Strategic… or in the best interests of this society?

The row over the controversial use of Casement Park for a commemoration of the 10 men who died on hunger strike 25 years ago rumbles on – with the BBC noting the reaction in several papers as well as the renewed DUP criticism. But there was another report that caught my eye, the Press Association reported yesterday on the comments made by Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams during his clearly non-party-political speech at the ground.. in particular the reference to making “strategic compromises”.. no names, no pack drill?… or another comment steeped in the ambiguity in which The Process™ has repeatedly floundered..

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  • Belfast Gonzo

    Remember folks, when Gerry says “strategic compromises” that could be interpreted as “policy U-turn”.

    At what point does Sinn Fein admit it’s members and supporters better get themselves ready for the big one?

    Baby steps.

  • headmelter

    Sinn Fein admit it’s members and supporters better get themselves ready for the big one?

    Having attended the commemmoration and listening to GA I would imagine it is coming soon, very soon.
    Mind you his speech seemed to have a mixed reaction in the crowd around the area I was standing.
    Did any other posters attend and if so how did you guage the reaction?

  • Garibaldy

    Police is the big one. What about sitting at Westminster?

  • Pete Baker

    Policing is indeed the big one.. so much so that it seems unlikely that SF would move on the parliamentary oath – which they have previously expressed no interest in changing at all – before accepting policing here.

    It’s still a comment mired in ambiguity though… after all, as I suggested in the title, if it’s being done for strategic reasons, why should anyone trust the sincerity of such a move?

  • headmelter

    “What about sitting at Westminster?”

    That’s not going to happen.

  • Garibaldy

    You don’t think by strategic then that he meant long-term and clever, or joined-up, thinking, rather than Machiavellian behaviour?

  • Garibaldy

    Headmelter,

    Everything else has been dropped – Stormont, decommissioning, never mind sitting in parliaments in Ireland. If there’s a hung parliament, or a very close one, I can see circumstances where tactical reasons for doing that could be advanced. And, as more and more seats are won, the pressure to represent business and other interests will grow. Particularly if the Assembly takes a while to get up and running.

  • headmelter

    Too much of an outside bet. Three to five seats is a very fine margin.
    I don’t think they could sell it to the electorate.

  • Pete Baker

    “long-term and clever, or joined-up, thinking, rather than Machiavellian behaviour?”

    Yeah… ’cause they’re not in the same ball-park at all..

    Policing was, I’d suggest, the obvious reference. The parliamentary oath would throw up all kinds of other issues, not to mention cause potential problems for Mr Blair. Not going to happen right now.

    The question, however remains..

    It’s still a comment mired in ambiguity though… after all, as I suggested in the title, if it’s being done for strategic reasons, why should anyone trust the sincerity of such a move?

  • Garibaldy

    Pete,

    You know what I meant. Perhaps I should have said something like dishonest. By which I meant that in saying PSF had to be strategic, all he meant was that they had to pursue their goals intelligently. Rather than pretend to like unionists to lull them into a false sense of security.

    As for the sincerity of the inevitable PSF acceptance of the PSNI. Look on the ground. Ordinary policing in south Armagh, raids on markets for smuggling/counterfeiting without riots etc? On the ground cooperation, and not just over parades and keeping teenagers apart. The rhetoric on this issue for a long time now.
    The government clearly believes in their sincereity – why else would MI5 be taking over intelligence from the police? All over bar the shouting.

  • Pete Baker

    Garibaldy,

    Having to placate their own supporters by disguising what’s actually happening is no way of making real progress.

    After all, the governments, north and south, also appear to believe in the sincerity of the ‘good’ UDA..

    I don’t.

  • Garibaldy

    Pete,

    I don’t think they are disguising stuff from their supporters. In fact, as the PSF audience widens it also becomes more moderate. Look at the total absence of problems, outside the small number of active Provos who formed the Real IRA, with all the compromises. There is no sign whatsoever of this impacting upon PSF votes. Quite the opposite.

    As for the good and bad UDA. I understand your concerns, but I do think it’s clear that there are moves afoot there to change things. Far from perfect, but I think those things are welcome. Whether the government needs to go as far as it has done, I also have my doubts. But that shouldn’t deflect overly from the positive moves.

