UUP leader to apologise for bad leadership

The Ulster Unionist Party is gathering for an Annual General Meeting this weekend and the Belfast Telegraph previews UUP leader Reg Empey’s speech apology for mistakes by the UUP leadership.. [all in the past, apparently – Ed] Meanwhile, via the BBC, he reveals that he has been having meetings with the leadership of the UDA and UVF since autumn last year. The BBC report also notes January’s IMC report on those loyalist paramilitary groups.From the BBC report –

In January, an Independent Monitoring Commission report said the UDA and its members had continued to undertake targeting, shootings and assaults.

“Members of the organisation were engaged in drug dealing, extortion, the production and sale of counterfeit goods, money laundering and robbery,” it said.

On the UVF, the IMC said: “It remains a continuing and serious threat to the rule of law and our previous phrase – active, violent and ruthless – still applies to it.”

Of course, the UUP leadership aren’t the only ones engaged in the dubious strategy of attempting to “persuade the loyalist paramilitaries to commit to purely peaceful means”. The Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, and no doubt Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell, have been at it as well.

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  • Tiny

    The Ulster Unionists are to be congratulated for talking to the loyalist paramilitaries, as oppossed to the DUP who were in the case of Peter Robinson and Ian Paisley happy to parade with them wearing the imfamous ‘red berets’and Willie McCrea who shared a platform with Billy Wright who created the murderous LVF.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The Ulster Unionists are to be congratulated for talking to the loyalist paramilitaries

    The UUP clearly regard the loyalist paramilitaries as friends and allies, so it is unsurprising that they should be talking.

    Recent examples of UUP->loyalist co-operation include :

    – active support for the Loyalist Commission, an effort which was spearheaded by David McNarry. David Trimble had a seat on the forum while he was UUP leader
    – the nomination of the UPRG’s Frank McCoubrey to the Belfast DPP
    – the election of UPRG’s Frank McCoubrey as deputy Lord Mayor a few years ago
    – the election of the PUP’s Hugh Smyth as Lord Mayor of Belfast in 1994 and as deputy Lord Mayor in – I think – 2001
    – the nomination of the UDP’s Gary McMichael to the civic forum by David Trimble
    – the talks between David Trimble and Billy Wright during Drumcree 1996, the same where Trimble chillingly wagged his fingers at police lines
    – tacit backing by Michael McGimpsey and Bob Stoker for the protests by Sandy Row residents against “republican spying” from a block of apartments nearby
    – In the early 1990s, some nursing students from the RoI moved into houses in the Donegall Pass area, and leaflets were distributed calling upon the “scum” to get out. The South Belfast UUP MP Martyn Smyth described this as “understandable” in the face of concessions to republicans

    There is no evidence that the UUP have a clear strategy of trying to get loyalists away from violence. Instead, their objective appears to be to give armed, unelected loyalist groupings a voice of their own – while crushing efforts by elected republicans to share power on an equal footing.

  • Tiny

    So ‘Comrade’ are you saying that politicial parties should’nt engage with parmilitaries in an effort to get them away from violence?

  • I’ll reserve judgement on Empey’s apology until I see exactly what he has apologised for. But I wonder if he got the idea from my article here: http://www.sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/2005/06/P25/.

    The UUP and the Tories have a lot in common. Both were politically dominant for years before the discrediting of their brands, followed by an electoral wipe-out. The Tory failure can be traced back to Nigel Lawson’s shadowing of the DM, the ERM folly and Black Wednesday. In time the Tories came to realise that they had grievously hurt their core supporters and today David Cameron claims to have learned the lessons. Apologising didn’t restore the Tory brand but it was a step in the right direction.

    Similarly, the UUP has to realise that the majority of unionists had no confidence in the party to defend its interests against Sinn Fein. The Trimble years, with its u-turns and strategic and tactical blundering thoroughly discredited the party. So it’s no good Johnny Andrews saying that the UUP deserves the credit for all the changes over the last decade. The electorate has already spoken on that.

