SDLP pledge to form a “Constructive Opposition”

The SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood confirmed that his party would be leaving the Executive and joining the UUP in opposition.

In a statement he said;

Throughout the course of the recent election campaign the SDLP made a clear promise to the public.

We vowed to fight hard to negotiate a credible and progressive Programme for Government which would actually meet the needs of people in Northern Ireland.

Our ambition sought to implement specific policies which were designed to stop the continuing tide of emigration, to invest in our young people and their education, to protect our elderly, to spread wealth and opportunity across the whole region and to build a modern, prosperous economy.

Since the election two weeks ago we have met with senior civil servants in many major departments of government here. In the last number of days we have responded to draft documents submitted to all parties by the head of the civil service and have further submitted our own papers on the economy, health, childcare, justice, child poverty and others.

We have kept our promise to the electorate. We have tried to negotiate a progressive programme for change on their behalf. Over the last two weeks, we have put in the hard yards by putting in the hard work. We have not rushed to judgement.

After a long two weeks, despite our best efforts, it has become clear that our ambition for a full Programme for Government will not be matched by the document currently constructed by the DUP and Sinn Féin. We fear that its inherent vagueness will fall far short of what is required.

Today I can formally announce that, after a unanimous decision by the SDLP Assembly group and our party’s Executive, over the course of this Assembly mandate we intend to form a constructive opposition to the Stormont Executive.

A new and refreshed SDLP team will now tirelessly hold this government to account. We will offer constructive criticism and offer a progressive alternative to government.

Entering into opposition is not an easy decision to make, particularly for a Nationalist party in the North. Since partition, our community was long denied power in this very building and therefore we have long been in opposition. That memory runs deep.

But those were different days and this is a different Ireland.

Equality provisions and protections for both communities are now enshrined and guaranteed by international treaties and by two governments. Power-sharing between Unionism and Nationalism remains locked in. The days of sectarian majority rule are now gone and will never return.

Our new reality asks that we do things differently. We have listened to the public. People are now demanding that we mature beyond the bare essentials of just peace and political stability. They are rightly demanding that our politics delivers more.

Today’s decision is also a difficult and courageous decision for the SDLP as a party.

As the architects and builders of the institutions in all 3 Strands of the Agreement, we have until now found ourselves reluctant to leave the responsibilities of government solely to the parties who fought their establishment and hindered their operation.

That was a natural reluctance. It was a reluctance to give the keys of the house to those who had very little part to play in laying that house’s foundation, never mind in actually building it, brick by brick.

For the good of our politics, the SDLP is now breaking free from that past reluctance.

The Good Friday Agreement was always intended to be a living document. It was never meant to be a document frozen in time. The evolution of our political structures is not a vice. A new opposition at Stormont is one such evolution.

Change is as constant a feature in politics as it is in life. Those who oppose such change will find themselves pushing against an ocean of opinion and positioned on the wrong side of history.

We wish the First and deputy First Ministers well in the time ahead. The privilege of power has been bestowed upon them by the people of Northern Ireland.

The SDLP will be an unrelenting force in the life of the next Assembly, protecting the interests of those who delivered that power and tirelessly holding those who wield it to account.

, ,

  • Toaster

    Disgraceful self-serving decision from the opportunistic Eastwood. Putting his sordid little party ahead of the greater good of the North of Ireland

  • chrisjones2

  • chrisjones2

    From the tenor of your whole 11 posts I assume you are one of those Shinner attack bots that Declan Kearney has been going on about., I can only assume you didn’t get the email

    Well times they are a changing for SF and the DUP. nows the time for a new politics where the moderates in the centre work together to chip away at your parties little sectarian fiefdoms

    And that my friend is what really scares you!!! Good

    Dinosaur politics may soon vanish off the earth

  • barnshee

    “Putting his sordid little party ahead of the greater good of the North of Ireland”

    Or more likely – Putting at risk the jobs and living standards of people who whould otherwise be on the dole

  • submariner

    Chris the major problem with your viewpoint is the UUP are not moderates.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Are you suggesting that having the SDLP in government would deliver more for the people if the north of Ireland than having their ministries under the control of SF.

