My qualified no: the explanation Part 2

On a thread about the DUP St. Andrew’s consultation I mentioned I had submitted a qualified No and was asked why. Here is the second of six parts of an article explaining why.What are my problems with the St Andrews deal?

Constitutive v Instrumental

First, there is the nature of the agreement itself. It is another instrumental agreement. As I have often outlined on slugger there are two types of peace deal, instrumental and constitutive. With an instrumental deal a number of key issues are agreed but others are left to be sorted out later. The belief is that the progress on the initial issues and the development of relationships will be enough for outstanding matters to be addressed. In a constitutive deal, everything is agreed with the timetable and responsibilities of each of the parties clear.

The Belfast Agreement was an instrumental agreement as were the various patch-up jobs that followed. All of them broke down. St Andrew’s continues this approach. Its vagueness, caveats and issues like On-The-Runs, how to examine the past and the future of paramilitary groups omitted means it continues in the instrumental vein. A DUP campaign leaflet once quoted Einstein saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. The madness of continuing with an instrumental approach seems to be infectious.

Although, I accept the shifts by the PIRA made in the past 18 months and the lack of a credible home for Unionist dissent to go to may give instrumentalism the space it needs to succeed.

Lessons from the Comprehensive Agreement and afterwards

Second, the St Andrews Agreement bears a close relationship to the Comprehensive Agreement. However, there were two key lessons to be drawn from its failure and events afterwards. The DUP got a first hand experience of the duplicity of the Republican Movement. As one section was negotiating its places on a policing board its brethren were planning a bank robbery. The tenet that the PIRA Army Council is in fact the legitimate government of Ireland leads to an arrogance and selfishness in its actions that anyone seeking to make peace with them ignores at their peril. This experience should also have come as little surprise as they did it to the UUP repeatedly and the DUP criticised Trimble and Co for falling for it.

Also the Whiterock riots provided a harsh lesson on why the parades issue need sorted. The DUP aim of stable devolution won’t be achieved if the parades issues continues to fester and spread.

(I will be unable to respond to comments because I have important domestic matters to attend on Thursday followed by a romantic week-end. I will reply as best I can upon my return. The remaining pieces are timed to appear at 9.00am and 2.00 pm each day.)

  • Token Dissent

    First of all thanks to Fair Deal for sharing his insight into what must be a tough personal decision.

    Whereas FD rightly points to the continued use of carefully employed ambuiguity by the two governments, he fails to acknowledge the DUP’s role in furthering this unworthy tradition of the Peace Process. The side deals and lack of direct talks with SF, creates more uncertainity and indecision. This style of negotiation results in the two main parties coming away and appearing to talk about two different agreements.

    The depressing feature about the DUP’s position – and indeed FD’s analysis so far – is the lack of positive leadership which faces up to political realities. The culture of defeatism within unionist communities will only be enhanced by rejection of St Andrews.

    This is a party that has grown due to the orgy of fear, insecurity and political short-sightedness that has dominated unionism. It is therefore unsurprising that many within it are disinclined to accept what is in reality “the Good Friday Agreement in a kilt”.

    In the end however the power of the personality cult surrounding the BigMan, the desire for power and the lack of any alternative will probably see the whole process stumbles on…

  • seabhac siúlach

    “Also the Whiterock riots provided a harsh lesson on why the parades issue need sorted. The DUP aim of stable devolution won’t be achieved if the parades issues continues to fester and spread.”

    What has the parades issue got to do with it, in all honesty? It is, at this point, merely a policing matter, nothing more…impacting on a tiny percentage of the six county population. The marching season past shows that this matter is already largely solved (although perhaps not to some stubborn marchers liking…isn’t democracy hell, eh?). There are a handful of contentious parades remaining and the Drumcree issue is dead (Perhaps it warrants a minor footnote within the wider policing debate, nothing more).

    By the way, it is outrageous to use those suspiciously orchestrated Whiterock riots to make a point on why the parades issue need(s) (to be) sorted. Where was the support for the police, or policing structures, that day from the loyal subjects on the ground? Where the outraged Unionist voices about law-breaker? Is the law only to be respected when it is on your side?

    What is your point here, anyway, that violence (from the loyal orders and their paramilitary hangers-on) should be rewarded? The whiff of hypocrisy hangs in the air…

    By the way, on that day, we had Paisley and Empey both forecasting violence (in so many words) before it happened
    DUP leader Ian Paisley said the issue “could be the spark which kindles a fire there would be no putting out”.
    The usual cheerleading from the sidelines before the violence in which policemen were seriously injured. Some respect for the police. There were no calls for restraint, as far as I remember, no calls for the protesters to respect the rule of law, etc. Rank hypocrisy.

  • heck

    the GFA is dead,

    the SAA is dead,

    bring on plan B

  • páid

    Good luck with the romance FD.

    With all repect, I have to say there’s a bit of naievety in the comments IMO.
    Basically, the Peace Process is exactly that. Unionism and Nationalism are diametrically opposed positions and cannot be reconciled in the short to medium term.
    The Peace Process is a substitute, and an excellent one, for The Troubles.
    It doesn’t matter that much where we’re going; we’re all on the train instead of killing each other on the platform.
    In the meantime, we can all wheel out the Irish language, devolution, integration, policing schooling, talks, assemblies, cross-border bodies, victims, jailbirds whatever you like.

    But Sergeant Irvine gets to know his grandkids.
    And Geraldine Maguire celebrates her wedding anniversary in the new restaurant.

    They’re the winners.

    Or maybe you, reader, are the dead man walking.

  • Gleichschaltung

    Heck

    Plan B? You wish. Sorry boys and girls, you have hung yourselves on the policing hook and the DUP are not going to let you off it.

