Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

DUP: “the public may well ask whether then or now they have been misled” #Paisley

Sun 19 January 2014, 11:14pm

In the internet age, rebuttals come in fast.

DUP Nigel Dodds shadowTonight’s statement from the DUP manages to arrive just in time to make it into some of tomorrow morning’s newspapers and news bulletins and even before those media outlets’ journalists have been able to report their analysis and opinion on what they gleaned from Friday afternoon’s embargoed preview of the second part of Eamonn Mallie’s documentary.

Statement from Democratic Unionist Party Spokesman

“Lord Bannside is entitled to his own opinions – however, he is not entitled to his own facts.

The Party deeply appreciates the contribution Lord Bannside made to Northern Ireland and to the growth of the DUP. Despite the headlines regarding these programmes, the Party will not be losing focus. Our greatest ever electoral victory, in 2011, gave us a mandate to keep Northern Ireland moving forward. We will get on with that task.

We are saddened to see Lord Bannside harm his own legacy. In his later years as Party leader, many colleagues shielded his frailty from public view, to avoid embarrassment and protect his legacy. Those people are hurt by untrue and bitter comments contained in the documentary.

The party, unlike the media, has not been granted an advance viewing, however, the programme maker and the BBC have already been informed of the inaccuracy of those claims made in the programme about which they have notified us. The Party does not intend to respond to the personal opinions expressed in the programme – those making the comments must take responsibility for them – but it will not let untrue assertions dressed up as facts go unchallenged.

Dr Paisley, as he was then known, gave a number of interviews on the occasion of his retirement announcement. In those interviews he stated that he had been considering his retirement for some time and had himself chosen the time to stand down. Moreover he denied that he had been “pushed”. The public may well ask whether then or now they have been misled.

Worse, he now seeks to place the responsibility for his decision on those who protected him most when, at 82 years of age, his ability to perform his duties was seriously diminished and causing widespread concern.

Contrary to media speculation, the party has not mounted any form of legal challenge to this programme. When the Party sees the second programme, rather than relying on third party accounts, it will decide if any further response is necessary.”

Statement from Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA
Democratic Unionist Party Leader

“There are many who will believe that in agreeing to participate in these interviews Lord Bannside will have done nothing to enhance his legacy. They will struggle to reconcile the spirit and tone he presents with that which they will have known and admired. This is not the Ian Paisley we knew.

As someone who faithfully served Dr Paisley for many decades I will make one final sacrifice by not responding and causing any further damage to his legacy beyond that which he has done himself. Rather than return insult for insult, let me bless him with the mercy of my silence and wish him well.

Statement from Rt Hon Nigel Dodds MP
Democratic Unionist Party Deputy Leader

“I am personally very saddened to learn of the tone and contents of the latest programme on Lord Bannside. All of us who worked hard for him and with him for many years wished only the best for him and for our country.

It is to be deeply regretted that at 87 and retired that this programme may be what is remembered about him rather than the good things that he did.

Clearly the passage of time has diminished accurate recall of events. What is being said now by Lord Bannside about meetings is inaccurate and stands in stark contrast to everything that he said and did at the time and, indeed, during the years since.

As Lord Bannside is not long out of hospital I wish him well in his recovery.”

Statement by Lord Morrow of Clogher Valley
Democratic Unionist Party Chairman

“I have served as Chairman of the DUP for most of the period discussed in the programmes. During that time, I have some great memories of Dr Paisley. I am saddened by this turn of events. Throughout my political lifetime I was a loyal friend to Lord Bannside. I wish him well in his recovery. These latest utterances do not do justice to someone who was a giant in unionism in Northern Ireland.

Statement from Timothy Johnston
Former Special Adviser to First Minister Ian Paisley

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the general content and tone of the Ian Paisley programme to be broadcast by the BBC on Monday evening.

After a long and distinguished career it is very regrettable that Dr Paisley, as well as Mrs Paisley, and those who now advise them, have co-operated in the making of two programmes that have significantly and irreversibly damaged his historical legacy. Unsurprisingly the events of that time have not been accurately recalled and indeed the “research” used by the production staff is wrong in many significant respects. Some of the programme content is simply untrue.

I totally refute any allegation, suggestion or implication that a survey conducted was “framed” by me or anyone else. Dr Paisley commissioned the survey and was aware of its nature and its findings at the time. At no point then or since has Dr Paisley or Mrs Paisley sought to raise these concerns with me despite having had every opportunity to do so.

I learned many valuable lessons while working for Dr Paisley, one of which was not to discuss internal party business in public. I have no intention of departing from the advice he proffered at the height of his career. While saddened by this turn of events I wish Dr Paisley well for the future.”

(emphasis added)

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Comments (81)

  1. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Extraordinary. Who would have thought the DUP could issue such comments about Dr Paisley.

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  2. Neil (profile) says:

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/regional/bbc-to-air-brutal-paisley-critique-of-dup-and-free-presbyterian-church-1-5817289

    Interesting.

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  3. iluvni (profile) says:

    I’ll not sleep tonight worrying that the turmoil and worry within that hateful party over the programme might tear it apart.

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  4. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    “Dr”:”Doctor” : “The Doc”. Seriously, can we just banish this shite. He was never a ‘doctor’ of anything. At least Joseph Goebbels earned his title. Not a joke title from Bob Jones “University”. He was a hick fraudster snake oil salesman who got lucky.
    His legacy is unlikely to survive historical scrutiny. As for those stupid enough to follow him, they have many precedents.

    None of them good.

    The present DUP careerists can say what they like to keep their huge salaries (aka SF), but it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

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  5. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    IPJ has a difficult few days.

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  6. looneygas (profile) says:

    I like the bit in Neil’s link where Robinson says he’ll bless Paisley with the mercy of his silence. Does Robinson think he’s the Pope or what? Is that a common turn of Norn Iron phrase?

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  7. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    And just when we’re thinking that the book is finally being closed on Protestant extremist doom bringers we find another one just springs open:

    http://jamiebryson.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/provos-2016.html?showComment=1390197022136

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  8. Sp12 (profile) says:

    I love the way he writes
    peace ‘process’

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  9. Nordie Northsider (profile) says:

    ‘let me bless him with the mercy of my silence’.

    How very Christlike of you, Peter. After his epic missive from America, it’s good to see he’s finally mastered the short press statement.

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  10. streetlegal (profile) says:

    Make no mistake – Robinson, already a diminished and unpopular figure with the grass roots DUP, will be gone by the end of this year. Paisley’s denunciation of the DUP leader is the final straw. The knives are already being sharpened by those around him. I suppose there is a certain irony in that.

