Shadow Assembly a necessary bitter pill?

Gearóid ó Cairealláin in the Andersonstown News has some interesting thoughts on future progress. He foresees Sinn Fein being pulled into a shadow Assembly even if it doesn’t want to be. He then suggests that the party’s supporters should keep their eye on the longer term gameplan – ie to draw the Northern and Southern polities closer together by consolidating its substantial support in Northern Ireland and moving beyond its currently marginal status in the Republic:

Sinn Féin have already rejected this proposal stating that they would prefer the assembly to be scrubbed altogether and the MLAs’ salaries stopped. But Sinn Féin know they will not be able to reject the shadow assembly if and when the Brits set it up, with the support of the Leinster House lot. They will just have to be dragged, kicking and screaming into it and hope that it can be edged forward towards the re-establishing of real power later on.

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  • ingrammartin

    Well Mick,

    They ( Shinners/IRA) have played their cards ( Badly) and like you say in the above piece they have no choice. The conflict was a long game , the peace will be an even longer one.

    Regards to all.

    Martin

  • yerman

    A not so subtle piece of repositioning by the Shinners. Having previously come dangerously close to ruling out a shadow assembly completely they’re now having to do the old “it’ll bring a united Ireland closer” routine to justify going into one.

  • Tom

    While I believe an interim measure such as shadow assembly is likely – its incredible to believe that any nationalist party – let alone Sinn Fein would agree to such a half way house. And they say they are not going to the back of the bus for anybody – they are right – they are well and truly on the bus – but they have not a clue where it is going but because the seats at the front are taken by the DUP. Oh what a Glorious revolution it was!

  • Tom-

    “they are well and truly on the bus – but they have not a clue where it is going but because the seats at the front are taken by the DUP”

    I think December 2004’s so-called “Comprehensive Agreement” AKA the “Provo-Paisley Love-In” proved this.

    It would have secured a DUP veto on future North-South bodies; a DUP veto on nationalist ministers in a new Executive; and a DUP inspired review of the shared heart of government (the office of First and Deputy First Minister) with the aim of tearing partnership out of government.

    Of course, most of us already knew that Bus (Óglaigh na) hÉireann was being driven for years by the British, with Denis Donaldson as the ticket collector. We wait in anticipation at who else will be revealed as being on their payroll. True nationalists will hope the wheels will come off said vehicle of destruction, and that it will career into the ditch of oblivion.

  • Mick Fealty

    Over-exposure to Humphrey Lyttleton, surely:

    “…vehicle of destruction, and that it will career into the ditch of oblivion”

  • ingrammartin

    Wow,

    A bus full of coverts!

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Of course, most of us already knew that Bus (Óglaigh na) hÉireann was being driven for years by the British, with Denis Donaldson as the ticket collector.’

    Really, can’t remember any public statements from the SDLP on that one, or are we simply trying to appear clever after the fact.

    There will not be a Shadow Assembly. The British may be tempted to goad the SDLP into accepting it in exactly the same way the SDLP jumped ship over policing. In the event of the SDLP being once again stupid, their inevitable decline will simply accelerate.

  • One idea would be for Sinn Fein to turn up to this Shadow Assembly, and address each other in sign language. That way you parody the ridiculousness of the DUP refusing to speak to them. Perhaps turn up all wearing sack cloth and ashes.

    Because a shadow assembly is a joke the best method is to treat it as a joke.
    Or all turn up in Orange suits.
    Or all dressed up as Che Guevara
    The permutations, and the imagination are infinite 😉

  • yerman

    “There will not be a Shadow Assembly”

    All this seems to revolve around the definition of ‘shadow’. There may be an ‘interim’ Assembly or another Assembly with a different name, but which is the same as what is being called a shadow Assembly.

    If Sinn Fein need to play on semantics to get them into it then I’m prepared to let them. The end result is all the same.

    If we have Pat McLarnon’s way then it is rejectionist republicans blocking political progress by preventing the establishment of the only achievable form of devolution that is possible at this time.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘If we have Pat McLarnon’s way then it is rejectionist republicans blocking political progress by preventing the establishment of the only achievable form of devolution that is possible at this time.’

    A full Assembly should be up and running, the simple reason why it isn’t up and running is quite simply because of the sectarianism of the DUP. Repeating a lie, no matter how many times, doesn’t make it true.

    Let it be clear, full Assembly or no Assembly, the unionists simply have to buy into democracy for a change.

  • ingrammartin

    Pat,

    Quote”There will not be a Shadow Assembly”Unquote

    I have saved this little gem for the Archive. It will NOT gather too much dust! .

    Martin.

  • ingrammartin

    Pat,

    Quote”the unionists simply have to buy into democracy for a change. ” Unquote

    Another Gem for the Archive, come on Pat you are on a roll can we have a Hat trick.

    Martin

  • yerman

    Pat,
    A full Executive Assembly could be up and running tomorrow – there are 2 options for that:

    1) A Voluntary Coalition with the DUP, UUP, SDLP & probably Alliance. Now, to the best of my knowledge there are one or two catholics in the SDLP, and maybe even in the Alliance Party. Now, how does that square with the nasty sectarian DUP who dont want one about the place?

    2) The IRA finally give up criminality etc and join the rest of the parties on an equal basis – how’s that for a demand of equality?!?

    Given that we are told that a Voluntary Coalition cant happen and the Provos so far have shown that an end to their dodgy activities wont happen then we need to get the best possible outcome at the present moment. I’d love a fully accountable Executive up and running but that isn’t in my, or anyone else outside of the IRA’s hands.

