UUP letting Sinn Fein off the hook

Peter Robinson reckons that Reg Empey’s suggestion that the British government should simply call people back to the Assembly will simply let Sinn Fein off the political hook.

  • Yoda

    And I’d go so far as to suggest that if they aren’t ordered back to the assembly, then the rest of the parties should just take it upon themselves to go back.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Does anyone remember during the count for the last assembly elections, when it was all going so well for the DUP and Robinson rolled into UTV feeling triumphalist and threw a copy of the Newsletter across the studio? And he said it was a “rubbish paper” or something like that?

    Well, it looks like it worked. God, how the Pride of Northern Ireland has come to heel since then. He’ll have no complaints at the next election, you can be sure of that.

    It’s not just that the paper has ratcheted the sectarianism up to 11, it’s that it has even become party political in its allegiances. Look at this article, written by the Newsletter’s senior political reporter. It’s obviously a straight transcript of a DUP press release. So Dempster lifts it straight from his email. Couple of nice lines from Robinson, worth a brief, but he decides to beef it up to lead length. Robinson must be delighted. So Dempster carries, presumably, the entire press release, or at least the vast majority of it, in which Robinson lashes Empey and the UUP.

    You would expect, simply as a matter of ethics and good practice, that Empey would be entitled to a right of reply? But no, no such luck for the Officials. Not so much as a “Sir Reg was unavailable for comment.” It’s the Robinson show.

    Seriously, this is dire stuff. It actually reads like a DUP press release. (Admittedly, it would be a good press release. It’s one or the other – a good press release or a downright irresponsible piece of journalism.) The last 200 words are just lifted from the press release and carried unedited ffs. Or look at the sheer bias of the opening sentence – “Does the Ulster Unionist Party want to share power with Sinn Fein within six weeks?” Yes, it’ll grab the reader, but at the cost of journalistic standards. The trick is to get the balance right.

  • Pete Baker

    Yoda, they can’t go back until the suspension, by the government, is lifted..

    Actually, the UUP call seems a more calculated move than it may first appear.. as I recall, if an Executive is not appointed within six weeks of an operating Assembly, then the Assembly is not just suspended, as the government have done previously, but collapsed.. meaning new elections. Keep that process running.. and the calculation obviously is that those parties seen to be preventing the formation of the Executive, as defined by the Belfast Agreement, will receive fewer votes.

    It may work.

  • Yoda

    I realise that, Pete.

    I just thought it would be interesting if those who were elected just went back, despite the suspension, and actually got the assembly sitting again.

    Start some debates. Something. Anything.

    I’m not saying it would be legal, but it would be a pretty powerful gesture.

    Pie in the sky, I know. But even a little green fella can dream.

  • Pete Baker

    Hmm.. well then you know that the government, in effect Hain, must lift the suspension first.. otherwise no Assembly exists.

    I know that sounds condescending, it’s not meant at you, Yoda.. just those, and they do exist, who don’t realise the ramifications of restarting the Assembly.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Yes becuase they are obviously so firmly embedded on the hook right now!

  • Crataegus


    The idea of a gesture, though a different issue, is an interesting one which could be read as the UUP showing willing. Alternatively assuming SDLP and SF turned up and the DUP did not it could reinforce Robinson’s message.

    It is an interesting idea and would need very careful consideration. Turn up to discuss something that is onerous such as the Water Rates or the lack of a coherent plan for improving the NI economy. Perhaps something to do with money and/or alleged mismanagement. The ethics don’t matter all that matters is you can deliver clear positive messages and cause the DUP and Hain some discomfort.

    I agree with Pete this is a calculated move and would make a lot more sense if the UUP were in a stronger position. The UUP could decline further in any coming election. Yoda’s idea could be a lot cleverer.

  • Butterknife

    First thing on the agenda:

    Assembly members’ pay-rise

    Bets please:o)

    Seriously has anyone noticed how Ald. Peter Robinson MP, MLA initials are PR. That is all he is full of PR, and i said that nicely! Due to the stability in this province I am sure all of his assets has went up in worth, and his family has done very well out of it.

