If by 24 November the Assembly has failed..

As well as the big stick waving in the media, the two premiers have released a joint statement to accompany the announcement in Armagh today. Assembly to sit for 6 weeks from 15 May, then for a further 12 weeks after a summer recess. [So they did blink then? – Ed]Full statement below –

Joint Statement by the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach – Armagh, 6 April 2006

1.In recent months we have held discussions with all the political parties in Northern Ireland with a view to restoring the political institutions and building on the peace and prosperity which have flowed from the Good Friday Agreement.

2.When we last met, we noted the historic progress represented by the IRA statement of July 2005. We are convinced that the IRA no longer represents a terrorist threat. By any standards, that is a momentous stage in the history of Northern Ireland. On that basis, we have made it clear that all parties should engage in political dialogue. We have also made it clear that all parties should support the police as the most effective way of addressing continuing concerns about criminality.

3.We cannot force anyone to enter the political institutions. Every part of the political process over the past eight years has been voluntary. What we can do is to set out what we believe to be a practical framework and a reasonable timescale for moving forward. While we are conscious of the view that further confidence needs to be established, we also know that time alone is not enough: trust will not build itself in the absence of positive engagement by all parties. Everyone in Northern Ireland is aware of the dangers of a political vacuum.

4.The Assembly will therefore be recalled on 15 May. Recognising that it has not sat for nearly four years, it seems sensible to give the Assembly a short period in which to prepare for government as envisaged by paragraph 35 of Strand One of the Good Friday Agreement. The Assembly’s primary responsibility would be to elect a First and Deputy First Minister as soon as possible, to allocate Ministerial posts under the d’Hondt formula and to make other preparations for Government within Northern Ireland and in the North/South and East/West fields.

5.As soon as the Assembly elects a First and Deputy First Minister on a cross-community basis and forms an Executive, power will automatically be devolved to the Assembly, as happened in December 1999, and all its functions will be resumed. At that point the British Government’s power to suspend the Assembly will lapse for good.

6.If, despite best efforts, the Assembly is not able to elect a First and Deputy First Minister on a cross-community basis within the normal six week period, we would be prepared to allow a further period of 12 weeks after the summer recess in which to form an Executive and we would expect it to do so at the earliest opportunity within this timeframe.

7.We are also conscious that all parties have made proposals for the better functioning of the institutions and that discussion on these issues has not yet concluded. It would be open to the parties to continue these discussions with each other and with the Governments, as appropriate, so that consideration could be given to proposals for the implementation of the Agreement, including changes to Strands 1 to 3 in the context of a commitment by all involved to participate in a power-sharing Executive.

8.It would of course also be open to the Assembly to prepare for Government by considering issues which the Executive will have to deal with, such as future economic strategy, water rates, public administration and education. Ministers would naturally take account of views which command cross-community support within the Assembly.

9.While it is reasonable to give the Assembly a little more time, there must be a clear limit. We said in January that a power-sharing Executive must be formed this year. If by 24 November the Assembly has failed to achieve this, we do not believe that any purpose would be served by a further election at that point or a few months later in May 2007. We do not think that the people of Northern Ireland should be asked to participate in elections to a deadlocked Assembly. There would be no choice but to cancel salaries and allowances for MLAs and to defer restoration of the Assembly and Executive until there is a clear political willingness to exercise devolved power. The Governments would, of course, stand ready to facilitate full restoration when all parties indicate such willingness.

10.If restoration of the Assembly and Executive has to be deferred, the Governments agree that this will have immediate implications for their joint stewardship of the process. We are beginning detailed work on British-Irish partnership arrangements that will be necessary in these circumstances to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement, which is the indispensable framework for relations on and between these islands, is actively developed across its structures and functions. This work will be shaped by the commitment of both Governments to a step-change in advancing North-South co-operation and action for the benefit of all.

11.The British Government will introduce emergency legislation to facilitate this way forward. It will set out clearly the limited timescale available to the Assembly to reach agreement. In parallel with the recalling of the Assembly, we will engage intensively with the parties to establish the trust necessary to allow the institutions not only to function but to flourish. There is a great deal of work to be done. The Governments will do all in their power to restore the institutions and return devolved Government to those elected by the people of Northern Ireland. But the final decisions are for the parties. We hope they will seize the opportunity to move forward.

,

  • Fenian Bastard

    Good – well done to the two govts.

  • Busty Brenda

    This is it lads, grow up and go to work or sign on.

  • JimmyBoy

    The emphasis of the step change and the fact that the 2 Govts would work on the detailed work on British-Irish partnership arrangements is significant.

    Watch SF join policing, watch DUP enter Govt.

  • Brian Boru

    “10.If restoration of the Assembly and Executive has to be deferred, the Governments agree that this will have immediate implications for their joint stewardship of the process. We are beginning detailed work on British-Irish partnership arrangements that will be necessary in these circumstances to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement, which is the indispensable framework for relations on and between these islands, is actively developed across its structures and functions. This work will be shaped by the commitment of both Governments to a step-change in advancing North-South co-operation and action for the benefit of all.”