    I think I’ll keep the “repeating a lie doesnt make it any more true” quote. Remember, what’s sauce for the goose in that regard also applies to your little “DUP sectarianism” rant as well as most of the other SF hyperbole.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    The ‘ two options’ you state are quite false. The British can trigger the Assembly tomorrow if they so choose, but will not do so simply because the DUP have intimated that they are not prepared to get involved. The reason for that is that they won’t share power with SF.

    They won’t share power with democratically elected polticians from SF but will oversee policing with an unlelected member of a front for the UVF. Not much consistency from unionists there once again. Sitting in session with an organisation up to its neck in violence and having not met it’s obligations to the IICD. Goodness the DUP sitting down (once again) with the fully armed UVF.

    So by all means keep repeating your lies, the hypocritical behaviour of the DUP leaves you a tad exposed at the moment.

  • yerman

    Pat
    “he British can trigger the Assembly tomorrow if they so choose”

    As the soverign Government of course they can. However, they and even you would have to accept that triggering the Assembly in the current circumstances would be a recipe for collapse. That’s only ‘productive’ if your aim actually is collapse and the push for the Assembly to be set up is done with the ultimate aim of seeing it destroyed. Is that your aim?

    What people need now is not another unstable Assembly which collapses in failure. That would only set back the prospect for any kind of devolution by years.

    Setting it up to move on without the DUP’s consent might be your other option. However, then there can be no objection to the DUP’s call to move on without Sinn Fein. It also doesnt do much for Sinn Fein’s supposed committment to inclusivity.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘As the soverign Government of course they can.’

    Glad to see that you acknowledge your previous (two options) post was a nonsense that was aimed at giving a falkse cover to the DUP.

    ‘even you would have to accept that triggering the Assembly in the current circumstances would be a recipe for collapse.’

    I accept that in such crcimstances the DUP would attempt to bring it down. That is for the DUP to explain, not me.

    ‘if your aim actually is collapse and the push for the Assembly to be set up is done with the ultimate aim of seeing it destroyed. Is that your aim?’

    My aim is simply to see the GFA implimented which is at variance with the DUP. The point is why would the DUP not be prepared to make the Assembly work at this juncture?

    ‘Setting it up to move on without the DUP’s consent might be your other option’

    It is not, in the event of the DUP not participating it should be wound up and there should be greater executive co-operation between the two governments on cross border institutions, something they have promised to do.

    ‘However, then there can be no objection to the DUP’s call to move on without Sinn Fein.’

    SF have been at the forefront of the calls to have a full Assembly restored, in that context where exactly are the DUP going to move to.

  • yerman

    “’As the soverign Government of course they can.’”

    Maybe I should explain my earlier comment for the hard of thinking. I was simply stating that of course that was an option open to the soverign Government as are a range of other options. It is an option open to the UK Government to seek UN approval to invade the Republic of Ireland. It may not be likely though.

    Therefore, the other options outlined by the DUP are entirely possible, and indeed are a whole lot more likely to be implemented than a simple ressurection of an Assembly doomed to fail.

    “I accept that in such crcimstances the DUP would attempt to bring it down. That is for the DUP to explain, not me.”

    Not putting a party clearly linked to terrorism and criminality into Government until they have severed all those links isn’t that difficult to understand.

    “The point is why would the DUP not be prepared to make the Assembly work at this juncture?”

    The point is that the DUP IS prepared to make an Assembly work at this juncture. Its not prepared however to form an Executive alongside Sinn Fein until they have proven their committment to completely peaceful and democratic means.

    Why is Sinn Fein not prepared to make an Assembly work?

    “It is not, in the event of the DUP not participating it should be wound up and there should be greater executive co-operation between the two governments on cross border institutions, something they have promised to do.”

    Which strikes me as a perfectly good rationale from a republican point of view to push for an unrealistic and unworkable situation at present (i.e. the ressurection of an Assembly) in the hope/knowledge that it either wont happen or will happen and then collapses. They can then call for the imposition of this situation which is what they actually would prefer.

    What Sinn Fein need to do is to prove they actually want devolution.

    “SF have been at the forefront of the calls to have a full Assembly restored, in that context where exactly are the DUP going to move to.”

    A full Assembly (I assume you mean Executive devolution) is the ultimate outworking of what the DUP proposes also. Its just that it requres proof of the republican’s working democracy and democracy alone before you see the DUP working Executive Devolution.

    After all this, I still contend that the story we started at is Sinn Fein shifting ground to prepare for a “shadow” Assembly.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Maybe I should explain my earlier comment for the hard of thinking. I was simply stating …..’

    You earlier stated that there were only two options for a full blown Assembly to be up and running tomorrow, your retraction is welcome.

    ‘Not putting a party clearly linked to terrorism and criminality into Government until they have severed all those links isn’t that difficult to understand.’

    Even if this argument held any water it would be scuppered by the usual hypocritical unionist response to violence given that the DUP is prepared to oversee policing with the UVF. An organisation that is still heavily involved in violence and still retains all of it’s weapons. To cut to the chase the DUP are not prepared for power sharing at this moment.

    ‘What Sinn Fein need to do is to prove they actually want devolution.’

    SF have stated they want devolution in line with the GFA, they do not have to prove anything to the DUP or anyone else. It was unionists (UUP) who pulled down the last Assembly and it was the DUP who acted like children at Executive meetings. I would contend it is they who have to prove committment to power sharing and devolution.

    ‘Its just that it requres proof of the republican’s working democracy and democracy alone before you see the DUP working Executive Devolution.’

    The DUP and other unionists are in no postion to hector or lecture nationalists on democracy, given their own connection with violence and their proposal to yet again work with the UVF, this time on the Policing Board.
    They come to the Assembly with their mandate and fight their corner the same as everyone else, if not then the Assembly is gone.

