Process has debased democracy

Tom Kelly argues that even a worthy principle like inclusion becomes ridiculous when pushed too far: “…the governments cast their net of inclusivity so wide that had the Mafia been in Northern Ireland they too could have had their representatives running a government department”.

  • Pang

    The problems are
    1) Too many people vote Sinn Fein.
    2) There is still a threat of a return to arms

    Otherwise, if it was just a smaller Sinn Fein or they had merely a criminal wing then they could be excluded on moral and other grounds.

    If the Nazi Party in Germany still polled 30% they would have to be included somehow. As long as our Nationalist, Socialist party is as big as it is there will always be an effort to include them no matter what they do. The fear of a return to the full scale bombings and shootings also rules out ignoring them completely.

    But let’s forget about geting the inclusive executive back together. The main problem is that we have somewhere near a quater of everyone in NIreland voting for a party associated with a secret world of crime and murder. It would be nieve to believe that all of those voters believe Sinn Fein and the IRA are unrelated, or all of the rest of the Sinn Fein propaganda. A significant number of people know exactly the connections between Sinn Fein and the IRA, and the IRA’s involvment in crime and summary justice. Knowing this they still vote for them.

    That is the mindset that needs to be challenged.

    People turn away from other political parties because of planning corruption. Sinn Fein doesn’t seem to be loosing any supporters over the recent issues which are far more serious.

  • AW

    Pang

    Sinn Fein doesn’t seem to be loosing any supporters over the recent issues which are far more serious.

    It would take a lot to break the bond between SF and its electorate in the North. In time if people are prosecuted and if events are firmly linked to them it may cause some peripheral damage. In my opinion what would be most damaging is if their electorate thought there was a more effective alternative. If the McCartney sisters do stand for election and are successful it may encourage a migration of support. Who knows? Like New Labour the problem is there is no effective alternative.

  • cg

    Listen boys and girls people are entitled to vote Sinn Féin and if people don’t like it, TOUGH

    Let’s wait until May 5th when people get to make up their own minds.

    What are you going to do if Sinn Féin increases its support?

  • Whatabout

    The SF share of votes will probably remain about the same due to entrenched voters, who exist on all sides here. Will SF join the policing board and encourage nationalists to join the police after the election? If they had done this before now their leaders wouldn’t be in the situation they now find themselves in. Witnesses and those suspected to have been involved in this murder may have been more willing to become involved in an investigation had this been so.

    CG, will the SF vote hold up if the McCartney family stand against them? Will the communities involved turn a blind eye to the customary personation in such a situation? Probably not – unless they’re threatened.

  • DavidS

    Er, right, like the mafia don’t have – or at least haven’t had – huge control over government in Italy…

  • cg

    “CG, will the SF vote hold up if the McCartney family stand against them?”

    I believe so and an answer as to why I believe they will can be found on Balrog

    Sorry Mick 😉

    “Will the communities involved turn a blind eye to the customary personation in such a situation? Probably not – unless they’re threatened.”

    Please elaborate on what exactly you mean with regards “customary personation”;)

  • Ireland Today

    What decides if a Northern Irish nationalist will support Sinn Fein/IRA or the SDLP is the evidence (or lack of it) as to whether the British will even listen to a politician if he/she does not have a gun.

    Everything the British say they want from Sinn Fein has long been the core policy of the SDLP, but they don’t have any guns therefore the British ignore them.

    The British treatment of the SDLP as if they are irrelevant results in the voters treating them as irrelevant. It is as if the British want Sinn Fein/IRA as the ugly representative of Irish nationalism so they can discredit it, as Sinn Fein want to see Paisley put an ugly face on unionism.

    The ill-treatment of the SDLP by the British has got so bad that Mark Durkan is afraid to make any agreement with them about anything because they always hold back and grant more to Sinn Fein. Their real negotiations are with Adams’ armed party, not with Durkan’s purely democratic party.

    They used Mark as a stalking horse in their efforts to get Sinn Fein onto the Policing Service. Now they want him to work the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement while they negotiate with Sinn Fein for further concessions such as putting their man Gerry Kelly in charge of the police, leaving Mark Durkan protesting from the sidelines as usual.

    No wonder Mark will not play ball with the British. The British have run the peace process on to the rocks by sidelining the real peacemakers. They have done this throughout history and delivered Ireland to the gunmen. We will never get rid of the gunmen until the British leave Northern Ireland.

  • levitas

    Ireland Today has hit the nail on the head

    “We will never get rid of the gunmen until the British leave Northern Ireland.”

    I am glad you have seen the necessity of the British army leaving Irish soil once and for all, well said that man.

  • IJP

    cg

    An increased mandate means an increased responsibility. So the real question is what are you going to do?

    Talk’s cheap. Responsible action to secure a stable democracy in which everyone treats everyone fairly ain’t quite so easy…

  • cg

    What do you want me to do?

  • fair_deal

    “”We will never get rid of the gunmen until the British leave Northern Ireland.”

    I am glad you have seen the necessity of the British army leaving Irish soil once and for all, well said that man.”

    If that is the attitude then why should Unionists bother engaging with the republican movement to develop a normal society?

    CG

    If SF/IRA is not nervous of a McCartney candidature why the McGuinness threat?

  • cg

    Fair_deal

    I don’t believe anyone in the Republican movement is nervous about the McCartney family’s entrance into electoral politics.

    Martin did not threaten anyone but merely offered advice which people can accept or reject, to suggest anything else is just pure nonsense.

