St Andrews choreography stage-managed?

At least two separate reports both voice the same question about the “odd negotiations” that surrounded the governments’ St Andrews Agreement, and they both note Bob McCartney’s scepticism, for those who are interested – “What became very obvious on Friday was these negotiations were only a stage show; the deal was done before they arrived.”

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  • Dr Whatson

    No shit Sherlock..!

  • the other one

    read Martina Purdy on bbc online questionning how it all was put together so quick.

    easy it wasn’t

    for anyone who is interested check out the Comprehensive Agreement aka the Robinson/Adams deal.

    Just a neat case of cut and paste 5 mins on a laptop

  • Observer

    Very interesting article by Henry Mcdonald.

    It’s intriguing that Jim Allister seems to be opposed to it, and also that Mcartney thinks the deal was already arranged and St. Andrews was just a stage-show.

    Anyway, kewl stuff…. or something.

  • smcgiff

    Bob saw how the DUP benefited by being the doom mongers in 98. He will now hope to build on extreme unionism.

    I don’t expect it will as such, but it could split unionist votes, and aid the nationalist parties.

  • Alex Kane

    smcgiff:

    If being opposed to the contents and additions of the St. Andrews Agreement is the definition of “extreme unionism”, then I have suddenly become an extreme unionist.

    The DUP has squandered a huge opportunity to remedy the assorted defects of the Belfast Agreement (which I supported) and opted, instead, for an entirely self-serving, self-interested solution.

    A genuinely disappointing result.

    Probably won’t matter, though. If the Doc puts his imprimatur upon it he will be able to deliver it.

    Best wishes,

    Alex.

  • páid

    Alex,

    I think you’re on to something.

    The purpose of the ‘ST ANDREWS AGREEMENT’ in BLOCK CAPITALS behind Phoney Tony And Murky Bertie is to allow the DUP to say ‘Look we’ve replaced the Good Friday Agreement’.

    As I said before, the DUP , in the shape of Robbo, had to pretend not to want Plan A whilst really wanting it. Now they’ve got it.

    And the Shinners had to pretend to want Plan A whilst really wanting Plan B.

    The bad news for the DUP is SF will in fact get Plan B..and they will provoke the DUP into giving them it.

    Bob will help out on this one.

  • exuup

    Alex
    Would you care to expand on what issues the DUP failed on? What do you think the priorities should have been and were did they go wrong?

    Do you think there is any real division in the DUP over this agreement?

  • egroeg

    Will the “St Andrews Agreement” go down in history as another case of The “Emperor’s new clothes,” The scoundrels in the plot being Phoney Tony And Murky Bertie. and all the citizens will be so delighted that devolution is up and running again they cannot see the hanky panky chicanery,

    Only Bob McCartney’s scepticism is the little boy in the story who can see the Emperor ( Dr Paisley’) in his true nakedness.

  • Pat

    How is Papa Doc going to sell this agreement to the Unionist people given today’s Sunday World claims that the IRA are still paying their volunteers?

    Mr Paisley did state on TV that he wanted the IRA to hand back all “Ill gotten gains”, if he then goes to the people asking them to endorse his bid for power with reports like today’s will he get that endorsement, will he survive the Lundy cat calls?

    On another point the DUP insisted that an agreement to retain the 11+ had to be in the deal or they would walk, why would the Unionists of the Shankill and other areas, which are said to be the lowest in academical achievement, want to back something which is clearly going to keep the vast majority of them in their lower working class place and ensure that the middle/upper class DUP members enjoy the fruits?

    Do the Unionist people not realise that they will now have to put their hands deeper into their pockets in order to finance the rates reductions for those dwelling in the top 3% of the housing market, i.e. Paisley’s new Multi-Million pound pad.

    But then if their levels of educational achievement are corerect then they surely will vote the way they are told!

  • On the education thing, if only a miniscule percentage of schoolkids from the Shankill are “passing” their 11+, then the problem clearly does not lie in the secondary sector.

    It looks like the primary school age range is where effort needs to be focused. That’s where the system seems to be breaking down!

  • Rubicon

    Pat – the Doc isn’t likely to opt for a popularity contest while he gets the wet fish out to deal with his dissenters – is he? He may have developed the political apprenticeship in snowball-throwing … but those who passed with flying colours could have a difficult job finding ground to the right of the Doc.

    Then again, judgement isn’t a skill required for throwing snowballs. I thought lemmings had jumped off the cliff with the UUP/PUP/UVF pact – but, if more want to volunteer – why would the Doc (or anyone) want to stop them?

    On education – look at the small print and unionist paranoia. The new minister will lead the charge to any change (if we get one). The DUP have first choice of portfolio – will they choose education? I think not.

    The UUP screwed up their nominations – but they too seem keen to chase a hare …

  • Crataegus

    If we have to go to Scotland to ratify something already agreed it bodes ill for the future prudent governance of NI. It tells us that ensuring personal loss of face does not happen is all important.

    Also I would be less than confident of Republican intentions to make this place work successfully seeing the mission of a United Ireland as work in hand and the governance of NI as secondary. In that context a sensible approach by Unionists towards North South cooperation and bodies becomes difficult if not impossible. I could be very wrong but I just don’t see the political class in NI as having either the skills necessary or indeed the character to make any such deal work effectively. A bunch of pampered poodles. I hope I am wrong.

  • JR

    Pat wrote: “Do the Unionist people not realise that they will now have to put their hands deeper into their pockets in order to finance the rates reductions for those dwelling in the top 3% of the housing market, i.e. Paisley’s new Multi-Million pound pad.”

