Plan B: a move to joint authority?

Denis Bradley detects determination on the part of the two governments to move the political agenda forwards despite the on going game of political chicken which enthralls Northern Ireland’s two major players. He suggests that that would require a Plan B, and that the only effective one would be to move to a Joint Authority arrangement in which southern Ministers would be invited to work alongside British Ministers and cut out the local middle man. In today’s Irish News Breige Gadd agrees there is a change in the air (subs needed), but that a benevolent despotism might be adminstered directly from London:

But if forced into long-term direct rule it was going to be direct rule but not as we knew it. The paternalist indulgence characterising previous periods of caretaker ministry has gone. Politicians and people alike will no longer be indefinitely cushioned by generous budget subventions condoning political inaction while we bicker and baulk at taking on real responsibility for our own governance.

The secretary of state and his team will act on our behalf to develop a slimmed down Northern Ireland which has effective and efficient health and education services fit for purpose in the 21st century. If the country were a business, one would assume we were being prepared for take over or a buy out. Indeed the most important recent statements from a secretary of state since Peter Brooke’s retrospectively famous “no strategic interest” speech are Peter Hain’s recent comments on our economy. Put baldly, he tells us Northern Ireland is not an economically viable entity. To survive we are interrelated – not with England Scotland or Wales but with our other half – the Republic of Ireland. For nationalists this is sweet talk indeed as we all know that where the economy goes other aspects of life will surely follow. For a unionist though it must be fearsome and troubling news.

Here with the PM’s backing is a dynamic secretary of state with a determined ministerial team running a benevolent despotism free from the restraints of participative democracy telling us that he will decimate local bureaucracy, modernise education and rationalise school provision, develop an effective health service and establish a proper collaborative relationship with the south. All this will move ahead apace.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mark :

    You accuse me of blame avoidance, what exactly am I avoiding?

    You are avoiding acknowledging unionism’s role in perpetuating violence. You think that unionism has no case to answer for when it comes to testing it’s suitability for democratic government, whereas the republicans do. The hypocrisy of your position is what you are avoiding.

    By the way, I’m not a republican or a nationalist and I resent the implication in your contributions suggesting that i am.

    I haven’t tried to deny any misdeeds unionists have done

    Agreed, but unfortunately the yardstick you are applying to republicans is much more strict than that.

    My problem is not with the way you are judging republicans, but with the weird way you seem to think that unionists should not be judged within the same parameters.

    and the party I voted for didn’t help bring about this situation.

    You want to bet ? Which party was that ?

    It’s my opinion that SF/IRA are to blame for the delay in powersharing.

    Unionists have had about 90 years to share power. Out of those 90 years, SF were only even interested in sharing power for ten of them. You still have to explain why you failed to engage in powersharing for the remaining 80. The record in city councils across the country speaks for itself – unionists never stopped excluding non-unionists from everything until their majority was broken. The evidence is that unionists hate the idea of powersharing.

    How is that a wrong position to take?

    It’s wrong because it is hypocritical. Ian Paisley’s close party colleague took to a podium with the active murderer Billy Wright. Yet, Ian Paisley tells me that he won’t allow those who associate with terrorism into government. How come his standards do not apply to his own party ? The only possible conclusion is that he does not think loyalists are actually terrorists. Given his botched strike co-organized with Andy Tyrie in 1978 don’t you think that is a reasonable conclusion ? The question that comes after that of course is that why did a majority of unionists vote for a person with such well-known links to paramilitary leaders ?

    Are the IRA still not involved in criminality?

    Of course they are, they’re up to their necks in it.

    Do you not think that if the UUP was still the dominant unionist party then the situation we’re in now wouldn’t exist?

    The UUP were not any more willing to address the problem of loyalist paramilitarism than the DUP are.

    If you know the truth as to why there’s the hold up and how JA would be any sort of effective solution feel free to share it.

    It’s fairly simple. There’s a hold up now because the DUP don’t have the balls to take risks and lead their community. I would admire unionists if they turned around to their electorate and said “yes we did bad things too, just like the IRA.. Ulster Resistance, UWC strike, third force, Drumcree 96, the list goes on ” instead of engaging in this silly charade about who is or is not fit for democratic office. But they won’t do it, it’s too hard for them to “face reality”.

