'It's been a good year'

That’s the claim of the DUP’s deputy leader, Peter Robinson, in today’s Belfast Telegraph – a ‘good’ year for unionism that is.

No doubt many of our posters will find plenty to argue about in the article – party-political point-scoring does feature heavily – but I would like to draw your attention to what he has to say on the devolution of policing and justice powers –

On the issue of policing and justice we have won the argument and ensured that the powers will only be transferred when there is sufficient confidence in the community for this to happen. We hope that this can be achieved as soon as possible but we have won a double lock to make sure that it will not happen before people are satisfied.[my emphasis]

It’s not quite the triple-lock that I seem to recall was their originally stated objective, but it does represent a considerable obstacle to the resolution of the issue of policing here, given that Sinn Féin will not hold an Ard Heis to make that final endorsement of policing until those powers are devolved.

It’s an issue that was effectively sidelined in the ‘comprehensive’ agreement, despite the gloss that has been liberally applied to those proposals, and it remains the fundamental obstacle to progress.

  • Springvale

    Has Peter Robinson not read the deal then?

  • peteb


    Perhaps it would help if you pointed out which parts you believe he hasn’t read?

  • willowfield

    There must be a total end to decommissioning

    I thought the DUP wanted decommissioning to continue?

    This has been a good year for unionism. Before the Assembly election just over 12 months ago, unionism was in retreat and decline. Every time unionists entered negotiations they emerged in a weaker position with nothing to show for their efforts.

    Isn’t this what just happened??

    We have implemented our manifesto commitments, negotiated a new comprehensive agreement and, on the outstanding issue, republicans are on the back foot with three Governments and virtually every other political party in Northern Ireland ranged against them.

    How have the manifesto commitments been “implemented”? They have achieved none of them. As for a “new comprehensive agreement” does he think we are stupid?? How does a few amended lines in the GFA constitute “new” and “comprehensive”?

    On the issue of decommissioning we achieved what the Ulster Unionists never got remotely close to.

    The Ulster Unionists got two acts of decommissioning. The DUP has so far got none.

    In the talks process not only did the IRA sign up to decommissioning but they agreed that it should happen before the New Year. The IRA statement makes it clear that there would be no activity which would endanger the new agreement and the statement we agreed prohibited them from endangering anyone’s personal rights and safety.

    ??? So why has there been no decommissioning? The IRA didn’t agree to anything!

    It is clear from the response of the Ulster Unionist Party that we have succeeded where they singularly failed. They negotiated the Joint Declaration which paved the way for massive concessions to the IRA. What we were negotiating was the end of the IRA and we have also made very considerable advances for unionism.

    If they were negotiating the end of the IRA, they failed.

  • AndrewD

    Has this been a good year for Unionism or for the DUP….?

    It looks as if we are about to see Northern Ireland representation in the Irish Parliament and the DUP seem to dismiss it as a ‘talking shop’. I do think that this is a matter of concern for Unionism. One more step towards join authority.

    This is the party lead by Paisley and Robinson who damned the Anglo-Irish Agreement in the 1980’s. Unionists stood united against it and Unionist MP’s resigned their seats in the Commons in objection.

    With the recent review period and proposals things play into Sinn Fein/IRA hands – with more all-Ireland representation and co-operation.

    So wheres the ‘fair deal’….?

  • David Vance

    I go along with what andrewd says – one should not confuse what is best for a political party with what is best for a country! Peter’s article is – creative? Some lovely language couched in several shades of – constructive ambiguity maybe? Ouch!

  • Michael Shilliday

    Amdrew, for Unionists to resign their seats would be like Paisley trying to have a second general strike – a once only trick, in this case a trick that didn’t work the first time.

  • alex s

    David Vance hit the nail on the head, Paisley has confused what’s good for his party for what is good for the country, is Paisley Ulster’s Robert Mugabe only without the power?

  • AndrewD


    I just highlight the ‘feeling’ involved in their Politics of Unionism at the time of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

    It shows a strong sense of feeling and understanding of their Politics, one of ‘sticking by your principles’ and willing to do anything to protect and stand up for what you believe in.

    That seems almost non-existent these days.

  • D’Oracle

    Just to say that Willowfields 1.37 is dreadfully analytical ; just think , if others went about deconstructing meaningful political dialogue in this way where the hell would we be ?

    Very incisive though!

  • Donnie

    Yeah I thought it strange too that he wanted “an end to decommissioning”. Papa Doc certainly saw to that……

  • Moderate Unionist

    No matter what way Peter Robinson, tries to spin it. The DUP have made a massive U-turn.

    They are now pro-agreement.
    They did not deliver a new or a fair deal.
    They have not delivered decommissioning and the seem to have put a lot of store on delivering something that now seems undeliverable (Photographs of decommissioning). This is either poor negoitation or they have decided the don’t actually want a deal.

    I don’t have a problem with the fact that the DUP tried to negoitate a change to the GFA, but to try to spin that “this was a good year for Unionism” is simply not the case. They have been “Sinn- ered” just like everyone else.