the abdication of responsibility

The coverage of US special envoy to NI, Mitchell Reiss’s comments on the weekend violence has focused, understandably, on his criticism of unionist political leaders, or rather “the abdication of responsibility by many unionist political leaders”. But his other comments are equally noteworthy –

“No political party, and certainly no responsible political leadership, deserves to serve in a government unless it cooperates and supports fully and unconditionally the police, and calls on its supporters to do so.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Another own-goal for unionism, as it demonstrates it’s complete unwillingness to be governed.

    How can unionists demand disarmament while they are out shooting, petrol bombing and rioting themselves ? How can they talk about peaceful or democratic means in these circumstances ?

  • slug

    I can’t accept what the UUP are saying at this time – Empey has not had a good week. Today is not a day for the UUP to criticise the police.

    At least Alliance are being sensible. David Ford calls it exactly right today.

  • Bonhomme Carnaval

    I just got back to Belfast after being away for a year. I suppose I’d be considered a nationalist, since I was born a Catholic, but I don’t feel like one. I’m a Northern Irish Catholic with zero political aspirations. In fact, I’m pretty damn happy where I am. Work is work, life is life, and politics are shite, in my opinion, especially here.

    I’ve no time for mopery, as it’s known. I have exactly the same rights, priveleges and chance to further myself as anyone here, whatever their badge. Claims of official discrimination against “my community” (whatever that means. People who like the same clothes that I do? I certainly don’t lump myself in with my fellow mass-goers. In fast, I can’t stand a lot of them, the pious, lip-service paying sillybillies) can’t be supported by me.

    But this is scary- I’ve just been convinced, this weekend, that no matter what happens politically, a huge proportion of unionists, loyalists, whatever they are, will never let things change. The people I’ve seen on TV (various unionist bigwigs) excusing the violence aren’t stupid. They obviously believe the trouble is justifiable.

    Even the language used to put their point across shows how very disturbed unionist thinking is- everything in the good-old-bad-old-days was “ours”. Well, things are now “mine” too. One side IS not as bad as the other. These people are wrong- so very wrong. This is not a political outburst- I’m not a republican. But this is a place where a “taig” gets his head stood on, his garden shat in and his windows broken, to the indifference and sometimes satisfatcion of many, many people.

    I like the police. I like the army. I’d like to make a go of things here. But current unionist thinking scares the shite clean out of me.

    True, n’est-ce pas?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I agree with the above.. I don’t really care whether the union stays or goes – I’m happy with the way things are right now really – but if I’m getting intimidated out of work, or my employer loses business as a result of rioting, what am I supposed to do ? The loyalists are making the case for the republicans.

    [I’ve just seen footage on the BBC of a guy on the Shankill who had his shop burnt out. He refused to blame the people who set it on fire, and instead pinned the responsibility on Hain and the Parades Commission. Clearly he felt that the destruction of his own livelihood was a price worth paying. Unfortunately, I don’t feel the same way about some balaclava spide wrecking my country.]

  • slug

    As a unioinst, but a middle class one, I am much more in sympathy with what the posters BC and CS say above than with what the unionist leaders are saying.

  • martin

    I hope that the IRA have the good sense not to be goaded by Loyalist/Unionist terrorists into resuming the armed conflict—that is what all this is really about–The Unionist leadership would prefer to return to the dark violent days of the troubles than see their Catholic neighbours have equal rights and a fair deal.

  • Comrade Stalin

    slug, the funny thing is that Sinn Fein and the IRA have basically backed down and agreed to make the state work for the time being, with a few modifications. The loyalists, who claim to be dedicated to the integrity of the state, are the ones who are determining that they will make it ungovernable.

    Martin, the IRA are not stupid and I’m pretty sure they’ll be staying well out of the way and allow the loyalists to do their dirty work for them. The dissidents are another matter, and I’ve no doubt that some of them are considering the possibility of stoking the fires in loyalism. Imagine if they fired shots into police lines somewhere and the loyalists got the blame (even though loyalists have been doing this anyway) .. or if they shot at some loyalists, and the feuders got the blame .. the place could degenerate into complete chaos.

  • Henry94

    CS

    the funny thing is that Sinn Fein and the IRA have basically backed down and agreed to make the state work for the time being

    Or they are showing that the state is an irredeemable failure and that they were never the problem.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Henry94, it could be that that was their point all along, but I think they have been fairly genuine about participation in government, especially given the risks that were taken – I’m sure you agree.

  • Gum

    The shock in some quarters of the DUP and UUP that the police responded like they did in Ardoyne shows that, for many unionist leaders, the RUC was their own force.

  • martin

    Comrade Stalin,

    I know ,but it is frightening to see how far the leaders of OO,UUP,DUP are willing to go rather than share the 6 counties—they still can’t let go of the old stormont rule era mentality–they would rather have us in a Balkan like caos than share.And its not so much about the IRA not responding to this –but rather that Unionism did their damnest to provoke the PIRA back to war and were willing and hopeful that the troubles would resume.

  • BogExile

    ‘…I’ve just seen footage on the BBC of a guy on the Shankill who had his shop burnt out. He refused to blame the people who set it on fire.’

    [There’s enough fiction doing the rounds BE – ed Mod]

  • Getonwithit

    A bunch of thugs and sectarian idiots with nothing to lose guided by the loyalist paramilitary mothership are responsible for the last 2 night’s unnecessary violence.
    They couldn’t care less about decent hard working people from whatever religion.

    There are no more excuses, republicans have swallowed their final bitter pill and will soon have made all the moves required of them.

    The union is democratically protected under the agreement.
    There is also enough protection under the agreement against those who choose violence.