    I hate the idea of joint authority and an unaccountable state dictating what goes on in my country. Believe me, the shinners hate it even more than I do, Bertie and McDowell are not their friends. The only thing that attracts me to it is the fact that it can be used to explain to unionists that they don’t have a choice outside of power sharing, and that voting DUP doesn’t give them a free ride out of having to take responsibility.

  • Cahal

    “Dr Paisley”

    He may be many things, but he’s not a doctor. Please don’t belittle the title.

  • Southern Observer

    IUnionists never thought Maggie Thatcher would sign the Anglo-Irish Agreement but she did.”

    elfinto,

    You make my point for me…look what happened to it!
    It is only being held in temporary abeyance and could be reactivated at an instant.A ‘pause’ button has been pressed-figuratively speaking.
    If the GFA falls you will probably get an AIA with knobs on.

  • elfinto

    DUPers,

    Here’s a couple of basic facts for you to get your head around

    1. The republican movement will exist so long as Ireland remains divided.

    2. Arms will be retained in republican areas so long as armed unionism/loyalism poses a threat (perhaps the DUP could ask their mates in the UDA/UVF to disarm)

    3. No border, no smuggling across it.

    And just for good luck

    4. The UK taxpayer is not willing to entertain a bunch of nay-sayers indefinitely.

  • Comrade Stalin

    No loyalist paramiltary seeks to form part of the power sharing executive. If you have any evidence to the contrary, let’s be having it!

    Please don’t waste my time with this silly debate over semantics. Tony Blair closely supports the British Army – quite obviously. But is he a soldier ? No. Is he a pacifist ? Obviously not.

    Likewise, unionist politicians have in the past become uncomfortably close to loyalist paramilitarism. Are they actually paramilitaries themselves ? No. Do they have friends who are paramilitaries ? Yes, definitely. Therein lies the rub.

    Is it the intended implication of your contribution is that it’s OK to have been associated with paramilitaries in the past, as long as you are not actually a paramilitary yourself ? ie, would you be happy with having someone like Mitchell McLoughlin in power, since everyone agrees he was never actually in the IRA but stuck to the political side the whole time ?

    What if you aren’t a paramilitary, but form allegiences with them or show solidarity with them ? Like William McCrea did. Or like Ian Paisley did with Andy Tyrie when they worked together on the failed 1978 strike. Or like Peter Robinson did when he invaded Clontibret. ?

    What is the actual yardstick here ? Are you only officially a violent person if you have the smell of dynamite on your hands ?

    The monster is not dead…I thought that was self evident from the IMC report!

    How will you establish that the IRA is 100% gone?

    Funny…Dr Paisley has the same ideas on democracy as the Irish Government in relation to sharing power with the republican movement.

    The comparison hardly applies, but I’ll bite. List the times and dates where Paisley has supported a coalition government with anyone. This is a man who has refused even to deal with other unionists.

    Nationalism is represented by many whose present links them with paramilitarism.

    Yes it is, but so is unionism. The difference is that unionists cloak their links with dishonesty. Who do you think the people who hang up all the UDA and UVF flags on the Newtownards Road vote for ? It obviously isn’t the PUP. Why do you suspect loyalist paramilitary voters would rather vote for a large party like the DUP rather than the party which they are more closely aligned to ? Answers on a postcard.

    This unionist, and many others, are in no way represented by Dr Paisley.

    Unfortunately you seem to have allowed him to assume the mantle of your leadership.

    The truth, which you need to face up to, is that there will not be an inclusive power sharing executive until the republican movement’s criminal empire is gone, together with their war machine.

    I’m all for dismantling the chuckie’s active criminal empire. I also want to dismantle the loyalist one, and that’s what the problem is – unionists don’t. My deep suspicion is that unionists feel they need to keep the loyalists around as backup, in case they need to stage another UWC strike. Is that so unreasonable given past history ?

    What angers me is that my sincere suspicions about unionists and their willingness to fall into line behind paramilitarism – like they did last September – are dismissed by unionist contributors as republican propaganda. According to you, the only people who are allowed to be scared of paramilitaries are unionists, and the only paramilitaries they are scared of are republicans. It doesn’t reflect the reality on the ground.

    Why don’t they simply call Dr Paisley’s bluff and do what needs to be done without further prevarication?

    Here’s the complete list of bluffs put forth by unionism over the past decades :

    “they don’t even have a mandate”. SF subsequently got one.