    Good! The DUP will only have themselves to blame if strong North-South bodies are introduced. I suppose a failure this time will be sweeter than the others.

  • Busty Brenda.

    Watch SF join policing.

    They’re gagging for it.

    Watch DUP enter gov.

    NO. Paisley will never go for it, unless there is a change of leadership for the DUP. He’s too afraid of being called ‘lundy’.

  • JimmyBoy

    Peter: What do we do now Ian
    Nigel: What do we do now Ian
    Jeffrey: What party can I join now Ian
    Ian: Happy Birthday to me.. Happy Birthday to me..

  • J Kelly

    joint authority. time for a border poll, start the clock ticking for a united ireland

  • Joe

    Significant dates in (Irish) history:

    24 November 1948: Ireland votes for independence from the United Kingdom….

    Hmmmm!

  • Keith M

    First of all its good to see the governments getting some common sense and working outside
    the limitations of the 1998 agreement. After so obviously dismantling another cornerstone of that agreement it now means that all options are open in November, if the trust does not exist to form an executive at that time. The next IMC reports are now pivotal.

    The interesting thing, is the first obvious smoke signals of “Plan B2. “We are beginning detailed work on British-Irish partnership arrangements that will be necessary in these circumstances to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement, which is the indispensable framework for relations on and between these islands, is actively developed across its structures and functions.”

    This obviously means any role for the Republic will be within the limitations of North South bodies, with the UK govenment filling (perhaps at best with NI politicians) the positions which would have gone to members of the executive.

    This is a good move because it finally removes any advantage for SF/IRA collapsing the assembly in the hope of “joint authority”, which was never really a runner.

    What we are looking at is the Anglo-Irish Agreement II, which is not going to be desirable for any party in N.I. and therefore provides an incentive for everyone to get reach an accomodation by November.

  • offer it up

    I can’t for the life of me see why nationalists/republicans oppose this proposal. Get into the Assembly, try and make it work, if it fails it will be because of unionist intransigence and you guys will have what amounts to a form of joint authroity. What’s the difficulty in that?

  • kensei

    Pointless. Set a November deadline, if anyone had any plans to move they’ll wait until the 11th hour. Tell them to do it tomorrow or shut the entire place.

  • Jack

    Keith M .. This does not obviously means any role for the Republic will be within the limitations of North South bodies.

    Secondly you do not grasp the scenario of who will be in Govt of the Republic in the future.

    At the end of the day Nationalist, Republican people will govern Nationalist, Republican people either from within Stormont or over the fence.

  • Fenian Bastard

    Sammy Wilson on Newstalk very upset at the idea of joint authority or powersharing.

  • briso

    Keith M

    Do you think your opinion is shared in the DUP? I would be glad if it was, even if I don’t agree with all your various conclusions.

  • Alan

    Interesting to see the wriggle room provided by Ministers taking cogniscence of the Assembly where there is cross community agreement.

    Looks like the Education Bill is set to sail through.

  • páid

    well, as some have been saying, de facto JA is plan B. DUP’s bluff being called, power share with the shinners or watch NI slowly turn green.

    and all from Armagh, Cardinal Ó Fiaich’s erstwhile all-Ireland capital.

    Peter Robinson has cards to play…will he play them?

  • George

    Keithm,
    I feel you are missing one key point. Today we heard that, in the absence of an Assembly, the Irish and British governments will begin detailed work on British-Irish partnership arrangements to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement is “actively developed” across its structures and functions.

    You yourself admit that the governments have so obviously dismantled “another cornerstone” of the agreement and that it “now means that all options are open in November”.

    All options are also open in the development of North-South relations. Any constraints, perceived or real, on the limits to these relationships are gone.

    Where as before, it would have taken acceptance by the Assembly to expand the remit of such bodies, following the introduction of emergency legislation in Westminster, I assume the governments will have a free hand.

  • smcgiff

    Well, if any British Prime Minister deserves recognition within the Republic of Ireland it is Tony Blair. On retirement he should be offered the Freedom of the capital city of Ireland.

    He recognises that a significant proportion of the populace of Northern Ireland don’t see themselves as British and want ties to the republic, while facilitating the majority view that see themselves as British.

    He has his faults (Iraq for one), but I don’t expect any other British PM any time soon that will have the same empathy with the Irish people.

    I look forward to the day when the words Irish and British are used together they instantly bring connotations of friendship and partnership to mind.

  • Jack

    Seems todays activity is a direct result of a deal between SF and the Brits leading up to the IRA fully decommisioning last year.

  • Stephen Copeland

    George,

    Good point. As the GFA itself says:

    As part of the work programme, the [North-South] Council will identify and agree at least 6 matters for co-operation and implementation …

    … Any further development of these arrangements to be by agreement in the Council and with the specific endorsement of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Oireachtas, subject to the extent of the competences and responsibility of the two Administrations.