    An apology is only the start. Empey will do well just to keep the party alive for a possible long term revival. There is no realistic prospect of it overhauling the DUP, short of a massive DUP horlicks. The party has loads of problems: an ageing membership, a collapsed local infrastructure, a lack of talent and energy in its top rank, a lack of young people. As a more liberal party than at any time in its history, it lacks an intuitive grasp of the attitudes and fear of its former bedrock supporters. Their withdrawal of support has been so damaging.

    But most of all, the UUP needs to gain a hunger to regain its past position and a consequential ruthlessness. It will not do so until it wins back support from the thousands who have defected to the DUP in recent years. Johnny Andrews’s rainbow coalition drive amongst Catholics and ethnic minorities is a distraction from chasing potentially richer seams of support.

    Oh and I believe Empey and the UUP should steer well clear of loyalist criminal gangs.

  • Comrade Stalin

    So ‘Comrade’ are you saying that politicial parties should’nt engage with parmilitaries in an effort to get them away from violence?

    Nope, I’m making a point about unionism’s non-commitment to peaceful and democratic means, by forging alliances with people who are violent and dangerous, and apparently have no desire to give up criminality.

    Besides, if the UUP and DUP say it is right to engage with paramilitaries in an effort to get them away from violence then why won’t they talk to SF ? Do you think if the UUP/DUP went up to West Belfast and talked to the IRA, they would come out asking the government for a financial package to rebuild Ballymurphy ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Oh and I believe Empey and the UUP should steer well clear of loyalist criminal gangs.

    Watchman, this certainly hasn’t harmed the DUP, and indeed McCrea’s election in South Antrim was secured in spite of this. Unionist voters simply don’t have a problem with a friendly approach to loyalist paramilitarism, it’s more than clear looking at the polls.

  • Empey should be apologising for talking to ANY kind of terrorists. The same applies to any putative DUP engagement with the loyalist hoods. Republican readers may think it a natural thing for democrats to talk to terrorists. It is not. It is demeaning to the tenets of democracy and something that is to be condemned.

  • Tiny

    “by forging alliances with people who are violent and dangerous” Comrade, how is attempting to persuade paramiltaries to give up violence “forging alliances”, did Hume forge an alliance with the provos?

  • Tiny

    David, you are right, ‘in a perfect world’ that is.

  • darth rumsfeld

    For the few UUP watchers left, a question or two-

    Why did Denis Rogan stand down as president to be replaced by octogenarian dullard John White, after originally allowing his name to go forward last week?
    What is the Sunday World investigating about UUP finances?
    pip pip!!

  • RmcC

    David Vance, my moral side agrees with you, but my logical side is wondering how else such gangs can be reached, and persuaded that what they’re doing is reprehensible.

  • I don’t want to divert this thread on to links-with-paramilitaries as we’ve all discussed it before, and Empey’s decision to apologise is much more interesting. So I’ll just say this as I’ve got an imminent dinner party.

    I think there have been lots of ill-judged DUP associations. I don’t think they’ve hurt the party because the UUP for different reasons has not been in a position to take advantage of them. Plus, I suspect with time people forget about them and vote on different issues. McCrea is a good example, I suspect, although even here, I suspect, maybe his past image may have kept the DUP swing in South Antrim down a bit. (And yes I do know about Smiler Burnside and the UDA.) But to turn Comrade Stalin’s point on its head, I can’t think of an instance where a unionist politico has been politically harmed from a trenchant loathing of loyalist criminal gangs. Big Bad Bob wasn’t.

  • RmcC,

    May I respond to the valid point you raise?

    I think the moral case for NOT engaging in any form of talks with terrorists is clear and simple. But, how can we get these thugs to cease from their evil ways?

    Talking to them is a euphemism for engaging with them as to what financial and political goodies are on offer if they turn off the violence a tad, and pretend to have turned their backs on criminality. In this way, they are rewarded.

    My view is they should be PUNISHED. By politically isolating them, by using the police to systematically crush their criminal empires and arrest their leading figures, they get the message that their is NO FUTURE in their rancid rackets. They either desist from their criminality or elese they face prison, sustained policing pressure, and no chance of ANY rewards.

