nothing more than a talking shop

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams’ address to his party’s MLAs today contained the headline-grabbing line that he would nominate the DUP leader Ian Paisley as First Minister when the Assembly reconvenes, headlines which the BBC and RTÉ dutifully provided – he’s not proposing himself for the Deputy First Minister’s post though. Ian Paisley Jnr described it, accurately imo, as gimmick politics on TalkBack, and the DUP leader predicted any such attempt would be ruled out of order by the Speaker. As a consequence the more important content has been pushed down [or out of] the reports – “It has been suggested that the Peter Hain Assembly will provide the opportunity for discussion of important issues, like education reform, water charges, health and rates increases. This would be pointless. In reality the Peter Hain Assembly is powerless on all these issues. It would be nothing more than a talking shop.”From the SF transcript of the speech by Gerry Adams

We will also participate in a Business Committee to ensure that the election of the First and Deputy First Minster, and any business for the urgent preparation of the restoration of government is discussed by the Assembly.

It has been suggested that the Peter Hain Assembly will provide the opportunity for discussion of important issues, like education reform, water charges, health and rates increases. This would be pointless. In reality the Peter Hain Assembly is powerless on all these issues. It would be nothing more than a talking shop.

Of course, there is a way to effectively tackle these matters but that depends on local politicians taking up their responsibilities. We have an opportunity to send British Ministers home and for local politicians, who know the issues, to take responsibility for deciding the future direction of Health and Education, the Environment, Policing and Justice and much more.

Local politicians deciding the future direction of Policing and Justice is, of course, still some way off.

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  • Dreary Steeples

    Sounds like “Well done David” all over again. However, will it be as unhelpful to the DUP in its pursuit of power as it was to Trimble in his pursuit of implementing the Agreement?

  • fair_deal

    This seems like a self-perpetuating complaint. Demand any shadow assembly has no powers then complain that it has none.

  • yerman

    Dreary
    “Sounds like “Well done David” all over again. However, will it be as unhelpful to the DUP in its pursuit of power as it was to Trimble in his pursuit of implementing the Agreement?”

    Unlikely to have the same effect – there’s hardly the history of Paisley doing all he can to get into Government with Adams at the first opportunity.

    The Paisley as DFM stuff was all, as Pete noticed, about pushing down the headlines the fact that they dont want to discuss Water Charges, Rates, education or health in the Assembly. It may be a talking shop (up to a point), but the Sec of State has said he will give weight to what’s agreed there.

    So the choice for SF wasnt between an Assembly with full executive powers and a meaningless talking shop, it was a choice between an Assembly with limited powers but an ability to influence Government and absolutely nothing at all.

  • As I understand the evolution of the “shadow assembly” Sinn Fein had no interest in it at all, and wanted restoration of the full Assembly with full powers. How can it be a “self fulfilling complaint” when Adams did not want any part of it from the start. He viewed it as feet dragging by the DUP who were actually the party (as I understand it) who proposed the “shadow assembly” idea to Hain et al. It seems to me Adams position has been consistent on this matter. He did not propose a shadow assembly and did not propose that it be powerless. He and his party are participating in it and hopefully all the politicians will show leadership and make progress but i’m not holding my breath.

  • Dreary Steeples

    Yerman,

    It wasn’t Paisley I had in mind.

  • kensei

    “The Paisley as DFM stuff was all, as Pete noticed, about pushing down the headlines the fact that they dont want to discuss Water Charges, Rates, education or health in the Assembly. It may be a talking shop (up to a point), but the Sec of State has said he will give weight to what’s agreed there.”

    And this is why SF is precisely right in not getitng involved. If the secratary of state will just implement everything decided, then why bother with the trouble of setting up an executive?

    As for FD – not interested in half measures. It is all or nothing, and I think that SF are perfectly valid to pursue that. What, you didn’t just think they’d let the DUP have all it’s own way?

  • Fenian

    Did Bobby Sands die for Gerry to propose Big Ian as First Minister of a British devolved assembly?

    Only the Shinners could could get away with such breath-taking shenanigans.

  • Loyalist

    kensei

    Are you happy then that nationalist politicians should do nothing to represent their constituency on issues such as RPA, water rates, education reform etc, etc?

    Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

  • Mayoman

    Loyalist – most unionists/loyalists seem happy enough to do so!

  • Bog warrior

    Loyalist

    Are you seriously suggesting that the shadow assembly will have any meaningful impact on any of these issues? Before it was suspended the Assembly took very few real decisions and any that were pushed through were challenged all the way through the courts by whoever didn’t agree with them.

