British to unveil Plan B?

It looks like there could be an interesting turn in the road ahead. Liam Clarke reports that, the plan “would give the local parties six weeks to form an administration or risk losing their salaries and allowances. If full executive power sharing was not agreed, the parties could opt for a voluntary coalition, or a legislative assembly in which executive functions are taken by British ministers or appointed officials”.

  • Nestor Makhno

    ‘…legislative assembly in which executive functions are taken by British ministers or appointed officials.’

    Seems to me this could be a recipe for a whinging shop for local politicans. Ask the earth to please voters and then blame unelected British Ministers (or the mysterious ‘appointed officials’) when things got pear shape… Power without responsibilty – what fun!

  • heck

    What is wrong with my Plan B-Joint Authority. Unionists could remain British and send their representatives to Westminster, nationalists could be Irish and send their representatives to Dublin, and the governments could represent the interests of each community. Law and order could be addressed– Joint policing –garda in places line newry, south armagh and west belfast, and the PSNI in places like East belfast and Larne–A really independent prosecution service with appointments from both governments and none of this “public interest” shite to protect government murderers–and two judge trials with one judge appointed by each government.

    British troops could be stationed in loyalist areas and Irish troops garrisoned in nationalist areas so that no community needs a paramilitary army for defense.

    The economy could be organized on an all Ireland basis were that made sense–agriculture say, and on a UK basis where that made sense–health(?). Make the euro and the pound both valid currencies. Every individual could decide which government his tax payments went to.

    I know it is not going to happen but what is wrong with it? No party would be able to frustrate it, there would be security for both communities and the economy could prosper.

    As I say –it is unlikely to happen –about as likely as the DUP sharing power with SF.

  • Ben A

    heck;

    It’s hard to see anything right with your plan for Joint Authority. As for stationing Irish Troops in NI, you appear to be asking for bloodshed.

    ‘Every individual could decide which government his tax payments went to’. Dangerously laughable. The tax systems are so different, it would be a ‘uswitch’ situation.

    What you’re talking about is essentially a big DMZ. it might be called ‘Clusterfuck’ since that’s essentially what it would be.

    Different police forces, each with loyalties and allegiences to their own national government?

    Heck, it’d be a difficult job to find a worse set of ideas. I’d sooner see a Stalinist Republic or a Papal Domain set up here than try to negotiate around the messed up meanderings of your quixotic imagination.

    D-

  • Ben A

    But I think the idea of stripping these wasters of their allowances if they don’t at least try to play ball is obviously reasonable.

  • Yoda

    I’d sooner see a Stalinist Republic or a Papal Domain set up here than try to negotiate around the messed up meanderings of your quixotic imagination.

    Says a lot really.

    I think you might be better off by actually trying to get past scare-mongering buzz-words (“dangerously laughable,” “clusterfuck,” “bloodshed”) and engage with the substance of what he had to say.

    Clearly the things suggested couldn’t happen in a vacuum. The repsective governments would need to cooperate, discuss and implement these measures.

    You could think of his contribution as thinking NI as something other than a “simple” UI or UK.

    I really don’t see what’s wrong with exploring these alternatives.

  • slug

    Yes, I think heck is to be praised for thinking about it a bit.

    I hadn’t realised that was the sort of thing people meant by “Joint Authority”.

    It sounds very complicated and I am not sure how I would plan ahead with respect to taxes and so forth under such a scheme.

    What would happen to my ISAs and PEPs?

  • Yoda

    Of course it would be complicated.

    The issue is complicated.

    As to your ISAs, etc., that would obviously need to be hashed out. However, pure speculation on their fate should not be used as a reason to avoid the consideration of alternatives.

  • slug

    Actually Yoda I think I see the answer since I see from Heck’s piece that I can choose which country to pay tax to, in my case I would avoid all income and capital gains tax on my investments within the ISAs and PEPs by choosing the UK.

  • slug

    “Ask the earth to please voters and then blame unelected British Ministers (or the mysterious ‘appointed officials’) when things got pear shape… Power without responsibilty – what fun!”

    Well they would have law-making power as they would have the role of passing legislation. In fact they would have the same power as any legislature, its just that they might opt not to set up an executive from among their own number.

  • Ben A

    In the name of all things holy, the ideas suggested in this joint authority model are bizarre and unworkable. Nobody deserves any credit for mad, bad or dangerous ideas.

    But, since I’ve been accused of scare mongering (and since I perhaps did play the man, not the ball on heck’s ideas), let me show my concerns in a more systematic way.

    quote: “Unionists could remain British and send their representatives to Westminster, nationalists could be Irish and send their representatives to Dublin, and the governments could represent the interests of each community.”