  • Hidden Gem

    I think Pete was correct when he commented that the Parliamentary Oath issue would trigger many other problems for Tony B’ and I don’t think SF supporters would be ready for it either.

    The SDLP said SF would follow their steps when the Shinners were accusing them of jumped too soon on policing. But in fairness, it was hardly a revelation as it was obvious it needed to happen. My money is definitely on the “strategic compromises” equating to policing.

    Who knows, we might all be wrong and Gerry might have realised that he’s personally is part of the problem, at least for the Duppers. Is this going to be the moment Gerry tells Mary-Lou, “It’s over to you!”? Just a thought.

  • heck

    I am a republican with two degrees and I have’nt a clue what gerry is talking about.

    gerry, you can write readable books and you are obviously articulate. Could you please express yourself in a way that I know what the hell you are talking about.

  • spice girl

    i think he’s lost his marbles – all those illegal fags he’s been smoking and smuggled liquor!!
    on a serious note, they appear to be preping the community for supporting the peelers – long overdue. I reckon a deal is on the cards – intense negotiations up to november, dup back at stormant and SF on policing board with a couple of cosmetic changs permitting each side to claim victory – or is that wishful thinking?

  • Nevin

    [i]Men and women were wearing brown sacks …[/i]

    Sack cloth and ashes – or a ‘slacks’ typo?

    Still no sign of the Adams speech on the Sinner website.

  • how low will they go

    LOL, OMG, Nevin, priceless, do you think Paisley was rubbing his hands with glee, watching all those people in their sackcloths parading down the Falls Road? Oh, my, someone in SF is having a laugh at the expense of their comrades, the naughty fellow!!! LOL LOL

  • Jo

    Given the time of year thats in it – not to mention the event – anything more than a vaguery wasn’t to be expected. Its the delicious hinting though that sets one agog!

  • slug

    sack cloth.
    LOL Nevin and how low will they go.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Why do people ask about the Shinner’s taking seats in Westminster? I can’t see why they would want it, nor can I see why any other party would even care about it.

    Anyway,
    Adams’ speech might have seemed a bit cryptic and yes he didn’t get the same applause as there was during the commemoration proper. It’s not necessarily because they were snubbing him; simply that they, like me, were there for the commemoration not for a short party political speech. In all fairness though there was very little reference to party politics, apart from attacking the SDLP and the Church for attacking SF. I made a point of not clapping that – it wasn’t the time for settling old political points.

    I just stayed for his speech out of curiousity and gave an enthusiastic clap only when he was on about reaching out to unionists.

  • Garibaldy

    OC,

    It’s just something that dawned on me recently that it’s never even mentioned. Given PSF’s leadership of northern nationalism now, I was just wondering if people are still as opposed to it as they have been in the past.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Garibaldy,
    Forgive me, I’m a bit confused by your question. Are you talking about the RC Church being opposed to PSF or something else?

  • DaithiO

    People are always looking for something between the lines. I was there, GA spoke eloquently and movingly about the hunger strikers. What’s new about engaging with unionists ? The message that we must reach out to the unionists amonst “our people” is nothing new at all.

    Personally I thought it was a fantastic day where former political prisoners and their fallen comrades were honoured by their countrymen and women.

    Sitting in Westminster, Policing, sure these are important issues, but Sunday was not about party politics, it was about remembering the sacrifice of 12 men.

  • Occasional Commentator

    DaithiO,
    He also explicitly mentioned sectarianism among republicans. I don’t know if that’s new or not, but it was interesting that he was challenging the audience to ask themselves whether they were helping or hindering the cause.

  • Garibaldy

    OC,

    I was talking about opposition to taking seats in Westminster among PSF members and supporters. Given the number of compromises that have been made I was wondering if this was still seen as a step too far. Does anybody even think about or talk about it. That sort of thing.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Garibaldy,
    I don’t really know any more about the feelings across republicanism than what I read on Slugger. But I really don’t see it happening (taking Westminster seats). It’s not like in 1918 where the original SF had a massive number of seats across Ireland at Westminster, which they chose not to use. Today’s seats would be useless in Westminster, so I don’t see there being any more chance of them taking them.

