“it was never part of the plan”

Gonzo has already picked up on the statements by the UPRG representatives, and others, as they emerged, through the front door, from the meeting with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern at Castle Buildings yesterday, but there are a couple of points to be made about what was reported and what was being said elsewhere that are worth looking at in relation to the putative Plan B.When I noted the meeting yesterday the BBC report carried the comments of their Home Affairs correspondent Vincent Kearney, quoting Irish government sources to report that the leaders of the UDA would also be in attendance – you can still view the quotes here.. however subsequent BBC reports indicate only in the intro that they were present, while RTÉ, on the other hand, has not mentioned them at all. That doesn’t mean that those individuals were not present, in fact, the emphatic statements issued after the meeting suggest that they were either there in person, or were aware of exactly what was being said during the meeting. Of course, while the charges of membership of the UDA remains against others, the actual presence of the leadership of that group in Castle Buildings is unlikely to be acknowledged publicly.

The subsequent reports, as noted by Gonzo, focused on the apparent distancing of the UDA from the DUP.

But it’s the reported comments on the possibility of joint authority that interested me – as noted here.

The Ulster Political Research Group said Mr Ahern told them there would be no joint-governmental authority over NI if Stormont was not reconvened.

Some commenters here have sought to suggest that Bertie Ahern was pulling a fast one, telling the UDA and the UPRG what they wanted to hear.. and while I wouldn’t be surprised if Bertie was doing that in most circumstances I find it difficult to see the logic of such an approach in this particular instance. After all, the form of the joint stewardship is to be worked out by the end of December – should the November deadline come to nought. It will, at that point, become clearer whether An Taoiseach was playing fast and loose with the real intentions of the British and Irish governments.

More than that, there is the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill currently winding its way through parliament. As Gonzo has pointed out, there was an amendment passed last night to further restrict the governments ability to pass unamended Orders in Council. If, or rather when, that becomes law the possibility of the kind of joint authority envisaged by some becomes less of a real threat and more a distant memory.

There were also comments made during the debate in the Lords on that amendment which emphasise, and clarify, the nature of the joint stewardship being proposed, as stated by Lord Rooker the governments NI spokesman in the Lords on 13th July[scroll down].

13 July 2006 : Column 894

Lord Rooker: .. We have looked at the amendment, and I have had brief discussions during the week. If it were carried, we could not, for a start, use the Grand Committee process. We could not use the Grand Committee process in this House to discuss the draft of an amendment because it is rigidly organised to allow debate only on non-controversial matters and does not allow for changes or amendments. That does not apply to every order; many orders could be considered there. However, those orders could not go to a Grand Committee. They would have to be considered on the Floor of the House. We have to find ways of dealing with this—ways that have not been found in all the years since the Stormont Parliament was first set aside.

The noble Lord, Lord Smith, talked about a failsafe. I say with due respect that, because we are serious about the date of 24 November, a failsafe will have to be seriously and urgently considered after that date. We do not want to do so beforehand, for the reasons I have explained.

I shall briefly address the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Kilclooney; it is not the first time that he has made it, and I made sure that those responsible for the issues were made fully aware of his point when he first made it. The tune changed slightly. It is not envisaged—it was never part of the plan—that the Government of the Republic of Ireland will in any way, shape or form be involved in the administration of Northern Ireland. We have no mandate as a Government for that and do not seek it, but I and colleagues have pointed out that the cross-border issues do not go away, given all the pressures of the economy and the position of the island of Ireland within both Europe and the world economy. For example, we have had questions in the House recently about a common corporation tax on the island of Ireland, specific to businesses both north and south. They can make a case that it ought to be different from Great Britain. That pressure comes not because of political forces, but because of the economic changes in the world. I am not saying that it will happen, but there will be areas of co-operation. Part of the Bill creates a wholesale electricity market; that is part of those pressures.[added emphasis]

I was going to mention the subject of yesterday earlier, and have just been reminded of it; I was obviously not there. Yesterday was the most peaceful 12 July for 30 years. In fact, it was the first time in30 years that the Army was not deployed on 12 July. That is absolutely fantastic. I am still doing duty weekends in Northern Ireland, and I have seen the collection of the bonfires ready and all the paraphernalia that goes on which people want to celebrate. I know what has happened in the past as a result of that, whether it is hotheads or others just out to cause trouble. The atmosphere that we have at the moment, when 2006 is the first time in 30 years that the Army is not out on the street on the major holiday, has to be of major significance.