    ‘After all this, I still contend that the story we started at is Sinn Fein shifting ground to prepare for a “shadow” Assembly.’

    There is no evidence of this at all as the writer of the piece has never claimed to be a party member and is even on record as stating that he is not registered to vote.

  • yerman

    Pat
    “it was the DUP who acted like children at Executive meetings.”

    If we’re going to have debate then lets at least get some basic facts right. The DUP didnt attend Executive meetings so therefore would have had difficulty actily childishly or in any other manner.

    As for the main thrust of where this debate began – the writer may well not be a member of Sinn Fein, but the Andersonstown News group is well known for ‘being close to the thinking of’ Sinn Fein. Time will tell on the shadow Assembly. I hope you’re as quick with your retractions then.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘If we’re going to have debate then lets at least get some basic facts right. The DUP didnt attend Executive meetings so therefore would have had difficulty actily childishly or in any other manner.’

    Of course, not attending was the childish part. Given that they sat in the Assembly and on committees under a SF chaiperson their claim to non participation in the GFA was infantile.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Yerman

    “A Voluntary Coalition with the DUP, UUP, SDLP & probably Alliance. Now, to the best of my knowledge there are one or two Catholics in the SDLP, and maybe even in the Alliance Party. Now, how does that square with the nasty sectarian DUP who don’t want one about the place?”

    First off, I don’t believe that. The DUP always opposed power-sharing throughout the many decades in which the SDLP spoke for nationalism, so I don’t believe they would be willing to share power with them now. The DUP ARE a nasty sectarian party. They can say they would share power with the SDLP, safe in the knowledge that the SDLP aren’t where the action is at. When they say they have no problem sharing power with Catholics, I don’t believe them. What do you think the DUP might do to reassure someone like me, a Catholic who doesn’t support SF?
    All of which is actually irrelevant anyway. The point is this: right or wrong, like it or not, Sinn Fein are the party that the nationalist community has chosen as its standard-bearer. Is the DUP willing to deal with this reality? It seems like they are viscerally committed not to.

    “The IRA finally give up criminality etc and join the rest of the parties on an equal basis – how’s that for a demand of equality?!?”

    The question is, how can the IRA prove this, to the satisfaction of the DUP? It seems like the DUP’s criteria for deciding this are Kafkaesque.

    But again it’s a red herring. The DUP is viscerally committed to not being convinced of republicanism’s bona fides. (Christ, the latest line from Paisley is that the IRA did not decommission, is still armed, and the decommissioning event was all a conspiracy cooked up by everyone but the DUP.) So when the DUP says they WOULD enter a power-sharing executive, if A, B and C happened, again, they have no credibility on the issue.

    Again, what do you think the DUP might say to reassure someone like me? It doesn’t look like they give a damn what I think. Maybe I’m wrong?

    – Billy Pilgrim

  • Mark

    “He foresees Sinn Fein being pulled into a shadow Assembly even if it doesn’t want to be.”

    The democratic rights of 25% of the democratic electorate won’t be dismissed as easily as attaching the label “Sinn Fein” and proceeding to ignore their rights. Haven’t the British and the Unionists learned anything about democracy in 40 years?

  • Mick Fealty

    Billy,

    You have put your finger on several things. However I note that this:

    “They [the DUP] can say they would share power with the SDLP, safe in the knowledge that the SDLP aren’t where the action is at”.

    Has a remarkable similarity to this retort from Yerman to Pat:

    “…even you would have to accept that triggering the Assembly in the current circumstances would be a recipe for collapse. That’s only ‘productive’ if your aim actually is collapse and the push for the Assembly to be set up is done with the ultimate aim of seeing it destroyed. Is that your aim?”

    Both adequately described the contingent nature of the current situation. Which do you believe? It can only be a matter of personal choice and belief.

    The DUP has a record of being resistent to change. In the absence of any comprehensive action in a future driven direction they can only be taken on their word that they’ve changed. Where trust is as wanting as it still is in Northern Ireland, words are a poor substitute for action. As you rightly say, for most Catholics (and many Unionists) “they have no credibility on the issue”.

    But the equation is also reversible.

    Sinn Fein has little credibility with most Protestants (and many Catholics). Rightly or wrongly, a lot of people are still convinced the IRA was behind the Northern Bank job (which took place ten days after the break down of the so-called ‘Comprehensive Agreeement’). This despite Sinn Fein’s emphatic denial.

    Unionists may not like Nationalists’ generalised choice of Sinn Fein as their political champion, but it will have to stick eventually. Likewise, Nationalists may find the DUP is now the recognised leader of Unionism hard to swallow. These are two hard, intractable realities.

    Without making a party political point about it, neither have shown much in the way of political leadership. Both have their own bullets to bite. The sooner they do, the sooner this Kafkaesque comedy will finish, and the sooner we can cut to real politics!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Mick

    I think Yerman is correct when he says that the immediate recall of the Assembly and the triggering of D’Hondt (which SF is advocating) could only lead to the collapse of the Assembly. But why must this be so? Because the DUP would collapse it, make it unworkable.

    Why would they do so? Because they do not trust Sinn Fein. Fair enough. I can easily understand why unionists – and many nationalists – do not. However, by creating the IMC the British government has created a mechanism through which any party in government can be held to account. The IMC provides unionism with a security policy in the event of future Northern Bank-style scandals.

    But unionism doesn’t trust the IMC when it tells them the Provos are in the process of closing up shop.