    Even the compromises you’ve mentioned so far have been in the context of Ireland only. For example, PSNI acceptance will come when Westminster gives up more control of policing and justice to Irish people. Personally, I wouldn’t mind more formal links with Britain, as long as the buck stopped with Irish politicians only for the big sovereignty issues.

  • DaithiO

    OC, yes he did address the whole issue of sectarianism, recognising that it is a blight on society in the six counties.

    I did, during the march, see Billy Leonard, a protestant elected representative of Sinn Féin. Can anyone mention the name of a catholic DUP councillor for example ? If they can then I’m prepared to listen to their pontifications about sectarianism !

    If unionist leaders were as vociferously opposed to this sectarianism then peace would be infinitely more achievable.

  • nmc

    It was good to see Gerry urging people to be avowedly anti-sectarian, it’s the way to go.

    I was told a protestant friend of mine from Rathcoole was there, and is considering joining Sinn Fein. I was shocked to hear that, but I think I know where he’s coming from.

  • Rory

    why should anyone trust the sincerity of such a move?

    Oh come along, Pete, you know as well as I do that if you and other pro-unionist commentators on here met Adams walking through Botanic Gardens on a fine May morning with the sun shining out of a clear blue sky and the blossoms nodding in the breeze and he greeted you with “Good morning, lovely day isn’t it?” you would not only mistrust his sincerity, you would find reason to disagree just on principle.

    Clearly his remarks are addressed to his immediate constituents but I suspect that the occassion and the cryptic nature of the remarks might also indicate that they are sent as a signal to HMG and possibly to DUP and UUP negotiators that Sinn Fein is about to embark on a major progressive development in policy and indeed most probably on the issue of policing, a move which was always seen would come and is a necessary part of the whole peace process.

    It is perhaps Sinn Fein’s equivalent of Peter Brook’s address to his constituency association clearly stating that Britain had no selfish economic or territorial interest in Northern Ireland and which heralded the start of the ‘talks about talks’ between HMG and the IRA.

  • Garibaldy

    Daithi,

    Leonard is a bit of a weird case, being elected as an SDLP representative, although I suspect he will be re-elected as PSF. There are a very few protestant members of PSF but their presence doesn’t change the fact that PSF acts self-consciously as the representative of one section of the Irish people, i.e. Catholics. Nor does it change the fact that much of their politics is based on communal confrontation, just like the DUP, UUP and SDLP.

    Adams and PSF talk about opposing sectarianism, but until there a lot is more evidence that they are serious, a lot of people will dismiss this as window dressing. After all, Bik Mc Farlane was singing at the rally – hardly the poster boy for anti-sectarianism

  • maura

    Adams and PSF talk about opposing sectarianism, but until there a lot is more evidence that they are serious, a lot of people will dismiss this as window dressing.’

    That SF consistently talk about the sectarianism issue is a good indication that they are moving from the ‘window dressing’ stage. Unlike Unionist parties, SF appear to recognise that sectarianism is a real problem, even when there are not young Catholic lads laying dead in Ballymena.
    Garibaldy, I agree that a lot needs to be done to combat sectarianism, by all parties in Northern Ireland, and as a Republican, it is one of he demands I make of my party of choice. In fact, I believe that combating sectarianism should top the political manifesto of SF and every other party, it is THE issue that when tackled will make every other issue a little easier.
    Adam’s speech on Sunday was very good. However, the commemoration was not about Adams, nor policing, nor ‘Westminster’, it was about remembering the fact that if it were not for the sacrifices of those young men ( and women), most of you would not be even paying any attention to, or discussing the words spoken by GA or any other Republican.