  • Ernekid

    Are we watching the death throes of the Social Democratic and Labour Party?

  • Croiteir

    Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat

  • Vince

    Who knows, but it is just possibly the beginning of the end of cosy, unaccountable, do nothing politics at Stormont.

  • Lee

    In general unionists both political and average Joe have been magnanimous and respectful and restrained about their strong showing in this recent election imo. It is actually a little surprising. Perhaps the lack of a Willie McCrea victory gospel works wonders. It has probably helped to create the conditions where DUP and SF can work out their arrangements a lot better for the next 5 years.
    There’s been lots of gnashing of teeth from nationalists on this forum(and others) about their apparent stagnation. The buoyancy of their beliefs about the future have been stunted for now but with demographics I’m sure things will likely bounce back for them. And demographics is the main thing they have. Ive noticed over the years on this forum(and others) a fair bit of goading about the demographics towards unionists. It certainly makes me feel that in a UI, unionists have no place. It give me an inkling of the atmosphere should Irish nationalism be on the upward trend again. Some nationalists were very open about their glee of where the unionist population finds itself in a UI. I hope the general respectful good behaviour from unionism in this election might be reciprocated in future if/when the tide begins to turn.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Whilst the SDLP are clearly neither big ‘R’ Republican or any form of ‘s’ Socialists like their co-religionists in the populist Nationalist SF, this is fantastic news for Socialists and Republicans.

    As cover is removed from SF we can celebrate this moment ensures Corporation Tax will not be devolved or reduced in this term with its resultant impact on the poorest.

    May be the first useful thing the SDLP have managed in a decade and it’ll be by accident.

    We can only wonder how many other anti worker policies SF can’t even consider agreeing to now thanks to a lame dog SDLP thinking retreating to a den is ‘radical centre’ (they still don’t realise the ‘radical centre’ catchphrase is an indication of how ridiculous they are)

  • Croiteir

    Unionists wil have the same place as anyone else – if they want something apart from it the time to deal is while they have something to barter with. Otherwise they will take what they are given.

  • Pasty2012

    This is clearly the only move the SDLP could make in order to try and change their fortunes in future elections. By going into opposition they will increase their Ministerial Position, albeit a Shadow Role, from 1 to maybe 4 or 5 dependent upon the Alliance Party joining the Opposition Team. That said 4 or 5 will give them a lot of air time attacking Sinn Fein and showing that they can offer the Nationalist voters an alternative. Likewise the UUP will want to shadow the DUP Ministers for the same reasons, both looking to future elections.
    Alliance not taking the Justice Ministry may force Sinn Fein and the DUP to reach a compromise position through either rotating the Minister every year or 2 or through appointing a Joint Minister into the Role in a similar manner to that of the OFDFM but without the “First” title attached to it. A situation that may need to come about if none of the others are willing to take it.

  • Declan Doyle

    The most striking thing about today’s events was seeing Arlene and Martin together, alone as leaders giving a joint press briefing. Very telling that they sang from an agreed hymn sheet, but what is wonderful about it is that now at last we have the leaders of Unionism and Nationalism working side by side. Wonderful stuff.

  • The party’s critique of an Executive that they had a Ministry in wasn’t plausible, it had little other strategic choice but opposition. However, as to whether opposition will actually help the SDLP electorally remains to be seen. The SDLP will remain a sinking ship if it continues as a party with an undefinable purpose.

  • Dan

    Should have stood alongside UUP over ten years ago instead of stabbing them in the back and standing alongside Sinn Fein.
    Still, better late than never from sdlp.

  • Zig70

    They should stay well away from the UUP, they are toxic, unchanged from the party that presided over civil rights abuses and thought interment was a splendid idea. The reason why unionists aren’t allowed to govern on their own.

  • chrisjones2

    On what dimension?

    And are the SDLP?

  • Gingray

    Ha, looking at how fractured southern politics are, a unified party representing those British in Ireland would have a major say on who governed Ireland and likely pick up additional votes in donegal monaghan and Dublin.

    Tho in the event of a united Ireland I would like to see some sort of requirement for voluntary coalition to include Unionists reps.