    First of all, the idea of either the British or Irish governments identifying with their supposed communities, much less working to represent them, is not an adequate or fair reflection of a government’s job. Government does not fulfill an advocacy function; it provides legislation and governance under law for a jurisdiction. I have no problems with Nationalists in the Dáil; but the idea of parliament is suggested in the name; parliaments parlay; they discuss legislation for a jurisdiction and legislate accordingly. Having the representatives of two sides of a divided society simply avoiding each other and hoping they ‘ll be protected by the national legislature they choose makes little if any sense. The plan suggested here is not joint authority, but legislative apartheid.

    quote “Law and order could be addressed– Joint policing –garda in places line newry, south armagh and west belfast, and the PSNI in places like East belfast and Larne”

    Quite apart from the issue of cultural apartheid here, the idea of having a duality of police forces in one jurisdiction would seem to me a bit foolish, and fragment policing even more than it is now. Surely the goal would be an accepted policing service for the entire jurisdiction? I don’t see why it would be necessary to retask an Garda Siochána to carry out potentially dangerous policing in the North, when the PSNI is still in the middle of a reform process. Seems like a backward step towards the creation of a ghetto system.

    quote: “A really independent prosecution service with appointments from both governments”

    This is by its very conception simply a dual-dependent prosecution service. The DPP is independent, or don’t you think so?

    quote: “none of this “public interest” shite to protect government murderers”

    Could do with more explanation. I am not aware of PIIC’s being used to prevent a murder case being heard in court in Northern Ireland. But I do understand the point you’re making, even if I don’t think it’s a grade A priority.

    quote: “British troops could be stationed in loyalist areas and Irish troops garrisoned in nationalist areas so that no community needs a paramilitary army for defense.”

    We’ve moved beyond that requirement. Note that troop numbers are at their lowest now since 1955. This would also seem to me to be a de-facto apartheid. There is simply no requirement for troops in residential areas at the current time. If there was to be a flare-up, I would argue that jurisdictional and territorial sovereignty issues would preclude Irish troops from operating in NI.

    quote “The economy could be organized on an all Ireland basis were that made sense”

    Your example of Agriculture is the worst you could give. Airport Authorities would be the best.

    quote “Make the euro and the pound both valid currencies.”

    Maybe already a case for that. But still a very expensive and confusing system; massive variation in commercial exchange rates could create big fluctuations in the retail sector. Working out inflation in NI is already stupid enough in the single currency context.

    quote: “Every individual could decide which government his tax payments went to.”

    Awful idea. You’d shop for the best personal rates, and the hash over which government pays for what is the best imaginable route to international disputes between two -let’s face it- allied countries.

    quote “I know it is not going to happen but what is wrong with it? No party would be able to frustrate it, there would be security for both communities and the economy could prosper.”

    It won’t happen because your basic assumptions are almost without exception badly flawed. Every party would be able to frustrate it. There would be confusion over jurisdiction, confusion over the rule of law; everyone would have to carry a map to establish which area they were in; which court system would operate in it? The economic arguments are fluffy in the extreme, and dangerous if misjudged.

    This is a bad idea, which deserves to be forgotten about. And don’t pretend that it’s something which could evolve, and that it just needs straightening out.

    No. Seriously.

  • Pete Baker

    “It won’t happen because your basic assumptions are almost without exception badly flawed.”

    Yes, without exception. Separate legal and taxation systems? It’s an unworkable, ill-thought-out, badly conceived, ludicrous notion of what a joint-authority could ever look like. By all means argue for a joint-authority model.. but heck’s version could never be it.

    To add to the previously mentioned problems.. would we add another separate round of elections seeking representatives for each legislature? And would they then have no say anyway on what happened to the people who elected them? – since that’s a personal decision in Heck’s mind – Taxation without representation?.. endless problems.

    Sheesh.. I can’t believe I took the time to even comment on that..

  • Yoda

    By all means argue for a joint-authority model.. but heck’s version could never be it.

    Maybe so, but it seems to me to bear the traces of a willingness to step beyond the usual neverisms. To me, this is more about proposing alternatives. Not all of them can/ will work.

    Heck’s model may also bear the traces of cultural apartheid, but that’s hardly surprising since it’s been the defining feature of NI for a very long time.

    I rather see in it the end-game of the logic of cultural apartheid: it’s very logic pushed to the point of breaking.

    That’s a valuable moment for someone to experience.

