“Even the DUP’s harshest critics within Unionism won’t be having that…”

Making a very welcome return to blogging is Eamonn Mallie, Jamie Bryson provides this must read grown-up guide to (wtf) is going on

Sinn Fein do not want an election, they do not even particularly care about Arlene Foster doing the decent thing and stepping aside- they are playing a much longer game.

The republican strategy has always been to package a series of grievances into a talks process and pocket the maximum amount of concessions. Such processes within the larger process is always a key tenet of the republican staging-post strategy.

This time is no different; all the post ’98 grievances are being lumped into a Sinn Fein narrative, which presents republicanism as the epitome of peace and reconciliation, whilst the big bad Unionists are obstructive, regressive and just plain ignorant.

Though, as he rightly notes…

This political power-play does a grave disservice to the public, who desperately want those responsible held accountable for the RHI debacle. [Emphasis added]

Eamonn Jamie goes on…

Sinn Fein were last week cleverly flushed out- in Belfast City Council and by the Newsletter- in relation to their position on a full public inquiry.

Sinn Fein want to include their demands for public inquiries in their grievance narrative, and a key part of the legacy strand will be a demand for a new form of Northern Ireland specific inquiry outside the framework of the Inquires Act 2005.

That is why we saw a new co-ordinated ‘message’ coming from Sinn Fein elected members and activists last week. Suddenly they opposed the Inquiries Act because it allowed the Secretary of State (or relevant minister) to withhold information on National Security grounds.

Therein lies the real reason Sinn Fein want to oppose a public inquiry into the RHI scheme. They see it as a way to agitate for reform of the Inquiries Act 2005; a key Sinn Fein legacy demand.

But, there’s a problem (and it’s one I’ve mentioned in an OpEd in the Irish Independent later this evening/tomorrow):

Arlene Foster’s handling of this issue has been diabolical, and the arrogance displayed by the DUP in general could well be their undoing. There have been few as venomous as I in calling out the DUP on this, and other scandals.

Arlene Foster should step aside because it’s the right thing to do; but what she should not do is allow Sinn Fein to use her weakened position to force concessions.

And finally:

The IRA held a gun to the head of democracy in order to achieve the perverse political process. Now Sinn Fein are now trying to hold a metaphorical gun to the head of Arlene Foster- not over RHI, but in order to extract concessions.

Even the DUP’s harshest critics within Unionism won’t be having that. This wasn’t an Orange and Green issue. But Sinn Fein have changed all that.

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  • Zig70

    I don’t buy the cunning SF line, the leadership were caught out by the angry mood within the party. This crisis is purely brought about by the DUP. Arlene should reflect on the fact that SF could work with Ian Paisley, a man abhorred by many nationalist and a militant Peter Robinson but she broke power sharing.

  • file

    Well, what do you think of the weaknesses in the Inquiries Act 2005? Such as that the minister responsible for calling it can also call it off at any time? And that National (in)Security can be trotted out any time it suits?

  • hotdogx

    Completely agree Zig, I really can’t abide this defense of the DUP in this way who are guilty beyond belief, SF & nationalists were abused by the DUP. They didn’t share power used POC at every turn. It was single party rule. The wrecked their own stupid sectarian little artificial statelette and its political viability by acting the way they did. Now they will have Brexit Britain taking over. What a disaster

  • AntrimGael

    Some nonsense there from Maille. He may be right about the Inquiries Act and Sinn Fein’s intentions but does Eamon believe that legitimate Nationalist concerns are ‘concessions’ that must NOT be granted? He sounds like the worst kind of uber Unionist there. Ed Curran says the same thing in the Belfast Telegraph today. Nationalist demands for equality are “just making ordinary Unionists angry and uneasy”. So Eamon and Ed think that Nationalists should just keep quiet and live with intolerant, Unionist bigotry and supremacy?
    It’s also laughable Mick that you write that ” the IRA held a gun to the head of democracy in order to achieve the perverse political process “. What, just like Unionists did in 1912 when they totally usurped British parliamentary democracy and imported 1000’s of guns and 10’s of 1000’s of rounds of ammunition? Aye right Mick, as if the 6 counties was EVER a democracy! Revisionist rubbish you would just expect to read in the Telegraph and Independent, no wonder they published it.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Hear, Hear! I can see no sign of cunning at all in Sinn Féin’s electoral strategy. They are so keen to benefit their own party, they are prepared to undermine the SDLP, Alliance etc and leave Unionism with a majority of the seats.

    They did not want an election, but to carry on ignoring the DUP’s misbehaviour would leave them vulnerable to being portrayed as willing participants in a corrupt regime and cause them to lose further seats to more left wing parties.

  • Gingray

    Jeepers Mick, you are really trying to sell they Sinn Fein master plan as the root cause of the executive collapse. Is anyone actually buying it?

    As you yourself pointed out in December SF had no interest in collapsing the institutions. They had been cleverly boxed into calling for Arlene to stand aside by the opposition, but had been able to reject a public enquiry.

    Your latest narrative does allow for a token acknowledgement that the Arlenes arrogance had something to do with it, but you ignore the fact it was the DUP party behaviour around Liofa and belittling McGuinneses illness that caused SF to follow through.

    None of this master plan nonsense, just a simple acceptance of reality, that the sneering, incompetent arrogance displayed by the DUP would no disappear, so what is the point of staying in a relationship if you get nothing but hurt?

