying to root out gangsterism, some of our highly paid politicians are trying to make their electoral base secure. It’s all so selfish. Oh, and the expenses are claimed as before, except that everyone is a bit more careful.

    Often I feel like coming out with Voltaire’s famous five syllables.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “If devolution fails, the powers will be returned back to London. That’s a problem.”

    If it fails because of unionists then their is not much London can do?

    The closing of stormount will not make many Tyrone nationalists cry. How many of the current powers carried out by stormount could not be transferred to the new larger local councils?

  • son of sam

    “The closing of Stormont will not make many Tyrone nationalists cry”
    So would Barry Mc Elduff and his M L A s not miss their electoral platform up on the Hill?

  • Gopher

    “Indeed, the narrative that SF are currently pushing out – as can be heard by devoted republicans on twitter – is that if the IRA did not win reunification, it won equality, civil rights, rights in employment/jobs and so on”

    And if SF fail in the next election down South what narrative will they push next? Northern Ireland has become a backwater except for party propaganda purposes, pushing unification would turnoff for the great majority of the Republic’s electorate which is now the main theatre of operations for SF.

    Objectively speaking I still believe we will see an assembly election this year called by the DUP which will call a few bluffs.

  • Mick Fealty

    Interesting thought Gopher. It doesn’t accord with anything I know of or have considered. In all honesty I ask, can they actually do that? I thought we had fixed terms which could only be shifted by consent of the SOS. But I’ll happily be corrected?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Kevsterino,

    I see things pretty much the same way that you do, and I’d say you’ve pretty much called it. The word “traitor” is a powerful one in any lexicon, not least that of the republicans, and McGuinness chose it for maximum impact in order to underscore his opposition to a return to violence.

    As you say, I contrast this with the more cautious language used by unionists. When an Alliance Party office was burned out just over a year ago, one senior unionist politician asked “what exactly did they expect?”. Had McGuinness delivered an answer like that in response to a dissident republican attack, devolution would be dead and buried. So yes, I completely share McGuinness’ disappointment that unionists cannot bring themselves to use the same kind of language.

    The political process since 1998 has seen significant concessions toward the unionist position when compared with what was on offer in 1974. The North-Southery was substantially scaled back, and unionists won the abolition of the structures established under the Anglo Irish Agreement (which was essentially John Hume’s baby). Nationalists were forced to accept the “unionist veto” as they called it on the border, and nationalist ambitions around things like the Irish language were curtailed significantly from where they could have been. Yet unionists still see the document as a wholesale sellout. To them it is all or nothing.

    Mick,

    I don’t think SF have triggered a proper crisis, no, and I don’t think they are really capable of it due to the MAD scenario I have outlined. They can’t turn around to their supporters and say they handed power back to the British government.

    I am not sure what crises you think they engineered. The most they could do was boycott executive meetings and that did not trigger the crisis that it should have. It took a series of unexpected turns in Peter Robinson’s private life to bring the DUP to the negotiating table.

    I think what SF much prefer to do is make use of the fact that they are able with little difficulty to make the DUP really, really uncomfortable in ways that the DUP are not able to do to SF. Castlederg, for example. By behaving provocatively and getting unionism to split itself over and over in terms of how to respond, they can ensure that the media/international attention is kept there. I am not sure that SF at all are capable of delivering compromise – but unionists are a gift that keeps on giving by ensuring that they never have to.

    To your point about the south .. I think SF are having a very difficult time pretending to be an all-Ireland party. Events up here are a distraction from their objectives of building a sustainable political force in the south. The other obstacle of course is Gerry Adams, and (like Robinson) he can’t be seen to be letting go of the reigns under a cloud.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    ” I haven’t found any Unionist leader making any equivalent commitment regarding the loyalist wreckers. It makes McGuinness’ point about the Belfast OO nexus with the DUP and UVF/PUP all the more believable. From the outside, that just looks like stupid politics. But evidently, that stupidity is what is required to be elected as a Unionist in Northern Ireland in 2014.”

    @Kevsterino,

    Sinn Fein picked the DUP as their future partners back in 2001-02 and then did everything they could to undermine Trimble and make the DUP the main unionist party. Trimble’s successors in the UUP have learned from that.

    You can believe McGuinness when he says that the OO and the UVF in Belfast are all one–even though he won’t say which unionists told him this or even from what party they are from? But when there is much more in terms of statements from Provisional Republicans about the links between the two halves of the Republican Movement you just ignore them. Maybe it is your background affecting how you perceive what you see as an outsider?

  • Charles_Gould

    Castlederg harms SF and helps DUP.

  • Mc Slaggart

    “So would Barry Mc Elduff and his M L A s not miss their electoral platform up on the Hill?”

    Barry is about to be an MP……

    The rest can get jobs as paid local representatives.