    Acting as if comments which have the merit of straining against the usual bullshit are beneath comment/ contempt is not at all helpful, IMHO.

    A truly inclusive NI would no longer be simply UK or UI. Thinking about how it might be administered is not a waste of time.

  • Pete Baker

    “Thinking about how it might be administered is not a waste of time.”

    Two points, Yoda.

    Firstly, whether a joint-authority model is, actually, progress.. rather than standing still is debatable.

    Secondly, thinking about it logically is one thing.. heck’s suggestion doesn’t even begun to do that.

  • Ben A

    Yoda,

    I’m not positing neverisms. I’m suggesting a point of political logic that quixotic thinking simply can’t be allowed to pretend doesn’t exist.

    Heck’s points are not beneath contempt; they were worthy of being judiciously axed, and that’s what I think I did. You may not agree with that analysis, but it’s there to be debated. I think a JA model is a bad idea full-stop, and would be one very good reason to pick a nation and move to it.

    Don’t dress a bad idea up as a thought experiment. The central tenets of Heck’s idea are unworkable, quixotic, and for me, dangerously dystopian. Let’s start considering how we’re going to put the damage on the morons paid to represent us, to encourage them to use the workable mechanisms they dreamt up at Interpoint and Castle Buildings, before we start allocating kudos for a bad unworkable idea.

    Yoda, this idea is the path to the dark side.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    The problem is, that the longer the local politicians put off forming an Executive, the more that Joint Authority becomes an attractive possibility to the British and Irish Governments.

    Don’t forget that this peace process often goes in the direction of the ‘least worst option’, simply because none of the other ideas will work!

    And if the natives can’t sort out the problem the British and Irish will just continue over the top of the local heads.

  • heck

    Ben A –don’t worry about playing the man—no offense taken. This is just something I have been thinking about for the last few months. I gather you did ‘nt like my idea. I can’t believe I am using this phrase but we need some “out of the box thinking” (I hate that phrase—it is usually used by idiot managers who have been to one to many seminars.)

    As I see the situation in Nor Iron there are a number of givens:
    155% of the population consider themselves British
    245% of the population consider themselves Irish
    3Unionists want security
    4Nationalist don’t want the psni ( I am probably more intense in this than even gaskin.)
    5In the event of a similar situation to 1969 or 1974 nationalists don’t trust the British government to defend them.
    6Unionists think their economic interests lie with the republic of Ireland.
    7Unionists will not share power with the elected representatives of the nationalist community

    You try and invent a system of government which reconciles these facts. I challenge you!!!

    As to your objections”

    On law and order you say “ Quite apart from the issue of cultural apartheid here, the idea of having a duality of police forces in one jurisdiction would seem to me a bit foolish, and fragment policing even more than it is now” This works in the US. Los Angeles is policed by the LA County sheriff , the LAPD, the California Highway Patrol and the FBI. Each law enforcement agency reports to different political authorities. You call it foolish. The Americans call it checks and balance. I don’t think this objection makes sense. And I don’t think you will ever get me to support the RUC/PSNI as it currently exists.

    On a dual currency you claim it is “still a very expensive and confusing system; massive variation in commercial exchange rates could create big fluctuations in the retail sector”,. The last time I was in Dundalk every store I went to priced its goods in both currencies. Just make it official. Banks could offer loans in both currencies at the appropriate interest rate—set for the European bank or by the bank of England and the market could decide.

    As to my tax suggestion I will agree it is not thought through but the principle is sound. In the US there are competing tax jurisdictions with miles of each other with different sales and income tax rates and it works, Again I don’t think your objection makes sense. The details just need to be worked out.

    As to the Irish army being in Belfast. Just confine them to somewhere like Girwood Barracks. It would make the nationalist community in North Belfast feel a little more secure and less likely to feel the need a underground army to defend them.

    The idea of representatives going to either sovereign parliament is already being discussed. Let’s just do it.

    You might not like the idea but at least it addresses the usuns and themuns that characterize political debate on this site. To you I am probably one of themuns. I am an Irish republican. I doubt I will ever give allegiance to the queen and I would like to see a united Ireland. I know I will never accept the police until I know all those to collaborated with loyalists or the special branch are gone. There are others on this site who will never accept republicans in government. Where do we go from here? As long as they push a unionist agenda I will support a republican one.

    This is just an idea which is in need of some fleshing out and discussion.

  • aquifer

    Nice big fat floppy red Herring Heck.

    “parties could opt for a voluntary coalition, or a legislative assembly in which executive functions are taken by British ministers or appointed officials”

    The Brits and Irish must now be wise to the dangers in ‘nothing moves except by shinner say-so or paisley no-no’

    The divide disrupt and obstruct game is up.