    Meanwhile, with decommissioning the republican movement made its move, in the expectation that unionism would have no choice but to reciprocate. (After a reasonable interim, natch.) To paraphrase Trimble, the Provos jumped – now it’s time for the Dupers to follow. There is perhaps a kind of justice in SF being made to wait as the other crowd drag their feet, but aside from that, what is the DUP’s rationale for sitting on its hands at this time? The IICD, backed by independent witnesses, has declared the IRA completely disarmed.

    But unionism doesn’t trust the IICD when it tells them the IRA has destroyed its guns.
    Unionism trusts the police when it tells them the Provos robbed a bank, but not when it tells them the Provos are winding down.

    The two governments, nationalist Ireland generally, the PSNI, the British army, An Garda Siochana, the IICD and the IMC, the US government, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all are in agreement that the IRA has disarmed and is in the (of necessity, medium-term) process of leaving the stage altogether.

    But unionism doesn’t trust anybody. Because unionism doesn’t want to trust anybody. So we get things like fuel smuggling in south Armagh held up as a reason why there can’t be power sharing. We are told that everything from the Dublin riots to Father Reid’s Nazi gaffe to Slab Murphy’s subterranean farming techniques are reasons why power sharing hasn’t happened yet, and can’t happen for another while yet.

    It’s all complete bullshit, of course.

    You acknowledge that the DUP has a record of “being resistant to change” but add that “in the absence of any comprehensive action in a future driven direction they can only be taken on their word that they’ve changed”. I disagree – in the absence of meaningful movement, the DUP CANNOT be taken at their word that “they’ve changed”. You are asking nationalists to believe something which all available evidence contradicts, and solely for the reason that it would be nice to believe. I’m an optimist by nature, but I’m not that optimistic. The DUP have zero credibility with nationalists – but an even bigger problem is that they clearly don’t regard this as a problem at all. They are THAT sectarian.

    “Sinn Fein has little credibility with most Protestants (and many Catholics). Rightly or wrongly, a lot of people are still convinced the IRA was behind the Northern Bank job (which took place ten days after the break down of the so-called ‘Comprehensive Agreeement’). This despite Sinn Fein’s emphatic denial.”

    All true, and all significant, but all much less significant than the converse. Unionism doesn’t actually need to trust SF – the IMC is there to keep the chucks in check. Hopefully trust could emerge over time, but in the mean time the safety net is there.

    “Unionists may not like Nationalists’ generalised choice of Sinn Fein as their political champion, but it will have to stick eventually. Likewise, Nationalists may find the DUP is now the recognised leader of Unionism hard to swallow. These are two hard, intractable realities.”

    Nationalists are thrilled about the DUP being unionism’s champion but I think you’re missing the point. It’s not about personalities really. Nationalists are pissed off that unionism had picked as its leader a party that refuses to engage, that would rather see everyone’s material well-being suffer than work with nationalists for everyone’s betterment. Nationalism is pissed off that unionism has voted for the party that’s platform is dereliction of duty. The personalities aren’t the issue. (Remember, most nationalists support a restored executive, which would make Ian Paisley their head of government. Ian Paisley! Think about it – nationalists are prepared to swallow that, indeed to support it. In west Belfast and south Armagh they’re shouting “Big Ian for First Minister!” And it’s the DUP that are holding up the show.)

    – Billy Pilgrim

  • slug

    The Northern Bank robbery was being planned just at the time the DUP were thiking about signing a deal with Sinn Fein.

    I am sure they are mighty relieved they did not.

    slug

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Yerman

    There is still an awful lot about the Northern Bank robbery that isn’t known. The gaping blanks have been filled in by everyone believing whatever it pleases them to believe. (Or what the legendary “dogs in the street” know.)

    So aside from congratulating themselves on dodging what may or may not have been a bullet, where do the DUP go next?

    It seems like their strategy is to do nothing for as long as possible. Not much of a strategy. How long can they feasibly do nothing?

  • yerman

    ” the latest line from Paisley is that the IRA did not decommission,”

    Actually its not. The line is that the IRA have not completely decommissioned. The IMC told us that as well as outlining their extensive criminal empire and use of experts in money laundering to deal with the proceeds of those crime. They may not be shooting policemen any more, but they are still very definately there.

    Billy Pilgrim
    “Unionism doesn’t actually need to trust SF – the IMC is there to keep the chucks in check”

    Ahhh… so we do believe the IMC this week then. Just a shame that when they tell us that the IRA still keeps weapons that they’re obviously political driven securocrats, political detectives or some other Sinn Fein buzzword. However, if they say vaguely nice things then they’re obviously messengers of the Gospel.

    Yes, they told us that the “IRA aren’t a terrorist threat”, explaining that by saying that they aren’t targetting the police or army any more. Well excuse me but I knew that.

    Mick made some very interesting points. The DUP undoubtedly does have a credibility gap with the nationalist community. However, to believe that the DUP would refuse to share power with the SDLP is just ridiculous to the point of absurdity. Yes, its a u-turn, but only if you think that DUP policy has remained unchanged since the 1970s. Strange as it may seem, the DUP has realised that time has moved on from then, maybe others haven’t.

    The DUP has, however made something a virtue of its differences to the Ulster Unionist Party, and in particular its insistance that it will stick rigidly to its manifesto pledges – in stark contrast to the UUP and their many u-turns. You may then want to pay some heed to the DUP’s policy documents and manifestos which it has produced over the last few years. Those contain very clear direction as to when and how it will share power with nationlists and republicans. They are tied to that because if they dont go through then they’re just as bad as Trimble and his u-turns.

