Ballymena

Sinn Féin representative Michael Agnew is reported
as condemning pro-IRA graffiti in Ballymena. Would that all our politicians were as sensible.

  • Peter Brown

    Only impliedly and surely according to you its opponents should “either resign in disgust or get on with making the best of it and supporting the decision of your party colleagues” or does that rule only apply to those who don’t share your outlook?

  • willowfield

    Yes, of course the opponents should have got on with making the best of it. I’ve no doubt that’s what they did: they certainly didn’t seek to undermine the party because of it.

  • Moderate Unionist

    I didn’t get the sense that the IRA was on it’s last legs in 1998. True, I think the security situation had “improved” to what was called an “acceptable level of violence”, but this is no way to live.

    Every life lost is a waste, and without peace, political stability and decisive political leadership our economy will continue to decline. We will fail to attract inward investment, those that can will leave and those that can’t will live in fear of increased taxes and disappearing pensions.

    The UUP initiative was a courageous act to reach beyond the lose-lose scenario. It was not perfect, but then what is? I understood the objections raised by those that voted no, I also understood that it was a risk, but I voted for the agreement then and I would do so again for the simple reason that nobody (not Mr. Donaldson nor Mr. Robinson)has yet to offer a viable alternative (i.e. one that all sides can accept).

    Despite it’s difficulties the agreement has not been without its successes. The security situation has improved, the principle of consent has been enshrined in the constitutional issue and the absolute requirement for the IRA to dissarm receives vocerifous and widespread support. Any future agreement is likely to be based upon the GFA.

    I wait with interest the outcome of the DUP’s negoitations. If they can improve the agreement great, if they can come up with a new agreement fine, but if we end up with political stalement then we will not be able to tackle the problems facing our society and this will lead to long term decline in our standard of living and threatens the future of Northern Ireland itself.

  • Butterknife

    Si if the DUP improves on the Belfast Agreement is that the UUP finished?

  • willowfield

    The Agreement was not, in my view, about “peace”: that is entirely in the hands of the terrorists.

    It was about political accommodation which was and is necessary, regardless of what the terrorists are up to.

    There is, however, an interface between the “peace process” and the political process caused by the facts that nationalists vote for terrorist parties and power-sharing and commitment to exclusively peaceful means are foundations of political accommodation.

  • Peter Brown

    nobody (not Mr. Donaldson nor Mr. Robinson)has yet to offer a viable alternative (i.e. one that all sides can accept).

    It is debatable whether unionists accept the Agreement – most may have accepted it at the time but only because they were misled about what it involved (they were told Willowfield that it was about peace not political accomodation) but now clearly the majority of unionists have tasted the pudding have rejected it – does that mean it is no longer viable?

  • Moderate Unionist

    Willowfield
    The UUP is facing a stern challenge. What does it stand for? The DUP will move into the centre ground and unless the UUP can articulate a position which clearly differentiates itself from the DUP, the UUP have a problem. In my view, the UUP should campaign on the Economy, Education, Secular politics if they want to win the election. They should claim the GFA as a victory for them, and if the DUP adopted it, then this reinforces the notion.

    The electorate of course will still have the ultimate say and time is short.

    Peter Brown
    Regardless of the merits of the current arrangements, if we want a political solution in the short to medium term, it will be on the basis of the GFA. If there is a viable alternative, let’s hear it, but you have to get everybody to agree to the changes. I think this will take a considerable amount of time (years) to do this and meantime the economy is destroyed, taxes are increased and negoitating postion of the Unionist people is weakened by a deteriorating economy, and the exodus of young people to GB.

  • Peter Brown

    You miss my point MU – surely The Agreement itself is no longer viable ny your criteria if it is no longer accepted by all sides. I agree that stalemate is in no-ones interests but The Agreement now represents a missed opportunity to resolve the deadlock because the unionist community was misled about it and is now understandably sceptical about its improvement or even replacement.

  • willowfield

    Peter Brown

    It is debatable whether unionists accept the Agreement – most may have accepted it at the time but only because they were misled about what it involved (they were told Willowfield that it was about peace not political accomodation) but now clearly the majority of unionists have tasted the pudding have rejected it – does that mean it is no longer viable?

