Dermot Ahern: towards a non sectarian politics?

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs has made an interesting speech this morning, which suggests that political parties in NI could usefully consider signing up for an anti racist protocol, in pursuit of a non sectarian politics. Trouble is, (particularly if you read the points we’ve bulleted) if all the parties in NI genuinely snapped to these conditions, the policy cupboard whilst not bare exactly, would look decidedly thin. Since all parties, have majored on the divisive and largely sectarian aspects of the constitutional status of Northern Ireland to the exclusion of much else.

“Before the last general election, most political parties across the island signed up to the NCCI Anti-racism Political Protocol or the Charter of European Parties for a Non-racist Society. By doing so we sent out a clear message that race has no place in Irish politics.

-That no-one should electioneer on the issue of colour or on the fear of other cultures.

-That no-one should resort to a political narrative of black versus white. Or garner political support on the back of racial division or fear.

Perhaps now it is time to consider a similar move in relation to sectarianism. Perhaps it is time that all parties in the North and indeed in the South signed up to a Political Protocol on Sectarianism; a declaration, that politicians or political parties will not resort to the gratuitous, populist narrative of Catholic versus Protestant or unionist versus nationalist, for political gain.

A powerful message from political leaders, throughout the island, that sectarianism is just not on. I’m not talking about ignoring the very real injustice, isolation, alienation and terror of the past.

I’m talking about a clear political statement that those who rioted in Dublin, those who have attacked families in North for no other reason than their religion or their political beliefs are wholly without legitimacy and open to nothing but condemnation. All I ask today, is that the parties consider it.”

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  • lah dee dah

    I think he’s wasting his breath – at this stage. It’s something I’d like to see every party agreeing as a long term goal, but it needs to be led by those in government. Govts. should ensure all cases are prosecuted to give out the message and when the people get the message the parties will change. The judiciary would then hold the key. If convicted racists, sectarianists etc. get strong effective punishment then that will help.

  • missfitz

    I had a dream????

  • Betty Boo

    Something must have bitten him at last.
    Community groups and/or receiving funding on both sides of the border, particularly those dealing with children and young people under the age of 18 have to subscribe to a Code of Behaviour/Good Practice.
    Here is just a little taste:

    Standards of personal behaviour, conduct and language

    •Treat all children and young people equally
    •Listen to and respect children and young people
    •Involve children/young people in decision making as appropriate
    •Provide encouragement, support and praise (regardless of ability)
    •Use appropriate language (physical and verbal)
    •Have fun and encourage a positive atmosphere
    •Offer constructive criticism when needed
    •Treat all children and young people as individuals
    •Respect a child’s/young person’s personal space
    •Boundaries on behaviour and related sanctions, as appropriate, will be discussed with children/young people and parents/facilitators/responsible adults
    •Encourage feedback from group
    •Lead by example
    •Create an atmosphere of trust
    •Respect differences of age, culture, ability, gender, language, racial origin, religious beliefs and sexual identity or orientation
    Good practice in interpersonal dealings includes that all children/young people are treated equally, and with respect and dignity. The welfare of each participant will always be place first, before achieving goals.
    The building of balanced relationships has to be based on mutual trust which empowers children young people to share in the decision-making process and giving an enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.

    A case of rather late then never?
    Betty Boo

  • missfitz

    Betty
    I heard on Pat Kenny this morning, that there is no system for checking anyone that works with chidlren in the South. Nothing like PECS or CRB. What do you think of that?

  • lib2016

    Ahern’s proposal is excellent as is the Code of Behaviour. Let’s have more of this sort of discussion.

    Heard a little of the Kenny discussion which seemed to be about the need to set up such a system urgently and the problems involved i.e. the need to protect people’s jobs in the case of mischievious complaints, the need to protect the Gardai against slipups which let people though since no system is going to catch everybody, the delay in vetting staff which can lead to losing vitally needed staff, many of whom are volunteers.etc. etc.

    In other words it was a manysided discussion of the difficulty in setting up such a system and the problems the British have faced in setting up their systems.

    Hard to relate all that to missfitz’s post.

  • Betty Boo

    Missfitz,

    Theoretically there should be a background check for every person working with under 18’s be it full or part time or as freelance facilitator. As a community group you have to apply for Garda vetting. You will receive a letter from them stating that your group “is not currently designated to receive vetting of personnel”. With other words they know they have to provide this service by law but are under staffed.

    Pat Kenny should do his home work befor he opens anything at all.

    Betty Boo

  • The Dubliner

    “Perhaps it is time that all parties in the North and indeed in the South signed up to a Political Protocol on Sectarianism; a declaration, that politicians or political parties will not resort to the gratuitous, populist narrative of Catholic versus Protestant or unionist versus nationalist, for political gain.” – Ahern

    Ahern sounds like he has lost touch with reality. But I doubt that he actually has. He’s basically dismissing all northern politics with the old language of “They’re all violent religious fanatics and mindless bigots” – expect he has a new twist: “they’re no better than vile racists who urgently need to be trained in the practice of proper politics and basic protocols of social decorum! Stupid little children!”

    This ‘Statesman’s Podium’ that Ahern has scrambled upon to preach his sermon from is the first step of deflecting the blame for the failure of Strand One of the GFA back onto the northern elements, and absolving east-west elements (himself included) of culpability by implication. So, take it as a sign that Strand One really has hit the buffers.

  • Dave

    Re: By The Dubliner

    “Perhaps it is time that all parties in the North and indeed in the South signed up to a Political Protocol on Sectarianism; a declaration, that politicians or political parties will not resort to the gratuitous, populist narrative of Catholic versus Protestant or unionist versus nationalist, for political gain.” – Ahern

    What would be a great benefit to all to ensure that politicians do not commit the above as stated.

    Politicians with terrorists or criminal convictions should not be allowed to stand for election!! How many present day politicians in Northern Ireland would be barred if such a regulation were in force today ? If such a regulation were introduced one month from today then a lot of regular faces would be missing from the Box. Lets not lose sight of what we are dealing with and who the people vote for.

    If one votes for a terrorist then one get a terrorist representative, the represenative is rewarded with a hugh “pay packet” if that “Representative can keep the (troubles going) he will have a job for life.

    The morale of the story Don’t vote for a terrorist. Dave

  • Fintan Doyle

    Dermot Ahern is a bright and stretegic cookie, so Id agree with Dubliner that there must be greater method here but also….

    On its own its not a bad idea. If, say before a Whiterock Parade, when the DUP are stirring it up again, it would be useful to point to such a protocol.

    Anyway – its too easy to be cynical about these things – fair play to him.

  • IJP

    Basically, well said Mick.

    It’s all easy to say ‘Some of my best friends are Catholic’, a bit trickier to remove sectarian thoughts from the mind and base your politics on the collective good.

    If it was that easy, we wouldn’t have 90% of the population voting for parties whose membership consists almost exclusively of one or other ‘side of the divide’.

  • Pete Baker

    Hmm.. IJP.. I doubt that such a declaration would have any significant effect on some parties.. even if all parties were to sign it.

    In short.. it’s more grandstanding than actual politics.. think about it.. are we to introduce a legal restriction on what political parties can say?

    Somehow I doubt it.. or, at least, I hope not.

  • Pete Baker

    Bah.. that was me.. Pete Baker.. again.. Mick!

  • lah dee dah

    Re ‘Dave”s post of last night.

    I don’t think people with criminal convictions, including terrorist convictions are allowed to stand for election.