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  11. SDLP supporter (profile) says:

    Must remember to buy an supersize bucket of popcorn for the programme tonight; even if I don’t eat it all, it’ll be useful for flicking at the tv screen. That is, if I don’t nod off before the end, as I did with last week’s programme.

    What I find astonishing is that this man Paisley, whom I wholeheartedly loathe and despise, who garnered up to 232,000 votes at a time from the unionists of NI, does not have one single person to speak out publicly in his defence.

    What does this say about the mind set of the unionist people? ‘Lost sheep’ is the phrase that comes to mind.

    Of course, Newton Emerson has the real questions that will probably never be asked:

    -Were you ever diagnosed with manic depression?
    -Were you ever diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder?
    -Will you make your psychiatric history (if any) publicly available?

    On the distaff side, I quite realise that why did hundreds of thousands vote for Sinn Fein, given that some of their most prominent leaders, we now know, spent their childhoods in brutalised, dysfunctional households.

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  12. SDLP supporter (profile) says:

    Correction to “Paisley… does not have one single person to speak out publicly in his defence”.

    Other than his wife, Baroness Eileen, who does seem to be a decent, nice woman and unswervingly loyal to her husband which, I suppose, does her credit.

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  13. megatron (profile) says:

    SDLP supporter

    “leaders” – plural? Care to elaborate or typo?

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  14. keano10 (profile) says:

    I love the fact that Eileen Paisley aparrently calls Nigel Dodds a “cheeky sod” in tonight’s documentary. (Probably only reflecting what many in his own party think…).

    The really interesting part will be to see what response comes tomorrow from the wider Paisley family circle (in particular Ian Paisley Junior). Presumably, Junior will at least have some knowledge from his own contacts within the inner party circles in relation to whatever skullduggery was being perpetrated against his father at that time.

    In that light, this DUP tactic of seemingly alleging senility in respect of Paisley Senior might prove to be a very dangerous tactic indeed, particularly if Paisley Junior is able to support some of his father’s allegations.

    Things may be about to heat up…

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  15. Morpheus (profile) says:

    This simply looks like an old man in his twilight years reflecting on his life and realizing that he built his proverbial house on sand and wasted so many years hating people he didn’t even know. This ‘man of God’ named his party well because he DUPed many thousands of people over the years.

    Reg Empy was on the money this morning on Nolan when he said that deals could have been done decades ago by the likes of O’Neil had it not been for the ‘Never Never Never’ mentality that he personified.

    Watching Robinson and Dodds running around like headless chickens is hilarious. They built a whole career on the teachings of a man who is now saying that his teachings were flawed. It reminds me of that scene from countless films when a group of people are standing around waiting for the mothership or the end of the world because some dude told them it was coming but panics when the time comes and goes. DUPed indeed.

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  16. cynic2 (profile) says:

    So we two versions of events

    If the DUP is to be believed….with a frail doddery old man so mentally incompetent they had to watch his every move, they allowed him to do a deal with the Anti-Christ Sinn Fein and it as First Minister with Machine Gun Marty??? What statesmanship! What commitment to Ulster!

    Then they allowed him to cosy up to Marty until it all became too much and they were forced (in the interests of Ulster of course) to kindly help him out the door.

    Then there is the alternative that they used him to do the deal then as soon as they got into power there was an internal coup to secure the jobs and salaries for their own cabals while kicking him down the political stairs on his way out and making sure that if it all went tots up they ha=d a fall guy to blame

    Now which do I believe. Hmmmmmm, Looking at the personalities that is a hard one

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  17. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Are people engaging in canine cynophagy?

    Maybe things haven’t always been rosy. Thirty years ago, on the night of an OUP meeting in Ballymena, Jim Molyneaux told me over dinner that Mrs Paisley was no longer speaking to Mr Robinson.

    If the DUP’s Young Turks had been truly patriotic, they would have allowed IP to stay in place as FM for two or three years until the deal was well and truly established. In the event, they seem to have been offended by the fact that IP and MMcG were getting on so well together.

    Genial lot, the Young Turks. More like the Knuckle Brothers. You couldn’t warm to them if you were cremated with them.

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  18. megatron (profile) says:

    I disagree with Empey – was it really just he persuasiveness of Paisley that prevented a deal or was O’Neill etc too far ahead of the people he represented?

    I think to a large extent the PUL community agreed with Paisley.

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  19. SDLP supporter (profile) says:

    Megatron @ 12.48 pm, apart from the obvious name, and I genuinely sympathise with any human being brought up in a household where the father was a paedophile, I would also refer you to Sean Mac Stiofain’s autobiography, where his father is portrayed as an alcoholic, wife-beating brute.

    All of us are irrevocably shaped by our childhoods and, in Mac Stiofain’s case, it’s clear that the normal reserves of human empathy for the sufferings of others was squeezed out of him at an early stage of his life. Else how could he have ordered Bloody Friday and never apparently had a twinge of remorse?

    Without having Godwin’s Law cited against me, twentieth century mega-monsters like Hitler and Stalin had very brutal fathers.

    Irish people in public life are not good at self-revelatory autobiography, with the obvious exception of Dr. Noel Browne’s ‘Against the Tide’ (and even he left out vital stuff, such that his father had been in the RIC) and people who have done pretty awful things, like Tom Barry, had a vested interest in self-exculpation.

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  20. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Where is the robustness that should characterize politicians of mature age? Complete silence would have come across as manly and dignified.

    Look at what we get instead. Sensitive plants panicking over an interview on local TV before the public have seen it. “We have to get our squawk in first.”

    Hen-brained, chicken-hearted, pecking losers. Like Tom’s Little Hen in the old Norwegian folksong. ["Cluck, cluck, cluck," cried the poor little creature.]

    Asking these people to run the country is like asking jellyfish and puffballs to tap-dance.

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  21. Morpheus (profile) says:

    Megatron: “I disagree with Empey – was it really just he persuasiveness of Paisley that prevented a deal or was O’Neill etc too far ahead of the people he represented?”

    That’s what leaders do megatron, they lead. It would not have taken a lot to convince the people that the old way of doing things wasn’t right. But, as is the case in 2014, any attempt to reach out the hand of friendship was cut down by those who wish to see a Protestant Northern Ireland for a Protestant people, a relatively small, anti-Catholic organisation which has a stranglehold on the upper echelons of Northern Ireland politic…so strong that leaders dare not rock the boat for fear of offending them

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  22. David Crookes (profile) says:

    To what Morpheus has written let me add that it is much easier to make people feel uneasy and resentful than it is to make them feel secure and genial. In the second case they have to give something (as for example, by allowing change to happen), In the first case their leaders ask them to give nothing, and they duly give it.