    Where is this new pad Pat? Surely, it would be Anti-Christian to have such an expensive house while others are living in poverty on the streets!!

  • Marcus Aurelius

    JR

    The purchase of this apartment was reported a few weeks ago, I can’t remeber exactly where but it’s in one of the more pleasant (and expensive ) North Antrim coastal resorts.

    It wasn’t multi-million but I think it cost around 400k. It’s officially owned by the Free Presbyterian Church but is to be used by Paisley and his wife for the remaininder of their live(s).

  • Butterknife

    So Jim Allister QC MEP is to the DUP what Jeffrey Donaldson once was to the UUP?

  • Billy

    Butterknife

    An interesting conjecture. It is very clear that Jim Allister is far from happy and he has a reasonable amount of support among the DUP fundamentalists.

    However, I think Paisley has enough of a grip on his party to deliver the majority of them.

    I wonder where Jim Allister et al can go now. It makes a real change to have other Unionists accusing Paisley of being a Lundy – are we going to have a breakaway (very small) extreme Unionist party?

  • egroeg

    The new apartment bought by the Free P Church for the retirement of Dr Paisley and his wife is situated in a Crawfordsburn Country Park enclosure, Co Down. All homes, owned by religious organisations lived in by practising and retired clergymen, priests or nuns etc are exempt from rates.

  • pith

    Allister versus McCartney for the soul of “traditional unionism”? My money’s on Allister to win that ghost.

  • Paul P

    Surely Allister is more wily than to split from Paisley.

    Look at McCartney’s record. He doesn’t seem to be able to get on with anybody.But he does come across well on the media, could do damage at an election/referendum.

  • exuup

    this from the irish news :
    MEP Jim Allister, who was not part of the DUP’s St An-drews delegation, said he did not wish to comment on the outcome of the talks until he had reviewed the proposals.

    “Like any sensible person I will reserve judgement until some matters are thrashed out,” he said.

    “There are issues about delivery, issues about the future shape of devolution.”

    But he said he welcomed some of the proposals, particularly the suggestion that academic selection would only be abolished with the ag-reement of a future assembly.

    “I am happy about that,” Mr Allister said.

    “The attainment of a rates cap is good for those who are going to be bled dry with excessive rates, as is the decision to revisit the review of public administration.

    “At the end of the day the big issues are delivery issues and some people have a long way to go.

    hardly sounds like Allister is about to walk over this agreement

  • Billy

    Paul P

    I agree – can’t see Allister splitting from the DUP while Paisley’s around. Might be a different matter when Paisley goes and Robinson is in the frame. Robinson is not a Free Presbyterian and his power base is in Belfast – not the rural areas of North Antrim where Allister is popular.

    McCartney is excellent on the media and obviously highly intelligent. However, he does seem a bit arrogant even on TV. I have a friend who was in the UKUP and he said that McCartney
    is incredibly arrogant in private.

    I guess that’s why he’s pretty much reduced to being a one man band. I think he could get some votes in an election/referendum but to be of any practical assistance to “anti-agreement” unionism, he’d have to learn to co-operate with others – I’m not sure that he could do that.

  • egroeg

    David Trimble & John Hume received the Nobel Peace Prize for signing the GFA.
    I wonder what Gerry and big Ian will receive for signing the ‘St Andrew’s Agreement’

    Will it be: ‘The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick’ for services to dear old Ireland . oops, and Ulster as well.

    http://www.medals.org.uk/united-kingdom/united-kingdom007.htm

  • interested

    Jim Allister is not the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson – there was no walkouts from anyone in the DUP group. There is no serious dissent amongst the ranks, despite what people here have tried to claim.

    As for Bob – he couldnt mount a serious opposition even if he wanted to. He cant get people to coalesce around him because after 5 minutes he’ll fall out with them. Ironic that Bob doesnt deal too well with dissent isn’t it….

  • Butterknife

    What interesting times we live in.

    There was a hypothesis that Paisleyism and the pluralist politics that the young turks brought with them from the UUP ship to Robinson’s camp would cause a split but it appears that this may not be the case. Its more likely to be between the QC and the red beret.

    If it true that Paisley will have a retirement home bought under trust by his church as a way to avoid tax then this will not go down well if he becomes first minister aka Prime Minister ‘Ulster is at a crossroads’ Paisley née Terence O’Neill. Is this not a massive sell out by Paisley when you consider what O’Neill tried to do in the 1960’s, when only the SDLP were the ‘enemy’, and how Paisley used his charisma to influence others, and now that his politicking has been tempered by age?

    Friday the 13th is unlucky for some – I believe history will not be kind to this man.

  • Observer

    To be honest I too can’t see any big name in the DUP actually splitting from the party in the near future, especially Allister.

    A lot of the dissent in the party over the St. Andrews agreement might well go on in private, I mean, surely they’re conscious of how fragmentation damaged the UUP.

    The majority of the opposition to this deal will probably come from the cross-eyed jesus adorers, I’m sure almost everybody else in the party has the good sense to recognize this as a good deal (including Ian Paisley).

    For them the issue wont be whether the agreement is suitable or not, but whether they can bring their people with them if they assent to it.

  • Ziznivy

    Anywhere else the prospect of a government headed by Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness would be a cue for mass alarm. Here we laud it as a great step forward.

