Empey threats…

AS we await the fourth (and final?) act of IRA decommissioning, Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey has threatened to introduce sanctions – his party will refuse to co-operate with North-South bodies set up under the Agreement – if Northern Irish politicians are granted speaking rights in the Irish parliament, the Dail.

Sir Reg said:

“As you may recall when the deal with Sinn Fein was not completed last December, I said this was outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and it was a breach of the principle that the consent of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland would be required before there is any change to our constitutional status.

“I believe this move is very dangerous because it would effectively be setting up an embryonic all-Ireland Parliament.

“When the idea was first mooted two years ago, the UUP opposed it. We told the two governments then and have repeatedly since that if it is pursued by Dublin, we will no longer be obligated to our support for north south institutions.”

  • Fishfiss

    Isn’t it possible that taxpayers south of the border will have a problem with NI folk speaking in their parliament too, given that it would be a complete and utter waste of their time and money ?

  • steve48

    DUP dropped the ball on this one and in their efforts to get into power with SF will drop the ball a few more times before they get their hands on the red boxes which seem to mean so much to them.

  • yerman

    So the king of the combover has decided he’s going to beat his chest and be super-unionist. Just a shame he picked an issue which was first proposed before the DUP ever became the largest unionist party and neither he nor his then party leader batted an eyelid.

    Another pre-election attack on the DUP being resurrected in the hope that a ‘fresh’ face presenting the same old rubbish will make it have a different effect.

    Unlucky Reg. Back to the drawing board I think.

  • The Dog

    Why are unionists so unhappy at this logical expression of the right of Irish citizens to participate in the political life of the Irish nation.

    There are loads of areas where this voice is crucial – health, economic development, the use of EU money for infrastructure, the development of freight transport (which would help 6 C bussiness development with 26C), the list goes on.

    And the big one – farming – only last week northern farm leaders were saying that they wanted the same compensation deal for land subject to comnpulsory purchase for road building as southern farmers in relation to the roll out of the National Development Plan.

    Get over it.

    It isn’t as if anyone is saying that unionists should also be able to participate in the political life of britain.

    If unionist leadership – if think that’s what they call it – wants to throw its rattle out of the pram then the two governments need just to press on ahead without them because on many issues – such as farming – their own constituency will eventually demand that they wake up and smell the coffee.

  • Henry94

    This Empey gesture shows he has no real interest the moderate Unionist vote. The Alliance should be able to fill that gap.

  • davidbrew

    Wrong issue wrong tactic from the wrong leader at the wrong time- but the good news is nobody cares- Reg can take his assembly team to Rockall for a bit of teambuilding for all that the Government cares.

    And what will Alan “we can’t out DUP the DUP” and her ladyship say about this one? can’t be long before the heave. How about a bet on who lasts longer- Reg Empey or Gordon Strachan. I’d say Gordon can at least point to some goals scored in his defence.

  • Frank Murray

    Reg,the big fellow might welcome the opportunity to gulder in the Oireactas, since he has a growing constituency of Free Presbyterians here in the Republic. That would certainly steal another march on the rudderless clueless UUP (RIP). Think about that.

  • Keith M

    This is the first sign (for a long time) of intelligent life still existing in the UUP. There should be no speaking rights for anyone in the Dail except those elected by the people of this country. The only exception is for foreign heads of state (as a matter of courtesy).

    If there is “no taxation without representation” then the same should apply in reverse. SF MPs were elected to represent their constituents in the House of Commons, not in the Dail. Recognition of the juristiction of of the UK in Northern Ireland and the principle of consent are the cornerstones on which the 1998 agreement and subsequent deals have been made. This would undermine both.

    Having said that I would allow MPs for all parties in Northern Ireland to have pre-defined and agreed speaking time in a reformed Seanad. If unionists didn’t want to speak, they could nominate symathetic people from the south instead. The Seanad is in need of an overhaul, and including speakers from NI, as well as representatives of the Irish dispora would be a welcome addition.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    “And the big one – farming – only last week northern farm leaders were saying that they wanted the same compensation deal for land subject to comnpulsory purchase for road building as southern farmers in relation to the roll out of the National Development Plan.”