  • chrisjones2

    Or the start of the slow inexorable decline of SF

  • Gingray

    Take pacts for example. SDLP won’t do them, UUP did one to keep the DUP in, and they will do again

  • chrisjones2

    This really does hurt you doesnt it?

    Yes far better for the SDLP to stand alongside the apologists for 2500 murders (with a few members whose hands are drenched in that blood.) Then there were the rapists protected and the bank-robbers and backstabbers and ‘drug dealer’ killers.

  • chrisjones2

    The SF DUP Executive song?

    but who is who?

  • Granni Trixie

    I have no idea if this is the right decision for the SDLP but I am sure that it is not self serving. At this pivotal time in NI history there are both risks and opportunities and it all boils down to judgement as to what is right for party and country. Who can really be sure?

  • Zig70

    Poor whataboutery, the SDLP never provided SF with cover, they did what they believed was right to stop the conflict. They never endorsed violence which the UUP and DUP can’t say so easily and never got any respect for their stance from unionists. Too soft by half as you have alluded to before. Time to stop.

  • Granni Trixie

    But who are ‘the moderates’?

  • ted hagan

    A very healthy move for Northern Ireland politics. Let’s see if Alliance have the balls to do something really positive and join the opposition instead of playing little power games.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Very Good Statement. Well done the SDLP. A decision not only in the interests of the Party but to the long suffering people of NI who have yearned for correct effective democratic politics for a very long time now. Hopefully this now transforms NI politics forever to give our children and next generations the hope and future they rely on from all elected representatives.

  • Acrobat_747

    I really think it’s the end of this Sinn Fein era. This is normal because the only direction SF can go is down. They had great success but they peaked 5 years ago.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Unchanged? Really?

    On internment:
    Didn’t Fianna Fail also bring in internment not so long before that?
    It didn’t work in 1971, so it’s easy with hindsight to condemn even trying it, but if I’d been responsible for protecting the public at that moment in our history, with paramilitaries running riot and people getting murdered left right and centre on the streets, I might have tried it too, to be honest – especially given the consensus it had worked the previous time. However, whatever view you take, what 1971 security policy mistakes have to do with the SDLP opting to go into opposition in 2016 is beyond me …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    That’s silly: at the risk of stating the obvious, the SDLP, UUP and DUP were all against the violence. There are legitimate criticisms of the occasional attitudes of some in those parties towards it, including the SDLP, but overall party policy was very clear for all three, they were all four-square against the paramilitaries. Trying to retrofit them as quasi-Sinn Feins doesn’t wash and several on Slugger have tried. The best they can muster is a flirtation here, a meeting there, but of course they don’t want to talk about the general and more typical behaviour and rhetoric around violence in those parties – yes, even the horrible old DUP. All those parties were night and day to SF on violence.

  • Teddybear

    The rank hypocrisy of Sinn Fein. Where was SF during recent negotiations of government formation in ROI?

  • Teddybear

    Disgraceful self serving decision from the opportunistic Adams. Putting his sordid little party ahead of the greater good in the South of Ireland during recent ROI PFG discussions

  • Teddybear

    The DUP has a responsibility to
    Conservative and right thinking RC’s to make their party attractive for us to join and support (yes I am a v devout RC and an ardent unionist)

    RCs who put a higher premium on the law of God than the law of nose pierced liberals don’t have a political home due to DUPs historic demonising of the RC church

    Now is the time to pull the rug from nationalist parties who only get the vote they do because of tribalism.

  • Teddybear

    Ancient history. The UUP then was run by pea brained English aristocrats who hadn’t a clue. The UUP of now is a v different creature

  • Teddybear

    Well said

  • Teddybear

    Sounds like a good idea but let’s unpack it: if a UI came about, what would the DUP’s agenda be then? Would they become an Ulster Independence Party or would they campaign to rejoin the UK (albeit within a territorially smaller NI) or what?

    If none of the above them they wouldn’t be Unionists any more. Then what would they be? A mere party for northern Protestants?