The noble Lord, Lord Kilclooney, made a point about flags; I cannot respond to it in detail. I look on it as maybe positive that other flags were used rather than the flags of the past, although I take the serious point—the implication of what he said—that the loyalist paramilitaries are keeping their arms ready to fight British soldiers. That threat is the implication of not disarming; he agrees. It is outrageous. We want them disarmed like the others. There is no excuse for the paramilitaries to keep their weapons. There is no selling out, to use the terms that people have used in the past. The Government of the Republic will not be involved in the administration and governance of Northern Ireland, but there will be north-south co-operation as there are areas of co-operation east-west, such as the health service. Citizens of the Republic can go into hospitals in Northern Ireland, particularly the north-west, where the hospitals are closer to them than those in the south. I am sure that such good areas of co-operation will continue.

That does not mean to say that the Government of the Republic will be involved in the administration of Northern Ireland. That is not a plan B. However, it is a natural consequence that if there is not a Northern Ireland Assembly, we as the UK Government will not mind the shop. We will push forward areas of reform—of public administration and of other areas in Northern Ireland—and, where it suits us both, particularly in economic co-operation, it makes sense to have those arrangements. However, that can in no way be construed as the Government of the south having a role as a threat over the non-Assembly. If the Assembly were up and running, I suspect that the same thing would happen, because the economic forces would drive north and south to do such things on a joint basis.

There were some other amendments tabled, and withdrawn, and you can view some of them here

One of the interesting ones related to the oath of office and the rule of law, amendment 11, scroll down to 13 July 2006 : Column 886
.. although the debate ended with the amendment being withdrawn, the possiblity of it being tabled again remains.

Lord Glentoran: My Lords, I thank the Minister for what he has said. I do not believe that on this occasion my amendment would interfere at all with the pledge of office—I had dropped that amendment. This amendment is purely to make obvious failure to support of the rule of law, the judicial processes and the PSNI a reason for the removal of a Minister.

I felt that the Minister had some sympathy with that. His explanation of Section 4 of the 2005 Act was something that I had not heard before and need to brush up on; in fairness to him and other noble Lords, I should research it a little more. I think that the Government know what we are after here. However, there may be a way in which we can between now and Third Reading bring some provisions of Section 4 to the fore and strengthen the Bill.

As I said in my opening remarks, this is something that could be enacted only by the Assembly and which would require cross-community agreement because of the way in which voting takes place in the Assembly. So I shall do some research and probably bring back the amendment at Third Reading, but, for now, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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  • slug

    Pete

    A short note to say you are en excellent blogger with a good eye for detail.

  • Pete Baker

    Thanks slug, it’s one, if not the only, benefit of being a pedant 😉

  • seabhac siulach

    It would appear that what is meant by plan B and a step change in relations between Ireland and the UK in relation to the 6 counties will involve taking the North-South ministerial council set up under the GFA out of the “care and maintenance” basis it has been in since the suspension of Stormont in 2002. What that means in practise is anyone’s guess. It will likely involve close meetings between the Irish and British govts. (with Brit. direct rule ministers taking the place of the expected ministers from Stormont) to push through cooperation on each of the twelve “Areas for Co-operation” mentioned in the GFA. These are agriculture, education, the environment, health, tourism and transport, waterways, food safety, EU programmes, Intertrade Ireland, The North/South language body and Foyle,Carlingdford and Lights Commission.
    So acting strictly within the GFA, the two governments can implement a lot of joint initiatives on an all-Ireland basis, without going outside the legal boundaries of state juristiction (i.e., being involved in the actual administration of the 6 county statelet). Many of these initiatives could be things that Unionists would not be happy with, e.g., the further promotion of the Irish language, increased transport links North-South, perhaps even the setting up of an all-Ireland investment body, etc.
    So, while strictly speaking there will be no joint-authority (and how could there be, the six counties has to belong to one state or another under international law), there will be very much enhanced cooperation in all the areas mentioned above. Administration will remain in the hands of British ministers, that is true, but increasingly that administration will be done in coordination with the Southern administration in the 12 areas listed above, thus creating a de-facto all-Ireland
    set-up. This will speed up the economic unification of the island…
    In Stormont Unionists could have delayed or slowed down the implementation of the 12 areas mentioned in the GFA…out of Stormont they will have to see these implemented over their heads while they howl in impotence (so no change there…)

  • Peking

    Pete
    Not for the first time, I commend you as well.
    The thing is this. By strict definition, Bertie was being totally honest. There will not be any grand announcement of de jure joint authority. But, de facto, that is how things will work. And really why should anyone give a shit? After all, that is how things have been working for years. The UPRG are a bunch of tossers who like to feel important, beaming for the cameras, meeting Bertie and Mary, making grand political pronouncements on subjects which they have only the vaguest idea etc. etc.
    And if that’s all it takes, then okay.
    The problem is that these clowns are being given more elevated status by the day, can do virtually as they please and have immunity from prosecution as long as they mumble the right cliches about peace, transformation etc.
    It is we, the public who are picking up the tab for all of this ingraining of organised criminality and will continue to for years to come.