  • Mc Slaggart

    @ Charles_Gould

    “Castlederg harms SF and helps DUP.”

    sf agreed to Haas and the DUP did not.

    I think that at some point Unionists convinced themselves that they was the only people who had a tradition of marching.

  • son of sam

    Mc Slaggart
    You obviously have the inside track on the moves inside Sinn Fein.When are the general public in West Tyrone going to be informed of the latest S F choreography ?Clearly Barry’s hope of further advancement at Stormont is unlikely!

  • cynic2

    Eamon Gilmore’s comments today are deeply unhelpful. The core DUP supporters will now see this as a set upo from the start – a British / Irish / American fix to deliver for Sinn Fein and do down Unionist ‘culture’. And what is the value of a local democracy when, as soon as the Unionists reject proposals, the big boys are dragged in as enforcers?

    If I were Robinson (or McGuiinness) I would collapse the shambles on the Hill and go for an early election and make Haass the issue. The UUP and SDLP will be squeezed almost into oblivion by the competing block votes and race for possession of the FM job. Robbo can then retire with dignity (in his terms) having saved Unionism and leaving a hapless successor to pick over the remains of politics here and possibly carry the can for losing it next time around

  • cynic2

    In SF Terms isn’t being sent to Westminster the equivalent of being sent to the political knackers yard?

  • cynic2

    “the IRA did not win reunification, it won equality, civil rights, rights in employment/jobs and so on”

    That’s why North an West Belfast qualify as two of the poorest council areas in the UK with the highest rates of employment and DLA Claims.

    Well done Gerry!!! Its a helluva an achievement

  • mr x

    David Crookes

    As Mao said ‘Power comes out of the barrel of a gun’.

  • Gopher

    @Mick. Dissolving the Assembly requires 72 votes, I believe sometime this year the DUP will initiate a motion for dissolution. Can any party refuse given that Stormont is in stagnation and there will be negative publicity if they don’t support it. At present the DUP are the only one of the major parties certain to return with more seats which would put them in the box seat as far as Haas goes. So whether the motion passes or not I believe the DUP will throw that grenade in the mix.

  • CoisteBodhar

    Obviously the IRA won no such thing and to suggest it is completely ridiculous. Who exactly has been saying this?

  • Mc Slaggart

    “cynic2 (profile)

    19 January 2014 at 11:43 am

    Eamon Gilmore’s comments today are deeply unhelpful. The core DUP supporters will now see this as a set upo from the start – a British / Irish / American fix to deliver for Sinn Fein and do down Unionist ‘culture’.”

    Your in a sad place.

  • DC

    The intervention by Gilmore was just about saying the two governments are here to help and there’s really no need painting everyone as being in the UVF when you don’t get your way, as there are other ways to make progress. Such as falling back on the two governments for dispute resolution.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, Mr X. Let’s hope that the present case is different.

    If the DUP wants to bring down the assembly it doesn’t need to drum up 72 votes. It merely needs to walk away, as the SDLP did from the old Stormont before internment.

    Is Mr Gilmore speaking for the two governments, or is he merely joining in a war of words?

  • Kevsterino

    @Mitch, stop being silly. Show me where I denied connections between the halves of the Republican Movement.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    @Mitch, stop being silly. Show me where I denied connections between the halves of the Republican Movement.

    @Kevsterino,

    When we were discussing the GFA, you said (correctly) that the agreement only specified that the parties were to use their influence to persuade the paramilitaries to decommission. But if the halves of the Republican Movement are linked then it shouldn’t have taken much persuasion to carry out this decommissioning and should not have taken seven years instead of two. Seven years during which the DUP became the main unionist party due to the IRA’s failure to decommission on time.

  • Kevsterino

    So, the halves of the Republican Movement, because they are linked, are bound to agree with one another on a way forward because of the linkage? If that is what you are saying, then I disagree. If it isn’t what you’re saying, then I don’t understand you.

    As for the IRA decommissioning on time, the agreed choreography was disrupted well before the date for completion of decommissioning. You can’t just take one piece of it and say the IRA was the only tardy party.

    At any rate, just to be clear to you, I believe there were many links and connections between Sinn Fein and the Provisionals.

  • David Crookes

    As far as I can see from today’s news reports, everything is getting stupider and stupider.

    Mr Gilmore says we may have to do something.

    A spokesman for the NIO says it’s an internal matter.

    Mr Nesbitt says it’s none of the RoI’s business, but if anyone in the RoI wants to talk about the past we’ve got things about the former RoI that we need to bring up.

    The RoI doesn’t pay a block grant to NI. HMG does. For the present, it’s up to HMG to say, “Code of conduct for marchers, designated days for flags, and NO MORE ENQUIRIES. The future has to be paid for, but NI is not going to be subsidized if her politicians refuse to move towards it.”

