SDLP blocks Unionist for senior post

There’s very little background provided with the headline of this story so it’s hard to know what substance lies behind it, but apparently the Nationalist dominated Newry and Mourne Council has voted to keep out one of its few Unionist representatives from a senior post with the local strategy partnership.

  • Weapons Of Crass Instruction

    Sauce for the goose anyone?.

  • Fraggle

    this seems a total non story to me. no wonder there hasn’t been much comment. I recall from a few years ago (when i lived there) that the unionists on derry city council would whinge every time the controlling sdlp voted sinn fein a top spot rather than a unionist, even though the sdlp tried to fairly distribute the jobs and voted for dup mayors often enough.

    even the text of the story in the link says that unionists have been given this job in the past.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Clearly the News Letter has been on the lookout for a riposte – any riposte – to nationalist complaints about the scandal of sectarian majoritarianism still practiced at certain unionist-dominated councils. This is it’s proof that the fenians are every bit as sectarian as the prods.

    Except it isn’t. The fact that this story – not worth a line in any other paper – is the closest thing there is to evidence of discrimination against unionists in a nationalist-dominated council is about as instructive as you’ll get.

    Jesus, it’s there in the text. Unionists discriminated against in Newry and Mourne – source? The mayor of Newry and Mourne, Henry Reilly of the Ulster Unionists…

    There are 24 nationalists and 5 unionists on that council, yet Henry Reilly follows in the footsteps of Danny Kennedy, Andy Moffat and the marginalised Isaac Hanna himself as a unionist mayor of Crossmaglen as well as Kilkeel. Parity of esteem in action.

    This is one issue where unionism needs to hold its hands up. The fenians are categorically NOT just as bad.

  • Davros

    Agreed Billy, the similarities are very superficial.
    In one a Unionist Councillor isn’t in a senior post, in the other a SF councillor isn’t in a senior post.
    Why ?
    The Unionist wasn’t offered.
    The SF Cllr WAS offered and declined so that he could complain that he wasn’t holding any office.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Davros.

    Maybe you can help me out with a few details. My understanding of the Butler case is that, after he had raised the issue of unionist monopolisation of all chairs and vice chairs in Lisburn council, he was offered the vice chairmanship of some committee or other. He believed the committee to be a bauble, effectively a very small tactical retreat by the unionist majority, designed to blunt his otherwise legitimate argument. Is this about the height of it?

    (I know all about Paul Butler, by the way. But this isn’t about Paul Butler, or even about Sinn Fein. The experience in councils like Newry and Mourne, Strabane, Omagh, Derry, Cookstown etc is such that it’s fair to say: if Lisburn was a nationalist-dominated council and Paul Butler was among the very few unionist councillors, he would have served at least one term as MAYOR by now.)

    “The Unionist wasn’t offered.”

    In this instance Isaac Hanna (who is I believe a fine man, by the way) was passed over for the job. However there is no question that unionists are excluded from the position as they have held it previously, and will undoubtedly hold it again. Indeed Isaac is a former mayor of Newry and Mourne, so the SDLP and Sinn Fein clearly don’t have anything against him.

    Newry and Mourne is proof – albeit in a limited, low-stakes kinda way – that when the nationalists espouse principles such as parity of esteem, powersharing and working together, it’s a two-way street.

    Nationalists in Newry and Mourne are in exactly the same position as unionists in Castlereagh. The difference in how the large numerical majority is used is instructive.

  • ShayPaul

    Your are not on your own Billy, in fact Mr Isaac Hanna agrees with you.

  • Davros

    Billy Pilgrim posts :
    Davros.

    Maybe you can help me out with a few details. My understanding of the Butler case is that, after he had raised the issue of unionist monopolisation of all chairs and vice chairs in Lisburn council, he was offered the vice chairmanship of some committee or other. He believed the committee to be a bauble, effectively a very small tactical retreat by the unionist majority, designed to blunt his otherwise legitimate argument. Is this about the height of it?

    Not according to Seamus Close Billy and I know which person and which party version is the one likely to be honest..

  • Rebecca Black

    Interesting so those nasty exclusive unionists aren’t the only ones who block people from council positions?

  • davidbrew

    Look folks, I’m going to let you in on a little secret….it doesn’t actually matter who is Mayor or chair of the public lavatory inspection committee. Thes people aren’t Rudy Giuliani-they have no power and most of them are ancient jobsworths who haven’t the vision to change things even if they could. If the worst discrimination they can commit is to hog a chain -big deal. There’s a lot more serious challenges out there. Mind you shows how desperate everyone is to play the discrimination card in our sad country

  • Fraggle

    “These people aren’t Rudy Giuliani-they have no power”

    wasn’t all the power taken away from the councils becasue the unionists couldn’t be trusted to deal fairly? eg. housing executive.