    On a couple of other points, noticeable that only four out of the six UDA “brigades” were represented in the picture posing. And just seen the video of that sick glorification of the wee lad’s murder in Ballymena. If it wasn’t the UDA that made the video, whoever did has access to a very official looking S Antrim UDA flag. It wasn’t the kind they hang on the lampposts but the sort they carry at parades.
    That is the sort of scum we are dealing with.

  • Pete Baker

    Peking

    As Rooker pointed out, the co-operation is something that would have happened if the assembly had been in place.. the difference is there will be no Executive ministers.. but local MPs could, in theory, argue that they should be involved instead – purely speculatively.

    The other point I was making relates to the orders in council.. the amendment passed in the Lords means that in future Parliament, and the NI committees will have a greater say in legislation covering NI.

    It’s not anything like the Plan B that had been waved around by certain self-interested parties.

    Regarding the UDA.. I think my views on the governments interaction with that grouping should be pretty clear by now. But there’s an added element that’s lurking in the back of my mind.

    The recent developments, including the embedding of certain individuals within community structures along with the imprimatur of both the British and Irish governments, carries with it a level of political capital that such individuals and groups have failed to achieve on their own merits.

    What use they put that political capital too, along with the associated undermining of the judicial and criminal system that I’ve previous noted, is likely to have serious implications for the future of those communities and wider society.

  • slug

    The areas of joint stewardship are the north-south bodies, and these operate in both directions, with British Direct Rule ministers substituting for Stormont Ministers.

    Presumably this means the British Direct Rule ministers have the same level of “say” in the Republic as the Irish ministers have in NI. It goes both ways.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Pete Baker,

    … the embedding of certain individuals within community structures

    This could also be part of a game being played by the governments to lever the DUP. Something along the lines of: ‘we can deal with a significant part of your power base over your heads’, and ‘we can set up and endorse an alternative power structure in working class loyalist areas’. Because the DUP knows that a chunk of its votes, maybe the safest chunk, comes from that source. The more recent middle-class votes are fickle and untrustworthy, so if they lose them and the working class votes they will be pushed back into the role of a minor ‘Protestant Unionist Party’ again.

  • Stephen Copeland

    sorry, I was very bold!

  • Pete Baker

    Stephen

    perhaps it would be better not to bold the names of those you are replying to? 😉

    On your point, you may be correct that it is part of that strategy.. if it is, it’s ignoring the long-term damage to communities that will accompany the granting of political capital, with governmental imprimatur, to criminal groups.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Pete Baker,

    Maybe so, but ultimately it probably doesn’t really matter to government who is the local ‘boss’, because they can all be bought. If they do not ‘buy’ the current crop, then they remain criminal bosses, but if they do buy them, they become the new ‘community leaders’, and maybe have a stabilising impact even though the criminality remains. I think the point is that criminality will continue either way, but this way the governments have ‘their’ people in control of it, and it puts pressure on the DUP. Cynical maybe, but would it be the first time … ?

  • Pete Baker

    I can think of a lot more accurate ways to describe that than the relatively mild ‘cynical’, Stephen. Criminal would be close to the top of the list.

    hence my previous points on the damage done to the criminal and judicial system.

    for further thoughts on that – See “the basis of a civilised society?”

  • Peking

    Stephen
    You grossly overestimate the UDA and UVF vote.
    It is probably no more than 15,000 total right across NI. Of those probably only about 50% actually vote. You also presume that the membership fully agrees with what the position seekers are at. You also do not take into account that a lot of members of those groups detest local and broader leaders because they want out. Having joined as teenagers many are now older, wiser and totally disillusioned with the whole thing. They aren’t allowed to leave unless they pay something like £15,000.
    You also seem to think that local communities have respect for these people and will follow their advice on voting etc. Nothing could be further from the truth, no one knows more than those they live among exactly what they are.
    All we are getting is the embedding and immunity from prosecution of criminal gangsters.

  • Turbo Paul

    hence my previous points on the damage done to the criminal and judicial system.

    That is why any dealine for the assembley must be in tandum with a dealine to withdraw from criminal activity, although the govt cannot reveal the dealings about sweetners to current criminals publicaly.

    It is interesting to note that it is only the criminal spectre that looms over the peace process rather than the military spectre.