  • submariner

    Absolute nonsense The UUP introduced the gun into modern Irish politics and stood with the paramilitaries during the UWC strike stood with them again during Drumcree and most recently at Twaddle. They also voted the PUP/UVF into the Belfast Mayorship at a time when the UVF were involved in a sectarian murder campaign. The DUP are even worse having been involved with every loyalist terrorist group since the formation of the party, they also formed their own paramilitary wing Ulster resistance which smuggled a huge quantity of illegal arms into NI which were used to murder over 200 people The SDLP on the other hand has no such baggage

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Fair point on the mayorship, I thought that was wrong and I thought the UUP shouldn’t have approved that. But stuff like the UUP “introducing the gun into modern Irish politics” isn’t really accurate, no? As if Irish nationalism never used the gun before 1912! Come on now … you don’t need a lesson in the early decades of Irish republicanism from me surely? UWC strike: well lots of people were against Sunningdale; and more generally the UUP may find itself from time to time having some of the same issues as Loyalist groups. That doesn’t mean the UUP supported the UVF or whatever it is you’re claiming. The DUP’s involvement with Loyalists again is exaggerated – much as I don’t support the DUP – it was matter of a few people being inappropriately cosy with them at limited times during the IRA campaign, not actual DUP support for them, let alone some kind of relationship akin to the SF-IRA one. On the UR stuff, again that’s inaccurate, we’ve been over it a few times on these pages. The DUP set up UR as an ill-advised kind of citizen’s defence group. Like other Paisley vehicles like the Third Force, they had precious little significance at the time; their main significance has come in recent years from people like yourself trying to claim the DUP are like SF. A few people who were in UR did the gun running but by then UR had been disowned by the DUP. Hardly what SF would do with the IRA, I think you’ll agree and I haven’t come across any serious writer on NI who has regarded the UR episode as a major part of the Troubles. I’m sure most people haven’t even heard of them.

    The SDLP baggage is its twin track approach of condemning violence while refusing to have anything to do with actual attempts to stop it; in particular keeping up a constant ideologically-driven anti-police and anti-Army commentary at a time when they were being murdered on a regular basis by terrorists from the SDLP’s community. There was often a weird ambivalence about IRA violence there (which I don’t think has gone away) along the lines of, ‘Yes it’s bad but it wouldn’t be happening but for xyz thing the British government should have done, or unionists should have done.’ An example: the Docklands bomb. I said to my girlfriend at the time, whose office was obliterated by it, just wait for what Hume says on this – bet he’ll play the IRA game and blame it ultimately on the Brits for not doing what the IRA wants. And of course he did. Then getting on their high horse about how anti-violence they were – Jesus, there are few things that get me as annoyed as the SDLP approach to terrorism. I could talk at length about it, it was my main annoyance at the time (SF were so far off the scale they weren’t even worth bothering with then). But as I’ve waffled enough already I’ve leave that for now.

  • Gingray

    Teddybear

    I wouldnt assume that it would be the DUP as a party, if it did happen I could forsee a broad front Molyneaux style UUP formed to represent the interests of people who see themselves as British not Irish/would have preferred NI to remain within the UK.

    The aim of this party surely then would be about securing the best deal for the Unionist community, and ensuring that the things they want are part of the political landscape (be it what form of powers are devolved to local government, the powers these have, the links with the UK, cross islands bodies, the rights of citizens to a form of dual nationality, cultural equality, education equality, fighting the corner for a seperate Norn Iron football team, and seeking to promote the idea of a new form of Union between the different parts of the Islands).

    Plenty of countries have similar set ups, although I could foresee something similar to the CSU from Bavaria. Merkels CDU run in 14 German provinces, but in Bavaria they stand apart to let the provincial CSU run, and maintain alliance at a national level.

    Sure it may never happen, but I have no doubt that if it did the 15% of the islands population who consider themselves British would have a major role in shaping governments at a national level and local too.

  • Zig70

    I don’t see that it is a very different creature, the UUP hasn’t moved to accommodate nationalist in NI. Sure Mike has made some grand statements and then in the next step joined a forum with loyalist paramilitaries. Then again so did Robbo. Currently I don’t see a shred of difference in the UUP and DUP. At least the DUP are less arrogant in expecting the support of nationalists.