    The leadership of the unionism should now lead, take the tough decisions necessary to sharepower fairly and equally with all the people of this society and show some vision to build a future for us all and our children to come and avoid this yearly nonsense.

    The forces of law & order can then come down hard equally on WHOEVER tries to bully using violence.

    Stop winging and get on with it. It’s what the silent majority here want.

  • slug

    Getonwithit

    Please don’t post the same thing in two threads.

  • John East Belfast

    I think we may be witnessing two things

    1. The move to the DUP in recent elections has caused some of the asylum lunatics to think they are going to be given all the keys again.

    2. The fact that moderate unionism could not rely on the garden centre prod vote has caused a shifting of the UUP towards the traditional unionist voter and hence a need to empathise with their lot.

    The people who should shoulder the blame are the Moderate Unionists who couldn’t be arsed to support Trimble when he needed it most and who are probably now ringing their hands at the current madness all around.

    The old “evil triumphs when good men do nothing” saying rings true in this place once again.

    As a UUP Member I totally disassociate myself from this lawlessness and I am fed up with hearing about disenfranchised and disillusioned unionists.

    As a tax payer and someone who is working hard to help bring prosperity to here I am disgusted by this wanton vandalism.

    I sincerely hope those police videos are used to bring these people to serious justice and that those wearing Orange Sashes are drummed out of that organisation.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    John East Belfast,

    Hear hear hear!!!!!

    I can not agree more with your sentiments. Stop making excuses about resentment or disenfranchisement and start taking responsibility. Nothing excuses this behavior, nothing! As for the Prod in the Garden centre community perhaps if just for once some unionists stood up and loudly gave them the leadership they want to see they might respond by voting for it. Be nice to try it for once I reckon.

  • lib2016

    John

    I really can’t let that post go. Trimble was the most extreme candidate available and clawed his way to power over the chaos, riots, murder and mayhem that was Drumcree.

    We’re seeing unionism doing what it does best, just as a certain DUP politican called Poots called for. And why Empey and Paisley have given their tacit support.

  • martin

    And Jeffrey Donaldson was taking a great interest in the “interior affairs” of a “foreign government”–on the trail of the birdwatchers in Colombia—while Belfast burned–

    My darling Clemintine–remember

  • John East Belfast

    Lib 2016

    Forget about how Trimble came to power 10 years ago – it was all irrelevant this time last year.

    The move in the UUP thereafter was considerably to a liberal and pragmatic line – why the hell do you think the Party was pulling itself apart during that time – it was going through a metamorphic transition – give us some credit for **** sake !

    DSD

    We tried to give them that and it very nearly cost us the Party and any position of power – I honestly think that lesson has been realised and what you see now is us trying to provide leadership to that element of the unionist electorate who vote with the consequences that we are ending up in the wrong places. If we go away from such people then GCP won’t wnat anything to do with us either – we are again caught between a rock and a hard place.

    At the same time Reg understands that if we totally abandon these communities then we are doing so to the paramilitaries

  • Comrade Stalin

    John and Duncan, if you guys ran the show the problems in this place would be over in the morning.

    lib2016, look what Gerry Kelly went through during his damascus conversion to being a pro-democracy politician. Is it really any different ?

  • lib2016

    John

    For whatever reason Trimble couldn’t deliver and he dragged the two Prime Ministers here twice unnecessarily.

    Unionism is now faced with the fact that it has become a prisoner of the extreme fundamentalist right. Only republicanism, whether through the SDLP or through Sinn Fein gives any possiblity of a way forward.

    The unionists are retreating to their bunkers ust as republicans leave their’s but it won’t work. Too many people own their own homes and they don’t want this nonsense.

  • lib2016

    Comrade

    I do believe that Long Kesh University had some surprising graduates who have done much better than expected.

    Maybe if we lock the DUP up for twenty years? 😉

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    John,

    I always felt we gave it in a very half hearted way and with a lot of mixed messages. In my own view people respond to passion and certainty. What was needed was a liberal view espoused with some passion and forcefulness. Just because you are a liberal unionist doesn’t mean you have to be a wimp about it.

    Current events are appalling and the UUP has completely misplayed the political tactics. Sir Reg has allowed Paisley to manipulate him and bring him into this. Instead of standing alongside the ‘decent’ people who pay taxes and had to walk home tonight from Belfast because they had no buses or cars available the UUP are stood next to the gougers and scum as they burn out their own streets! The UUP should be unequivocally against all of it, no ifs, buts or excuses, it’s wrong and it should be powerfully condemned. If the DUP want to stand alongside the scum (again) let them and have the balls to stand up for what is right. Not what plays to the loudest whining arseholes in a small section of the unionist community?

    Besides from the point of view of the political interests of the wider unionist community had Gerry Adams sat down and written out the whole weekend’s game plan it couldn’t be better for Republicans. The unionist community just seems to have a complete death wish sometimes. But leadership is about telling it as it is not just joining in with the cry babies. I don’t expect better from the DUP but the UUP should get a grip on itself.

  • Comrade Stalin

    lib2016, unionists disgusted at this activity have plenty of ways outside of the SDLP or Sinn Fein, the most obvious example being the Alliance Party which has historically benefitted anytime unionism has withdrawn from the political process in the way it did this weekend. It’s daft to believe that huge numbers of non-nationalists are going to switch from one bunch of riot-apologists (DUP/UUP) to another bunch (SF).

    Yes I think the DUP could use jail time, we can start with a close examination of the comments of some of their members – I vote for Ruth Patterson first.