    “they need to stop the violence”. that happened, then

    “we want decommissioning. Even just a token act would be enough to show us they are sincere” a token act occurred. Then

    “only full decommissioning will suffice”. witnesses reported that this appeared to take place. Of course

    “I don’t accept that, I want photographs”; then

    “only the total disbandment of the IRA will suffice” – well why didn’t you say that in the first place ?

    I’m playing devil’s advocate here to an extent, because I’d like the IRA to completely disappear as well. The trouble is, how can it ever be proven that it is gone ? It’s like asking Dr Paisley to prove that his links with Ulster Resistance are gone. How reasonable is this truly ?

  • Mark_Baxter

    Comrade Stalin

    I’m not avoiding unionism role in pertuating violence, of course we’ve been part of it, it takes two to tango don’t you know. Also I’ve never accused you of being republican or nationalist. I’ve read your posts on slugger before and I’ve admired the way you try to take a non biased view though I’m sorely disappointed by the arrogance displayed in you’re initial post.

    You say that unionism should be judged by the same yardstick as republicans so show me the unionist parties who are still actively involved in criminality, retention of weapons and spying for intelligence that will be used to subvert the democratic process. I suppose I should make it clear that I do not or never have supported the DUP, my votes have been for the UUP and lately the Alliance party.

    You talk about unionists having ninety years to share power, well I’ve only been alive for 25 of them and only been eliglbe to vote for 9 or so. Your implications that I am somehow responsible for unionism previous failings are stupid to say the least.

    How were the UUP to address the issue of loyalist weapons? Do you seriously believe that there’s the same crossover in membership between loyalist paramilitaries and the leading unionist parties as there is within SF/IRA?

    As for your last point, I dont agree that the DUP are the sticking point, it’s SF/IRA and their refusal to commit to wholely democratic methods. Why should they call the IRA bluff? The IRA are faceless and account to noone but themselves whereas the DUP will have to face the anger of the unionist electorate.

    The simple fact is that all parties need to prove their democratic credentials but to trust SF it will require more.

  • Realist

    Elfinto,

    Amongst all of your misty eyed cross Atlantic sabre rattling (which franky is laughable), here’s one fact you need to get your head clearly around.

    “The UK taxpayer is not willing to entertain a bunch of nay-sayers indefinitely”

    The UK taxpayer has no choice in how long it entertains a bunch of nay sayers.

    The GFA took that out of their control.

    The constitutional status of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom will not change without the consent of the majority of people within Northern Ireland.

    Sorry about that.

    You also fully vindicate loyalist resistance. Is it any wonder their recruitment levels are so high?

    Another very sad reality is that any moves to water down that in any shape or form (eg Joint Authority) will undoubtedly result in all bets being off.

    Not what I want to see, but that’s the reality of the situation.

    Comrade Stalin,

    I am happy if you wish to give a detailed response to your earlier post,however
    Mark has articulated very well my thoughts also.

    I don’t believe for one minute that either the DUP or the UUP have formulated agreed conflict strategies with the loyalist paramilitaries.

    Just to reiterate a point made by Mark. There is a generation of unionists who will not be answering for the sins of their fathers, and grandfathers.

    I believe one of the justified fears within the unionist community is that republicans are not involved in a peace process…they are hellbent on a retribution process.

    This generation of unionists ain’t playing that game.

  • Stephen Copeland

    There is a generation of unionists who will not be answering for the sins of their fathers, and grandfathers.

    They apparently want to make their own mark, and add their own new sins to the mix, is that it?

    And that will help us all how, exactly?

    There are two different things – your grandfathers sins are not your responsibility, and only a fool would argue otherwise. There is no such thing as inherited guilt. So forget about that. But to seek to add their own wrongs, as some unionist posters here appear to do with their dire wwarnings of war in the event of JA, is simply foolish and counterproductive. How they learned nothing from 9/11? Terrorism is (for the time being) unpopular in our NWO – if unionists/loyalists go down that route they will be morally wrong and soundly beaten.

  • elfinto

    ‘Realist’

    1. I have never been to the United States

    2. The UK taxpayer may not have any choice in how long it sustains the nay-sayers but the UK government most certainly does.

    3. If the GFA offers such protection to unionists then why are the DUP determined to get rid of it.

    4. Are you threatening violence if you don’t get your way? I am not fooled for one minute by all the unionist bluster about Doomsday, civil war, etc. Threaten away.

