Tie for a spot of masterly inactivity?

Ruth Dudley Edwards piece on what Hain and Ahern need to do from Sunday’s Independent is worth repeating in full (for those of you without registration), with no further comment from me:By Ruth Dudley Edwards

DERMOT AHERN, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is not one of my favourite people. But, being the nice person that I am, I had a flicker of sympathy for him when I heard him on Friday’s Morning Ireland being forced to pretend interest and optimism about the latest deadline in the Northern Ireland negotiations.

Never at the best of times particularly interested in the place, he’s supposed to engage in endless discussions and say pious things when his professional mind is on the intentions of the new Tanaiste, the implications of the latest public Kenny-Rabbitte love-in, and anything to do with next year’s election. No wonder that he sounds alternately bored and irascible.

Peter Hain, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, a seething perma-tanned mass of ambition, strives to keep his temper when he’s interviewed on the same subject. Apart from a vague antipathy to unionists, he has not the faintest interest in the place. It was a blow to him to get the job and it was a bigger blow to be kept there when he was hoping for promotion in the last reshuffle.

For a long time, Hain’s ambition has been to succeed John Prescott as Deputy Leader when Tony Blair is pushed out the door of Number 10. Hampered by geography, for the poor fellow – correction, sanctimonious apparatchik – is also Secretary of State for Wales, for a long time he has been sacrificing quality time with his family to trek around Britain courting the union vote. The Labour Party is now tearing itself apart and he needs to be in Westminster plotting vigorously. Instead, like Ahern, he’s supposed to be thinking of little night and day except how to persuade the DUP and Sinn Fein to do a deal on November 24.

It must be hell. As Cabinet rivals launch initiatives that relate to the lives of many of those who will be voting on the Deputy Leadership, Hain is stuck with an issue that is these days of profound uninterest to your average party member.

Actually, in truth, almost everyone involved in or observing the present round of negotiations in Northern Ireland is in a state close to catatonic boredom. I admit it: at present I’m one of them. I care a lot about Northern Ireland, I have followed its politics obsessively for more than 20 years, I am devoted to many of its people, but how many groundhog days can a person endure?

These days, as I conscientiously read the daily Northern Irish press coverage, sometimes I can’t even laugh when I read republican complaints that, by failing promptly to rescue an Irish-speaking cat from a tree, the PSNI have shown that they are brutes and bigots opposed to feline rights. The trouble is I’m having to drag my mind away from Darfur and Iraq and Iran and Afghanistan and British Muslim suicide bombers and Irish Muslim extremists and, in general, the threat to the world posed by ruthless Islamists and how sound Pope Benedict is on the subject.

(Incidentally, the best blog I’ve seen on this was: “Jeez these Muslims are a sensitive bunch. They go ape over a few cartoons earlier this year, torching everything in sight, and now they are upset about the Pope quoting from a 14th-century book. Those lads would want to relax and have a few beers or they’ll be in an early grave from high BP. Torch, Kinsale.”)

‘The DUP and Sinn Fein have much in common. The leadership of the two big parties want – at a time of their choosing – to split power, not share it’

Even Gerry Adams, who likes to give the impression that he really, really wants a deal, disappeared off to posture in Gaza and top-up his bank account speechifying in Las Vegas. As the American special envoy, Mitchell Reiss, remarked, rather than travelling overseas advocating dialogue, there might be something to be said for Adams actually concentrating on reaching a peace agreement at home.

But, in truth, Sinn Fein expect no deal in November. How can they? As long as they can get away with blaming deadlock on the Brits or the DUP, they won’t have to move sufficiently on policing or criminality or IRA dismantlement to allow Paisley room for manoeuvre. Rather than having the distraction of getting involved at this time in government in Northern Ireland, the Sinn Fein leadership would much rather be able to concentrate all their forces on the Irish general election. That’s why they deliberately wind up unionists at every opportunity.

Not that the DUP is very excited either.

The wagging fingers of Ahern and Hain threatening them with the end of the assembly, nasty rate rises and other punishments at home, as well as more cross-border initiatives, bother them not in the least.

If you don’t sign up in November, shout Ahern and Hain, there might be no movement until after a British general election in three years’ time. Most of the DUP shrug.

Like Sinn Fein, they know they benefit from standing up to those they call bullies, and that the more they delay, the more carrots they will be offered by government and the more dominant they will become in the larger constituency.

The DUP and Sinn Fein have much in common. While the SDLP, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Alliance are desperate to have power-sharing, the leadership of the two big parties want – at a time of their choosing – to split power, not share it. In this they are aided by Peter Hain’s plans for seven super-councils that will be a sectarian carve-up.

Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair, of course, do care about a settlement being reached as quickly as possible. Ahern needs it for electoral and Blair for legacy purposes, so you can bet they’re flogging Ahern (Dermot) and Hain to achieve a deal at any cost.

They met in some desperation on Friday, with little result.

It’s time the Northern Irish parties made their own nanny-free deals. Maybe it’s time Ahern and Blair recognised the need for a period of masterly inactivity.

  • Rory

    DERMOT AHERN, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is not one of my favourite people. Ruth Dudley Edwards.

    I expect that Mr Ahearn is very relieved indeed at this news as the alternative would surely mean the kiss of death.

    Apart from being not very nice to Gerry Adams (possibly another candidate for not being one of Ms Edward’s favourite people) and expressing annoyance at her involvement with Irish politics preventing her from solving the crises in Darfur and Afghanistan (she does not say if Osama bin Laden is a favourite person or not, but I think perhaps not) she doesn’t really say very much except that she really doesn’t know what is likely to happen up to and after November 24th.

    At last, something on which Ruth Dudley Edwards and I can agree. Sean O’Callaghan will be green with jealousy (I am after all so much more comely than he).

  • circles

    Good to see RDE perfectly expressing the boring and predictable nature of the peace process by writing this boring and predictable piece.

    Raging with myself though for actually reading it 🙁

  • kloot

    Apart from a vague antipathy to unionists, he has not the faintest interest in the place.

    Am, why, is there a queue of other labour cabinet members waiting in vain to take his position because of their over whelming interest in NI. Isnt it time that all of the NI parties were told to get over themselves.

  • Todd

    “Worth repeating in full” I don’t think so…

    The article has no worthwhile information whatsoever.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    The only reference I found in it to pique my interest was one to an Irish speaking cat being stuck up a tree.

    Isn’t it strange that the likes of Ruth Dudley Edwards who eloquently defended the cultural traditions of the Orange Order in her ‘Faithful Tribe’ hagiography but its quiet obvious that while she expects people to respect the Orange Order and their traditions, which are dominant in the North, she feels less inclined to defend the principle of mutual respect and cultural diversity when it comes to the Irish language in the north, as is obvious from the rather snooty tone of her reference in the Sunday Indo piece.

  • seabhac siulach

    “…the need for a period of masterly inactivity”

    Perhaps she should take her own advice and give the ‘writing’ a rest…

    Brilliant analysis of hers by the way, i.e., do nothing…amazing stuff…woman’s a genius, etc….

  • Hurler on the Pot

    I liked the speaking cat part, I love animals.

  • DK

    Well I found it interesting – the DUP and SF have no interest in a deal, just playing up to their various constituencies. Seems a fairly good summary.

    What I find annoying is all the posters who seem to have a personal grudge with the author (Ruth Dudley Edwards).

  • lib2016

    All that is needed to complete this article is an unattributed briefing from Intelligence sources that the cat has a republican background and is suspected of Al Quaida connections. Could the language have been REALLY Arabic, after all everyone not an Orangeman is a suspected terrorist?

  • worst joker

    Bah

    [Play the ball! – edited moderator]

  • OC – did you really read her “cat stuck up a tree” comment (possibly the best bit of the article) as an attack on the “principle of mutual respect and cultural diversity when it comes to the Irish language in the north”?

    I don’t think she was making a point about native or planted languages.

  • fair_deal

    Well 13 comments it it is pretty clear thet RDE is to Nationalists what Susan McKay is to Unionists.

  • OIlibhear Chromaill

    OC – did you really read her “cat stuck up a tree” comment (possibly the best bit of the article) as an attack on the “principle of mutual respect and cultural diversity when it comes to the Irish language in the north”?

    I don’t think she was making a point about native or planted languages.

    She probably wasn’t. She probably didn’t think at all about it. It was a gratuitious point which downplays a significant failing of the PSNI in that the police service is unable it seems to deal with the Irish language or culture in any way approaching modern standards regarding equality and diversity. But that thought didn’t occur to her because to her , it seems to be me from reading her material over the years, mutual respect is a one way street.

  • Dave

    Well said Ruth. The long and short of it is that nothing well be sorted by either governments. Only the people via their representatives can provide the solution. The trouble with RDE is that she tells the truth and some people can’t handle the truth.

    The 24th will be a historic day for all the people in Northern Ireland as I believe the unionists will provide a platform for SF/IRA to share power and administer Northern Ireland according to the will of the people

  • Billy

    Todd

    “Worth repeating in full” I don’t think so…

    “The article has no worthwhile information whatsoever”.

