DUP backing for North South bodies

Andrew Charles argues in a letter to the editor of the Newsletter that the DUP has in priniciple agreed to arrangements it was previously inveterately opposed to – in particularly their willingness (albeit pending visible IRA decommissioning) to guarantee the future stability of the North South bodies.

  • willowfield

    Mr Charles makes some good points, echoing those which many of us have been making all along.

  • Christopher Stalford

    Constructive, accountable and non-obtrusive North-South Co-operation makes perfect sense. That is exactly what is contained in the Comprehensive Agreement. It is a vast improvement on Belfast Agreement-style North-Southery which was neither accountable nor of mutual benefit to both countries.

  • George

    Cristopher,
    would you be so kind as to tell me what you consider is the difference between the North-South structures the DUP are signing up to and the ones proposed in the GFA?

  • Michael Shilliday

    Peter likes them so Chris has to like them. Big big difference.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Remind me again, who was it said,’we say never, never, never.’ Has it now been amended to,’well ok then’.

  • willowfield

    Funny, I don’t seem to recall the DUP saying they supported cross-border bodies in the past. I seem to recall their opposition to them at the time of the Belfast Agreement.

    Now it seems they are OK!

  • Keith M

    I’m really unsure if the Trimble clique who continue to re-arrange the deckchairs Cunningham House have actually bothered to read the goverments’ new deal? Last week we had the red herring of Ulster MPs in the Dail and this week we have this nonsense. By making the executive accountable to the assembly there is now no chance of any minister going on a solo run on crosss-border bodies. Why do you think SF/IRA were so against this part of the new agreement?

    “Never, never never” comes from an era when cross border bodies were to have executive powers. Any new bodies would be accountable to the assembly (and the Dail). Now if it isn’t too much to ask could the clique start aiming their fire at those in SF/IRA who are holding up progress on the new deal (one which Trimble has already said he’s in favour of)?

  • Michael Shilliday

    the goverments’ new deal?

    Sorry, gotta stop you there, no new deal, we’re still on the old one.

  • AndrewD

    The North-South Bodies previously played no more than a Consultative role on policy for the benefit of both countries.

    Both sides had to agree on ideas and effectively there was a veto as neither Leglislative body had to take on board what was discussed or agreed.

    It was no more than a talking shop.

    Now Executive ministers have to attend meetings and if they can’t they have to send someone else on their behalf, unlike before. The DUP therefore where able to boycotted it.

    The DUP have now formalised the previous bodies and signed up to the idea of N/S Co-operation – something they previously didn’t accept, before 2001 anyway. They have also effectively expanded all-Ireland co-operation.

    The DUP set out in their NSEW Booklet to get greater emphasis on co-operation between the U.K. and the R.O.I. with the relevant bodies – N/S & E/W – this I have yet to see.

    What have the DUP done to promote and defend Unionism with their concessions on the issue of N & S?

    Some will say accountability, but I think that this is an excuse the DUP is feeding to their voters for their advance and agreement on the N/S bodies. Accountability is good – yes, but was it relevant to what was setup previously when decisions didn’t have to be accepted by either country.? And minutes where taken at the meetings anyway.

  • D’Oracle

    The DUP have to endorse these bodies; otherwidse there will definitely be no deal, so… why not try to make a virtue of this necessity eh?

    Tell you what though, their PR IQ is really developing isnt it !

  • Alan2

    Was it not the unaccountability of the North / South bodies that the DUP was opposed to?

    The deal that almost was had secured agreement that the North / South bodies be held accountable to the Assembly.

    Seems quite fair to me.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    I think it would be a good idea for the North South bodies to be held to account by committees of the Dáil and the Assembly. And if the DUP want to do that, then more power to them.

    The north south bodies are as unaccountable a coterie of quangoes as ever drew money from the public purse, IMHO.

    One fact which came to light in the furore over the Ulster Scots Agency audit was that neither language body, the US Agency or Foras na Gaeilge, published accounts since their establishment in 1999. How much money has either disbursed in that time? Are the public gettting value for money? Is too much being spent on admin, on increasing bureaucracy rather than getting money to the ground where it’s needed? Have these bodies plans to carry out the jobs which they have been entrusted – have they short, mid and long term goals and how are they achieving them? They don’t answer questions from the media on these topics, maintaining a veil of confidentiality, but they would be obliged to answer questions from the likes of Sammy Wilson.