    So, expect to see an acceleration of new or proposed new North-South bodies as the 24 November deadline approaches, if it seems to be the DUP that is delaying the establishment of the Executive..

  • Sean H

    I for one am not convinced by what the Governments have said today. Why would any party participate in an Assembly without any power if it would not be able to serve the people? It would certainly make it possible for the Secretary of State to simply ignore parties (just as he has ignored some parties so often) People should be clear about where all these difficulties about a Shadow Assembly have come from. It was agreed between the DUP and Sinn Fein in 2004 in the so called Comprehensive Agreement and we are still living with the damage caused by that bad deal. Because of SF/DUP intransigence, we all suffer!

  • seabhac siulach

    If and it is a big IF (going on past experience) the two governments stick to the November deadline then the pressure is now squarely on the shoulders of the DUP to come to an agreement…as it is, and assuming the two govts. stick to the deadline, it is a win-win situation for Sinn Fein. No one on the republican side will lose too much sleep over the possibility of effective joint authority in the six counties, not with the real possibility of Sinn Fein being part of the next 26 county government.
    At most, the DUP can stall progress as we have seen, but they cannot prevent it forever.

  • smcgiff

    if what you say about Blair is true then Unionists should wait for Brown and his (relative) lack of empathy for the Irish people.

    What is wrong with the Assembly is its’ basic sectarian and anti-democratic structures. Tinkering about with it won’t solve the underlying problem.

  • Stephen Copeland

    pakman,

    What is wrong with the Assembly is its’ basic sectarian and anti-democratic structures.

    The Assembly is designed to be a ‘forum’ for Northern Ireland, and thus representative of its people. While the ‘sectarian’ (or community) pigeon-holing is far from ideal, at least it does reflect the situation on the ground, and is, therefore, representative. If the people change their way of seeing themselves, then so must the Assembly.

    I fail to see how you can call it ‘undemocratic’. That shows a very narrow understanding of the concept. What you mean is that it denies majority rule, but majority rule is not synonymous with ‘rule by the people’ (aka democracy). On the contrary, the kind of forced coalition that the Assembly requires actually guarantees a slice of ‘cracy’ for all of the ‘demos’.

  • TAFKABO

    Hmmmm.

    Today is Ian Paisleys birthday.The 24th of November is MY birthday.I can’t help thinking that there is some significance in these two facts.
    As soon as I can adjust the tightness on this tinfoil hat, I’ll get straight back with the results.

    BTW, how come there’s no threads about the big mans birthday?, let’s face it, if anyone would have the wind to blow out eighty candles……

  • Pete Baker
  • Joe

    Harry Houdini was born on April 6th.
    Let’s see if the old wind bag of the North can wriggle out of the chains of Joint Authority that have been draped around his shoulders today.

  • Billy

    The answer lies in how serious the two governments are about their committment to the Good Friday Accord.

    Time will tell!

  • seabhac siulach

    “BTW, how come there’s no threads about the big mans birthday?, let’s face it, if anyone would have the wind to blow out eighty candles……”

    Maybe because instead of merely marking the ‘great’ man’s birthday, we are waiting (any day now!) to loudly celebrate that other major life event of his (hint: it’s the opposite of a birthday)

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    Joe, I’m like you…I look and see what else is on a date.

    I don’t believe in coincidences….so I looked to see what else happened on the November 24, date that is the ‘new’ time line before the 2 gov’ts collapse the voted upon system.

    1922- Irish Republican Army member and author Robert Erskine Childers was executed by an Irish Free State firing squad for illegally carrying a revolver.

    1974- england charged 6 innocent men with Irish ties and framed them for the IRA bombing of a Birmingham pub.

    nov. 24th feast day in the Catholic Church with over 1 billion world wide members (I say this because alot of northern Ireland protestants just see the Catholic Church as a northern Irish thing and forget that the Catholic Church is over 1 billion strong) St. Colman of Cobh Ireland, St. Colman was a famous poet and 9th in descent from Mogh Nuadat, King of Munster.

    So, I see Nov. 24th as:
    a day that the Irish gov’t likes to blame the IRA; the day that english gov’t frames who they want if they have sympathies toward the Irish Republican Patriots; and the day the Catholic Church honors an Irish writer.

    rather poetic in a way…eh?

  • Alan

    *I fail to see how you can call it ‘undemocratic’. That shows a very narrow understanding of the concept.*

    The workings of the assembly are profoundly undemocratic bcause they fail to honour the whole community, and in fact trample over the human rights of those who would not wish to designate as nationalist or unionist. These divisions have been nurtured by the existing parties, with a few honourable exceptions.

    Only someone who was blinded by their own particularly jaded nationalism could view the inherant sectarianism of the Assembly workings as meeting the equality agenda.

    Closing your eyes to this reality demonstrates a profound disrespect for the democratic rights of others.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Alan,

    Only someone who was blinded by their own particularly jaded nationalism could view the inherant sectarianism of the Assembly workings as meeting the equality agenda.

    Closing your eyes to this reality demonstrates a profound disrespect for the democratic rights of others.

