DUP lines up with its own conditions

The DUP lays out some of its own conditions before any face to face contact will made with Sinn Fein:

The DUP is demanding that the requirement for a “mandatory” coalition administration underpinned by legislation should be dropped. It wants changes on how the First and Deputy First Ministers are appointed and greater accountability built into a new Assembly format.

Its list of demands also includes “greater balance” in the share-out of public appointments, following recent controversy over the Equality and Human Rights Commissions.

Other stipulations include:

Massive cash injections for inner-city loyalist areas;

“Fair and proper” funding for victims’ groups;

Concessions on water charges and increased rates.

Thanks to reader Dave!

  • steve48

    DUP position appears to represent a view that they are very angry but if enough money is thrown around then the anger will subside. Hardly a constructive position for the “leaders” of unionism to take. They have presented no ideas on how the money given to innner city areas should be used just that there should be lots of it.
    They still have not said if they have signed up to the devolution of policing and justice, nor how they will prevent the establishment of structures in the Dail to address “northern” issues.
    Their anger at recent events appears very forced, almost like they knew what was coming and accepted it.

  • Dean’s Scream

    Well said Steve!

    I wonder what happened to the Blair Necessities et al..

    Its not a matter of if the DUP will go into Government with Sinn Fein but when….ooops, has anyone told the boys down the Martyrs Memorial yet?

  • fair_deal

    “they are very angry but if enough money is thrown around then the anger will subside. Hardly a constructive position for the “leaders” of unionism to take”

    1. On a point of accuracy, they have asked for a series of political measures as well as money.
    2. Having a shopping list of things to improve the situation of the communities who support you is not constructuve? Hmmm
    3. Seeking a peace dividend for communities who haven’t enjoyed one is not constructive? Hmmm.

    “They still have not said if they have signed up to the devolution of policing and justice,”

    This has been known since december when they negotiated three safeguards before devolution of policing and justice would take place.

    “They have presented no ideas on how the money given to innner city areas should be used just that there should be lots of it.”

    From what I hear this is being worked on and don’t think a BT piece covering a range of matters does give great scope for detail.

    Certainly the supposed experts the Government Taskforce on these issues is completely floudering so they will welcome any input simply because they can’t think of anything themselves.

    The DUP is far from a perfect political animal but it still beats a dead sheep.

    Dean’s scream

    “Its not a matter of if the DUP will go into Government with Sinn Fein but when….ooops, has anyone told the boys down the Martyrs Memorial yet?”

    They were told long ago. The DUP stated that if the RM came up to democractic standards they would have to bite hard and enter government with them.

  • spirit-level

    And for a rare bit of humour:
    On the subject of the removal of the Divis tower:
    “The west Belfast MP mischievously added that it could be rebuilt at the church in the east of the city where Mr Paisley preaches regularly.
    He said: “If Ian Paisley wants it to be transferred to the tower of the Free Presbyterian church, to the tower of the Martyrs’ Memorial church, that’s a matter for him.”
    Adams celebrates removal of watchtower

  • Comrade Stalin

    This set of ideas is a disaster for a normally more coherent (in recent years anyway) party like the DUP. The ideas espoused in this statement are, apart from one, an agenda of spongery. The unionists demands appear to be consistent in that they are demanding that more funding be spent on maintaining troops that are likely not necessary, and more money be spent on massive undirected cash outlay to various undefined areas together with tax cuts. In other words, these people do not seem to understand the concept of self-responsibility when it comes to public finances.

    “greater balance in public appointments” is a statement with no meaning. In what way are they out of balance ? What roles do unionists specifically feel they are excluded from ?

    “cash injections into loyalist areas” is a statement with so many problems it is hard to know where to start. How much cash and for what purpose ? Who is going to fund it ? Let’s identify a need – irrespective of which neighbourhood it is in – and then understand what spending will deliver. Not splurdge the taxpayer’s cash willy nilly just to make some people feel better.

    “fair and proper” funding for victims groups I do not have a problem provided it is better defined.

    “concessions on water charges and rates” is rather meaningless and looks twee in this context. All of the parties want that but we all know realistically it cannot happen.