    I look forward to the day when I see Seosamh Mac Donncha, chief executive of Foras na Gaeilge, in the hot seat as he’s questioned by the likes of Nigel Dodds or Sammy Wilson.

  • Alan2

    I also seem to recall that the deal that almost was also expanded on the “Council of the Isles”. Any “All-Ireland” parliament is surely offset by this since it could also be described as an embryo federal British Isles!!!

  • willowfield

    Keith M

    By making the executive accountable to the assembly there is now no chance of any minister going on a solo run on crosss-border bodies.

    But the DUP was opposed to cross-border bodies per se! Now they’ve signed up to them!

    D’Oracle

    The DUP have to endorse these bodies; otherwidse there will definitely be no deal

    Exactly. The price of their “new deal” (a few changes to the mechanics in the Assembly) is endorsing all the elements of the GFA which they previously opposed, including cross-border bodies, prisoner releases, police reform, Gaelic language promotion, human rights commission, civic forum, etc.

  • Alan2

    But the DUP was opposed to cross-border bodies per se! Now they’ve signed up to them!

    On the first count I would say you are wrong. I seem to recall them being against them because they were unaccountable. Completely different.

    Secondly – nowbody has signed up to anything.
    I also seem to recall the DUP mentioning it would be consulting it`s grass roots before endorsing anything.

    I think “significant progress has been made but more needs to be done” was where things left off……..

  • AndrewD

    But was the North-South Bodies issue not what made the Belfast Agreement a green document for the DUP?

    They where orginally opposed to ‘all-Ireland co-operation’, they have now signed up to them and made advances.

  • unionist_observer

    Yes Alan, I seem to remember Paisley shrieking on about treachery and how the north-south bodies were the first step on the road to Dublin. Now it seems Paisley is endorsing not only north-south bodies but also NI representatives in the Dail. And anyway, the previous North-South bodies did not have much power, the extent of their power was over common fishing areas and other agricultural things.

    I think all this Ulster-Scots mumbo-jumbo is clouding your brain Alan.

  • willowfield

    Alan

    On the first count I would say you are wrong. I seem to recall them being against them because they were unaccountable. Completely different.

    No. They were against them per se. (And the bodies weren’t unaccountable.)

    Secondly – nowbody [sic] has signed up to anything. I also seem to recall the DUP mentioning it would be consulting it`s grass roots before endorsing anything.

    The DUP leadership signed up.

  • Alan2

    “and how the north-south bodies were the first step on the road to Dublin.”

    That seems to be the UUP line at the minute…
    I would also say that Tony Blair and everyone else would not countenance the abolition of the North / South bodies now that they have been established. Nor do I think the DUP or the UUP will beable to stop the disbandment / normalisation of the RIR in the coming months, or the releae of the murderers of Garda McCabe or stop speaking rights in the Dail (which proposed along time before now) as they are completely beyond the power and / or jurisdiction of any Northern Party or Assembly unless you are advocating boycotting a deal / Assembly ocer such issues.

    There is also of course the very real fact that the murderers of Garda McCabe and speaking rights in the Dail and the normalisation of the RIR will be implemented in the absence of any deal showing quite clealry that such matters are not part of any deal and are entirely matters which Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern etc can and will implement regardless.

  • unionist_observer

    Well, Alan the UUP can’t stop anything because they are not in power at the min. It is up to the DUP at the moment, they have the responsibility of doing stuff rather than protesting. If this deal falls though it is the DUPs fault NOT the UUPs fault.

    “There is also of course the very real fact that the murderers of Garda McCabe and speaking rights in the Dail and the normalisation of the RIR will be implemented in the absence of any deal”

    Yes, so isn’t that incentive enough to get a deal? Those three things you mentioned are concessions to the republican community, none of that is designed to make unionists feel secure. What does that tell you? Are the DUP simply not asserting the unionist case in the recent negotiations? Why are all the concessions going to republicans?

  • willowfield

    Alan2

    I would also say that Tony Blair and everyone else would not countenance the abolition of the North / South bodies now that they have been established.

    But the DUP told us they were brilliant negotiators and they were going to “bury” the GFA and negotiate a “new” agreement! Now you’re saying that wasn’t possible … which is what the UUP said all along! The DUP lied.