  • Garibaldy

    Maura,

    People paid attention to Adams before and after the Hunger Strikes because he was part of an organisation that was killing people. PSF’s electoral growth may well be rooted in the hunger strikes, but there’s a very good argument that they were moving that way anyway. And the only reason they have held those votes is because of their efficiency as a political organisation – look at the PD’s, IRSP etc who were elected at that time. Nowhere to be seen in electoral terms. Or, from what I can gather, on that platform on Sunday. I would have thought Bernadette Devlin a more appropriate chair than Martin Ferris’ daughter given all her work on the Hunger Strike committees, and the fact she (and I think her husband) was shot for it. Was she invited? Did she refuse to attend? Does anybody know or care?

    As for the topic of this thread, it’s directly on the subject of Adams’ speech, and what he meant by it. Which I agree was not the purpose of the commemoration.

    It is good to see people talking about tackling sectarianism. In fairness, all parties talk about it on occasion. The problem is they are always referring to the attitudes of their opponents. See the first interview given by the new Director of Engagement for a superb example. I believe that people like yourself are genuine when talking about battling sectarianism, as are people like Ervine. But until people shift their political strategies and ways of thinking, and their political choices, beyond communalism, it is all window dressing.

  • maura

    Garibaldy,
    There is some truth to what you state about Adams pre-H Block days, however I suppose I was thinking in more general terms about the attitude of Unionists and others to Nationalists and their statements. E.G., The issue of collusion was dismissed in the 80’s and 90’s as the fabrications/imaginations/malicious lies of Republicans-now it is even acknowledged in the language of Hughe Orde. ( Sorry to be so off topic). To have every word that Adam’s utters dissected and analysed for messages/hidden meanings, is somewhat idicative of how far we have actually come as Republicans. No longer are our statements or claims dismissed out of hand. Instead GA’s speeches are examined for ‘strategies’hidden messages, or indicators of the mood of republicanism. It just struck me as I read the thread, that so much has changed since the dark days of 1981 ( and the years of the H Block protest and criminalisation attempts which ultimately failed).

    I had wondered about Bernadette myself, but don’t know what the story is. She was indeed a huge part of the H Block era.
    Unrelated to Sunday, I know she is doing some great work in Dungannon with immigrant groups,- housing and that type of thing. Very noble work.

  • slug

    Although I would be sympathetic to changing the oath so that those who are, in principle, republican, do not feel that it compromises them, the issue of Westminster attendance is not that important to me (although I suspect it would be in nationalism’s interests to have a greater presence in Westminster debates and committees.

    The issue of PSNI support, which seems to be what Gerry Adams was hinting at, is important.

    At some point we are going to have powersharing and I think the unionist outreach officer will gind that supporting the police would be an excellent place to begin!

  • mickhall

    Out of interest, did Mr Adam’s or any other leading Shinner mention the current war in the Lebanon in their speech and if so what did they say?

  • maura

    Rereading portions of Adam’s speech, I am actually even more impressed by it, seeing it written down. What is the problem with speaking of making ‘strategic compromises’? If Adams were urging Republicans ( as Unionism appears to be doing, publically at least) to NOT budge an inch, I think it would be a very serious indicator of the state of the peace process.
    I really think Adam’s understands the mood of the ordinary Republican. We know we need policing, but are fearful, because of our past experiences with the police. Asking Republicans to have confidence to move ahead, to compromise, reveals a political sophistication rarely seen in Northern Ireland.
    Adams appears to be asking us to meet up to the challenges posed by sectarianism- a veiled acknowledgement that we indeed have a problem within our own ranks that needs to be addressed? In addition he is asking us to understand the fears of the Unionist population. But most importantly he is asking us to have the confidence to take the final steps.

    “The challenge facing us is to be avowedly anti-sectarian, to face up to the challenge of making peace with the unionist section of our people and that means we should not be afraid to make correct strategic compromises”.

    I would challenge ANYONE to come up with a statement such as the above from any member of Unionism. Perhaps Ervine?

  • slug

    Maura

    It sounds like something Trimble would say. “A measure of principled compromise”.