    The DUP along with the rest of the parties need to get down to the business of making this place work, and that means increasing the sustainability of the economy and reducing, rather than increasing, our dependency on the UK taxpayer, making it a decent place to live, work and do business. Only that way can the parties improve the lot of the people here.

  • looking in

    It seems that either;

    a) DUP have been caught flat-footed – so much for the planning/thinking/strategy guff – surely they knew thing like ex-RIR was on cards, this list is pretty lame me-too…. Agree with C.Stalin on this.

    b) they are just tub-thumping until sufficent time elapses before the ministerial cars turn up at the front doors

  • Comrade Stalin

    Agree there, they are definitely tub thumping.

    Apparently, being a “real alternative” to “pushover unionism” just means that you shout louder, but accomplish pretty much the same.

  • slug

    As a taxpayer I don’t want massive amounts of government money going into loyalist communities. I am happy with plenty of investment in infrastructure but not “cash injections”. I also don’t think it should be done on the basis that the area is “loyalist” but on proper impartial criteria.

    The DUP proposal read negavite to this unionist.

  • slug

    Comerade Stalin seems to make good criticisms. The DUP seem to be acting in a very knee-jerk way. How long did it take to come up with this list? 30 minutes?

  • Fishfiss

    “greater balance in public appointments”

    Why don’t they just come out and vocally support equality of opportunity for all in public pricate and voluntary sector appointments and stop this silly SF-esque wordplay ? Or, failing that, come out and admit loudly and clearly and honestly and unequivocally that they don’t want a society wherein all citizens have a fair crack of he whip and that they want Protestant unionist supremacy to be the order of the day in all walks of life.

    This is fooling no-one…except fools of course.

  • fair_deal

    The strategic challenges of inner city and border depopulation, educational underachievement coupled to the Prod brain drain, paramilitarism etc will need a policy and financial package. If the DUP simply think money is the answer I would share the concerns of slug and CS.

    Since the Nov 2003 the DUP the pendulum swung in their favour for the next while it will swing away in return for the Provo shift. There are limits to what Unionism can stop the government giving to SF/IRA instead what it can seek is balance – if the Provos get a package for a shift we want package for a shift.

    This was one of Trimble’s mistake, his self-limiting negotiation stance and concentration on high politics, often meant what he got looked paltry in comparison with the Provos.

    The desire for more balance in the process is why the ‘It’s time for a fair deal’ slogan resonated so well with the Unionist community.

    There seems to be a bit of a push to make this look like a classic DUP response but it hasn’t been. No threat of a walk-off and their commitment to enter a power-sharing assembly if SF/IRA meets the democratic mark has been repeated. Essentially they have said we are unhappy and we have toughened our negotiation stance accordingly.

    I share the concern about government expenditure, that is one of the tough debates our entire community needs to have (even though the present form of devolution is probably the worst for actually tackling the issue and is the perfect form for pork-barrel politics). As for government expenditure the DUP are about the only party to say that their needs to be a radical overhaul and downsizing of the administration of NI.

    slug

    “Knee-jerk”
    1. The change to the form of executive was in their manifesto.
    2. The FM/DFM and assembly changes were what they didn’t get on their shopping list in the last talks.
    3.The public appointments is long-standing and re-iterated after the last dodgy appointments to the NIHRC and EC.
    4. The water and rates stuff was long-standing (they got some sort of package on this agreed in the last talks so they have either put this in knowing they are going to get it or want the existing offer improved). In the Newsline straw poll water charges came through as the biggest issue for voters in the last elections so it is basic political sense to try and get something on it. Also government gave a massive subsidy to water companies when they were privatised in England so a similar measure is not necessarily special pleading.
    5. Support for victims is an issue the DUP have been banging on about since the Agreement was signed. Its why they supported and successfully sought the appointment of a Victims Commissioner.

    I share the concern about government expenditure, that is one of the tough debates our entire community needs to have (even though the present form of devolution is probably the worst for actually tackling the issue and is the perfect form for pork-barrel politics). As for government expenditure the DUP are about the only party to say that their needs to be a radical overhaul and downsizing of the administration of NI.

