'Visibility' and 'Humiliation'

While the blame game starts to unwrap itself from the previous avoid-the-blame game, it is, perhaps, worth looking back to see who exactly equated “visible decommissioning” with the H-word, that’s “Humiliation”. Step forward Sinn Féin Party Chairman, Mitchel McLaughlin, as reported on the BBC website on Saturday 23rd October

The interesting quote comes from the DUP’s Peter Robinson in response to that linkage –

“Mitchel McLaughlin’s remarks would appear to be indicative of someone who is attempting to develop an exit strategy from the process and who is only interested in disengaging from making the commitment that Sinn Fein/IRA know must be made.”

Hmmm… Given that, for some time, this has been the understanding of both parties of what was needed, and the view of SF of how they interpret visible decommissioning, the question is why was this left to the last minute – and allowed to derail the ‘deal’?

It looks like SF stonewalled on the visibility aspect, gambling on the DUP caving in under media and government pressure, with the tried and tested blame game as a fall-back position.

  • Gael P

    Yes – Noel Thompson seriously rattled SF’s Conor Murphy with this one last night.

    I am a nationalist and I find SF’s attempt to play the ‘poor Catholics will not be humiliated by Paisley’ line the most humiliating of the lot.

  • willowfield

    Did the Provos not want a deal, using visibility as an excuse, and hoping that the DUP would get blamed for asking for too much?

    Or did they genuinely think they would be damaged by allowing photographs to be published? If so, how? Surely not electorally?

  • Davros

    SF have made some bad mistakes recently on the PR and Media front. I don’t think they can cope with working in Europe, Westminster , NI AND the ROI at the same time. Foolish to try to keep pressure on using the Collusion families while negotiating IF they WERE serious about sorting this out , and really, really stupid to have Caoimhghn Ó Caoláin
    making a fuss about, of ALL things , An Post while the McCabe fiasco raged. Sending Conor Murphy to face Noel Thompson ? Come on, that was asking for trouble.

  • J Kelly

    Lets face up to the real question did Paisley want a deal. Of course he didn’t. He wants a victory. I have just listened to Alan mc Bride on talkback he has got it right Paisley has missed his big chance and a big chance for unionosm. Alan Mc Bride whose wife died in the Shankill Bomb also said that Paisley should wear sackcloth and ashes today for letting this deal slip.

    On another question what will Sinn Fein get at the next negotiations. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are playing a blinder getting something verytime.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    it’s a simple case of not surrendering to unionism’s demands. The IRA will decommission for the Irish people as a whole and not unionism in particular.

    Forget the photograph for the unionists as the sticking point, the IRA gesture when it comes (not if) will have to be something pretty substantial and final if Michael McDowell is to go to Garda McCabe’s widow to seal the deal. Make no mistake, this is more important than any poxy photo.

    The decommissioning move will happen within the next 18 months and will address the concerns of the Irish electorate. It should also address the genuine concerns of the British minority on this island as well.
    Whether Stormont finally gets up and going as a result? Who cares.

  • willowfield

    Did the Provos want a deal, George?

    If so, why did they reject the photo?

    Did the DUP want a deal? If so, why did they demand a photo?

    Can we conclude that neither party wanted a deal that badly? Both calculated that “no deal” would suit them just as much as a deal?

  • Davros

    Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are playing a blinder getting something verytime.

    Aye, right 🙂 They got their community less from the GFA than was obtained at Sunningdale. Remember that 🙂

  • DessertSpoon

    Who cares if Stormont gets up and running?

    I care.

    I want to be able to go to my poitical representatives and get answers and reasons for their decisions not be patronised by and talked down to by Direct Rule Ministers who could care less about Northern Ireland and know there is no consequence to their actions.

    I am digusted with our politicians today everyone of them should stand down and allow us to elect real politicians who want to do the work.

  • unionist_observer

    “Can we conclude that neither party wanted a deal that badly? Both calculated that “no deal” would suit them just as much as a deal?”

    I agree, neither party really wanted a deal, they are both far too obsessed with image and perception to put anything on the line.

    It interesting that the normally slick SF PR machine seems to be faltering at the min, if nothing else then fair play to the DUP for contributing to that and making SF look weak.

  • unionist_observer

    “The IRA will decommission for the Irish people as a whole and not unionism in particular”

    funny you should say that George, the majority of people north and south want peace and want the IRA and all the other paramilitaries to bugger off.

    NI and the republic of Ireland both told us that when they supported the Good Friday Agreement. The people of Ireland do want decommissioning and an end to violence.

  • pakman

    If 1998 tought us anything, surely no deal is better than a bad deal. So what if the bloated assembly with its’ unopposed executive never comes back?

  • Peter Brown

    Is the DUP position not that the two governments inserted the requirement for photos (perhaps at their request / insistence) and that as a result they are squeaky clean? It says something when a unionist Party outspins SF/IRA!

  • pakman

    Peter Brown

    nice to see the lawyers on line. Now where is davidbrew?

  • George

    Davros,
    Sunningdale never happened and nationalism got nothing. I seem to recall reading constitutional unionism pulling it down by allying with loyalist terrorists on the Ulster Workers’ Council.