    Let them work for their money, like the rest of us. Empey knows that the UDA and UVF are parasites feeding off working class unionist areas. Parasites are not treated by feeding them more of what motivates them. The areas they infest should be treated with extra dosages of law and order!!!

  • colin carberry

    Peter, this blog does serve to widen the parameters of the long-delayed debate on why all the Unionist/Loyalist politicians (most especially Ian Paisley/the DUP) and community leaders should be urgently engaging the ranking Dons of the highly active ‘Protestant’ terror groups: to get them to call off their bitter drug-fueled campaign of sectarian and racial hatred and to rein in the murder gangs for good. The traditional Loyalist rationale for the mass-murder of Catholics has long fallen under the category of ‘reactive’ or ‘tit-for-tat’ violence, but in light of the IRA’s definitive decommisioning of its weaponry, that old excuse has worn even thinner. I recently attended a talk given by Dr. Alan Parkinson — Belfast-born Protestant, self-declared Unionist, expert on Loyalism & author of “Belfast’s Unholy War” — and following the logic of his informed view: the ‘hoods’ will have almost no influence on the course of future events in Northern Ireland; and demographics will — to the author’s dismay — lead to a jointly-ruled Northern Ireland. I remember thinking ‘If only there was a Unionist leader with the intellectual gifts of an Alan Parkinson, Northern Ireland would be a more rational, humane, progressive place’. If only.

  • If only there was a leader of nationalism that had the guts to call the IRA’s bluff…

  • Ulster Prod

    Colin,
    What about the “bitter drug-fueled campaign of sectarian and racial hatred” carried out by the Roman Catholics?
    Remember Darkley?
    Remember Kingsmill?
    Remember Enniskillen?
    Remember the Shankill bomb?
    to name but a few!
    Let’s not forget about the racist attacks that have happened in Roamn Catholic west Belfast, in other Roman Catholic areas and happen more often in the Roman Catholic Republic of Ireland!
    Also remember that the Roman Catholic IRA murdered more Roman Catholics than all other groups combined!

  • misterobserver

    Who gives a **** what the morally bankrupt, vile, republican movement thinks? They will NOT get their version of AN Ireland of equals!!!!

  • colin carberry

    Ulster Prod,

    I accept your point regarding the Darkley massacre, Enniskillen, and the Shankhill bombing (among many others) — these were horrible sectarian atrocities carried out with clinical brutality by people who probably just hated Protestants for being Protestants. Let me say this much, however: unless some major unforeseen problem arises in the Republican camp at this point in the peace process, we are unlikely to see any ‘action replays’ of this kind of nastiness. Love it or loathe it, the IRA has called off its armed conflict, decommisioned its weapons, declared its Long war over, and has, by and large, kept to its word. The Loyalist terror groups on the other hand remain intact, armed to the teeth, and they don’t just terrorize ordinary taigs: they parasitically feed off the long-suffering working class Protestant people, and drug-induce and corrupt the youth in their own power bases. If the IRA have ‘gone away’ what is the raison d’etre of the Loyalist terror groups? To ‘Protect’ and ‘Defend’ who — Ulster? The Protestant people they terrorize and extort? Or perhaps the leadership’s spice boy life-styles? And who are they defending themselves against — Catholic taxi drivers? Migrant workers? Each other? Come to think of it: what has Ian Paisley or David Trimble done for the Protestant working class over the last thirty years? Maybe they cavorted about with the hoods when they needed a little paramilitary pull, but did they succeed in raising the quality of life for their poverty-stricken brothers in the faith? Doesn’t look like it. My belief is, for political and social progress to be made on the island of Ireland as a whole, it is imperative that the IRA’s historic move be reciprocated by the Loyalist terror groups. The days of “It’s to hell with the future and live on in the past” are gone forever. Everybody else is saying Yes. The DUP and others will simply have to come up with something a bit more creative than ‘No’.

  • Jo

    Those who object to Empey et all have no alternative no sensible option to include those marginalised from the peace process.

    Their attitude to paramiltaries was always to indiscriminately crush these without reference to the rule of law at all. Such extreme views are now utterly isolated as even the paramilitaries are wanting to end the war.

