Some confusion surely…

The BBC’s Ireland correspondent yesterday noted the tactical nous behind Gerry Adams’ nomination of Ian Paisley for the office of First Minister. After Hain announcement yesterday of his intention to establish an Assembly restoration committee, it seems the DUP may be on the back foot somewhat, after Reg Empey suggested Ian Paisley’s party was at sixes and sevens over the issue.

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  • Is Mr.Paisley taking lessons from the old IRA?
    “Whatever you say, say nothing.”
    You have to sympathise with Mr.Robinson, how long can he allow himself to be slenced and trussed up in this ridiculous strait-jacket his leader is imposing on him and his colleagues.
    Break the chains.

  • Tony Clifton

    I am by no means a Sinn Sein voter but you do have to hand it to them, tactically and in a debate they are miles and miles ahead of 99.9% of unionists. The way they have handeled the last few weeks has been fairly impressive.

    Firstly they loose the balance of power for a ministerial seat to the UUP/PUP, their public line is “we got what the people gave us, the seat has changed hands several times we have got our mandate” but you can be sure that they checked the legality….behind closed doors.

    Then they nominate Paisley for first minister, which is a fairly major step for them and their supporters but shows they are willing to share power but at the same time knowing it will annoy the hell out of the DUP.

    PR wise they are ahead of the pack, they have again ended up sounding reasonable only to step back and let the DUP get stuck into the UUP/PUP and paisley to make a farce of himself in the after domination press conference…..making all of unionism look stupid.

  • Tony Clifton


    You are absolutely right, I have a dislike for Robinson, but he is clearly more able than the big man now, but is forced to continually act as his gimp. Robinson is also the only chance chance of getting a deal, he is the only one intelligent enough to be the driving force behind getting the rest of them (bar ian who is beyond persuaion) to get a deal done. He is smart enough to know the time is upon us (unionism) and that they should be getting their finger out.

  • kensei

    “You are absolutely right, I have a dislike for Robinson, but he is clearly more able than the big man now, but is forced to continually act as his gimp”

    That just made my morning.

  • heres hoping

    TC you saying that SF are tactically way ahead of the DUP but the tone of your post seems to imply that somehow Sinn Fein are not serious or just playing the media. IMO Sinn Fein are 100% up for powersharing as a means to an end. The end in this case is a united Ireland and by demonstrating their abilty to share power take the big decisions is not about spin or embarassing the DUP is illustrating that in a united Ireland everyone will have their place and have their traditions respected.

    The spotlight is on the DUP not because they were out foxed by Sinn Fein or the DUP but because they are afraid to make the big decisions and lead.

  • heres hoping

    Sinn Fein or the UUP


  • Prince Eoghan

    Great post from heres hoping, straight to the heart of the matter.

    Apart from the tired old Republican criminality line. there is no reason not to share power. Apart from the obvious sectarianism that stares us all in the face.

  • It is the case that Paisley is unable to sit down and speak with people of differing views, he’s demonstrated this all his life.
    Personally I think it’s because he’s afraid, and has been hiding behind blood and thunder rhetoric all his life.
    Now he won’t talk to the UUP.
    Soon I expect he won’t speak to Robinson, accusing him of treachery and betrayal.
    Looks like he’ll end his career on his own, with no-one to talk to, except a few sychophants.
    We are perhaps witnessing the beginning of the End.

  • seabhac siulach

    “…making all of unionism look stupid…”

    Still too early to say whether the DUP have painted themselves into a corner or hold some trick up their sleeve…
    Can they be so stupid as to sleepwalk into a situation of super-councils and increased cross-border links?
    In their interests, you would think, it would be better (in the hope(?) of agreement by November or later) that they not say or do anything now that may later be embarassing for them, e.g., Paisley repeating again that he will not deal with Sinn Fein by saying things like

    “There is no place in any government in this United Kingdom for personnel like that.

    They are out and they are out for ever. They have to do the changing, not us.”