    Nor do I think the DUP or the UUP will beable to stop the disbandment / normalisation of the RIR in the coming months, or the releae of the murderers of Garda McCabe or stop speaking rights in the Dail (which proposed along time before now) as they are completely beyond the power and / or jurisdiction of any Northern Party or Assembly unless you are advocating boycotting a deal / Assembly ocer such issues.

    So too were prisoner releases and police reform, yet the DUP blamed the UUP for those!!

    You can’t have it both ways.

    There is also of course the very real fact that the murderers of Garda McCabe and speaking rights in the Dail and the normalisation of the RIR will be implemented in the absence of any deal showing quite clealry that such matters are not part of any deal and are entirely matters which Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern etc can and will implement regardless.

    Makes it even worse. The concessions resulted from the negotiations in which the DUP took part, and they’re going ahead even despite the failure of those negotiations.

    But anyway, the DUP was prepared to sign up to the deal, including these concessions. Therefore they must accept them.

  • Alan2

    “Yes, so isn’t that incentive enough to get a deal?”

    Erm No. It is going to happen anyway. TB would be rid of Northern Ireland tomorrow if he thought nobody was looking.

    “Are the DUP simply not asserting the unionist case in the recent negotiations?”

    All institutions and ministers now accountable to the assembly, a British Isles dimension to the deal bringing together the various Parliaments and presumably decommisioning are hardly nothing if it had went through.

    Speaking rights in the Dail. what are you going to do about it? Not work a deal? Kidnap Northern MP`s so they cannot attend?
    Persoanlly I think the likes of Peter Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson going down to the Dail to put across the Unionist position would be great, just like Peter Robinson addressed Dublin Business leaders. Nothing to be scared of in going to the Republic. Good neighbours should work closely together for the prosperity of everyone.

    “Why are all the concessions going to republicans?”

    Because violence pays or at least the threat of it……or so it seems

  • AndrewD

    “There is also of course the very real fact that the murderers of Garda McCabe and speaking rights in the Dail and the normalisation of the RIR will be implemented in the absence of any deal showing quite clealry that such matters are not part of any deal and are entirely matters which Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern etc can and will implement regardless.”

    The DUP leadership has blamed these recent concessions happening under them on the UUP.

    How can the release of Jerry McCabes murderers and the speaking rights issue be the fault of the UUP, if they were also side deals between Sinn Fein and the Irish Government?

    I don’t hear the DUP displaying their opposition in public to the Speaking rights issue. If it was nothing to do with them why aren’t they opposing it? Do they agree to it?

  • Alan2

    Dup ‘Not Part Of IRA Killers’ Deal’
    By Billy Kennedy

    Friday 24th December 2004

    Prime Minister Tony Blair has confirmed that any proposal by the Irish government on the release of the four IRA killers of Garda detective Jerry McCabe as part of a political deal originated before any negotiations with the DUP.

    Mr Blair, in a letter to DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley, also revealed that conditional elements of the Joint Declaration , in particular legislation to address prisoner “on-the runs” and the security normalisation programme were concluded in 2003 and did not form part of any negotiations in which the DUP participated.

    The Prime Minister told Mr Paisley: “You have also raised commitments made by the Irish government, on which there has been much press speculation, such as the possible release of those involved in the murder of Garda Jerry McCabe and the issue of participation in committees of the Dail by MPs from Northern Ireland.

    “While they are obviously matters for the Irish government, I understand that they also originated before any negotiations with the DUP began.

    “These have formed no part of the discussions in which you and your party have participated. I hope this clarifies this matter to your satisfaction.”

    The DUP leader said the letter from the Prime Minister set the record straight.

    “During negotiations the DUP has accumulated numerous papers and unlike the Ulster Unionist Party we have sought and received detailed clarification on a range of issues throughout the current process. The DUP leader said senior UUP politician Sir Reg Empey accused his party of advancing an all-Ireland agenda “when he knew full well the record of the Ulster Unionist negotiators and the conveyor belt of concessions they had conceded to republicans”.

    Mr Paisley added: “The DUP has achieved more for unionism in a single year than the UUP managed in a generation.

    “Sir Reg criticises us for matters which are not in the comprehensive agreement and which the UUP conceded in the Belfast Agreement and at the time they acquiesced in the Joint Declaration. Reg was so asleep at the wheel that he didn’t even know that all the issues he now complains about were conceded on his watch.”