    Those working class areas who have suffered most from Loyalist *armies* stand to benefit most from the ending of their power. However, some here on this thread do not want an end to the war at all or an end to the suffering of working people. They mask their contempt for the political class from which they are excluded in their contempt for sensible progressive politics of a kind they cannot comprehend.

    Ultimately their advocacy of a violent solution to paramiltarism – a preference for war rather than jaw, shows that the only difference between them and the paramilitaries is that the latter had at least the guts to take up guns to fight for what they believed in. One wonders who the real extremists are any more – the consolation being that that those that are left are extremely few in number – and thankfully, ageing.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Tiny:

    “by forging alliances with people who are violent and dangerous” Comrade, how is attempting to persuade paramiltaries to give up violence “forging alliances”

    Loyalist paramilitaries have existed for over 30 years. Why are the DUP/UUP only talking to them now ? Did the DUP/UUP not feel it was necessary to persuade loyalists to end violence before now?

    Anyway, the UUP and DUP are not “persuading” anybody to end violence. The UUP and DUP are building bridges with gunmen in an effort to get them on side in time for the next time they want to stage another coup. It’s not as far fetched as it sounds – they did it successfully in 1974 and, as joint authority looms in the distance, I’ve no doubt they

    did Hume forge an alliance with the provos?

    Yes he did, and the political process here suffered badly for it. One possible bonus is that he managed to kill off the SDLP in the process.

    David Vance writes :

    Republican readers may think it a natural thing for democrats to talk to terrorists. It is not.

    Unionists think it is a natural thing for democrats to talk to terrorists, they have been doing it for decades. UWC strike ? Unionist politicians will not be coming down against loyalists, because most unionists are sympathetic to their objectives – this is quite clear going by the South Antrim election results.

    Anyway David, you still have to prove that you’re not a hypocrite by condemning the Irgun and the King David Hotel bombing. I’m not convinced that you have any business criticizing other people over their democratic bona fides.

    Jo writes :

    Those who object to Empey et all have no alternative no sensible option to include those marginalised from the peace process.

    How is talking to unelected, unsupported criminals improving inclusivity ? It simply sends out the message that if you use guns and commit crime, you get a seat at the political table. It’s total bunkum and needs to stop.

    There should be only one way to get to the table, and that’s by winning votes. The UUP and DUP win those votes, so they are the representatives of these people – not the paramilitaries.

  • Jo

    CS:

    Talking to such people is infinitely better than machinegunning the places where you believe they are or indeed planting bombs in the fish shop under which you believe they are meeting.

    They represent a constituency which needs to be brought into the political realm. Had the political control (as distinct from cynical manipulation) been stronger in the past than it was, fewer would now be dead and these people would have had a discipline which they don’t. Better late than never, I believe.

    This together with the *Drawing a Line* thinking shows that Unionists are changing and recognising that there HAS been change. Loyalists and Republicans are feeling the bite of the ARA.
    The more more perceptive know that they are going out of business and for once it is in all our interests to maximise the redundancies!

    What is your alternative?

  • Comrade Stalin,

    I have nothing to prove to you. As for your curious invocation of the King David Hotel bombing on a discussion concerning the merits of the UUP leadership, well, that is symptomatic of the problem with blogging as a forum for debate. Pointless diversions from the core issue. (BTW -I have dealt with the topic you raise on ATW)

    On a more general note, those who advocate talking with terrorists merely demonstrate their own gullibility. Democracy cannot include terrorism. Just ask Hamas..

  • andy

    DV
    I’d be genuinely interested in your views on the Irgun et al.

    I did a search on king david hotel and tangled web but couldn’t find any comment where you actually condemn the bombing and the campaign surrounding it in the same way as you would say, if it was carried out by Irish Republicans.

    Slightly unusual as in fairness you are unequivocal in your condemnation of loyalisy “terrorists”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Jo :

    Talking to such people is infinitely better than machinegunning the places where you believe they are or indeed planting bombs in the fish shop under which you believe they are meeting.

    Jo, what on earth have you erected this silly strawman for ? Who on this thread has advocated machine gunning or blowing up fish shops ? I resent the implication underlining your contribution that I somehow supported the Shankill bomb. Why have you made this accusation ?