    When you’re dealing with people who insist on behaving like children, you have to treat them like children.

    The alternative is that we shall have a year-long yapping-match, complete with squalid protests.

  • sherdy

    David, – You’re going to have to knock off this logic business. Don’t you realise where you live?
    Any more of it and I’ll have to report you to Mick.
    What’s the point of coming on to this site just to talk sense? You’ll get Slugger a bad name.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, sherdy. But it strikes me that NI’s politicians need to be confronted with the most terrifying form of what engineers call a torque test.

    Money torques.

    Think of it. The politicians might start listening to their voters.

  • Kevsterino

    David, I just read a piece that said Ms. Villiers responded to Gregory Campbell’s parliamentary question regarding funding for all the new quangos or whatever is agreed in their place. She told him they should find it in their block grant, as the deficit means she can’t guarantee any new funding. Since the denizens of Northern Ireland get more per head than elsewhere, that would only be fair. Your thoughts?

  • blackie

    Has anyone in the DUP condemned or ever been asked to condemn Ian Paisley for calling catholics ‘vermin and breeding like rats’?
    DUP voters do you agree with Paisley and regard catholics as vermin?
    I’d like to hear Peter Robinsons opinion on the matter.

  • David Crookes

    Fair as far as GB is concerned, Kevsterino, but wickedly unfair to the ordinary people of NI. You’re going to give a lot of already well-paid academics money for nothing. Any decisions made by the quangocrats will be ignored by the baddies, while the money soaked up by the academics will come from schools and hospitals.

    Nurses will lose their jobs, the health minister will deny that there is any crisis in A&E departments, yet rubber-duck conflictologists, thrilled by their dangerous face-to-face contacts with a genuine bit of rough (Jamie Bryson posing as a mixture of Che Guevara and Rosa Parks) will get more research grants, fly off to more conferences, and write books costing eighty pounds apiece which will be used as PhD bibliography-fillers by a second generation of rubber ducks.

    Our politicians would have to be uniquely stupid and malignant to allow any such thing to happen.

    We don’t need any more useless quangos. We need to bang people’s heads. Say a band plays an offensive tune outside a church after being told not to. Arrest all its members and jail them for meaningful terms.

    Say a bunch of ‘protesters’ begins to behave lawlessly outside the office of a political party. Impose a curfew on the immediate area, give the ‘protesters’ ten minutes to clear off, arrest any one who refuses to do so, and jail him for a meaningful term.

    Say someone suggests that arbitrarily chosen ‘victims’ of the Troubles should have their cases investigated. Tell him sorry, we have neither time nor money to spend on the past, and anyway we cannot be involved in an arbitrary treatment of ‘victims’ (energetically mounted campaigns relating to a few particularities, emotively characterized by the use of forenames, and supported by the media for the worst of all reasons).

    We need to impose a coercive tyranny in the name of decent civilized people. Only lawless barbarians and troublemakers will be negatively affected by that tyranny. Is that clear enough? By the way, many thanks for bringing what the SoS said to my notice.

  • Kevsterino

    I remember the days when Unionists would speak of something called the ‘democratic deficit’, referring to the lack of operating democratic institutions during Stormont’s time of being ‘prorogued’. Now, people in Northern Ireland have probably more democratic representation than anywhere else I’m aware of and they do less with more. Now the proposed solution is more unelected people on top of the elected people who don’t do much of anything. Seems not bound to end well.

  • David Crookes

    Kev, one thing that may keep the whole charlatan peep-show on the road is the affection in which many of our politicians hold their salaries and their prodigious expenses.

    One thing that needs to be trumpeted constantly is the pitiable scale of the NI ‘problem’. There are less than two million of us. If we can’t govern ourselves sensibly, we deserve to have a Tito imposed on us, and if we complain about that we should be told to keep quiet. There is one thing that you must never do to nasty spoiled children: take them as seriously as they take themselves.

    Be quiet, NI. You are trivial. Those of your citizens who are most aggressive in their demand to be British are the most unBritish persons in what we used to call the British Isles.

    Stop boring everyone and get a life. Lots of your citizens have civilized lives already, but you won’t appoint a negotiator to represent them.

  • IrelandNorth

    During the Thatcherite epoch, someone once described the Church of England (Anglican Communion) as the Conservative Party at prayer. Perhaps Citizen McGuinness’s hypothesis contains a truism. Maybe there’s a progressive or evolutionary theme between a possible unholy trinity of UVF/PUP/OO, whereby one may join at the groundfloor and rises up the organisations. Or, ones tenacity to orthodox unionism is possibly demonstrated by membership of all three, a foot in all camps, for those who prove their good faith to doggedness. Some TV footage on YouTube of riots at Woodvale unmistakeably showed besashed Orangemen herding loyalists bandsmen towards police front lines. Almost a recapitulation of the Somme.