    When there have been peace talks before the danger was if they failed, and they did often, then it was back to terroism and war, war.

    Those engaged in criminality after Nov must take their chance against renewed vigour from law enforcement, before the criminal justice system is broken for good.

    If a policy of “round them up and collar the lot”
    is implemented against all those engaged in criminality before Nov then would that help or hinder the chances of a deal??????

  • harpo

    ‘The Ulster Political Research Group said Mr Ahern told them there would be no joint-governmental authority over NI if Stormont was not reconvened.’

    Pete:

    If this is really Bertie’s position, and also the position of HMG as stated in the Lords debate, then surely all the threats of joint authority coming from the Provos and other nationalists is just the usual tactic – trying to make unionists go for something that they would prefer not to go for by using the threat that there will be joint authority if they don’t.

    We all know that Bertie can turn on a sixpence, but I really don’t see the point of telling the UPRG/UDA (people with guns) one thing now – that there won’t be joint authority – if your real plan is that there will be joint authority. Those people with guns may not take kindly to being lied to.

    It looks to me like the threat of joint authority is just the usual nationalist wishful thinking – that if November comes and goes and Stormont isn’t back, that someone somewhere is going to impose joint authority on NI to punish the bad unionists.

  • harpo

    ‘Because the DUP knows that a chunk of its votes, maybe the safest chunk, comes from that source.’

    Stephen:

    Your arse.

    This has got to be the biggest myth going.

    Like that other poster – the loyalist guy – says, loyalists in general don’t vote.

    It may comfort nationalists to think that they do, but they don’t vote DUP, or anyone else.

    So I know that the DUP doesn’t give a crap if HMG or the ROI government go straight to the loyalists, because it won’t impact their vote. All that it means is that the governments are giving attention to people with guns – people with guns who can’t even be bothered to vote for their own political wings, never mind anyone else.

    I’m with Pete. If the governments are clueless enough to believe this myth and think that dealing with the loyalists directly will undercut support for the DUP, all that is going to happen is embedding the people with guns into their position of supposedly representing a community that they can’t actually draw any support from.

    If this is the extent of the peace process, it’s bankrupt. As if we didn’t know that already.

    The DUP do know that, and I hope that they stick to their position of having nothing to do with it. It will gain them more and more votes, as ordinary unionists get more and more fed up with governments that pander first to terrorists who enjoy decent levels of popular support (PSF/PIRA) and then with terrorists who have little popular support.

  • harpo

    ‘if it is, it’s ignoring the long-term damage to communities that will accompany the granting of political capital, with governmental imprimatur, to criminal groups.’

    Pete:

    Not to mention the fact that in this case, those same groups can’t attract any political support from their own communities based on their own merits. So why are they entitled to any political capital.

    Are the governments so desperate to try to knock off the DUP that they will give power to people with guns who don’t have any popular support? Just because those people with guns say they support the GFA?

    It looks like they are.

  • harpo

    ‘If a policy of “round them up and collar the lot”
    is implemented against all those engaged in criminality before Nov then would that help or hinder the chances of a deal??????’

    Turbo:

    I think people imagine all sorts of things about a supposed deal. There is only one party that has to be persuaded into entering a deal to get Stormont restarted, and that’s the DUP.

    That’s why all sorts of daft things are being tried to try to scare the DUP into entering into a deal. Like this nonsense of dealing with loyalists, as if that is going to reduce the DUP vote.

    There is only one difficulty there – there isn’t going to be an Assembly election before November, so whether imagined hoardes of loyalists switch their loyalty from the DUP to the UPRG and PUP won’t make any difference. The DUP have their MLAs in place and they are the showstopper.

    Even if a snap election was held, it would show that this imagined core of loyalists who support the DUP don’t exist.

    I don’t think anything in terms of law enforcement against loyalists would impact the DUP going towards November. If things are left as they are and it’s hands off the loyalists, the DUP will use that to tell their base ‘look – we are the only thing preventing this nonsense becoming permanent. The UPP are dealing with the loyalists, and we are standing firm so that NI is not left with embedded organized crime as part of the price of peace’.

    On the other hand, if there was a crackdown against the loyalists (internment even?) the DUP would crow that it was only because they held firm that the authorities have cracked down on the organized criminals. And that would encourage them to ask for the same against the Provos.

    As I see it the DUP win either way. The only way that they lose is if they go into a deal before they get everything they want. And I don’t see them doing that.

  • Turbo Paul

    harpo
    I think people imagine all sorts of things about a supposed deal. There is only one party that has to be persuaded into entering a deal to get Stormont restarted, and that’s the DUP.