  • john millar

    “Even the DUP’s harshest critics within Unionism won’t be having that. This wasn’t an Orange and Green issue. But Sinn Fein have changed all that.”

    He is probably right there-Gerards efforts have just put another few thousand prod votes Arlene`s way

  • mickfealty

    I think it’s a more credible explanation than most theories ata ar dhiol faoi lathair… (note, I’m quoting Eamonn here)

  • mickfealty

    It’s a QUOTE.

  • AntrimGael

    As if they need Adams efforts! Unionists will come out and vote in the sectarian ‘Keep the Taigs out as long as possible’ way they ALWAYS have. They really don’t require prompting from anyone.

  • mickfealty

    It’s a weakness. And I share SF’s misgivings by and large. But its limitations relate to ‘national security’ which would not affect an inquiry into RHI.

    So in this particular case it’s an odd objection that’s made their positioning right through this very hard to comprehend.

  • AntrimGael

    So the quote about the IRA ‘holding a gun to the head of democracy’ are not your words? If not I apologise. They are totally ridiculous all the same. The North was NEVER a democracy and once again the DUP are being sidelined in the revisionist attempt to blame Adams and Sinn Fein for everything and anything. The Independent Group is neither fair or non partisan. They are rabidly anti-Northern Nationalist, partitionist and pro-Unionist. They have an agenda and to pretend otherwise is just a nonsense. It doesn’t matter what Arlene Foster and the DUP did or do, events will always be twisted to make Sinn Fein look the bad guy and take the blame.

  • Ciaran Caughey

    Makes one sad reading such gibberish. Retirement the only safe option.

  • mickfealty

    No. But nor is your apology good enough. This is man playing masquerading as argument:

    The Independent Group is neither fair or non partisan. They are rabidly anti-Northern Nationalist, partitionist and pro-Unionist.

    Read the commenting rules and you’ll get where I’m coming from (https://goo.gl/OWMzUk).

    None of what you outline would disqualify such a person from commenting here. Nor would being rabidly anti Unionist, anti partition and pro Nationalist.

    Any one arguing that people who hold either the former or latter views could very quickly find himself bucked out on his ear. I hope that’s clear?

    Now, I’ll post the piece when they publish it. You can read it and rip it to pieces I won’t be offended (I hope). But, please, please no more of this oul man playing guff? 😉

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Bryson makes an interesting point regarding SF concerns over the enquiries act, however he portrays it as a negative when in fact its nail on the head positive.

    For the rest of the piece? Really, its almost astonishing. Assumption, supposition and wharped perception. Not a shred of empirical research or genuine evidence.

    The message is shockingly and depressingly the same ‘dont be upsetting the Unionists with demands for equality, decency and fair play, you know it upsets them.’ And as usual, just in case our brains aren’t working, its all followed by the standard macabre corpse waving in the hope of emotionally blackmailing us into submission.

    Its so tired and such a horrid way to abuse victims of our past. Awful stuff.

    “Irelands Home for independent thought.” Indeed. Jesus Wept !

  • Brian Walker

    Nice to be back ( I think!) A point or two about inquiries. Many people don’t like the 2005 Act ( including Lord Saville incidentally ) because it allows ministers to limit the budget and duration of this kind of inquiry. Not that this has ever happened yet, but the provision probably exerts some discipline over running inquiries. SF plainly would like no form of Westminster oversight. But there isn’t a hope in hell of the rules changing.

    Furthermore no form of judicial inquiry – and probably any other kind outside the Assembly – was likely for as long as the Executive was divided.. Judges are independent and don’t come running at the snap of anybody’s fingers. The SoS might be able to commission an inquiry but it would I’m pretty sure need the support of the surviving executive members to grant access to papers – assuming it’s not a criminal inquiry. The best sort of inquiry would have been by a specialist in government like a retired senior civil servant from GB supported perhaps by local lay assessors. It would still have required Assembly consent to censure Arlene if the evidence supported it. That was always at the heart of the problem.

    I suspect she would have got away with a rap on the knuckles amid widely disseminated blame and a strong recommendation to take another look at ministerial and collective responsibility. It must be remembered that nearly all of this took place before the Fresh Start agreement which tightened the process but not enough.

    But all that looks pretty irrelevant at the moment.

    I’d still like to know why and how relations deteriorated so quickly and badly in just 8 months. So far the deluge of interesting comment reads like very plausible guesswork. These parties still manage to be closed shops to a remarkable extent. Somehow it can’t all be about RHI and Arlene’s arrogant behaviour.

    And – if I may ask a very simple question . If SF really don’t want an election, why insist on one?

  • AntrimGael

    Is this the footballing equivalent of the referee allowing a bad challenge to go without a card because it happened in the 1st minute? Fair enough, I take your point.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    They didn’t insist on one, Arlene did.

  • AntrimGael

    I think what this current predicament proves beyond doubt how tribal we all are. I have been very critical of Sinn Fein’s strategy and performance at Stormont but find myself strongly rowing back in behind them when they are attacked by all and sundry. It’s like the tidal pull of the moon. The Lord of the Flies coming to life in front of us.