    I sincerely doubt that the tender feelings of the Alliance Party were what had pakman in a tizzy.

    But I would be all in favour of including them in the compulsory coalition, along with everyone else. We’d need a few more Departments, but that’s a small price (for someone else) to pay. Would that meet your approval?

  • Joe

    hi Kathy;

    I have an interesting book given to me by my sister-in-law for my birthday last year (I’m a december baby).
    It’s called “Today in History”, published by DK,
    ISBN 0-7894-9698-4.
    As well as detailing some significant events, it also has a quote of the day.
    For 24 Nov the quote is from Spinoza;
    If you want to be different fron the past, study the past”.
    I hope that people can do that and think
    “No, never, we don’t want to go back there”

    Regards,
    Joe

  • smcgiff

    ‘if what you say about Blair is true then Unionists should wait for Brown and his (relative) lack of empathy for the Irish people.’

    AS IF that very thought hasn’t been exercising the collective unionist mind for 8 years now. 🙂

  • Yokel

    I can’t see any mention of joint authority anywhere.. I haven’t heard the term used at all by either government. What I hear is co-operation.

    Children, do yerselves a favor and read what Hain said the areas of co-operation were…nothing new at all. Joint Authority as in joint CONTROL OF GOVERNENCE & EXECUTIVE POWERS actually will still not exist in the substantive areas of government e.g. a) security & policing, b) the judiciary c) central economic policy and taxation d) health & social policy. Having potential influence on it is not the same as control.

    All it is the same areas of co-operation but any groups will involve the British & Irish ministers & civil servants minus the local politicians. Unionsist you’ve taken the bait thrown to you by those nationalists who either can’t read, are getting way ahead of themselves, delusional or frankly are winding you up.

    Border poll? Well no problem with that, we’ll all know the result, probably about 57-60% for the Union versus a United Ireland. There’s a reason why there is no border poll because everyone knows it will put the issue to rest for years to come. Those nationalists calling for it, keep calling you’ll only be faced with a defeat and then what do you do when there is clear majority on this issue..Deny the ballot box? Use yer loaf, a border poll would be a mistake.

    As mentioned in an earlier post a load of days back.. it may well be the DUP are holding out for Blair to go because they know Blair is looking his place in history and they not about to give him it.

  • PHIL

    Kathy C,

    “England charged 6 innocent men with Irish ties and framed them for the IRA bombing of a Birmingham pub.

    “The day that english gov’t frames who they want if they have sympathies toward the Irish Republican Patriots”

    Whilst I agree that these men’s imprisonment was a travesty of justice and a stain on the English legal system, there was no English government in 1974 as there is none today so how did England take these men’s liberty exactly?

    The restoration of devolved government to Northern Ireland will leave England as the only nation of the dis-united kingdom with no form of self-government.

  • Yokel

    I’ve just read Reg Empey’s statement in response to this on the UUP wesbite, and even he raises this spectre of ‘joint management’ as he calls it….Section 10 of this document carries a threat, clearly even Reg can’t read, not a promise because it won’t be delivered. They have declined to go into detail about their plan if the Assembly does not reconvene because there isn’t one. If they mean’t it they’d have it prepared now, If they really wanted to put the meaning down, they could have explained what the plan was in detail. Tony Blair threatening? Wise up, he hasn’t got it in him.

  • slug

    Yokel Sir Reg is obviously going to portray it in as negative a way as possible for party political reasons. The UUP are not terribly credible at the moment.

  • Joe

    Yokel

    I think you are the one doing the misreading here.
    There is a clear threat: either enter a partnership or there will be greater ROI involvement in N.I affairs. The two prime Ministers couldn’t have made it clearer in their joint press conference today.
    For what it’s worth, my opinion is that the DUP will bite at the last minute so that they can pose as the people who minimized southern say in how the country will be administered.

  • Yokel

    Joe

    People are interpreting this as Joint Authority, that isn’t was it is and it won’t happen. People can threaten, as I pointed out, but it doesn’t mean they will deliver and they won’t and what they will actually deliver will fall well short of Joint Auhthority. Joint Authority will not exist in anything akin to what Joint Authority could be or is mean’t to be.

    Unionists in their infinite wisdom, unless they are playing a clever game, are biting on it. They shouldnt respond, either with fear or threat they should just get on with getting an Assembly. It’s by and large a bluff and if they just bypass the apparent threat it will lose much of its power.

    If somehow it did occur, Sinn Fein be warned, the Republic’s politicians are out for you your party will be potentially damaged. They would be a shit loads less generous than their London counterparts.

  • Joe

    Yokel

    You may be right.. But the danger in calling a bluff is that the other person may indeed have the winning cards. I’m not for a minute suggesting that people fold. I’m just saying that a compromise where you get at least 50% of what you want may be better than losing it all.

    Regards,

    joe

  • Keith M

    Jack “This does not obviously means any role for the Republic will be within the limitations of North South bodies.”