  • Skibo

    Your attitude to Loyalist violence and its links to Unionist politics is like standing with your fingers in your ears going lalalalalalala. It happened Lad. Get over it. Pity David Irvine did not write his memoirs before he passed on. would have made interesting reading.

  • Skibo

    There is no shadow opposition at the moment. I cannot see SDLP and UU acting in harmony. There are as many differences in UU and SDLP as there are in DUP and SF.
    This whole story of government and opposition is pure bluff. SF and DUP will find severe difficulty working together just as SDLP and UU will.

  • Skibo

    Ever actually considered that both the SDLP and SF are really socialist parties and could be a home for socialist Protestants who do not have parties to vote for?
    By the way, it has been said here that Catholics who would vote for Unionist parties are a rare as unicorns, just wondered what polish you use for your horn?
    Never met a Catholic who called themselves Roman Catholic but met plenty of Protestants who know us as such.

  • Skibo

    Really! The only reason the SDLP has gone into opposition is party politics. They have tried everything else and their vote continues to go down. This is the last throw of the dice.

  • Skibo

    Both are puppets of Westminster. We all are!

  • Skibo

    In a UI there will be no need of goading and we can get on and build something we can all be proud of. Unionism will have a very strong vote within the Dail and could push for closer links with the UK.

  • Skibo

    Definitely not Chris by the tone of most of his posts.

  • Lee

    I think its likely there will be plenty of goading and taunting and manipulation of fears even if there is no need for it. Just imagine the runup to any such referendum which is perceived to be close (and it wont all be one way traffic). Unioniists would have a smallish modest vote in the Dail by that stage, probably less than 15%. But I don’t think a UI is actually inevitable. it’s possible (on demographics alone and little else), but not inevitable. I guess I am talking about the ebb and flow of unionist/nationalist vote since GFA. I think the %nationalist vote has to rise in the future (again because of demographics alone) when this happens, I hope it is done with a magnaminity which does not seek to play on unionist fears and the ethnic tribal game.

  • Lee

    Several thousand unionist families and young people would head for the boat to GB, or the aeroplane to Australia, Canada or NZ. Leaving behind an even more ageing unionist population a large number of whom feeling increasing alienated and foreign, increasing emigration more. An older unionist population with much smaller numbers of young people become little more than a remnant population, with increasing intermarriage etc. Within 2 or 3 generations the unionist populations disappearance and/or near absorption into the Irish population would be near complete. Unionism would in time be confined to a few wee country villages, a small number of market towns and a few villages on the Ards Pen where the lure of Scotland on a clear day is ever present. Most towns will go the way of Derry city. This scenario sounds very attractive to most republicans. The ‘thing’ which counters this is an increasing sense of Northern Irishness

  • Skibo

    Sorry Lee, what are you actually trying to say? nationalists shouldn’t increase their vote too much as it will look like goading the Unionists!
    While the Unionists have been in control, they have used every means necessary to stop Irish culture. Demographics are heading to parity and still they do it and you think we should be magnanimous in not voting in ever increasing numbers?

  • Teddybear

    I’m more than happy to provide you and Mr Fealty my private contact details. I’m not a troll or dishonest here. Many Catholics I know call themselves RC’s. It seems you and I mix with different people which is fine but don’t dispute the existence of people just because you haven’t actually met them in person

  • submariner

    An example: the Docklands bomb. I said to my girlfriend at the time, whose office was obliterated by it, just wait for what Hume says on this – bet he’ll play the IRA game and blame it ultimately on the Brits for not doing what the IRA wants. And of course he did.