    The correct way to deal with the UDA and UVF – and the remnants of the IRA who refuse to give up violence and criminality – is to apply the full force of the law. That means arrests, prosecutions and jail time. If someone breaks down your front door and points a gun at you, surely you don’t mean to say that you would sit down with him and talk over a cup of tea and a biscuit.

    They represent a constituency which needs to be brought into the political realm.

    What constituency is that ? The areas where loyalist paramilitarism is strong all elect DUP and UUP councillors, MLAs and MPs. Why do you think they need a double mandate ? If they aren’t being represented effectively then why won’t they vote for someone else ? Curiously – why won’t they vote for the PUP or UPRG in significant numbers ?

    This together with the *Drawing a Line* thinking shows that Unionists are changing and recognising that there HAS been change.

    In what way have unionists changed ? Today I see unionism still knee-deep in sectarianism. It refuses to share power, refuses to acknowledge it’s own role in the conflict here, and continues to flirt with criminal paramilitary gangs.

    What is your alternative?

    Very straightforward. Political agreement and powersharing between democratically elected parties. The application of the full force of the law to unelected criminal gangs. I don’t care if it’s Slab Murphy or if it’s one of the Shoukris – catch them, prosecute them, jail them. It’s the only way.

    Vance proceeds :

    I have nothing to prove to you.

    You obviously care little for your own non-existent credibility.

    As for your curious invocation of the King David Hotel bombing on a discussion concerning the merits of the UUP leadership,

    I raised it because it is an example of a terrorist outrage which you refuse to condemn. You don’t regard Irgun as terrorists, and quite clearly shows that you have double standards when it comes to dealing with men who use guns and explosives to force political change.

    well, that is symptomatic of the problem with blogging as a forum for debate. Pointless diversions from the core issue. (BTW -I have dealt with the topic you raise on ATW)

    The core issue, David, is double standards on terrorism. Republicans do it, unionists do it, and it looks like you do it as well. If people would be more pragmatic about the world we live in, perhaps there would be a lot less dead bodies around.

    And no David, I haven’t seen you address the issue on ATW, doubtless where you will run off to after refusing to address it here. You think there is a difference between the IRA killing civil servants to establish an independent state, and the Irgun doing it – but you refuse to explain what it is.

  • Jo

    CS:

    I believe that politicians interacting with paramilitaries is a tried and effective and our best way forward. Thats all I am saying, I dont mean to imply that you supported the Shankill bomb. I just think Empey et al are pursuing a course which I hope will eb effective. perhaps you didnt support the Hume Adams talks which see as paralleling these. I dont know.

    Others here, not necessarily you, would not be unhappy with a return to war. I dont want to get into feuding here in this subject, ok.

  • stephen cooper

    Tiny,

    Going back to the original post, can you tell me who exactly were the terrorists in red berets? Did any of them hold illegal firearms, or membership of paramilitary organisations? If so, how did their hierarchy feel when or if they paraded with another ‘army’?

    As for talking to terrorists, I agree with DV, it is not compulsory in any democracy, and certainly not something I and others with some moral fibre agree with. When someone resorts to violence to get their way, it only serves to show how weak their argument is.

    Appeasement only exacerbates the problem. Effective and demonstrative punishment deters and deals succinctly with it.

    It is quite simple, really.

    Democracy is the majority of people voting for one system wins. Those who lose must use exclusively democratic and peaceful means to dissuade those who do not agree with their withered ideas.

    If they resort to violence then the majority of the population, the government and the security appartus should be given the robust support of all, and collectively deal with it.

    The crux of our problem is that Labour want a united Ireland as well as Sdlp and SFIRA.

    ‘talking with terrorists’ has only resulted in making superstars of the dregs of society these vile creatures are.

  • Jo

    Stephen:

    “Democracy is the majority of people voting for one system wins. Those who lose must use exclusively democratic and peaceful means to dissuade those who do not agree with their withered ideas.”

    Ireland voted for Home Rule. Part of it, a minority, did not. They imported illegal weapons (from a country with which the Empire was soon to go to war) to fight their case, planning to take up arms against the lawful government of the United Kingdom and its armed forces.