  • Butterknife

    Its good to know the BBC etc. are now turning the spotlight on Dr No and his sabotage of earlier power-sharing attempts: e.g. Sunningdale Agreement etc and how his ‘Fire & Blood’ speeches has caused untold misery for thousands of our people and to the economy’s infrastructure as money had to be diverted to security.

    Maybe prosperty will make any agreement void as we learn that living in peace is better for everyone rather than hating each other. Also who do i see about stopping payment to our MLAs?

  • willowfield

    pakman

    If 1998 tought us anything, surely no deal is better than a bad deal. So what if the bloated assembly with its’ [sic] unopposed executive never comes back?

    No deal leaves us in Anglo-Irish Land. Drip-feed joint authority.

    No thanks.

  • Davros

    Good for The Tanaiste.
    Just saw her on the news talking about photos and humiliation.

  • Davros

    Sunningdale never happened and nationalism got nothing

    Strange comment. Nationalism got a form of power sharing.J Kelly claims that McGuinness and Adams have “got something every time” …. Bunkum. There was more for nationalism in Sunningdale. It’s a nonsense to claim that the campaign of slaughter by the IRA and dupicity by the Adams:McGuinness combination have got anything for nationalists. Anything that was got for nationalists was got by the SDLP.

  • Will

    “Just saw her on the news talking about photos and humiliation.”

    I agree Davros – photos isnt a DUP demand – its necessary for far more people than that. No doubt in shinner speak this is further humiliation being heaped upon their poor shoulders…life’s tough.

  • willowfield

    What happened to the “fair deal”, Will?

  • George

    Davros,
    not strange at all.

    There was nothing in Sunningdale for nationalists for the simple reason that it delivered nothing and unioinism never would have let it deliver anything and was willing to use any means, including terrorism, to cause its fall.

    What parts of the Sunningdale Agreement were implemented? What did nationalists get apart from a few extra bombs to blow scores of northern and southern Irish civilians into little pieces?

  • Congal Claen

    Surely any talk of “humiliation” on the part of the Ra pales into insignificance in comparison to the humiliation of justice on the release of the terrorist scum and how they were lauded by certain “political” parties.

    Photos then? If only! There was live video footage of the happy, gloating murderers beamed around the world.

  • Davros

    George – read some history. For a start the Sunningdale process delivered Integrated education.

    There WAS a brief period of power sharing. We can thank the SDLP for that and also for the brief period of Powersharing in the assembly, NOT Adams and McGuinness (SF/IRA) who wrecked the assembly.

  • Gael P

    Someone nip me, but I find myself agreeing with Congal Claen.

    How can Gerry talk one week about ‘understanding the sensitivities’ of the McCabe family and then collapse a deal because photos of decommissioning would ‘humiliate’ IRA Volunteers the next?

  • willowfield

    George – read some history. For a start the Sunningdale process delivered Integrated education.

    That wasn’t a gain for nationalists. Most nationalists don’t want integrated education.

  • J Kelly

    Davros

    We can thank the SDLP for what. Lets get real the SDLP are a spent force they will accept whatever they are offered and be doing with it.

  • declanp

    Good point Davros!
    There is no “better” deal or “fairer” deal. The most fair deal has already been made and approved by referenda.
    The SDLP designed GFA is the deal that Adams/Paisley will eventually agree to. Sinn Fein WILL agree on policing and the DUP WILL be forced to finally share power.
    These negotiations are the extremists justifying their pathetic squabbling to their mandate. Any changes will be cosmetic and designed to save face and allow both sides (as always) to declare a victory.
    The question is, will Paisley live to see the deal and how many people will die or be beaten while this pointless posturing continues?

  • George

    Willowfield,
    thank you.

    Davros,
    please show me where the Sunningdale Agreement mentions integrated education and which nationalist party demanded it as an essential requirement. I can’t find it anywhere.

    I also have to admit I have a strong regard for Congal Claen’s comment.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Hmmmm, Davros… Mentioning the SDLP and integrated education in such a way in the same post might give people the wrong impression that the SDLP ever did anything for integrated education.

  • Millie

    That fact is Paisley has the end of the IRA in the palm of his hand. Now with this demand for visual decommissioning he’s seriously taking the piss. It seems to have been plucked out of a hat at the last minute, and what does it matter who oversees the decommissioning of arms as long as they’re respected and have credibility? This is like those two Stormont ministers being driven round the Falls by the Army after the July 1970 curfew, the great white chiefs inspecting the bashing of the unruly natives… I mean next they’ll be asking for Adams & McGuinness to be nailed up on a cross overlooking Carson’s statue.

    The DUP’s lack of tact, subtlety and negotiation skills is now apparent, probably due to the fact they’ve never involved themselves in such niceties. Imagine if Sharon demanded that not only must Palestinian militants disarm but that Israelis would require a photograph of the whole thing, he’d be ridiculed by most international opinion.

    If this is the only stumbling block left then something can be worked out, but it’s about time Blair and Ahern grew a set of balls and told the DUP to get with the programme otherwise it’s joint rule for the lot of ya.

  • peteb

    It seems to have been plucked out of a hat at the last minute“, Millie?

    Try reading the original post.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    The sack cloth and ashes blunder by the DUP shows the mindset that has obviously been at work within the negotiations (from the unionist side). It seems in the DUP’s first outing as the principle negotiators for unionism that the occasion got a bit too much for them.