    They may have rejected it, but it’s all in vain. There’s no way unionists can get rid of it on their own, and the DUP pretending that was possible was terribly misleading and was done purely for selfish electoral advantage.

    Having said it was anti-Agreement, the DUP has now become pro-Agreement, taking part fully in the review of the Agreement and trying to tidy up its loose ends. They even negotiated with the Provos, having condemned the UUP for doing so in the past.

    You miss my point MU – surely The Agreement itself is no longer viable ny your criteria if it is no longer accepted by all sides.

    But it is accepted by all sides!

    MU

    The UUP is facing a stern challenge. What does it stand for? The DUP will move into the centre ground and unless the UUP can articulate a position which clearly differentiates itself from the DUP, the UUP have a problem. In my view, the UUP should campaign on the Economy, Education, Secular politics if they want to win the election. They should claim the GFA as a victory for them, and if the DUP adopted it, then this reinforces the notion.

    I agree.

  • davidbrew

    Willow-how many times do we have to say it- a new Agreement is not the same Agreement.

    If you are married and your wife understandably decides to ditch you for a newer model, he will have many similarities to yourself-teeth, knees, and a lower intestine amongst them. There will also be certain differences-noticably the inclusion of a functioning brain in the newer model- which clearly distinguish it from the original clapped out version.

    You might contend that Mrs Willow is somehow still an advocate for being married to you because she is married to another male human being, but most people will recognise that she has gravitated to something improved, advanced, and better-someone who doesn’t use his backside to talk out of.

    Now if she had said she was leaving you for a sheep (calm down Peter)then you could criticise her when she didn’t, just as you could criticise the DUP if they had said they wanted no Agreement with nationalists, or with Dublin. They haven’t.

    MU
    Good post. Won’t happen. The UUP is incapable of evolving into a modern secular liberal party, even if was prepared to take a leap of faith. You’ll see more of this nonsense of trying to be tougher than the DUP on the Provos by Michael the Undertaker and Deadly Dermot. They haven’t even the guts to break the Orange link, even though only about 10 Orangemen support Trimble now.They’re floundering just like the Tories, but without much less padding to survive the lean years.History may show that Lord Haughey’s philanthropy staved off the inevitable until the centenary of the UUC had passed, but after he’s in the Lords why throw his money away on a hopeless case? Or if he really has to , what about investing in Leeds United?

  • willowfield

    davidbrew

    Willow-how many times do we have to say it- a new Agreement is not the same Agreement.

    Well, if the new agreement was going to be substantially different, then you might have a case to argue. But it’s not.

  • North Antrim Realist

    DB

    You can bluster all you like with your ‘Fancy Dan’ legal speak, there will be no New Agreement, the voters out there know what NEW means and it isn’t twiddling around with the GFA and gving it a thin coat of whitewash.

    If I tell my friends I have got a new car, and then turn up in the old one resprayed with the clock turned back and the pistons re bored, they will know extactly what I have done, got the same car as I always had.

    Your party members on the ground and people who voted for you are getiing restless already they see what is going on they are not blind…. the GFA is here to stay….. you know it and they know it…. the only question is what con will the DUP try to put over this time to conceal their actions.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    ‘Course, if the DUP had negotiated all this seven years ago, they wouldn’t need a new Agreement.

    The big question is, will they run away again this time?

  • davidbrew

    NAR
    but that’s just the point-it it’s only the old car resprayed then the DUP are full of very stupid people who have painted themselves into a corner for short term gain in a mssive gamble that the electorate will overlook the past. There hasn’t been a lot of evidence from the DUP to date to suggest they’re that dumb, although there has been a lot of government and UUP inspired spin to worry the voters. The DUP already had sufficient advantages in terms of their generation structure and membership base two years ago to be confident that they would overtake the UUP sooner rather than later anyway-they didn’t need to energise the base vote unlike the UUP, and the disillusioned UUP voters were always going to gravitate to them after dallying with Bob etc. In short, they have had no need to expose themselves to the risk of their current stance if winning elections was their only goal. Likewise they presumably have some reason to believe thay will achieve some success. And if they can, Trimble should have been able to. So everything the DUP get is ipso facto a failure of Trimble’s negotiating shortcomings.

    In short..
    If it is a new model with improved spec it is up to the electorate to judge if it is worth buying. But even if it’s a Volvo , instead of the Jag we would all like, it’s still better than the clapped out Kia Trimble sold us.