    What effect the first kind of leadership has on those who supply it we can see on the news today. There may be honour among thieves, but there is very little good will among not-an-inch politicians.

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  23. megatron (profile) says:

    David Crookes – if it is easier wouldnt someone else have done it then if Paisley didnt? I think they would.

    How different would things have played out if Paisley didnt exist – not that differently I would say. Similarly if he arrived now as a 30 year old he would be a incompetent version of Jim Allister.

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  24. megatron (profile) says:

    Morpheus – if it is the leaders fault why does every leader act the same way? The constant is the community that elects them and are about to show NI21 the door.

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  25. Morpheus (profile) says:

    Not every leader panders to the extremists megatron – look at McGuinness (I know what you are going to say here but he has slammed the extremists in his community, the dissidents, at every opportunity and lives with a constant death threat), Ford, McCrea, McAllister, Cameron, Salmon, Obama. They do not focus on the extremes, they engage with the much more plentiful moderate middle-ground.

    The OO only care only about a Protestant Northern Ireland for a Protestant people, a concept which is dead and buried, never to return. People are turning away from that concept and the OO in their droves but unfortunately they still hold great power in the upper echelons of Northern Ireland – 40% of those voted against the Haass proposals were in the loyal Orders and a third of our elected MPs are also in the Loyal Orders. The people vote DUP/UUP but they get the OO and their ‘Not an inch’ mentality’ whether they like it or not. The OO are practically forcing people towards a UI

    I sincerely hope that NI21 is not shown the door because they represent a brand of pro-UKness that Catholics can maybe get on board with someday

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  26. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Certainly, megatron. It may be that we should then be talking today about someone who in the event was eclipsed by the bigger name and the louder voice.

    IP was trusted by many people from early on because he had preached in mission-halls all over the country from his earliest years. A six-year IRA campaign that began in 1956 got nowhere in terms of achievement, but it reminded people who were old enough to remember that partition was only three and a half decades old. When IP appeared on the political scene he was a known quantity to many people in what you might call a parallel universe.

    Mr Allister has never been able to lean back on such a parallel universe. He has tapped into a vein of resentment, and mined it quite skilfully, but he doesn’t have a big personal following, he is not a big-name crowd-puller, and he is probably too old to do much more. The last European election was his best personal moment. IP always appeared to promise some kind of certainty, but all that Mr Allister can promise is that if he succeeds in pulling down the SAA we shall have joint authority. Whenever he says, “Britain will have to….”, he knows in his heart that he is talking fantastical nonsense.

    IP was faced with a British ultimatum: do the deal, or else. He did the deal. If Mr Allister contrives to undo the deal, we shall not be returning to direct rule on his terms. It is not honest of Mr Allister to suggest that any such return is possible.

    Unionism at present has no credible leader.

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  27. David Crookes (profile) says:

    …..but Lord Bannside has given an unforgettable title to one of his former colleagues.

    The Mighty Dodds.

    This one is going to run and run and run.

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  28. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    Paraphrasing Abe Lincoln, the good Lord required 1 D, the Dodds require 3.

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  29. GEF (profile) says:

    “IP was faced with a British ultimatum: do the deal, or else. ”

    Or else what? Was it joint rule between UK and the ROI or worse? Anyone know?

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  30. David Crookes (profile) says:

    GEF, IP said that Mr Blair confronted him with this ultimatum, and yes, it was joint authority.

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  31. GEF (profile) says:

    DC, I would like to see documented evidence to support: ” IP said that Mr Blair confronted him with this (A joint authority) ultimatum”

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  32. BarneyT (profile) says:

    I know Paisley was recovering in hospital and has been released but this illness\need for treatment was due to his physical state. Is it me or are the likes of Campbell and Dodds trying to imply he is mentally unwell, when they throw the same statement out…..may he made a speedy recovery. Heavy implications I feel.

    Paisley is a fanatic and has some odd views, but he came across as mentally intact. This could back fire on the DUP is so many ways.

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  33. BarneyT (profile) says:

    I know Paisley was recovering in hospital and has been released but this illness\need for treatment was due to his physical state. Is it me or are the likes of Campbell and Dodds trying to imply he is mentally unwell, when they throw the similar statements out to the press…..may he make a speedy recovery. Heavy implications I feel.

    Paisley is a fanatic and has some odd views, but he came across as mentally intact….within those parameters This could back fire on the DUP is so many ways.

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  34. David Crookes (profile) says:

    GEF, here’s an old article from Irish Voice.

    Towards Joint Authority
    By Niall O’Dowd

    NORTHERN Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain was in the U.S. last month to give his assessment of the situation in Northern Ireland to Irish American leaders.

    Hain has made a decent fist of the Northern Ireland job. He has been blunt and direct when needed. He has pointed out that the economic basket case where the British government and taxpayer endlessly subsidize the local economy cannot continue forever.

    Hain has stressed that, unlike previous British governments, this one has a plan in conjunction with the Irish government and is sticking to it. He has pointed out to the local party leaders that if agreements are not reached on power-sharing, then their coveted sinecures where they get paid handsomely to sit in an Assembly that never meets are over.

    Above all, Hain has pointed out that in British Prime Minister Tony Blair the Irish peace process has an ally unlike any other in modern times. Blair, however, is expected to step down within a year. In addition, an Irish election next May or June could also remove Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern, the other leader who has given endlessly of his time and effort to achieve peace.

    In other words, the maximum potential for achieving the long dreamed of power-sharing administration with safeguards for both sides in Northern Ireland are now in place.

    It was a sobering briefing by Hain, especially on the issue of what will replace power-sharing if the current attempt to achieve it fails.

    Hain was less than convincing on the issue of joint authority, a form of which both governments have said they will implement if the power-sharing ideal fails. He was wishy-washy on the details, merely saying that it would obviously involve a large extension of the current cross border cooperation initiatives.

    That would not be good enough for Irish America. For too long the forces of Unionism have thwarted every effort to create political institutions that reflect the effective reality that the North is almost evenly divided — politically, geographically and population wise — between the two communities. Anything less than a complete recognition of that fact in any joint authority formula would be insufficient.

    If, as seems more likely every passing day, the Democratic Unionists are the ones who balk at power-sharing, then it is up to the two governments to show them that they have a plan that will deal directly with that refusal, and one that will make them understand that the price for failing to share power is a steep one indeed.

    To their credit, the two governments have made it crystal clear to the Northern Ireland parties that if no deal can be reached in November then the entire exercise in power-sharing will be shelved indefinitely, no if, ands or buts.

    The hope is, of course, that the deadline and the determined positions of the two governments will lead Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley to rethink his party’s recalcitrant position on the power-sharing issue.