  • maura

    It’s still a comment mired in ambiguity though… after all, as I suggested in the title, if it’s being done for strategic reasons, why should anyone trust the sincerity of such a move? ”

    Pete, maybe I am just not understanding what you are ( or if you even are) inferring here.
    Surely, all political parties are involved in strategies; every strategic move is made not just for the sake of the move itself, but to get other results. That is the art of politics, and indeed nearly every other aspect of our lives. Think about it, everything we do is strategic, the way we raise children, our relatonships with our spouses, etc. It is not that we sit down and deliberately think about strategies, but our whole lives and everything we do, is strategic, in one way or another – if we are healthy individuals that is. As adults we take jobs, raise families, marry, integrate, vote, etc etc to move from point A to point B,C etc., that is strategic.
    So, are we to be suspicious of everything everyone does all the time? That is paranoia, a mental illness, is it not?
    Of course, political strategy has an added nuance-I think in this case we are talking about policing, battling sectarianism, assuring Republicans to be confident in ourselves.

    To be suspicious of every word out of Adam’s mouth, is in its own way, YOUR strategy.

  • slug

    Maura

    It is an interesting difference. David Trimble talked about “principled compromise”. I remember thinking, that is compromise because it is right to do. While Adams talks of “strategic compromise” which is compromise for selfish reasons. He is not saying it is right thing to do for him to sign up to the PSNI but it might be in the self interests of his movement.

  • maura

    Slug,
    Yes perhaps.
    I realise that a lot of this *conflict resolution* discourse can often be dismissed as a load of blether. But we have often seen how discourse can enflame and enrage people ( right or wrong look at the Fr.Reid/Frazier incident).
    It is sensible, to be strategic in the language we use, we do it in our everyday life, in dealing with all sorts of people in our lives. E.G. If we are wise at all we tell a child who has misbehaved, that their behaviour is not acceptable and show them a better way to approach situations, rather than hit them a thump and verbally abuse them. Isn’t that the better approach, in matters as serious as resolving our conflicts, sectarianism and policing?

  • slug

    Well I am a strategic person, while some others I know are moral people. Thus for instance I thought Trimbles basic idea – compromise on prisoners not on the constitution – was in the long term interests of unionism. However others felt that morally prisoner releases were wrong. Although Trimble talked about principled compromise he made strategic compromises.

  • headmelter

    mick,

    GA did mention Israel. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was along the lines of how disgraceful the situation was and how he felt the free state govt should demonstrate some degree of opposition.
    There were also some Palastinian visitors and when GA welcomed them there was a huge round of applause.

  • maura

    While Adams talks of “strategic compromise” which is compromise for selfish reasons. He is not saying it is right thing to do for him to sign up to the PSNI but it might be in the self interests of his movement. ‘

    You make a good point slug. But in the context of policing, such a difficult decision for Republicans, it may have been a very smart choice of words. To say, for example, that we are to accept the PSNI, simply just to accept the PSNI, for me personally is not very convincing. I would simply ask, well why the hell would I do that.
    To suggest however, that by accepting the PSNI, I am moving the process forward, that my Republican ideals are not lost and will indeed be satisfied through some future compromise from the other side, makes the acceptance of same a bit easier to swallow.
    I think that’s what the whole conflict resolution approach is about, maye I am wrong in that. But it seems to me, that all of us have things to accept, that are hard to swallow, and whatever way we can get that done, we will be better off for it, whether it is through accepting things for what they are, or for what we can get from it.

  • slug

    Maura

    You can see that Adams does have a difficult situation regarding the vacuum. The focus on the IRA with the recent statements from PONeill and quarterly IMC reports means the IRA can’t do stuff anymore. And there is a vacuum on the ground that other republican groups could fill. However if the PSNI came in and filled that gap then the broad nationalist community would swing behind Adams on that but there would be a sizeable group of republican hardliners who could find it a step too far. Its a tricky problem for Adams, strangely enough it is vastly tricker than accepting the consent principle.

    What is needed is unionist pain, republicans seem not to notice their own (often very large) compromises if unionists seem to be squirming.

  • maura

    *What is needed is unionist pain, republicans seem not to notice their own (often very large) compromises if unionists seem to be squirming. *

    I think that works both ways slug, and that is because we are in the very early stages of conflict resolution. There definately is an essence of ‘look what we got them to agree to’on both sides,( just read these boards to see evidence of that) but I’d prefer a squirm to a bullet or bomb any day! 🙂

  • mickhall

    Cheers headmelter, good to here that, by the way that is a great handle.