    Anyone arguing from a Unionist perspective cannot but be uncomfortable with that and it makes what you just said particularly interesting, does it not?

    Unionism was “appeased” in its armed militancy by being given its own state. Perhaps Lloyd George and his government should not have talked with those latter day terrorists?

  • M. Gibbs, Chicago

    Does it matter whom Mr. Empty talks to? Once you start apologizing, you might never be able to stop. Surely a lot of people have crows to pick with the Ulster Unionists. If he thinks he can make the rejectionist Unionists see sense, by all means give it a try, but fewer and fewer people seem to care what the party that Trimble (did anyone see his whingeing interview on the BBC’s Hard Talk last week?) led to near-oblivios does or says.

  • stephen cooper

    Jo,

    Dont think so.

    Home Rule was when all of Ireland was in the UK, was it not?

    I would come back to you and remind you that 1916 wasnt exactly a democratic process, and thus it was this which broke up the British isles.

    Your hypothesis is weakened due to the fact that the Ulstermen you refer to, didnt actually fight against the government, but instead went to war for King and country.

    If you are comparing this to the vicious and savage campaign of the IRA et al, then please dont!

    So your argument actually works against you. I mean, ‘appeasement’, is losing 26 counties from the rest of the island?!! lol!

    if you want to go back far enough I can counter each of your points with examples of republican insurgents.

    Also, I am only aware that the plans of the gun runners back then was to defend Ulster at all costs, this was directed not against the uk government per se, more to do with the republic and the catholic church taking dominance…..just check the Ulster Covenant.

    We can go over the whole thing from the famines through to the hunger strikes, but it still doesnt make a difference to the issue at hand.

    That is; terrorists should be punished, not rewarded.

    Mr Gibbs, ‘rejectionist Unionists’?

    what on earth does that mean? We reject immoral terrorists sitting in government. On the other hand, we approve of good government and terrorists being dealt with properly.
    Which do you prefer?

    Will I start calling republicans rejectionist because they reject wanting law and order or NI’s existence?

    Please try and use proper language.

  • IJP

    Well said on all counts, Comrade.

    Despite the name!

    Mind, I know of Ulster Unionist Cllrs who refuse ever to talk to paramilitaries – will they now be leaving the party?

  • Skinthegoat

    Stephen Cooper,

    .. the Ulstermen you refer to, didnt actually fight against the government, but instead went to war for King and country …

    But what king, and which country? They live in Ireland, so the king in question – the Kaiser’s first cousin – should have been a foreigner to them. Besides, the whole First World War was a complete accident that would not have happened without utter stupidity on the part of so many empires – happily, all but the dregs of one a little to the East of us now long gone. You seem to forget that even greater numbers of Irish Catholics, mainly members of the Irish Volunteers, likewise fought in the same war and suffered ghastly casualties. They did not fight for that blood-stained King and Emperor, but they did fight for THEIR OWN country, believing – naively – that, as that great patriotic Protestant Irishman and literary genius William Butler Yeats put it, “England would keep faith.” Both they and the Protestant Ulstermen who died in droves were suckered. Wake up and smell the coffee. You will never be anything more than pawns in even the supershrunk British Empire. Ireland is your home. Have some confidence in yourselves and carve out a great future for yourselves in it.

  • Comrade Stalin,

    You get it wrong. I care nothing for what you think of me.

    I have addressed the side issue you raise fully on ATW and have no desire to repet myself here.

    The bottom line, for the slow of thinking, is that talking to – a euphemism for appeasing -any sort of terrorists is wrong. The IRA, UVF, UDA et al deserve nothing but enduring contempt for their murderous barbarism. There is no shortage of fools prepared to rationalise and apologise for such depravity but you must not expect us all to be so ambiguous on the issue.

    Empey is wrong to talk to gangsters, Robinson will be wrong whe he engages with such thugs, and of course those nationalists who vote for Sinn Fein are akin to those Palestinians who vote for Hamas – morally banrupt and politically reckless.