    I agree that it is the DUP alone to decide whether to enter Stormont with Sinn Fein, but the issue of criminality needs to be addressed once and for all, so everyone knows where they stand with regards the criminal justice system.

    A line in the sand is drawn for the ending of paramiltary criminality from both sides this Nov, quite seperate from the assembly talks.
    ( I realise the govt cannot say this publicly, but via the back channels)

    Any criminality committed after that date is dealt with vigoursly by law enforcement, without any ability to hide behind a political cloak.

    “Collar the Lot” starts this November for all criminals, so put you houses in order, or face arrest and conviction.

  • conor

    Am I missing something or have the UDA just said that their refusal to take part in large scale violence against innocent nationalists is strictly conditional upon a favoured outcome on November 24th, i.e no joint ‘stewardship’. Paisley is not isolated. It would be far better if the Irish government, and the British, and the media, would place the same energy on loyalist decommissioning as they did on IRA. The loyalists are still fully armed, still doing whatever takes their fancy and they are being praised for this?!

  • conor

    The Romans used to pay their centurions with land and titles when wars were over. It seems the British government is content to do the same thing with loyalists. 30M grant packages, 3.3M to scribble over the current monstrosities of murals which pass for loyalist ‘culture’. Come on! Decommission these thugs who acted as the paid hand of British intelligence for three decades. It shouldn’t be too hard -since the Brits bought and supplied most of their weaponry! If the north wants to send out a signal to nationalists that they are treated equaly maybe it could do so by ensuring the loyalist gangs have their weapons stripped of them. If the IRA had to do it, or else political stalemate would ensue, then why don’ the loyalists? Are nationalist fears not as worthy?

  • conor

    And while we are on the subject can we stop praising the loyalists for making non war-like comments. They are political dinosaurs who make up the rules as they go along and are never held to acxcount by the media or other politicians. David Ervine can tell reporters that the only reason people should listen to his (micro)party is that it has the ear of the UVF. Then when the UVF are slaughtering eachother over drugs feuds, or whatever else, he says he has no influence! The UPRG are idiots who have never been held to account. As I recall their last chairman in north Belfast, Davy Mahood, was taken up an alleyway in Ballysillan and shot through the knees. Good grief. The UPRG, whose chairman Tommy Kirkham was instrumental in fomenting the Cemetery Sunday pickets at Carnmoney earlier this year. A man to be taken seriously eh? Accept the fact that the loyalists are the dupes of the British and in the meantime lets apply some rigour to our treatment of them.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This meeting and everything to do with it is a pile of crap on so many levels it isn’t true.

    (1) Bertie Ahern would not and cannot fasten present or future Irish governments to any particular guarantee to anyone about constitutional arrangements in NI. He may give guarantees, and he may mean them.. but who is to say his successor will stick by them ?

    (2) Loyalists keep saying the Irish government have no authority in NI, and they are of course quite right about that. So what are they talking to the Irish government about ? Surely whether the Irish government has good intentions is neither here nor there.

    (3) What are the Irish government doing talking to people who have no votes ? The representatives of the loyalist community are the people they vote for, the DUP and UUP. Why do loyalists deserve a double mandate ?

    (4) Why do the Irish think it is a good idea to ask the UDA to keep order in their neighbourhoods, instead of asking the people legally tasked with that job, namely the PSNI ? The UDA should not be keeping order, they should be going away and allowing the police to do their job.

    This whole thing is a ridiculous farce, a sham being pulled by the UDA to try to get themselves immunity and win political influence that they can’t achieve by themselves. They’re rejected at the polls – so they’re trying to get the governments to put them on a pedestal. Frankly I’ve had enough of this crap. Back in 1994 the UDA told us the same things this guy is saying now. They said there was “no first strike” – quickly exposed as nonsense. This UPRG guy is saying to support the Good Friday Agreement – for christ’s sake the UDA withdrew it’s support over five years ago! Who the hell do they think they are trying to kid ?

    harpo writes :

    Like that other poster – the loyalist guy – says, loyalists in general don’t vote.

    It may comfort nationalists to think that they do, but they don’t vote DUP, or anyone else.

    This is rubbish, I’ve seen them voting in their droves in Rathcoole. People claiming to be UDA supporters have come on here and stated exactly this. The trouble is that they don’t vote for loyalist parties, they vote for big fish politicians. That’s why the DUP are careful to avoid directly condemning loyalist activity. See the Alexandra Bar raid and the reaction to it from unionists as a case in point.

  • Henry94

    The thing about Plan B is to watch who the reassurances are being directed at. They are the ones being shafted.

    One recalls the meting of the Fianna fail parliamentary party when Mary McAleese was nominated for President over Albert Reynolds.