  • fudgecooking

    Well I remember back around 1999/2000 when the Assembly was up and running, McCartney practially lived in the DUP offices, he couldn’t get enough of them whereas they just seemed to tolerate him. How things have changed.

  • Butterknife

    I agree. How this must look to the outsiders must be weird. After all the two names are just two sides of the same coin. But these are the peoples’ choice?
    With reflection on the Paisley retirement home being rates free – this has to be bogus, as a charity for the advancement of religion has to be exclusively charitable and in no way could they justify this for him!
    I am starting a book on whether the debate on MLA pensions etc will come after or before a debate on academic selection and rates. Any takers?

  • Observer

    It probably would seem weird, but I think the knee-jerk reaction would actually be that it’s a great step forward as well, what with the prospect of the two polar-opposites actually doing a deal.

    I agree that history probably wont judge Paisley kindly, there’s two much of a pattern of populism and opportunism in his career. He’s consistently been readily on hand to turn compromise into betrayal and change into defeat. I guess he’s always been a vociferous preacher before being an actual politician.

  • Jonas Hanway

    “…there’s two much of a pattern of populism and opportunism…”

    So true and IMO, this extends not just to personalities but to parties as well. THe DUP/SF U-turns were never eally in doubt; it was really just a case of when it could be sold.

  • Yokel

    Butterknife are you trying to persuade other people of yoru case or yourself?

  • egroeg

    “With reflection on the Paisley retirement home being rates free – this has to be bogus, as a charity for the advancement of religion has to be exclusively charitable and in no way could they justify this for him!”

    Bogus it is not, DR Ian Paisley is the moderator of the Free Presbyterian church. The home he lives in at present is judged as a manse and is owned by the church. He has never paid rates neither has Singing Willy McCrea who lives in another Free P manse. When they and all other Free P Ministers retire the Church buys them homes to live in for the rest of their lives for their service to Free Presbyterianism.

    The Free P Church has charitable status as has all other registered religious organisations. in Northern Ireland.

    Dr Paisley and the Rev Willy McCrea may be both Millionaires, but I can assure you they never will have to pay rates so long as they continue to live in property that is owned by the Free P Church.

  • Mark

    Could Allister have been assigned the role of lightening rod to ensure that internal dissent in the DUP can be managed/extinguished internally rather than centred on an external uncontrollable voice like Bob?

    Stage managed dissent?

  • Butterknife

    Yokel i was trying to do both lol
    As far as i am aware of, Paisley’s doctorate is honorary and was bestowed on him by a bigoted university in a southern state in USA. Even though some may claim that the UK is the 51st state but to me a US degree does not entitled a UK citizen to be called ‘DR’ – Please feel free to correct me.
    I suppose I cannot fault the Free Presbyterians for playing the system. Its immoral though, and I am sure their God will judge them accordingly.

  • Butterknife

    No Mark. The more fundamentalist the party the more care you have to be to tell others that you intend to play this game in case the grassroots do something silly. I always wondered why he was put as far as possible from the action tho. After all i would have thought as MEP he would have a better right than others to be there as Peace Fund comes from the EU etc and the Belfast Agreement #2 or whatever the spin is will affect it.

  • Paul P

    “After all the two names(MM and IP) are just two sides of the same coin.”

    Paisley may have wrongly flirted with loyalist groups for his own political ends(according to Reg Empy all unionist parties did) but he cannot be likened to an IRA Godfather no matter how you spin it.

    Paisley was wrong not to share power with constitutional nationalists. But he was right not to share power with SF until they accepted British law and justice in Northern Ireland. They have yet to prove that they will and he ahs yet to prove he will share power with SF.

  • darth rumsfeld

    So let’s look at what exactly has been achieved by the DUP.

    First, and most important, it has not been left with the parcel when the process collapsed. This was the key factor in Trimble’s “strategy” from 1996 onwards. Rule 1 was always “Don’t get the blame”. Result

    Secondly, it has pushed back the effective date for coalition with the Shinners another four months- and that’s plenty of time for events and to allow any strains in the Shinners to progress.Result

    Thirdly, the first party to have to endure pain will be the Shinners on the issue of police. Since it is an unwritten rule of our political hacks that they never peer too closely into the bowels of republicanism noone really knows what opposition , if any, is brewing. Result again.

    Fourthly, the DUP has won the battle within Unionism. Of course all the concessions on rates, schools etc were only giving back what was taken away to pressurise middle-class Unionism in the first place. But our precious garden centre Prods will be forced to say through gritted teeth “Thank God for Dr Paisley” like a newly-minted Free P. Reg had better hope it’s a referendum, not an election that is employed to endorse this scheme. Result.

    Fifthly, there has been some tinkering with the architecture of the Agreement which will make it more acceptable to cynical Unionism.

    In short, the DUP has managed to negotiate the Agreement much more effectively than the UUP did.

    That of course is the problem.

    Many people in the NO camp wanted an agreement, just not the one that came about in 1998. But many more wanted to keep Sinn Fein out of power, and voted DUP to prevent an administration being formed. They are not going to be placated by the spin from the children who sit at the feet of Peter Robinson that great things have been achieved by Punt’s negotiaton. They may just tolerate the new agreement if there are signs that SF are under the greater pressure. But they endorsed Jeffrey Donaldson’s opposition to Gerry Kelly as Minister for Policing and McGuinnes in education, and won’t change their view -because they don’t want an ex(?)-terrorist about the place. They won’t vote for DUP candidates who try to sell this at an Assembly election- they won’t vote at all. And so Trimble’s other key aim – to increase Unionist voter turnout-will fail.