  • Gopher

    You honestly think this denouement has come about by chance? The relationship between the DUP and SF was never as tense until they came into government together. The harrying of Trimble and the SDLP was nothing short of “Childs Play” to inter party strain of the duopoly in government. The history of this Executive is riven by “sharp conflicts” and “enforced and short lived compromises of mutual distrust and deceit”. The “silent” war between the DUP and SF began the day they entered government together and was not helped when electoral success’s were “subject to limitations entirely out of proportion to achievement”. Every single issue was seen as a zero sum game whether or not they were “legalistically speaking” in accordance with the GFA or its offspring or in “breach thereof” so neither side could bring themselves to accept them. The problem then escalates to every single action on each of these issues appears an assault on one of the parties specifically instead of part of a broad social framework. Conversely, or should I say perversely each party then adopts a broad social framework as if it was their own. Every single issue is therefore weaponized in the ongoing struggle between the parties of government. Its inevitable the thing would fall apart when one side or the other, or in fact both feared its position undermined from within. Thats what fanatical totalitarian parties do. Saying RHI started the spiral is kinda like saying it was all Gavrilo Princip’s fault.


    The War Against Hannibal: Livy
    Thirty Years War: C V Wedgwood
    Memoirs: U.S. Grant
    Various Lectures: Norman Friedman
    History of the German General Staff: Walter Goerlitz
    Dreadnought: Robert Massie
    Guns of August: Barbara Tuchman
    The Russo-German Non Aggression Pact: Max Werner
    Magic Intercepts: US Government
    Shield of Achilles: Phillip Bobbit

    Or alternatively “Let’s work the problem, people. Let’s not make things worse by guessing.” NASA

    Define the problem
    1. Determine goals/objectives
    2. Generate an array of alternative solutions
    3. Evaluate the possible consequences of each solution
    4. Use this analysis to choose one or more courses of action
    5. Plan the implementation
    6. Implement with full commitment
    7. Adapt as needed based on incoming data

  • mickfealty

    Appreciate you listening AG. Have to keep the pitch clear for everyone and it’s the least political way I’ve found of letting that happen. I’m sure you’re waiting with baited breath.

    (Honestly probably shouldn’t have mentioned it till it was actually out, I hate content marketing myself)

  • mickfealty

    My mistake. It’s Jamie Bryson. Apologies all.

  • mickfealty

    Sorry, I was under the false impression it was Eamonn’s piece. Turns out the hint was in the title. It’s Jamie Bryson’s work.

    Changes the provenance obviously, but I still think it’s sound analysis.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    No worries, I have more blonde moments than a bichon Frise 😉
    Ask yourself do you feel the same about the comments now you know its Jamie? No need to answer, just ask yourself.

  • mickfealty

    Provenance matters, is all I’m saying.

  • AntrimGael

    No wonder I was all confused and angry. The thought of Eamon Mallie writing that was like being told that Santa doesn’t exist….which he does of course!

  • Anthony O’Shea

    I had to google that, but ya I get you 😉
    Will you post your Indo piece on here tomorrow? Morally I cannot allow myself to actively buy their papers or search their site.

  • mac tire

    Mick, you are working overtime on the old Shinner angle but, with respect, it ain’t gonna stick.

    To imagine something written by Eamonn which turned out to be authored by Bryson is a bad error. It makes you look a little unprofessional, indeed, desperate.

    Now, honestly (and I ask you to do this privately), if SF were in Foster’s position, do you really think you would publish and analyse others’ roles in this. Would you really put up pieces critical of the ‘other partner’ so quickly that you would mistake the author in your earnest to get it online?

    Forget Nama, Red Sky, RHI (and God knows what else), quite apart from the DUP’s irresponsible and miserly attitude to Nationalists and Republicans – the point is (and it is more important than an Ed Moloney or an Ellis O Hanlon opinion piece) why has Unionism failed to rule fairly as a one party state and now in a partnership with Republicans.

    Unionism cannot be trusted in a one party arrangement nor in a power sharing one.

    This is a major issue, not what some obscure, discredited person thinks.

    Mick, I don’t think you have woken up to what is happening. Genuinely. The comments on your blog are not a Republican conspiracy! Take heed.

  • tmitch57

    “they are prepared to undermine the SDLP, Alliance etc. and leave Unionism with a majority of the seats.”

    Sinn Fein doesn’t need nationalist competitors or reformers and referees–it does need enemies. The unionist parties fill that role quite nicely.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Its a classic case of the ends justify the means. The notion that Sinn Fein have to be beaten no matter what the cost. Misguided as it is, Republicans have to ask themselves just why so many people in the commentariate and political classes are so blindly against them, come what may? What is it about Sinn Fein that causes such distortions by the intelligencia? We cant be blind to that no matter how justified we believe our aims to be. Its an impossible task to convince those rooted in traditional establishment polititics that SF offer a better way. What makes it impossible? Thats the question we need to answer.

  • I’m not necessarily in disagreement with the point about Sinn Féin’s “staging-post strategy”, but I am somewhat bemused by the characterisation of Sinn Féin in a sinister fashion, as though it is wrong for the party to be angling at a few concessions when the DUP are at their weakest.

    If they get an Irish Language Act or whatever else it might be from this renewed position of leverage, then good for the Shinners – they got theirs. Any party worth their salt with an ideological agenda will devise plans to achieve x, y and z. If anything, Bryson’s piece is a negative interpretation of what is simply shrewd political manoeuvring.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Against ‘republicans’ or against the particular SF version of republicanism ?