    Looks like its time to get a job and pay taxes, and not to the lowest bidder.

  • BooBoo

    As usual, poor old Liam has got the wrong end of the stick. He seems to have got his hands on a document launched last week by the UUP (Reg’s six week plan to kickstart or kill off the Assembly).

    This is, in essence, a non story.

    BooBoo

  • Ben A

    Heck:

    “This works in the US. Los Angeles is policed by the LA County sheriff , the LAPD, the California Highway Patrol and the FBI. Each law enforcement agency reports to different political authorities. You call it foolish. The Americans call it checks and balance”

    The issue here is jurisdictional sovereignty, and different offences having different statuses under US law. It is little to do with the idea of check and balance; for that, the rotational circuit court and supreme appellate courts do serve a purpose; we have appellate courts here. It’s not the same rubric at all, and it worries me to think you believe there’s a parallel to that in your model. If this was a philosophy lecture (and let’s pretend it is) it’d be labelled a category mistake.

    “As to my tax suggestion I will agree it is not thought through but the principle is sound. In the US there are competing tax jurisdictions with miles of each other with different sales and income tax rates and it works, Again I don’t think your objection makes sense. The details just need to be worked out.”

    The principle is inherently unsound, because you’re talking about the creation of multiple tax jurisdictions. In effect, you’re talking about multi-partition for policing and tax. Sales and income tax rates differentials are confined to state boundaries, and are, by definition geographic. Your plan is theoretically poissible, but a bad, bad idea. It bears more relation to the concept of baksheesh than sensible taxation policy. In addition, it is unnecessary. The objective of tax raising powers is expenditure powers. The presence of differentials in tax means, almost by definition, differentials in spending. Read the ‘shared future’ document again.

    The idea of having any additional army presence stationed in a defence role now, given the relative lull in hot armed conflict, is simply stupid, IMHO. There may have been an argument for this for nationalists in 72, but not now, surely you see that. If there is no operational requirement for any troops on the ground, the last thing you do is introduce a new force with a differing Rule of Engagement. Basic Military Tactics 101.

    Heck, you’re talking about apatheid for Northern Ireland. This is a bad idea, and not at all a republican concept as I know them.

    Heck, I don’t want you to give allegiance to HM. I want you to get on with your life, living in one of the most gorgeous parts of our shared island, as an Irish citizen, living in the only fundamentally allied, open, dual jurisdiction landmass on Earth. I don’t want more troops on the street (not with fucking Stires, anyway, awful guns) and I don’t want a ghettoised apartheid society, guaranteeing distruat and inequality. I want to be able to roam where I want in Northern Ireland with nobody giving a fiddler’s fuck which way I vote in elections, or which National Anthem I can remember.

    Your plan takes us back to the position we would have been in if Lynch had invaded. Seriously, not a good idea, and not something which needs fleshing out. It needs to be forgotten.

    Ben

  • heck

    BenA –you don’t think my idea is practical—how about “I want you to get on with your life, living in one of the most gorgeous parts of our shared island, as an Irish citizen, living in the only fundamentally allied, open, dual jurisdiction landmass on Earth” What on earth does that imply—a united Ireland? Endless direct rule? That is just a “motherhood is good” level of statement.

    How about “I don’t want a ghettoised apartheid society, guaranteeing distrust and inequality” What have you got now? And how do we move forward? I defined the facts on the ground in my last post—again you try and think of a form of government which reconciles them. I tried –everything else in just someone winning and someone loosing and if that is the case I want “my side” to win.

    “I want to be able to roam where I want in Northern Ireland with nobody giving a fiddler’s fuck which way I vote in elections, or which National Anthem I can remember”. And I want to buy the world a coke and live in harmony—can’t you do this with my proposal.

    Divided societies can work—for another model look at Switzerland. There are three different linguistic communities and Switzerland is one of the most prosperous , peaceful (and boring!!) countries in the world.

    As to your practical arguments –I am not saying I have the solution, and I will concede some of your points, I am just trying to think of a way forward which the politicians have not. But some of you objections are just silly.

    You don’t want the Irish army in Norn Iron because you don’t like their guns!!. The British army has been in Germany for 5O years. Just station a few garrisons in places like north Belfast and Short Strand. Ben A –I agree they are not needed now, but in the event that 50%+1 voted for a United Ireland and you were a catholic in short strand would you trust the PSNI? Answer honestly!!