  • kensei

    “Are you happy then that nationalist politicians should do nothing to represent their constituency on issues such as RPA, water rates, education reform etc, etc?”

    In a forum that has no teeth? Damn right. If you want to make those decisions, join the executive.

  • Loyalist

    Kensei

    If you want an executive end the criminality and dispose of all the guns, sign up to policing and support the rule of law.

  • Loyalist

    All or nothing = everyone loses out. Why are nationalists* so intransigent and begrudging?

    * – bu which I mean nationalist politicians

  • Mayoman

    You giving up your guns too Loyalist?

  • kensei

    “If you want an executive end the criminality and dispose of all the guns, sign up to policing and support the rule of law.”

    Or you could just respect the mandate of the people. That’s how democracies work, no? You’re a democrat, right? And anyway, that’s fine. Just don’t think you can have your cake and eat it in some kind of half way house.

    It’s all red herrings to try and leverage political advantage, the guns are gone, “criminality” is going (and if we want to be picky – in my humble opinion anything that cannot be proved in court is irrelevant) and policing will be signed up to when it’s right. The common theme – the future doesn’t arrive on a plate, it needs to be built.

    On one final note: the idea of a “Loyalist” telling me to respect the rule of law is unreal it has me in stitches. Oh God – your not on drugs, are you?

  • kensei

    “All or nothing = everyone loses out.”

    A half way house – worse than useless. Half baked proposals implemented erratically without proper accountablity. Nothing good can come until we have full devolution

    Why are Unionists and Loyalists* so intransigent and begrudging?

    * all of them 😉

  • Bog warrior

    Loyalist

    Don’t see that Nationalist politicians are being intransigent and begrudging on this issue. G Adams speech was just stating the reality that this new arrangement will have absolutely no power to influence decisions despite what P Hain says about giving weight to what’s agreed there.
    It will be as Pete B has tagged it nothing more than a talking shop.

  • ncm

    All or nothing = everyone loses out. Why are nationalists* so intransigent and begrudging?

    Intransigent and begrudging? Nationalists have destroyed their weapons, called cease fire, and are stepping away from republicans involved in criminality. All this while in the background the main loyalist party refuse to deal, while all the loyalist paramilitaries keep their guns, and keep breaking the law.

    The DUP is guilty of the things you accuse nationalists of, intransigence because everyone has pled with them to go into government, yet they won’t. Begrudging, because in spite of having no real reasons they still won’t take their place in government.

    Please specify how nationalists are guilty of these things…

  • Loyalist

    Firstly, not all Loyalists are tatooed UVF/UDA thugs, I happen to use the name Loyalist because I find it offensive that those aforementioned organisations have hijacked the term.

    Secondly, Unionists have been badly let down by the Provos before – FFS look what happened to Trimble because he took them at their word! It will take considerable time for trust to build up. I want to see an executive at some point, but as things stand, I dont think the Unionist community is ready for one. If we can work together at a non-executive level for a finite time period, before devolution is stepped up a gear, it will allow for stable and good government. I am aware that some nationalists that occupy this site get more of a thrill out of kicking the sh*t out of the Unionist community and blaming them for all ills, but surely its in all of our interests to allow the communities to move forward at a pace both are comfortable with?

  • Loyalist

    The lack of a response is illuminating.

  • kensei

    “The lack of a response is illuminating.”

    Some of us have to work.

    Nationalism is not comfortable with this pace. I don’t want to see an aspiration for an Executive, maybe, if you behave and be a good boy, at some time in the future possibily.

  • Loyalist

    kensei

    We were damn close in December and along came the Northern job – we need confidence that something like that isn’t going to happen again. It isn’t denying you your rights or ostracising people – it’s demanding that everyone conforms to the same standards and rules. I want an executive too, but not one that will fold when the Provos are caught up to their old tricks.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Loyalist – it’s a sweeping generalisation true, but if we were to move forward at a pace the bulk of the Unionist community were happy with we’d be fast-forwarding to 1950 at a rate of knots.

    Political Unionism’s only strategy for the last 15 years has been to try anything to slow down the pace of change. Most of them would dearly love to reverse the pace of change.

  • Loyalist

    Ciaran

    I dont think thats the case at all. Most Unionists that I am talking too (working-class, Belfast based) want to see Stormont up and running with an executive, but the problem is that we’ve been burnt before.