    Paisley must know this. He will know that the Shinners will want to collapse the executive as soon as the RoI election is out of the way, in the hope that with an increased mandate they will be in or close to the Irish Government that gets to implement Plan B. He has to prepare an exit strategy that will again leave them clearly to blame for the collapse, that will restore his reputation with anti-Agreement Unionists, and that will still give him leverage with Blair/Brown to have another round of negotiations next year.

    So both the Shinners and the DUP will want to bring the executive down ASAP. And thus the seeds for the death of the Agreement Mark 2 are waiting germination.

    Hence the Agreement will die, sooner or later, but with it may die too many of the core values of Unionism (and of course republicanism too,but that’s not my concern)to fully recover . But playing it long is a new type of politics that most Unionists are ill prepared for. It might well be safer to provoke the confrontation over plan b sooner rather than later. Jim Allister obviously understands this- I’m not sure many others in the DUP leadership always do.

  • Butterknife

    Paul, just for one minute pretend that we are neither protestant nor catholic. What do the facts tell us?
    Who went to jail? Who brandished shot gun licenses etc. Who was the figurehead for sectarianism in this polarised country (sic)? If you believe in the rule of law then you have to accept it in its entirety. MM may have been a IRA Godfather but were charges brought? Was he convicted? A man is innocent until proved guilty. I may find this disagreement but we cannot have one rule for orange and another for green

  • pith

    Why the shift from DUP contributors from straightforward sycophancy to denial of any dissent within their ranks?

  • Very interesting analysis Darth. More of it welcome.

  • Interestedobserver

    Interesting post Darth but what if you take a different angle and break unionism down into the yes and no camps for this agreement.

    The yes camp includes a sizeable portion of the DUP, Robinsons lot and if Paisley endorses it then all of his lots. The UUP will support it when they swallow their pride and the PUP supports it.

    In the no camp, it seems to be McCartney, Allister and the more fundamentalist wing. Although interestingly Peter Weir also seems to be in this camp from reports.

    Now if the yes camp gang together, maybe even form their own group thats the vast majority of unionist backing it.

    This is all pure speculation of course but worth considering I think.

  • darth rumsfeld

    shucks watchman
    I’m blushing now.

    What I can’t understand is the UUP tactics, yet again. Either Reg suspected that there was a pre-cooked deal, or thought the talks were doomed to failure. Either way the safe option was to go to Paisley and say “In the interests of Unionism we will back you 100%”.
    Instead we’re back to the sniping and attempting to criticise what is unquestionably a better position than when the UUP was deposed as lead Unionist negotiator. There are clearly people within the Unionist community who only care about their rates, or their grammar schools- and they will be grateful for the results the DUP has delivered. In the entirely unscientific forum that is Talkback this morning there were far more West Belfast republicans complaining that Adams had sold out on policing than Ballymena Unionists.
    Equally there are many old-style Paisleyites who are confused and maybe worse. But they only hold sway in a few areas now- particularly Mid Ulster, and other parts West of the Bann. And if Willie McCrea thinks he can lead the rearguard he need only remember William Beattie and Ivan Foster. The sad fact is that east of the Bann is always the place that counts for Unionism, and it is not going to rock the boat.
    So Reg is going to say little- though he can’t stop bleating from the wetter than wet McFarland/Nesbitt types, whose predictions that this is worse than their perfect Agreement are beyond risible. He’ll wait for a split within the DUP which won’t come while the DUP continue to eat into his core vote, and the true rejectionist Unionists will simply stop voting. Of course the next assembly election was due to take place in May 2007 anyway, when a large abstention within Unionism could mean a SF first minister- so the Doc will use this to scare out the vote as he has done countless times before, and the disillusioned will reluctantly vote DUP yet again while Reg’s demoralised troops are swept away

  • páid

    Might not agree with your politics, DR, but agree again with your synopsis.

    It’s like a marriage between Boris Johnson and Sinéad O’Connor. You’d wonder how they managed it, and either of them can end it any time they like by just reverting to form.
    And it will surely suit one of them to end it, before long.

    Plan B will come, dripping slow greenery, and largesse to the Prod nasties.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “In the no camp, it seems to be McCartney, Allister and the more fundamentalist wing”

    …and me BTW!

  • Butterknife

    I fancy the pants off Sinéad O’Connor – even when she was loopy!

  • interestedobserver

    why are u going with the no camp then Darth?

  • Paul P

    Darth, if you were Paisley what would you have done?

    Question asked without any antagonism at all as some of us have trailed through the posts looking for your response to the StAA.

  • George

    Reading this thread, it would seem that the no camp within unionism now comprises a potential splinter group within the DUP. Compare this to the power of the no group to the Anglo-Irish Agreement 20 years ago.

    Dissident republicans are in equal strength.

    Game, set and match for the orderly transition brigade who put together the GFA.

    As for the agreement dying, the only part that might die is the strand that was up for discussion in St. Andrews.

    If there is no Executive, the world will continue to turn and nobody will care because this strand only affects Northern Ireland.

    The parties realise this so have to deal or be shut out of the one little bit of power they yield.

    The relationship between Britain and Ireland is what matters here, applying the poultice to suck out the decades/centuries of poison, thus creating a new and prosperous dynamic on these islands.

  • james orr

    For what it’s worth….

    Even if SF and the DUP didn’t have the deal done before they arrived at St Andrews, the 2 govts certainly did.