    Mr Paisley claimed that where UUP got token decommissioning with no timetable or commitment to complete, the DUP achieved agreement to decommission all of the IRA weaponry before any institutions were established.

    “Where the UUP achieved no transparency on the process whatsoever, we achieved agreement on witnesses and continue to work on the visible aspect.

    “On policing, they signed up to a process which abolished the RUC, and were going to give undertakings on all-Ireland policing arrangements, we ensured that the DUP would have a veto on when policing powers would be devolved.

    “Whereas they sat in Government whilst IRA activity of all kinds continued, we will not accept any paramilitary, terrorist or other illegal activity and require a period of time to test the bona fides of the IRA.”

    b.kennedy@newsletter.co.uk

  • unionist_observer

    You don’t seriously expect us to be convinced by Billy Kennedy of the newsletter? He is nothing but a DUP mouthpiece.

  • AndrewD

    Thats an example of how the DUP say they accept all of the above. Then blame someone else for it.

    If they where the tough negotiators that they made themselves out to be they would be fighting against it.

    Its easy to accept failure by blaming others for your mistakes.

  • willowfield

    ALan2

    Speaking rights in the Dail. what are you going to do about it? Not work a deal? Kidnap Northern MP`s so they cannot attend?

    Make it a condition of a deal that this is not permitted.

    Persoanlly I think the likes of Peter Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson going down to the Dail to put across the Unionist position would be great, just like Peter Robinson addressed Dublin Business leaders. Nothing to be scared of in going to the Republic. Good neighbours should work closely together for the prosperity of everyone.

    There’s a difference between “going to the Republic” and being “good neighbours” and permitting the sovereign parliament of ROI to become a de facto all-Ireland parliament, with automatic rights of attendance of MPs elected in NI!! It is UNBELIEVABLE that the DUP is signing up to this.

    Because violence pays or at least the threat of it……or so it seems

    Funny how the DUP was never so sanguine when Trimble was in charge! Hypocrites.

  • Alan2

    “Make it a condition of a deal that this is not permitted.”

    LOL. And what are suggesting is done in the absence of a deal when they go ahaed and do it anyhow? Smell the coffee and get with reality. This is 2004 not 1690. Time the UUP realised that.
    If people in the North want to go to the Dail and speak there is absolutely nothing ANYBODY can do about it.

  • willowfield

    Alan2

    LOL. And what are suggesting is done in the absence of a deal when they go ahaed and do it anyhow?

    Hmmm, why weren’t the DUP so understanding about side-deals when Trimble was in charge?? Hypocrites!

    The DUP signed up to a deal that INCLUDED these side-deals between the Provos and the Southern government. Only thing is, the deal failed and the side-deals are going ahead anyway.

    If people in the North want to go to the Dail and speak there is absolutely nothing ANYBODY can do about it.

    The DUP could have insisted in the negotiations that any such expansion of the north/south dimension not be allowed. They shold have made it clear up front in the negotiations.

    After all, they told us they were brilliant negotiators. Were they lying?

  • Alan2

    An All-Ireland Parliament would I presume have ALL-Ireland powers – speaking rights in the Dail clearly is not the same and as stated by Tony Blair was not part of any recent negotiations. If Sinn Fein want to negotiate speaking rights in the Dail with the government of the Irish Republic nobody can really stop them.

    If people are automatically entitled to citizenship of the Irish Republic by being born ANYWHERE on the island of Ireland then they surely have the right to representation of the government of said citizens.

    Thats the way it is. You can only work with what you have got.

  • AndrewD

    “Smell the coffee and get with reality. This is 2004 not 1690. Time the UUP realised that.”

    LOL!

    2 years ago or more it would have been the UUP saying that to the DUP!

    What hypocrites the DUP are!

    “If people in the North want to go to the Dail and speak there is absolutely nothing ANYBODY can do about it.”

    Alan, did you jump ship from the SDLP or somewhere?

    You do know that Ulster Unionism stands for the retaining of the link between Belfast and London!?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    How exactly does this proposal erode the link between London and Belfast?

    Is this ‘thin end of the wedge’ argument not just another manifestation of unionist insecurity?