    Read this “We are beginning detailed work on British-Irish partnership arrangements that will be necessary in these circumstances ****to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement, which is the indispensable framework for relations on and between these islands***, is actively developed across its structures and functions.

    Check out the bit between the asterisks. Any new arrangement will be within the 1998 framework.

    Yes there is a threat to the DUP, it’s to re-introduce cross border bodies. It clearly isn’t “joint authority” or any such republican fantasy.

    “Secondly you do not grasp the scenario of who will be in Govt of the Republic in the future.” I don’t know who will be in government but I know one party that won’t. Furthermore I know one UK Prime Minister that won’t be around much longer, and the one who’s on the way, who has a very different attitude to the union.

    George “You yourself admit that the governments have so obviously dismantled “another cornerstone” of the agreement and that it “now means that all options are open in November”. Yes all options within the framework, see above.

    As I mention above Blair may well be gone by November (I suspect he will be). By November Gordon Brown will be dealing with Bertie Ahern, a Taoiseach who won’t want to provide any veneer of respectability on SF/IRA in the run up to the Irish general election.

  • dave

    Think again about SF and the post 24 Nov scenario.

    This is Bertie Ahern we’re dealing with dont forget.

    Do you think SF really want to sit impotent on the sidelines as Fianna Fail jointly governs the north?

    The FF Ard Fheis mandated establishment in the north last autumn dont forget.

    Just a thought.

  • Joe

    Keith

    I understand what you’re saying, but as we’ve learnt over the past 8 years, words mean no more or less than what you want them to mean.
    Of course the words won’t include “Joint Authority” but a “rose by any other name……” (except in this case it won’t smell so sweet to many people.

    Here’s another few cliches to think about:
    “grasp the nettle….”
    “dog in the manger….”
    “Where there’s a will……”
    “Water under the bridge”,
    “It’s crazy to “sit dead in the water”,
    “the bridges (to the past) have been burnt”,
    “There’s no going back”,
    “We need to cross the Rubicon”.
    “There’s none so blind as those that don’t want to see”.

    Personally, I’m convinced that there is a better future. Why not make it sooner rather than later?

    Regards,

    Joe

  • Keith M

    Joe, keep fooling yourself. I fully understand why SF/IRA supporters will try and deflect attention from their enomous climbdown on a shadow assembly, but please give people here the credit not to be so easily fooled.

  • Yokel

    Joe

    As pointed out the GFA was the base for any inter-governmental co-operation. The GFA made clear that a constitutional change for Northern Ireland would have to be approved by people in the North. Proper Joint Auhthority would represent such a change and such a change would not get past the ballot box. Now if the governments mean what they say in the statement then what have the unionists to worry about because a) it isnt joint authority or anything like it or b) it would have to go to a public vote if it was.

    What does concern me is a) that unionists are already raising a spectre of joint authority and b) some nationalists actually believe its joint authority

    Are both sides just thick in misreading this?
    Paisley is right for once, Joint Auhthority won’t fly but I don’t see why he’s raising this non existent spectre. Empey ois at it as well. What’s the point in that?

  • Joe

    keith

    i’m not sure why to seem to be labelling me as an SF/Ira supporter.

    I am neither. As an ex-pat who wishes to see an eventual settlement which will meet the majority of the aspirations of BOTH communities, I’m just viewing all of this from a long distance and throwing in my tuppence worth.

    I may be fooling myself but so might you.

    regards

  • Joe

    Yokel

    I’m not disagreeing with you at all. There will be no legal Joint Authority.
    However, in the absence of an Assembly, who will make the important decisions? Why, The UK government of course. And who did they say they would be consulting with in making decions…?

    Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink.

    Regards,

    Joe

  • Stephen Copeland

    I seldom get in a tizzy.

    Actually the inequality faced by “unaligned” MLAs does concern me. So does the lack of meaningful opposition and the inability of electors to resort to the ultimate democratic sanction of voting a party out of government.

    I have my own thoughts on an alternative.

    Yokel

    I think you are right on this.

    No one is offering Joint Authority – joint stewardship of the “process” was what I heard. The other problem is that when Tony issues a threat or proclaims a deadline no one believes him anymore. Look at his history – on one hand demanding “exclusively peaceful means” and on the other not declaring a cease fire over when the killings were “internal housekeeping”.

    What we have here is political “Deal or No Deal”. What does Doc think is in his box and what will banker Blair offer for it?

    Novemeber 23rd might be interesting.

  • George

    Keithm,
    as I said in my last post, you seem to be ignoring the rather crucial words “actively developed”.

    A relationship is not a static thing, it is constantly developing.

    Under the GFA as constituted, tt was for the Assembly to limit/decide the level of development of North/South institutions.

    In its absence, it will now be for the two governments to decide on the limits to this development.

    It may well be that they restrict themselves to the initial remit (I would be surprised if they went outside it immediately) but I imagine following the legislation in Westminster, that there will be nothing to stop them.

    There is no limit to the level of development of executive functions allowed for these bodies under the Irish Constitution and I would bet the the Westminster legislation won’t impose a limit.