    United Irishmen they ain’t…

  • Nevin

    The blog is under Eamonn Mallie’s byline so he is responsible for any confusion; the byline should be Jamie Bryson.

    Provenance is important as Jamie has been the election agent for ex-DUP councillor, Ruth Patterson.

  • Nevin

    “I’d still like to know why and how relations deteriorated so quickly and badly in just 8 months.”

    Brian, the deterioration was on a slow burn following the publication of the NIAO July report followed by the relatively unnoticed PAC investigation but the somewhat melodramatic BBC Spotlight presentation ripped the issue apart.

    RHI is a major debacle but, in light of other debacles, large and small, I suspect our governance process has been far too loose. I’ve recently put some questions to the Department for the Economy re.Permanent Secretary/Minister briefings and Executive Team(?) meetings. There may well be huge gaps in the paper trail as illustrated by the absence of Department/OFGEM minutes – OFGEM is the scheme administrator.

  • file

    Surely the fact that the minister who sets up the inquiry can stop it at any time is also a weakness in this case? Particularly as Foster was claiming she was going to set it up.

  • Mike the First

    The DUP has undoubtedly behaved very poorly across many instances – not least the Foster’s appalling arrogance over RHI, the Liofa decision, wielding the POC both to veto equal marriage and for narrow party-political reasons.

    However SF presenting themselves as the paragons of sweetness and light who tried to work power-sharing while the DUP never really accepted it or operated it is little short of a laugh, given:

    – the NI Water scandal, which SF and their Minister got away with (in large part thanks to the DUP)
    – said Minister being found to have practised sectarian discrimination against a Protestant candidate for NIW chairman (you have to wonder then at Máirtín Ó Muilleoir’s pronounciations in recent days that SF couldn’t tolerate “corruption and bigotry” in government…then you remember Máirtín was up to his knees in SF jiggery-pokery on this scandal, appointed as a blatantly political placeman to a temporary position on the NIW board)
    – SF Ministers’ almost-religious, ultra-dogmatic refusal to even utter the name of the place they are governing (or give the Executive and the Assembly their full name) lest they appear to give it some legitimacy, even having official departmental reports changed to read “north of Ireland” – hardly reflects a wholehearted acceptance and operation of the Good Friday Agreement and St Andrews Agreement, does it?
    – SF’s reneging on a deal struck with the DUP on welfare reform, costing millions until another deal was reached
    – the quite legitimate complaints of both the SDLP and UUP about their exclusion and minimisation when they were part of the power-sharing Executive – showing both merry SF-DUP collaboration and a less than sincere approach to the power-sharing arrangements of the GFA and StAA

  • mickfealty

    In criminal cases related to the troubles, that’s a problem, re trust. And independent inquiry is mich more a creature of the department. You don’t cover a weakness by putting in an even weaker measure. Besides a public inquiry can compel witnesses and paper.

    My view from the start was both were overkill. Combining PAC and Economy Committees was enough. See my piece on the opposition’s failed fratricidal attempt on Arlene?

  • Tarlas

    Welcome back Brian,

    “I’d still like to know why and how relations deteriorated
    so quickly and badly in just 8 months. So far the deluge of interesting comment reads like very plausible guesswork. These parties still manage to be closed shops to a remarkable extent. Somehow it can’t all be about RHI and Arlene’s arrogant behaviour.”

    I agree the majority of comments do seem to reflect plausible guess work. So here is my two bobs worth.

    The fact a programme for government had not been agreed; suggests
    SF were having massive difficulty negotiating the incorporation of some of
    their manifesto items into this programme. Did an electorally buoyant DUP
    flushed with Brexit and enhanced importance in Westminster push too far, in
    trying to make us more British than Finchley.

    As someone that supported the parity of esteem ideals in the GFA; it has been disappointing to watch something that could have been managed so much better for all of the citizens, being corrupted and has now completely failed. And my posts for some time have reflected my observation that the ethos of the GFA and subsequent rehashes of same, had failed. The tirade of crass arrogance demonstrated by DUP against the Irish nationalist population was a mask to disguise weak, political leadership and their inability to visualise and translate, what a truly shared space could look like. Arlene’s YouTube video to present her propaganda without pertinent questions from an interviewer or journalists is something any North Korean leader would be proud of. I would not be urging a rush back to the status quo, with a sticking plaster on a Humpty Dumpty form of Governance, we are all in a different time and space now, and it is time for mature negotiations on the future of this place to reflect the macro and micro factors that now impinge us.

  • Mirrorballman

    So far Slugger have had Bryson, Ed Moloney,and Malachi O’Doherty give us the real inside scoop on what the Shinners motives are for bringing the house down.


  • Anthony O’Shea

    The particular Sinn fein version of Republican.

  • eiregain

    A quote that seemed to resonate with you Mick, so much so, you didn’t even check who wrote it first time around. You support this view point and said it is “more credible than others” don’t be stepping back from it now that you have been challenged, and if your position has changed, you could have the intellectual maturity to admit it.

  • mickfealty

    To be fair it was written under Eamonn’s byline. That’s usually good enough. But yes, the mistake is on me.

    As for what I think it adds up to? Well, it tells us we are in for a massive Big Billy v Big Mick election that will change nothing.

    That’s well worth noting.