    I am not going to attempt to deny that there has been enormous progress since November 2003 on the question about guns. I think we are nearly there on policing and criminality too, but wee need to have some confidence in the people we are expected to do business with.

    Starting off with a non-executive-style arrangment, as outlined in one of the DUP’s policy papers (Devolution Now I think) would allow trust to build up and an executive to be formed. Are nationalsists simply opposed to it because the DUP have supported it, rather than looking at the issue on merit?

  • kensei

    “I dont think thats the case at all. Most Unionists that I am talking too (working-class, Belfast based) want to see Stormont up and running with an executive, but the problem is that we’ve been burnt before.”

    Precisely why is it a problem? You get burned, you collapse the thing, you may have made some good decisions and the place might be a little bit better.

    “Are nationalsists simply opposed to it because the DUP have supported it, rather than looking at the issue on merit?”

    No, it’s because we are sick of Unionist heel dragging, sick of endless preconditons, sick of talking shops with no teeth and we suspect you don’t want a Taig about the place. Trust works both ways.

  • Loyalist

    “You get burned, you collapse the thing, you may have made some good decisions and the place might be a little bit better.”

    So basically the devolved institutions should be totally instable and prone to collapse because of criminality? This is a new approach indeed.

    The notion that Unionists “don’t want a Taig about the place”, aside from being a pathetic tired old mope-ish cliche, is not borne out by the facts.

    Both of the Unionist Parties are committed to power-sharing with nationalists, they simply don’t want to share power with criminals. I know Mitchell McLaughlin thinks Republicans can’t be criminals, but I would contend that Slab Murphy might serve as example to de-bunk Mitchell’s theory.

  • Mayoman

    Loyalist. We were damn close in December until IKP demanded photos and humiliation. DUP/Loyalist intransigence again brought down the December agreement. You and your ilks fault and no-one elses.

  • Loyalist

    Mayoman

    It must be awful easy sitting down their in Mayo lecturing away. If the IRA had wanted to they could have established Unionist confidence in an instant. They chose not to and we are now dealing with that.

    I suggest you wind you neck in.

  • Mayoman

    It IS very easy to sit here lecturing in my own counrtry about my own country. Your underlying sectarianism in that remark has not gone un-noticed. And make snide comments all you like, unless you cannot undestand a calender, it was DUP/Loyalist intransigence tha killed the December agreement and nothing else.

  • Mayoman

    Off home now. Night all.

  • Loyalist

    Your refusal to recognise the border belies your own inherent bigotry.

  • “If the IRA had wanted to they could have established Unionist confidence in an instant.”

    How? By giving you a couple photos that you could (and no doubt would) have easily dismissed as fakes, or as only demonstrating partial decommissioning?

    Come on Loyalist. You know there’s no way the IRA could ever prove beyond doubt that all their weapons were gone. That was just an excuse for the DUP not to engage.

  • Rubicon

    Latest posts seem to be going off-thread – but the earlier discussion was interesting.

    Nothing Adams said today came as a surprise. From your own posts “Loyalist” you should understand why SF won’t join in the talking shop – except to restore the Assembly.

    SF may understand that Direct Rule is being made uncomfortable and unpopular decisions are being brought forward at a rapid pace. SF may also understand that many unionists are comparatively more comfortable with Direct Rule than they are with devolution.

    Since SF doesn’t want Direct Rule – why should they make the process more comfortable?

  • Loyalist.

    The border’s been around 86 years and counting … tick tick…
    The British want to get out, but they’re beholden to you lot. They’d be gone tomorrow, their people want out.
    Somehow I don’t think your artificial statelet will last another 86 years.

  • kensei

    “So basically the devolved institutions should be totally instable and prone to collapse because of criminality? This is a new approach indeed.”

    The institutions already ARE unstable. The only way to get them stable is to have them running for a length of time. If “criminality” is your thing, then there will always be some grounds for not going in – the Provisionals do not have that kind of control, even less so now the arms are gone and crime is a rather persistent problem in most societies.

    So we wait six months, the conditions are largely the same, and if the Provosionals are minded to take down the whole thing, they’ll do it then. Unionism loses nothing by going in, because it is a reversable decision. The only difference with having an Executive is that something useful might get done.

    “The notion that Unionists “don’t want a Taig about the place”, aside from being a pathetic tired old mope-ish cliche, is not borne out by the facts.”