    As to the economy I think you have conceded my point on a joint currency and I will concede that may tax idea is not thought out. However it is possible. Remember when Bush major was president his residence was a hotel room in Texas where he paid his taxes. Similarly his son Shrub only became president because members of the military register to vote in Flordia to avoid state income taxes. I can be done. If it’s the spending you are worried about make the Irish government responsible for Catholic schools and the RVH in west Belfast.

    In a few months I will probably go back to being a Brits Out republican but this is something I can debate until then.

  • lib2016

    Excellent thread which seems to include the realisation by more and more of us than there aren’t any neat and tidy final solutions. As the most progressive element in society republicans will obviously have to make the running in accepting the unionist/loyalist right to display their flag anywhere in NI.

    The inevitable unionist/loyalist refusal to reciprocate will tell its own story.

  • heck

    agreed lib2016

    fly both flags on all public buildings.
    We just need to “think outside the box”–god I hate that phrase. I can’t believe I typed it.

  • heck

    to use another phrase that I really hate.

    we need a “win-win” solution. UGH!!!

  • Yoda

    Yoda, this idea is the path to the dark side.

    Tee hee!

    I’m not positing neverisms.

    I didn’t mean to suggest you were: apologies if it came across that way.

    Could like someone (you, Pete?) outline why you think JA is such a bad option? I have to agree with Gonzo.

    I can understand why some believe that “choosing” one state is the best option (same tax jurisdictions, united policeforce, etc.).

    But what do you do with the “on the ground” differences between the two nations? Saying that one state needs to be chosen for any of this to work seems to me to reproduce the same situation we have now where one nation gets to be part of the state it wants.

    A true, realistic political solution must surely take those differences into account and negotiate with them.

    BTW, what about tax harmonisation? *runs*

  • slug

    One theme in the above is that we need to share the future. I am pretty sure however that the solutions (separate police tax and parliaments) isn’t the way that is best for the future.

    I would say the opposite sort of direction is better: more integrated education, more integrated housing, shared festivals, football for all, greater cross-particpation in sports, is the way forward. Some of these are already happening. Also remove the parallel consent rule in te Assembly, which gives the impression that e.g. a nationalist-designated politician is only there for nationalists. My sense is that a lot of these changes are happening.

  • Ben A

    Heck, with the very best of respect, your attempt to stand by a series of unworkable processes is becoming bizarre. You used the concept of multiple law-enforcement agencies in the USA as a justification for Gardaí in Belfast, citing the concept of ‘Checks and Balances’, which have nothing to do with that organisational model. Then it got worse.

    I agree my statement was of the motherhood and apple pie variety. I don’t see anything wrong with using it as a base statement of my aspirations for Northern Ireland.

    The one thing Northern Ireland can achieve is a less ghettoised society. There is no conceivable justification for taking your line, which would make that situation worse.

    I reject the assertion that you have in any way defined facts ‘on the ground’. In fact, it’s your entire failure to link the proposals you have to any defined need which marks your post out as laughable. As for your challenge to dream some form of government up to reconcile Northern Ireland; that’s exactly the point. A form of government does not define the parameters for social interaction within a divided society. It’s not worth anybody’s time to come up with a bad idea in a blind alley.

    My vision of a Northern Ireland where people are simply people is not a pipe-dream. Some of us, in more civilised sciety, are quite capable of living the dream as is, without amending the currency or drafting in the FCA to keep order in West Belfast.

    The idea of pre-emptive Irish Army presence in Northern Ireland around the time of a referendum (particularly one as tight as that) is so bizarrely impractical that it makes me a little bewildered to be actually discussing it. Not practical, counter-productive, and I suggest, likely to cause the sort of sectional tensions in Belfast as to render a referendum unworkable anyway. Do I trust the PSNI? Yes. No doubt.

    Don’t use the UK army presence in Germany (an Armistice and NATO forward force requirement established by treaty with the Germans, Americans, French and Russians) as a launch-off for the painfully stupid idea of putting Irish troops in Belfast. It doesn’t hold up.

    In any case, you can forget the idea of a 50%+1 referendum changing the constitutional position, at least not this century. In the words of the Kaiser Chiefs ‘I predict a riot’, or more accurately, to quote Natalie Merchant ‘To start a conflagration the like of which the world has never seen’.

    Don’t use Florida State Sales Tax legislation to establish a case for multiple jursidiction tax provision in a country with a population the size of the Metropolitan Area of Orlando.

    Heck, you’re cherry picking, and cherry picking is what got Michael Collins shot. You’re running into caves of supposition and denial, when the clear arguments against your proposed plan grow. Don’t force me to actually think of all the things wrong with it.