    There were plenty of people who told us at the Assembly Elections of 2003 that the DUP weren’t really serious and that should they win that the secret pledge was to run riot and ensure that there were no negotiations, no sign of political progress and that generally, the sky would fall in on us all. However, mandated to do so by the electorate they used a mandate to negotiate to do exactly that. So far they have kept to exactly what they promised they would do. You may not agree with the direction they have taken the negotiations, but they are directly in line with their manifesto.

    Dont you think that the Ulster Unionist Party have been sitting waiting patiently in Cunningham House since that election waiting to lambast the DUP for any u-turn, any breakage of their manifesto and generally any point in which they can say that the DUP are just as bad as us. They havent managed to lay a single meaningful blow in all the time since that election.

    If the DUP had a strategy to do nothing then they’re doing very well covering it up. They could easily push for no return of any form of Assembly short of the removal of IRA activity. Surely that would be the best tactic for delaying any return to Executive devolution. I still happen to think that its SF who feel they have the most to gain by complete stalemate and ultimate instability / collapse.

    P.S – I didnt post the comment about the Northern Bank Robbery.

    Yerman

  • German-American

    “You may then want to pay some heed to the DUP’s policy documents and manifestos which it has produced over the last few years. Those contain very clear direction as to when and how it will share power with nationlists and republicans.”

    Fair enough, however I think that doesn’t wholly address Mick’s point, in particular his comment that “Where trust is as wanting as it still is in Northern Ireland, words are a poor substitute for action.” I’ll accept your contention that the DUP actions in negotiations have been in line with its manifestos. But again, negotiating is not really the same as governing.

    Leaving relations with SF aside, as an outside observer interested in this question, I’m curious regarding the DUP’s actions in relation to the SDLP in a governing context. Are there informal or formal DUP/SDLP working arrangements at the council level? At the European parliament? At Westminster? At the Assembly when it was operating?

    I know there are republicans on Slugger who regularly cry “What about Lisburn council?!”, but my question really isn’t meant as a veiled exercise in what-aboutery. (To be honest, I don’t even know where Lisburn is, or what the alleged DUP sins consist of.) I’m just extrapolating from my American experience: it’s not uncommon for Democrats and (US) Republicans to bitterly fight on certain issues but then to cooperate on some matter of mutual interest (e.g., to try to win Federal funding for a state or city). I’m curious if there’s a track record of similar activities in a NI context involving the DUP and SDLP. If so, it would seem to at least partially answer Mick’s point. If not, why not?

    [German-American]

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Without making a party political point about it, neither have shown much in the way of political leadership.’

    What then was the Adams statement of last year when he called on the IRA to reassess its whole future that subsequently lead to the disarming of the IRA?.
    Now, people may wish to denigrate what Adams said and question the authenticity of the outcome, re the report from the IICD and the church witnesses, but it was a show of leadership that Bruce Morrisson in the DI has stated never got anywhere near the credit it deserved.

  • Mick Fealty

    Pat,

    I understand those feelings. And the frustration that goes with it. But as I said, I was not picking out one or other of the parties for especial criticism but refering to the very real vacuum left by their mutual inability to conclude a deal.

    Tommie Gorman’s report at the time the last deal broke down sums up a situation that still pertains today.

  • yerman

    Without wishing to make a party political point about it – the DI is never going to think Adams has got the credit he deserves.

    German-American
    I agree that negotiating isn’t the same as governing. However, the point that I was making was that the DUP’s negotiation strategy has been towards the return of devolution and therefore ultimately destined towards power-sharing with nationalists. Those are hardly the actions of a party which is opposed to having a catholic about the place – the charge laid against the DUP some time back.

    Its certainly not uncommon across Northern Ireland for the DUP and the SDLP to work together on some issue of mutual concern. Its not uncommon for the DUP and SF to be of the same opinion on a subject also, however without the joint work on the issue.

    Maybe the leadership hasn’t been as strong as it could be on this issue and I would totally agree that the actions on some Councils in particular would lead you to come to a completely different conclusion.

    My point all along here has been that Pat McLarnon already has laid out why Sinn Fein dont really want to see the Assembly back. They then push the line that “the sectarian statelet doesnt work” and then press for greater N-S, joint-authority and all of that stuff. I dont necessarily think that they will get that, but from the republican point of view that is much more appealing than administering devolution, particularly in an accountable context.

    The DUP’s strategy patently is not to do nothing – otherwise they would be calling for no devolution of any shape or form until the IRA have wound up their operation and disappeared from the scene. They could quite easliy push for increased powers for local councils and ‘more British’ Direct Rule. The DUP are very strong in both those areas and could decided to leap-frog the Assembly if that really was their plan. Its not though and its for SF to prove that they really want the Assembly.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Without wishing to make a party political point about it – the DI is never going to think Adams has got the credit he deserves.’

    It wasn’t the DI, it was former US Congressman Bruce Morrisson, the DI merely printed what he had to say. Messenger and message come to mind.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘My point all along here has been that Pat McLarnon already has laid out why Sinn Fein dont really want to see the Assembly back.’

    That is patently untrue as I have stated a number of times that I want to see the out working of the GFA. Part of that includes the Assembly.

    The Assembly can not be set up tomorrow as the DUP have stated they will not share power with SF. That is the position of the DUP.

    What I have in fact laid out is a belief (shared by the two governments) that in the event of the Assembly not being up and running then the present situation of paying all these people to do nothing is untenable. The Assembly idea should be mothballed and those other parts of the GFA, outside of the Assembly, should be carried forward. The anti agreement DUP should not be allowed to stymie what progress that can be made

  • yerman

    Pat,
    The DI may well only be carrying the message, but they have absolute control over whose message they carry.