    Fishfiss

    The government’s own research shows an under-representation on public bodies of people with DUP links but don’t let that plain fact get in the way of making another pointless claim of sectarian motivation.

  • susan

    “cash injections into loyalist areas” is ‘statement with so many problems it is hard to know where to start. How much cash and for what purpose ? Who is going to fund it ? Let’s identify a need – irrespective of which neighbourhood it is in – and then understand what spending will deliver. Not splurdge the taxpayer’s cash willy nilly just to make some people feel better. ‘
    comrade stalin
    The Northern Ireland Statistics Agency http://www.nisra.gov.uk. has published research into areas of Northern Ireland with indicators of multiple deprivation such as housing conditions, birth weight, benfit take-up etc. thresearch and reports are available at the above link.
    Four council wards – Ballymacarrett, Island, the Mount and Woodstock – fall in the worst 10% of wards within Northern Ireland for deprivation. The levels of deprivation within these areas can be truly appalling. I have worked with charities dealing with homelessness and I live in East Belfast and have seem some of these conditions at first hand.

    These areas were identified by objective criteria and are due to be targeted under the neighbourhood renewal scheme.

    I am no supporter of the DUP or Unionists – I sometimes think I must be the only SDLP voter in my area but I think they are right to fight for improvements and whatever funding is necessary to deal with the poverty and deprivation in these areas.

    Too often in the past unionists have concentrated on constitutional issues and ignored the real needs of the communities they are supposed to represent.

    I would also like to see a cross party approach, ( I know this ain’t going to happen!!) to the neighbourhood renewal schemes so that funding doesn’t stop arbitarily at ward boundaries but is tackled across the interfaces, Woodstock, Short Strand for example.

    Anyway Comrade Stalin the need has been identified by objective criteria and is not ‘just to make people feel better’ but to tackle real deprivation.

  • slug

    fair_deal

    Yes, I’m aware that some of the things have been mentioned before or are on the manifesto in some form or other but this was not emphasised in the press release so to 98% of people (i.e. those who don’t study manifestos) it looks knee-jerk. It gives the appearance of being cobbled together and presented as a shopping list as a hasty response – some “fresh” demands. It could have been worded to make clear that these are a longstanding part of the DUPs analysis. Not clear that publishing a bald shopping list as a press statement serves much purpose. It makes it look as though unionists are worried and lack confidence. There is need to keep everyone calm at this time – the IRA statement and the decommissioning to come are rightly treated with scepticism but a reasonable tone is needed. I have been impressed by the DUPs capacity for analysis and some of their “Devolution Now” documents preceding the 2003 elections were very well thought through. I thought Dr Paisleys first response to the IRA statement was spot-on but more recently the DUP have looked ruffled. Tagging on “massive cash injections for loyalist areas” at the end of the statement is particularly shoddy – just sounds like they want the government to throw money at loyalists. A terrible idea.

  • slug

    Susan

    “Massive cash injections for loyalist areas” is a terrible phrase.

    You can say investment in deprived areas, or investment in skills and education programmes. The key thing is facilitating investment.

    Cash injection – grrr. This taxpayer has had enough of cash injections. If its not for investment in skills or infrastruture, forget it. People need to learn to raise their own cash for community activities and so on.

  • Fishfiss

    fair_deal

    “The government’s own research shows an under-representation on public bodies of people with DUP links but don’t let that plain fact get in the way of making another pointless claim of sectarian motivation”

    I’m assuming you’re not being sarcastic so….let me get this straight; party affiliation is now part of the means of verifying equality of opportunity in public appointments ? Do they check who people vote for when they apply for a job ? Do we now have quotas in public appointments based on which particular political party you have ‘links’ with ? Who is monitoring this, how and to whom are they accountable ?

  • AugustusGloop

    The cash injection into loyalist areas reeks of vote winning! No one can possibly deny that there are some desparately deprived loyalist areas, the area of highest deprivation in Northern Ireland is actually a loyalist area. However its hard not to be cynical when the DUP ask for this so publicly. One would imagine a much more effective way of getting money into loyalist areas would be meetings with the Minister and petitioning.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    This looks a bit like the DUP want all the work of a future executive to be done for them before they’ll go into an executive.