    MU It’s not often enough that I feel strong ly enough about a comment such as your above that I will call someone a liar but that is what I’m calling you in this instance. John Hume spent his whole career on condemning violence unequivocally from what ever quarter it emanated unlike the Unionist politician’s.
    http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/people/mr-john-hume. The above link is Hume’s reaction in the house of commons to the docklands bombing at no point does he in anyway excuse the Provos or lay the blame on the Brit’s. Now maybe you have misremembered or given your typical head in the sand approach the the UUP and DUP history with loyalist terrorists you were just making it up. I know which option I believe

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You’ve been more successful than me in trying to track down any Hume or SDLP media reaction to the Docklands bomb. If anyone can dig it out, please share as it’s proven very elusive. But I have a distinct memory of it, I can even tell you where I was at the time I saw it, in Islington where my girlfriend lived. As you can imagine, with her caught up in this bombing, it was extremely emotive for me and Hume’s response to it lodged firmly in the memory. You’re very happy just to call me a liar on this – and you don’t know me from Adam – but I can tell you I am absolutely not lying, I remember it. You get hints of it from what he said in parliament. He mutters obscurely (on 12th Feb) about private reactions to the bombing he won’t share with the house in order to keep to a positive response to the PM. Very big of him; but we know what these reactions were because he didn’t keep it private more widely. He had been raging at Major before the bombing for not starting talks, feeling it was taking risks with the IRA ceasefire. It’s not surprising given this approach to IRA violence – basically that any further violence would be the fault of their opponents if we didn’t do what the IRA (and Hume) wanted when they wanted – that Hume’s reaction was ‘I told you so’.

    In the debate a week or so later in Hansard (thanks for the link), we get further evidence of the Hume approach:
    “Mr. Hume: Does the Secretary of State agree that everybody in the House wants to see lasting stability in Northern Ireland; that the only way to bring that about—without threat to any section of our people—is by agreement; and that the way to do that is to get all parties to the table? Does he further agree that it should be the urgent priority of the Government to get all parties to the table as soon as possible? If anybody has to take risks to do that, they are worth taking if we are going to save human life.”
    This was Hume effectively putting the IRA’s gun to the government’s head. Hold these talks now, or further deaths will be on you, he was saying. The IRA couldn’t have put it better themselves.

    The thing to remember here is why the talks weren’t taking place yet at that point, which was lack of trust in the IRA ceasefire – and in particular the question of whether it was permanent or tactical. The unionists argument was that it was being used tactically, i.e. IRA-SF was reserving the use of violence for when it didn’t get its way in talks, skewing any talks process and putting unionist negotiators in an unfair position. The government agreed. We had asked for either some decommissioning as an act of good faith and/or a declaration the cessation was permanent. Neither was forthcoming; and from a unionist perspective, Docklands confirmed everything we thought about the way SF wanted to operate. In this, Hume was an enabler to SF. And you’ll recall that when meaningful talks did eventually happen, it was in the context of a more trustworthy ceasefire in which SF-IRA signed up to the Mitchell Principles, i.e. refraining from the threat as well as the use of violence. Hume wanted to let the Republicans into talks without giving up their threat of violence.

  • Lee

    I don’t know how you have equated being magnanimous/not goading to ‘not voting’. That’s plain bizarre. I have already said I expect the %nationalist vote to probably increase at some point in the foreseeable.

  • Skibo

    Lee how can you vote and be magnanimous at the same time or should the increase in vote just go to SDLP at the start so as not to annoy the Unionist community?