    Judging by recent events, however, that seems a long shot at present. Paisley gave a hate filled speech over the July 12th season, one that indicated that his visceral hatred of Catholics is still very much in effect.

    Certainly, the opinion of his party and its leader is an important one, but it cannot defy progress for all the people of the North, no more than the Sinn Fein position on the other side can stymie progress.

    What is needed is for both governments to continue to show the political mettle they have shown in recent times when it comes to taking decisions if the Unionists refuse to deal. Irish America will need to see a form of joint authority that is a meaningful reflection of the role of the Irish government in the affairs of the North if they are going to accept any compromise put forward.

    * * * * * * End of the article * * * * * *

    I was quoting what IP said recently in a private meeting, for which no documentation is available. But the IV article prompts me to ask what Irish America has got to do with anything. To speak about Irish America as if it ought tto have any say in Irish or British affairs is to make Jimbo’s talk of a nexus involving Washington sound credible.

    We may be moving into the sort of waters that were ebbing and flowing at the time when the IV article was written.

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  35. folk on the hill (profile) says:

    The withering invective of IP’s tongue must have been amusing to his colleagues when it was directed to mssrs Trimble and co but a rather different matter when it cuts swathes through their own ranks. Sadly they are now seeing and feeling what a powerful weapon the tongue can be and feeling the brunt of it. Wonder what is going through David Trimble’s mind atm

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  36. GEF (profile) says:

    “I was quoting what IP said recently in a private meeting, for which no documentation is available.”

    Thanks DC, like my own supposition on the issue it sounds like (Joint authority) was suggested if IP refused to sign.

    However if this be the case, surely a smart politician (or at least one of IP’s ability at the time) surely he should have told Blair, “These are very serious decisions for me alone to take and I therefore must put these important questions ( sign or accept joint rule) to my party (and more so to his Church members) at the time and come back with an answer”

    Then he may not have caused such an uproar what he did.

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  37. Red Lion (profile) says:

    I am somewhat disinterested in the Paisley/DUP clash. It is a remnant of the politics of yesteryear, to me no more than a curious sideshow.

    SDLP supporter – I think mental ill health and personality disorder not least antisocial traits, borderline traits and narcissism go a long way to understanding the building blocks of DUP and SF through the troubles.

    I don’t think NI21 will be shown the door. They won’t take over the palace overnight like, but they have got a significant wee membership of very energised people. They are determined and won’t be pushed around by no-one. I believe they will be a relevant factor in council and MLA elections

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  38. Morpheus (profile) says:

    David I think this interview covers what you were saying about joint authority:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pumM9jcVTqM

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  39. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Red Lion,

    I am afraid I see no particular reason to be optimistic about NI21. Youthful and energetic they may be, they don’t know how to run elections – and appear to be blissfully unaware of this limitation, to the point of dismissiveness. I also think they are in danger of believing their own PR. NI21′s test will be whether they stagger back to their feet after the forthcoming European and council elections to fight the assembly election in 2015.

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  40. David Crookes (profile) says:

    As usual, Morpheus, you’re away ahead of me in tracking down documentation and furnishing links. Thanks very much for this helpful posting. GEF will be glad of it as well.

    I wonder if there any more sensations coming along the televisual pipeline in the next hour or so. Maybe all the juicy bits have already been put out on the hors d’oeuvres tray.

    I find anything to do with M Thatcher very hard to watch, but bits of this unfolding saga remind me of how (on the film about her career — remember it?) she accounted for her own departure from office.

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  41. Morpheus (profile) says:

    You’re very welcome David.

    What I am more interested in is if the DUP have anything in the locker – that little gem saved up a rainy day – which will take the heat off them in the coming days so this story can become old news that bit quicker. God knows they need it.

    But of course that implies strategy and judging by the fact that they aimlessly stagger from one disaster to the next then maybe that is thing on the ground.

    Anyone wonder who the ‘we’ is in ‘we want you out by Friday’ given that the deputy leader knew nothing about it at that time

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  42. Morpheus (profile) says:

    I really wish there was an edit function :)

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  43. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, Morpheus. Yes. Any man of intelligence — sorry, politician — insures his own life, and his tenure, by having a serious lot of goodies which will all come out if he is killed, or forced from office. Seems not to apply to the present case.

    Poor DUP. They can never invite IP to a reunion ever again.

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  44. Red Lion (profile) says:

    Comrade,

    No NI21 person I’ve met dismisses anything of the task ahead. But there is a quiet resilient confidence and growing numbers and organization.

    This organization includes getting experienced election people on board. Do you really honestly think that NI21 ‘are blissfully unaware of/dismissive’ of the importance of election strategy? It ain’t a tinpot party but a bunch of people trying to be as focused as possible. There are limtations in starting a party from scratch and fighting your first election, but also a lot of pluses.

    NI is stuck at a dead end. It was inevitable there would be a reaction against this, enter NI21.

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  45. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    @David, as far as O’Dowd stressing what ‘Irish America’ will and will not accept, I thought at the time he was a bit full of himself. But you have to remember the atmosphere of the time you be able to interpret the remarks accurately. Irish America, if you can call it that, or concerned Americans of Irish heritage, made Northern Ireland’s political strife a campaign issue and had the ear of several in Bill Clinton’s camp. It is those people Niall is referring to as “Irish America”.
    As for what the White House was able to accomplish in those days, I don’t think we can tell yet.

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  46. GEF (profile) says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pumM9jcVTqM

    Indeed DC I am pleased, much appreciated Morpheus.

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  47. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Red Lion,

    Do you really honestly think that NI21 ‘are blissfully unaware of/dismissive’ of the importance of election strategy?

    Yes. They still don’t have any policies yet. Which is kind of fundamental to an election strategy.

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  48. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, Kev. That helps.

    It is arguable that in the days leading up to the deal being done the Americans were much more pro-unionist than Blair & Co. But in general I hate the idea of foreigners being involved in our affairs. Thatcher imposed the AIA which she detested, and didn’t believe in, because of pressure from Reagan, who was under pressure from his own partisans to do something that would please T P O’Neill.

    Australian descendants of Lithuanians who went to live in Australia during the nineteenth century have no right to meddle in the internal politics of modern Lithuania. And so on. And so on. Otherwise you’re into bloodlines, and the next stop is reptilians.

    Back to the thread. The IP disclosures and the DUP replies are no longer big-time news. It remains for us to see what effect the whole business will have on the electoral fortunes of the DUP. If we were being paid to advise that party, we might say: make sure your next leader isn’t a cold fish. But does the DUP have the necessary appetite for self-preservation?

    The election of ND as party leader will answer that question with a grim and glacial NO.

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  49. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    David Crookes

    As always, an enlightening and heartening contribution.