    Well Said!!

    This article is totally one dimensional and contains abslolutely nothing new. It simply confirms the prejudices of the author.

    So Peter Hain didn’t want the NI job. Exclusive!!
    As if anyone in the Labour party did want it (with the possible exception of the “totally impartial” Kate Hoey – fat chance). No ambitious talented politician ever wants the NI job – it’s the worst job in the govt.

    Any 10th rate hack could simply have read the NI papers for a week and then written this.

    I don’t think Ruth Dudley Edwards will ever have to make room in her home for a Pulitzer prize.

  • Rory

    she tells the truth and some people can’t handle the truth.

    Thank you, Dave. I’m a Jack Nicholson fan as well.

  • Question for the ages: Is Ruth’s cat’s Irish better than that of Gerry Adams?

    Ruth’s talking cat triggered the memory that there has been a cougar on the tear in Antrim for a couple of years now.

    Lady & Blue, Uncle Pat’s cougar hounds, haven’t had much to do since the state quit offering the bounty except tree the occasional Colville walking home after the big stick game in Inchelium each month.

    Just say the word and I’ll pack up ‘Ole Ticklicker and be there with the dogs in a flash. We can make a hellofa greater contribution to peace in the Six Counties of the Province than anything I’ve seen posted since I got back.

  • Southern Observer

    [i]The trouble with RDE is that she tells the truth and some people can’t handle the truth.[/i]
    She does alright along the lines of the ‘Ministry for Truth’ in George Orwell’s ‘1984’ which dealt with propaganda.The political philosophy of RDEism has developed a lexicon of its own whereby words are usurped by a presumptious and self-serving tendentiousness:
    ‘Truth’ -translation: whatever the RDEist worldview (mildly pro-unionist, virulently anti-nationalist)happens to be.
    ‘can’t handle the truth’ – translation: impudently seeks to question the RDEist paradigm.
    I actually used to be a Conor Cruise O’Brien- worshipping revisionist even to the extent of confronting Gerry Adams at a Dail by-election meeting.But my revisionism has been severely battered by 10 years of reading RDE.

  • Southern Observer

    [i]Well 13 comments it it is pretty clear thet RDE is to Nationalists what Susan McKay is to Unionists.[/i]
    Indeed there is not much love lost between the ladies in question,by all appearances.McKay,to be fair though,from what I’ve read, appears to dish it out fairly evenly to both sides.

  • BogExile

    ‘police service is unable it seems to deal with the Irish language or culture in any way approaching modern standards .’

    DIRELAND EXCLUSIVE

    PSNI announce new unit:

    Responsing to a deluge of complaints about out of control antisocial behaviour, the PSNI animal rights branch (nee special branch) has anounced the creation of a bi lingual feline intervention unit.

    Speaking to us exclusively from his pub chair, Inspector Jim Gnasher said:

    ‘According to this Sinn Fein press release I’ve been handed, the republican community want us to stop harrassing ordinary law abiding car jackers expressing their cultural pregferences and instead adopt a higher visibility police presence up trees (shurely swinging from them? Ed). Repeated investigations by the Police Ombudsmans office have revealed that in 97% of cases, the phrase ‘here kitty’ in either Gaelic or Ulster Scots (in parts of Tandragee)would have had a more satisfactory outcome. Me, I’d rather shoot the fuckers and learn Cantoneese.’

  • How much money should be spent on making the police speak a second language, when all of the people who speak that language already speak English? Next thing we’ll be wanting people cautioned in ulster scots.

    I’d rather they just arrested another few joyriders in ANY language, rather than wasting money on expensive but useless gestures!

  • terry tadpole

    RDE as usual talking through her sphincter – republicans dont want a deal??????

    Have a look at how nationalist majority councils run as opposed to those in the orange laagers.

    RDE get a bloody grip.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    How much money should be spent on making the police speak a second language, when all of the people who speak that language already speak English? Next thing we’ll be wanting people cautioned in ulster scots.

    I’d rather they just arrested another few joyriders in ANY language, rather than wasting money on expensive but useless gestures!

    Ignorance is bliss.

  • Mick Fealty

    Guys, just because I refrained from making comment on Ruth’s piece, does not mean that you have to do the same yourselves. In 23 responses I count about four sentences spent on what she actually wrote.

    D’oh! Now, what was that rule again?

  • “In 23 responses I count about four sentences spent on what she actually wrote.”

    And you have just masterfully summarized, Mick-san, what your readers think about it.

    “D’oh! Now, what was that rule again?”

    Ah…..,Er…., that man has no balls.

    So, whendoya want me to show up with Lady & Blue?