    Mick

  • maura

    Mick,
    I have a good friend from Ramallah, who comes over to Republican occassions such as this, regularly. He was pleased at Adam’s speech. The Palestinian contingent were well received, as they always are.

  • Kathy_C

    Hi all,

    Today is tuesday and STILL STILL STILL no gerry adams copy of speech on the sf web page. Used to be, even in gerry’s books, everything he did was commented on-even when he went to the bathroom outside in the field at stormont-remember that one…how he talked about the steam coming up in the cold air….now on the 25th anniversary of the hunger strikers…sf for what ever reason won’t post what the pres. of sf had to say…and can’t say it’s because it’s summer…other things are being reported on the sf web page….what does it allllll mean? whatever the motivation- sf doesn’t want the world to know what he had to saY otherwise it would be out there in bold print….

  • Garibaldy

    Slug,

    I think that large numbers of nationalists – in fact the majority I suspect – are already happy to accept the PSNI. I think Orde has been very clever and savvy, and people do make distinctions between the ordinary police and special branch. Even PSF statements tend to do that in blaming the branch for what they call political policing rather than the PSNI as a while. The fact that most cops these days on ordinary jury look like they aren’t old enough to shave probably also helps people accpet them.

    On the point about the vacuum it would take something of the scale of the falls curfew or bloody sunday to gain them widespread acceptability, and I don’t think that will happen.

    Maura,

    I think the fact that 13 years after the first ceasefire you can say we are in the early stages of conflict resolution demonstrates how little effort has been made to reach out to people before now, and hence why people like me are somewhat wary of the sincerity of GA’s speech.
    I believe absolutely that PSF and especially its leadership are commited to the political process and are absolutely itching to get into government and will do what it takes in terms of compromise to get there.

  • maura

    Garibaldy,
    When I wrote about the early stages, the thought did occur to me that it is 13 years, and may seem like a long time.
    However, when we examine all the events that have taken place, breaking cease fires, the suspensions, the stops and starts, and the difficulty of the issues that have to be dealt with, I do think we are in the early stages in terms of issues to be settled. But I do take your point.

    I also believe that Republicans, on the whole, are ready to do what it takes to move forward, and shame on those who continue with the obstructions. I am not confident that your ítching’comment is not an attempt at being a bit condesending toward Republicans, if it is not I apologise. I think it is to our CREDIT that we are looking to move forward and willing to compromise, strategically or not; mores the pity others can’t and won’t do likewise.
    It amazes me that Sinn Fein are often sneered at ( I am not referring to you Garibaldy) for their willingness; it is a damned if they do, and damned if they don’t situation again. Without willingness, we can not tackle the issues that are so important to our society, and I think you and I agree that sectarianism is a vital issue. Without willingness we have nothing.

  • Garibaldy

    Maura,

    No desire to be condescending. More to indicate the eagerness of PSF to see the Assembly up and running. As I said above, I do think they are commited to the process, and moreover to the (relative anyway) normalisation of our society. You’re right to say the Provos can be damned if they do or damned if they don’t.

    Sectarianism is absolutely the key issue. Hopefully as this realisation spreads, programmes to address it can be implemented. One of my own personal favourites is the implementation of a French-style secular education system. What else do you think we can do?

  • slug

    Maura

    Its nice chatting to you, I have become a bit bored with a lot of the type of things written where people slag each other off (no names) and you seem to be above that.

    Anyhow I kind of recoiled at your “early stages” comment. However you may be right in terms of the on-the-ground attitudes that have to be changed.

    It seemed that we were actually going in reverse in the late 1990s and up to 2002 when we had things like the parades disputes, the Short Strand and the Holy Cross.

    Since then seems things are getting a bit less tense but if you measure the “end date” as being when the “peace walls” can come down then we are at least another 15 years away.

  • slug

    Garibaldy

    Well I am no fan of Adams but if he gets the republicans to swing behind policing and the physical force tradition is brought to closure then that is good and it seems he is the man to do it. I can’t see Mary Lou (or whoever takes over from him) having the authority to do that stuff. So its goo dif he’s doing it now.