  • PHIL

    Realist,

    “The constitutional status of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom will not change without the consent of the majority of people within Northern Ireland”.

    That may be true, but where do you go if England, Scotland and Wales leave the United Kingdom?

  • Stephen Copeland

    “The constitutional status of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom will not change without the consent of the majority of people within Northern Ireland”.

    I have to laugh …. this is in the GFA! That same GFA that the unionists are telling us all is over, finished, caput, caduc, banjaxed, fecked, beyond repair and redemtion? So they’re actually working hard to remove their own safety blanket?

    And people call them stupid?

    At least, if their ‘guarantee’ is in the GFA then they shouldn’t have too much trouble finding allies on the greener side of the fence to help them ditch it.

    LOL

  • John East Belfast

    Unionism was always caught between a rock and a hard place – the Ulster Unionists chose the hard place and the DUP and their supporters continue to choose the rock.

    They seem to think the Republican movement or even nationalism for that matter really give a damn about a return of Stormont – making Northern Ireland work should be the main objective of unionism and by setting that pace we shame and/or cause nationalism to join in.

    My opinion has always been that Unionism has to deal with whoever their nationalist neigbours throw up as their choice to represent them. If SF are engaged in criminal activity then that is for the police and courts to charge and prove.

    It is also for democrats to highlight their dishonesty in each and every forum and eventually cases like the McCartney one will bear down on them.
    Not to mention the fact that the old players are growing greyer by the day.

    Unionism should be playing the long game rather than the introverted and religious war being executed by the DUP.

    I personally believe the DUP want to put as much water bewteen the GFA and any solution as long as possible so that no credit can be given to the former. However the discerning will realise that the tactics of Pro Agreement Unionism were right all along.

    Anyone of any wit will relaise that it was Pro Agreement Unionism that has helped deliver a much better place to live, the disarming of most of republicanism and the enshrinement for all concerned of the consent principle.
    Matters of criminality are serious but that is for the PSNI.

    Unfortunately as a unionist I am convinced the DUP are going to screw everything up – I have no doubt we are looking at Anglo Irish mark 2 and some degree of Joint Authority with decisions made over our heads and behind our backs.

    All this talk of a loyalist backlash is bull shit as nobody would have any stomach for it – infact a UK betrayal could push a significant number of unionists into going all the way and opting for a UI.

    WELL DONE DUP.

  • George

    Keithm,
    “that clause in the constitution clearly does not allow for joint authority, simply for cross border bodies to have executive powers if agreed by the executives in both countries (the Republic & N.I.”

    I hate burst your bubble but that is simply not true. It does allow for joint authority.

    All it takes is for a “institutions with executive powers” to be set up. Note there is no limit set in the constitution on these executive powers, which could be up to an including joint sovereignty.

    I would ask you to read Article 28.2, which states that “The executive power of the State shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, be exercised by or on the authority of the Government.”

    In other words, the other use of the term “executive power” in the Irish constitution means the running of the Irish State.
    Accordingly, “executive power” in Art. 3.2 can be interpreted as running any part of this island, including Northern Ireland. All that is required is that these institutions are set up by both governments.

    Ask a constitutional lawyer if you don’t believe me.

    Also note there is need for a Northern Ireland legislature, just an institution set up by the British and Irish parliaments or responsible authorities set up by them.

    The good old Anglo-Irish Secretariat, which to to the best of my knowledge is still in official existence in Hillsborough though with just a handful of people sitting around doing nothing could easily be bumped up to fill the role.

    “A constitutional ammendment would be required to all the Irish government to work with the UK government, and that would not be passed, if if some idiocy ever prompted a referendum.”

    Simply incorrect.

  • George

    Should read:
    “Also note there is no need for a Northern Ireland legislature”

  • Realist

    Elfinto

    “If the GFA offers such protection to unionists then why are the DUP determined to get rid of it”

    I don’t know…you would need to discuss that with a member or supporter of the DUP. I am neither.

    “Are you threatening violence if you don’t get your way?”

    No.

  • Realist

    Phil,

    “That may be true, but where do you go if England, Scotland and Wales leave the United Kingdom?”

    Is that in any way likely in the foreseeable future?

  • PHIL

    Realist,

    “Is that in any way likely in the foreseeable future?”

