Looking in the wrong direction?

While there seems to be a, possibly undue, focus in the media on the noises off suggesting levels of dissent within the DUP, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been preparing to address Fianna Fáil’s 70th Ard Fheis. RTÉ’s report on the opening day includes a short snippet of interest from his discussions with journalists

In relation to Northern Ireland, Mr Ahern claimed that the consultation process within the DUP is 90% in favour of the party backing the St Andrews Agreement.

If that’s an accurate assessment it would mean the media focus might be better directed towards another party and a different outstanding issue..

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  • Ulick

    God Pete you’re so predictable. The Shinners have a track record for delivering – that’s why the media aren’t focusing on them. It’s Saturday night, away and take your nearest and dearest out for a nice meal (or something)…

  • Chris Donnelly


    You have to hand it to Pete for trying- even the brothers Attwood take a break from their Sinner bashing, but ol’ Pete just keeps on going!

    The focus on the DUP is only natural; after all, this is the first time that party- and its support base- have been asked to accept and work any form of compromise with nationalists.

    I have no doubt that Ahern is off mark with his 90% prediction; the public utterances of the DUP leading lights since St Andrews indicates that the party is intent on giving the proposal an effective thumbs down. Why else make a stand over the pledge issue, never mind dismiss the timeframe over devolution of justice and policing.

    In these circumstances, the media (and all other political observers) can hardly be expected to do anything other than focus in on the unique spectacle of a DUP leadership having to experience the pains of compromise and the job of delivering a ‘hard sell’ to its membership and support base.

    Perhaps Paisley may even be coming to rue that 12th July speech after all…..

  • Mark

    While Pete quite predictably tries to doctor spin and label Sinn Féin as the problem and here goes out of his way to get the DUP off their hook (or just plain denies they have an issue), evidence points to the contrary.

    Despite what Pete (or Bertie) may think Jim Allister MEP has been spreading his absolutist rejectionist message, this time in South Belfast.

    Some in the DUP have clearly raised the next obstacle and will not consider power sharing even if Paisley is satisfied, or ever.

    Allister’s remarks

    Extract from a speech from Euro MP Jim Allister to South Belfast DUP:

    “Government by spite. That has been our lot in recent times. Instead of Good Government, we’ve had Vindictive Government – all designed to coerce us into premature devolution. Hence super rates – hurting particularly in parts of this constituency – grammar school destruction and constant threats of “joint stewardship”, which, if it happened, would negate the consent ethos supposedly ensconced in the Belfast Agreement.
    This, of course, is the same Government which three times persuaded Trimble that the conditions were right for devolution, that Sinn Fein was ready and deserving of government, and three times got it utterly wrong. It is our bounden duty and election pledge not to repeat these mistakes. Sinn Fein was not ready for government then, and is not ready now. Sinn Fein is inextricably linked to the IRA. The IRA is an illegal organisation, whose structures and command remain in tact. That nexus is enough, in my book, to make them unfit for government. That nexus must be broken – which can be most persuasively done by disbandment of the IRA, which is not too much to ask if its war is truly over. Why would any Party in government need an illegal “Army” at its beck and call. It cannot and must not be allowed. Sinn Fein knows what needs to done. No one else can do it for them. Its not enough to dump arms, they must dump “the army”!
    Yes, devolution would be nice, but to be worth having it must be both durable and democratic. Failure to adequately address structural deficiencies, criminality and the IRA elephant in the room would just as assuredly cause it to collapse again, as it did in the past. Nor is the artificial contrivance of de hond’t a means to durable and democratic devolution. November 24th will come and November 24th will go, but until the IRA and its criminality are gone, I see no basis for optimism. Nor, should we feel under any real pressure. This is a dying Government, fading into oblivion. Blair is not the future, soon he will be the past. So too Ahern may be on his way out. As for Hain, his greater ambition is playing croquet at Dorney

    So despite the spin from Pete the DUP do have major internal issues and while ignoring them suits his agenda it doesn’t reflect reality.

  • guillaume

    90 percent in favour publicly is exactly what they want everyone to believe.The truth is that they are 100 percent against but are playing the joker in trying to raise sinn fein out of the game.The most important word said in this phrase of the process is paisleys ‘withstand’.And here was meself thinking that the free IP freelys were against gambling.Raise GERRY.gerry RAISE.

  • Robert

    Although I am not a DUP member myself, I live in North Antrim and have many friends/colleagues who are in the DUP.

    The feedback I’m getting suggests that acceptance of the SAA is nowhere near 90%. At least 50% of the people that I know are either completely opposed or have major reservations.

    I’m sure that Sinn Fein also have their problems but to try and portray the DUP situation as completely under control is, in my opinion, ignoring reality.

  • guillaume


    Any sign from your friends/colleagues(very european!)that accepting the agreement is the perfect revenge on Sinn fein treatment of Trimble or more exactly the perfect opposite of what Gerry did to Trimble in Unionists’ mind I.E. make him commit and then hang him up to dry?

  • slug

    Any indications from Mark or Chris on how the Sinn Fein side of things is going?

  • Mark


    Any indications from Mark or Chris on how the Sinn Fein side of things is going?

    Things are going well.

    I don’t see any difference between what is being said in public and what is said in private.

    That doesn’t appear to be the case for the DUP.