  • willowfield

    Gonzo

    Surely you can see the significance of the parliament of a state that covets its neighbours territory opening itself up to elected representatives of that territory?

    It is an irredentist step, and one that undermines – even if only in a small way – NI’s place within the UK.

  • Alan2

    I`m a free radical Ulsterman.
    An independent Northern Ireland with a power-sharing Assembly within some sort of loose federal Isles would be my solution.

    “The DUP signed up to a deal that INCLUDED these side-deals between the Provos and the Southern government. Only thing is, the deal failed and the side-deals are going ahead anyway.”

    Willowfield – Is Tony Blair a liar then?
    These side deals have been on the cards since the signing of the GFA and shows the inherent weakness of the Unionist hand in not actually being part of the UK government.
    These side deals will go ahead no matter who is negotiating. The primacy therefore is stregthening and securing things that Unionists want ie accountability, East-West ties as well as the North-South ones, Ulster-Scots Agency etc.

    “The DUP could have insisted in the negotiations that any such expansion of the north/south dimension not be allowed. They shold have made it clear up front in the negotiations.”

    LOL I find that hilarious. It is not an expansion of North / South institutions. It is elected Westminster MP`s addressing elected Dail TD`s rather like in the British-Irish council I would presume with no voting rights.

  • Alan2

    “Surely you can see the significance of the parliament of a state that covets its neighbours territory opening itself up to elected representatives of that territory?”

    Irish citizenship, All-Ireland Rugby team, All-Ireland Gaelic Games, North-South bodies, various ALL-Ireland sports teams

    The simple fact is that there are two communites The GFA recognised that and it is time everybody else did too. That is not to say that the GFA doesnt need changing because it does.

  • davidbrew

    “You don’t seriously expect us to be convinced by Billy Kennedy of the newsletter? He is nothing but a DUP mouthpiece” says Rebecca

    has anyone told his brothers Danny (MLA) and Gary, the bedwettingly pro-Agreement UUC delegate?. Perhaps Billy’s problem is that he’s an objective journalist, not a fawning Trimbleite.

    Willow- get a grip. The right to speak in the Dail twice a year is no more an embryo parliament than the British Irish parliamentary committee-or indeed the New Ireland Forum enthusiastically attended by …er Michael McGimski UUP, one of the current main critics of this plan. The louder you squeak about this the more we all see through you. Nobody in the UUP was bothered about this two years ago. It does not open up the Dail to northern representatives because they can not
    a) vote;
    b) form part of the government or opposition;
    c) propose, amend or scrutinise legislation;
    d) initiate debates-or indeed participate in them more than twice a year.

    Ye gods, even the Civic Forum is a greater threat to the Union than this. (That’s the Civic Forum that Trimble forgot to nix on Good Friday during his brilliant negotiating by the way- one among many dropped catches, others which even Frank Millar’s damage limitation job has been forced to reveal- funny how you aren’t in the slightest bothered by a party which claims to have nominated a representative to the Patten Commission who denies he was ever told he was supposed to be the UUP point man, and who was never once approached to fulfil that role, as the police were shafted). if you’re so opposed to hypocrisy , don’t go near any mirrors till you’ve calmed down a bit

  • Will

    Unionist_Observer / Rebecca Black
    “You don’t seriously expect us to be convinced by Billy Kennedy of the newsletter? He is nothing but a DUP mouthpiece.”

    Would this be the same Billy (Danny Kennedy, UUP MLA’s brother) Kennedy per chance? Hardly what I would describe as a ‘DUP mouthpiece’!

  • Will

    Also, with all the UUP supporters getting up in arms about the huge DUP threat to the union, what are your views on:

    1) former Fianna Fail appointed Irish Senator, now a UUP Peer in the House of Lords.
    &
    2) former UUP Councillor now acting as an official advisor to the Irish President.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    the people of the Irish Republic don’t covet Northern Ireland, they aspire to a united island nation which guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens.

    Alan is right when he says speaking rights in the Dail doesn’t weaken the union. If anything it’s the paranoia evident in your posts that are a greater threat because it makes unionism appear irrational to your average British punter, the ones keeping NI going with their hard-earned cash.

    There are 300,000 Irish citizens over the border now and they are entitled to at least let their fellow citizens know what their views are. There is no executive power so what’s the problem.

