What happens next..?

THE DUP will be up for a post-election deal, Gerry Adams believes. And if they aren’t, Sinn Fein seems to be hinting that the ball will be in the two governments’ court – perhaps a suggestion that a future SF fallback position will be to push for joint authority in the event of a negotiating failure. However, Peter Robinson’s post-election plans are different – to bring about unionist unity, he says.

Paisley seems to agree, which might confirm to some what they always suspected – for the DUP, this election is about destroying the UUP, and reducing nationalist representation isn’t the priority for them. No wonder there was no electoral pact. For the DUP, it’s probably worth letting the SDLP or Sinn Fein pick up a couple of Westminster seats now, as it may be easier to take them back with no UUP to split the unionist vote in 2009.

Adams said:

“The DUP accepted the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement and then tripped the whole process up around some of these unachievable demands,” he said.

“If the DUP refuse to deal on the basis of the Good Friday Agreement then of course that is a challenge for us.

“We are up for that challenge. We think that you sober up the DUP by facing them with their responsibilities because there can be no return to an administration except on the terms agreed under the Good Friday agreement.

“In other words if Ian Paisley wants to be the First Minister he can’t be the First Minister without sharing power with the rest of us. If he refuses all of that, and I would be very surprised if he did, then that is the challenge for the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach.

Robinson said:

“After the election, the challenge facing the DUP as the dominant unionist party will be to further the cause of unionist unity,” he said.

“May 5 is not the end of the process of uniting unionism but merely another stage in this long-term goal. We must continue to build the widest possible coalition of support for the message the DUP has been setting out during this campaign.

“After years of division, unionist unity is finally coming about not between the UUP and DUP but within the Democratic Unionist Party. This is good for unionism and after years of unionist decline offers hope for the future.”

This is something that might please under-threat UUP MP (and potential post-election party leader?) David Burnside, who recently said:

“Unionists should be working together to defeat the criminal empire of Sinn Fein/IRA and indeed the loyalist organisations.

“After the General Election we should be working together.

There is no point in having two small groupings in the Westminster and we need a united front.

“I firmly believe that there will be united unionism post-Paisley and post-Trimble. There will be a realignment and I would prefer a merger.”

Realignment, anyone?

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12 thoughts on “What happens next..?”

  1. I think Robinson is genuine on wanting Unionist unity, the last thing the DUP is someone carping on about they did the donkey work or some nonsense about how the DUP supposedly signed up to the Belfast Agreement. I just hope that the DUP are as magnanimous in victory as they were stubborn in bringing down the agreement.

    As for Adams, well it’s more of the same, joint authority has always been their fallback position. It just isn’t going to happen. The Irish government don’t need the distraction and joint authority has never worked anywhere on any kind of longterm basis.

  2. Considering that only UPP, DUP, SF and SDLP candidates will be succesful in the 18 constituencies in Northern Ireland the only way that people can help get rid of Blair is by voting UUP. Given that the SDLP are a sister party of Labour, that the DUP are as good as sisters to Blair and SF dont take their seats whereas Ulster Unionists continually support Conservative policies voting UUP is is likely to help defat Blair, voting for any other party is supportive of him.

  3. In practical terms, it sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare, but we have a habit of going for the ‘least worst option’ here…

  4. II

    Unless the UUP are going to win 100 Westminister seats then Blair is safe. They’ll do well to win 100 council seats.

  5. Here’s a Good Account of how Unionists still don’t act like grown-ups!

    Councils show that Norn Irn doesn’t work

    (Brian Feeney, Irish News)

    In case you haven’t noticed, and just because there are thousands of posters defiling vertical objects all across the north doesn’t mean you would notice, there are council elections next Thursday as well as the Westminster election. It’s your chance to select your 582 councillors in the 26 councils.

    It’s your last chance too, for the recommendations of the review of local administration should have kicked in before the next round of elections.

    Next time you might only have seven councils though more likely it will be around a dozen. It won’t make any difference though. The only function councils perform is to demonstrate publicly that Norn Irn doesn’t work. Councils have been sitting here frozen in aspic since 1972 when their powers were stripped away and handed to quangos like the Education and Library boards (ELBs) and Health boards. Since then unionist councils have continued to behave so badly that powers can’t be restored. Doesn’t matter whether there are 26 councils or six.