  • Joe

    Not having lived in the UK for over 25 years, I’m intrigued by the reference to “Deal or no Deal”, the “box” and the “banker”.. Is this a remake of the 60’s TV program “Take your Pick” hosted by Hughie Green I think?

  • Joe

    My post disappeared!!!!

    Not having lived in the UK for over 25 years, I’m intrigued by the reference to “Deal or no Deal”,, the “Box” and the “banker”.
    Is this a remake of the old 60’s TV program “Take your Pick” hosted by Hughie Green I think?

  • Stephen Copeland

    pakman,

    …. the inability of electors to resort to the ultimate democratic sanction of voting a party out of government.

    Of course electors can vote a party out of office … by not voting for it at all, of course.

    But if a proportion of electors still vote for that party (I’m thinking UUP or SDLP here, obviously) then that proportion of the ‘demos’ should be entitled to its share of the ‘cracy’ (or kratein for the pedants). Otherwise you would be denying them the portion of the power that their mandate should allow them. And why would you want to do that?

  • Joe

    glorious afternoon telly.

    Stephen Copeland

    not every mandate automatically entitles a party to power – otherwise the Conservatives would have been a lot happier than the have been since 1997. Voters should be given an opportunity to punish those who have failed to deliver and under d’Hont what you have is an executive in NI solely made up of the “Big Four” parties. Now if the coalition was voluntary, but subject to a cross community test, those who wanted to punish one party could do so by voting down the card for parties who have pledged not to go into coalition with the objectionable party. Given the numbers that would require votes outside our sectarian blocs. A bad thing?

  • English

    It was interesting what David Ervine of the Progressive Unionists had to say tonight. He said that any talk of an intergovernmental approach during the Good Friday negotiations and his party would have walked! He feels that any form of Dublin-London rule would be bad for Unionism.

    Instead he argues that if the DUP go into government with Sinn Fein, at least it will be democratic and accountable to the people. He said Unionism has a strong hand now, and it would be a travesty not to use the power they have.

    I say the man talks sense. The DUP are so narrow minded that they cannot see the bigger picture, and are really losing out due to their stubborness.

    The danger now is that Sinn Fein have all the cards, and are in a position in which they may well wish for the DUP to continue with their present policy. If this is the case they may have even killed Donaldson for this purpose, because they got the right reaction out of the DUP – “No way!”

    Sinn Fein probably have greater knowledge than anybody about what the two governments would propose. Now they can sit back (all be it unpaid) and let the two governments do the work. The DUP will become a laughing stock, and the DUP will also get the blame for the failed executive, Unionism will be split on all sides! I just wonder if Sinn Fein really do want the Assembly, if they can get away with London and Dublin implementing All-Ireland policy unchallenged.

    Or is this theory just too far fetched?

  • English

    Sinn Fein don’t really want an assembly here at all and the DUP don’t want the GFA model. But no ones’ bluff is going to be called until November (and I note Adams requires clarification on what “joint stewardship of the process” really means). Unionism does have a strong hand and it would be a travesty to fold at this stage. My only concern is whether or not the hand will be as strong after any future Assembly election although given the current UUP perhaps the DUP feel they have yet to peak in terms of electoral support.

  • Stephen Copeland

    pakman,

    not every mandate automatically entitles a party to power

    We disagree, but I think you understand my point, so I won’t waste time repeating it.

    Only those who do not vote for Party X think it should be ‘punished’ – its voters think the opposite. Why should their wishes be over-ridden?

  • Yokel

    Joe

    Of course the British will talk to the Irish government on issues and thus there will be influence but thats been going under the Anglo Irish Agreement in effect.

    George

    There may be an attempt to rush this legislation through with the theoretical unlimited possibilities but I’m not sure if it will simply pass the Lords that easily, maybe it will, I don’t know. It’s interesting to note the SDLP are vary wary that the legislation will give the government carte blanche. If that view represents their own electorate then we have a clear majority of the local populous coming out against the end plans as outlined on some point or another.

    Anybody who cares to pay attention:

    1. The Tories have come out agsinst any extension of intergovernmental approaches beyond the GFA. Considering they are likely to be the next government…

    2. Hain’s position is now clear as perhaps the most nationalist NI Secretary. He’s clearly been put in there by to try to rescue Blair’s place in history and given such rope that he’s implementing a broadly nationalist agenda based on his views. Once Blair goes however, so will Hain. Brown will move him as he doesn’t trust him, he has no interest in Hain succeeding.

    3. Some bloke from the DUP, Dawson I think, was on the radio earlier with a very interesting view stated as ‘prime ministers come and go, NI secretaries come and go’. Never mind Sinn Fein I think the DUP are planning to wait out Blair & Hain which ultimately they will do. From their point of view they are under greater attack from a more biased UK government than ever, a strongly nationalist Secretary of State and a PM desperate for his place in history so they are simply waiting until both go. If nationalism doesn’t get some real progress for its core cause within the next lot of months they are probably going to be put back for years. Whilst Blair actually has greater support amongst labour voters than Brown, it is not them that will decide hsi fate. He’s accident prone, the awkward squad in the party is out to get him and that will see him out. Whilst we pontificate on this whole situation we are actually just subject to a Westminster game

    4. What David Ervine failed to mention was the loyalist paramilitaries he has links with. The joint authority talk will have them gearing up again. If they try to bring such an arrangement to fruition (which they won’t) without putting it to the vote (where it would be rejected) they will seek to knock it over by force of arms.
    I believe the governments have missed this one completly.