  • davidbrew

    No fraggers, housing problem was more that all locla councillors had too great a say-thus Newry UDC underallocated houses to Protestants as well as other well documented examples. The removal of Stormont in 1972 prevented the coordinated reorganisation of local democracy -the Macrory gap. It will be interesting to see how the next reorganisation changes that, but at the moment most councils are a waste of space.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Davidbrew.

    You’re right – the councils as currently constituted ARE a waste of space, though there are some very good people in most of the councils. (Some walking disgraces too.)

    “it doesn’t actually matter who is Mayor or chair of the public lavatory inspection committee.”

    Correct. So let’s have Paul Butler as mayor of Lisburn. Let’s have a nationalist mayor of Castlereagh. Declan O’Loan as mayor of Ballymena, to be succeeded by Philip McGuigan.

    As I said earlier, this issue might be for low stakes, but the manner in which unionists still use a numerical majority is instructive.

    Rebecca.

    This is a straight political issue and unionist-dominated councils demonstrably have their hands in the till, so to speak. Don’t try to drag it down to a sectarian level. If nationalist councils operated the same practices, it’d be wrong too.

  • Davros

    “If nationalist councils operated the same practices, it’d be wrong too.”

    When did they stop Billy ? Isn’t it time we moven on from insisting “ours” are squeaky clean whereas “yours” are dirty ?

  • Davros

    Typo 🙂 moven —> moved

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Davros.

    This isn’t about arguing that nationalist = good, unionist = bad. Such an argument would be fatuous in the extreme.

    However it would be equally fatuous to say nothing when certain politicians are caught out, just because they happen to be unionists and I happen to be a nationalist.

    As I said earlier, this is an issue – ONE issue – where unionism should hold its hands up. This is ONE ISSUE where a nationalist can legitimately point the finger.

    What message do you think it sends out about unionist attitudes to genuine equality? How do you think it looks when even very progressive, thinking unionists who have earned the respect of nationalists – such as yourself – succumb to tribal instinct and defend such wrongful practices?

    This isn’t about nationalism vs unionism. It’s about plurality vs sectarian majoritarianism. In such a situation the only question one must ask oneself is: which side am I on?

  • davidbrew

    no it’s not Billy-and anyway there are strong principled reasons for not having a Shinner as mayor anywhere-equally applicable to PUP I might add. Nationalists feel smugly superior about throwing titbits to Unionists while ignoring their own sectarianism ; Unionists feel hyper-defensive about making insignificant concessions on the “give them an inch” principle. Neither is admirable nor inherently worse-it’s just-as usual- Nationalists work the optics better

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Davidbrew.

    “no it’s not Billy”

    Yes it is David. (Ad nauseum.)

    “There are strong principled reasons for not having a Shinner as mayor anywhere”

    Bullshit. The nationalist community has chosen Sinn Fein as its standard bearer. Your `principles’ call for the disenfranchisement of most nationalists.

    (Which I suppose is in line with what the DUP calls `traditional unionism’, but I digress.)

    Excluding the shinners from public life here would ensure that your children and mine will be dealing with the IRA rather than Sinn Fein. I care enough about my unborn children to want them to live in a peaceful society. What price are you willing to pay for that? (I’d guess that in this instance you have the meanness of a Ballymena man…)

    Nationalism, republicanism and yes, physical force republicanism are facts of life in Northern Ireland. None of them are going to go away, but the potential exists to relegate the last of these to a minor distraction. Given this prevailing situation, it is frankly nauseating to hear people refuse to grasp the nettle on behalf of future generations on grounds of `principle’.

    “Nationalists feel smugly superior about throwing titbits to Unionists while ignoring their own sectarianism.”

    I note the wounded tone implied in your `smugly superior’ reference, and accept it as a tacit acknowledgement that you have no more substantive arguments to put in defence of unionist majoritarianism – from here on in it’s the comfort zone of pure backs-to-the-wall, us-against-them sectarianism.

    My point is that in this instance, nationalists are ENTITLED to the moral highground. Calling them smug isn’t any kind of reply.

    “Unionists feel hyper-defensive about making insignificant concessions on the “give them an inch” principle.”

    Principle my arse. If that is indeed a unionist `principle’ then I can only say two things: one, it is a disgusting `principle’ to adopt to your neighbours; and two, it explains a lot.

    “Nationalists work the optics better”

    There is nothing particularly noble or virtuous in nationalists sharing power with a unionist minority. This is not evidence of nationalists being the ultimate goodies. They are only doing what they bloody well ought to be doing. The issue here is that several unionist councils are not.

    It is a tactic frequently employed by unionists of various hues to retreat, when all else fails, to the caveat that nationalists are inherently more articulate, that Ulster protestants are somehow deficient in their ability to express themselves and their cause.

    This from the community that gave Louis MacNeice, John Hewitt, CS Lewis and Van Morrison to the world.

    A just cause is the better part of articulacy. Ulster protestants lack NOTHING in their ability to express themselves. It’s a just cause that they lack. This is a micro example of the phenomenon.