  • George

    Davros,
    any chance of letting me know what nationalists obtained from Sunningdale?
    I say nothing.

  • willowfield

    The point, I assume, is that Sunningdale offered nationalists more than the GFA. The fact that it collapsed does not alter the original point.

  • Millie

    ‘Try reading the original post.’

    Is 23 Oct way back in the annals of time or just a few months ago?

  • peteb

    Millie

    The issue of visible decommissioning has been an on-going problem for some time – it has not been pulled out of a hat at the last minute. The link between ‘humiliation’ and ‘visible decommissioning’ was made by Mitchel McLaughlin in Oct of this year – that’s the topic of the original post.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    That may be true but the post stated that nationalists obtained, which is the word used by Davros not “offered”, from the GFA than Sunningdale.

    Nationalists got nothing from Sunningdale. Even if this Stormont assembly never ever sees the light of day nationalists have already got more (not much) than under Sunningdale, where I repeat nationalism got nothing.

  • Millie

    Visible deccommissioning is a nonsense dreamt up by the DUP to please its backwoodsmen – of which there’s no shortage – and to distance themselves from the same path the UUP were on. The IRA are not saying they won’t decommission, they’re saying they won’t do so under Paisley’s terms. What peace process in the world has had similar conditions set upon it?

  • Moderate Unionist

    Not so Millie
    The IRA were given room to manoeuvre after the GFA. What they had to do was clearly understood, but it wasn’t spelt out. They didn’t make use of the opportunity. It is they who have created the need for it to be public and it is they who have made it a humiliation issue. Had they acted sooner, the issue would have been forgotten by now.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Mc Laughlin, being party to the negotiations was obviously aware of the mindset of the DUP. That mindset manifested itself in all its glory at Kells.

  • JD

    Okay, so let’s say that MM said that “photos” = “humiliation” (although I note that there is no direct quote in context at the BBC site). What has that to do with Paisley’s remarks about wanting to publicly humiliate the ‘RA?

    What Paisley said would seem to bear out what MM said. He *does* want to humiliate the ‘RA, and the photos were his method of choice.

  • Davros

    Davros

    We can thank the SDLP for what. Lets get real the SDLP are a spent force they will accept whatever they are offered and be doing with it.

    J Kelly- look at what you wrote 🙂 That the SDLP is mortally wounded now does not wipe out their past achievements.

    Gonzo – I was dealing with George’s rewrite of history. According to him nationalists got nothing from Sunningdale. They got the same as everybody else. They got Intregrated Education launched. They also got, thanks to Paddy Devlin, the Family Planning Bill extended to NI. There’s two examples.

  • Moderate Unionist

    I think it is unfortunate that people get into the emotive language and the humiliation game. However, the SF/IRA had the option of dealing with the issue much earlier.

    They were given room to maneouvre and several specific opportunities to deal with the issue in a manner that would avoid this issue.

    They did not take the opportunity before the last Assembly elections which is why there is a problem now.

  • George

    Integration and family planning Davros? Who is rewriting history here?
    Please tell me where either of these initiatives were mentioned in the Sunningdale Agreement? I can’t find them anywhere. I do find principle of consent, all-island bodies, devolution of policing etc.

    You’ll be telling me Ireland won the triple crown in 1985 because of the Anglo-Irish Agreement next.

  • Millie

    If anyone has actually bothered to read the GFA it does state that decommissioning is to take place in tandem with the progress of the institutions. As far as I remember the IRA had already made 3 acts of decommissioning and then the plug was pulled because of the spying fiasco. So if you take the GFA at its word then no institutions = no decommissioning.

  • George

    RTE News just pointed out that Paisley refused to shake Bertie Ahern’s hand in private and in public.

    That says it all to me. It is now obvious that the majority of unionism doesn’t even respect the mandate of the Irish people in the Irish Republic never mind the ones in their midst.

  • Davros

    George that’s being plain silly.

  • Moderate Unionist

    George
    Come on George, engage in constructive debate. 🙂

  • JD

    Can anyone explain *why* Paisley would refuse to shake Bertie’s hand? I’m genuinely interested.

  • George

    I believe this should be visible and is something people should know and I also think northerners who don’t watch RTE might be interested in seeing what parts are considered important down here.

    It certainly caught my attention and explains a lot to me about Paisley and the DUP and what level of respect they and their followers have for the Irish state.

    Why is it silly to point this out Davros. Were you aware of this? Moderate Unionist, maybe you could be constructive and explain why he refuses to shake Ahern’s hand.

  • Davros

    George, you can play your games with somebody else 🙂

  • Moderate Unionist

    George
    I don’t know whether he did or didn’t. I can say that he did go to Dublin to meet him. Perhaps, in a day of high tension and drama, it was just being cautious. I am sure that no personal slight was intended and I am surprised (aren’t you) that the DUP have moved as far as they have.

    Most people in Northern Ireland are dissappointed that things didn’t work out.

    I’m not saying things can be fixed before Christmas, but I do think that they will be at some time in the future (the sooner the better for me. The issues concerned are not trival. We cannot ignore them, we must and will resolve them.

    I

  • Davros

    M-U there has been progress made. The genie is out of the bottle. Neither side can “unmake” concessions that were made.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Davros
    Agreed and there is more to come.