  • Lee

    its easy, when the results come through you just wind in any triumphalism and show respect.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    And your analysis of it is, sorry to be a bit rude, superficial – and not interested in the real nature of those relationships. You have to completely ignore the nature and scale of contacts between the constitutional parties and paramilitaries for them to be in any way comparable to the SF-IRA relationship. It is absurd to suggest any of the other main parties had anything like that connection with paramilitarism – and a very convenient re-writing of history from a Republican point of view.
    Nearly all the fairly limited dodgy stuff, such as it was, was from the DUP. As I always point out, I’m usually an opponent of the DUP and wouldn’t defend their having any truck with paramilitaries. This, from The Independent’s obituary of Paisley, is probably a fair reflection of the overall picture with them and the Loyalists. It’s dodgy at times, but simply nothing like a party like Sinn Fein or the PUP:
    “For most of his career Paisley stressed that he was dedicated to the dictates of the ballot box: he even incorporated the word “democratic” into the name of his party. Yet everyone knew that he had on occasion flirted, and more than flirted, with dark paramilitary forces operating outside the law.
    “His dubious associations fell into several phases. In the late 1960s some of his early followers took to activities such as setting off bombs. Rumours that Paisley was acting as a mastermind remain unproven and are probably untrue.
    “Then in 1977, after years of condemning the Loyalists which had killed hundreds of Catholics, Paisley somersaulted and linked up with them to stage a large-scale strike. When the stoppage failed he coolly reverted to denouncing his one-time allies as murderers who besmirched the Protestant cause.
    “In the mid-1980s he closely associated himself with a technically legal but highly dubious group, Ulster Resistance, which staged theatrical rallies attended by uniformed men. Paisley himself, to thunderous applause, donned the organisation’s red beret. By the time some members strayed into illegality, however, he had dissociated himself from the whole thing.”
    That was classic Paisley – Loyalist paramilitaries had disdain for Paisley, precisely because he talked the angry talk but didn’t actually support them when they committed terrorist acts. They misread him – he supported what you might call militancy, but not terrorism. It was a thin line but Paisley was very aware of where it was. He and other DUP figures irresponsibly danced along it at times; but to compare that to the completely integrated, hand-in-glove politico-terrorist operation of Irish Republicanism is comparing apples and pears.

  • Ernekid

    What’s wrong with a nose piercing? You should little bit like a judgmental @rse

  • Skibo

    Paisley was ever the politician, making sure the links never came far enough up the ladder to taint his chances of election.
    I notice you have completely neglected the fact that the founder members of the UUP are also the founder members of the UVF!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you mean the 1912 version? Same name but entirely different organisation.

  • Skibo

    Same name, same ideals, different time but both were terrorist organisations.
    Unfortunately too many from your community are not aware of this. The UVF from 1912 was not a battalion of the British Army. There may have been British Army fingerprints on the first organisation but it was not a legitimate organisation.
    The UVF ( also stemming from ex-members of the British Army) from the 1965 was closely associated with Ian Paisley and Jim Kilfedder. Can you remember what party Jim represented in West Belfast?

  • submariner

    The UVF were terrorists in 1912 and are terrorists today Their aim was to overthrow the democratically expressed will of parliament through the use or threat of violence which I believe is the definition of terrorism. No amount of Unionist attempts to rewrite the past will change that simple fact

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not something I’d heard before on Kilfedder, I’ll have to explore that. As far as I can tell, neither Paisley nor Kilfedder were closely associated with the UVF, though Googling it I can see some nutter Tara punter tried to smear Kilfedder and there is a strange story about Kilfedder (an ex barrister) talking to Gusty Spence about how to behave during a police interrogation. Sounds plausible enough but not sure it amounts to much, and not a close association. On a cursory look, the sources don’t look great, but I’ll defer judgment on that – unless you have something authoritative? Or is it just the same rumours you’ve seen?
    The cloak-and-dagger pootling around by a few freaks on the hard right wing of unionist politics with loyalist paramilitaries in 60s and early 70s is fairly well established though, the whole Tara thing. Appalling and weird. But that’s not where the vast majority of unionist people or even indeed unionist politicians were at. We’re talking about a fringe group doing stuff under the radar. The UUP position has always been anti-terrorism.

    As for the 1912 UVF, it wasn’t a terrorist group but a militia that drilled and had a membership but never planned or took any terrorist action. It was a belligerent, threatening move for form the militia for sure and I don’t agree with it as a tactic. But it’s confusing things to call them terrorists.

    Forming a militia is of course something people in the US famously have a constitutional right to do. Whether people in the UK do is moot point, I assume we don’t – at least we shouldn’t, it is a really bad idea. But once again, it was what it was. It’s both ahistorical and plain inaccurate I think to call the 1912 UVF a terrorist group; but not a completely legitimate organisation either.

    The irony is that the winning unionist arguments were based on democratic principle and if anything moves like the formation of the UVF undermined them. Luckily policy-makers – and the signatories to the Treaty – were able to see past that and justice was done by the people.