    Bertie showed Albert his ballot paper on which he had voted for Albert. That was when Albert knew he had been shafted. And when it comes to double crossing Bertie has noting to teach the Brits.

    I could hardly believe this when I read it. It is of course great news

    I and colleagues have pointed out that the cross-border issues do not go away, given all the pressures of the economy and the position of the island of Ireland within both Europe and the world economy. For example, we have had questions in the House recently about a common corporation tax on the island of Ireland, specific to businesses both north and south. They can make a case that it ought to be different from Great Britain. That pressure comes not because of political forces, but because of the economic changes in the world.

    That means that we are going to move right past symbolic Joint anything and straight into the meat of unifying the island as an economic entity. That is by far a more profound change. And one that will be well over the heads of any UDA delegation.

    orthern Catholics should be praying for the continued health of Ian Paisley. His inflexibility will do more for Irish unity that anyone else could possibly do.

  • harpo

    ‘It would be far better if the Irish government, and the British, and the media, would place the same energy on loyalist decommissioning as they did on IRA. The loyalists are still fully armed, still doing whatever takes their fancy and they are being praised for this?!’

    Conor:

    I think you are missing the point about decommissioning. Neither government nor the media, not the general public, nor the political parties made the PIRA decommission.

    The PIRA had to choose to do it themselves, and they only did it because there was a carrot (reward) that they wanted. No amount of words, or the stick could have made them hand over the weapons. And no one was in any position to rip the weapons from them.

    In the same way, there is nothing that anyone can say or do to get the loyalists to decommission, simply because there is no carrot that can be offered to them to make them hand over the weapons.

    In fact at the moment they are having it both ways – they know that there is nothing anyone can offer them, so they are being talked to while they still have their weapons. The future of the Assembly doesn’t depend on what the loyalists do regarding weapons. The loyalists can hold on to every weapon, or they can hand them all over in August, and it won’t make any difference, since it isn’t in the hands of the loyalists to decide the fate of the Assembly.

    People seem to think that the loyalists can be forced to hand over their weapons, in the same way that the Provos were forced to. But it’s an entirely different model. The Provos wanted something, and were made to pay the price of decommissioning to get it. The loyalists don’t want anything, so they can sit back and laugh their asses off as the governments and everyone else except the DUP try to find some way of buying them off. It really is sad.

    The thing is that there is nothing that can be done about the loyalists. Someone else said ‘get tough with them’ but if that happens then they may go back to killing catholics. That’s why we have had years of appeasement of them – the theory that ‘if we don’t bother them too much they may not kill Catholics’. Having set that principle you can’t back away from it unless you want to test their reaction. And that means dead Catholics.

    These people are scum, yet are being appeased. It’s pathetic.

  • harpo

    ‘A line in the sand is drawn for the ending of paramiltary criminality from both sides this Nov, quite seperate from the assembly talks.
    ( I realise the govt cannot say this publicly, but via the back channels)

    Any criminality committed after that date is dealt with vigoursly by law enforcement, without any ability to hide behind a political cloak.’

    Turbo

    That isn’t going to happen. The risk of the bad boys going back to wholesale violence is too great.

    And I don’t see what November has to do with it. The Assembly deadline has got nothing to do with criminality. It’s all about the DUP. I really can’t see why the authorities would make nice with the paramilitaries for years, and appease them in many ways, and then suddenly get tough and risk a return to wholesale murder of Catholics, since that is the most obvious risk involved.

    It’s a pipe dream to think that anyone is going to get tough with the paramilitaries. This inclusion in talks is just the latest way to try to get the loyalists to play nice. The loyalists are laughing at the authorities the whole way. They know that they are in the drivers seat. No one is going to crack down on them, since they have the capacity to turn on and turn off the killing of Catholics.

  • Pete Baker

    [on sotto voce]

    Henry

    Any changes to, for example, corporation tax, would require [UK] parliamentary approval.

    That’s why Rooker said “They can make a case that it ought to be different..”

    [off sotto voce]

  • Pete Baker

    Actually, harpo

    The November deadline has more to do with the British and Irish governments potential to face their own electorate than anything else.

  • harpo

    ‘And while we are on the subject can we stop praising the loyalists for making non war-like comments.’

    Conor:

    Now don’t be harsh. These are the days when terrorists are to be praised for any little thing that they do. Like not killing people, or in the case of the Provos being nice enough to tell everyone where they buried the people that they disappeared, or in the case of the loyalists not terrorizing Catholics.

    Of course it’s nonsense, but lots of people on here seem to think its a good idea.