    The visual signal of Blair and Ahern standing in front of a huge portrait of King James VI of Scotland (and eventually I of England) was overt. James started it all by authorising large numbers of Scots to settle in Ulster in 1606- Blair and Bertie want to wrap it all up in 2006.

    The UK Govt knows full well that every big idea needs an exciting attention-grabbing launch event. The rising public opposition to the rates issue (ably stoked on-cue by the BBC public debate at the Ulster Hall), the “is it on / is it off” tension and media speculation of the past week, climaxing with a “they’ve done it!” has firmly planted the big idea in the heads of the public.

    The drama of the build up was low-level marketing par excellence, and, taking the parties out of NI to a secluded location was all part of the packaging.

    Stage One has been very well handled.

    Stage Two – the managing of public opinion (by removing the fabricated crises of 11+, rates etc) is now underway. The sorting out of these issues will guarantee that the middle ground support the StAA. (Whether they’ll bother their arses coming out to vote for it, or even if they’ll be able to stomach voting DUP in any election is an interesting one – that’s the DUP challenge for the next few months.)

    Stage Three will be the buildup to, and potential fallout from, the appointments of FM and DFM.

    Any dissent from within Unionism will cause only a few ripples. Nationalism will support the StAA. If we get through Nov 10, Nov 24 and eventually to March with Paisley still on board, it’ll be game set and match.

  • bertie

    Darth as someone who has not yet decided I would be really interested in your views.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Well it’s certainly an interesting turn of events I must say. I was actually pretty pessimistic about the odds for a deal so it’s a good surprise at least.

    Not a good deal though really, very little if anything has been delivered by the DUP. I am genuinely surprised I thought Tim & Richard et al would do much better than this. You disappointed me guys I expected way more. Personally I would be hesitant to support this deal as it stands. So let’s look at Darths attempt to shill for a bad deal.

    “First, and most important, it has not been left with the parcel when the process collapsed. This was the key factor in Trimble’s “strategy” from 1996 onwards. Rule 1 was always “Don’t get the blame”. Result “
    So the big result here is that Trimble’s rule one has now been adopted in Toto by the DUP waahey major result!

    “Secondly, it has pushed back the effective date for coalition with the Shinners another four months- and that’s plenty of time for events and to allow any strains in the Shinners to progress. Result “
    You’re not serious! 4 months is a wholly inadequate time to check Sinn Fein’s bona fides. It’s a pretty poor result and smacks less of bona fides testing and more of preparing the base for that throat choking piece of humble pie they will need to eat between now and march 2007. Happy munching boys.

    “Thirdly, the first party to have to endure pain will be the Shinners on the issue of police. Since it is an unwritten rule of our political hacks that they never peer too closely into the bowels of republicanism no one really knows what opposition, if any, is brewing. Result again.”
    Balls. The republican base has already got there. Look at their behavior towards the police these last months and the moves to beginning working with them. Adams talks to Chief Con even the restorative programs were getting ready to involve the peelers. There was never any doubt that the Shinners were going to do this. The DUP have watched snow melt and then claimed they delivered the water.

    “Fourthly, the DUP has won the battle within Unionism. Of course all the concessions on rates, schools etc were only giving back what was taken away to pressurise middle-class Unionism in the first place. But our precious garden centre Prods will be forced to say through gritted teeth “Thank God for Dr Paisley” like a newly-minted Free P. Reg had better hope it’s a referendum, not an election that is employed to endorse this scheme. Result. “
    Oh raise the roof the DUP got a pot of money for their trouble. Not to be a naysayer but around 50% of the province actually ended up better off with the new rates system so the cap will most likely lead to increase for them. Great Result. The academic selection issue will be back around don’t you worry this is far from ended. Besides isn’t this supposed to be about great issues of unionism? When did the big objective become saving the 11 plus and capping the rates? Sure it’s a nice brown envelope for some people I suppose but taking it that’s the result? Won the battle in unionism? Right. True the UUP is on life support and keeps trying to pull its own plug out so the electoral landscape favors the DUP ok. Don’t see this as the result of this agreement though really. The battle was kind of won by claiming a ‘fair deal’ was on its way this is simply 95% of the Belfast Agreement with a nice pretty new coat of polish on it. I am glad to see the agreement finally getting implemented but then I believed in it and supported it from the start. How exactly is you guys moving to now share my position a major result for the DUP?

    “Fifthly, there has been some tinkering with the architecture of the Agreement which will make it more acceptable to cynical Unionism.”
    Oh yes major changes. Ministers are now super accountable because, wait for it, the de facto ministerial code of conduct will now also be de jure. Phew that’s a relief. Oh yes and now the FM and DFM don’t have to get elected in the Assembly anymore. Get enough seats and your it. Removing a piece of democracy from the Assembly, result.
    (cont)

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    cont from above)
    In short, the DUP has managed to negotiate the Agreement much more effectively than the UUP did.

    Interesting hypothesis lets look at that one. What did the DUP now deliver that the UUP did not for all those years. Well NIHRC to get major new powers for Monica to play with, the security services effective capacity in the Province reduced to allow PSNI involvement (i.e. local minister interference becomes possible), A forum for the bill of rights, so that’s now back to life again, an Irish language act, can’t wait to see those Irish language street signs in Antrim, or the nice Irish language electoral forms and benefit forms, I wonder what Hansard will look like in Irish when all the Assembly documents get produced in Irish as well as English? Oh yes we get Ulster Scots but wait a minute its total bollocks, the Shinners don’t care about Ulster Scots it’s the Britishness they want to expunge and look how British the province will now seem with these two slightly differing forms of Gaelic language being replicated in all official documents and public places.