    That you would feel they should be prevented from such contact with their fellow citizens on the grounds that it will weaken your link with the Westminster parliament is ridiculuous and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    There has been a 700% + increase in the number Irish passport holders in NI in the last 6 years without any North-South bodies or Dail speaking rights. Once again, Alan is right, these contacts will grow regardless of what unionists do.

    The only way they can stop it is by intimidating the Irish minority into believing they will be in mortal danger if they continue to build links with the rest of the island.

    If that happens well we’re back down a horrible road.

  • Christopher Stalford

    I had an interesting conversation today with someone who could be described as a “senior Ulster Unionist”. This person would be fairly Pro-Trimble and has backed him down the line. He was expressing his complete exhasperation with the fawning, unquestioning devotion of some people in the new YU’s to Trimble. To the point that all logic flies out the window, was the phrase he used.

    That Rebecca Black should even attempt to describe Billy Kennedy as a “DUP mouth piece”, because he happened to report a statement made by Ian Paisley shows exactly what this person was talking about. Of course the Ulster Unionist contingent on here preferred the News Letter when Geoff Martin was running it into the ground and alienating 2/3rds of the potential readership.

    Billy Kennedy, Danny’s brother and Jim Nicholson’s best mate, a DUP mouth piece I don’t think…

    Really Ms. Black everytime you open your mouth you seem to plant your foot right in it!

  • davidbrew

    Whilst we can all deplore Billy’s penchant for country music, I think it’s a bit of a low blow to call him Jim Nicholson’s best mate, Christopher

  • Christopher Stalford

    Alright, alright! It just seemed that way during the Euro-election.

  • Christopher Stalford

    FROM THE PEN OF THE PM:

    “You have also raised commitments made by the Irish government, on which there has been much press speculation, such as the possible release of those involved in the murder of Garda Jerry McCabe and the issue of participation in committees of the Dail by MPs from Northern Ireland.

    “While they are obviously matters for the Irish government, I understand that they also originated BEFORE ANY NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE DUP BEGAN.

    “These have formed no part of the discussions in which you and your party have participated. I hope this clarifies this matter to your satisfaction.”

    QUICK QUIZ: IF THE DUP WEREN’T A PARTY TO THE TALKS MENTIONED ABOVE BY THE PM, WHO EXACTLY WAS? WHAT? TRIMBLE AND THE UUP? ARE YOU SURE?

    Now perhaps the hypocritical Trimble clique on here would kindly wind their necks in!

  • George

    Who Dail Eireann gives speaking rights to is a matter for Dail Eireann, it has nothing to do with the UUP or the DUP.

    Wind both your necks in would be my advice.

  • Christopher Stalford

    I was referring more to the McCabe issue, which some Trimble-ites were attempting to pin on the DUP. As you rightly observe, the internal arragements of the Eire Parliament are a matter for the Eire Parliament.

  • willowfield

    Alan2

    I`m a free radical Ulsterman.

    Not very “free” if you feel the need to defend the DUP in the face of reason.

    An independent Northern Ireland with a power-sharing Assembly within some sort of loose federal Isles would be my solution.

    Very realistic.

    Willowfield – Is Tony Blair a liar then?

    I thought that was a matter of record.

    These side deals have been on the cards since the signing of the GFA and shows the inherent weakness of the Unionist hand in not actually being part of the UK government. These side deals will go ahead no matter who is negotiating.

    Hmmm, I don’t remember such an understanding and stoical attitude from the DUP when Trimble was doing the negotiating! Hypocrites!

    The primacy therefore is stregthening and securing things that Unionists want ie accountability, East-West ties as well as the North-South ones, Ulster-Scots Agency etc.

    … and weakening and preventing things that nationalists want …

    LOL I find that hilarious.

    You find it hilarious that the DUP might have lived up to its self-proclaimed negotiating strength!! So do I.

    It is not an expansion of North / South institutions.

    I never said it was.

    It is elected Westminster MP`s addressing elected Dail TD`s rather like in the British-Irish council I would presume with no voting rights.

    Rather like the British-Irish Council? I was unaware that the British-Irish Council involved inviting Southern TDs into the House of Commons.

    Irish citizenship, All-Ireland Rugby team, All-Ireland Gaelic Games, North-South bodies, various ALL-Ireland sports teams

    Yes?