    I must of course respond by being disagreeable, this being Slugger, and me being generally disagreeable anyway. So let me pick you up on the one point of disagreement, and ignore the umpteen points of agreement.

    You dislike the American involvement in our affairs. (I’ll let pass the obvious open-goal presented by your references to ‘foreigners being involved in our affairs…’)

    But this is to miss the point that Irish-America has only ever involved itself in Irish affairs at the behest of Irish people who are still very much here. This has been the case since the days of the Fenian Brotherhood.

    American involvement in Ireland has always been by invitation, almost always the invitation of nationalist Ireland.

    And of course it’s natural that unionist Ireland and the UK state has always been unhappy to see nationalism enlist such a powerful ally. But there’s little new in this.

    ‘Australian descendants of Lithuanians who went to live in Australia during the nineteenth century have no right to meddle in the internal politics of modern Lithuania.’

    They might, if a significant section of the Lithuanian people invited them to do so.

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  50. David Crookes (profile) says:

    As well as being generous, Billy, you’re right. But even when the matter of “invitation” is factored into the equation, neither in law nor in logic is there any reason for the UK to take note of what American descendants of long-ago Irish immigrants may think about anything.

    If at any time HMG wants to take on Irish America robustly, it will ask the following questions. Are you Irish or American? Do you hold Irish citizenship? Wyatt Earp’s great-great-great grandson lives in Finchley, and he doesn’t like what the USA is doing in Iraq. What are you going to say to him and his family? Hey?

    Of course everything changes when Irish Americans come to hold a lot of political power.

    I reckon that it was a triumph of British diplomacy to get large sections of Irish America on board once the deal was done. (9/11 helped.) Getting Edward Kennedy over to Stormont, like getting him to accept an honorary knighthood, was pretty smart.

    In their hearts JFK and his brothers, unlike their father, were rather Anglophile. The literary works of John Buchan (they called him “Lord Tweedsmuir” without any embarrassment!) had a great influence on John and Robert. JB’s son, the second Earl Tweedsmuir, was the first chairman of the Bilderberg Group.

    By the way, Patrick McGoohan (he of ‘The Prisoner’ took the lead in a Columbo episode about Irish-American support for terrorism. I’m not sure if that episode went down well in parts of Boston. To me it looked as if PMcG was setting his face resolutely against terrorism.

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  51. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    David

    ‘…even when the matter of “invitation” is factored into the equation, neither in law nor in logic is there any reason for the UK to take note of what American descendants of long-ago Irish immigrants may think about anything.’

    But the UK government doesn’t pay attention to Irish-America. It pays attention to the US government. In fact it pays more than attention; it pays fealty.

    So if if a given US government is induced by “descendants of long-ago Irish immigrants’” into pressurizing the UK government, the UK government has no choice but to pay attention.

    (We saw this, to different extents, during the Clinton and Reagan presidencies.

    If the USA demanded it (not that they ever conceivably would) the UK state would jettison Northern Ireland much more readily than they would jettison the centrepiece of UK foreign policy. (Which, since WWII has been to ride shotgun for US power.)

    (I also think you are exaggerating JFK’s Anglophilia. For example, during the Cuban missile crisis, the USSR threatened to wipe out the UK as an hors d’oeuvre. Kennedy didn’t even tell Macmillan anything was happening. When the Soviets offered to call it off in return for the US mothballing some already-obsolete missiles in Turkey, Kennedy refused – prioritizing a minor matter of his own prestige, even if it meant the annihilation of Britain. Not much Anglophilia there. And Adams’s visa would never have happened without Ted Kennedy – a diplomatic catastrophe for the UK.)

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  52. Red Lion (profile) says:

    Comrade,

    NI21 do have policies. They have taken positions on loads of things.

    The current big 5 parties are failing NI. I think the population appreciate a bunch of people coming together in NI21 trying to do something about it. The people will understand that a new party will not have dotted the i’s on all their policies, but will appreciate the spirit behind what NI21 are trying to do, and accept nuanced detail will come in time after the broad thrust principles are set out.

    Alliance people do seem to be putting a lot of effort into dismissing NI21.

    If NI21 were so irrelevant (like, say the Greens or NI Tories), then you wouldn’t even bother.

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  53. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Billy, wasn’t the visa trick played both ways with GA?

    JFK sounds pretty ruthless. A nuclear attack on the UK would have been seriously bad news for the RoI. Maybe he wasn’t much of a Hibernophile either.

    In more recent times the special relationship was supposed to climax during the Reagan-Thatcher days, but when Reagan invaded Grenada he omitted to tell Thatcher!

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  54. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    NI21 do have policies. They have taken positions on loads of things.

    Basil publishing a press release on the hoof without consulting anyone is not policy; it is not a way to make policy; and if it keeps up party members who want at least a say and a vote over what the party does or does not believe will simply leave.

    Alliance people do seem to be putting a lot of effort into dismissing NI21.

    You mean I should just ignore you instead of replying to you ?

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  55. Caoimhín (profile) says:

    “By the way, Patrick McGoohan (he of ‘The Prisoner’ took the lead in a Columbo episode about Irish-American support for terrorism. I’m not sure if that episode went down well in parts of Boston. To me it looked as if PMcG was setting his face resolutely against terrorism.”

    David,

    Apologies for the pedantry, but the Columbo episode you refer to is called “The Conspirators” and starred not the great Patrick McGoohan (who was in many other great Columbo episodes) but British/New Zealand actor Clive Revill. Mr Revill’s attempt at an Irish accent was sinfully bad.

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  56. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Billy,

    Load of balls. All of the USA’s involvement in NI matters in the past couple of decades has been done on the say so of the British government.

    The only time I can think of the US government acting on its own right was over the granting of a visa to Gerry Adams. It is of course their own business who they admit into their own country. But they do not interfere here without permission – how could they ?

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  57. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Caoimhin, many thanks for the correction. I apologize for shooting off my gub. Next thing I’ll be claiming that Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson starred in Pride and Prejudice.

    Mind you, it’s a nice idea.

    Sorry again.

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  58. Red Lion (profile) says:

    Comrade,

    “”and if it keeps up party members who want at least a say and a vote over what the party does or does not believe will simply leave.””

    I’m not quite sure what this sentence means. (lol)

    “”Basil publishing a press release on the hoof without consulting anyone is not policy””

    NI21 don’t send out press releases on the hoof, they are considered positions. Virtually every postion I have for one have agreed with

    “”You mean I should just ignore you instead of replying to you ?””