    So what other results did we get, oh yes, a review on parading. Wonder how that will turn out. Of course ex prisoners will now find it easier to get employment and EU citizens can become members of the British Civil Service, hey wait a minute the Republic is an EU nation so they will all now get the chance to become members of the NI civil service and run the government for us, wow real result. Of course there is one victory right the hated Patten 50/50 rule is no more it will be swept away, oh yes once of course the Patten commission target of 29-33% is met, the time span of the 50/50 rule for this target in the Patten report (p.83, 14.9) was of course based on how long it was assumed it would take to meet it at that recruitment rate i.e. 10 years. So the big result here is that if the PSNI is more successful at getting to the 29-33% target in fewer than 10 years the 50/50 rules goes rather than just going at 10 years as was suggested in the report. One question though if the target is not met within 10 years does the new St Andrews agreement mean the time period would be extended? I wonder how this could be interpreted.

    All in all a result unionism can be very proud. Well at least i suppose those of us who had the foresight to see this play out from our position 8 years ago. its not sunningdale for slow learners (mind my non pc turn of phrase)its the Belfast Agreement for the ‘Special’ Kids.

  • Sean

    Will Jeffers walk out again? As sure as there’s shit on a dog its the same agreement. SF were always going to sign up to policing it was just a matter of time. It’s no big deal to them cause Gerry will be Minister for Justice anyway.

    Powersharing was the big issue..never never etc and the DUP’s are going to have to go back on their word to the electorate. Bob Mc is now the only legal (oop’s) extreme unionist party now. Pending the DUP’s handling of this Bob may just see a wee increase throughout this bally go backward province, if he were to get his act together before March 07. But there again we’re talking about Bob. I think he’s too vain to form a party. Me Fein.

    Shinners would have been happy with joint authority as a plan B for the meantime. It will be interesting to see how Unionism handles this.

  • unionist

    Jeffrey was just on UTVs insight, he was looking quite flapped and almost a bit grey looking. The pressure is starting.

  • slug

    Darth

    “when a large abstention within Unionism could mean a SF first minister- so the Doc will use this to scare out the vote as he has done countless times before, and the disillusioned will reluctantly vote DUP yet again while Reg’s demoralised troops are swept away”

    Did you miss the part of the StAA which said that the FM will always come from the largest party in the largest designation, rather than simply from the largest party?

    Makes me wonder if you actually read the thing….:)

  • Paul P

    “Jeffrey was just on UTVs insight, he was looking quite flapped and almost a bit grey looking. The pressure is starting.” Unionist 8.50pm

    Nonsense- Alan McFarland slipped up more than once. He conceded that the UUP would probably end up supporting the StAA “after consulting their people” (LOL) and also said that the StAA was a “new deal”.

    It’s hardly a “new deal” but I’m sure the DUP will be glad of it being advertised as such by Mr McFarland.

  • páid

    DSD’s position that the SAA is not a whole lot different from the GFA is basically correct IMO. It is an uncomfortable fact that Folk, even guid UP folk, are slowly coming to terms with the new agenda.

    What was totally unacceptable 2 years ago, is now just about OK, the sky having not fallen in in the mean time. The difference is that SF have moved their people to the centre without splitting. The Unionists have moved as much, but it has taken a transfer of party to do it.

    All UK Unionist parties outside of England are in trouble. The splitting, and shifting, and changes of leadership cannot mask the fact that the UK’s days are numbered.

    And No, I don’t think a UI is around the corner.

    NB Duncan, Ulster Scots is a Teutonic language, not a version of Gaelic. Ya wee dafty 😉

  • Rubicon

    Has anyone noticed the apparent confusion in the SAA between the “Preparation for Government Committee” and the “Programme for Government Committee”? Both have the acronym PfG – but the confusion points to a hastily drafted document or “spin” agreed to by SF and the DUP.

    Take a look at the conclusion to the main text where the “Programme for Government Committee” first appears. It reads,

    Following endorsement of the St Andrews agreement by the parties the Assembly will meet to nominate the First and Deputy First Minister on 24 November. Between that date and restoration of the Executive on 26 March the new Programme for Government Committee will agree all the necessary arrangements relating to ministerial responsibilities, ensuring that d’Hondt can be run and the Executive can operate immediately.

    Assuming the NIO know the grammatical rules of English (perhaps a brave assumption) it would be reasonable to infer that the Programme for Government Committee could be formed after 24 November. The programme for government is an executive responsibility and this committee would be the ‘executive in waiting’. Even the most optimistic of souls wouldn’t conclude that we’re at that point yet.

    BUT – take a look at Annex D that specifies the timetable. For 17 October it reads,

    New Programme for Government Committee begins regular meetings to agree priorities for new Executive, with parties represented at leadership level.

    Call me an anorak – but this inconsistency is important. How can you have the executive in waiting before the conditions for forming the executive have been put in place? Is this a deliberate attempt to suggest the existence of agreement to form an executive?

    Within hours the DUP and SF are to be sitting down and agreeing the executive programme (with the UUP and SDLP – but not the APNI)? Will Mr Berry be back in the DUP by dawn (to return the DUP d’Hondt position) – or what is the party representation for this new committee?

    More importantly, have the DUP and SF agreed to work together from tomorrow in drafting the executive programme – BEFORE the conditions they required have been set in place?

