More detail on the DUP’s ‘Facing Reality’

The Newsletter has more on the DUP’s forthcoming pamphlet on how some form of devolved institutions might be returned short of executive power sharing.Stephen Dempster:

Facing Reality begins by putting the current unionist position in context – explaining why an all-inclusive power-sharing executive is a non-runner for the time being. It then goes on to outline a two-stage approach to moving forward.

Stage one deals with a range of possible options, while devolved government is unattainable. These options are thought to take previous DUP policy papers and manifesto commitments as their starting point. Ideas could potentially run the gamut, from a shadow Assembly with the ability to scrutinise and consult ministers to a corporate Assembly with executive or ministerial powers.

DUP sources suggest that one option is similar in form to the Ulster Unionist’s suggestion of an Assembly with legislative and financial powers, working under direct rule ministers who run the 11 government departments. Stage two would be moving towards a power-sharing government, as and when there is sufficient cross-community support and trust.

The DUP document is said to deal with ideas for implementing stage two and devolving powers from Westminster.

  • seabhac siulach

    DUP, facing reality? Surely, an oxymoron if ever there was one…

    Basic DUP position: give us the Sun, the moon and the stars and then, maybe, just maybe we will consider sitting down to merely begin negotiations…

    God, it’s depressing.
    And the more the two govts. indulge this nonsense the longer it will continue…

  • martin ingram

    Seabhac,

    If you listen to the SF blogging committee who are resident on this board, this is all part of the RM master plan. Indeed only a few weeks ago Danny M argued in the Daily comic that a no return to the institutions this year 2006 would be a real slap in the face for the DUP??

    He suggests the Republican community sit tight and grin and bare it.

    Comon give it another year.

    Martin

  • DK

    Sounds to me like the DUP are trying to edge towards power sharing without alienating their supporters. Why not go along with it – it’s at least a start?

  • seabhac siulach

    “Sounds to me like the DUP are trying to edge towards power sharing without alienating their supporters. Why not go along with it – it’s at least a start?”

    Because temporary little arrangements have a tedious tendency in Ireland to become permanent, e.g., the border!
    The DUP are basically trying to bring back the old Stormont set-up with their plan, i.e., a unionist majority and a compliant nationalist party (in this case the SDLP). It would be in the continuing electoral advantage of all to continue excluding Sinn Fein in this situation…

  • fair_deal

    seabhac siulach

    1. A unionist majority is an electoral fact so they aren’t ‘bringing it back’.
    2. The old Nationalist Party was not compliant in the old set-up, they refused for decades to even accept the role of official opposition. If you care to read the Stormont hansard you will see they were persistent critics of the Unionist governments.
    3. The old Stormont had an executive drawn from the majority party. Now there is no single majority party nor do stage 1 of these proposals involve an executive drawn from assembly membership.
    4. The old Stormont did not have specific human rights legislation, equality legislation and official bodies to oversee such.
    5. Nowhere in the proposals does it talk about removing the checks and balances of the last Assembly. Something the old stormont did not have as it operated on strict majoritarianism.
    6. How does excluding SF win the SDLP votes? Would SF not have a field day saying the SDLP had sold the nationalist community out to sit down with Paisley?
    7. The PIRA chose to disarm in a manner they knew would not enable speedy progress. The RM took that decision they have to live with the consequences.

  • seabhac siulach

    fair_deal:

    “1. A unionist majority is an electoral fact so they aren’t ‘bringing it back’. ”

    By majority, I meant the return of an assembly controlled by a Unionist majority.

    “2. The old Nationalist Party was not compliant in the old set-up, they refused for decades to even accept the role of official opposition. If you care to read the Stormont hansard you will see they were persistent critics of the Unionist governments.”

    Must good this criticism did them. 50 years of mis-rule. Was ‘Lord’ Fitt an example of these ‘critics’? It was compliant in that it chose to sit in that parliament under those conditions of blatasnt inequality. Refusing to accept the tag of opposition was just window dressing nonsense. Of course, everyone’s definition of compliant is different.

    “3. The old Stormont had an executive drawn from the majority party. Now there is no single majority party nor do stage 1 of these proposals involve an executive drawn from assembly membership.”

    Yes, that is true. However, at the moment the two unionist parties speak almost as one and there is a fluid movement between the parties of members, e.g., Donaldson and others. What is the difference between the parties on policy? Very, very slight differences, if any. Therefore, in the event of the assembly being restored in the manner outlined by the DUP it is very likely that the unionist parties would vote very similarly on all contentious issues. This is a given. Therefore, there is already an in-built unionist majority present.
    Without Sinn Fein present the Unionist majority could do as it wishes. Yes, the executive will not be drawn from the assembly, but you can easily see that would be heavily influenced by it and gradually cede powers to it…

    “4. The old Stormont did not have specific human rights legislation, equality legislation and official bodies to oversee such.

    5. Nowhere in the proposals does it talk about removing the checks and balances of the last Assembly. Something the old stormont did not have as it operated on strict majoritarianism.”

    Fair enough. But those checks and balances cannot work in the event of only one small nationalist party being present. It is a nonsense.

    “6. How does excluding SF win the SDLP votes? Would SF not have a field day saying the SDLP had sold the nationalist community out to sit down with Paisley?”