    SF’s committment to the GFA is an interesting one. They want the Agreement and nothing but the Agreement on the one hand, but on the other then they want increased N-S powers which aren’t even catered for in that document (bad as it was). They also supported (for a while) the OTR Bill telling us it was necessary for the full implementation of the Agreement, despite it not being even included in it.

    SF have also been hawking a motion around District Councils in NI calling on them to write to the Irish Government and support a Green Paper in the South on Irish Unity. The parties in the South rubbished that idea when it was debated in the Dail saying that it was against the principle of consent and contrary to the Belfast Agreement.

    While I dont support the Belfast Agreement, those who clearly do support it think that SF are more than happy to step outside it when it suits them. Maybe they have realised that the Agreement is dead – and if they’ve managed that then at least there has been some more progress here than we thought.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Yerman

    “Ahhh… so we do believe the IMC this week then…”

    Who’s we? Your point cuts both ways – everyone’s happy to believe the IMC when they like what it says. Let’s look at the facts: the IMC was set up to monitor the IRA, thereby keeping SF honest and protecting Trimble’s flank. (Yes it monitors loyalists too but that isn’t really what it’s for.) The IMC commissioners are not, shall we say, sneaking regarders of the chucks. They receive their info from the IRA’s enemies, agencies whose agenda we cannot know. They all get paid astronomical fees. When they eventually report that the Provos are gone, they’ll be making themselves redundant.

    Now, I make these points simply because they are the variables that we can know. Looking at those facts, my conclusion is this: there are many reasons why the IMC might give a negative report on the IRA but only one reason why they might report positively – that the IRA deserves it. It’s not about the IMC’s credibility, it’s simply a recognition that if EVEN the IMC are giving the Provos a clean bill of health, it must be true.

    “The DUP undoubtedly does have a credibility gap with the nationalist community. However, to believe that the DUP would refuse to share power with the SDLP is just ridiculous to the point of absurdity.”

    The DUP can now say, despite all the evidence from their history, that they WOULD share power with the SDLP, safe in the knowledge that it won’t lead to actual powersharing. The SDLP are no longer where the action is at. You say that is “ridiculous to the point of absurdity”. Is it?

    I don’t think so. Most nationalists would agree with me. It goes back to the DUP’s complete lack of credibility on this issue. I’m not going to be impressed by policy documents when I can turn on the TV and see a DUP representative refuse to even acknowledge the physical presence of a member of the largest nationalist party. They look strikingly like old-fashioned, not-a-fenian-about-the-place unionists. Nothing they have done has caused me to even doubt that.

    How do you think the DUP might change the mind of a fenian like me? Do you think the DUP even gives a damn what I think? Surely a party serious about powersharing would have to? It seems to me that the DUP does not.

    “So far they have kept to exactly what they promised they would do. You may not agree with the direction they have taken the negotiations, but they are directly in line with their manifesto.”

    It seems extraordinary to have to point this out but it is illogical to make manifesto pledges on the outcome of a negotiation. That’s not how it works. The outcome of a negotiation is inherently uncertain – that’s why it’s a negotiation. Doesn’t the DUP even understand that? Why would they? There isn’t a single person in the DUP who has ever successfully concluded a negotiation about anything in their lives. They know all about walk-outs and boycotts and sitting tight though…

    The DUP promised the unionist people a “Fair Deal” in their last manifesto, yet they are making no movement toward the negotiations at which they might do a deal. If there is no deal at all, won’t this be a failure to meet their manifesto commitments?

    Aside from which: what has the DUP actually DONE? There haven’t been any meaningful negotiations since December 04. Since then they’ve done nothing. A policy of highly-visible non-activity.

    “Dont you think that the Ulster Unionist Party have been sitting waiting patiently in Cunningham House….”

    Who cares? The DUP are in the driving seat now, but seem unwilling to take the handbrake off. Never mind petty partisan politics. We’ve got the futures of all the people of NI to be thinking about. Isn’t that more important than partisanship? Isn’t the DUP concerned that by missing this opportunity for stability, they could be consigning the next generation to a future conflict? Are they untroubled by the possibility?

    “They could easily push for no return of any form of Assembly short of the removal of IRA activity.”

    And how does that substantially differ from the present DUP position?

    “its SF who feel they have the most to gain by complete stalemate and ultimate instability/collapse.”

    You may well be right but that doesn’t mean it’s not the logical outworking of DUP policy. I mean, the Paisleyite tendency isn’t exactly renowned for long-term vision or strategic thinking. It’s renowned for being blinded by fear and hate. It’s renowned for making stupid mistake after stupid mistake – always made in anger too. Paisley could shout “No Pope Here!” all the way to a united Ireland – wouldn’t mean the final outcome of a united Ireland meant he hadn’t been anti-Papal all along, would it? It would only prove that his stategy was stupid and counter-productive.

    Their current do-nothing strategy is stupid and counter-productive and immoral.

    – Billy Pilgrim

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Yerman

    “the DUP’s negotiation strategy has been towards the return of devolution and therefore ultimately destined towards power-sharing with nationalists.”

    What negotiation strategy? What negotiations? The strategy of not talking to the only people with whom you can actually conclude a deal?

    “Those are hardly the actions of a party which is opposed to having a catholic about the place – the charge laid against the DUP some time back.”

    What do you about a party that refuses to acknowledge even the physical presence of a member of the party that right or wrong, nationalists have chosen, and with whom, like it or not, they would have to enter a power-sharing executive? What kind of party are these the actions of?

    “The DUP’s strategy patently is not to do nothing…”

    It’s not patently anything. It looks to me like their strategy is to do nothing. Loud, in-your-face non-activity. Am I wrong? Why?

    “- otherwise they would be calling for no devolution of any shape or form until the IRA have wound up their operation and disappeared from the scene.”