  • northstar

    More stupid talk about SF tactics and guns. Plain and simple the Unionist State created by Lloyd George after Unionist traitors brought Kaisers guns to Larne, after 1916 et al is no longer viable.
    It was never viable as a Democracy because it was the antithesis of Democracy.
    Now we are at a different place and all the Stormont’s Democracy, SF guns, Unionist victims etc are reduced to a simple concept. Pure Equality.
    No special cases, no Orange Order privileges, no as British as Finchley.
    If London reckons Constitutional change in this place helps solve the EU Border problem and stymies the Scots in some way they will do it.
    London does not want to lose Scotland but cannot wait to ditch Lloyd George’s stopgap solution to last centuries problem.
    All the commentary about Stormont’s system is useless because after this all will changed – changed utterly.

  • Karl

    A lot of the “grievances lumped into a…. narrative” are elements of agreements not implemented. These are not concessions to SF, these are issues which have been discussed and agreed and signed up to but ultimately reneged on.
    A culmination of these issues have led us to where we are today. The unionist narrative that SF are seeking more concessions is hogwash, although hugely ironic that bringing NI in line with British law on marriage equality, womens rights and language protection is seen as a concession.

  • LiamÓhÉ

    Nothing will change until the NI electorate changes as per GFA, but ultimately a merger of ROI and NI would not really mean an SF brand of republicanism, as SF, having seen unification take place, would have to shift and perhaps ideologically merge with left-wing or centre-left parties in the new arrangement. SF the party would probably continue to exist, especially with a regional government, but there would be flux.

    Of course, it is due to partition that we still have the FF-FG split in the Republic, which could change too. FF play the 32 county card when they are against the ropes.

    What is not fair is to complain that SF keep looking for ‘concessions’. How the hell are they going to cease being 32 county republicans, with that as the ultimate aim, before their objective is realised? On the other hand, I can understand the unionist defensiveness. As Newton Emerson already said today, they have everything they want already.

  • Skibo

    Did we ever see the legal advice on the sectarian discrimination against a Protestant candidate? The Unionist Minister who took over the portfolio decided that it was not a good financial use of the money to defend the previous Minister.

  • Skibo

    Is there not another question about how the result of an inquiry would be published. Can it be kept out of the public arena by he Minister? Can it publish criticism of anyone without first allowing them rebuttal?

  • Skibo

    I would agree other than one issue.
    Brexit is looming. article 50 is to be actioned in March. We need an agreed approach for NI. Saying that, I believe all parties bar the DUP will find common ground quite quickly but the authority of the Executive will be required to force the issue.
    It will be easier to deflect questions from small parties from NI. It will be a whole different kettle of fish if it has the backing of the Executive.

  • Katyusha

    Sorry Mick, the idea that SF is responsible for turning this into an Orange vs Green issue is laughable when the DUP resorted to the same old Republican bogeyman tactic right out of the blocks.

    I’ll leave it to Bryson’s old nemesis, LAD, to summarise.

    Of course, this is the only tactic the DUP can employ, given that they have quite successfully earned the non-sectarian anger of a vast section of the electorate. They only cards they have left to play are the sectarian one and the fundamentalist Christian one.

  • Skibo

    Mick a sound analysis turns it back into a green and orange issue which it is not.
    The RHI scheme is at the very centre of the problem, that and the arrogance of the DUP.
    The other issues raised by SF I believe were evidence of where they moved to allow shared democracy to work. All they did was thrown back in their face and anything raised before and since by SF will always be laid on the altar as a Republican plot and not fully investigated.
    As for the constant jibes about using equality to grind the b*****s down, while the statement was vulgar the message was not. Equality will only damage sectarianism and should be feared by nobody.
    Parity of esteem and acceptance of the credibility of your opponents political strategy should be at the centre of the GFA and the strategy of shared governance. Nationalism and Republicanism have been up for the challenge. Unionism has been dragged kicking and screaming. They will always pander back to Unionist domination till their mandate drops below 50%. Only at that stage will they think of shared space.
    They may be too late and find Nationalism and Republicanism well down the motorway, over the Boyne bridge on their way to Dublin!

  • Gingray

    You do realise you are arguing against yourself here when you claimed that Sinn Fein had no interest in collapsing the executive before Christmas?

    You are doing a massive disservice to the work of the opposition parties and the BBC who managed to change public opinion on the issue of RHI to the point that SF had no option but to agree to call on AF to stand aside, but in such a way it would do minimal harm. She didn’t, and the attitude of the DUP after meant they had no other option.

    Of course for those who endulge in David Icke style conspiracy theories can keep on pretending this is some good old Sinn Fein masterplan that they have exposed in Scooby Doo fashion, but it merely shows how out of touch established political journalists are with the mood and reality on the ground in Northern Ireland.

  • mickfealty

    Can you fetch that for me. It feels a very long time ago, and I’m not getting any younger?

  • Simian Droog

    Mick may be losing his mind, from “Arlene is running rings around everyone” to “Sinn Fein have no way to oust her from power” to the final descent into madness…”Jamie Bryson provides this must read” 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    So a shaky coalition of two hardline parties falls and you conclude it’s the end of all coalitions ever, the end of the state even … on what basis?

    There is a difference between containers and their contents you may be missing there. It’s not power-sharing that isn’t fit for purpose, it’s the parties in government. In a democracy, you let the people vote and see if you can get a new one. Sadly for you I don’t think they’re about to vote the entire Good Friday Agreement out of existence.