  • maura

    ‘Sectarianism is absolutely the key issue. Hopefully as this realisation spreads, programmes to address it can be implemented. One of my own personal favourites is the implementation of a French-style secular education system. What else do you think we can do? ‘

    I agree with the secular education proposal wholeheartedly. I think that in order to tackle this scourge of sectarianism, we need political leadership. In fact, the politicians are our ‘servants’so to speak, and we should demand action from them. In a not joking manner, I have suggested that Sinn fein members of note, go and spectate at approved and agreed upon Orange parades- perhaps a less contentious one like that in Rossnowlagh! It would take great courage, but I think courage is what is needed.
    However, I think a good remedy would come from a bottom up approach. I think youth clubs, citizens groups, residents groups are the place to start. We need to reach the ordinary man ,woman and child. Visiting each others churches? History and politics taught outside schools in youth groups etc, with both sides being taught? Other solutions? Like you, I would be willing to listen to any.

  • maura

    Slug, thanks for the kind words. Quite often I think I am in way over my head on this board. I can be as petty as the next person, I suppose, but I think it is vital that we talk TO each other rather than AT each other. There are folks here, from both sides, that I no longer read, simply because they are not interested in dialogue, and dialogue is what we need.
    I am an unrepentant Republican and make no apologies for that, but I think the essence of that is that I practise what Republicanism actually is, and unfortunately, that seems lost on many of my own sometimes.
    We need to move forward, and I for one, am willing to do so. I believe, that on the whole, Sinn Fein have shown this same willingness.

  • Jo

    I have shaken GA’s hand. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I think I stammered: “You’re taller than I thought you would be.” he did grin and I’m sure it was sincere = sincere embarrassment lol

  • Garibaldy

    Maura,

    I agree that “civil society” is where the work has to be done. (On a side note, I think a lot of the discrimination pre-1969 in employment was in civil society, not the state, although it was obviously there too.) I really do think that each individual has responsibilities here.

    For me, we need to break away from the notion of two communities. There is one community in NI, even if it is divided. Politicians at the minute seek to represent only one side or the other. That needs to change. Confrontational rhetoric and actions that are highly irresponsible need to be removed. We saw the effects of it last September when Empey and Paisley played to the gallery. And we’ve seen it in several places over Orange marches. Things like colour parties with berets in flashpoint areas at PSF marches should be altered. A bit like the Brits moving to soft hats not helmets – it sends a message. Your Orange march idea is a good one.

    Obviously these are small scale, but they could help build credibility if politicians and groups with violent backgrounds lead the way.

  • maura

    Politicians at the minute seek to represent only one side or the other.’

    Back to strategy, and related to what you say here Garibaly.
    I have often thought and even argued that the best political move ( strategic) for Republicans is to give voice to the problems within the working class Unionist AND Nationalist areas, and as you say, represent them as ONE community- i.e. the disenfranchised within our societies.
    I think that the political party that makes that first step, is the party many of us will be looking to in the future for leadership. If they are ex paramilitary members, from whatever side, I am happy enough to go along with that, in fact, I really in my heart believe that we can’t move ahead politically without the inclusion of past paramilitaries.
    ‘Normal’societies and their politics are marked by levels of economc inclusion or whatever the term, that is the direction we need to go. Just my very humble opinion.

  • Pete Baker

    maura

    “To be suspicious of every word out of Adam’s mouth, is in its own way, YOUR strategy.”

    I look at all speeches from all politicians with an equally sceptical eye… and there’s plenty of evidence to confirm that here on Slugger.

    Without going into too much detail at this point, if you’ll allow me, the point on the ambiguity relates, in particular to the issue of policing – and Adams doesn’t make it clear that is the reference for a start.

    All involved parties and governments have made it clear, to a greater or lesser degree, that movement on policing by SF is expected, if not specifically required [and there’s more ambiguity in that], for the November deadline to be met.

    But the Irish and British governments, in particular, have held back on it being a requirement. That’s given Adams room this summer to present the case for such movement to his party.