    Oh, I know they are calling for a shadow assembly devolution – “rolling devolution”, or more accurately, meaningless devolution. Bullshit. Nonsense. Don’t believe the DUP would ever move towards fully-fledged devolution. They have no credibility on this issue. I don’t believe them. Therefore it seems to me that your above statement is EXACTLY the outcome of DUP policy. (And even in the complete absence of the DUP, I STILL don’t believe the DUP would move to power-sharing. It’s simply not in their comprehension.)

    “They could quite easily push for increased powers for local councils…”

    Increased powers for the new super councils are on the way.

    “…and ‘more British’ Direct Rule.

    Direct rule is what we have, as a result of DUP policy. They ARE constantly lobbying on the issues of the day, and of course are constantly arguing the “British” side of the toss. The longer it goes on, the more that will be the case. The nationalist parties will argue for greater Irish involvement, and on the colonial merrygoround will go. Power sharing will be forgotten for another generation and the DUP will be content. Their constituents will pay water charges and drive on crumbling roads and have hospitals held together by sellotape but it won’t matter, as long as there’s a sectarian narrative at hand.

    “The DUP are very strong in both those areas and could decided to leap-frog the Assembly if that really was their plan.”

    No, they aren’t going to leap-frog anything. Their strategy, as I have argued repeatedly, is to do absolutely nothing. They won’t kill off the assembly – they will continue to patiently draw their salaries until the time comes when the assembly dies its own death. They will not mourn it.

    “It’s not though and it’s for SF to prove that they really want the Assembly.”

    How are SF to “prove” it? They have disarmed the IRA. The DUP was unmoved. I don’t believe the DUP want the assembly back. Why should I believe anything else? The DUP have no credibility on the issue.

    – Billy Pilgrim

  • Billy Pilgrim

    That should have read:

    “And even in the complete absence of the IRA, I still don’t believe the DUP would move to power-sharing.”

  • yerman

    Billy
    I agree that we all tend to put much more stock in the parts of the IMC report that we agree with. However, I think you underestimate the fact that DUP representatives have largely had to say that they cant disagree with the parts of reports which show reductions in IRA activity etc. The IMC is largely accepted as being impartial by unionists, even when they’re saying things we might not all like to hear.

    The biggest moaning is coming from republicans, yet the IMC are saying that the IRA is making progress but has some way to go. Why are republicans so angry about this? No unionist has ever accused the IMC of being pro-republican and biased yet we have heard very senior Sinn Fein members somehow try to suggest that the IMC was all a huge conspiracy against them. I cant quite get my head around why they would do that unless they dont want anyone to put any kind of aspersions on IRA activity, even when it IS going on.

    Your comments about the DUP’s credibility gap come down to a personal belief. However, you cant say that the DUP obviously wouldnt work with ordinary nationalists because they dont recognise Sinn Fein.

    With regard to manifesto pledges etc – the DUP has simply said that it is tied to what it has sought and won election on. Its not a million miles from the Sinn Fein “we have a mandate” mantra. However, the main point is that those pledges/mandate are towards a restoration of devolution. They are patently not a sitting on their hands, do nothing approach.

    “Oh, I know they are calling for a shadow assembly devolution – “rolling devolution”, or more accurately, meaningless devolution. Bullshit. Nonsense. Don’t believe the DUP would ever move towards fully-fledged devolution. They have no credibility on this issue. I don’t believe them. Therefore it seems to me that your above statement is EXACTLY the outcome of DUP policy. (And even in the complete absence of the DUP, I STILL don’t believe the DUP would move to power-sharing. It’s simply not in their comprehension.)”

    All of that, as you have stated a few times before, comes down to your beliefs. It patently is in the DUP’s comprehension to include power sharing otherwise they would be ruling it out. What exactly makes you want to believe that the DUP dont support it? Yes, its a change from the past and there is no previous examples, but who said that just because you have a past doesnt mean you cant have a future?

    The DUP have plenty to gain, even if you took it on the most selfish basis, from devolution. A First Minster, (possibly) 4 other Ministers and a Junior Minister would be a benefit of itself.

    “Increased powers for the new super councils are on the way.”

    My fault, I meant even more powers above the current proposals.

    “Power sharing will be forgotten for another generation and the DUP will be content.”

    Which might happen were it not for the fact that from the DUP’s point of view, the unionist electorate have been promised things which ultimately will have to be delivered on. They, as you have said, have been promised a fair deal – that fair deal is a deal delivering devolution. One of the biggest reasons that the DUP eventually overtook the UUP was because they started putting forward proposals to return devolution, not just proposals to stop the Belfast Agreement. Throw those away and a lot of the newer ‘softer’ DUP vote could easily evaporate.

    After lots of points regarding what I have said – there still isn’t much explanation as to exactly what Sinn Fein have to gain from the restoration of an Assembly. They can claim that its to do with the full implentation of the Belfast Agreement, but equally we have heard that if they dont get the Assembly they will push for the other bits of the Agreement that they like anyway.

    Sinn Fein dont have much crediblity when it comes to the ‘proving things’. Like it or not they were given chance after chance by Trimble, all of which they p*ssed away with their determination to do just enough to buy off the media for a few weeks but nowhere near their political and moral obligations.

    Sinn Fein have never shown any real committment, even to the saving of the Belfast Agreement when it was operating. That in some part is the reason why the DUP are in the place that they currently are.

  • lib2016

    “…why the DUP are in the place that they currently are.”

    Stuck up a blind alley? The rest of the world will move on and take nationalist Ireland with it. If unionists wish to drop out of history should they be facilitated – is it the democratic thing to do?

