Windbag of the Week: Empey rhetoric…

DON’T know if this is a good idea or not, but sure. ‘Windbag of the Week’ is YOUR chance to put the spotlight on someone who has been expelling hot air. Just cut and paste your favourite quote and add your (non libellous!) comments. I’ll kick things off with a fisking of Sir Reg Empey’s press release from earlier today…Sir Reg said today: “The IMC, whose creation was our idea, is proving to be the useful instrument that we predicted and anticipated it would be. It is a pressure point on paramilitarism.”

Not true.

The idea originated with a respected Washington-based lobbyist called Michael McDowell, who consulted with Alliance before Trimble became involved.

A ‘ceasefire watchdog’ was first proposed by Alliance to the two governments on 4 July two years ago at Hillsborough. A rather arrogant John Reid was not keen on the idea, as he believed that his judgement was sound on whether a ceasefire had been broken or not (though few believed him), so Alliance pursued it with Number 10, where Jonathan Powell was more receptive.

The UUP certainly didn’t run with the IMC ball, and they made few if any public statements on the subject at the time.

Dean Godson’s well-researched biography of David Trimble is categorical: “The [ceasefire] auditor had originally been the idea of Trimble’s informal adviser in Washington, Michael McDowell, in consultation with his friends in the Alliance Party.”

It was Alliance and McDowell that pursued the setting up of the IMC. The UUP did not, contrary to Sir Reg’s statement, come up with the idea and did little of the ‘heavy lifting’ to get things in place.

The UUP was more concerned with the make-up of the Commission, and how it was going to keep the Irish Government from making any appointments to it. In addition, the UUP left it to Alliance to defend the IMC in relative isolation afterwards. Indeed, Trimble has criticised the IMC.

In my opinion, Sir Reg’s statement suggests a degree of desperation to be seen to be associated with something that is having an effect on the activities of paramilitary groups. It also appears to be a rather feeble attempt to get ‘one up’ on the DUP, whose attitude to the IMC has shifted remarkably from its ‘toothless tiger’ description of the body after its inception.

Credit (or criticism) where it’s due Sir Reg, eh?