    And how would Northern Irish politicians speaking in the Dail achieve this? Such compensation would be funded by the British government probably via the NIO, not the Dublin government. If your representatives really cared about this issue they should be pressing Peter Hain and his friends, not wasting time waffling in Leinster House.

  • Congal Claen

    I can’t understand why he’s complaining. If anybody, it should be southern voters.

    Maybe they should include a proviso that only those who attend their primary parliament should be allowed to speak in a second house…

  • Jimmy_Sands

    First of all, what is the basis for the assumption that this is going to happen. Would it not be unconstitutional anyway?

  • martin

    Keith M and jimmy sands,

    what makes you think that you have the right to regard yourselves as more Irish than the inhabatants of the 6 counties–as for your argument about no representation without taxation–the 50,000 northerners who work in the republic and regard their primary domicile as being in the 6—pay taxes.
    Im sure the southern electorate wont mind as there is plenty of space since almost 50% Of them dont bother voting anyway and in some areas its higher than 60% no show.

  • Bored

    Well said Davidbrew. Even by the muddle-headed standards of Unionism past and present, this has to represent the most risible stunt ever by an elected representative (George ‘I’m actually quite insane’ Seawright and his revolver-toting flag-lowering antics and Peter ‘Im actually one of the most unpleasant people on God’s earth’ Robinson and his Iwo Jima-aping antics in Clontibret are two other notable front runners that spring to mind). Yes, Lady Sylvia must be squirming with embarrasment.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Martin,

    I don’t regard myself as more Irish than you. I have no representaion either and for the same reason. We both live outside the State.

    I’m a little unclear as to how a northerner living in the North can be domiciled in the South. Sounds like an LL.B exam question. Any takers?

    If you want to speak in the Dail, get yourself elected.

  • martin

    JIMMY,
    what im saying is that the northerners working in the republic and who pay taxes in the republic–but regard going home-home being the north-have a domicile of choice in the north–that is their domicile of choice—there are other types of domicile—by birth, by location,

    I wont be standing for the dail even though I know I could rely on your support if we were in the same constituency—Im a bit shy.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Martin,

    Domicile doesn’t quite work like that. I don’t think it has anything to do with voting anyway. Those mainly affected by the institutions of a state are its inhabitants. I take an interest but it doesn’t affect me personally. I see no reason why I should be consulted.

  • bertie

    I am almost embarassed to ask this because I feel that I must be missing something pretty substantial, that should be obvious to me. There are many things that worry me, horrify me and disgust me about what our government proposes and does and what the republic’s government porposes and does. However I cannot work out why I, as a unionist should give a flying ****, who speaks in the Dail. Its none of my business.

    The only thing I can think of is if unionists would have to amke some oath of allegance, but even then its their fault if they do not the Republic’s government. I presume that unionists will not be dragged down kicking and screaming.

    Could someone please explain.

  • martin

    Jimmy,
    being on the electoral registrar and paying taxes in a particular area are used as ways of proving that a person has a domicile of location in a particular area.

    Domicile of location is judged by the amount of time a person spends in a particular place.

    If a Northerner is a tax paying worker in the south for 183 days out of every year excluding leaps they have a domicile of location in the south if they live there during that time and they more than likely see their northern home as their domicile of choice as well as by birth.

    Dont you think that these northern tax payers who contribute so much to society in the south should have their voice and concerns raised in the dail.

    The constitution promises to cherish all the children of Ireland equally–all 32 counties–any northerner whether living/working or not in the south should have the right to have their elected representitives heard in the national parliament by virtue of them being born Irishmen/women on the island of Ireland.

  • the convincer

    Im from the republic and i would welcome any TD from the six counties to go and speak in the dail. This would benifit the dail and the people of the north greatly and those in border regions of the republic as proper plans could then be formulated on cross borader issues in particular.Things like the national developement plan mentioned earlier could be formulated to include the six c’s

    As regardsq empeys statement, in my opinion the guy is clutching at straws.. his plan is to out-do paisley as the hard liner, chooseing things like parades and a little dail representation to kick up a stink prooves this.