  • willowfield

    I think that’s an admission by DB that the DUP will indeed settle for a respray and an upgrade of the stereo.

  • Peter Brown

    So DB means the exact opposite of what he said? You habve mistaken him for a CURRENT member of the UUP leadership not the former Party officer he now is Willowfield….

  • willowfield

    Why are you in the UUP?

  • Peter Brown

    Look further up this thread…. i think we’ve been over this ground

  • ShayPaul

    Well I think it was a good initiative from SF in condemning IRA graffiti ….

    … silence and dirty looks….

    Oh did I interrupt something ?

    Am I on the wrong thread ?

  • Peter Brown

    You honestly expected a thread on this site to remain on topic from start to finish – you are niave enough to be an Ulster Unionist Party negotiator ;-p Oh I forgot I mustn’t speak ill of the esteemed and cherished leader or mention or nuclear programme…..

  • Liam

    To get right back on topic, which started about Michael Agnews calls for Republican Graffitti to be removed in Ballymena….

    This morning, Michael Agnews house was raided by the PSNI – why do they always feel the need to do this at dawn??

    Michael Agnew has been the target of a sustained Loyalist murder campaign, including sophisticated pipe bombs placed under his car.

    Gerry Kelly has commented that “The actions of the PSNI this morning are part of a deliberate attempt to justify these attacks.

    The actions of the PSNI are further endangering the life of Michael Agnew. It is in stark contrast to the lack of action against the unionist murder gangs that are operating with impunity throughout the North Antrim and East Antrim areas.

    “This raid is a clear example of political policing. It is an extension of the loyalist murder campaign. It is evidence of the ongoing existence of collusion between loyalists and the PSNI and will only offer further encouragement to those who have targeted Michael Agnew because he is a Sinn Fein representative.

    “I again challenge all political parties to come out and condemn the actions of Loyalist paramilitaries in this area and indeed throughout the six counties. The actions of the PSNI today are also a stark and direct challenge to the SDLP and I want to reiterate my challenge to the SDLP policing spokesperson Alex Attwood to come out into the open and have a public debate on policing.”

  • Davros

    Gerry K sounds as if he is laying down smoke .

  • Liam

    Davros. Thats an unworthy response.

    I know Michael Agnew personally and for the PSNI to raid his house at dawn this morning was a travesty, for him and for his family.

    As Gerry Kelly points out, this was a very political act on behalf of the PSNI. What really was the purpose and motivation?

    What do you honestly imagine the real purpose of this raid was? Please reply honestly and bear in mind the fact that this mans life has been threatened, bear in mind where he lives, and bear in mind that his was the house where Loyalists planted a pipe bomb not so long ago: BBC Report . Do the UVF really need this ‘encouragement’ from the PSNI? Then you wonder why Nationalists don’t have confidence in the PSNI?

  • Liam
  • Davros

    Come on Liam. I have posted my support for Mr Agnew in the past. I too feel it is odd that he was raided. I was objecting to the rather hysterical and counter-productive outburst by Mr Kelly.

    Let’s mention a few things that Mr Kelly could have brought into play …

    There were OTHER raids- I read somewhere there were circa a dozen. Mr Agnew wasn’t singled out as implied. Why were there raids ? Because of intelligence reports that dissidents were going to attack PSNI. IF SF were on the Policing boards they could raise their concerns in a manner that might actually acheive something other than Gerry Playing to his gallery and the unionist community
    switching off …because once again Mr Hyde has appeared on the scene. But Gerry has lost any chance of people like me supporting SF – because by his rant he has driven us into an Us vs Them corner. I’ll happily sit with The Dr Jekylls of your party in a corner – but I’ll be damned if I’ll join Gerry Kelly with his crap about this raid being evidence of police collusion with loyalists.

    That’s my honest take on it.

  • Davros
  • Liam

    “outburst by Mr Kelly”?

    Come on Davros – the wrong here was committed by the PSNI.

    I am glad you have supported Michael Agnew in the past. I have heard of no other raids this morning but I do know that the very notion that his house would be raided in connection with ‘dissident activity’ is ridiculous and absurd.

    The PSNI know that very well too. That is why their actions were disgraceful, outrageous and very dangerous.