  • Laughing my hat off

    Anyboday else see Dawson Baillie interviewed on BBC newsline? If this howlingly inarticulate thug is the leader of Orangeism in Belfast, then is it any wonder the place went up in smoke over the weekend. Seriously, the man isn’t fit to run, comment upon or organise his own wardrobe never mind a ‘christian’ organisation. Particularly amusing was the conclusion of the interview when upon being asked the same question twice (probably because he refused to answer the same question twice i.e. ‘do you condemn the violence ?’) he tried to threaten and intimidate the interviewer. Brilliant.

  • lib2016

    Comrade,

    Quite small numbers are all that’s required to tip the balance but I do agree that there won’t be a huge flood of ex-unionists moving to Sinn Fein.

    It’s impossible to know what’s coming but there seems (from outside unionism) to be a vast disillusionment with the whole Orange Order, coinciding with the collapse of the political and economic cases for the Union.

    Maybe a Mary Robinson figure could rise and rekindle unionism but it’s difficult to see where there would be room for such a change. Like others I tend to forecast a messy implosion.

  • Comrade Stalin

    lib2016, it’s too early yet to reach these sort of apocalyptic conclusions. The past two days have been bad, but by no means the worst. UWC it ain’t.

    However there may be a less direct effect on politics. Now that unionists have basically justified people venting their frustration because they don’t get listened to, their insistence on democratic and peaceful means from others seems to ring hollow. Clearly they are not using their influence to try to stop violence, and this has important implication for the process here.

    My main source of frustration is the people coming on TV saying “we’re sick and tired of getting nothing out of this process” but yet not explaining what exactly they want.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    “My main source of frustration is the people coming on TV saying “we’re sick and tired of getting nothing out of this process” but yet not explaining what exactly they want”.

    I am sure that some ‘cammunity raprasantatives’ will soon (semi)articulate a desire for yet more government funds for more community centers (to burn down) and employed community representatives (who can direct the burning). Mostly it’s more of the same drivel. ‘Themuns’ are getting everything one train of concessions yada yada yah. Political unionism has been crying into its tea for years and even now won’t face up the fact that if you keep telling a community that its on its knees and that ‘themuns’ are getting it all you might just engender some anger and violence somewhere along the way.Doh!

    The real problems of these communities are the same as similar communities the world over, low educational achievement leading to unemployment leading to poverty etc. They are not special to the unionist working class of Northern Ireland. The key difference is that like so many before them the political leaders prefer to make you angry about the other side than to wonder if maybe the organization of out society contributes in some way to your shitty life prospects. The DUP will never change its tune because ultimately it benefits from this anger and it deliberately engenders it. It will wring its hands a bit at the violence but will they change any of the dynamics that cause it? will they fuck.

  • slug

    CS. There seem to be two things the unionist community are concerned about.

    1. What some of these protesters want is fewer restrictions on their parading. But an awful lot (the majority?) in the unionist community don’t have that much interest in these parades and dont sympathise with that issue. Indeed, the idea that parades should stay out of places they’re not wanted is catching on (maybe because it just aint worth the hassle).

    2. A sense that the current direction of govt policy in NI is too explicitly based on deals with the IRA. Some of it is simply down to timing. The timing of the Sean Kelly release, the timing of the RIR disbandement decision, was too closely linked with the IRA statement. People don’t like the thought that an IRA statement would result in such clearly linked actions from the government. Its just too obvious whats going on. (There is also talk about further gains for the IRA which are outside the GFA such as the return of IRA fugutives on the run and local ‘community assistants’ for the PSNI who could well be former IRA people). The sense of frustration and anger on this is quite wide, and shared by some outside the unioinsts, including the Alliance party. Government policy should not be based on ‘secret deals’ – whoever they are with – but the present government operates too obviously in that way.

    People are not worried about the Union itself – which is more secure than I can remember. It’s the type of union that people are now squabbling over. And different unionists have different views on this.

  • pol

    I have listened to unionist people talk about the concessions given to the catholic population. Could someone please tell me what concessions are they talking about. Because i have searched the house and cant find mine.

  • bertie

    DSD

    I was going to leave this thread to its own devises but I can’t let the impression that only pro-agreement unionists are disgusted by the rioting.

    I am absolutly unrepentantly anti-agreement. I campaigned actively against it and would do so again.

    I’m picking this post to give me a focus as opposed to have a go at you personnally.

    “I always felt we gave it in a very half hearted way and with a lot of mixed messages. In my own view people respond to passion and certainty. What was needed was a liberal view espoused with some passion and forcefulness. Just because you are a liberal unionist doesn’t mean you have to be a wimp about it.”

    No amount of passion would have swayed me, if the premise repulses. Passionate endorsement of an agreement that included prisoner releases, stiffened my reserve.

    To comment about Empy and Paisley is proably left to those that are party members, also if I was to would take away from the fact that we have common ground in our opinion of the rioters.

    “Besides from the point of view of the political interests of the wider unionist community had Gerry Adams sat down and written out the whole weekend’s game plan it couldn’t be better for Republicans.”

    Again, I agree, not my biggest objection to what happened but not a plus from my perspective.

    “The unionist community just seems to have a complete death wish sometimes. But leadership is about telling it as it is not just joining in with the cry babies.”

    My main problem with that is that there are things to cry about. Crying is legitimate rioting isn’t.

    In my view appeasement of terrorism over the years has added to the tally of the dead. For example, it is my view that the Angle Irish Agreement made events like Enniskillen more likely. In saying that I do not suppose that many would say that I was making excuses for the IRA and deflecting the responsibility for it from them (or standing alongside this scum). In the same way, I consider that the Agreement and the way that the government chose to use the yes vote have helped to create a situation where the difference between right and wrong would appear to be irrelevant.