    The simple fact is that there are two communites The GFA recognised that and it is time everybody else did too. That is not to say that the GFA doesnt need changing because it does.

    You’re getting rather confused. Opposing the GFA on the one hand, and defending it on the other!

    We all know there are 2 communities. It doesn’t mean we should be facilitating all-Ireland parliamentary representation!

    DB

    Willow- get a grip. The right to speak in the Dail twice a year is no more an embryo parliament than the British Irish parliamentary committee-or indeed the New Ireland Forum enthusiastically attended by …er Michael McGimski UUP, one of the current main critics of this plan.

    I sincerely hope you are right. But the last time I looked, I didn’t realise that the British-Irish Parliamentary Committee involved throwing the House of Commons open to Southern TDs, similarly I didn’t realise that the “New Zealand Forum” involved throwing upon the Commons to New Zealand MPs or vice-versa.

    The louder you squeak about this the more we all see through you. Nobody in the UUP was bothered about this two years ago.

    It wasn’t being proposed or negotiated two years ago!

    It does not open up the Dail to northern representatives because they can not
    a) vote;
    b) form part of the government or opposition;
    c) propose, amend or scrutinise legislation;
    d) initiate debates-or indeed participate in them more than twice a year.

    Not yet it doesn’t. And do you really fail to see the symbolic political significance of it?

    Ye gods, even the Civic Forum is a greater threat to the Union than this.

    Thanks for reminding us of another DUP negotiating failure. Surely they could have got rid of that particular piece of wasteful nonsense?

    Will

    Also, with all the UUP supporters getting up in arms about the huge DUP threat to the union, what are your views on: 1) former Fianna Fail appointed Irish Senator, now a UUP Peer in the House of Lords.

    Fantastic. The more nationalists converted to unionism, the better.

    2) former UUP Councillor now acting as an official advisor to the Irish President.

    Depends what he or she is advising her to do.

    George

    the people of the Irish Republic don’t covet Northern Ireland, they aspire to a united island nation which guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens.

    It amounts to the same thing.

    There are 300,000 Irish citizens over the border now and they are entitled to at least let their fellow citizens know what their views are. There is no executive power so what’s the problem.

    Why are Southern Irish citizens in the United States and England not entitled to “at least let their fellow citizens know what their views are”?

    That you would feel they should be prevented from such contact with their fellow citizens on the grounds that it will weaken your link with the Westminster parliament is ridiculuous and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    No-one is prevented from contact with their fellow citizens. There is an open border between NI and the ROI and free movement of people. The absence of NI MPs in the Southern parliament impinges not one iota on people’s freedom of contact.

    But … if you (preposterously) believe that it is, why do you think that it is OK that Southern Irish citizens in England and the USA “should be prevented from such contact with their fellow citizens”?

    There has been a 700% + increase in the number Irish passport holders in NI in the last 6 years without any North-South bodies or Dail speaking rights. Once again, Alan is right, these contacts will grow regardless of what unionists do.

    So you accept that having NI MPs in the Dail is nothing whatsoever to do with the need for “contact” between people from NI and ROI. In other words, that point was a complete red herring.

    Catch a grip, George.

  • unionist_observer

    Stalford

    I assure you, I am not the first to refer to Billy Kennedy as a DUP mouthpiece.

    Will

    Just because you happen to be related to someone doesn’t mean you agree with them politically. I know of one family in particular in strangford who vary hugely politically.

  • unionist_observer

    ” He was expressing his complete exhasperation with the fawning, unquestioning devotion of some people in the new YU’s to Trimble. To the point that all logic flies out the window, was the phrase he used.’

    I think I can hazard a fairly shrewd guess at whom you are referring to here, given his latest offering in the newsletter. Is there anyone who doesn’t annoy him?

    I do have some problems with the party leadership although Trimble is not the one who annoys me. However rest assured I will not be airing these problems on slugger or in the newsletter but within the party. A way of going about things that I am sure you can find familiar or are you Robinsons sheep from here to Dublin?

  • alex s

    Christopher, as usual the insults fly from your keyboard although for you to refer to others as fawning is a bit over the top even for you given your blind obedience to the party line.

  • willowfield

    Does being someone’s brother necessitate supporting the same party?

    Somebody should tell Martin Morgan.