    Certainly interesting watching nationalist politicians and activists with their heads in a spin right now – this after Brexit and all – and seeing some of the places they’re going with it. For unionists who suspected some weren’t so committed to the GFA, or only wanted it on their own terms, this is all quite revealing. I’d hope we can get equal marriage through and the Irish language act and a few other things, but SF can’t just act like everything has gone unionists’ way since 1998. That certainly isn’t the unionist experience.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not to mention, Mike, SF’s continued refusal to budge over Troubles Legacy issues, insisting on their terrorists being characterised as “victims”, refusing to apologise to people they killed apart from selected ‘mistakes’ (implying everyone else deserved to die), the years and years of foot-dragging over the end of the IRA campaign and in more recent years agitation to encourage as much trouble as possible over parades, apparently secret deals over OTRs, as well as a daily grind of anti-Prod, anti-British selective historical air-brushing. The list goes on. Yes the DUP can be and have been tw**s as well, but the gall of SF in playing the wronged party is breath-taking.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    SF sinister? Never …

  • john millar

    “I don’t buy the cunning SF line, the leadership were caught out by the angry mood within the party.”

    Not sure –Saw SF offices going up for sale before XMas and thought –strange!! –whats going on here?

    (There are substantial number on the MLA front -of whatever hue-who will be joining the dole queue with (ahem) limited prospects -which may help explain at least part of the panic)

  • john millar

    “The fact a programme for government had not been agreed; suggests SF were having massive difficulty negotiating the incorporation of some of their manifesto items into this programme”

    Not just SF –I think they were all staring at the “Budget” and sweating -maybe better to get the “brutal Tories” to impose the cuts and return after a decent interval with much hand wring and ” the big boys did it” mantra

  • I meant in terms of Sinn Féin’s strategising. As I said, I recognise his initial point; we’d be naive to think that Sinn Féin hadn’t done a cost-benefit analysis on McGuinness’s resignation. I just don’t get, however, what’s supposed to be so disturbing about that.

  • northstar

    Simple really. The numbers have changed, the UK is changing, Constitutional change in on the horizon via EU relationship and the 6 counties was always a temp arrangement. Amazing that anyone thinks Partition was OK but reversing it is not.
    The facts are the 6 county State was never a Democracy as it was created to thwart Democracy, it only existed for that reason.
    So a new Democracy could be no worse that the 1Party State, or forced Power Sharing State. Sometimes its just better to stop digging and you should Open your eyes.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Can you put your finger on which numbers are behind your thinking here – you say “the numbers have changed”? Last time I looked, none of the key ones really had.

    Outside the bubble people don’t think like you, or me for that matter. It is worth a look at the picture across the board through the polling and survey data. I’m afraid you have some persuading to do.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I tend to agree that we should be a lot more relaxed about the apparent end of this particular coalition government. Coalitions don’t last forever. It’s a sign of a healthy democracy that any one administration can’t bank on necessarily riding out every storm and that, like most other polities in which there is coalition government, coalitions come and go. It’s a reminder a genuine coming together is needed to make these things work.

    Now, the electoral arithmetic may be that these two parties find themselves the only possible combination once again (oh God I do hope not) and are obliged to work together again. If they really can’t, even after a change of personnel at the top, work together again, then we have a genuine problem and it will be the fault of both of them, most probably. I wonder if we should look then at other possible coalitions including even a minority government of the centre for a time?

  • I’ve become accustomed to waiting for what Newton Emerson described as the “last minute fudge”, and so the sceptic in me is waiting for just that. Having said that, McGuinness’s resignation and his “no return to the status quo” comment was a defining moment.

    The crisis since then has felt like a level above, and the fluid, unpredictable nature of it makes it hard to pinpoint a particular solution to it all. If Sinn Féin stick to the ‘on our terms’ line, then I can only assume that we’re in the territory of direct rule or joint authority.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    well, not joint authority presumably

  • northstar

    #Nats are predicted to have Electoral Majority by 2023.
    #60% described selves as either Irish or n/Northern Irish Census 2011
    #June Ref 56% voted stay.
    These are figures for all to ponder, personally a simple UI has no appeal. But Constitutional change is now very likely and change which will take note of the above numbers and EU border issue.
    London are still thinking of a hard border at GB side as talked about by that buffoon Cameron, not on Ireland.
    The said numbers above are all more convincing for change than the numbers at the time of Partition(moot point).
    Basically the future is different with a local assembly or different under the admin of the 2 States who signed off on the key Equality issues in the GFA. As Articles 2 & 3 were part of that deal the 26 Cos will also face Constitutional Legal quandaries whatever the outcome of talks.
    So some clever people will have to get their heads around what is very complicated issue. And now the poss that courts may put a hold on UK triggering Article 50 because of the new situ here is just another bit of fluff stuck in the cogs of the Status Quo.
    Fáilte romhat go dtí Éire Nua a chara!.

  • grumpy oul man

    Sssh, dont be producing facts to MU it brings him out in a case of blinkers
    For example he sees nothing wrong with ignoring a democratic vote and setting up a private army to form NI.
    Nor does he recognise unionist discrimination in the old ni and unionist violence between 1966 and 69 had no rffect on the IRA in 69.
    The violence of the UWC strike was everybody’s else fault but the people who done it and Ian paisley didnt work with terrorists.
    Nationlist have no rights and asking for them is only done to annoy decent people oh and the present c#ck up is nationlists fault.