  • heck

    Mr brother in law lives in newry and works in dublin. Mr grandfather lived in S armagh and worked in dundalk.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    I’m not familiar with th expression “domicile of location”. Your hypothetical northerner would I suspect acquire a domicile if he intended his residence in the Republic to be permanent. Regardless of this, I assume (and I’m open to correction) that he would be able to vote in Dail elections based on his residence.

  • the convincer

    just as keith m said, “no taxation without representation”, i believe that all irish citizens should be represented in the dail! Unioists shouldn’t care about this if they have such faith in the union.

  • bertie

    Convincer

    that’s what I’m thinking if the Republic is daft enough to let me speak in its parliament why should I be upset? Similarly if a neighbour told me I could come over and juggle with his antiques, that’s his problem. It’s another matter if he tries to muck about with mine.

  • martin

    Jimmy,
    currently that hypothetical northerner has to prove residency of 7 years in order to vote in the Dail elections–Austin Currie couldnt vote for himself in the presidential elections.

    Is it right that people born in the 6 counties who have always considered themselves Irish and who are regarded as such by almost all their fellow country men down south—have to gather up bank statements/esb bills/ over a seven year period—or dna samples from long dead grandparents–to prove that they are Irish –even though they were born on this island

  • martin

    Bertie,
    since the Anglo-Irish agreement the southern government has had a consultitive voice in the internal afairs of your state of Northern Ireland–don’t you think that it is only fair that the serve is returned and that your Northern politicians should have a consultative role in the souths internal affairs.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Are you sure about that seven years? If so then I’d certainly be in favour of changing that.

    As for “proving” you’re Irish, I don’t see the problem. A northerner can have citizenship. That’s something different.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Stupid nonsense from the unionist leadership. Why do they care if a “foreign” government whether it happens to be Ireland, France or Australia decides to grant speaking rights to a group of people ? It has zero effect on the status of Northern Ireland.

    It’s not a very clever move by Irish politicians to allow people who pay no taxes in Ireland and who certainly have no direct interest in the running of the State to have a say there. But if they want to mess up their democracy it’s hardly any of my business to complain about it. I must say, if I were a unionist I’d jump at the chance to speak directly to the Irish government and make my case in the Dail. Evidently the dullards don’t see it that way.

  • bertie

    From the other posts I realise that I had interpreted this correctly and was not actually missing something

    martin

    It’s one on the reasons I was opposed to the AI Agreement. I didn’t want their interference, but if they are mad enough to let me interfere in their country I’m game. I will not accept that I am under any obligation to return the favour or that it gives any retrospective justification to the AIA.

    Comrade

    A red letter day! I agree totally with every word of your post and I read it three time just to be sure. Although “if I were a unionist I’d jump at the chance” would be changed to ” I am a unionist and I’d jump at the chance”.

  • bertie

    What do you think I would have to do to qualify?
    Would I have to be a “politician”? Would thay mean “elected politician”? elected to what?

    If the UUO don’t go and the DUP arn’t interested either I might be in with a chance!

  • slug

    Well indeed Bertie.

    I as a pro-unionist am not bothered about this opportunity for NI people to interfere in ROI affairs.

    Unionists should consider:

    (i) take up the speaking rights going to get on record the unionist position and

    (ii) negotiate in speaking rights at the Northern Ireland Parliament to elected representatives from all the parliaments in these islands.

    Unionists are in a much stronger position than they realise and can turn all these things to unionist advantage.

  • bertie

    Should be UUP not UUO. It’s the excitment

  • martin

    I actually think that Unionist voices in the dail would be a brilliant thing –can you imagine it–people who could actually speak English instead of most of the spluttering bog savages we have there especially captain corruption himself-come to think of it the Unionists would probably have more Irish speakers than Fianna Fraud

  • Ciarán Irvine

    currently that hypothetical northerner has to prove residency of 7 years in order to vote in the Dail elections–Austin Currie couldnt vote for himself in the presidential elections.