  • Pang

    I think the entry by Ireland Today is well thought out but may not come to the correct conclussion. The assumption is that the British will never change, therefore the reaction to it will never change. I think we have seen in the last ten years, first a change in the reaction to the British and then a change in the way the British opperate.
    I personaly think Blair has been the best British PM for Ireland ever. That doesn’t mean he has no faults or that his quite successful policy and maner doesn’t have some of the negative by products correctly pointed out by “Ireland Today”.
    I think the SDLP have a role to play yet in changing the whole direction of Northen Ireland politics one more time. This will require the development of a new thinking. Hume’s thinking has got us this far, which was once unthinkable, new thinking is required to move us again.

  • George

    Pang,
    is this the same Tony Blair who not 3 months ago was willing to forget criminality and do a deal with the IRA above the heads of the people of Ireland, unionist and nationalist, but for the fact that the Irish government stood firm on a guarantee of an end to criminality before any deal could be struck?

    Is this the man Seamus Mallon today called “duplicitous” because of his under-the-table deals with Sinn Féin , a man who has catered to the extremists at the expense of the middle ground.

    P.S. Bertie Ahern is a nationalist and a socialist and I find you equating any Irish party with the NSDAP as belittling the victims of German fascism, which led directly and indirectly to the deaths of tens of millions of Europeans.

  • Ringo

    George –

    while every point you made regarding Tony Blair has validity, I think the sum of his actions regarding the North support Pangs idea that he has been the best British PM for Ireland ever.

    I also wouldn’t be placing the Irish Government on too high a pedestal regarding their dealings with the IRA etc.. I’m not sure that without the much maligned Michael McDowell that they would have been so insistent on the criminality issue.

    On the whole I think the two goverments are the least culpable in the repeated failures to sort things out. Whatever the validity behind the idea that the British have facilitated the destruction of the SDLP at the hands of Sinn Fein – the nationalist electorate is ultimately responsible. Surely the commonly held idea that the nationalists electorate did Whitehall’s bidding is a bit far fetched?

    No more than the Unionists rushing to Paisley, the Nationalist voters have a lot of growing up to do. It now looks like they will have to do that within the DUP and Sinn Fein – not exactly the finest breeding grounds for creative thinking.

  • slug9987

    I think Ireland Today’s style of thinking (above), i.e. that the British do the right things only if they are threatened by violence, is why Gordon Brown will try to change the Blair approach in a clear but subtle way.

    He will not want to provoke a return to IRA violence, of course, but that leaves a lot of room these days. He does not have to pander to those with guns. The UK never did have to. The threat of their use is non-credible for the set of policy actions that are under consideration.

    What Brown will do is take a pragmatic and more principled approach. He will take a more subtle and low profile approach. Local politicians will have less hand holding and ego promotion.

    He will learn the mistakes of the Blair era and leave aside attempts to get the IRA to go away through enticement.

    That would have been a highly questionable approach even if it had worked. The fact the IRA are still here shows it does not even work. The IRA is a UK issue.

    Brown will have as an aim policies that improve
    wealth and social conditions. He will not suffer vain politicians seeking attention. He will stay away from high rhetoric. He will try not to indulge sectarian difference. He will build on what has worked – the PSNI. He will not atempt to force local devolution although it will be seen as a long term aim. He will take steps that are likely to make devolution work better when it is restored. It will be restored in a way that requires local politicians to make deals with each other and build broad coalitions.

    People in NI have chosen to be part of the UK. But part of what comes with that is acceptance that NI is a small part of the UK and local politicians don’t drive the bus. What is ‘democratic’ in that context? Democratic does not mean that any contiguous 18-constituency part of the UK has a right to complete control over its own policies. You can choose to leave the UK but if you are part of the UK then with that comes acceptance that Westminster sets the tax, sets the expenditure, sets most aspects of your public environment. Whether or not some of that (a far smaller part than people admitted 1999-2002) is devolved to Stormont is more of symbolic importance than practical.

    Brown will focus on the practical. He will have a different set of advisers. He will continue with the things that worked. He will drop the things that did not, especially the morally abnormal things that did not.

  • Ringo

    He will drop the things that did not, especially the morally abnormal things that did not.

    doesn’t leave much does it?

  • George

    Ringo,
    The sum of Blair’s actions seems to be the willing subversion of democracy on the entire island of Ireland for short-term electoral gain in Downing Street.

    Maybe that dubious honour still qualifies him as “the best British PM for Ireland ever” considering his even more dubious predecessors but I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t eulogise him for it.

  • IJP

    cg

    What do you want me to do?

    It doesn’t matter what I want you to do.

    If your party gets a quarter of the vote, it gets a quarter of the responsibility. What are you suggesting it do with that? How do you suggest this ‘socialist 32-county Republic’ be brought about?

  • Ringo

    Maybe that dubious honour still qualifies him as “the best British PM for Ireland ever” considering his even more dubious predecessors

    I was wondering how you passed the opportunity to say this the frist time round 😉

    In fairness to him, there aren’t a lot of votes to be had for Labour in NI issues.

  • George

    Ringo,
    I agree there aren’t votes to be gained but there are votes to be lost if all of Blair’s “achievements” suddenly appear like failures: Economy, Iraq, Northern Ireland etc. These things have a tendency to snowball once they get started.

    Success in NI gives Blair the chance to portray himself as an international peacemaker even though he has gone to more wars than any PM in Britain’s history.

    Appearance if everything. Just look at the mileage the pro-Iraq war people have gotten out of the Iraq elections, using it as a sign that democracy is taking firm root in the Middle East.

    Not saying it won’t but one swallow doesn’t make a summer and the majority voting for pro-Iranian, pro-Islamic parties hardly augurs well for Western-style politics.

  • Ringo

    George –

    While he might need a short term boost to his stateman rep/ego I think that history will look favourably on him regarding NI, with or without another deal. And regardless of whether Iraq turns into Utopia or not it will always be seen as a mistake in Britain.

    he has gone to more wars than any PM in Britain’s history.

    he’s hardly Genghis Khan….