  • Impractical Observer

    I’d like to know why Paisley wouldn’t shake Bertie’s hand too (assuming that’s true).
    The Doc doesn’t do such things by accident, so what’s the reason?

    On the other hand, I heard wee Jeffrey get all sniffy on Today FM tonight when Matt Cooper had the temerity to try and call him on not answering the question asked. “I know I’m a unionist” he said “try to show some courtesy”.
    Are the DUP deeply suspicious of all things southern, whether its warranted or not?

  • George

    Is it past your bedtime Davros? Too late to play 🙂

    Anyway, I was honestly amazed to hear this on the news so I just put it up here.

    Moderate Unionist
    I have the impression from the RTE piece that Ian Paisley has never shaken Bertie Ahern’s hand. Maybe some of the DUPers can explain why or otherwise.

    I agree it’s a step forward that Paisley admits Dublin exists consider 25% of his people’s export trade is with us but I should hardly congratulate the man for moving into the 18th century at a snail’s pace.

  • willowfield

    George

    Even if this Stormont assembly never ever sees the light of day nationalists have already got more (not much) than under Sunningdale, where I repeat nationalism got nothing.

    What have they got, then?

  • Moderate Unionist

    George
    There is a tendancy to point out people’s faults. Perhaps, we should try to “Catch somebody doing something right”. A positive response will engender a positive response (and no I don’t think the negatives should be ignored).

    All stick and no carrot just gives you a donkey that won’t move.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    as I said not much but better than nothing and more than one usually receives from the colonial master, who normally vetoes any progress or has one of his stooges do so.

    Here we go anyway:
    Repeal of Government of Ireland Act
    British recognition of Ireland’s right to self determination
    Recognised process for a democratic route to end partition (border poll every 7 years if necessary)
    small movement on policing
    A slight reduction in the baiting of Irish culture and language
    partial decommissioning
    A huge reduction in murders

    Apart from the last one, the rest are pretty pathetic I admit, especially when you consider how much the Irish Republic has changed economically and politically since 1998.

    It’s slightly disconcerting for me that supposed momentous occassions north of the border would merely be considered business as usual almost anywhere else in Europe.

  • Moderate Unionist

    All politics are local!

  • willowfield

    George

    Repeal of Government of Ireland Act

    And what’s so good about that? Most of it had been repealed already and the bad bit for nationalism (partition) remains!

    British recognition of Ireland’s right to self determination

    Um, that’ll be NI’s right to self-determination dressed up in green-tinged language! (And this was conceded in the Downing Street Declaration (1994?) anyway, so it wasn’t new.

    Recognised process for a democratic route to end partition (border poll every 7 years if necessary)

    That was effectively already the case.

    small movement on policing

    What does that mean?

    A slight reduction in the baiting of Irish culture and language

    What does that mean?

    partial decommissioning

    That’s of benefit to everyone, not just nationalists.

    A huge reduction in murders

    That’s of benefit to everyone, not just nationalists, and is a result of terrorist ceasefires, not the GFA.

    Apart from the last one, the rest are pretty pathetic I admit, especially when you consider how much the Irish Republic has changed economically and politically since 1998.

    !!

  • Davros

    Well Golly Gosh… “humiliation ” was only an excuse according to Tom Brady in The Irish Independent.

    IRA accused of failing to cut all links with violence

    “The disclosure of the key obstacles last night supported the indication given in the Dail earlier yesterday by Tanaiste Mary Harney that the decommissioning photographs were not the sole problem.
    Ms Harney was aware the IRA was being disingenuous in declaring it had signed up to everything except the photographs.
    She had been told in briefings given to government ministers that, up to the last minute in the talks, the republican negotiators had failed to sign up to several significant commitments, but as the talks were about to collapse claimed their problem lay with the photographs.
    In the briefings it was stated there was a huge question mark over “how serious the IRA were to end their grip of terror in parts of Belfast and in Border areas where very few community problems could be sorted out without the involvement of the Provisionals”.
    A statement drawn up by the two governments as representing the IRA leadership’s views in the event of a deal was based on ongoing dialogue between representatives of the two sides.
    However, in the final days of the talks it became clear the IRA was not going to sign off on the commitments despite the earlier indications.
    The Provisionals had been baulking for months at agreeing to the phrase in the draft statement about recognising the need to uphold and not to endanger anyone’s personal rights and safety.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    firstly, you asked what nationalists got from the GFA, not what nationalists, exclusively, got from it. One can’t always differentiate. Irish citizens, north and south, benefitted from this as did unionists.

    Believe it or not the overwhelming majority of Irish people accept partition. They may not like it and may feel it has retarded and will continue to retard the development and welfare of the people of this island but they are not willing to go to war over it. This doesn’t mean they won’t give up trying to end it though.

    All these people can do is to ensure there is a peaceful process through which they can work to try end partition. If the GFA has given these people anything it has given them that.

    Section 1(2) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 deals with the possibility of Northern ireland leaving the Union – recognised as a possibility in treaty since 1985, but put in legislative form for the first time. That fits in with the aspiration to unity in the Republic’s constitution.

    The repeal of the Government of Ireland Act officially ended the discredited Stormont regime, which helped too. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    It was not “effectively” the case that should a majority so wish, Britain would consent to Northern Ireland ceding to the Irish Republic. This only came about with the Northern Ireland Act.