  • Alan2

    another interesting piece:-

    “DAIL COMMITTEE BLAME LIES AT THE DOOR OF THE UUP” SAYS DODDS

    Speaking today, North Belfast DUP Member of Parliament, Nigel Dodds said,

    “Reg Empey’s charge of cowardice will not wash. We have pointed the finger of blame over the issue of Ulster MPs participating in a Dail Committee in the UUP’s direction because that is where the blame lies.

    The Prime Minister’s letter to Dr Paisley states unambiguously in relation to this issue, that “I [the Prime Minister] understand that they [the proposals] originated before any negotiations with the DUP began. They have formed no part of the discussions in which you and your party have participated”. Reg Empey can call this cowardice all he wants but the truth is that this whole matter was a product of the terrible tenure of Trimble and Empey as the leaders of unionism.

    Indeed, such is the UUP’s culpability that when the issue was first raised as far back as March 2002 – on the Ulster Unionist’s watch – they never uttered one word of outcry. This is hardly surprising given their part in the proposal but Reg Empey can’t have it both ways. If his party’s concession is an embryonic all-Ireland parliament now, why wasn’t it an embryonic all-Ireland parliament three years ago? Does Reg Empey really expect us to believe that the UUP knew nothing of this proposal whenever it was a matter of public record?

    The UUP are the kings of concessions. The six years between the signing of the Belfast Agreement and the Assembly election of November 2003 were rich pickings for republicans. No more clearly can the conveyor belt of UUP concessions be seen in action than in the North/South set up. A North South Ministerial Council unaccountable to the Assembly, free standing and unaccountable cross-border implementation bodies and a startling imbalance between the North/South and East-West relationships did untold damage to the Union. The UUP – a party who have a former member of the Irish Parliament representing them in the House of Lords and a former councillor advising the Irish President – cared nothing for the maintenance of the Union when they agreed to establish unaccountable North/South institutions. It has been up to the DUP to do the heavy lifting in the talks and inject accountability into North/South structures and end the second class status of the British Irish Council.

    We have always said that we will stand by any settlement that we sign up to. What we will not do is take the blame for the dirty laundry of the Ulster Unionist Party.”

  • unionist_observer

    How on earth can Dodds now with a straight face attempt to blame the UUP for this insane Dail idea? The idea may have come up in negotiations, that much could be possible but it was clearly vetoed at an early stage by the UUP, hence this is the first we have heard of it.

    The DUP need to step up to their responsibilities, they are the largest Unionist Party at the min, they are in charge of negotiating with SF, the Irish gov, the British gov etc. They can no longer blame others, they have to face up to the fact it is up to them. Clearly its not an easy task but blaming other for mistakes they have made is quite pathetic. Time for Christopher and co to wind their necks in.

  • davidbrew

    blaming other for mistakes they have made is quite pathetic says undercover Rebecca

    Quite right. So why don’t we agree to assess the DUP from when they were in the lead position. That -of course- means agreeing the list of mistakes made before they assumed repsonsibility. So what about it Rebecca and Willow -why not list all the UUP mistakes first, so we know when the DUP meter’s running? I know it’ll probably take the next 700 posts on this thread to do it, but why not try so we can’t be hoodwinked by either party’s spindoctors? Over to you -” The first thing David Trimble got wrong was…”

  • unionist_observer

    David

    Lets be brutally honest here, which party has the best quality spin doctors? I don’t think even you’d disagree that the DUP wins in that area hands down. Therefore when it comes to being hoodwinked by a party spin doctor, I think it is much more likely to be a DUP spindoctor who hoodwinks us all.

  • davidbrew

    No Rebecca- that’s not the answer to “The first thing David Trimble got wrong was…” Don’t be shy-even Reg Empey obviously thinks he’s a dead duck. Shoot from the hip, and point up all the mistakes that the UUP have to carry.

  • unionist_observer

    David

    serious question…..are you trapped in a time warp?

    It is not 1998 anymore, its 2005, the UUP are making the decisions anymore, the supposedly whiter than white DUP are.

  • Christopher Stalford

    Close Rebecca but no banana! Now think hard “The first thing David Trimble got wrong was…”

  • jonty

    so chris
    why isnt your party taking as tough a line as you on IRA disbandment. Why arent your partys leadership not saying the IRA must disband before any future DUP/SF governent?