  • Skibo

    I can find little on it other than Wiki lies but even that seems to be taken from other publications. http://gustyspence.inmemoriam.org/
    http://america.pink/gusty-spence_1827278.html
    How can you write off Kilfedder and paisley as freaks. paisley ended up first minister and Kilfedder was an MP well into the eighties.
    I have heard your rewriting of history of the Old UVF before and unfortunately you are still carrying a banner for them with your rose coloured glasses. They were a military organisation raised and armed to defy the government of the day. That in anyone else’s’ books is a terrorist organisation. had you asked some of the Nationalists who suffered at the hands of this group, you would have a different point of view, one that would not, however suit your narrative.
    Perhaps you are right, perhaps the old UVF were only a toy Terrorist organisation. Pity they did not leave it at playing with toy guns also.
    Finally the most inconsistent statement yet, “the winning unionist arguments were based on democratic principle”.
    To win a democratic argument is to win at the polls. Well in the 1918 election the Unionists lost hands down. Ireland had voted by 75% of the seats for Sinn Fein who were and still are an independence party.
    The only way the Unionists could fall back to a democratic principle was to demand their own state. That is not how democracy works.
    As for your comparison with the US, I think you will find, when citizens armed themselves and opposed the state forces, that was called civil war.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    we differ on what “terrorism” is – I’d have said some actual terrorism would need to be involved or at least planned. There is quite a big difference between something like the Third Force, or the 1912 UVF for that matter, parading around with ‘shows of strength’ etc but not a single terrorist act planned or committed and non-violent; and those other organisations who were very actively violent. But anyway, neither of us approve of these organisations so lets leave it at that.

    Everyone accepts now the democratic legitimacy of the Northern Ireland state. There was always going to have to be a split once nationalist Ireland pushed for home rule. That’s not undemocratic, that’s applying the same principle by which Ireland asserted its right to choose for itself to NI and it guaranteed as few people as possible would have to live in a polity they didn’t want. It was simply better.

  • Skibo

    Issue is, not everyone accepts the legitimacy of Northern Ireland otherwise there would be no dissidents.
    You and I will not come to agree on what is and is not terrorism but if you lived close to where the Third Force assembled and had their marches with men in military format and dressed in combats, you too might have been terrorised.

    Why was there going to have to be a split? Why couldn’t Britain just have pulled back and said to Unionism, sorry you are a minority, accept the diplomatic decision of the country or leave. (now do not start saying Brits out because I am not a Brits out person).
    That would have been democracy at its best.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    there had to be a split because it became apparent that the island was strongly divided not just on politics but on national identity and belonging. The issue of self-government brought that to the fore. Yet seeing this, nationalist Ireland pressed ahead anyway as if the home rule idea could be applied unproblematically to the whole island, as if it operated as one cohesive unit. It didn’t. If they had spotted that earlier, a lot of this could have been avoided. Why couldn’t they just go for home rule for the parts of Ireland that wanted it, and not for the part that didn’t? Too logical? 🙂

    Oh and all GFA signatories including SF accept the legitimacy of Northern Ireland based on the wishes of its people, it’s in black and white. How some can argue this wasn’t the case in 1921 is beyond me – it’s the same argument. The GFA really was partition for slow learners.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    looks like we may not have to worry too much about such hypotheticals for a while

  • Skibo

    Why could Unionism not have accepted that their future actually lay with their closest neighbours. A fact that history has shown to be true.
    Where the average income in Eire has soared ahead of Northern Ireland. We are lagging behind and are possibly the worst region in the UK.
    It seems the Loyal Unionists were not that loyal to the UK government when they thought they were going to ruled by a load of gombeen Taigs from the country.
    In truth history has shown that the religious insecurity of the Protestants was manipulated by Big House Unionists to ensure they held the power that could have been lost to Dublin.

  • Skibo

    They could actually campaign for reunification with the UK. There would actually be some fertile ground within Eire for such a policy and one I say repeated by a lapsed reporter for the Sunday World.
    They could push for rejoining the Commonwealth. We actually have a lot in common with the Commonwealth nations and is there not independent nations now within it?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Loyalty is always conditional and so it should be. I don’t believe in ‘my country right or wrong’, that’s what led to the death camps.

  • Skibo

    Big house Unionism was only loyal to itself and stirred up sectarian tension to ensure they could control the unwashed masses.