    Please don’t do that. But there is a contradiction in APNI dismissing NI21 on one hand, and spending time specifically challenging them on the other. It is more consistent to acknowledge NI21 are potentially relevant and then engage. Either that or just ignore them near-completely as you do Greens/Tories etc. The contradiction exposes Alliance are a bit worried.

    Alliance were once upon a time a new party. I would guess at that time they didn’t have advanced or nuanced policy formed. Yet people gave them a decent first vote 40 years ago because of the spirit of what they were about. What I mean is people are ready to cut the new-triers a bit of slack in terms of policy detail if they like the sound of them and their broad principles. Detailed policy ain’t the be all and end all at election time.

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  59. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    David

    ‘wasn’t the visa trick played both ways with GA?’

    Not sure I follow?

    ‘A nuclear attack on the UK would have been seriously bad news for the RoI. Maybe he wasn’t much of a Hibernophile either.’

    I’d say JFK was both a Hibernophile and an Anglophile. But the point is that neither his Hiberniphilia nor his Angliphilia mattered a fig in comparison to: a) US state policy and b) his own grip on political power.

    It’s the tension between a) and b) that characterizes most presidents’ policy towards Ireland. While on one hand, the UK is an important political, military and diplomatic ally to the US, on the other hand, the Irish are an important domestic lobby and political subculture that any president must take seriously. Frequently, it’s the latter consideration which wins out, which is hardly surprising since the UK, having chosen to be the harlot of international politics, is totally dependent on the US and has precious little leverage over it.

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  60. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    Comrade Stalin

    ‘The only time I can think of the US government acting on its own right was over the granting of a visa to Gerry Adams.’

    And this was a diplomatic catastrophe for the UK. This was direct US intervention over the heads of the UK government in what was/is sovereign UK territory. The US has been centrally involved here ever since, and will continue to be, short of the UK deciding to cool the ‘special relationship’ – which they ain’t going to do over this insignificant little parish.

    ‘But they do not interfere here without permission – how could they ?’

    I never said they did. My point is that the UK government dare not refuse them permission, though I’m sure they’d dearly love to.

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  61. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “Dr”:”Doctor” : “The Doc”. Seriously, can we just banish this shite. He was never a ‘doctor’ of anything. At least Joseph Goebbels earned his title. Not a joke title from Bob Jones “University”. He was a hick fraudster snake oil salesman who got lucky.’

    @bluesjazz,

    Paisley may not have earned a doctorate, but I bet that at least one person in either America, Britain, or Ireland has earned a doctorate running a dissertation on him. Possibly even a former DUP or Free Presbyterian member.

    “And this was a diplomatic catastrophe for the UK. This was direct US intervention over the heads of the UK government in what was/is sovereign UK territory.”

    @billypilgrim,

    Please explain your rationale to me. Are you claiming that the U.S. government does not have the right to decide to whom to grant visas to to visit American territory? I’m sure that over the years London has granted visas to a number of people that Washington was not kindly disposed to.

    @David Crookes, Kevsterino,

    In the 1980s four prominent Irish-American politician known as “the four horsemen” formed an organization called the Friends of Ireland. Three of them were members of Congress and the fourth was the governor of NY. The organization took its direction from John Hume and was devoted mainly to securing equal rights for nationalists in NI and ending/reducing violence there. Conor Clery, who was the Irish Times correspondent in Washington during President Clinton’s first term, wrote a book on the subject. Like Kev said, Irish-Americans organized for American diplomatic involvement in NI in 1992, but they were probably pushing on an open door as far as Clinton was concerned because he was studying at Oxford Univ. when The Troubles started and had memories of watching the newsreels of the NICRA marches.

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  62. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    tmitch57

    ‘Please explain your rationale to me.’

    Gladly. The UK government had asked the US government not to issue a visa to Adams and lots of other important republicans. For more than two decades the US government had acceded to this request, being a good ally and all that. And of course, taking the view that this was an internal UK matter.

    Then Clinton changed the policy, thus choosing to prioritise the MP for West Belfast over the ‘Special Relationship’. It also signalled that the US was no longer going to look at NI as a UK ‘domestic’.

    It would be hard to overstate what a shock to the system this was for Whitehall. They had to completely overhaul their entire perception of Adams, of SF and of NI, and in short order.

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  63. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    ‘And of course, taking the view that this was an internal UK matter.’

    ‘This’ being Northern Ireland, of course.

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  64. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    ‘…they were probably pushing on an open door as far as Clinton was concerned…’

    Indeed. As well as anything else, he hated the Tory government of the day, after they had taken the unusual step of publicly backing Bush in ’92.

    Now Bush was a genuine Anglophile. Of course today, Obama is famously cool towards the British. Some allege he even hates the UK, which would hardly be surprising to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the history of 20th century Kenya. And Obama’s knowledge is more than cursory.

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  65. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “That’s what leaders do megatron, they lead. It would not have taken a lot to convince the people that the old way of doing things wasn’t right.”

    @Morpheus,

    I disagree with your belief that this would have been easy. Look what happened to Brian Faulkner in 1974–the party rejected power sharing and he was forced to leave and start his own party in order to implement Sunningdale. And Faulkner was much more popular with the party rank-and-file than was O’Neill. Journalists at the time noted that O’Neill was considered English because of the accent he picked up during WWII serving in the army. Faulkner took the leadership of the UUP in 1971 as the professionals and industrialists were starting to take control of the party from the landed gentry–the country farmers on their estates. O’Neill got the premiership because he was the scion of a very old family. Faulkner got it because he was a self-made man who helped to defeat the Border Campaign in the late 1950s.

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  66. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “For more than two decades the US government had acceded to this request, being a good ally and all that. And of course, taking the view that this was an internal UK matter.”

    @Billy,

    So because Washington deferred to London in the past it doesn’t have the right to change its course? During those two decades the IRA was at war with Britain. Clinton was assured by his national security advisor and by Taoiseach Albert Reynolds that if given the visa the IRA would go on ceasefire. They both turned out to be right. The visa controversy was one that split the two governments that were co-sponsors of the peace process. Washington sided with Dublin in this instance. It later sided with London on other controversies.

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  67. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    tmitch57

    ‘So because Washington deferred to London in the past it doesn’t have the right to change its course?’

    Of course it had the right to do so. I don’t believe I have implied that it didn’t. I have simply stated that the Adams visa was a diplomatic catastrophe for the UK. I also think it was a very good thing for the rest of us, mind you.

    I’m in complete agreement with everything else you said.

    ‘Washington sided with Dublin in this instance. It later sided with London on other controversies.’

    Yes, but the fact that Washington sided against London even once (in what was an internal UK matter, remember) was a diplomatic catastrophe for the UK, one they never saw coming, and one which tempered British government policy towards NI from then on.