    I condemn the rioting and it is from the same core beliefs that my opposition to the agreement was based on.

  • slug

    Pol – my post of 2 minutes before yours explains some of what you might be looking for. Point 1 is the parading issue. Point 2 is probably more important to most unionists. By the way it’s not concessions to ‘catholic’ community, rather, the appearance that government policy is directed through ‘secret deals’ with the IRA. That annoys a lot of people whether unionist or not. Of course it does not justify violence whatsoever.

  • bertie

    I live in London so I don’t watch a lot of local NI commentary but I do have conversations with politcally active unionists and I have no recollection of this phrase being used :-

    “concessions given to the catholic population”

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    “I was going to leave this thread to its own devises but I can’t let the impression that only pro-agreement unionists are disgusted by the rioting.”

    Not my impression. My impression was that a minority of unionists in general seem to be displaying disgust whilst most opt for the default “its wrong but…disenfranchised, resentment etc” reply.

    I didn’t think passionate endorsement would have swung everyone. So to swing around a solid anti agreement persons would not have been the intention. It doesn’t take away from the fact that those in the majority who voted ‘yes’ might have liked a bit more passion and even those who didn’t might have seen some merit in a liberal position if espoused with a bit of vim. But you have your view I have mine, thats democracy. Besides the pro-anti thing is long over now.

    “To comment about Empey and Paisley is probably left to those that are party members, also if I was to would take away from the fact that we have common ground in our opinion of the rioters.”

    Members of which party? The UUP or DUP? Should only party members complain about their own party? Do I have to be a labour member to complain about the NIO? Catch yourself on! I still vote in NI (overseas voter in South Antrim!) and I am still a unionist. I was a UUP supporter and still support the UUP (although I not able to be a full member because I am living overseas currently). So I will comment if I choose. Besides why be afraid of a little criticism. My criticism is aimed at Reg for allowing Paisley to use him as cover. The DUP should have been left out to dry on this one and instead the UUP is trapped into making excuses for the inexcusable. A bad play in my view which I am free to express here, welcome to blogging.

    “In my view appeasement of terrorism over the years has added to the tally of the dead. For example, it is my view that the Angle Irish Agreement made events like Enniskillen more likely. In saying that I do not suppose that many would say that I was making excuses for the IRA and deflecting the responsibility for it from them (or standing alongside this scum). In the same way, I consider that the Agreement and the way that the government chose to use the yes vote have helped to create a situation where the difference between right and wrong would appear to be irrelevant.

    Ok the old appeasement creates more terrorism argument. Don’t agree with your casual link but hard to prove or disprove. I don’t see much appeasement in Iraq right now but it’s not slowing the ‘terrorist’ down any is it? Besides the record on appeasement in NI was pretty slim from 1969 – 1986’s but the terrorists didn’t slow down their activity. Blaming the agreement is pretty weak. I don’t recall voting for a suspension of law and order in 1998 and I don’t think that rioting in Belfast is a new post 1998 phenomenon either so that causal link seems even weaker than your last one.

    Still we agree on the rioting as least and that’s the point of the thread.

  • Druid

    As a witness to last nights and Saturday’s events it was obvious that young people really enjoyed their wash under the water cannons. Sure it’s great craic to soak the feckers too!

    I don’t think that poverty is an excuse for riots though, not when we have a benefit system that feeds those who top up using the black economy. Could democracy be to blame for crime as it stands? Maybe there is another way? I know, let’s get some advice from Saudi Arabia. What would Saudi have done in the same circumstances?

  • Comrade Stalin

    DSD, I agree completely. I’d go further, and I’m sure you agree, to say that the four big parties all use the tribal situation you describe. I definitely agree that the parties stoke up this “we’re getting screwed while themmums get the moon on a stick, but vote for me and I’ll put a stop to it” in order to get votes.

    Slug, thank you for that. In terms of marching, I despise the Orange Order but recognize its right to express it’s views. In a liberal democracy, anyone should basically be free to express their views anywhere. However, most people in Northern Ireland do not see it this way; they want that freedom for “us” but want that freedom denied to “them”. The truth is that most of the time not everyone can get their way. Both the loyalists and the residents will have to accept that they are not going to get the parade routing they are demanding. That compromise must be understood before we can start really addressing the underlying problem.

    The Sean Kelly thing is funny, how people have latched onto it. It is pretty obvious that he was jailed in order that the IRA would stick to their side of whatever bargain they were about to strike. I don’t think the Brits were serious about putting him in jail, I think they were just playing their joker card. The disbandment of the RIR (it has not actually happened yet) and the army dismantlements are symbolic things. On the ground, they make pretty much bugger all difference to ordinary unionist people day to day. The only thing that seems objectionable about them is that they were asked for by the republicans.

    I’m personally quite serious about trying to address problems raised by elected unionist politicians, but they have to come up with better things than resisting normalization measures or saying, let’s splurge £1bn on installing plush furniture in the Shankill community centre. At the end of the day – aside from the bank robbery farce – the IRA has been largely benign and there is no point in having useless army reserves hanging around soaking up cash that could be used to build hospitals or schools.

  • John East Belfast

    Duncan

    It is easy for you from afar or for me from relative anonymity to condemn the riotors as scum and many of what appear to be their supporters as un-educated and inarticulate spides. However for unionist leaders on the ground they have to deal with the reality and also pick up the pieces later – they are also, as I pointed out earlier, likely faitful voters.