    ‘Accept the fact that the loyalists are the dupes of the British and in the meantime lets apply some rigour to our treatment of them.’

    Who is the ‘we’ behind ‘our treatment’? What sort of rigour are you looking for, and are you going to do it personally? If not, who is going to do it, if the British use the loyalists as dupes?

    This whole picture of loyalists as British dupes is destroying the ability of many nationalists to think clearly. The loyalists have always done whatever the hell they have wanted. And in this appeasement process they can continue to do just about anything they want, so long as they don’t kill too many Catholics.

    If nationalists had really been concerned about loyalist weapons it would have been part of the GFA deal. But it wasn’t. Nationalists didn’t think it through. There was lots in the GFA for loyalists – they got to keep their weapons and it turns out they get to keep on engaging in criminality. No wonder Ervine was for it. He knew the governments wouldn’t have the balls to face down the loyalists, and he was right.

    So now that we are where we are, there is nothing that can be done to force the loyalists to give up their weapons or stop being criminals. Neither thing is required under the GFA, nor under any side deals done since.

  • harpo

    ‘Comrade Stalin’

    ‘So what are they talking to the Irish government about ?’

    I’d say it is just them flaunting their position of attention. They aren’t asking for anything from anyone, but they can have a laugh as London and Dublin fall over themselves to try to find some way to make them go away.

    They get days out in nice suits, and are made a fuss of, even though they have little popular support. They know that the only reason they get this attention is their guns, and the possibility that they may at any time start killing Catholics again.

    I’d say they are enjoying all of this attention.

    ‘What are the Irish government doing talking to people who have no votes ?’

    My ongoing point exactly. It’s because they have guns. Did you miss the part of the peace process where Tony Blair told one of the parties that actually get votes that the problem was that they didn’t have any guns?

    Folks without guns are not an issue. They get no consideration. But kill lots of people and retain your guns and the governments will fall over each other to talk to you.

    ‘Why do the Irish think it is a good idea to ask the UDA to keep order in their neighbourhoods, instead of asking the people legally tasked with that job, namely the PSNI ? The UDA should not be keeping order, they should be going away and allowing the police to do their job.’

    See above – it’s all part of the appeasement process. They get to exist so long as there is relative order.

    ‘This whole thing is a ridiculous farce, a sham being pulled by the UDA to try to get themselves immunity and win political influence that they can’t achieve by themselves.’

    It’s a farce all right, but you have it backwards. The sham is the peace process. It has already given the UDA immunity, and now those directing it want to give them political influence too. In the hope that it keeps them quiet.

    ‘Frankly I’ve had enough of this crap.’

    Welcome to the club. What are you going to do about it?

    ‘Back in 1994 the UDA told us the same things this guy is saying now. They said there was “no first strike” – quickly exposed as nonsense. This UPRG guy is saying to support the Good Friday Agreement – for christ’s sake the UDA withdrew it’s support over five years ago! Who the hell do they think they are trying to kid ?’

    They are trying to kid those who want peace and are prepared to do anything to buy it. Even allowing organized crime terrorists to exist, keep their weapons and now have political influence. People who voted for the GFA voted for the first 2 things, and now the third thing is being offered to them.

    I can’t imagine what’s next, but I bet it’s coming.

    ‘This is rubbish, I’ve seen them voting in their droves in Rathcoole. People claiming to be UDA supporters have come on here and stated exactly this. The trouble is that they don’t vote for loyalist parties, they vote for big fish politicians.’

    Fine – believe whatever you want. This is why you are astounded and have asked all your other questions. You just don’t get it, do you?

  • harpo

    ‘The November deadline has more to do with the British and Irish governments potential to face their own electorate than anything else.’

    Pete:

    Which November deadline?

    The actual Assembley one, or this imagined ‘they are going to get tough on criminal activity’ one?

    I very much doubt that either government wants to be involved in a scheme that gets tough on the loyalists, with the result that Catholics start to be murdered.

    Even if it is actually the loyalists who are to blame for doing it (and they would be) people may not ask ‘why did you provoke them?’, but they would certainly ask ‘wasn’t your peace process supposed to end this sort of thing?’.

    Neither Tony or Bertie wants to be going into an eklection with that attached to their party.

  • Pete Baker

    “Which November deadline?”

    Harpo

    There is only one.

    And it’s a political deadline.

    Tackling criminality should have started a long time ago..

  • páid

    Pete’s diligent and systematic analysis of the pointers and features of this Plan A / Plan B Snakes and Ladders game is great reading.

    All the same, Number 100 remains an agreed Ireland, united in all but name, in my opinion.

    This is bacause the British (mainland variety) are not interested in “keeping” NI anymore.