  • dave

    In light of the contributions above about SF, the assembly and joint authority I want to maje the point again;

    I think peope need to think again about SF and the post 24 Nov scenario.

    This is Bertie Ahern we’re dealing with dont forget.

    Do you think SF really want to sit impotent on the sidelines as Fianna Fail jointly governs the north?

    The FF Ard Fheis mandated establishment in the north last autumn dont forget.

    Just a thought.

  • kensei

    “Border poll? Well no problem with that, we’ll all know the result, probably about 57-60% for the Union versus a United Ireland. There’s a reason why there is no border poll because everyone knows it will put the issue to rest for years to come. Those nationalists calling for it, keep calling you’ll only be faced with a defeat and then what do you do when there is clear majority on this issue..Deny the ballot box? Use yer loaf, a border poll would be a mistake.”

    No it wouldn’t have one, lose it and demand another in 7-10 years. The startegy is to ebnsure that there is always a question of the legitimacy of the state.

    Re: Joint Authority.

    I expect it to go a little beyond the GFA but not by much. But that underestimates the power of the new Super Councils to act in the executive areas mentioned area, and the pressure that will build for further moves.

    Re: The Tories

    It’s a win-win for Nationalism if the Tories come in a support Unionism. You are talking Natioanlism abiut playing the Long Game? The more unreasonable the DUP become, the more they are backed up by the Tories, the more Sinn fein can play a victims role. In fact it would make it easier to build support for Unification within the UK, which is a current SF goal.

  • Yokel

    Kensei..

    As much as I see where you are coming from:

    No one said the Tories were coming in to support the Unionists…they’ve ignored them plenty in the past…its simply their opposition to an extension of any intergovernmental approach.

    Fine a border poll every 10 years..same result,same result…although it may for one side call into question the legitimacy of the state it also emphasises to the other side that they are the majority and they still have the final say and thats exactly why they’d turn out in their droves…

  • slug

    “The more unreasonable the DUP become, the more they are backed up by the Tories, the more Sinn fein can play a victims role.”

    Ah the memories.

  • IF Lady Hermon can be eliminated (electorally speaking) AND the unionist parties get it right in F&ST AND the next general is as close as everyone suspects THEN 11 DUP MPs COULD step forward for Cameron – at a price.

  • kensei

    “No one said the Tories were coming in to support the Unionists…they’ve ignored them plenty in the past…its simply their opposition to an extension of any intergovernmental approach.”

    Then they’ve picked a side in the event of no forward movement on Devolution; it amounts to the same thing. And eventually, I think, Cameroon would come to the same point as Blair.

    The problem for everyone is that some needs to fill the political vauum pretty quickly. I’d thought we’d moved past that point, but Donaldson’s murder just highlighted that a series of events that could bring the whole house of cards down is not outside the realms of possibility. We are curently in an unstable phase. If there was ever a chance for dissident republicans, this is it. The right combination of mayhem combined with a failure of Sf’s political strategy (particularly in the South) could spark a chain reaction that doesn’t bear thinking about.

    “Fine a border poll every 10 years..same result,same result…although it may for one side call into question the legitimacy of the state it also emphasises to the other side that they are the majority and they still have the final say and thats exactly why they’d turn out in their droves… ”

    It doesn’t matter. The result will get narrower and results in mounting pressure. It’s a useful card to play, but only at the right time. Now is probbaly a bit too soon.

  • English

    Yokel,

    Where on earth do you get your insider information from?

    1. The Tories are likely to be the next government.

    2. Brown will move Hain from NI because he doesn’t trust him.

    3. What David Ervine failed to mention was the loyalist paramilitaries he has links with. The joint authority talk will have them gearing up again. If they try to bring such an arrangement to fruition (which they won’t) without putting it to the vote (where it would be rejected) they will seek to knock it over by force of arms.
    I believe the governments have missed this one completly.

    With foresight like this, can you please tell me Saturday’s lottery numbers please?

  • kensei

    “IF Lady Hermon can be eliminated (electorally speaking) AND the unionist parties get it right in F&ST AND the next general is as close as everyone suspects THEN 11 DUP MPs COULD step forward for Cameron – at a price.”

    Hard to see the super liberal Cameroon aligning with the DUP. It would do more damage than good.

    But the erro here is assuming the result next time will be close enough for 11 MPs to make a difference. By far the most likely outcome is a hung parliament. The Tories have less MPs than Labour in 83, because the UK now has 3 party politicals. And the Tories are still terribly far behind to pull it all back. I’d guess at a Tory-Lib Dem alliance, at this stage.

