A basis for democracy?

The Governments’ decision to present the DUP and SF with their proposals for a ‘deal’ is a tacit admission that those two parties, by themselves, cannot provide a way forward for the political process. And yet we are still facing a situation in which SF and the DUP are being placed in a position to decide just that. The headlines may say ‘NI parties hear plans for deal’, but the reality is that only two parties are being asked and those two parties represent less than 50% of the electorate.

Both parties blame each other and SF’s Gerry Adams has already launched his party’s campaign for an unconstitutional joint-authority to be imposed when, not if, no agreement is forthcoming. So forget about the BBC’s over-hyped ‘solution’ from yesterday – it won’t fly.

Just as the same exclusive SF-UUP dialogue last September, which was face-to-face, collapsed in the teeth of electoral considerations by those two parties, so will this.

And as we trudge towards more elections next year expect more of the same hype, demands, refusals and blame – déja vu all over again.

You know, there is more than one common link throughout this – see if you can spot them.

  • Keith M

    Surely the fact that the governments have chosen to give these proposals exclusivly to the DUP and SF/IRA and none of the other parties just acknowledges what we all know, that everyone else bar these 2 parties are bit part players. It is more than a tacit admission that those two parties, by themselves, CAN provide a way forward. Everyone knows that the SDLP have become a party of nodding donkeys who won’t stand in the way of any deal which SF/IRA signs up to. Likewise the all but irrelevant UUP and the DUP.

    As for representing a majority of the electorate, between them the DUP and SF/IRA have 57 of the 108 MLAs, 10 of the 18 MPs and 2 of the 3 MEPs. That’s a majority by my calculation. I’d like to welcome the “slow learners”(copyright Seamus Mallon) to the new reality, one year on from the election!

  • Moderate Unionist

    Keith M
    The DUP have won recent elections on the basis that they can deliver an entirely new agreement.

    The electorate will be keen to see what the DUP have made of their opportunity. Will it be fundamental change, a few administrative tweaks, or no deal? This is the basis upon which the DUP will be judged.

    I think that your attitude demonstrates over confidence, bordering on arrogance and IMHO you don’t understand the dynamics of a democratic society.

  • Keith M

    MU “The DUP have won recent elections on the basis that they can deliver an entirely new agreement.”. Actually they stated that they would work for was a “FAIR deal”. Nowhere have they said that it would be an “entirely new”. Why throw away the good parts of the Belast Agreement, that would simply be throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

    The essential elements of a fairer deal for me are that there must be a direct link between the ending of the terrorist threat and the parties linked to the terrorists achiving positions of power. SF/IRA have been using their terrorist arsenal in the past 10 years since the first “ceasefire” to gain political concessions. This must stop any proposal must be explicit on this.

    Also the whole area of accountability must be addressed. Mmembers of the executive must no longer treat their ministries as some kind of private fifedom. This is clearly unfair.

    Personally I think that one of the cornerstones of the 1998 Areement needs to be removed. Designation only serves to entrench the divisions in N.I. politics and makes those trying to find a less tribal road to the future all but irrelevant.

    I will judge any new agreement based on these three things.

  • peteb

    Keith

    The thread isn’t about the nature of any ‘deal’, there’s more than enough threads covering that already, rather it’s about how that ‘deal’ is (or isn’t) arrived at.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Keith M
    Doesn’t appear to be that different to the UUP’s position. What was all the fuss about?

  • Keith M

    peteb, I’m fully aware of what the thread is about. Read my firsat response. My second posting was in resonpse to “Moderate Unionist” who questioned the nature of the DUP mandate and the form of the new Agreement. Considering how off-topic some thread get, I think this is pedantry of the highest order!

  • Keith M

    MU “Doesn’t appear to be that different to the UUP’s position. What was all the fuss about?”.

    The difference between an agreement that might works and one that didn’t.

  • Moderate Unionist

    OK, Let’s see if we get a truly workable agreement where politicians of all persuasions work together and recognising that some tough decisions lie ahead, support one another instead of this interminable bickering at tax payers expense.

    It’s not about procedure, it’s about intent. It’s not about decommissioning it’s about trust, and it’s not about the past, it’s about the future.

  • willowfield

    Actually they stated that they would work for was a “FAIR deal”. Nowhere have they said that it would be an “entirely new”. Why throw away the good parts of the Belast Agreement, that would simply be throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

    I wonder how many voters thought that the DUP considered early release prisoners, police reform, cross-border bodies, devolution of policing and justice, etc., to be not only “fair”, but among the “good parts of the Belfast Agreement”.

    DUP rhetoric during the previous 6 years would have led most to believe otherwise!

    What a swizz!

  • Keith M

    willowfield “I wonder how many voters thought that the DUP considered early release prisoners, police reform, cross-border bodies, devolution of policing and justice, etc., to be not only “fair”, but among the “good parts of the Belfast Agreement”.

    You should read the DUP manifestos. They never promised to undo these elements of the 1998 Agrement. Politics is after all the “art of the possible”. Every party which signs up to the new agreement will have to live with elements of what went before. I doubt that SF supporters are going to demand another referendum to re-establish the old articles 2+3. It would only be a “sizz” if the DUP promised to do these things and then signed up to a new agreement with these elements still intact.

  • Doreen

    Well, the good old chestnut: what do we mean by the word “democracy”?. At least the two parties have a the support of a majority of the people between them, which Mr Bush has and most if not all of our Prime Ministers can only dream about.

    A cross-community majority here: this is as good as it is going to get.

    Sinn Fein: give up all the weapons and explosives. DUP: seal the deal.

    Doreen.

  • peteb

    Doreen

    If you look at the link in the original post to the voting percentages for the 2003 Assembly Elections (since that is the devolved governemnt we are discussing), rather than other election results, you’ll see that the two parties concerned do not represent the majority of the people.

  • willowfield

    Keith M

    You should read the DUP manifestos. They never promised to undo these elements of the 1998 Agrement.

    Why not? Having denounced them, surely it is hypocritical to then agree to them? The DUP opposed these elements vehemently.

    Politics is after all the “art of the possible”.

    Exactly. And an Agreement was only possible with the inclusion of these elements. Hypocritical of the DUP, then, to denounce the Agreement and then accept it once they overtook the UUP.

    Every party which signs up to the new agreement will have to live with elements of what went before.

    Exactly. Hypocritical of the DUP to sign up to an Agreement that they previously opposed.

    I doubt that SF supporters are going to demand another referendum to re-establish the old articles 2+3.

    Er, why would they? They accepted those provisions.

    It would only be a “sizz” if the DUP promised to do these things and then signed up to a new agreement with these elements still intact.

    They promised a new Agreement. They’re going to sign up to the old one with a couple of amendments. Hypocrites.

  • Davros

    Hypocrites

    That’s politics.

  • DessertSpoon

    I don’t submit much but I do like to read all the comments. It makes me happy to know that there are people out there who just want to have a nice normal life and have politicians who can deal with day to day issues and get on with running the place. However it makes me sad to see that the pointless bickering and tribalism of Ulster politics always manages to surface and engulf the discussion. Which ever poitical party you support don’t you think that it’s time to put up or shut up, do the deal and stop using future elections as an excuse not to? There are always elections on the horizon it’s getting tired and old.

  • willowfield

    Of course.

    Unfortunately people mostly voted for the two most awkward parties.