    This from the man who in 1966 was ‘seeing’ the IRA everywhere in the 6 counties when it was moribund and without weapons…
    So, how DO you convince a man who believes things exist which are not there? That is the problem here.

    The body language and cockiness of the DUP suggests they hold something up their sleeves…

  • ncm

    I’d agree with SS, they’re saying no now, but they’ll change their position when it’s prudent to do so. 1st rule of negotiation, give nothing away for free. Ian’s simply following that rule, he’ll continue complaining and grouching until he feels like he’s gotten all available benefits before signing up.

  • heres hoping

    Does anyone know anything of the consultation with unionism that the DUP talked of a while back

  • seabhac siulach

    “Does anyone know anything of the consultation with unionism that the DUP talked of a while back”

    The DUP mentioned that this ‘consultation’ would only begin in the Autumn (November 24th?) and only when they are sure that the IRA is not engaged in any criminality and has basically ceased to exist…(so, probably, never then)
    It is dependent then on the next IMC report which is not due out until early November (I think), so no movement on this before then. It is likely merely a negotiating device they will use to spin out the November deadline…
    They are playing for time for some reason, that is clear, but to what end? (Is it ‘stupidity’ or are they playing a clever game?)

  • I suspect “consultation” is code for “election”.

  • Keith M

    Exactly what”tactical nous” is involved in the silly charade attempted by SF/IRA on Monday? Everybody knows that the deadline for the reformation of the executive is in November and that a lot of work on confidence building has to be done by then, most especially by the parties linked to terrorism and criminality. Do correspendents really think that the public is so easily fooled?

    I really can’t see the point behind a “resoration committe”. It needs a proper remit. It is going to draw up a list of conditions that all parties must meet before they can join the executive? If so, then it might be worthwhile, but does anyone see the parties all signing up to the same set of conditions? Heave forbid we end up with more fuzzy ambiguity of the type that killed off the 1998 agreement.

  • baldrick45

    At the risk of starting a war, can anyone outline a credible DUP strategy which would see them complete the necessary volte-face before the November deadline? And what would it’s achievements be?

    They once promised “The Agreement” would be smashed and a new “fair deal” emerge. So far all I see is the same GFA with, at best, a couple of minor tweaks round the edges and a few more bribes to unionist communities to be squeezed out of the NIO between now and November.

    If that is the “big prize” they believe they can win before striking a deal then I have to say it looks like a p*ss poor prize to me and is certainly not worth the price of another 6 months delay.

    BUt if Dr No remains the decisive voice in the party and the rank and file really believe the “Never, never, never” rhetoric which he continues to spout, then how will they justify any deal in November? If the DUP hold their moral high ground they can’t do a deal (and then heaven help us all ‘cuz the NIO won’t), if not they stand exposed to the same accusations of moral prostitution which they have been so quick to level at the UUP (albeit deservedly so)

    Personally I hope for a deal and for reasoned argument from all politicians about why this is in the best interests of all the people of NI.

    I’m not hopeful though!

  • DK

    b45 – agree, what are they playing at? Maybe they just think that if they spin it out long enough then the IRA will rob a bank or kill someone, and then they can be justified in a walk out. But if the IRA are really finished, then when elections come around and they are still saying no, then even the unionist electorate may feel uncomfortable. Trouble is that the voters will hardly go to the UUP/UVF who, having been burnt once, are not going to be caught out being softer than Paisley. Especially as the unknown is what the IRA might or might not do.

    Worst case 1 for DUP: They jump and the IRA do something. UUP pick up votes.

    Worst case 2 for DUP: They don’t jump and the IRA don’t do anything. DUP lose votes for intransigence, to Alliance maybe?

    Best case 1 for DUP: They don’t jump and the IRA do something. They are vindicated!

    Best case 2 for DUP: They jump and the IRA remain inactive. Possible vote gainer.

    Basically, the DUP are dependent on the unpredictability of the IRA. So to risk jumping is too much of a risk compared to doing nothing.