    Which is kinda cheating if you ask me. For example, if they want “massive cash injections for inner-city loyalist areas” or “concessions on water charges and increased rates” then they could achieve that next week themselves.

    It goes like this: Big Ian and Big G meet on Friday morning for a coffee and carve up the ministerial portfolios. Then the assembly reconvenes on Monday to elect an executive. When they get the business of putting Robinson and McGuinness into the OFMDFM, the DUP has first pick. So say they put Dodds in finance. He frees up sufficient funding for Regional Development to pay for water infrastructure. He could also free up money for Social Development to be pumped into loyalist areas. Maybe you’d have Campbell and Donaldson in those departments.

    Of course it might not work out as smoothly as that – that’s politics for ya. It seems though that the DUP aren’t prepared to play the game unless all the legwork is done for them.

    Here’s the thing: the DUP have argued that they won’t go into an executive with SF while the IRA remains on the scene. Now that we have passed that stage, they have produced this new list of demands. The list looks like it was written on the back of a fag packet by a very jittery hand.

    Frankly, this is an unserious contribution – made all the worse for the fact that it comes from a party which still has much to prove regarding its seriousness.

    What do we have here? Demands for internal reform of the assembly – surely is a matter of Stormont housekeeping rather than something the governments should be troubled with? They have the numbers (and a self-interest that coalesces with that of SF) to effect reforms within Stormont. Problem is they’d have to enter the present, imperfect assembly under its current rules in order to bring about change, as DeValera did in 1926. It’s the classic conundrum faced by parties of protest when they make the transition to seriousness.

    What else do we have? Frankly, a spongers’ manifesto. “We want money for this, and this and this, and this. And if you give us all we want and insulate us from having to make any difficult, serious decisions, then we’ll agree to think about getting off our arses and trying to make this state – which exists solely because we want it to – function without a nanny.”

    Is it so beyond the ken of unionists that the goal should be to roll up the sleeves, make the economy functioning and self-sustaining, and by that method try to pay for one or two things ourselves?

    Clearly the DUP are still thinking like self-loathing colonials, obsessing about the scraps that massa might throw from his table. I don’t blame them – unionism will do that to you. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: unionism is the heroin of political ideologies.

  • fair_deal

    Fishfiss

    “Do we now have quotas in public appointments based on which particular political party you have ‘links’ with ? Who is monitoring this, how and to whom are they accountable?”

    From this it looks like you know very little about the public appointments system.

    Public boards attempt to be an accurate reflection of the community including political affiliation.

    I made no mention or demand for quotas.

    The research was based on an analysis of the information from the application process and appoinments.

    The Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland is responsible for oversight.

    Of the 62 people appointed to paid positions on public boards who declared political activity from 00 -05, only 5 (8%) declared DUP political activity compared with (8) 13% for the Alliance political activity and (14) 23% of political activity for other than the five main parties in NI.

    This declaration is also a voluntary thing so people can abuse it. For example, a recent appointee to the NIHRC, Ann Hope, engaged in political activity for the Communist Party of Ireland but did not declare it.

  • barnshee

    “He frees up sufficient funding for Regional Development to pay for water infrastructure. He could also free up money for Social Development to be pumped into loyalist areas. Maybe you’d have Campbell and Donaldson in those departments”

    Where will this funding come from? Who will pay?
    What oterservices will be reduced to pay for it?

  • fishfiss

    fair_deal

    My apologies, I have been out of the country a lot since the GFA; so what we’re saying here isthat beyond the ‘comunity orginiation’ breakdown there’s now an actual stated and explicit breakdown by political party ? Is this legislatively enshrined ? Is there any suiggestion that the merit principle is being compromised or order to ‘cook the books’ ? are pubic bodies mandated to/able to release breakdown by applicant as well as appointee in each case or overall ?

    If so where might one view this information ?

  • fair_deal

    Fishfiss

    Improvements in the system and monitoring of public appointments began with the Nolan report into Public Standards in 1995.