    Or in short, the Adams visa was Washington putting manners on Whitehall, and was clearly understood to be such by both republicans and Whitehall at the time.

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  68. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “Yes, but the fact that Washington sided against London even once (in what was an internal UK matter, remember)’

    @Billy,

    You are confused: the granting of permission by the U.S. government to visit American territory is NOT an internal UK matter, it is an internal American matter. It hasn’t been a UK matter since at least 1783–when there probably was not a requirement for visas.

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  69. grandimarkey (profile) says:

    Oh come on tmitch57! That’s not what he’s said at all.

    Read what Billy Pilgrim has written, you’ve gotten the complete wrong end of the stick. Go back to start and try again.

    He’s saying that the whole Northern Ireland ‘problem’ was up until that time considered to be an ‘internal UK matter’. He hasn’t inferred at any stage that American policy is a matter for London.

    Apologies for the rant but you’ve replied to him a few times making reference to things that he hasn’t actually said. It makes the whole debate rather tedious and I’m trying to pass time in work :-)

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  70. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    Thank-you so much Grandimarkey!

    He probably thinks he’s being clever.

    Shame on you, tmitch57 for behaving so dishonestly on these hallowed boards.

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  71. Mark (profile) says:

    Did Martin Galvin not ask Clinton in 93 while he was Gov of Ark and an outsider in the race if he got to the Whitehouse , would he grant GA a visa . I think Clinton replied he didnt see a reason not to …..50 million Irish Americans , couldn’t really go back on his word .

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  72. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “Apologies for the rant but you’ve replied to him a few times making reference to things that he hasn’t actually said.”

    “Yes, but the fact that Washington sided against London even once (in what was an internal UK matter, remember)”

    @grandi,

    I quoted back to him EXACTLY what he wrote. The visa controversy was over whether or not to give Adams a two-day visa to visit the U.S. to confer with American supporters of Sinn Fein/IRA to explain to them why the IRA was considering going on ceasefire. That and another visa to an old IRA man known to the American Provos after the ceasefire had already been decided upon were basically one-time transactions. Had the IRA not gone on ceasefire they wouldn’t have gotten more visas.

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  73. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Billy,

    Or in short, the Adams visa was Washington putting manners on Whitehall, and was clearly understood to be such by both republicans and Whitehall at the time.

    It would be hard to overstate what a shock to the system this was for Whitehall. They had to completely overhaul their entire perception of Adams, of SF and of NI, and in short order.

    Let’s put down the self-indulgent talking up of what happened here (Whitehall have never really overhauled their perception of Adams, SF or NI. The Whitehall-drafted peace deal from 1973 and 1974 is little different from the one that Gerry Adams signed in 1998).

    You talk as if the visa being issued was done with the objective of sticking it up to the Brits, when in fact it was done so that SF could sell the prospect of a ceasefire to the American supporters who they relied on so much at the time for donations and funds.

    Republicans visiting the USA talk all kinds of tall tales of daring raids and attacks on the British which were/are lapped up by the gullible audiences there who were no doubt being led to believe that the British defeat by the IRA was imminent. Naturally Gerry Adams had to therefore go over there and give an explanation about why they were throwing in the towel.

    Not all of them accepted it of course. There are some Americans who desperately feel the need to identify with a struggle in a foreign country (in the way that some from here identify with Palestinians). INAC/NORAID opposed the IRA ceasefire and have opposed every step in the process ever since. Reading their statements since then, it sounds very much as if they are more sore about discovering their irrelevance to the situation after decades of republicans telling them that they were central to it. Niall O’Dowd is another character who desperately wants to believe he is important to politicians here.

    [little known fact. Back then, Gerry Adams pointedly used to refuse condemning IRA violence, usually making a comment about not getting into "the politics of condemnation". However coincidental with his USA trip, a wannabe organization calling itself the "South Carolina IRA" mounted a number of minor attacks on British-owned businesses within that state. Adams was asked about this and he issued a condemnation of the violence. Adams knew that he could not get away making excuses for violence against Americans on their own turf in the way that he could back home.]

    As for the politicians .. Clinton was thinking about his place in history when he decided to grant a visa to Adams, and undoubtedly also about the Irish American lobby whose support and votes he needed to retain.

    This is only instance I can think of where the Americans decided to act against British requests. Later, for example, the British persuaded George W Bush not to invite Sinn Féin to the usual St Patrick’s Day thing at the White House following the murder of Robert McCartney.

    tmitch,

    Granting a visa is an internal matter in this case for the US government, at least legally and officially. Diplomatically it was tricky, as it would be in reverse if the UK were, for example, to grant a visa to Fidel Castro.

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  74. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    Tmitch57

    ‘The visa controversy was over whether or not to give Adams a two-day visa to visit the U.S…’

    No!

    Wrong!

    That wasn’t the controversy. That was merely the decision the US government had to make.

    The controversy was that the US government did precisely what the UK government had very publicly and very ardently asked them not to do.

    I recognise your strategy of deliberate misinterpretation for what it is: an attempt to reduce the debate to sheer attrition. I condemn you for it. I’ll have no more to say to you unless you have an honest contribution to make.

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  75. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    Comrade Stalin

    ‘…self-indulgent…’

    Self-indulgent? How can it be self-indulgent, unless I am in fact Gerry Adams? (Disclaimer: I’m not. No connection whatsoever.)

    ‘… Whitehall have never really overhauled their perception of Adams, SF or NI. The Whitehall-drafted peace deal from 1973 and 1974 is little different from the one that Gerry Adams signed in 1998.’

    A half-truth, at best. Whitehall’s position on republicanism may have been similar in 1998 to what it had been in 1973, but it was dramatically different to what it had been in the intervening period. After Sunningdale the UK government took an extreme right turn, and spent two decades pursuing criminalization, ‘Ulsterization’ and a ‘security solution’. It eventually returned to its earlier, more sensible policy, but it’s simply false to pretend that it had never moved.

    ‘You talk as if the visa being issued was done with the objective of sticking it up to the Brits, when in fact it was done so that SF could sell the prospect of a ceasefire to the American supporters who they relied on so much at the time for donations and funds.’

    It was both. But the message was well understood in Whitehall – the US wanted peace in NI, and the UK would have to be careful not to be seen to be an obstacle to that. (As it had most certainly been for the previous two decades.)

    Your sneering contempt for Irish Americans does you no credit. The fact that Irish Americans give a damn about Ireland does them great credit – as I’m sure you’d point out, there’s nothing to compel them to care.

    The vignette about the South Carolina IRA is hilarious, though! (Almost as hilarious as the fact that you think there’s a serious point lurking in there somewhere!)