    Are we in an executive yet? How about Ballymena council? Orange Parade rerouting? Your perspective really isn’t the key one here.

    And I’m now glad there is a decent response to MOPE. Brushing aside legimate concerns as MOPEry is DOPEry. Have a nice day.

    “Both of the Unionist Parties are committed to power-sharing with nationalists, they simply don’t want to share power with criminals. I know Mitchell McLaughlin thinks Republicans can’t be criminals, but I would contend that Slab Murphy might serve as example to de-bunk Mitchell’s theory. ”

    Committed? Talk is cheap.

    You don’t get to pick your political opponents. Whether or not you like who Nationalists voted for is irrelevant. Their power comes from their mandate.

    You can exercise your veto, as is your right. But then don’t be surpised when Nationalist politicans refuse to play your game and go along with a talking shop, exercising their mandate. Which takes us neatly back to the original point.

  • John McIlveen

    TIME FOR THE POLITICIANS TO GET BACK TO WORK

    Stormont Rally for the Full Restoration of Devolution with Functioning Executive

    Monday 15th May – Stormont, 10.00am

    MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!!!
    MAKE YOUR WAY TO STORMONT ON MONDAY!!!

    DEMAND THAT OUR LOCALLY ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES
    GET BACK TO MAKING VITAL DECISIONS ON ALL OUR BEHALF!!

  • Chris Donnelly

    Ian Paisley Jnr described it, accurately imo, as gimmick politics.

    Pete

    Perhaps there was an element of that. But the symbolic importance of the leader of Irish republicanism making such a statement is yet further proof of how republicans have prepared their constituency for power-sharing and the numerous changes and compromises that have had to be made in recent years.

    In a week in which a catholic was kicked to death by loyalists in the heart of Ian Paisley’s constituency, perhaps a bit of ‘gimmick’ politics in the form of a reciprocal reconciliatory statement from the DUP towards Sinn Fein would go a very long way to challenging the mentality which leads to such violent acts.

  • Rubicon

    OK – lets talk “turkey”.

    SF represents the PIRA. The PIRA have stood down – even the IMC recognise this. Yet, some individual elements are involved in criminal activities. There is no formal link between this criminality and SF.

    There is no formal link between unionist parties and loyalist criminality – though the 2 are closely linked by association and common agreements; eg, “stewarding” marches that so called legit unionists participate in, who make speaches that share podiums with the loyalists they just marched with.

    There’s no hope of riding criminality from NI but the DUP seem to think that it should become a Protestant preserve – “no Taig crooks please!”

    The IMC has already determined loyalists to be responsible for the vast amount of criminality. Is it too much to expect that the odd Taig may want a piece of this action?

    Loyalism and unionism have more visible ties than crminality and SF.

  • Loyalist

    Rubicon

    Slab Murphy?

  • Rubicon

    OK – let’s take Slab as an example. SF condemns criminality. The IMC state there’s no link between SF and organised crime. Mr. Murphy is being dealt with by the criminal justice system and the prosecution shouldn’t be used as a reason to delay restoration.

    Personally, I’d prefer SF support the police before they enter government but that wasn’t required by the GFA. It would however make the SF position vis-à-vis criminality clearer.

    The law exists to deal with criminality. Let the police and courts get on with dealing with that problem and let the politicians get on with what they were elected to do.

  • GrassyNoel

    Corkman

    “The border’s been around 86 years and counting … tick tick…
    The British want to get out, but they’re beholden to you lot. They’d be gone tomorrow, their people want out.
    Somehow I don’t think your artificial statelet will last another 86 years”

    Actually I think it’s 84 years (the treaty was signed in 1922) and I for one have serious doubts about whether the border as it has been known since then ’til now will see out 100 years.

    As for excluding Republicans from sharing power on the grounds of associated criminality, that would be like George Bush excluding Italian-Americans from Congress because of the stain of Mafia-associated crime. It’s bullshit, and everyone knows it, it’s only being tolerated for now because it allows everyone to buy whatever time they need to sell whatever deal is on the table to their constituents and in time it can be sold as another concession to Unionists by Republicans.

  • kensei

    “SF represents the PIRA.”

    Actually, no, they represent the thousands of people of voted for them. This is a common confusion.

  • Noel.

    I always thought Ireland was partitioned with the government of Ireland Act 1920 (I’m open to be corrected), but yes I guess the treaty establishing the free state in 1922 cemented that and let us not split hairs.
    On your other point above, yes barrier after barrier is being put up, time after time.