Plan B: Stormont with a ‘green tinge’

David McKittrick notes there is a veiled threat in Blair’s latest statement: it’s the old joint authority gambit.

Tony Blair, who visited Northern Ireland yesterday to set out the scheme, declared: “Be in no doubt – at the conclusion of this period we either resolve to go forward on the basis of mature democracy, or we call time on this and seek another way to go.”

In the absence of agreement there would be “a step-change in advancing North-South co-operation and action,” a stipulation intended to convey to Mr Paisley that the present direct rule from London would assume a new, green tinge.

Suitably vague, it is unclear whether it is intended to frighten unionists, or mollify republicans.

  • slug

    Terrifying [heavy sarcasm]

  • Crataegus

    Thank God its only Nationalists, for a moment I thought it was the environmental lot, what with the Conservatives going Green one’s fears are heightened.

  • Yokel

    It’s a deadline that will be extended because ‘progress’ has been shown in talks…..

    Even though Joint Authority won’t happen as some people have stated, if it did… The Shinners dont want any closer moves to a joint authority because it will blow their electoral drive in the South so they will move on the basis that the Irish government will use joint authority to shit on the Shinners at every opportunity.

    The not so high revving Rev Ian won’t want the Irish government involved either any more tnan they are but he actually has less to lose. It won’t destroy him as an electoral force although it will see him lose some of his votes, many of which were borrowed anyway from the UUP. The Shinners on the other hand, the Irish political establishment has taken the view that they don’t want to work with them down there AT ALL. Criminality and all that have less to with it than the fact that Sinn Fein threaten their power positions and also they don’t like the Shinners politics. Have no doubt they will use every lever when it comes to scrapping it out for votes and keeping Sinn Fein and if the North is an available stick they will use it. They will be more ruthless than the wet lot at Westminster ever were.

  • lib2016

    The ‘Irish political establishment’ happily spend time kicking lumps out of each other. Labour says it will never share power with Fianna Fail (again), the PD’s attack everybody and yet would sell their souls to share power with anybody, anybody at all, and everybody incessantly lies. That’s the great game of democratic politics and Sinn Fein will be well able for it.

    In real life neither emerging bloc seems likely to be able to get a working majority after the next elections according to the latest polls. Still all to play for!

  • elfinto

    If joint authority is planned the governments are not going to be stupid enough to say ‘we are bringing in joint authority’ as it would only cause havoc.

    So really what we will have is ‘direct rule with a green tinge’, but the green tinge is going to be a deeper shade than the green tinge present in the current form of joint authority. So we are going to continue to have joint authority with greater input from Dublin but for reasons of diplomacy it’s not actually going to be called joint authority beacuse the two governments don’t want to upset unionists too much in ase they start wrecking the place.

    At least that’s my reading of the situation.

  • unionist

    It wont be called joint authority but will infact be exactly that. Watch for committees of the Dail to consider Northern Ireland issues education health etc. representation from Northern parties welcome then meetings between education/health ministers etc to announce proposals many specifically to harmonize work north and south. The one thing the big man says he always stood against he may actually stand back and allow to happen just to try and wipe out the uup.

  • Yokel

    Elfinto

    It’s a case of looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck except in this case it won’t be a duck. Joint Authority in its truest sense won’t happen.

    If it did I think your comment about unionists wrecking the place might hold a lot of water because they are likely to take it to the streets in some shape or form. Even soft unionists I suspect won’t buy it, its an absolutist position. I dont think the paramilitaries would either and it doesn’t matter what the world thinks they’d go at it regardless and we’d be back to that game aain.

  • barnshee

    Yokel

    “It won’t destroy him as an electoral force although it will see him lose some of his votes, many of which were borrowed anyway from the UUP”

    Precisely the converse- the joint authority quack by Blair has just put another few thousand prod votes the DUP way- UUP — the proverbial dead men walking will disappear as a material political force a the next election.

    ANY moves which the DUP can label as “joint authority” will only add to the DUP groundswell

  • Brian Boru

    “ANY moves which the DUP can label as “joint authority” will only add to the DUP groundswell ”

    Perhaps but with the DUP opting out of influencing events by refusing to restore powersharing, it will only have symbolic significance.

  • Tiny

    “because they are likely to take it to the streets in some shape or form”

    Yokel, what if they don’t, times have changed since 1985 and even then 250 000 in the centre of Belfast and a long running Ulster Says No campain failed to dislodge the Anglo Irish Agreement.

    The simple fact is the DUP and in particular Paisley has failed his people, history is proving Trimble right, the Good Friday Agreement is as good as it gets for unionism

  • páid

    As a nationalist, unionists would be right to be wary of my comments, but I honestly think the next few years will be tough for them. The RUC was abolished and mass protests didn’t ensue; who is going to protest over more all – ireland quangos coming to a joint position on bird flu, tourism, sports policy, dentist training,tree planting, the list will go on forever? And one big dog is not barking. Nothing from the tories on the threat of JA? Where is Andrew Hunter and the rest? The Brits are tiptoeing backwards slowly. The good news for the unionists is they’ll find out that beneath a thin green veneer, there’s at least another million of them south of the border!

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s a case of looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck except in this case it won’t be a duck. Joint Authority in its truest sense won’t happen.

    Indeed, but unionists shouldn’t allow themselves to be complacent about this technicality. It may not be called joint authority when Tony Blair phones up Bertie to say “what do you think I should do with the education budget?” but it is hardly desirable for unionists.

    If it did I think your comment about unionists wrecking the place might hold a lot of water because they are likely to take it to the streets in some shape or form. Even soft unionists I suspect won’t buy it, its an absolutist position. I dont think the paramilitaries would either and it doesn’t matter what the world thinks they’d go at it regardless and we’d be back to that game aain.

    What game ? Unionists tell us they are exclusively committed to peaceful means. Peter Robinson stood up over in the USA and extolled the virtues of grown-up peaceful politics. Surely in these circumstances we have nothing to fear from unionism ?

    Either :

    – unionists are peaceful people and we have nothing to fear from them, and the (sovereign) government can proceed as they think best, or :

    – unionists are not at all peaceful and will use armed means to subvert the will of the sovereign government – in which case why do they call themselves democrats ?

    Which is it ?

  • barnshee

    “ireland quangos coming to a joint position on bird flu, tourism, sports policy, dentist training,tree planting”

    Truely terrifying talking shops –the mind boggles

  • abucs

    When exactly does a joint inter-governmental approach stop and joint authority begin ?

    I must agree with Elfinto. i don’t think there will be an official legal document entitled ‘joint authority’ but with the DUP excluding unionists from the current and future process, it will be up to the joint intergovernmental approach to decide how politics develop.

    I also have to agree with Bertie Ahern on stage the other day. It’s crazy that politicians who are elected to govern, are comfortable in not having a meaningfull input into the politics.

    Ah well. If you really don’t want to ……

  • john

    Now that the Terrorists have been defeated and forced to surrender by the citizens of NI, the country will go from strength to strength.

    The NI assembly will have a greener tinge in the future, but unionist should be reassured that the union will be stronger with nationalist working with them to strengthen NI as an important part of the UK.