    Martin, that’s not true. I’m from Derry and living in the Republic – the only requirement to vote in any election including Presidential and Constitutional Referenda is that you are a) a citizen (which we all are from birth) and b) actually live in the Republic. Simple as that.

    It was Mary McAleese who couldn’t vote for herself, but that was because at the time she lived in Belfast and hence didn’t have an address in the Republic and so couldn’t register to vote.

  • bertie

    Slug

    “Unionists are in a much stronger position than they realise and can turn all these things to unionist advantage.”

    Oh come on slug that’s not our style ;0)

  • VerucaSalt

    slug

    but why would unionists want to speak in the Dail? Its a totally different system, different politics and a different country. Furthermore, thinking about this practically, who would get to speak in the Dail, would northern ireland have to elect TDs? Would MPs get to speak? Would MLAs?

    As an idea, its a total non starter

  • slug

    Bertie

    I know :). But frankly I have not been more happy about NI. The negative threats to unioinsts of the 1970s and 1980s like territorial claims over NI, IRA violence, higher Catholic birth rates have all gone and are replaced by much less worrying or even positive things things like rights to speak in the Dail, strong economic growth south of the border (which gives us all opportunities) and nationalists wanting to participate in policing and devolution. Unionists should see opportunity not threats in all of this.

  • bertie

    Veruca

    If they want us they have to work out the logistics. Or they could make it very simple and just co-opt me.

  • slug

    “but why would unionists want to speak in the Dail?”

    If you want to be nasty you can disrupt things but would not recommend that. Basically its a platform to get the pro-unionist message across to the Irish public and political class on any issue relating to NI.

    “Furthermore, thinking about this practically, who would get to speak in the Dail, would northern ireland have to elect TDs? Would MPs get to speak? Would MLAs?”

    The proposals is MPs and MEPs. Somewhat strange but there you are. Unionists have more MPs and more MEPs so for every nationalist minute you get more than one unionist minute of speaking time to get your message across on NI matters.

  • martin

    Ciarran you do have to prove residency there for 7 years some how youve slipped through the net -you can vote in local elections –even assylum seekers with an address in the country for 24 hours can do this

  • martin

    victory to Bertie the good(the northern one)

    The corrupt Free Staters will never be able to withstand the onslaught of the great northern horde.

    Maybe now that Rebecca has finished with her flat in Dublin she might let Bertie use it as his adress for election purposes

  • bertie

    martin

    looks like it’s not to be, apparantly you have to be an MP or an MEP

    shame – it would have been the best of auld craic!

  • darthrumsfeld

    All you little proto-Shinners having orgasms at the thought of Michelle Gildernew trying to string together a coherent sentence on the floor of leinster House are missing the point. This will show the Shinners up for the one-dimensional racists they are.

    The current fistful of Dailers they have are so piss poor they make the average UUC delegate look like Edmund Burke. And we saw how well Mitchell did on Questions and Answers when McDowell got at him. Gerry has wisely never said anything in English in Stormont, sticking to Richard McCauley’s script and soft focus interviews from grovelling journos.

    We all know what these people are good at- but what they aren’t able to do is democracy, or debate. Does anyone seriously think that the political class down south will allow them to have another platform to destroy it? The ambushes will be cross-party, and in all probability Reg will get a wee call from Fianna fail researchers along the lines of ” Just what was it so-and -so did in the troubles again?” to ensure maximum destruction.

    I read post after post from supposedly politically astute people that bertie can’t wait to ditch the PDs for a coalition with the Provos. What are you people on? Would you rather have a tame partner, utterly dependant on you for survival, and with a rottweiler obligingly prepared to be the lightening conductor for the oppponents of the government- or a partner eating into your core vote, trying to replace you as the populist, nationalist voter’s choice , with hundreds of-ahem-“volunteers” working with almost military precision to win elections, and a plethora of slightly sinister personalities who have virtually never yet been given a serious going over by the so-called investigative press?