    In Scotland I think that it is likely to happen very soon, Wales will soon have a parlaiment with similar powers to Scotland’s so I’m sure that they will eventually want what Scotland has got too.

    As for England, resentment towards what is seen as a “Scottish maffia” ruling over us without a mandate is growing and shall continue to grow when Brown inevitably takes over, so any clamour for independance from the British state by the English really depends upon the attitude of the British government towards England. If they accept that we should be treated in the same way as the other nations of the UK and give us a national parlaiment and all the other national institutions that go with it, then I think that there may be a union for those of you in Northern Ireland that are of that persuasion to cling to. If they continue to ignore us and treat us with contempt, then I think that there will eventally be no British state.

  • loyalist

    Irish unity isn’t happening, joint authority (whatever that is) isn’t happening, an IRA defeat has happened, if I was a nationalist, I wouldn’t be happy with the turn of events. But then if I was a nationalist I wouldn’t be happy full stop.

  • SlugFest

    Loyalist,

    I repeat my question to you posed at 5:55 pm yesterday:

    “The Yanks wanted us to invade South during WW2.”

    Can you back that statement up with any credible evidence?

  • Stephen Copeland

    … if I was a nationalist I wouldn’t be happy full stop

    If you are happy with the current, and likely future, shape of things, then you are not a very observant loyalist! Things are all moving in one direction – slowly – but at least moving. Don’t mistake IRA decommissioning for defeat of nationalism, because it isn’t. Nationalist does not require a military campaign to define itself. What it seeks, and is getting, is the gradual re-unification of the country, and moves towards the sovereignty of the Irish people (all of it, i.e. you too, in nationlism’s view) over the whole of Ireland.

    Irish nationalism is a fairly old movement, and like old organisations in other spheres, it takes a fairly look-term view of things. Tomorrow would be nice, 2016 good too, but if it has to wait until 2030, then thats what it will do. The outcome is fairly certain, even if the shape of the unitary state is not yet. Events will influence that, for certain, but the fact of a unitary state (within an increasingly integrated EU) is not, in my opinion.

  • Comrade Stalin

    John EB, what an excellent post. I’m in total agreement. Where can I vote for you ?

    Slugfest, loyalists don’t do credible evidence. The Cruithin theory being a case in point.

    Mark B:

    The aspect of your contribution that I was responding to was your implication that the only people who need to prove their democratic bona fides are republicans. You have repeated that assertion in your latest addition. We disagree because I think that everyone, republican unionist or otherwise, needs to do this or at least prove that they are working to correct the wrongs of the past. Almost everyone in politics here has been and still is closely linked with or apologetic to paramilitarism and therefore there is nobody who is in a position to cast the first stone, to paraphrase the Christian point of view.

    You say that unionism should be judged by the same yardstick as republicans so show me the unionist parties who are still actively involved in criminality, retention of weapons and spying for intelligence that will be used to subvert the democratic process.

    I can’t. But you still don’t get it do you ?

    The question is dishonest since you’ve carefully phrased it to match the problems with republicans, avoiding addressing the problems with unionists which are different but equally serious.

    Unionist politicians are not actively involved in criminality or spying as far as I know (though I can’t say about weapons retention). The trouble is that they tacitly support the people who are actively involved. Would you care to tell me the difference between robbing a bank, and having a friend who you meet occasionally who robs banks ?

    Anyway, unionists have a long history of subverting the democratic process, which started in 1921 when they used the threat of violence to create the border. Since then, they have used the threat of violence to preserve it. They are doing it right here, on this very thread – read for yourself the “you can’t do joint authority because the loyalists who live down the street from me will murder yis all, and that would be such a terrible shame wouldn’t it?” comments that have been contributed.

    You talk about unionists having ninety years to share power, well I’ve only been alive for 25 of them and only been eliglbe to vote for 9 or so. Your implications that I am somehow responsible for unionism previous failings are stupid to say the least.

    Congratulations, we’re the same age.

    You’re responsible for unionism’s previous failings because you’re trying to airbrush over them. Unionists are afraid of republicans and whether they will start the war again. This is entirely reasonable based on recent history. However, everyone else is afraid of unionists and whether they will start the war again too. That is also entirely reasonable based on recent history. The problem is that you only seem to have room to address one of those. My opinion is that both should be addressed.

    How were the UUP to address the issue of loyalist weapons?

    It’s not very nice when the shoe is on the other foot is it ?