    Obviously at some point unionists will realise what’s happening to their community. An aging population trapped in a shrinking reservation on the edge of Europe. Is that really what they wish for themselves and their children?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Yerman

    “Your comments about the DUP’s credibility gap come down to a personal belief.”

    Of course they do. Nationalism as a whole (SF, the SDLP and backed by the Irish government) DOES NOT BELIEVE the Dupers when they say that a shadow assembly would be an interim arrangement, leading to full-blown power-sharing soon after. The British government has belatedly come to agree with that analysis – hence Blair’s abandoned Belfast trip. Nobody believes the DUP on this – and I stress again, it’s because the DUP has no credibility whatsoever on this issue.

    So what do you think the DUP are going to do about it? Do you think they even reckon they need to do anything about it? Surely a party that’s serious about power-sharing would have to?

    “However, you can’t say that the DUP obviously wouldn’t work with ordinary nationalists because they don’t recognise Sinn Fein.”

    But Sinn Fein is the party that “ordinary nationalists” have chosen as their representatives. Therefore in order to work with “ordinary nationalists” you MUST work with Sinn Fein. What does that even mean: “work with ordinary nationalists”? Work with whom? On what? Political parties are elected to legislate – therefore “working with ordinary nationalists” for a political party like the DUP means working with the representatives of “ordinary nationalists” in legislating Northern Ireland. That means Sinn Fein. The DUP are demonstrably unwilling to do that. Any rhetoric to the contrary is hollow. (There is no need to even get into the record of DUP councillors dealing with the SDLP in places like Lisburn and Ballymena.)

    Oh, and on the issue of “recognising” Sinn Fein. The people of West Belfast effectively “recognised” SF in 1983 by electing Gerry Adams. The SDLP effectively “recognised” SF in 1988 by initiating the Hume/Adams talks. The Irish government effectively “recognised” SF in 1994 with the Reynolds/Hume/Adams summit. The British government effectively “recognised” SF in 1995 with the lifting of the broadcasting ban. The Ulster Unionists effectively “recognised” SF by entering talks in the same year. By backing the GFA in a referendum, a majority of unionist voters effectively “recognised” Sinn Fein in 1998. A majority of nationalists “recognised” SF in 2003.

    Why oh why are the DUP still boring us with this bullshit from a bygone age? The DUP position reminds me of a great gag in the Simpsons, where Grandpa Abe produces a US flag with only 49 stars on it. Bart asks: “Why are there only 49 stars Grandpa?” He replies: “I’ll be dead and in my grave before I recognise Missouri.”

    The DUP simply aren’t in a position to “not recognise” SF. They need to stop acting like bloody eejits.

    “They are patently not a sitting on their hands, do nothing approach.”

    Okay, explain it to me. What ARE they doing?

    “there still isn’t much explanation as to exactly what Sinn Fein have to gain from the restoration of an Assembly.”

    Think about it in terms of their all-Ireland strategy. Short term: it’ll help them in next year’s general election down south. Medium term: ministerial portfolios in the north will make them more credible candidates for ministerial portfolios in Dublin, cutting away arguments in Leinster House that they are unfit for office. Medium to long term: they envisage ministers in Dublin and Belfast holding complementing portfolios. Say you had Sinn Fein ministers for health or transport in both Belfast and Dublin – it would mean that the SF President, whomever that might be, could put in place ambitious all-Ireland strategies, locking these changes in for decades to come. That’s a great way to undermine the significance of the border. Or say you had, for example, Mary Lou McDonald as Minister for Finance in a future Dublin government, and Conor Murphy as her northern counterpart in Belfast: they could work together to create a de facto all-Ireland economy, or even a de jure one. That might undermine the border more than anything else ever could.

    SF, and nationalism generally, might be able to live without the assembly, but it’s our strong preference to have one.

    “Sinn Fein don’t have much crediblity when it comes to the ‘proving things’. Like it or not they were given chance after chance by Trimble, all of which they p*ssed away…”

    Fair point. Had the IRA decommissioned earlier they might have saved Trimble and the Ulster Unionists. Who knows. However, the ground has shifted since then – the IRA HAS now decommissioned. The DUP has yet to respond. What will that response be?

    I’ll ask again – how can SF “prove itself” to the DUP? (I suspect you don’t know the answer to that one. I suspect that no-one, least of all the DUP, does. This goes to the heart of their lack of credibility.)

  • GrassyNoel

    “You may not agree with the direction they have taken the negotiations, but.. ”

    Er…WHAT negotiations?

    The only thing the DUP is negotiating, as far as anyone except their supporters on this website is concerned, is an utterly pointless ‘victory'(i.e. stalemate) by avoiding any change in the current status quo due to their steadfast refusal to engage in any kind of meaningful way with anyone regarding the future of Northern Ireland. They are not succeeding in nor achieving anything, apart from trying everyone(that is, everyone who wants to see SOME political movement towards a normal society)’s patience. They are like one of those awful soccer teams who everybody hates watching because they’re always playing for a 0-0 draw.

    GrassyNoel

  • slug

    It’s pretty widely acknowledged that the broad public are not that disturbed by the lack of an Assembly or Executive. The DUP want the ministers to be more accountable to the Assembly, so that we don’t have ministers taking decisions that are opposed by a majority of MLAs, which is probably something that they will return to in discussions on this in the future. The DUP have made clear the terms on which they are interested in dicsussing devolution – check out the various models included in their Devolution Now and Facing Reality position papers.

  • GrassyNoel

    Mick, why was my last comment on this thread removed? It certainly wasn’t for playing man not ball – can’t Slugger put up with a little criticism?

    GrassyNoel