  • Rubicon

    PS – Sorry for the italics .

    [So you should be – Ed]

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    pid,

    I stand corrected. I was unaware that Ulster Scots was a teutonic language. However it doesn’t really change my main point which is that spending public money on keeping alive a dead language for a tiny minority who are interested is a load of bollocks and has bugger all to do with the protection or continuation of the union.

  • Billy

    Duncan

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m actually from the nationalist side of the fence but it angers me to see the amount of public money that is, in my opinion, totally wasted on both Irish and Ulster Scots.

    If enthusiasts of these languages want to try and sustain them – that’s fine. However, they should do so in their own time with their own money.

    Taxpayer’s money should be spent on the NHS, Transport infrastructure etc and give real tangible benefits to the public.

  • darth rumsfeld

    … and lo from the high and mighty place that is the University of south -west Alabamy, or some such faraway place of which we know nothing spake Duncan , and the earth did tremble (with laughter-it’s almost like he’s back in the Assembly-emphasise on the first syllable)

    Duncan’s brief political career was based on complaints that the UUP weren’t moving the Belfast Agreement fast enough. No complaints, no criticisms, no obvious explanation as to why someone who claimed to vote NO (so much for “but then I believed in it and supported it from the start”) was now criticising his party for not surrendering quickly enough.

    So perhaps not the most impressive track record there. But now he’s able to summon up all the bombast of the vindicated sinner by saying “You sanctimonious DUPers are really just as bad as us”. Some moral dunghill to stand on. It’s like watching tank commander McFarland’s feeble attempts to pretend that the UUP might reject the deal because of all those things you list in your post.

    The UUP will sign up to absolutely anything that gives it the chance of a few assembly seats and a couple of ministries for one reason only- self preservation. And that’s because when it listened to “visionaries” like you it lost its values and principles and became unfit for purpose.

    But I’ll spell it out more clearly , since he’s obviously having trouble following the points. Yes, St Andrews was noteworthy for the DUP- and sorry Dunc, that means Unionism for the foreseeable future-living to fight for another day. I don’t believe they “won big” as Dodds claimed- but they definitely didn’t lose in that they weren’t left holding the dirty end of the stick . Hence they achieved more than Dunc’s mates at Weston Park (which he endorsed)or at Lancaster House or a hundred other negotiations.I am prepared to extend to them limited praise for that achievement. Of course, as an opponent of the first Agreement, if they succumb to Duncanesque poverty of aspiration and sign off on St Andrews as it currently stands, I will object as strongly as I did when the UUP ran up a white flag- that’s why I said in my first post that all they had done in Fife was to properly negotiate the GFA- which is only any good if its a starter, and useless if it’s the
    end. You remember that type of negotiation,Dunc- it’s like believing there would be decommissioning by 2000, and “jumping first” (into ministerial limos), and then being all hurt and surprised when the Shinners play you for the fools you are for the next 2 years.

    And here’s another proof of the different calibre of the negotiations, Dunc. Unlike the UUP, which sat back exhausted from having to think after every negotiation, by last nightthe DUP are already agitating for more concessions- on the pledge of office etc. The reason is obvious- the UUP core target was a powersharing administration, with jobs for the boys, and bugger the long term. Once they got that in 1998 the subconscious instinct was to sit back and preserve it as long as possible.Poverty of aspiration again- beloieving the lie that every new round of negotiations has to be worse for Unionism without realising that the pisspoor UUP negotiators were the real reason for incremental drift. Rememember Ken Maginnis’ panic attack and concession of an Irish dimension in the 1992 talks?

    The DUP- like Sinn Fein- see the power sharing executive as an unpleasant but necessary interregnum, which they want to replace with a proper administration as soon as possible, and this can only be done by having the Shinners get the blame for its demise.The Shinners of course want joint authority. They both intend to deploy mission creep in the coming weeks and months. That’s the only context in which Paisley could contemplate St Andrews without turning his principles and his party on their heads- in spite of what NIO assessments of Punt and Jeffrey might wish to believe.

    we want tourists Duncan in Ulster- even political tourists . But just because they spend a short time here doesn’t mean they have the right to lecture us from afar when, frankly, they never really understood us.It’s precisely thanks to you and your mates in the Assembly party that your old party is, by your admission, on life support. You were suckered from day one on every conceivable occasion, and the UUP were usually too stupid to even recognise when it happened to them.

    Do you really imagine the Great Survivor- who has supported everything from dirct rule to integration to an agreed Ireland over the past 40 years- will throw away the leadership of Unionism and what he perceives as his legacy for St Andrews fudge?

  • Butterknife

    Darth once you start attacking a person instead the arguments then your own opinion becomes vitiated because the presumption is that you are bitter biased or both.

    The DUP is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. On one hand if Paisley says yes to the deal then the question will be what was 30 years of hate for? On the other hand if he says no we should all be considering how and who we vote for.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Did you miss the part of the StAA which said that the FM will always come from the largest party in the largest designation, rather than simply from the largest party?

    Makes me wonder if you actually read the thing….:)”

    No, slug I didn’t miss this. But if the DUP could convince Unionists that it would be a disaster for the Union if de Brun topped the irrelevant Euro poll, what do you think the first rallying cry in a election from Paisley is going to be?

    BTW, any Stoop out there care to comment on rumours of a major fallout between Durkan and McDonnell over what the latter saw as a serious diminution of the GFA?