    I feel our membership and supporters position is being truly reflected by the leadership of Sinn Féin. I fear the DUP are being disingenuous about what they are willing to or can deliver both at grassroots and leadership level.

    I think our dance partner is asking us to tango assuming we can’t find the floor and they’ll head for the toilets if we do show we are happy to hold their hand and try the hard steps. (sorry, I get forced to watch Strictly Come Dancing)

    btw I’m answering only for myself

  • slug

    Thanks Mark. To be honest its not very interesting to hear your insight into the DUP, but it certainly is interesting to hear your insights in to Sinn Fein, namely that there is no difference in position between what the leaders of SF are saying and what the grassroots are saying. So, how would you sum up that position?

  • guillaume

    Thanks Mark. To be honest its not very interesting to hear your insight into the DUP, but it certainly is interesting to hear your insights in to Sinn Fein, namely that there is no difference in position between what the leaders of SF are saying and what the grassroots are saying. So, how would you sum up that position?

    I don’t think anything needs to be summed here.Seems that sinn fein are carrying their supporters whilst the DUP are not.If any maths are involved it might be some strange alegebra gravitating round the Irish and British government concerning the square root of their rule.

  • Mark


    You’ll have to forgive me but SF are carrying out an internal consultation on the entirety of the two governments proposals, not just the one or two issues the media is focusing on, ahead of 10 November. It would be wrong of me to try and sum up a position that hasn’t been fully assessed or completed.

    You’ve only a few days to wait for the response. It’s the same with the DUP, we hear their official position soon.

  • Mark


    but, I think I’m not speaking out of class by saying SF members and supporters want to do a deal,/i> with the DUP to restore local governance but are dubious over the DUP’s real willingness or ability to deliver.

  • Pete Baker

    While the comments from the Sinn F̩in party members are obviously welcome, although if they touched on the actual topic it might be more illuminating Рbtw loving the interpretation of quoting Bertie and a Sinn F̩in spokeswoman as being spinning/agenda/bashing РANYway.. in the meantime we do have the official party statement as recorded by the Irish Times

    Sinn Féin said last night that Mr Adams was “not in a position” to propose holding a special ardfheis on policing to the ardchomhairle until a date for the devolution of policing powers to Stormont was agreed, and until the British government enacts other policing legislation after November 16th.

    In addition, an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party over the way in which government departments in Northern Ireland will operate subsequently will also be necessary, a Sinn Féin spokeswoman told The Irish Times.

  • Mark


    It deals with Section 7 of the position agreed by the two governments.

    Section 7 states their view on devolution of policing and justice (not a position, demand or requirement of anyone else). Sinn Fein have given their view on that view in line with party policy, something both governments knew in advance, the DUP have given their view by rejecting Section 7 entirely.

    So far only the two governments have endorsed their own ‘view’, while SF have said it’s not their view unless the timescale is explicit and the DUP have said they can’t endorse it ever (or for a generation).

    And how can someone else’s view matter?

    Your focus on SF’s willingness to support a more explicit version of what the governments admit is only a view while neglecting the DUP’s absolute rejection of Section 7 is telling and why you are being called a spinner.

  • LessBiasPlease

    Micky Fealty,

    Could you not create a separate section for Peter Bakers’ anti-Sinn Fein posts?

    Or created a bias section?

    This blogger is using multiple self supporting links to cloak an unsupported bias.

    You recognise the partiality of other bloggers and Pete has surely proven his?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Will the chuckies in the room please stop whining about bias ? Pete is perfectly entitled to post whatever he likes. There are plenty of republican and nationalist commentators to swing the balance the other way; and in any case Pete appears to be supporting his point of view with reference to actual facts or statements. Do people really think that folks like Chris or Mark, decent chaps that they are, really concern themselves with being unbiased when they contribute blog entries ? Damn right they don’t.

    To the subject at hand, Bertie’s talk of 90% is clearly nonsense; the DUP have been publicly picking holes in the deal ever since it came out. That comment from Bertie seems to be another example of the downright lying that we’re getting a lot of these days. Those lies started when the governments named this position paper of theirs as an “Agreement”, when it is in fact nothing of the sort, certainly not as far as the parties here are concerned.

    That said, if unionism fails to deliver once more, will Sinn Fein ? Will SF stay off the policing board ?

  • the other one

    It would appear given todays papers that Bertie was basing his 90% on actual DUP figures.

    Certainly the DUP appear to have accepted this deal in its entirety though they have not yet given a definitive stand on the unresolved issues.

    Local DUP politicians who have been sitting on the fence when in reality they are fully committed are not being honest with the electorate.

  • Greenflag

    Allister’s comment

    ‘So too Ahern may be on his way out.’

    A freudian slip by Allister . He probably wanted to say Paisley instead of Ahern .

    Bertie will be Taoiseach for another full term at least- devolution or no devolution in NI .

  • wtf?

    And on the subject of policing:

    Why did Charlie O’Kane SDLP withdraw support from the PSNI over their failure to speak on behalf of John O’Boyle when the courts barred him from Rasharkin over threats to burn the home of Frankie Quinn (the Ballymena Quinn brothers uncle) ahead of his trial. (the PSNI stated they believed they could connect him to the charges).

    Is O’Kane connected to O’Boyle?

    Have the SDLP moved to discipline O’Kane as a policing dissident?