    Yes, but with their hands on or near (depending on unionist generosity) the ‘levers of power’ they could show themselves to be achieving tangible things for their community and could accuse Sinn Fein of being unrealistic and of not wanting to engage in real politics, etc. You are assuming that the media would not weigh in heavily on the side of the ‘pragmatists’…

    “7. The PIRA chose to disarm in a manner they knew would not enable speedy progress. The RM took that decision they have to live with the consequences.”

    That may be so, but the fact is that this disarmament is now a reality. Others should adjust to the fact that the IRA is no longer a threat and react accordingly. Is it not better to try to have Sinn Fein in the tent pissing out if at all possible, without further alienating them and the community that supports them?

  • Bretagne

    Can I suggest an SF strategy of eight weeks of exhaustive talks proposals , counter proposals and brinkmanship, late nights, indegestion, more proposals, hands of history without any intent to get agreement, and see if there are any cracks in the Big Man or his lieutenants – then break off for the Autumn, and the following spring – its a question of who owns the clock and I think SF think it in their favour.

    Next May equals folding up the devolution tent thus proving the SF principal that the place is ungovernable.

    So the DUP may get their legislative assembly – but it may not be working to Direct Rule Ministers – at least not all British Ministers..

    Who fears the clock running out more…

  • heman

    Nationalists won’t touch this with John Taylor’s barge pole- event the SDLP, desperate to cling onto some vestiges of relevancy in the new political order, would see their last remaining support bases crumble were they to endorse such a plan.

    Mind you, that’s not to say the British won’t push for an executive-less Assembly. In fact, I believe they will do so in the round of talks ahead believing the SDLP and Irish government may be won over by the logic that this is necessary to ease the DUP into the Agreement.

    However, it won’t wash with nationalists.

    We’re in for a lengthy period of inactivity. Roll on the 2007 Leinster House elections and more bad news for the DUP….

  • alfredo

    i heard the securocrats wrote the dup document – and i believe that!!

  • fair_deal

    seabhac siulach

    “those checks and balances cannot work in the event of only one small nationalist party being present”

    Sinn Fein have not said they will boycott an interim body.

    “Levers of power”

    The SDLP could have followed such a line of argument before but did not.

    “Is it not better to try to have Sinn Fein in the tent pissing out if at all possible,”

    Experience has been if Sinn Fein get inside the tent they don’t piss outside but inside and over everyone else in the tent. (That should have flogged that analogy to death)

    heman

    “Roll on the 2007 Leinster House elections”

    Sinn Fein support in the RoI hasn’t changed from 8-10% in the last year and Gerry Adams personal standing hasn’t recovered from the Northern Bank and McCartney debacles. Little movement since the European elections.

    Most existing Sinn Fein Dail members were elected under a FPP noticeably under quota so they can gain votes and % points without a corresponding growth in seats plus the boundary and seat distributions hamper SF growth too.

    Also there are more votes in opposing Sinn Fein than acquiescing with it, 3 times as many voters want parties to rule out being in coalition with Sinn Fein as are prepared to accept it.

    Elections results should never be taken for granted.

  • Bretagne

    Fair points Fair Deal…

    Gerry’s been low profile lately – so he may get a bounce when he come out of his foxhole (oops – decommissioned foxhole). SF will be do well to improve on number of TD’s after the loony tunes economic policy – except in the North West.

    For SF it gets hard from here and harder the longer they wait..mind you they will balance that against the longevity of the Doc – my money would be on playing the really long game – if it takes seven-ten yrs – it takes seven-ten years – providing election on election they keep getting the vote out, and unionist vote keeps slipping -I don’t see SF in any hurry.

    If the conservatives get elected next time out – it may get a less comfortable for SF – but if it is all parked that long – I dont see Cameron flying in and out to often- nor Brown for that matter…

    Roll on 2007? – I think roll on 2012. Long game McGuiness – best political brain around, sadly by then Robert McCartney will be a statistic – and so maybe the Doc. The 7 Council carve-up will be complete – and N/S bodies will keep rolling on. No need for SF to worry at this stage – grab some sleep – it’s going to be a long wait.

  • fair_deal

    Bretagne

    “providing election on election they keep getting the vote out, and unionist vote keeps slipping”

    Considering recent election results that cannot be assumed. The Unionist vote in percentage terms has been relatively stable (in fact the Unionist percentage of the vote grew between the the 1997 and 2005 Westminster elections from 50.5% to 51.8%), also the nationalist community no longer seems immune to the general decline in voter turnout in the UK.

  • Bretagne

    Fair Deal

    I think you are right in terms of we should not
    extrapolate from previous results – my previuous post was not my strategy – but a recognition that all the parties over-play their hands.
    THe advantage SF do have though is that they trade electoral progress North with progress South – and time distance them from the Robert McCartney’s. Ratcheting up seats SOuth, then North, then South – I don’t see time as hurting them. And on face value (and accept it is dangerous) once the Doc has departed the scene -the DUP will change – so if the deals not on – I expect SF to wait it out.

  • aquifer

    The Brits and Bertie have indulged the extremes too long. They should just get a settlement together themselves, with a couple of aspects taken from the SDLP and UUP positions, and put it to an opinion poll.

    The contents of such a settlement would surprise no-one. And then have an election. The GFA gives them the mandate.