Why the St Andrews Agreement is basket case?

Bob McCartney MLA does not usually mince his words, and he didn’t disappoint in yesterday’s Sunday Life. He accuses the DUP of collapsing the Unionist case in the face of heavy pressure from the British and Irish governments. Point one has distinct shades of Danny Morrison’s memorable line about Ian Paisley having to eat his manifesto to sign up to an agreement that includes Sinn Fein in government.Most of the points he makes, refer to the apparent U turn on the part of the DUP. That perhaps is only to be expected if we are talking about a genuine shift in the political paradigm. But, more intriguingly, he points to potential trouble further down the road, even after devolution takes hold:

3. How can democratic government work when the DUP and Sinn Fein will have mutual powers to veto each other’s proposals? Does this not give a minority an equal veto and make for an even worse deadlock than that demonstrated by the UUP and the SDLP?

4. How will rate-capping without banding help the vast bulk of ratepayers? Since Sinn Fein favour the proposed new system, what is to prevent it vetoing any proposal to cap and band the rates?

5. How will academic selection be implemented if any proposed method of selection is vetoed in the Assembly by the SDLP and Sinn Fein, who are both opposed to selection as a principle?

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  • Frustrated Democrat

    (Previously posted on the wrong thread}

    Why won’t the DUP go out and debate the StAA in halls around the country?

    They claim to represent the interests of all unionists, so why don’t they have open meeetings that ALL unionists can attend and ask questions.

    Are they afraid McCartney will turn up and pose the questions for which he has been asking for answers.

    The questions are simple and straightforward yet I fear the answers may not be what the DUP are spinning to the public……..so should I wait in anticipation.

    The overall answer seems to be that the GFA was a better deal for unionism than the StAA, unless the DUP are prepared to answer the questions clearly and unambiguously in public we really won’t know…………….will they answer the questions?

  • David

    St Andrews spelling out the failures of the GFA for slow learners.

  • Greenflag

    Of course it’s a basket case . Eric Waugh made similar points a few weeks back . Unfortunately for both McCartney and Waugh the SAA may be a basket case solution for a basket case problem and the hope is that because of that it just might work .

    Normal democracy it isn’t nor can it be given the divided constitutional aspirations within Northern Ireland . But hey we knew all of this 6 months ago when Hain enunicated his time table ! In fact this was known as far back as 1972 /1974 . Either the politicians have not been listening and it appears neither have the electorate .

    Hain should wrap it up instead of ‘fudging’ along to a March election . What will March election show anyway other than the same result as the last one plus or minus a seat here or there ?

    Will they answer the questions’??


    Did they ever apart ? – apart from answering in the negative of course.

    McCartney could of course have asked how can you have a democratic government without an effective opposition or the possibility of power changing hands ?

    But then he might have had to explain the Northern Ireland ‘failed’ experiment in ‘democracy’ 1920 through 1972 which was finally put out of it’s misery by Ted Heath .

    Peter Hain needs to do a Heath job on the present farce . Then maybe next time if there is a next time the local politicians might believe him or his successors .

  • John White

    By your reckoning then, if a minority group seeking to fundamentally change the constitution of a country or a region cannot be guaranteed that someday they will achieve power then they are not operating in a democracy. You cite NI as an example.
    What absolute crap.
    The possibility of nationalism gaining power always existed in NI, if they could only convince enough people to back their idea. That is the very basis of democracy. It was the PROBABILITY of them convincing enough voters and therefore gaining power that was virtually non-existent.
    It is your idea, that a minority view should be guaranteed power regardless of majority wishes, that is patently undemocratic.
    By your reckoning republicans in England and separatists in Wales and Scotland are not living in democracies because they cannot be guaranteed power at some time in the future.
    catch yourself on.

  • Churchill

    I wish to God that the Nationalist pond life would clear the hell out of my country!!

  • Plum Duff

    Hey Churchill. You White Man, me Indian. Me here first.

    And if you wish to pray to God why not ask for another brain cell to make a total of two in that large and vacant space between your ears. Then you might join in rational debate.

  • Churchill

    P.D., when you talk through your arse, you should be positioned over a toilet bowl, and not a keyboard!!

    Your rancid opinion is worthless. NO SURRENDER!!!!

  • Greenflag

    John White,

    ‘ if a minority group seeking to fundamentally change the constitution of a country or a region cannot be guaranteed that someday they will achieve power then they are not operating in a democracy. ‘

    Your reckoning of my reckoning as in above is to quote yourself ‘crap’. I’m not arguing that there has to be any guarantee . The possibility as well the probability of nationalists achieving political power disappeared in 1920 when Unionists carved out a 6 county area in which they would have a ‘permanent’ majority.

    ‘It is your idea, that a minority view should be guaranteed power regardless of majority wishes, that is patently undemocratic.’

    No that’s not my idea . That’s ‘Unionism’s ‘idea’ as we have seen from the 1920 Partition and subsequent efforts by ‘majority’ Unionists in a gerrymandered State to force their ‘constitution’ on the majority of Irish people and the majority of people on this island . Good to see that you recognise ‘Unionism’ as being inherently undemocratic .

    I’m not an advocate of enforced power sharing as is envisaged under the proposed devolved NI Assembly . If there is a voluntary coalition between like minded parties that is normal democratic practice .

    Republicans in England are not a political party nor do they form a large minority of the population e.g 40% . If they ever do become a political party and become a majority England will still be a democracy minus it’s monarchy .
    The same applies to Scots and Welsh naaionalists . The difference between Northern Ireland and Wales /Scotland /England is that if the Nationalists/Republicans of NI ever win the majority then NI will cease to exist as a separate State/country. That situation does not apply in the case of the other countries . There is no large ‘minority’ in either England , Scotland or Wales demanding for a partition of those countries in the event of a full independence for any or all countries in the Union.

    From another perspective it is conceivable that England, Scotland or Wales could function as separate states and that in each there would be sufficient democratic consensus (90% plus) to ensure ‘normal ‘ democracies in all three countries .

    Such a ‘democratic’ consensus is just not possible in the present Northern Ireland 6 county State . Even the SAA only gets the support of 54% of the population which is less than the 70% for the GFA in 1998 .

  • Plum Duff

    I see your prayers for the extra brain cell haven’t been answered yet, Churchill.

    Incidentally, if all you can contribute on a site such as this is to mouth outworn slogans, perhaps you should go back to watching Telly Tubbies. If that’s too difficult, why don’t you try to read the other contributions – you might learn something. JW’s, GF’s and others’ views are of interest to me. Yours are a distraction.