  • slug

    We can’t really say about the 2009/10 election, it is just too far away.

  • Yokel

    Right English

    1. Hain has leadership desires, hes also too closely associated with Blair these days even though he’s trying to play the middle way within Labor. Brown will move him to somewhere unexciting not to a peace making post…secondly in the nature of politics people get shuffled every few years, especially here.

    2. The Tories are likely to be in government for the following reasons:

    There is a comprehensive review of electoral boundaries due in 2007. This will move more seats more to the Tory strongholds or areas where they have a chance of winning. On average it takes a fair bit more votes on average to get a Tory elected than a Labor politician. This demographic shifting alone will potentially wipe ot much of Labor’s current majority and is the single biggest factor.

    Brown will be PM and unless the economy is spectacular he has no chance. People won’t vote for him. Even now in Blair’s apparent crisis after crisis state he is still more popular amongst your average Labor voter than Brown n polls. These polls are due warnng but the Labor Party is looking inward at the moment not out.

    The Tories only have to be average to win and they are, at heart an elecetoral machine designed to win elecetions, the internal strife that crippled yet for years will fade ebacuse they now believe they have a chance of winning

    People get tired and look for a fresh start.You can’t underestimae this within an electoate and it will occur.

    Thus the Tories have the cards in their favor.

    3. Because the UVF have hinted as much, just because you didnt hear it….

    Don’t do games of chance so ca’t help you on the lottery

  • Yokel

    worst typing ever…

  • kensei

    Yokel, I can’t be bothered to unpick the speculation and misrepresented facts there. The Tories might get in, it’s by no means guarenteed.

    I suggest you have a look at the latest polls, and consider how far the Tories would need ot be in front in them to form a majority.

  • Yokel

    Kensei

    Who said they were all facts? It’s politics and therefore there are always elements of speculation. Facts, remember there are my facts and your facts…I’d simply put my money on mine above yours and I’m sure you would do the same.

    The one single point of strongest note, and it was pointed out is the boundary changes, and they will benefit the Tories. Electoral boundary changes as you possibly know are partially system based, ie population distribution. The areas where the Tories are most strong are under represented the areas where Labor are most strong are over represented. That will change and the changes will favor the Tories and, as pointed out, it is the most significant and also least variable factor in my view that the Tories will get in.

    The latest polls are essentially irrelevant as regards the General Election in a number of years time because

    a)they do not reflect Brown’s leadership which I believe will have a negative electoral impact on Labor. If Blair was in charge I might see it differently but he won’t be.

    and b)Equally your point about opinion polls should be seen in the context of the point about the votes to elect a Tory on average being somewhat higher than oper a Labor MP. Again these polls do not reflect this thus the bald figures are a rough estimate. What say 35% Tory in an opinion poll with bounadry changes will mean is different to what it may mean now.

    You may believe that the Tories may not make it in, I believe they will, not based on any genius on their part I may add. It’s called a view thus it is not ‘fact’. No fact,no misrepresentation. My view may not suit you but English broadly challenged that I seemed to be pretty certain in my views so is there where I was coming from. Whether someone chooses to accept them I’m not really worried because as I’ve stated before the forum is a good chance to pontficate for everyone and I see it in that context.

    Oh English, forgot to mention Hain for Deputy leader of Labor and potential Deputy PM?..sounds fine, nice and safe just like Blair sticking Prescott there.

    Do me a favor, if you disagree tell me how you come to your view ad sre for fun, I’ll just tell you that they are misrepresented facts and thus you are wrong wrong wrong…

  • lib2016

    Yokel,

    The last Tory government was torn apart by rows over the EU (Didn’t Major have a word for the dissidents which I couldn’t possibly repeat?). You think that Cameron would want to ally himself with eleven people earnestly explaining that the EU is all a Papist plot?

    In a country where said Papists are the largest single church-going group! The steady, some might say reactionary backbone of the country which the Conservatives desperately need to attract!

  • kensei

    “The one single point of strongest note, and it was pointed out is the boundary changes, and they will benefit the Tories. Electoral boundary changes as you possibly know are partially system based, ie population distribution. The areas where the Tories are most strong are under represented the areas where Labor are most strong are over represented. That will change and the changes will favor the Tories and, as pointed out, it is the most significant and also least variable factor in my view that the Tories will get in.”

    Almost all commentaors factor this in when discussion the future elections. It’s still not enough.

    The best guide is to look at the type of swing necessary to form a majority. By that measure, the Tories need a huge amount. And where once anger with the government was likely to true Red Blue and vice versa, now there is an attractive yellow option for people who can’t bring themselves to it. So the task gets harder.

    And it remains to be seen how a Brown Adminstration would pan out. It’s likely he will get some kind of Leadership bounce or honeymoon period at any rate. And while not loved, he is generally respected.

    As you say, it’s all speculation. A perfect storm could resut in a workable Tory majority. But you at least need to acknowledge that things are by no means clear cut.