    So I don’t think they’ll do anything, unless they can extract some sort of face-saver whereby Sinn Fein get booted out if the IRA do anything.

    Now, if Sinn Fein control the IRA, what is in their best interests. If the IRA become active they’ll lose votes to SDLP, but if Paisley jumps, they have the IRA ready to embarass him. If the ultimate aim of Sinn Fein is a united Ireland, then the last thing they want to see is a working assembly and a peaceful, prosperous Northern Ireland as this would justify partition. Or do they? My head hurts with all this.

  • The Dog

    People are missing the point – the DUP position is driven to a greater extent by the desire to bury the UUP.

    The rage at the UUP-PUP move couldn’t really have been because of the myth that Loyalism and Unionism are anything but the two sides of the one coin was exposed.

    The u-turn over the Hain restoration committee had nothing to do with an idea that Robinson had already publicy backed but rather the idea of the UUP trying to claim it.

    The reason the DUP don’t want an Executive is because it gives the UUP a credible platform (with 3 Ministers) to fight the next election – and god knows they need one – block that and the objective of destroying the UUP becomes more likely.

  • DK

    The Dog,

    Yes, I think that is the point I was also ham-fistedly trying to make. Namely, the DUP are trying to keep momentum over the UUP. Sinn Fein are a side-show in that battle, but as Sinn Fein have their own mind and a potential weapon in the IRA, the DUP have to be careful in their interactions with Sinn Fein.

    The UUP must be gagging for the DUP to join an executive and then have some sort of IRA action wreak it; and the DUP must avoid this at all costs. So the DUP will avoid sharing power with Sinn Fein at all costs, unless they can get some sort of get out of jail free card if Sinn Fein mis-behave. Maybe something where both themselves and the UUP are equally at blame if the assembly collapses.

  • Paul P

    Robinson frequently refers to the need for any institutions to be stable and accountable no matter what. I think the DUP would jump quite quickly into an election and then executive if and when they have a get out clause for when the IRA misbehave, that’s their bottom line in the negotiations I’d think.

  • DK

    Paul P,

    Have the DUP made any effort to get this “get out clause”?

  • Paul P

    I would guess(and it’s only a guess) that they have made considerable effort in getting something like this.

    The fact is that the “real” negotiations will not be up at Stormont either in the chamber or in a committee, but will take place between the Jonathan Powell types and a few of the DUP leadership.

    The deal will then be “emmerge” into the public domain.

  • Tony Clifton

    Here hoping

    You misunderstood what I was saying, I agree with you, I dont think that Sinn Fein’s number one priority is annoying the DUP far from it, they dont care about them in the slightest but they are a necessary evil. (annoying them is just a nice side effect). Their actions are, as you say a means to an end. Of course they want to share power and I believe they are genuine about it. I firmly believe that is when the debate with SF will start power in NI assembly vs a united Ireland.

    However at the minute SF are in the middle of a balancing act, so making the DUP look stupid is a necessary element. E.g. Mondays nomination of Paisley was to say “we are ready for power sharing with paisley and the DUP” a fairly big step for their grassroots and associates. The fact that it annoys the DUP (at this stage) and makes them look inferior (especially with the current fight withinin unoinism) is a selling point for republican grassroots.

    Whoever said that the DUP are more concerned with attacking the UUP is dead on target. I am concerned that they will yet again fiddle while Rome (how ironic) burns. They are more concerned with killing off UUP and the PUP that they dont have Unionisms best interests at the fore.

  • unionist

    NEVER NEVER NEVER! – Yawn, heard it all before.

    People who say that the DUP’s number 1 priority is to smash the UUP – they are correct.

    This is what drives the DUP forward. The idea for the restoration of devolution committee came from Reg Empey. The DUP don’t like that!

    Instead of doing what’s good for unionism, the DUP will do what is good for themselves.

    I mean, does anybody seriously think that the DUP/LVF are outraged by the UUP linking up with the PUP over moral issues! Certainly not. They are annoyed because it allows the UUP to gain a decent footing.