    ‘As for the politicians .. Clinton was thinking about his place in history when he decided to grant a visa to Adams, and undoubtedly also about the Irish American lobby whose support and votes he needed to retain.’

    I’m sure you’re right about the first part. The second part is basically the sum total of the point I’ve been trying to make, and with which you and others have been trying (and failing) to disagree!

    ‘This is only instance I can think of where the Americans decided to act against British requests.’

    OF COURSE no British government since has been so foolish as to make a public request to the US government that might not be granted. Once was sufficient.

    What do you think?
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  76. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Red Lion, sorry I missed your reply of a few days ago.

    “”and if it keeps up party members who want at least a say and a vote over what the party does or does not believe will simply leave.””

    I’m not quite sure what this sentence means. (lol)

    When a (normal) party is drafting policy it typically sets up various committees, invites participation and then puts the proposals to a vote.

    In NI21, policies are made up by the party leader on the hoof. The party is not consulted and none of the policies have been put to a vote. Sooner or later, the party leader is going to make an utterance with which a significant number in the party disagree – but they will have no leg to stand on as there is no formally ratified policy they can contrast with.

    NI21 members are therefore merely functionaries who are there to enable the current party leader to promulgate his own policies without having to go to the trouble of having them approved. That’s pretty much the way the DUP and Sinn Féin work. I couldn’t be in a party like that.

    “”Basil publishing a press release on the hoof without consulting anyone is not policy””

    NI21 don’t send out press releases on the hoof, they are considered positions.

    No they aren’t. NI21 don’t have any policies which is because they haven’t internally debated and agreed them yet. Therefore they cannot possibly be considered positions.

    Virtually every postion I have for one have agreed with

    That’s good. But that may not always be the case. At the moment, Basil can say whatever he likes and call it policy, and moreover assume that whatever he says has your support. And you have no say in the matter. Isn’t that a problem ?

    “”You mean I should just ignore you instead of replying to you ?””

    Please don’t do that. But there is a contradiction in APNI dismissing NI21 on one hand, and spending time specifically challenging them on the other.

    There isn’t a contradiction, no. I reply to people in discussions all the time irrespective of my opinion of their prospects for electoral success. I’m not aware of Alliance “dismissing” NI21; a few MLAs have made comments from time to time about it. On the other hand, NI21 supporters and members spend a lot more time attacking Alliance (which by your standards must mean that NI21 consider Alliance to be a threat).

    It is more consistent to acknowledge NI21 are potentially relevant and then engage.

    Paradoxically, the only thing that I can engage with NI21 is their lack of anything original to actually engage over.

    NI21 have the potential to be relevant, but I suspect that potential will go unfulfilled. It’s not a matter of policy or beliefs, but the fact that the party is a disorganized mess without a coherent platform and without any experienced staff who know how to run an election campaign. The distance that any political party can travel here simply by being right-on about certain moderate perspectives is very short.

    Either that or just ignore them near-completely as you do Greens/Tories etc. The contradiction exposes Alliance are a bit worried.

    I don’t ignore the Greens/Tories, they seem to have fewer ideological cheerleaders on discussions such as this. Right here on Slugger we did all this “you’re only attacking UCUNF because you’re scared” thing back during the 2010 election cycle. It was stupid then and it’s stupid now.

    The Greens are to me a much more significant electoral presence. They know how to run elections, they have a policy platform (which they articulate very well) and they have competent election organizers working for them. The Greens have already deprived Alliance of a seat (the second North Down seat in 2011) and if Alliance is not careful they may deprive it of an East Belfast seat in 2015.

    The Tories are so irrelevant it’s untrue. I saw Irwin Armstrong on Twitter a few months back publicly (!!!) begging another unionist representative to encourage his voters to transfer to the Conservatives. This desperate stump of a party will struggle to gain votes even in the council elections.

    So I think I’m fairly clear on where the electoral threats actually come from.

    Alliance were once upon a time a new party. I would guess at that time they didn’t have advanced or nuanced policy formed.

    Alliance was founded by a group of people (as opposed to NI21 being founded by one man who could not persuade any of his local association to come with him) who had electoral experience and who were involved in a number of reform-oriented political movements prior to that point.

    NI21 exists solely because its founder wanted to lead rather than be led.

    Yet people gave them a decent first vote 40 years ago because of the spirit of what they were about.

    At that time the country was tearing itself apart and there were regular bomb attacks and shootings. It’s not the same.

    What I mean is people are ready to cut the new-triers a bit of slack in terms of policy detail if they like the sound of them and their broad principles.

    Trust me. I’ve seen election campaigns run on that basis before – often by Alliance. “Vote for us because we’re nice”. It doesn’t work. By all means knock yourself out proving that it doesn’t work. But don’t come back here cursing the electorate and blaming everyone but yourselves when you are rejected.

    What do you think?
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  77. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Billy,

    I think those from outside the UK or Ireland who believe themselves to be relevant to the “struggle”, have a voice that needs to be heard and a desire to “contribute” are extremely self-indulgent of their supposed role in achieving anything which gets accomplished here.

    What do you think?
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  78. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “I think those from outside the UK or Ireland who believe themselves to be relevant to the “struggle”, have a voice that needs to be heard and a desire to “contribute” are extremely self-indulgent of their supposed role in achieving anything which gets accomplished here.”

    @CS,

    Back when I returned to Belfast to do research in the summer of 2001 I carried with me a copy of my first book, which had just been published the previous year after having been researched in Belfast in the summer of 1998. I thought of leaving it off at the UUP office for Trimble. And then I thought seriously about it. With Sean O’Callaghan as a personal adviser he wouldn’t learn anything new on the Republicans from my book. It would be presumptuous to try to teach him anything about his own party or even about the DUP. He probably could have learned something about Alliance from my book–but I doubt that that was very high on his list of priorities in the summer of 2001. I left a copy at the Linen Hall Library’s political collection, where I had done research in 1998, and left it at that.

    What do you think?
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  79. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    CS

    I think Stephen Agnew is a very good speaker. Consistent, clear. They have a couple of good councillors too.

    I see they are targeting East Belfast. Do you think they have a real chance of MLA there? They have selected their Euro Candidate a long time ago – will be interesting to see how it goes for them.

    Belfast seems the sort of city that could return quite a few Green councillors, similar in some ways to other cities with a Green presence like Brighton/Norwich/Oxford/London etc.

    What do you think?
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  80. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    South Belfast would seem to be another Green target – in demographic terms.

    What do you think?
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  81. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    @Billy,

    Here’s a link to an article in the BelTel on the granting of the Adams’ visa:
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/debateni/blogs/breakdown-in-haass-talks-masks-earlier-achievements-29952537.html

    What do you think?
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