    Seriously though, they could start by being unequivocal in their condemnation of loyalist paramilitary activity, instead of apologizing for it the way Reg Empey did last September when loyalists were firing live rounds at police. Then they could take the lead in getting UDA/UVF murals taken down in their constituencies. Would that be too hard ?

    Do you seriously believe that there’s the same crossover in membership between loyalist paramilitaries and the leading unionist parties as there is within SF/IRA?

    No I don’t. This is another example of you framing the debate in a way that suits you. How is membership crossover relevant when Willie McCrea feels he can take a podium with Billy Wright and get away with it ?

    To me, politicians who are completely committed to peaceful and democratic means would lead by example and immediately inform the police of any suspicious paramilitary activity they became aware of. Given William McCrea’s very public alignment with Mr Wright, do you really expect me to believe that if he came by some information implicating someone like Wright in illegal activity, that he would pass it on to the police ? I don’t think so.

    As for your last point, I dont agree that the DUP are the sticking point, it’s SF/IRA and their refusal to commit to wholely democratic methods.

    You didn’t address my point at all. Was UWC democratic ? Ulster Resistance ? Drumcree 96 when Paisley stood in the midst of a crowd which threatened to spray petrol on army lines and set fire to it ? Why do you think it is unreasonable for me to ask that unionists must unequivocally condemn loyalist paramilitarism and work to see it ended ?

    The simple fact is that all parties need to prove their democratic credentials but to trust SF it will require more.

    Who died and made you God ?

  • Mark_Baxter

    [i]The aspect of your contribution that I was responding to was your implication that the only people who need to prove their democratic bona fides are republicans. You have repeated that assertion in your latest addition. We disagree because I think that everyone, republican unionist or otherwise, needs to do this or at least prove that they are working to correct the wrongs of the past. Almost everyone in politics here has been and still is closely linked with or apologetic to paramilitarism and therefore there is nobody who is in a position to cast the first stone, to paraphrase the Christian point of view.[/i]

    I dont agree with your assertion that all unionists here are closely linked to apologetic paramilitarism which is what you’re trying to infer by using “everyone”, sure lets just tar everybody with the same brush as it suits what you want to argue about. What evidence do you have for this? How many Alliance or UUP party members have been members of loyalist terrorists groups? Sure some unionist politicians have been slow to condemn paramilitary activity but I can honestly say that I can’t recall an incident where they’ve tried to justify murders, bombings etc… If you have any such info or can provide a link I’d be interested to read it. You’re trying to place the blame 50/50 between republicans and unionists on the delays in the peace process. Why are you surprised when people disagree with you on this?

    [i]The question is dishonest since you’ve carefully phrased it to match the problems with republicans, avoiding addressing the problems with unionists which are different but equally serious.[/i]

    What are the equally serious problems with unionism? What are unionists doing that is on par with what I mentioned in my post?

    [i]Unionist politicians are not actively involved in criminality or spying as far as I know (though I can’t say about weapons retention). The trouble is that they tacitly support the people who are actively involved. Would you care to tell me the difference between robbing a bank, and having a friend who you meet occasionally who robs banks ?[/i]

    There’s an absolutely massive difference between the person who robs the bank and knowing the person who’s robbed it. Forget the analogy, if you can’t see what the difference is between murdering someone and knowing a person who murders people then there’s something seriously wrong with your outlook, though you do probably need to get a better class of friend.

    [i]Anyway, unionists have a long history of subverting the democratic process, which started in 1921 when they used the threat of violence to create the border. Since then, they have used the threat of violence to preserve it. They are doing it right here, on this very thread – read for yourself the “you can’t do joint authority because the loyalists who live down the street from me will murder yis all, and that would be such a terrible shame wouldn’t it?” comments that have been contributed.[/i]

    You’re srtaying into whataboutery here, but fair enough that’s a valid point, the threat of violence was totally unnecessary, it was wrong and removing it is something I long to see. The ability to create a prosperous Northern Ireland that looks after all it’s citizens, regardless of religious and political beliefs should be the argument that unionists seek to use. I dont agree with the people who’ve posted threats of violence in this thread and I can’t answer for them. Just as in republicanism where’s there’s still people who believe in the continuation of the armed struggle, within loyalism there’ll be people determined to make the ROI pay for any attempt of a UI. All I was stating was that I believe republicans are primarily responsible for the delay in the peace process, unionism apologising for it’s mistakes would be a great thing to happen and hopefully someday it will, but how will that end IRA criminality, etc…?