    The Downing Street Declaration was just that, a declaration. In it the British government said it would introduce the necessary legislation, which came about through the GFA.

    As for your “what does that mean” on policing and the Irish language and culture, it means exactly what it says: small movement, slight reduction.

  • willowfield

    George

    All these people can do is to ensure there is a peaceful process through which they can work to try end partition. If the GFA has given these people anything it has given them that.

    There’s always been a “peaceful process”: it’s called democratic politics. The GFA didn’t change that.

    Section 1(2) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 deals with the possibility of Northern ireland leaving the Union – recognised as a possibility in treaty since 1985, but put in legislative form for the first time. That fits in with the aspiration to unity in the Republic’s constitution.

    What are you talking about? The option to vote for a united Ireland has been there – in legislation – since 1949!

    The repeal of the Government of Ireland Act officially ended the discredited Stormont regime, which helped too. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    What nonsense!! The “discredited Stormont regime” was abolished in 1973 – 25 years before the GFA!! Those provisions of the GOI Act were long gone!

    It was not “effectively” the case that should a majority so wish, Britain would consent to Northern Ireland ceding to the Irish Republic. This only came about with the Northern Ireland Act.

    Don’t be ridiculous!! That had been established since 1949, confirmed and restated in 1973 and 1985!

    The Downing Street Declaration was just that, a declaration. In it the British government said it would introduce the necessary legislation, which came about through the GFA.

    The waffly nonsense you quoted about self-determination in the GFA was merely a declaration too! The same as it was in 1993!

    As for your “what does that mean” on policing and the Irish language and culture, it means exactly what it says: small movement, slight reduction.

    What does “small movement” and “slight reduction” mean?

  • George

    Willowfield,

    “There’s always been a “peaceful process”: it’s called democratic politics. The GFA didn’t change that.”

    There hasn’t Willowfield. That’s just wishful thinking on your part. Before it there was the stupid constitutional claim on the Republic’s side and the NI is as British as Finchley on the British side. Now it’s up to North and South to decide together or separately. NI can now leave the union if it wishes.

    “Don’t be ridiculous!! That had been established since 1949, confirmed and restated in 1973 and 1985!”

    You are totally wrong Willowfield. Read the Northern Ireland Act 1998. It is there in black and white.

    “What nonsense!! The “discredited Stormont regime” was abolished in 1973 – 25 years before the GFA!! Those provisions of the GOI Act were long gone!”

    You are wrong again Willowfield. The Stormont Regime was created by the GOI act and could only be formally abolished by the repeal of this act which happened as part of the GFA.

    “The waffly nonsense you quoted about self-determination in the GFA was merely a declaration too! The same as it was in 1993!”

    YOu are wrong again Willowfield. I ask before you spout any more inaccuracies to actually read the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which gave the legislative form to previous declarations.

    “What does “small movement” and “slight reduction” mean”

    Small movement means limited progress, slight reduction means limited improvement.

  • Mike

    George –

    The old Stormont system was officially abolished by the Northern Ireland Constitution Act in 1973. This repealed large sections of the Government of Ireland Act.

    The 1973 Act also provided that the people of Northern Ireland would vote on the constitutional future of Northern Ireland (this right of consent had previously rested with the Northern Ireland Parliament, as laid down the in Ireland Act 1949).

  • Moderate Unionist

    George
    Perhaps you think you are being helpful going over all of the old ground.

    We cannot change the past, but the future is our hands.

    There were many hurts and we should not forget them. We should not attempt to rewrite history (nor let others attempt to do it). Those of us that live in Northern Ireland know the truth and yes it may be our personal truth, from our own perspective), but the past should be a guide not our master.

  • barnshee

    “I agree it’s a step forward that Paisley admits Dublin exists consider 25% of his people’s export trade is with us but I should hardly congratulate the man for moving into the 18th century at a snail’s pace”

    Again total lack understanding of the facts.
    The export trade to the ROI is largely hydrocarbon oil products (petrol, derv etc) a large percentage of which is smuggled back to the benefit of the ROI exchequer.

    Imports (legal that is) from ROI are largely DRINK related (Guinness,Harp and alcohol to mix with Bushmills and call it whiskey).

    The balance of trade is thus wholly in favour of the ROI. What possible loss would this trade be to N Ireland.

  • George

    Mike and Willofield,
    the NI Constitution Act of 1973 makes absolutely no provision for Northern Ireland joining a united Ireland, the NI Act 1998 does and states in black and white that should Northern Ireland vote to “cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland, the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament such proposals to give effect to that wish as may be agreed between Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland”.

    As for the repeal of the GOI Act, where is this to be found in the 1973 Act? There is no mention of the GOI Act. This only went after the GFA. If you can show me otherwise I’m all ears.

    Moderate Unionist,
    you learn from the past and it is of interest to me to know in what way the version of Irish history I learnt differs from others.

    Obviously there are quite a few differences. These differences need to be explained.

  • George

    Barnshee,
    I assume you can back up your claim that I don’t understand the facts because the facts from the CSO and HMCE certainly don’t back you up in your strange and quaint belief that NI mainly sells us petrol and we sell NI beer. You’ll be telling me there’s comely maidens at the crossroads next.

    Let’s instead look at the facts from 2001 on NI’s trade with the Irish Republic (it’s never easy getting up to date economic data on NI for some reason).