    Let’s say Reg had used the language of your 7.40 post
    Next time he was down the Lower Newtownards Road he would be lucky to escape with his life, and his Advice Centre on the Albertbridge Road would be burned to the ground – probably along with Cunningham House. Meanwhile any influence we do have would be lost and put on par with the Alliance Party. These communities would effectively be abbandoned to the UDA and UVF – the DUP have little influence in these areas.

    Perhaps it would be the right stance and undoubtedly would earn the applause of the North Down set – but they won’t vote next time round.

    Instead Reg chooses to bravely influence from the ground while people will still listen – the price he pays for this is to publicly acknowledge their grievances.

    Soon these flames will subside and we will need to be there for the clear up

    This is real politics.

    lib2016

    i think you are getting clearly carried away with yourself that what you see is the death of unionism.

    what is going on now will achieve absolutely nothing and although it will make our job much harder the Union and those who support it are much bigger than what is happening at present.

  • bertie

    DSD

    “To comment about Empey and Paisley is probably left to those that are party members, also if I was to would take away from the fact that we have common ground in our opinion of the rioters.”

    This was aimed at me not you. I was just skiping over the comments as I am not a member of either party and do not class myself anymore as a supporter of either. I was not critising you for commenting on it. If anything I would have assumed that you were still a member of the UUP. I just didn’t want to get into an Empey/Paisley debate

    Appeasment is not the only thing that promotes prolongs terrorism, so the absence of it in any given circumstances does not disprove its impact.

    BTW I agree with your comment on the Police… East Belfast thread.

  • Cui bono?

    Now, will the unionist middle classes PLEASE get off the golf courses, get out of their gardens, get their fingers out of their a**es and take the intiative back from these vermin?

    40% of people here don’t vote. Wake up.

  • willowfield

    John EB

    “Loyalists” are a greater threat to the Union than nationalists. It is difficult, but Sir Reg needs to condemn them outright and work for the complete defeat and destruction of loyalist paramilitary structures. Unless the Orange Order condemns the violence, expels its members who took part in violence, and starts to behave responsibly, he should also condemn the Order.

    Not easy, but in the long term this is necessary. Tolerating loyalists is a doomed strategy, even though it might save some votes in the short-term.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    John,

    I don’t like to disagree as I suspect we would agree on many other tings. However:

    “It is easy for you from afar or for me from relative anonymity to condemn the riotors as scum and many of what appear to be their supporters as un-educated and inarticulate spides. However for unionist leaders on the ground they have to deal with the reality and also pick up the pieces later – they are also, as I pointed out earlier, likely faithful voters.”

    Firstly being afar makes no difference. If I were there I would be saying the same thing and if I had a platform I would be saying it loudly on the BBC. If you knew me you would know that to be the case. Mind you it might explain why I don’t have a platform, sans slugger, any more!
    Secondly. They don’t vote very much. Look at the turnout numbers in the working class areas. Around 35% in some of the big estates not that many votes to get excited about. When they do vote it’s not for the UUP. In East Belfast you are talking about Pottinger ward pretty much, last count UUP 2317 votes and I would place a bet most of those come from Bloomfield and Orangefield. I really doubt Reg gets that many votes in Woodstock or Ballymacarret. Besides which why assume that every man jack in those areas supports what going on? Just maybe some of those people in those estates would be happy to see a voice raised against it as they are too scared themselves to do so?

    “Perhaps it would be the right stance and undoubtedly would earn the applause of the North Down set – but they won’t vote next time round.

    Reg is not just a Belfast Councilor for Pottinger he has a wider responsibility as the leader of the UUP and that means articulating the view of people anywhere including the ones in North Down. Considering they are the only ones returning a UUP MP to Westminster enough of them do seem to vote sometimes. But most importantly you should do what is right not what suits the loudest group of potential voters. That’s my philosophy anyway.

    “Let’s say Reg had used the language of your 7.40 post
    Next time he was down the Lower Newtownards Road he would be lucky to escape with his life, and his Advice Centre on the Albertbridge Road would be burned to the ground – probably along with Cunningham House. Meanwhile any influence we do have would be lost and put on par with the Alliance Party. These communities would effectively be abandoned to the UDA and UVF – the DUP have little influence in these areas.”

    If we just gave in to violence that easily why doesn’t the IRA have a united Ireland to crow about? Or do we resist republicans so we can bend our knees to loyalists? You bend to that kind of threat and what the hell kind of credibility do you have anyway? The UUP is sacrificing credibility and decency for a position of non influence over people who rarely vote and even more rarely vote UUP. It’s just daft and to cap it all it’s wrong

  • bertie

    “”Loyalists” are a greater threat to the Union than nationalists. It is difficult, but Sir Reg needs to condemn them outright and work for the complete defeat and destruction of loyalist paramilitary structures. Unless the Orange Order condemns the violence, expels its members who took part in violence, and starts to behave responsibly, he should also condemn the Order.

    Not easy, but in the long term this is necessary. Tolerating loyalists is a doomed strategy, even though it might save some votes in the short-term.”

    I think that this is broadly the stance that all unionists need to take even if we are not looking for votes.

  • John East Belfast

    Duncan

    I don’t doubt you would condemn from a public platform but as you said it – you are now commenting via the web.

    Regarding the fact that the spides don’t vote – very true – but the impact on voting goes beyond here – my 83 year old DUP supporting father who lives half way up the Castlereagh Road gave me another row about the whole issue last night.

    This upper working class unionist community buy into this whole grievance line and have given their tacit appreciation but not approval of a loyalist back – lash.

    Duncan we do share many Tory loving similar views but with respect I believe you know little about the Belfast Protestant Working and Lower Middle Classes.