    Go to the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland website

    http://www.ocpani.gov.uk/index.htm. (sorry never could do hyperlinks on here)

    In its annual reports it provides monitoring of public appointments on a large set of criteria. The sixth to the tenth reports are available online.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    “The DUP is demanding that the requirement for a “mandatory” coalition administration underpinned by legislation should be dropped. It wants changes on how the First and Deputy First Ministers are appointed and greater accountability built into a new Assembly format.”

    So what’s the detail of these proposals? Do they mean the requirement for the cross community nature of the coalitions? Do they envisage a voluntary coalition format instead? If so does this not mean that they would end up in an administration with SF and the SDLP and UUP would be the opposition? Or do they hope that in such a situation the SDLP could be persuaded into a voluntary coalition as the minority party?(The SDLP has 42% of Nationalist seats now if they lost 2 seats to SF in 2007 then they could not even get to the 40% minimum, the UUP only has 40.67% of Unionist seats right now they lose 1 seat they cant make it to 40% who wants to bet the UUP will have 24 seats in 2007?)

    That said I personally I am all for it. The requirement for d’hondt is past its sell by date. It was always a short term thing and DT recognized that as well and never believed d’hondt was a long term requirement. One of the problems that became evident in the last Assembly was the ineffectiveness of government collective responsibility. The forced coalition under d’hondt just sets up 4 rival fiefdoms instead of a unified government. As a long term system of administration I just don’t see it working very well. It also has significant weaknesses from a democratic standpoint as well. What I personally always hoped for was a long term move to basically normal politics and the potential for changes in government to match changes in public mood and to provide for a system of electoral accountability for the government of NI. A more voluntary system of administration would potentially provide that.

    My own model would be to retain the election of First and Deputy first by cross community vote requiring either a majority in each community, or a cross community vote with a 40% vote in each with a 70% of the Assembly members overall majority and then the ministerial seats are filled by selection by both First and Deputy First acting collectively. Or if that’s not liked, because no agreement could ever be reached between DUP and SF to appoint people, then simply by proportion to the numbers of Assembly members each coalition partner has. If required smaller parties could be used to boost the vote to the 70% level and in theory a minority coalition grouping of 40% could come out of either community. It would all be more variable but then that should be a principle of a healthy democracy anyway. It will interesting to see what the DUP have in mind for the actual substance of the system they want. A smaller Assembly might not be so bad either, maybe back to the UUP original proposal of 90.

  • wes3

    Time to get the purple berets out of the wardrobe

  • Keith M

    It would appear this evening that the talks on devolution will have to go ahead without the DUP, however I think that in the long run it is clear that the cannot be a devolved government in NI without the DUP participation.

    Last week I said that I thought that the restoration of an executive was likely to be 3 to 5 years off, and everything that has been said and done since, only confirms this for me. The IRA statement was far short of what was required for a speedy inclusion of SF/IRA in an executive; no disbandment, no photographs, no support for the PSNI means that the decontamination period will be counted in years and not months. In my opinion this suits SF/IRA who are not really enthusiastic about devolution, knowing that the concessions they are likely have to make will be a price too high for many of their hardline supporters. When their supporters see the concessions coming from HMG, do they really think that the DUP will be as generous?

    There is a similar dilemma for the DUP. Are positions in the executive really worth the price of sharing power with a group who’s members were were involved in murders and giant bank robberies just a few short months ago. Having spent almost 40 years working to become the leading voice in unionism, is Paisley ready to risk that position, for a potentially unstable executive with a party despises by all DUP supporters?

    I don’t see this extended period of direct rule as a bad thing. At best it will help establish trust, if SF/IRA finally live up to their word. At worst it will expose that SF/IRA were never really interested in becoming fully democratic, in which case an alternative arrangement for devolution is necessary.

    I would hope that the time is used to do away with one other cancerous sore left over from the Belfast Agreement; designation. If the people of NI are to work together for the common good then the idea that the first thing that elected representatives must do is to define themselves by their tribal colours, has to go. Designation must go, and be replaced by a qualified majority system.