    Yup Bertie got where he is today by being as gullible as Davy Trimble.

    And of course Reg could always go to the British-Irish Parliamentary Council after 16 years of pointless boycott to re-assert our Britishness-oops silly me, only MPs get invited

  • Robert Keogh

    darthrumsfeld,

    Bertie also wants to make it very clear to the PDs that he has options. Besides which a large chunk of the FF back bench would be delighted to be coalition partners with SF. Ideologically they are closer than FF and any other party. No one other than the PDs are really interested in coalition with FF.

    If FF/SF can form a govt but FF/PD can’t, guess what will happen.

  • JD

    darthrumsfeld,

    It is clear from your comments that the ‘political class down south’are petrified of the prospect of these proposals, modest as they are at this stage. If the political establishment in Leinster House are so confident in their debating skills what is the problem. I, as an Irish citizen living in the six counties, want my elected representative to have the right to represent me in the parliament with which I identify. Why would you deny this.

  • JD

    Apologies, that should read,

    Why would you deny me this?

  • Jimmy_Sands

    “If FF/SF can form a govt but FF/PD can’t, guess what will happen.”

    I suspect he has Brendan Howlin on speeddial for that very eventuality. I think you miss four points.

    1. The current arrangement suits Bertie. Whenever an unpopular decision is needed, he can tell his backbenchers Mary made him do it. He’s too cute to swap that for the shape throwing that would be the hallmark of any SF involvement.

    2. The independent bloc contains enough FF retreads to mean they could lose their majority and still stay in office.

    3. The number in the polls to look at is the “SF over my dead body” figure. Unless that drops dramatically, FF are not going to risk their transfers.

    4. The rise in the SF vote appears to have stalled.

  • Ringo

    Will someone with any basic grasp of how politics works in the Republic please explain to me where this enormous growth in Sinn Feins vote is going to come from?

    Quite simply, who is going to vote for them and why? As Darth points out – the quality of politician they have in the Republic is piss poor (and that’s not saying much for the others). This can be improved – yer man Pearse Doherty in Donegal seems to be much better than any of the TD’s. Their policies are vague in the extreme. My own guess is that they won’t touch government with a barge pole until they have milked the benefits of this vagueness and ambiguity to the limit. Once they do they lose the outsiders mantle and become tarred with the same brush as all the others – same goes for the Greens.

    They have good potential in working class area’s, but that isn’t going to turn you into Fianna Fail, or even Fine Gael for that matter. And as those areas bear the brunt of the inward migration, how will they square the old-style republican rhetoric with the new Ireland they want to have a part in governing. Put simply, how is a UI relevant to Mwengwe from Clondakin?

    If Sinn Fein want to do more than survive down south they will have to be what people down here want them to be – not the other way around.

    And that will undoubtedly mean a lot of the Republican truisms going by the wayside, and then it will be very interesting to see how easy they find to stay onboard the two horses of the electorates north and south, especially when they decide to go in different directions.

  • Ringo

    Jimmy –
    The number in the polls to look at is the “SF over my dead body” figure. Unless that drops dramatically, FF are not going to risk their transfers.

    And that opens up the possibility of the reverse ‘McDowell up a lampost’ scenario:

    Instead of people voting PD to ensure that FF don’t get an overall majority, FF might just be able to cook up a situation where people might prefer to ensure that FF don’t need SF – and perhaps in the process deliver them an overall majority. Better the devil you know…

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Ringo,

    I just can’t see it. They have so many options open to them none of which would cause them anything like as many headaches.

  • darthrumsfeld

    “I, as an Irish citizen living in the six counties, want my elected representative to have the right to represent me in the parliament with which I identify. Why would you deny this.”

    I don’t give a rat’s arse if the Shinners traipse down south for debates twice a year if it makes them feel better. But unification it ain’t. An all ireland parliament, embryonic or otherwise it ain’t. Embarassing tokenism might be ok for you- but I would regard this as an insult to my aspiration if I were a nationalist.