    “Reg is not just a Belfast Councillor for Pottinger he has a wider responsibility as the leader of the UUP and that means articulating the view of people anywhere including the ones in North Down”

    You are right and I think he does both very well but the UUP is not the Tory Party and the Leader has to be on the ground with the entire unionist community.

    Also as you have pointed out not everyone does support what is going on and they need the UUP there now and most importantly afterwards. I hear the stories that come into the Advice Centre – there is real need on the ground about real bread and butter issues.

    What do we do just stand on our moral high horse and withdraw to the leafy subburbs ?

    That we need to condemn the violence is taken as read – I have heard that already from Reg.

    Asking why people are doing it is not wrong in itself but may help find a solution – I never bought the line that all PIRA violence was mindless.
    What you have to do is address genuine grievances and isolate the fanatics.

    Duncan, uncharacteristically, your last paragraph is pretty feeble and not respondable

    Willowfield

    I agree with your post and Reg has regularly condemned paramilitarism and gangsterism as a curse on our community.

    A big problem is, unfortunately, a lot of the residents support them – they dealt with the LVF lately and supply them with cheap booze and cigarettes.

    cui bono

    I agree the crux of the problem is that the professional and business classes have abdicated their role and left leadership to others. When Trimble and Reg tried to represent them they deserted them.

    Basically they are not paying a high enough price. The rioting may be a couple of miles away and you may hear a helicoptor overhead but hey life goes on.

    If NI had to balance its own budget the problems would be sorted out in 6 months.

  • slug

    CS: Although I wouldn’t be as generous to the IRA as you, I can go along with much of what you say. I’m not going to argue about the rights and wrongs of the government policy announcements here, what I am doing is explaining why I sense that people are unhappy. (I am not arguing that any of this justifies the riots).

    My point that the impression is that government policy, and its exact timing, is being driven by ‘secret deals’ with the IRA in which e.g. a ‘historic’ IRA statement is made in return for e.g. releasing an IRA man from prison or demolishing army bases and disbanding the RIR. I am not saying that some of these ‘normalizing’ things are not desirable – there may be good cases for disbanding the RIR home service batallions for example or for releasing people. But its important that these policies be determined in consultation with all the political parties and based on clear criteria, and the timing should not be tied to IRA statements. Otherwise you have the appearance that they are not the outcome of a democratic consultative process but instead are simply the outcome of a bargaining game with RIR disbandement announcements being used as a ‘sweetner’ in return for a statement. The problem is not one of the actual policy changes in themselves but the process and timing of their introduction. That is, I can see that the RIR home batallions might indeed not be needed in a normal situation, but did this announcement need to follow the IRAs statement so blatantly? These might seem like trivial matters but in fact they do make people angry, because it seems to disrespect the input of other groups outside the ‘secret deal’. In these circumstances, conspiracy theories and scare stories about government intentions can easily take root.

    I want to say again that I am not whingeing as an excuse for the riots. They are unjustified and very stupid. But people were asking why unionists might be feeling unhappy at the moment.

  • bertie

    Slug

    I agree.

  • peteb

    It would appear that a lot of people are missing the significance of the quote from Mitchell Reiss –

    “It’s true for unionism, it’s true for all political parties, and I think that this was not the finest moment for politics in Northern Ireland over the weekend.”

    While this weekend has shown that unionist political leaders have not given their full support to the police.. it’s worth remembering that they are not the only ones.

  • crat

    Peter, you’re right. Now only the fringe parties unequivocally endorse the PSNI.

  • bertie

    I live in London and don’t get all the local news. Can anyone tell me what has happened to the man (sic) welding the ceremonial sword at the police. Has he been arrested? Surely to God it is an arrestable offence! I wonder if he felt his actions were the equivlalent of that student with the tank in Tianamin Square!

  • pol

    Slug
    In answer to your Replay.
    Not to be intimated by the LOL is not a concession but a basic human right.

    Sean kelly should not have been in jail in the first place. hardly a concession.

    As for the RIR, if the IRA where ending its armed struggle why would we want to keep the regiment.

    This is not about conncessions it is about a community fragmented through the lack of political leadership. The wolf at the door and all that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    To me, these matters are trivial. Of all of them, the marching business is probably the most serious. But all in all, unionists have it pretty much the same as they would anywhere else in the UK. They’ve got access to jobs, education, housing and welfare.

    The reason they are disenfranchised is the same reason the rest of us are disenfranchised – decisions are taken for us by a minister who doesn’t give a damn. That is why we need devolution. But guess what, we don’t have it – and the reason why that is is because they oppose a local government except when it is one they can dominate. DUP supporters have been recently saying that the present direct rule setup is quite acceptable compared with a Stormont government including Sinn Fein. Now they are turning round saying they are disenfranchised ?

    Still short of serious proposals to address these problems, other than “stop giving the chuckies what they want”. I appreciate the point you are making about timing all the same.

  • Niall

    It would appear that a lot of people are missing the significance of the quote from Mitchell Reiss –
    No political party, and certainly no responsible political leadership, deserves to serve in a government unless it cooperates and supports fully and unconditionally the police, and calls on its supporters to do so.
    “It’s true for unionism, it’s true for all political parties, and I think that this was not the finest moment for politics in Northern Ireland over the weekend.”
    While this weekend has shown that unionist political leaders have not given their full support to the police.. it’s worth remembering that they are not the only ones.
    Posted by: peteb at September 12, 2005 10:55 PM

    why are you trying to make loyalist rioting a SF issue? Is your tunnel vision so complete that you are trying to deflect this onto SF? Reiss has always displayed a unionist bent (except when caught out re OO being similar to the KKK) so why wouldn’t he, like you, try and knock SF when in fact the OO, UVF and unionists in general are shooting themselves in the foot.