  • Butterknife

    You must remember that the Belfast Agreement has been given legal enforcement by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the StAA explicitly states that the Governments are committed to the fundamental obligations therein. I welcome the DUPs mature attitude towards walking away from dogma and embracing politics but credit has to be given to Trimble for directly and indirectly taking the flak from others in getting us to this point.

  • paid

    Speaking as a sinner, and not wishing to cross Rubicon, may I gently point out that GFA and PfG are simply abbreviations. Acronyms are abbreviations which form new words, NIPS for example.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Darth once you start attacking a person instead the arguments then your own opinion becomes vitiated because the presumption is that you are bitter biased or both.”

    …er no it doesn’t. It simply means I am bitter and biased, but with a perfectly valid opinion. So who isn’t biased? And who hasn’t legitimate grievances against “themmuns” from their own perspectives? I happen to believe that the records of the Sinn fein leadership disqualify them from participation in government for the forseeable future, and preferably for ever. That’s my bias.

    I’m not going to take lectures from DSD or anyone else without robustly responding.And this is not a parliamentary chamber, or my drawing room. It’s a blog- if you can’t indulge in a bit of knockabout it’s pointless. Slugger is the political hustings for the 21st century. I won’t complain if DSD gives it back.

  • To be fair to Darth, he has not mounted a personal attack on DSD. Anything he’s said is fair comment. Of course, anyone who went along with the Turtle’s blundering isn’t in a position to criticise the DUP. As for the new deal, I think Jim Allister’s comments are very valuable.

  • stephen cooper

    Darth,

    I agree with you.

    Both Bob and Jim have called it truthfully, which is par for the course, however, I cannot see SFIRA ever being in a position of acceptability from a Unionist perspective to hold power.

    How can a movement responsible for muders and huge damage to this part of the UK ever be relied and trusted to administer governance to the vry place they still admit they want to destroy?

    The SDLP had their chance to operate a voluntary coalition, but shunned it. They could have risen their profile and moved politics on, but they didnt and here we are again with terrorists holding the veto, as usual.

  • GrassyNoel

    Does anyone from either side of this conflict in NI feel a little depressed considering that pretty much everything that has been achieved (for both unionism and republicanism) in all the meetings and all the negotiations and all the agreements, could have been achieved in a lot less time and without the 40 years of violent hatred, constant rioting and assassinations?

    In summary:

    NI 1966 – 2006: Not QUITE Ireland, but not REALLY Britain either.

  • páid

    Yes.

    Thousands of kids told they’ll never see their Daddy again. Absolutely terrible.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Darth I still push your buttons it seems. A couple of quick factual corrections is all I will indulge you with though.

    As stated on numerous occasions I voted No to the Agreement in the April 1998 EGM of the UUC. My view was that the agreement did not deal satisfactorily with certain issues and I was morally troubled by the release of prisoners. At this stage I believed an EGM rejection would force the UUP to renegotiate for a little more. Once it was adopted by a majority as party policy I voted yes in the referenda and continued to support the agreement. The concessions I found distasteful were unstoppable and the potential gains were worth pursuing and have ultimately born fruition, if later than I would have hoped.

    “the high and mighty place that is the University of south -west Alabamy, or some such faraway place of which we know nothing”
    Umm it’s actually called Harvard University and it’s in Cambridge Massachusetts. If you are interested in learning more feel free to view the website at: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/.

    The rest of it is simply a retread of the same tired old criticism I have heard and answered numerous times before but the fantasy of your perceptions is so much more comforting than the nuanced reality. Its ironic really because unlike you and watchman I wasn’t even in the UUP talks team. Ahh C’est la vie I suppose.

  • glensman

    Darth asked:
    BTW, any Stoop out there care to comment on rumours of a major fallout between Durkan and McDonnell over what the latter saw as a serious diminution of the GFA?

    Don’t really know, but two things.

    (1) Dr McDonnell has hardly been allowed to say anthing to the media right since his election. If there is a fallout, it’s not all recent.

    (2) There must be some reason why Durkan apparently agreed with DUP to drop the joint election of First and Deputy First Minister. But that was supposed to be one of the principles SDLP negotiated in Good Friday Agreement. Certainly John Hume was very keen on it. It would certainly count as ‘a serious diminution’.

  • darth rumsfeld

    congrats on getting to harvard DSD- I can confirm I have heard of it.

    BTW you’re wrong about the identities of watchman and myself- he’ll happily confirm that he was never a member of the UUP talks team, and I wasn’t even in Northern Ireland when the GFA was signed-nor I believe was he. Try again.

    As for the substantive points in my post which you so airily dismiss- perhaps condescension is a skill taught at Harvard, but it’s usually necessary in politics to actually answer the question, even if you are forced to debate with the grubby working classes and their quaint prejudices.

    BTW, are you still a member of the Orange Order? Is there a Harvard Lodge? Hopefully you will still be true to those solemn obligations that you took, and haven’t changed your views on that.

  • Yes, I can confirm that I was certainly not in the UUP Talks team in 1998! Ugh, the thought of having to put up with the Turtle’s managerial style… Looks like you’re as wrong about my identity as you are about everything else, Duncan. So no surprise there anyway.

    As a matter of fact, on the evening of 9 April 1998, I was standing outside the Stormont gates on the Upper Newtownards Road with some other protesting loyalists. Ah, those were the days.

    PS, Dunc, hope you’re still enjoying Harvard. But I don’t suppose we’ll be seeing you in South Antrim again. Pity – the DUP will be sorry not to see you and your white flag.