  • Ken A. Biss

    I do not believe that anyone should apologise for talking to anyone if (s)he sincerely believes there is a realistic possibility of making people behave in a way more conducive to peaceful development in a society. And I believe that Mr. Empey is as sincere as one could reasonably expect of a politician. More than most in fact. My actual reason for writing now is to appeal for some help in understanding English semantics better than I think I do. I have just been watching Sky News on cable. I understand it belongs to Mr. Murdoch, who also owns Pox News in the USA. On Sky, with irritating regularity, they show a spot advertising one of their current affairs programmes. A big butch blonde in a power suit slams doen the lid of a laptop and says, if I heard right, that they offer “agenda setting analysis”. Now, I don’t expect anyone to tell me what that is in Swedish, but what does it actually mean in any language? Next, one James Rubin, whom I vaguely remember as an ultra-arrogant White House spokesman while POTUS – pussyhound of the United State – Clinton was in power, says he offers “behind-the-scenes analysis from my days as a Clinton official.” Would that be analysis of the situation today – six years after he left the White House? I await the evening he reveals to us whether, behind the scenes, he knew that POTUS was getting the leg over Monica. The moral of the story is: take the media with a liberal does of salts.

  • pakman

    Skinthegoat

    The British Isles are your home. Have some confidence in yourselves and carve out a great future for yourselves in it.

  • Jo

    Stepehen:

    Thnak you for your clarification that, in your view, illegally importing guns from a country which the UK was about to go to war with was neither terrorism, nor conspiracy to commit terrorism, nor, apparently, treason.

  • stephen cooper

    jo, I wasnt either of those.

    Simply that if they had committed any terrorism act, I would not be in favour of government talking to them to appease them.

    Here is an example, lets say, the 1st world war didnt happen, and the ulstermen who smuggled in weapons then waged a war against the Dublin administration and gradually bombed and murdered their way to the negotiating table and won concession after concession, ultimately ending up being put into government.

    Now , do you think that would be ok?

    Same applies here, and it is definitely NOT right.

  • CaptainBlack

    “Very straightforward. Political agreement and powersharing between democratically elected parties”

    hmpt, great alternative, afterall, its worked soo well in the past!!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Jo, go ahead – point me to an example of when engaging with paramilitaries proved to be constructive. It hasn’t in the case of the UDA/UVF. Despite the existence of the Loyalist Commission and other “initiatives”, the UDA and UVF keep on murdering and engaging in criminality. How long is it going to take to get the message that while diplomacy and a constructive/pragmatic approach does have a place, there are people who are wedded to nothing other than crime and have no intention of ever living a normal life ?

    Vance blusters :

    There is no shortage of fools prepared to rationalise and apologise for such depravity but you must not expect us all to be so ambiguous on the issue.

    Oh look, there’s a shock. David Vance runs away from the thread and instead of engaging the argument, repeats his stance as if it makes a difference. He accuses others of ambiguity while refusing to address his own. All it takes is the words “I condemn the methods used by the Irgun” – but Vance can’t do it. Am I shocked ? Nope.

    IJP :

    Well said on all counts, Comrade.

    Despite the name!

    Thanks. However, you may need to be sent to the newly-opened Larne Gulag for re-education. “Rory” is there now on my personally-supervised Marxist People’s Hand Basket Weaving course. All power to the Soviets!

  • The humour quotient from someone who chooses to name himself after a mass murdering monster is limited, as are the merits from engaging with such a person. This is particluarly true when a dull question is repeated ad nauseum as if it had ANY relevance to the actions of NI politicians.

    It is a matter of fact that the IRA, UVF and UDA have inflicted years of misery on this land, killing mercilessly, exhibiting a barbarism that still shocks. For useful fools to argue that “engaging” with those who both supported and in some cases planned this depravity is somehow “progressive” is symtomatic of how the Belfast Agreement has debased the body politic.

    I fully recognise that there is a body of opinion within nationalism and vichy unionism that sees no harm in the corruption of the tenets of democracy, but I have to advise them that we do NOT all have to conform to this view.

    So…..to summarise on the topic, Empey should indeed apologise. He should apologise for his serial appeasement of terrorism, for entering Government with the delegates of terrorism, and for supporting the release from prison of unrepetent terrorists.