    Are your posts a party political broadcast ?

  • peteb

    pol

    As I pointed out at the time, the arrest and release of Sean Kelly – and Hain’s subsequent refusal to co-operate with the Independent Sentence Review Commision – was a display of his, and the British Government’s, disregard for the rule of law, when faced with the contradiction of an adherence to it, compared with the continuation The Process

  • slug

    Peteb

    “the British Government’s, disregard for the rule of law, when faced with the contradiction of an adherence to it, compared with the continuation The Process.”

    That is quite a good way of expressing the concerns many would feel about government policy, the way it is conducted as much as the actual policies. The ‘Process’ – a set of ‘secret deals’ – is elevated at the expense of:

    -consultation with other parties
    -criteria-based decision making
    -sensitive timing of announcements that affect security and jobs, and
    -apparently even the rule of law.

    This prioritization began a long time ago but has become very blatant.

  • pol

    We could solve all this tomorrow.

    You don’t trust the Brit’s.

    So lets get the executive back up with devolved powers.

    You can trust yourselves……….. cant you.

  • 26+6=1

    The chariot of re-unification has just gathered momentum, driven by and indeed fuelled by Loyalist stupidity! Who would of thought ” anyone Republican or otherwise….” Didn’t think the otherwise part would have such Loyalist, Unionist connotations or relevance! Thanks DR. Ian & friends for making my dream a reality!

  • 26+6=1

    The chariot of re-unification has just gathered momentum, driven by and indeed fuelled by Loyalist stupidity! Who would of thought ” anyone Republican or otherwise….” Didn’t think the otherwise part would have such Loyalist, Unionist connotations or relevance! Thanks DR. Ian & friends for making my dream a reality!

  • darthrumsfeld

    I just know I’m going to get a heap of manure on my head for this, but just exactly how does the deplorable events of the weekend weaken the Union ( as distinct from the economy, or the lives of individuals caught up in the trouble- both of which are arguably more important, of course )?

    Fact 1: the maintenance of the Union depends on the reluctance of the Government to risk a conflagration by expelling us and the greater reluctance of Dublin to have to tame a million- or even a hundred thousand – disgruntled new citizens

    Fact 2: the Government has developed a strategy of mid to long term unification by gradualism, which cannot be prevented by the political leaders of Unionism, no matter how articulate, and the only times that the balance is redressed is when the threat of armed loylaism cannot be ignored- ergo the release of their killers, and the farcical blind eye turned to their increasingly brazen criminality.

    Fact 3: People like our lost leader DSD obviously and understandably want to paint NI in a positive light to their middle class friends in Massachusets, or wherever lest anyone think that they are like these terrible oiks on the box ( ” But Duncan ,when you were in the Orange was it like that? I mean you’re such a pleasant chap. Have another canape”). That desire to be approved of, and to be thought nice, has never bothered the Republican movement: indeed they need the threat of violence behind their politicasl leaders to escape close scrutiny. I mean , when was the last time a BBC reporter doorstepped a leading Provo and asked him if he would like to condemn violence. Just wouldn’t happen.Being nice, won’t save the Union. How many hundreds of thousands of garden centre Prods have said to English people on their summer holidays over the years ” Of course we’re not really like that awful man Paisley. Why I play golf with a Roman Catholic every saturday”. And how many converts to Unionism have resulted?

    Fact 4: Governments don’t have friends; only people they can usefully exploit or who can exploit them. What strategy has Unionism evolved to reflect this reality? Bleating ” We’re just like you” will not do it.

    Sometimes if you’re trapped in a loveless marriage you are more likely to achieve a modus vivendi if you let the other party have a certain degree of autonomy and don’t start a row when she behaves badly. it’s only the cosat of the divorce that keeps you together.
    perhaps Mr Hain and Mr Blair should learn that lesson, seing they don’t feel the need to attend marriage guidance.

  • The Watchman

    I’m going to cause consternation in Massachusetts and partially agree with Duncan for once. I haven’t been watching events too closely but I certainly think that there is no point in being equivocal about the mob or blaming the violence on social conditions, concessions, etc. Individuals are responsible for their own behaviour. The UUP should never estimate the law-and-order instincts of those unionists who aren’t burning buses, etc. It will not lose any votes by coming out strongly against the loyalist underclass, not even in those areas where the underclass resides, where ordinary decent people are usually sickened at the behaviour of their lumpen neighbours. And yes, these people are scum. I remember taking my elderly great-uncle down to Harry Ramsden’s for his lunch, taking a short detour to avoid Saturday lunchtime traffic and driving straight into a group of 12 year olds stoning a coach behind us full of pensioners. And the same goes for the paramilitaries.

    The wider issue to be dealt with is the state of urban working class Protestant areas. The paramilitaries are part of the problem, not part of the solution, and yet dealing with them is problematic for anyone who still believes in an “inclusive” political process. “Inclusivity” since 1998 has been about allowing the paramilitaries free rein for operating in (i.e. wrecking) their areas whilst the middle classes get their cappuccino bars and nice hotels in the city centre. Any attempt to sort out working class loyalist areas requires the repudiation of this tacit pact. There is an urgent need for a new kind of civic leadership in these areas, along with the suppression of paramilitarism. My family is from loyalist West Belfast and the present state of it is shocking in every way. I’d recommend Mark Langhammer’s paper on this subject which is obtainable on the Athol Books website.