    All figures in per cent of total, first one imports from Irish Republic to NI, second one exports to Irish Republic:

    Food and live animals: 20.67 – 19.95
    beverages: 9.99 – 5.07
    Crude materials, except fuel: 3.10 – 2.77
    Mineral fuels: 6.91 – .67
    Animal and vegetable oils: 0 – 0
    Chemicals: 6.99 – 12.03
    Manufactured goods: 18.25 – 11.48
    Machinery, transport equipment: 16.96 – 23.48
    Miscellaneous: 9.68 – 11.25
    Commodities: .48 – .98
    Other: 6.98 – 12.31

    Looks like you were talking absolute tosh about the drink and fuel. Or are HMCE and the CSO wrong too?

    If you believe losing 25% of your manufacturers’ market won’t affect NI, you are in for a land.

  • Mike

    George –

    Unfortunately I don’t have access to the full text of the Constitution Act (currently I only have access to what’s on CAIN at http://www.cain.ulst.ac.uk/hmso/nica1973.htm – and this doesn’t include the ‘Repeals’ section unfortunately. However a search on google turned up this on the New Republican Forum which agrees with what I thought – http://www.newrepublicanforum.ie/Republican%20Resources/belfast%20agreement/documents/britsConstClaim.htm). Though the first title for Part V clearly shows the Act abolished the Northern Ireland Parliament. That was the official end of the ‘Stormont regime’.

    The 1973 legislation did provide for a border poll which asked if the people of NI wanted NI to remain within the United Kingdom or be joined with the Republic of Ireland. I don’t know if it committed the British government to introducing ‘united Ireland’ legislation in the event of a pro-UI vote, but I think that would be at least implied.

  • George

    Mike,
    thanks for the link, which sheds some light on this for me. It mentioned that the 1974 act was a temporary measure and was only superceded by the GFA. Maybe I am splitting hairs over official end and official legislative end as the act was only temporary.

    My understanding of the 1973 act is that it made no mention about what would be the next step only that there would be no change in status without consent.

    Reading them gives me the impression that the aim was more for recognition of NI’s existence.

  • willowfield

    George

    There hasn’t Willowfield.

    There has.

    That’s just wishful thinking on your part. Before it there was the stupid constitutional claim on the Republic’s side and the NI is as British as Finchley on the British side. Now it’s up to North and South to decide together or separately. NI can now leave the union if it wishes.

    Neither the constitutional claim, not people saying “British as Finchley” meant that peaceful politics were not possible. NI already had the legal right to leave the Union. It is outrageous, shocking and disgusting that you defend political violence. You should be ashamed.

    You are totally wrong Willowfield. Read the Northern Ireland Act 1998. It is there in black and white.

    Just because something is included in the NI Act doesn’t mean it wasn’t included in previous acts!!! I am not totally wrong. On the contrary: you are wrong.

    You are wrong again Willowfield.

    I’m not. On the contrary: I am right.

    The Stormont Regime was created by the GOI act and could only be formally abolished by the repeal of this act which happened as part of the GFA.

    Er, the provisions of the GOI Act which created the Stormont Parliament were abolished in 1973!!! You’re embarrassing yourself, George.

    YOu are wrong again Willowfield. I ask before you spout any more inaccuracies to actually read the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which gave the legislative form to previous declarations.

    I’m not wrong. On the contrary: I am right. NI’s ability to leave the Union was established in legislation in 1949, and again in 1973, George. You’re clueless! Do a bit of reading before embarrassing yourself again.

    Small movement means limited progress, slight reduction means limited improvement.

    Limited progress with what? Limited improvement in what?

  • JD

    Willowfield,

    Why don’t you tell us what you think the GFA has changed? Otherwise, your posts seem to imply that nothing has changed with the GFA.

  • George

    “Er, the provisions of the GOI Act which created the Stormont Parliament were abolished in 1973!!! You’re embarrassing yourself, George.”

    1998 Act Willowfield:

    “PART I: PRELIMINARY
    Section 1(1) deals with the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and enshrines the principle of consent of the “people” of Northern Ireland. This statement repeat and reenacts the Northern ireland Constitution Act 1973 s.1. However, section 1(2) deals with the possibility of Northern ireland leaving the Union – recognised as a possibility in treaty since 1985, but here in legislative form for the first time. Section 2 deals with the repeal of the Government of Ireland Act 1920; this has symbolic value as the 1920 Act set up the now discredited Stormont regime, but that regime has not existed since 1972.”

    So I was right when I said “the NI Constitution Act of 1973 makes absolutely no provision for Northern Ireland joining a united Ireland, the NI Act 1998 does and states in black and white that should Northern Ireland vote to “cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland”.

    I was pointing out that the GFA for the first time outlined in legislative form how a united Ireland would happen.

    The act explains the difference so less of the personal insults please Willowfield, even if you are wrongly convinced you are correct. They don’t do you any justice.

  • Moderate Unionist

    even if you are wrongly convinced you are correct. They don’t do you any justice.

    ZZZZzzzzzz….

  • willowfield

    JD

    Why don’t you tell us what you think the GFA has changed? Otherwise, your posts seem to imply that nothing has changed with the GFA.

