Oh God, please, not more ‘optics’…

ULSTER Unionists are supposed to feel right at home in a Big House, but I’m with Sir Reg (and Nigel Dodds) on the Government’s apparent ‘need’ to get away from Northern Ireland for negotiations in October. After all, the Agreement was worked out in Stormont and Castle Buildings, but the Leeds Castle talks were, largely, a failure in spite of the beautiful backdrop. The Government does this for different reasons, none of them particularly good.Sometimes a venue will be chosen for its symbolism, such as Lancaster House, but the main thinking is that by taking the parties out of Northern Ireland, they will be subject to less pressure from their home crowds. Leeds Castle also had the perceived advantage of a moat being able to keep the media at bay, and the mobile phone coverage was awful – yet this is not necessarily conducive to talks.

Hyping talks at a ‘Big House’ is also a way of raising public expectations, where there is no reason to, and I think this is why unionists are agin the idea; they don’t feel the hothouse pressure is useful nor do they feel there is there may necessarily be much progress.

Weston Park, Lancaster House and Leeds Castle were all aimed at moving political progress forward substantially, yet each delivered something much less. It would seem silly to try the same thing again and expect a different result.

  • Crataegus

    I recommend Skellig Michael and keep them there until they agree. With winter approaching it would certainly sharpen the wits. Birds of a feather as they say.

  • Greenflag

    I recommend Spitzbergen and keep them there whether they agree or not .

    ‘With winter approaching it would certainly sharpen the wits. ‘

    If any of these NI politicians had any more wit he/she would be a half wit 🙁

    Sir Regicide Empty got it right this time :)++

    ‘It would seem silly to try the same thing again and expect a different result.’

    This is what they have been at for 40 years more or less .

    A fair repartition is the way to go !

  • “After all, the Agreement was worked out in Stormont and Castle Buildings”

    Er, no. Try Number 10 and on Tonys’ 1997 Christmas holiday.

  • Pete Baker

    This isn’t that much of a surprise suggestion.. it had been hinted at, here on Slugger at least, in March.. although then it was as a possible alternative to the ongoing committees through the summer.

    Perhaps it’s better viewed as an acknowledgement that those committees haven’t provided the momentum the governments – if no-one else – had hoped for.

  • spice girl

    At first I thought that a new venue would be a total waste of money, but I coming around to the idea. A new venue, In in my opinion would increase publicity, optimism and most importantly pressure on the parties to actually come up with something. Take them out of their comfort zones, hype up the media that a breakthrough is upon us and see which party wants to let us down. Worst comes to the worst, the blame game will be great watching!!

  • Spice Girl

    That’s the idea, exactly. It just hasn’t ever worked!