    And the Irish (southern variety) are interested, but only in an agreed, peaceable way.

    So, as I have said before, the process moves “forward” at a rate just fast enough to placate Green, and just slow enough not to seriously provoke Orange.

    So de facto JA is mentioned and we get a nasty statement from the UVF. How about “joint stewardship” then? Come down to Dublin and we’ll talk about it.
    (Meanwhile the UVF get a bit more political, and the Shinners start thinking that one way of sorting the UVF would be if they ran the PSNI)

    And so it goes on.

    Economic co-operation is not about sensible neighbours and all that business – it is only happening because it can happen politically.

    And then fisheries, tourism, canals blah blah blah.

    Mutual benefit, skill transfers, co-operation blah blah blah.

    But hey, Bertie’s not daft.
    Flags and symbols to be left well alone.

    Eventually we mix more, marry more, co-operate more and the British tiptoe backwards out.

    That’s the politics of it; and the politics drives the agreements, statements, meetings, secretariat, orders in council and the rest of it – not the other way round.

    Though I suspect Pete and others may disagree.

  • Pete Baker

    pid

    I’m just trying to provide a diligent and systematic analysis of the pointers and features.

    No-one else seems at all concerned about doing that.

    Where it will lead is, at this point, beyond my ken. 😉

  • McGrath

    It all boils down to a pay off / bribe, a placation of all decision makers involved.

    I defer to Pete to keep his eye on the ball.

  • Kevin

    Pete…. I’m a newcomer to this site. I enjoyed your diligent and systematic analysis and would like to add a couple of comments. If Sinn Fein gains a larger powerbase in the South would’nt that change the whole perspective of the UPRG and isn’t it possible they have anticipated this, hence their meeting with Bertie to perhaps secure a non negotiable Plan B, but are hanging on to their weapons just in case? Also, lets suppose Plan A succeeds and all parties become the best of friends, does this mean the average Joe Catholic wearing a Celtic shirt could take a leisurely strole on the Shankill without fear for life or limb? In my totally uneducated opinion the answer is no way.

  • páid

    Pete,

    It’s a job you do so well, I suspect you enjoy it 😉

  • Dave

    Re: “Posted by Comrade Stalin on Jul 14, 2006 @ 10:35 PM”

    A good post, at least you know what is happening on the ground.

    The unionists don’t vote for the UDA/UPRG/PUP they do on occasions vote for SDLP (tactical vote) I don’t need to explain anything else comrade Stalin has covered all the points on the issue.

    It would be great if a larger potion of the republican/nationalist community moved to voting for the SDLP than voting for the men with guns.
    Given time will happen.

    How would the unionists be viewed if the voted on mass for the UDA or the UVF?

  • Prince Eoghan

    “It would be great if a larger potion of the republican/nationalist community moved to voting for the SDLP than voting for the men with guns.
    Given time will happen.”

    Dave most Nationalists/Republicans vote for Sinn Fein and not the men with guns. Why on earth would anyone vote UUP/PUP? The stoops aren’t as bad as all that.

  • lib2016

    Since 1912 the ‘Orange card’ was always about physical force from the unionist paramilitaries. That is finished as a credible threat and we face a democratic future which suits me fine.

    The hardmen backed the Agreement – good for them. I hope they can make it stick.

  • aquifer

    The British and Irish are boxing the paramilitaries off from Paisley in advance. When Paisley disagrees with any or all proposed power sharing settlements, he cannot claim that joint authority is happening or is threatened, and have paramilitaries take to the streets, because the paramilitaries have been briefed directly that it is not, and are unlikely to take Paisley’s word over that of Prime Ministers’.

    The population at large may accept imposed powersharing with an Irish dimension, so long as paramilitaries do not manufacture a crisis. And even then, paramilitaries might find their own communities’ tolerance of them quickly exhausted.

    Could Paisley mobilise monster crowds to oppose power sharing on his own? Don’t see it.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Did anyone else wade through the Hansard on the miscellaneous provisions Bill?

    Lord Rooker was utterly clueless about some fairly basic stuff – unaware even that the Conservatives still organise in Northern Ireland.

    No wonder he appeared out of his depth. You’d vote against his proposals on the basis that neither he, nor by implication the NIO officials feeding him notes in the Lords, could inspire any confidence in the Bill.

    Leaving aside the issue of foreign donations, the Government also intends to allow parties to continue to receive political donations anonymously. This is on the basis that a published list of donors could result in intimidation, the threat of which is sadly real, but diminishing.

    I bet that list would make interesting reading. I have a funny feeling there are a few potential conflicts of interest that would raise eyebrows.