    The main things off the top of my head would be:

    – Provisional republicanism signing up to partition.
    – Articles 2 and 3
    – Police reform
    – Early release scheme
    – Cross-border bodies
    – end to Anglo-Irish Agreement

    George

    So the 1998 Act said that NI could join the ROI. Wow. Totally meaningless. We knew it already, and if it were to happen it would require separate legislation, just as it did before.

    I was pointing out that the GFA for the first time outlined in legislative form how a united Ireland would happen.

    “In legislative form”? Wow. Big deal. What difference does it actually make? None.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    on Articles 2 and 3: put in legislative form what was already the case. What difference did changing articles 2 and 3 make to any Irish person? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Over 95% were in favour of getting rid of them. Yep, they really meant a lot alright!

    What part of the Anglo-Irish Agreement no longer exists today as I type Willowfield.

    What is the difference between the British-Irish Secretariat in Windsor House and the old Anglo-Irish one in Maryfield?

  • George

    Willowfield,
    Role of the British-Irish Secretariat as stated by the Irish government:

    “Under the terms of the British-Irish Agreement, the new Conference is supported by officials of the British and Irish Governments, including a standing Joint Secretariat of officials dealing with non-devolved Northern Ireland matters. This Secretariat will also work closely with Irish and British Government Departments in relation to the wider bilateral responsibilities of the new Conference.

    The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference will bring together the British and Irish Governments to promote bilateral co-operation at all levels on all matters of mutual interest within the competence of both Governments. An inaugural Summit level meeting of the Conference will take place on 17 December (1999).

    There will also be regular and frequent meetings of the Conference concerned with non-devolved Northern Ireland matters. Northern Ireland Ministers will be involved in meetings of the Conference concerned with non-devolved Northern Ireland matters.

    Co-operation within the framework of the Conference in this regard will include facilitation of co-operation in security matters. It will also address, in particular, the areas of rights, justice, prisons and policing in Northern Ireland (unless and until responsibility is devolved to a Northern Ireland Administration) and will intensify co-operation between the two Governments on the all-Ireland or cross-border aspects of these matters.”

    From what I can see this Secretariat is the same as the Maryfield one so long as there is no NI administration in place, addressing all issues.

    How does this coincide with your view the Anglo-Irish Agreement is gone?

  • willowfield

    George

    on Articles 2 and 3: put in legislative form what was already the case. What difference did changing articles 2 and 3 make to any Irish person? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Over 95% were in favour of getting rid of them. Yep, they really meant a lot alright!

    Are you trying to claim that Articles 2 and 3 weren’t changed as a result of the GFA? I don’t think that’s going to be a very profitable line of argument!!

    What is the difference between the British-Irish Secretariat in Windsor House and the old Anglo-Irish one in Maryfield?

    The old one had much greater scope.

    How does this coincide with your view the Anglo-Irish Agreement is gone?

    I didn’t say it was gone.

    I take it this new line of “argument” means you’ve conceded that the GFA changed f-all in respect of NI’s constitutional position and the old Stormont parliament!

  • George

    Willowfield,
    I’m saying that articles 2 and 3 had no meaning even before 1998. The referendum on changing it to aspiration was only putting legislative form on the reality.

    Articles 2 and 3 were replaced with consent in the Downing St. Declaration, the Anglo-Irish Agreement and even as far back as Sunningdale.
    The people of Ireland realised long ago that consent was the only way forward. Why else do you think there was a 95% vote to remove the articles?

    “The old one had much greater scope.”

    Please elaborate. As far as I see, without a functioning Assembly, there is no difference. Outline how the scope has been reduced.

    The GFA did what it was supposed to do for southern nationalism, set out in unambiguous terms how a united Ireland can be achieved in a constitutional manner. That’s all southern nationalism requires from this agreement.

    The Shinners who are actually living under British rule want more naturally.

  • willowfield

    George

    I’m saying that articles 2 and 3 had no meaning even before 1998.

    Your constitutional court thought different.

    Articles 2 and 3 were replaced with consent in the Downing St. Declaration, the Anglo-Irish Agreement and even as far back as Sunningdale.

    Your constitutional court thought different.

    Please elaborate. As far as I see, without a functioning Assembly, there is no difference. Outline how the scope has been reduced.

    It was reduced by removing devolved matters from its scope.

    The GFA did what it was supposed to do for southern nationalism, set out in unambiguous terms how a united Ireland can be achieved in a constitutional manner. That’s all southern nationalism requires from this agreement.

    Southern nationalism already knew that. Unambiguously.

  • George

    Our constitutional court Willowfield? What’s with the cryptic one-liners, it’s very hard to decypher what you are trying to say? What do you mean?

    This is what I think you mean. You mean the Supreme court and I thik you are wrong because it actually ruled that Articles 2 and 3 (as they stood before 1999) did not impose obligations upon the state that were enforceable in a court of law. In other words, not worth the paper they were written on.

    “It was reduced by removing devolved matters from its scope.”

    Devolved matters are only removed if there is a functioning Assembly. There isn’t so there is no difference at the moment.

    “Southern nationalism already knew that. Unambiguously.”

    It’s now in black and white. Explain why there has been a 900% increase in northerners taking up Irish citizenship if it hasn’t set out a clearer path.

  • willowfield

    Our constitutional court Willowfield? What’s with the cryptic one-liners, it’s very hard to decypher what you are trying to say? What do you mean?