    That is why Republicans cannot have any faith in this police force. That is why we must hold out to get policing RIGHT.

    Can you really not understand that?

  • Davros

    Liam – You might not have heard of other searches, But I’ll bet the farm that Gerry Kelly had 😉

    And by not giving a fair, calm and balanced response Gerry Kelly has not only in effect misinformed people like you, he has polarised something that you and I could and would have easily reached agreement upon. That sort of thing ripples throughout the communities.

    The below report puts his outburst into context.

    Police search link to ‘rebel’ threats

    By Nevin Farrell
    12 November 2004

    A major police operation in Ballymena today which involved a security alert was connected to recent dissident republican threats against PSNI officers in the town.

    A series of searches took place from early morning and upwards of 15 Land Rovers were involved in the operation which centred on homes in the Fisherwick, Dunclug and Dunfane areas.

    A security alert was sparked at one of the houses searched this morning at Fisherwick Crescent and Army bomb disposal experts were called in to deal with a suspicious object which police said later turned out to be a commercial firework.

    A PSNI spokesman said: “Police have been carrying out a number of searches in Ballymena today in connection with serious crime. Search activity will be continuing throughout the day. So far there have been no arrests and nothing has been found.”

    Sinn Fein claimed it was “harassment” and said that by early morning at least six homes of republicans were searched.

    The party’s Ballymena representative Michael Agnew said his home was one of those searched and said police said they were looking for explosives, guns, ammunition and scanning gear.

    He said: “This is harassment against young nationalists. I have been calling for calm in Ballymena in recent times and spoke out against graffiti for example and this is the way I’m repaid.”

    For weeks police had thrown a ring of steel round Ballymena as they mounted road checks and helicopters often flew overhead at night and the wearing of body armour was reintroduced for officers.

    I repeat : my beef is not with the reasonable questions that could and should be asked of the police – preferrably through the police boards, it’s with the hysterical and counter-productive outburst by Gerry Kelly.

  • Liam

    ….there have been no arrests and nothing has been found.

    The dogs on the street could have told them that!

    Gerry Kelly called this ‘security operation’ for what it was and he was right to do so.

    Your description of it as an “hysterical and counter-productive outburst” is based only on your own views of Gerry Kelly as a politician.

    You are too easily ignoring the real wrong that was done in Ballymena this morning to a good man and his family.

  • Davros

    As I said Liam, you have been forced by his posturing into a corner.

  • davidbrew

    “The party’s Ballymena representative Michael Agnew said his home was one of those searched and said police said they were looking for explosives, guns, ammunition and scanning gear.”

    what an outrage! To imagine that ANYONE in SF/IRA might know something about illegal guns.Whatever next? HM Customs asking them about smuggled ciggies?

    Get a life Liam. If plod wasn’t looking for criminals at the homes of those “inextricably linked” with criminals (that’s what the Provies are, you know) then we’d have something to be worried about.

  • ShayPaul

    davidbrew

    Get real – this is clearly a political act. The days are over when the RUC was a tool of the Unionist state.

    We are in the 21st century you know, the RUC has gone, the B specials have been disbanded, no more UDR.

    Seems some of the boys in the PSNI haven’t been informed.

  • Liam

    “As I said Liam, you have been forced by his posturing into a corner.”

    What a particularly daft comment Davros.

  • Davros

    Whatever Liam, whatever.

  • davidbrew

    aye right shaypaul
    let’s not look to the contacts of criminals for information about crime. And while we’re at it let them keep 15% of their guns to keep them occupied. The only political act is to turn a blind eye to the Provo criminality-which doesn’t seem to concern you.

  • ShayPaul

    davidbrew

    Criminality of all shades concerns me, that’s why we need a no-political police service.

    As Patten said :

    We need to take the politicians out of policing, and take the policemen out of politics.

    Incapacity of Unionists to do this for decades created the conditions for the mess we are in.

  • davidbrew

    and we need to take the criminals out of politics and the “politicians” out of crime.

    Incapacity of republicans to do THIS for decades created the conditions for the mess we are in

  • davidbrew

    and we need to take the criminals out of politics and the “politicians” out of crime.

    Incapacity of republicans to do THIS for decades created the conditions for the mess we are in