    Right, that’s enough agreeing with you, Duncan, normal service to be resumed. I’m glad that, even before the weekend, Empey had already turned his attention to loyalist areas, but there is no doubt that for years the UUP has had little useful to say on the subject. Post-69, the party was never desperately strong in Belfast, in comparison to its rural and small town heartlands. It did at least have links to Belfast Orangeism thanks to Martin Smyth, Tommy Passmore and others, but even these Orange links have lessened in recent years, at least partly due to the firmly anti-Agreement stance of the Belfast County Lodge. And of course in Belfast, we also had the McGimpsey cancer within the UUP and rotten borough Associations, one of which scandalously kept Sir Cecil the Silent as a public representative.

    And no, Duncan, making a forceful and passionate defence of a pro-Agreement stance wouldn’t have made any difference. If the Agreement appealed to any sector of unionist society, it was to the yacht-sailing, Castleward-loving middle class. It didn’t go down well on the Shankill (now a DUP heartland for the first time since Johnny McQuade’s day), Sandy Row, Donegall Pass, etc. Now that Trimble (with a little help from yourself) has done what Faulkner would have done and reduced the UUP to a middle class liberal rump with Helen’s Bay as its spiritual home, the party has an uphill task in establishing any credibility on the subject. I hope it does, not least because it could steal a march on the DUP if it can bring fresh thinking on civic renewal in loyalist areas.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Darth : “Fact 1: the maintenance of the Union depends on the reluctance of the Government to risk a conflagration by expelling us and the greater reluctance of Dublin to have to tame a million- or even a hundred thousand – disgruntled new citizens”

    Oh look, it’s a unionist helpfully “reminding” us (oh no, it’s not a threat, no siree) of the violent consequences of reunification. Look – even the “mythical one million” has been wheeled out, despite the recent election results showing that less than half a million people voted unionist during the last Westminster elections.

    If a majority vote for reunification – although this is likely to be many decades away – the show is all over. There is likely to be violence, but it’s outrageous that anyone would try to say that the violence should or could succeed in preventing democracy from being established.

    The British don’t want a re-partitioned sponger state. They want to share this problem out, and they’ll bring in joint authority by stealth if they have to. Buying off the republicans is better than buying off no-one at all, given that the unionists simply don’t want to be accomodated as part of any compromise.

    “I mean , when was the last time a BBC reporter doorstepped a leading Provo and asked him if he would like to condemn violence. Just wouldn’t happen.”

    I assume you are drawing parallels with the Orange Order chap interviewed the other night. The reason why your analogy doesn’t apply well is because republicans have never tried to deny that they are riotous and violent scum – they happily admit to it. The Orange Order and the unionists, on the other hand, describe themselves as upstanding people of law and order. They sat there during the Patten Commission meetings telling everyone about how they supported the RUC because they were such a fine calibre of people standing up for the law. The same people even then marched right alongside people carrying UVF banners and, as we saw more recently this weekend, directly attacked the police and apologized for riots. The chap directly refused to condemn the rioting.

    Watchman : “The UUP should never estimate the law-and-order instincts of those unionists who aren’t burning buses, etc.”

    Since when have unionists ever had law and order instincts ? They condemn loyalist violence on one hand, and apologize for it in the same breath. They say they never talk to terrorists, but routinely vote them into place on council committees and other cushy jobs. Pretty much every unionist politician I’ve seen interviewed over the weekend blamed the police for setting off the rioters, which is exactly what I would expect from Sinn Fein. Please, let’s cut the crap here – unionists are just like republicans. A lot of unionists think paramilitarism is an unfortuate but justifiable response to things – so do republicans. A lot of other unionists think that paramilitarism is a handy stick they can use to get what they want, like these idiots claiming that RUC’s changed name is part of the reason for the riots – so do republicans.

  • bertie

    Watchman

    I felt better after reading that!

  • David

    Seems like there is a bit of a consensus emerging that Enpey “dropped the ball” by being too close to Paisley and by not condemning the rioting in strong enough terms.

    My own feeling is that the marching issue does not have the mileage in it that it did back with the early Drumcree stand offs. The Prods started by being strongly supportive of the right to march, but after an annual Orange Order condoned orgy of destruction in unionist communities much of the sympathy has evaporated.

    Perhaps the OO should think about this situation that they have created. They have started from a position where they had a lot of sympathy in the unionist community and by their own violence and thuggery they have ended up with a community that is now indifferent to many of their concerns.

    If this is the effect on their friends, what do they think the effect on their enemies is?

    There should be resignations in the Orange Order over this and the first to go should be Dawson Bailie.

  • willowfield

    darthrumsfeld

    I just know I’m going to get a heap of manure on my head for this, but just exactly how does the deplorable events of the weekend weaken the Union ( as distinct from the economy, or the lives of individuals caught up in the trouble- both of which are arguably more important, of course )?

    Well, the economy, for a start, is crucial. A healthy economy in NI makes people happier and more contented with the status quo and less likely to be won over by economic arguments for a united Ireland. A healthy economy also is more likely to attract young people, and young unionist people, to stay in NI rather than flee to GB.

    Also, the rioting alienates middle-ground opinion and makes it less likely to support unionism.

    The rioting alienates opinion in Great Britain, which is the dominant part of the United Kingdom and which dominates the government which governs us and makes decisions about us. These include decisions about our constitutional future.

    The rioting alienates world opinion, strengthening the hand of nationalism.

    The rioting reinforces feelings of despondence and resignation in the unionist community. A pessimistic and despondent community is a weak one. In contrast, the nationalist community is a hopeful and optimistic one.

  • The Watchman

    Comrade Stalin,

    You are talking such complete rubbish that I can’t even be bothered to refute it. You argue by foolish generalisation without reference to the section of society to which you refer.