    Moreover, it is now noticeable that the DUP not only played a part in the Executive of the Assembly but they, like Sinn Fein, used it to their own political ends by rotating their regional development chairmanship to give PR to their future MPs etc.

    I hope the “Rubbish Paper” [PR] takes note!

  • Butterknife

    They can turn up to discuss the West Lothian Question and how this will affect Northern Ireland with having no Assembly. But then again how many of our 9th rate politicians know what it means!

  • Crataegus


    I would like to see them discuss the ethicise of elected representatives having close relationship with say developers. When does keen professional interest become too close?

  • Butterknife

    Crataegus: Catch yourself on man! I can think of one family where the husband represents one ward and its constituency, his wife the neighbouring ward and a different constituency and their son …. Then you had the husband as regional development minister, so then me think if he would be prejudiced Mmmmmmmm
    I am not suggesting for one moment that this family is doing anything unlawful but you have to ask is it right or constitutional.

    As one poster used to right: God save the Queen (The fountain of justice! *HA*)

  • Crataegus


    I was of course not suggesting anything improper. I just thought it a good ethical, philosophical topic to kick things off. Another would be the strengths and weakness of dual and triple mandates. Perhaps the title of the debate could be, “when do our politicians sleep? One man one job, is the country getting value for money when it is 2-3 jobs one man? Or is politics a genetic weakness passed on to one’s children?

  • Butterknife

    lol. I miss the Portadown News Web too. Didn’t the SoS say that dual mandates will be stopped or did he defer this matter to the foxes on whether they wanted to be shot.

  • yerman

    Billy Pilgrim,
    I’m very sure you would love the Newsletter to go back to the days when Ciaran McKeown was writing opinion pieces and passing them off as political journalism and that the editorial line of the Newsletter should go back to being completely opposed to the thinking of the vast majority of unionists.

    It is interesting that since the Newsletter made an effort to stop being a “rubbish paper” that the circulation figures have actually started to increase for the first time in a very very very long time.

    “Yoda’s idea could be a lot cleverer.”

    How, exactly? It would be in breech of the current legislation governing the Assembly. Some kind of magic solution which allows us all to skip forward together holding hands isnt just going to appear out of the sky. Why not move forward on a basis which is possible and set up an Assembly at a level which can operate at the present time? You get to the point where you feel that any idea in NI is accepted unless it happens to have been put forward by the DUP. Had Reggie combover put forward the ideas now being proposed by the DUP he would be lauded as some kind of peacemaker trying to take the country forward.

  • Crataegus


    It is obvious what Reg is up to.

    “set up an Assembly at a level which can operate at the present time”

    Pray do enlighten what level is that?


    I miss the Portadown News!

  • Yoda

    It would be in breech of the current legislation governing the Assembly.

    Exactly. And I still think that would make it an even more powerful gesture. It would say that everyone’s had enough of the stalling.

    Imagine it: elected officials showing up for work and doing what they were elected to do.

  • Reader

    Yoda: Imagine it: elected officials showing up for work and doing what they were elected to do.
    1) Fantasizing about the 3rd Dail, eh?
    2) Surely you mean representatives, not officials? The officials will go right on working for the Government that pays their wages.
    3) I don’t think any party in the recent elections committed itself to an unconditional return to an Assembly without an Executive, set up outside the parameters specified in the GFA. So each party could be challenged on the policy from within its own ranks.

  • Yoda


    1) No, and your paranoia is showing. I must be a shinner, right?

    2) Elected official in the sense of an elected “person holding public office or having official duties; a representative of a government or administration, or in connection with some public institution or officially-constituted body, organization, society, etc.” But you knew what I meant. Clearly, discussion was not on your mind when you responded to this thread, so why did you bother? To be tiresome?

    3) So, you’ll have missed the part where I said I’d love to see it but I knew it was pie in the sky, then?

    Thanks for playing.