    [i]You’re responsible for unionism’s previous failings because you’re trying to airbrush over them. Unionists are afraid of republicans and whether they will start the war again. This is entirely reasonable based on recent history. However, everyone else is afraid of unionists and whether they will start the war again too. That is also entirely reasonable based on recent history. The problem is that you only seem to have room to address one of those. My opinion is that both should be addressed.[/i]

    I haven’t tried to airbrush over anything. Yes, unionists did bad things in the past and I freely admit that. All I can do to make up for that is try to be a more tolerant and better person than previous generations. Maybe in my first post I did single out the mote in republican’s eyes while failing to mention the beam in my own, but I can hold up my hands and admit that it’s there and needs to be dealt with. I’d be more than happy for unionist politicians to admit they were wrong and get on with building a better NI.

    cont’d below

  • Mark_Baxter

    cont’d from above

    [i]Seriously though, they could start by being unequivocal in their condemnation of loyalist paramilitary activity, instead of apologizing for it the way Reg Empey did last September when loyalists were firing live rounds at police. Then they could take the lead in getting UDA/UVF murals taken down in their constituencies. Would that be too hard ?[/i]

    Actually no it wouldn’t be too hard, it’d be something I’d like to see happen.

    [i]This is another example of you framing the debate in a way that suits you. How is membership crossover relevant when Willie McCrea feels he can take a podium with Billy Wright and get away with it ?[/i]

    I’m not framing the debate in a way that suits me, I’m asking a very valid question. No one I’ve voted for has blood on their hands. I’ve never voted for Willie McCrea and I’ve never heard of him killing someone, though I hear a few people came close to death after listening to one of his CD’s! =P I’m not going to try and defend him as I’ve no time for him, he is not representative of me. Membership crossover is very important because I doubt that many prominent unionist polticians have ever sat down and planned out a murder or bomb attack. Can we say the same about SF?

    [i]To me, politicians who are completely committed to peaceful and democratic means would lead by example and immediately inform the police of any suspicious paramilitary activity they became aware of. Given William McCrea’s very public alignment with Mr Wright, do you really expect me to believe that if he came by some information implicating someone like Wright in illegal activity, that he would pass it on to the police ? I don’t think so.[/i]

    You’re dealing in the hypothetical with the above, lets deal with a bit of fact. When the Omagh bomb went off and the relatives of the dead called on Gerry Adams and SF for information that may help catch the bombers, did they help? No. But sure that was way back in 1998 when the situation was completely different, no doubt now they would be willing to come forward and give any information they may have to the gardai or PSNI, so why havent they?

    Getting hypothetical again how many murders could be solved if SF/IRA were to be totally honest about what their members had done in the past? Contrast that with how many murders would be solved if the Alliance party, UUP or even the DUP were totally honest about what there members had done in the past?

    [i]You didn’t address my point at all. Was UWC democratic ? Ulster Resistance ? Drumcree 96 when Paisley stood in the midst of a crowd which threatened to spray petrol on army lines and set fire to it ? Why do you think it is unreasonable for me to ask that unionists must unequivocally condemn loyalist paramilitarism and work to see it ended ?[/i]

    I don’t think it’s wrong for you to ask unionist politicians to condemn loyalists, I totally agree with you, the sooner the paramilitaries go the better and unionist politicians should be working to bring it about, but how much influence do you believe unionists politicians have over loyalist paramilitaries?

    [i]Who died and made you God ? [/i]

    You’ve already agreed with me that all parties need to prove their democratic credentials and I simply believe that SF need to do more. I didn’t know that me having an opinion suddenly made me god, though if that is now the case, I grant free beer and scantily clad ladies/blokes to everyone! =)

  • IJP

    Again, it’s hardly popular to say it, but people keep dealing in absolutes here.

    Yes, NI is in the UK. Yes, it’s staying in the UK.

    But conversely, yes the Irish Government has significant input in NI. Yes, the Irish Government will continue to have significant input in NI.

    Call that ‘British sovereignty’ if you want. Call it ‘joint authority’ if you want. But in the end it’s a bit of both.

    In this globalized world of World Trade Organizations, European Unions and such like, no entity is wholly independent or wholly sovereign.

    So it really is a very silly thing upon which to base an entire political system…