    And guess who’s going to make sure that there are lots of crucial votes in the NI Assembly on the same day ( assuming it’s up and running)? Can’t you just see Peter Punt getting a vote scheduled on hospital closures the day all the top Shinners are driving down to Dublin?

  • martin

    Bertie,
    It is a shame,you’d probably have made a much better TD than some already there.

    For what its worth Id have given you a vote if I had one.

  • Robert Keogh

    4. The rise in the SF vote appears to have stalled.

    SF reached a ceiling which the recent IRA statement has removed.

    3. The number in the polls to look at is the “SF over my dead body” figure. Unless that drops dramatically, FF are not going to risk their transfers.

    Those are called FG and PD voters. Your knowledge of FF backbench or grass routes isn’t very accurate.

    2. The independent bloc contains enough FF retreads to mean they could lose their majority and still stay in office.

    The quote considers FF/SF majority vs an FF/PD minority. Besides which Bertie remembers keenly the independents debacle of the early 80s.

    1. The current arrangement suits Bertie. Whenever an unpopular decision is needed, he can tell his backbenchers Mary made him do it. He’s too cute to swap that for the shape throwing that would be the hallmark of any SF involvement.

    Heh, that’s the LAST thing Bertie is saying to the BBs.

    I didn’t miss your four points, I don’t think they are accurate.

  • willowfield

    yerman

    You can’t pretend this wasn’t a DUP f*ck-up. Also, I thought “pushover unionism” had been replaced, yet there seems to be a lot on the news about concessions to the Provos. Can you explain?

    The Dog

    Why are unionists so unhappy at this logical expression of the right of Irish citizens to participate in the political life of the Irish nation.

    It’s not logical. There is no logic in permitting some non-resident citizens to be represented in a parliament and not all.

    Also, you refer to “the political life of the Irish nation”, yet the proposal relates only to the political life of the Southern Irish state.

    martin

    Is it right that people born in the 6 counties who have always considered themselves Irish and who are regarded as such by almost all their fellow country men down south—have to gather up bank statements/esb bills/ over a seven year period—or dna samples from long dead grandparents–to prove that they are Irish –even though they were born on this island

    What on earth are you talking about??

    Comrade Stalin

    Stupid nonsense from the unionist leadership. Why do they care if a “foreign” government whether it happens to be Ireland, France or Australia decides to grant speaking rights to a group of people ? It has zero effect on the status of Northern Ireland.

    Wrong. It has potentially quite a major effect as it undermines, to a degree, the sovereignty of NI. It promotes institutionally the notion of a single Irish state. It gives the backing of another sovereign state to that notion. It is an act of irredentism. There was no point in getting rid of articles 2 and 3 if this was to be the result.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Robert,

    4. The notion that the SF has removed its ceiling now that the campaign is ended as opposed to cease is an assumption on your part. We shall see. My guess is that any initial gain will evaporate with the next murder, but who knows?

    3. I don’t know what FF grassroots have to do with transfers. I’m well aware of the sneaking regarder element in FF core support. That vote is not big enough to put them in office.

    2. IIRC the 97 administration was a minority. They managed.

    1. I can’t help feeling that McGreevy might have had a far rougher ride had it been a majority FF govt.

    Overall, the difficulty is this. Why would Bertie risk being to blame, even tangentally, the next time the wrong pint gets spilled in Belfast when there are more more painless options open to him?

  • martin

    “It’s not logical. There is no logic in permitting some non-resident citizens to be represented in a parliament and not all.”

    willowfield–do you favour the scrapping of the overseas or out of the constituency at the time of an election–postal voters—in the south this move would be very welcome by Fianna Fraud since it would result in less students being allowed to vote–students in the republic seem to be the only non-traditional voters around-traditional voters meaning—-my great-great-great great grandfathers all traipsed to the polling booths to vote fianna fail so by god ill do the same.

    Is this really healthy for a democracy.