  • Given that the DUP were spooked into power-sharing in the first place over a cloud of joint authority, I don’t think it’s something that can be completely ruled out if the institutions are genuinely out of business.

  • grumpy oul man

    Just checking Mick.
    Is this the Jamie Bryson who once described the UVF as the peoples army, theres UTube footage of cheering as a catholics window is broken by loyalists, was the face of the violent flag protests,demostrating his strong belief in the democratic process and called on young working protestants to refuse bail conditions to clog up the system but accepted them himself after a very short hunger strike.
    Just the guy to give a balanced, mature and reasonable breakdown of the situation.
    I mean what agenda could he possibly have.

  • northstar

    The ever-steady Unionist eye on the real truth. We done nathin wrong so we didn’t! Lessons are coming right up – again. The only prob I have is SF waited too long to pull plug on the nonsense. Armagh beckons as New Assembly home – if there is one. Cause no more Taigs are goin to make laws under the symbols up there in Stormont – stupid SF Dogma idea in the 1st place!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think that’s quite a quantum leap tbh. That would be the GFA completely gone. Aren’t we getting a bit carried away here? All that’s happened is one coalition administration breaking up. I don’t see why the entire GFA structure has to be called into question. Unless that is, one party has actually decided it doesn’t like the agreement, now their assumption It was a path into a united Ireland has been shown to be wishful thinking, and the polls are showing young people wanting the status quo. Republicans are dressing up a panicky gamble to save their project as some kind of principled stance. Who knows, they might fool a few.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    That’s some wishful thinking on the figures there. The nationalist vote has stalled recently so not sure how it’s guaranteed hegemony by 2023, but we’ll see anyway. But leaving that aside, what I’m taking from your post is that you want nationalism to abandon the GFA. Is that right? Why so desperate?

  • grumpy oul man

    Just run this through a ulster scots translation app.
    Heres the first paragraph ,
    Themmuns, themuns, no surrender.themmuns. watch out you lundys, themmuns.ulster will fight.themmuns themmuns.
    The rest is remarkably similar.

  • Tarlas

    I am not sure about that. In the now defunct coalition; the DUP could have frustrated a unified response that diverged from their tory mates in Westminster (Arlene’s arrogance towards Enda Kenny’s attempt for discussion via an All-Ireland Brexit Forum, was an example of this). Now people power can be directed towards the Brexit remain parties, the EU and Dublin to lobby for the best possible post Brexit governance arrangements. Geoffrey Donaldson is currently waffling on about a sustained period of direct rule. Once again as University fees may go up from £3000 per year to £9000 along with a raft of other Westminster economic austerity measures, coupled to a Brexit related economic hit; the DUP need to be very careful what they wish for.

  • grumpy oul man

    Really why not. It would be very welcome in the nationlist community. Of course going by your previous posts you dont seem to believe that they have the right to aspirations.
    Britain might think its a way around the border problem.
    And is amusing that you get all nnoyed when nationlists look at upcoming negotiations as a way of forwarding project UI
    It seems to really annoy you when those croppies refuse to lie down and with the death of the unionist backlash threat the old tactic of street violence and secterian murder not being available to unionists anymore things will change.

  • grumpy oul man

    Well maybe its time for a new agreement. I suppose we really should thank AR and the DUP for this.
    Thanks ARLENE

  • MainlandUlsterman

    A new agreement in which nationalism gets a better deal and unionism a worse one? Call me simplistic, but why would unionists go for that? I’m not following the logic.

    We all made compromises in 1998 and we reached a historic accord (at least most of us did it in 98, the DUP joined in later). It was a huge effort domestically and internationally to achieve this. It was and is a massive landmark event and the foundations on which all our politics are based. Throwing the whole thing out of the window on the basis of this failed heating scheme? It doesn’t add up.

    I think this is Sinn Fein deciding to renege on its commitments under the GFA I’m afraid and collapse the devolution settlement for reasons of united-Irelander Republican ideology. They were boxed in by the agreed structures, the united Ireland idea was dying a death, and now they’ve seen an opportunity to revive it.

    If they are giving up on Good Friday, this is a huge deal and a massive slap in the face to the other parties (not the just the DUP) and the Northern Irish people – not to mention Dublin, London and Washington – who have invested so much hope in it. If they do that, I hope they are judged for this at the polls, though I doubt it. They have regularly, literally, got away with murder with their constituency and I’m sure will do so again.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Because we have a binding cross-party and international agreement on the GFA arrangements, which are not for joint authority. If you want to campaign for joint authority in the future, feel free. People might support it one day, but there’s no evidence it carries more support right now than the GFA deal.

    Hadn’t you previously insisted how supportive you were of the GFA? Seems that support was somewhat shakey …

  • grumpy oul man

    Agreements can and are renegotiated. The GFA is not written in stone things change.
    Maybe its time this changed.

  • grumpy oul man

    And in the past we had agreements which were better for unionist than nationalists.
    Why cant it go the other way.
    Paisley and other unionists took to the streets and amid much violence changed agreements in the past. I fail to see how it is impossible for nationlists to peacefully change present ones.
    As i have pointed out unionist violencechanging things is now a thing of the past, the flegs thing showed us that. So anything is on thevtable its called democracy.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Presumably you criticised the past arrangements for being too pro-unionist though … So is one that’s pro-nationalist not just the same mistake in reverse?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    How? And to what?
    Bearing in mind, SF will need to find unionist partners for whatever they have in mind.