    Well it does in fact. If the NIO were to reduce the number of councils to say seven, Belfast, Derry and five other big ones, what you’d find would be that the councils west of the Bann and in south Armagh and Down would be Sinn Féin controlled and would operate power-sharing and rotation of offices while east of the Bann in the one whole and two half counties in Ireland which have unionist majorities, nationalists of any description would be excluded. Lisburn is currently the best example of that discrimination, though given the chance many others would follow suit.

    That’s why councils remain restricted to emptying the bins, burying the dead, allocating funds for the natives’ recreation and giving job creation grants: an economic role as councillors grandly describe that. Aside from that, no councillor in the north has the power to get so much as a street light turned on.

    Mind you, if they did gain extra powers some of them wouldn’t know what to do with them. Just look and listen to them on the meedja. What an inept, incompetent, semi-literate lot. Only a small sample of them surface with any regularity so you can imagine what the rest of them are like. True, the lack of any power may account for the generally poor quality of councillor but when you see that about 80 percent of assembly members are also councillors you begin to wonder whether the north has produced a political class capable of running a school tuck shop.

    They have managed to wash their hands of the financial mess in education. The board officers got all the blame. After failing to notice anything wrong, councillors resigned and trailed out with their committee minutes importantly tucked under their arms upbraiding the NIO minister. Since a substantial block of each ELB is made up of councillors you must conclude that if they can’t even scrutinise local education funding how could they manage to scrutinise a local minister and his civil servants?

    For thirty odd years the NIO has artificially sustained local councils because they reckon they provided a semblance of ‘normality’, of ‘local democracy’. Well they do. They show that normality here is unionists refusing to share power on equal terms with nationalists at any level unless they’re compelled to by self-interest, and even then they sometimes refuse. Councils show that ‘local democracy’ has to be restricted to the minimum possible in case unionists abuse what little power they’re given.

    The NIO has resisted making the d’Hondt system compulsory for nominating offices in councils because they know unionists would make councils unworkable as they did in 1986 in protest against the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Instead of sacking the culprits and bringing in commissioners to run their councils, the NIO, as they did in 1986, would cling desperately to the only surviving examples of elected representatives apparently operating in the north.

    It’s right that they do so, but not for that reason.

    If councils with minimal powers can’t work, why should anyone think an assembly with local ministers would work? Maintaining hamstrung, deadlocked local councils is a brilliant way to show that nothing, no matter how minuscule, works in the north if unionists are expected to treat nationalist representatives as equals.

    April 28, 2005

  6. II

    Unless the UUP are going to win 100 Westminister seats then Blair is safe. They’ll do well to win 100 council seats.

  7. And if you want a good account of why some nationalists don’t act like democrats, I suggest you read Andrew McCann’s demolition of Brian’s article on ATW.

  8. Just in case anyone was tempted, here are some choice exerpts from McCann’s ‘demolition’.

    “Given that it is a province populated in parts with mutinous cretins seeking to destroy it, I think ‘Norn Irn’ works remarkably well. It is amazing to think that a refusal to share something you treasure with pillocks wishing to destroy it from within amounts to ‘bad behaviour’. In that case, long may it continue.”

    ” So why should the Unionist majority, who spent years suffering at the mercy of a perpetually discontented minority tutored in whinging, constitutional apostasy, and, now, voting for murder, give space to politically sharing their province with representatives of these same people? The mind boggles!”

    ” The British majority is not interested in you, your second-rate community, your whining, or repetitive bleating masquerading as journalistic comment.”

    Obviously a considered and scholerly rebuttal.

  9. Is this the most boring election ever? I’m usually love elections but this one is a drag. Is it just me?

  10. The DUP will win 8 seats next Thursday.The UUP will be left with two or three. The UUUC will be resurected. Gerry Adams will not lead Paisley the merry dance he led Trimble.

    The bottom line for the Unionist coalition will be the IRA disbandment and at least a year monitoring of the former IRA.Then and only the will negotiations begin for the new Paisley/Robinson led government.

  11. It seems to me that Unionist unity and getting a new deal are not actually incompatible goals!

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