    If he has chosen to present it in public as a ‘strategic compromise’, rather than as the appropriate and correct move to make at this time then it runs the risk, as I tried to indicate, of being seen by other observers as simply a continuation of the – by now almost traditional – ambiguity, a falling short of what is needed, in which The Process™ has floundered for at least 8 years.. if not the 13 years you mentioned.

    In those terms, adopting the role of thwarted peace-makers has its own – by now almost traditional – part to play in that presentation also.

  • Garibaldy

    Maura,

    I’m very interested in what you say. You mightn’t want to hear this, but it reminds me a lot of what The Workers’ Party has been saying for some time. Same with Adams’ speech about anti-sectarianism. Yet PSF was of course founded by those who rejected such thinking. I find it odd.

    Pete,

    Interesting point. I think there might well be something in what you say. PSF’s growth has been driven to a large extent by the massive amount of media coverage they’ve got as a result of decommissioning etc. Maybe policing is another way of staying of tv you’re thinking?

  • maura

    I look at all speeches from all politicians with an equally sceptical eye…’

    Maybe you need to be an optimist, like myself:-)
    I think that Adams does need room on the policing issue and I don’t really care a whit if it is presented in strategic compromise terms, or the right thing to do.
    let’s just get it done , eh?

  • maura

    Garibaly, I take your point about the ‘stickies’but it was and is a different time in history.
    I, among others, I am sure, wish and maybe even know ( in an honest moment), that the last 30 odd years could have been different, with some political leadership on all sides. But there wasn’t, it was a vast political vaccum. So the last 30 years, they are what they are, we can’t change that, and today is what it is! And tomorrow will be what we make it!

  • Garibaldy

    Maura,

    So you reckon the joke that was doing the rounds at the times of the ceasefire about the difference being 20 years might have an element of truth then.

    Tomorrow will be what we make it. I hope it is a genuinely shared future, though it’ll take hard work.

  • Tir Eoghain Gael

    Here, Here Maura

  • maura

    Garibaly, if you are referring to the ‘Sunningdale for slow learners” joke, no I don’t share that belief at all.
    I actually wrote my BA dissertation on that very topic, and found that the assertion could not be further from the truth.
    Key word: Inclusion!

  • Garibaldy

    what’s the difference between the sticks and the provos? 20 years.

    Davy Ervine referred to the Provo ceasefire as Carrickmore (where OIRA ceasefire announced) for slow learners

  • Garibaldy

    As for Sunningdale, were the Provos interested in politics at that stage? Not sure that they were, at least not the Belfast and over northern militants who would soon take over from the southern leadership, and who now form the leadership of PSF.

  • Kathy_C

    Hi all,

    Is there anyplace where I can read what g adams had to say….? I want to read it…and again I say it is strange that it isn’t on the sf web page…usually everything adams says is printed….

  • Garibaldy

    Why not email the Provos for a copy and see what happens?

  • Kathy_C

    Hi All,

    Garibaldy, do you have their email addy? Anyway,
    I would think that the provo’s right now aren’t too pleased with gerry adams…. and I would think many in sinn fein aren’t too pleased with gerry adams right about now…and I would think many republicans around the world aren’t too pleased with gerry adams right about now….all he is about is having the Irish give up….and letting the brits rule….oh yea….I forgot…he’s big into writing about how his urine made steam outside of Stormont. The strangest things fascinate him…and that he thinks the world cares about that….

  • Nevin

    Sadcasement Park, Sunday the Thirteeneth

    [i]Berry (2 Armaghians 11:27)

    5. So the people of Benevenagh believed Paisley, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

    6 For word came unto Gerry, the king of Benevenagh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in sashes.

    7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Benevenagh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:

    8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto Paisley: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

    9 Who can tell if Paisley will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

    10 And Paisley saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and Paisley repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.[/i]

    Here endeth the first lesson. Fasting is only good if you remember to stop.

  • Jo

    “History and politics taught outside schools in youth groups etc, with both sides being taught?”

    An excellent idea. Usually the groups associated with the NI learning centres are associated with older people, but the involvement of yourth groups would be a very good investment for the future.