    I’m assuming you are a Southerner, and hence the Southern Irish constitutional court is yours.

    This is what I think you mean. You mean the Supreme court and I thik you are wrong because it actually ruled that Articles 2 and 3 (as they stood before 1999) did not impose obligations upon the state that were enforceable in a court of law. In other words, not worth the paper they were written on.

    They said the Articles created a constitutional imperative.

    Devolved matters are only removed if there is a functioning Assembly. There isn’t so there is no difference at the moment.

    I know. Did someone claim otherwise?

    It’s now in black and white.

    It already was.

    Explain why there has been a 900% increase in northerners taking up Irish citizenship if it hasn’t set out a clearer path.

    I imagine it’s because it’s easier for them to do since the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2001 than before. Nothing to do with the principle of consent or NI’s constitutional position anyway: whether they are Southern citizens or not it won’t make an iota of difference to NI’s status – that will be determined by a free vote of the people.

  • George

    “They said the Articles created a constitutional imperative.”

    When did the Irish Supreme Court make this ruling Willowfield? I say you are wrong on this.

    The Supreme Court actually affirmed in consistent rulings that Article 2 created no rights or obligations that were actually enforceable in a court of law.

  • willowfield

    When did the Irish Supreme Court make this ruling Willowfield?

    1986.

    I note your concession on the other ridiculous point your were trying to make.

  • willowfield

    I say you are wrong on this.

    Are you sure about that?

  • George

    Interesting you mention the McGimpsey case appealing the Irish government’s acceptance of the principle of consent in the Anglo-Irish Agreement, saying was unconstitutional.

    Justice Finlay ruled there was no conflict but having read your link I now accept he did rule that there was a legal right.

    I do stand by the fact that Articles 2 and 3 were replaced with consent in the Downing St. Declaration, the Anglo-Irish Agreement and even as far back as Sunningdale.

    Link to his judgement if you are interested:

    http://www.uc3m.es/uc3m/inst/MGP/NCR/ireland215.htm

    What is the other concession?

  • George

    Willowfield,
    for clarity when I say “replaced” i mean as policy. The territorial claim was gone in all but name as far back as 1973 and replaced with consent.

    But you are right that the legal issue highlighted by the McGimpsey appeal in 1990 led to their eventual formal removal from the constitution.

  • willowfield

    What is the other concession?

    I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.

  • George

    You wrote:
    “I note your concession on the other ridiculous point your were trying to make.”

    What concession?

  • willowfield

    Claiming that people in NI taking up Southern citizenship meant that the GFA had changed NI’s constitutional position.

  • George

    I never claimed that and if I advertently managed to do so I retract it.

    I said that removing Articles 2 and 3 put in legislative form what was already the case. What difference did changing articles 2 and 3 make to any Irish person? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Over 95% were in favour of getting rid of them.

    The principle of consent was conceded as far back as 1973 in Sunningdale, while you say the principle of a united Ireland if the majority so wish was conceded at the same time.

    It seems to me that just as removing Articles 2 and 3 meant nothing to most Irish people as this had in fact long been conceded in place of consent, most unionists don’t care about the GFA stipulating that if a majority so wish a united Ireland will happen as this had long been conceded in consent.

    The GFA dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s in the constitutional issues on both sides.

    Unionism now believes its place in the union is more secure while nationalism now believes the path to unification is clear, albeit dependent on consent.

  • George

    I claimed that Irish people now see a path for a peaceful, democratic transition to a united Ireland and the increase in the numbers taking up Irish citizenship is evidence of things working in that direction.
    The increase in the “Simply British” ideology within unionism is evidence of unionism’s view of the path necessary to secure the union.

  • willowfield

    George

    I said that removing Articles 2 and 3 put in legislative form what was already the case. What difference did changing articles 2 and 3 make to any Irish person? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Over 95% were in favour of getting rid of them.

    I never claimed it made any changes to any Irish person.

    The principle of consent was conceded as far back as 1973 in Sunningdale, while you say the principle of a united Ireland if the majority so wish was conceded at the same time.

    That was conceded long before 1973!

    It seems to me that just as removing Articles 2 and 3 meant nothing to most Irish people as this had in fact long been conceded in place of consent, most unionists don’t care about the GFA stipulating that if a majority so wish a united Ireland will happen as this had long been conceded in consent.

    Who said they did? You were the one trying to make out that the GFA said something new on the matter!!! Now you seem to be arguing the opposite!

    I claimed that Irish people now see a path for a peaceful, democratic transition to a united Ireland and the increase in the numbers taking up Irish citizenship is evidence of things working in that direction.

    There always was such a path. If “Irish people” couldn’t see it, they were blind.

    As for NI people taking up Southern citizenship, that is no evidence of anything other than the greater ease of acquiring Southern citizenship.

  • George

    We’ll see Willowfield. If you believe having 300,000 Irish citizens within your borders as opposed to 30,000 just eight years ago, is all down to greater ease of acquiring Irish citizenship you are either naive or bury your head in the sand type.

  • willowfield

    What nonsense. One’s vote counts just the same whether one has acquired Southern citizenship or not. Everyone’s vote has equal value in a referendum.

  • willowfield

    I take it you now accept that the GFA changed sweet FA in respect of NI’s constitutional position.