  • grumpy oul man

    Well unionists have had to be dragged into every agreement and arnt very good at working with partners as a matter there inabilty to keep there word over things like the Irish language act and equality legislation has contributed to the present predicament.
    So maybe its time they realised that they need partners.
    Also it should be noted that you dont speak for all unionists but for the more extreme fringe.
    In the past this fringe has used fear and bullying to coerce the more moderate unionists but as i say the times are a changing and shouting lundy doesnt have the same impact it had during the anti AIA protests fpr example.

  • grumpy oul man

    Yes perhaps i did but i did not take to the streets with terrorists to change things.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Have you ever been on a demo in Northern Ireland? If you have, you may have found yourself in a crowd with terrorists. It doesn’t mean you support them.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    SF are no more agreeing with unionists than unionists are agreeing with SF though. It takes two to disagree, does it not?

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh i have been on demos and terrorists may have been in the crowd but they were not on the platforms and doing the stewarding, like UWC,AIA, Drumcree etc.
    do you not see the difference between them being there in the crowd and them helping run the demo!

  • grumpy oul man

    Yep it does but in the case of unionism it took two governments, a president of the USA and a lot of bribes to agree on anything, as a matter they refused to talk for years.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Uncomfortable fact and I respect what NICRA stood for but some NICRA marches were stewarded by IRA members and senior IRA people were involved in its genesis. It doesn’t make NICRA a bad cause or everyone in it guilty of “collusion”

  • 1729torus

    Nationalism’s position is stronger than it was in 1998, though we might disagree on the exact amount of leverage gained over the past 20 years.

    The DUP’s “rogues and renegades” or “gatekeeper” comments are prima facie proof that they don’t intend to adhere to the GFA in good faith.

    This leaves a UI or a Joint Administration of some sort as the only two approaches not yet tried.

    Why would Nationalists be in any hurry to get back into Stormont when its agriculture that’s most in danger from Brexit, and the next census is out in mid 2022? They can just run down the clock and put increasing pressure to do a deal on their counterparts.

    We have to consider the calculations of Unionist leaders too. Every Local/Assembly election gives TUV and PUP a chance to build themselves up on the back of anti DUP sentiment, meaning that the DUP will be increasingly afraid of going to the polls. By virtue of being anti-Brexit and fighting for their voters, SF are in far less danger from PBP over the next five years.

    Finally, Brexit means the UK will be desperate not to get sucked into NI, what concessions could SF/SDLP get?

  • grumpy oul man

    And i think that because the IRAwas not active then it does not really compare to people who where blowing up and shooting peole because of their relegion standing on the platforms.
    Even by your own twisted logic and view of history you admit.in other post that the IRA did not start till some months after the NICRA (while you of course ignore unionist violence during this period()
    So there we have it members of a inactive IRA at marchs compared to active Unionists at unionist demos on the platform and stewarding.
    Not really a comparsion unless of course your acting as a apoligist for murder squads and the polticians who worked so closly with them.
    It that sort of line which might work among the loyal(and i use that phrase very loosly) sons but the rest of the world see it for nonsence it is.

  • grumpy oul man

    Yep sure. Its a pity anybody with a hostory book would disagree with you.
    Do you remember the famous phrase that anti GFA unionists used for years , they called themselves the majority of the majority (which in maths is a minority but accuracy was never there strong point) listen if you are not going to be historically accurate expect to be shot down

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes I wonder what the Republican Movement might have done that would have made so many enemies …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Brilliant post mate.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I suspect that’s a very good point about the election: relative success for DUP, SF getting unexpected setbacks. Pumped up the former, freaked out the latter? That could well be what’s playing out here. Maybe the first time SF have started to doubt their own theory of inexorable rise?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    They feed off disruption and antagonism so I’m sure you’re right they will benefit from this latest stunt. How tiresome for everyone else.

  • Skibo

    Tarlas as independent groups they do not have to be listened to. As the devolved government of the north, Westminster has to listen. If we do not have devolution then why should we be treated as different?
    Stormont is important but not at any price. I think the DUP are now aware that they have pushed Nationalism far enough. If they want devolution, and I believe they do, they have to play ball and it will be insufficient to just be seen to play. We will need timetables and as in business KPIs.

  • Tarlas

    I do not think it will make an ioata of difference in relation to Brexit negotiations. UK journalists have now concluded that T May’s comments and the systems/structures that she has put in place, now logically suggest the hard Brexit option. She has been described as a submarine type politician; comes up makes a statement with no policies or structure to make it happen and disappears again,eg (the recent mental health statement and GP extended hrs ) It is also suspected that the conservatives do not have the band width to effectively cover oncoming Brexit events and are likely to implode. ( I attended and IDB conference a few weeks ago, where an eu tarrif matrix highlighted app 50% duty on agri- based goods. There are two flour mills on the island; both in Belfast, they produce all of the Islands flour. What will happen, If a 50% levy is imposed on grain from ROI, sent for processing in Belfast and in return the finished product taxed as it is exported back to supermarkets in ROI. Well quite possibly a new flour mill will be built in ROI and Jobs will go in Belfast). It will be interesting to listen to the blame game as reality starts to really bite.