  • Ian

    Seabhac

    As I pointed out on another thread, the pledge of office should include a requirement ot support the police in their enforcing of determinations by the Parades Commission. Durkan should move an amendment to that effect in Parliament next week – I’m sure that the Tories and Lib Dems would agree to it.

    Unionist politicians seem only to have conditional respect for the rule of law – only when it favours their position.

    See the recent thread about the ‘old’ vs ‘new’ UVF – it appears the threat of violence by Unionists, when employed to prevent change to the status quo, doesn’t count as terrorism. Vulnerable nationalists (whether in 1912, 1969 or the present day) would beg to differ I am sure.

  • Mick Fealty

    heck,

    Dermot says it’s still being worked on. But if the iteration from Sunningdale to St Andrews is anything to go by, you may waiting a long time for anything that looks significantly different from Plan A.

  • Ian

    And of course Plan B carries with it the threat of a violent UVF response. The lack of loyalist decommissioning to date provides a de facto armed threat to back up Unionists’ negotiating position in the current round of talks. The Unionist parties don’t seem too forthright in repudiating the UVF’s stance.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ian,

    Do you know something the Department of Foreign Affairs does not?

    I’m not being funny, but it would be good if our commenters could stick to known or even plausible realities, since our bloggers put some considerable effort in putting their posts out.

  • George

    Fair_Deal,
    every weekend is a romantic weekend now that you are married.

    Your Constitutive v Instrumental analysis implies there is a consitutive solution to the Northern Ireland situation.

    There isn’t as far as I can see.

    How can there be when you have two sides with diametrically opposed objectives?

    The best that can be achieved is keeping the immediate path clear so that neither group ends up wandering back into the jungle.

  • Ian

    Mick:

    “Do you know something the Department of Foreign Affairs does not?”

    I do know that when it comes to loyalist weaponry, Unionists haven’t made a hundredth of the fuss that they made about Sinn Fein’s ‘private army’.

    I said ‘de facto armed threat’ because I recognise that the DUP/UUP don’t have any direct control over the arms that are out there (nothwithstanding Empey/Ervien link up?)

    However, in the interests of consistency and credibility, Unionist politicians should be a lot more forthright in saying:

    “We have faith in our negotiating skills, we don’t need the implicit threat of an armed response in order to repel the threat of any Plan B/joint stewardship, we rely on the merits of our arguments alone, we therefore call on the UVF to decommission immediately with no preconditions.”

    Instead, I look forward to another Brian Rowan exclusive in the Belfast Tele next week in which the UVF ‘spokesman’ (who previously claimed that the organisation’s statement on its future had been delayed till Nov 24th pending the outcome of the current negotiations) now states that said deadline has been deferred again until the 26th of March.

    And there will be nary a peep out of any Unionist politicians in response. In which case it is perfectly valid for an outside observer like myself to come to the conclusion that Unionists are quite content to have the implicit threat from the UVF remain in place, to defend the status quo and prevent moves to give Dublin a say in how the North is run.

    Then again, ’twas ever thus. That was precisely their position in 1912.

  • seabhac siúlach

    “Do you know something the Department of Foreign Affairs does not?

    I’m not being funny, but it would be good if our commenters could stick to known or even plausible realities, since our bloggers put some considerable effort in putting their posts out. ”

    Not wishing to answer for Ian, but on the BBC webpage, in the section on the Progressive Unionists, there is a sentence that goes,’The paramilitary group linked with it (the UVF) is unhappy about the prospect of increased north-south co-operation in the event that no deal is reached.’ Can we be sure their being ‘unhappy’, as the BBC so coyly puts it, is not an implicit threat to resume violence? Hardly…
    This BBC assessment is surely based on an interview a UVF spokesman gave to the Belfast Telegraph in April basically spelling out their opposition to Plan B and refusing decommissioning until they saw what would happen. The quote: “Whether it is called Plan B, joint management or joint authority, it spells the same thing to this organisation,” the spokesman said. “There will be no statement of intent to declare the future of this organisation until after November 24.”
    Considering all of this, what is so strange about Ian’s comment? One may ask, more cogently, why you feel the need to repudiate his comments?

  • Ian

    Seabhac,

    Thanks for the back up (though as you can see I was drafting my own response simultaneously to yours). I was beginning to wonder if I’d missed some hidden rule of Slugger debate.

  • George

    Might I add my two southern euro cents worth to the potential threat or otherwise of UVF violence.

    IMC report (aren’t these important?) in September:
    “The UVF refusal to clarify its position in advance of November 24th remains a worry, not least in view of their refusal to decommission arms or in others ways to reduce their capability to revert to terrorism.”

    And to add to that UVF quote from April that their loyalist campaign was “justified” and “legitimate” because “the constitutional integrity of Northern Ireland was under threat”.

    “The pro-union people of Northern Ireland were under threat and this organisation responded commensurate to that level of threat.”

    How do the UVF respond other than with violence?

  • Mick Fealty

    ss,

    Talk about ‘Kindergarten Cop’. I am asking for two things: that people expend more industry and more thought on their posts before they send it. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Ian

    Mick,

    I did put quite a bit of effort and thought into my posts in this thread. Does thought not count if one doesn’t think along the same lines as the blogger? I thought this site was about free and open debate? At least a couple of other posters have backed me up.

    And a final point re: your comment about “stick[ing] to known or even plausible realities”.

    If you think the threat posed by the UVF’s armaments is not a ‘plausible reality’, well the people of Dublin and Monaghan might beg to differ.

  • lib2016

    The ‘UVF threat’ is a joke. The threat from unionism is and always has been a threat of mob violence. Since the ‘Luv Ulster’ debacle the only people frightened by it are the unionist people who have to live with these retards.

    The UVF are reduced to ‘two men and a bicycle’. Oh, they might ‘do an Omagh’ but they won’t affect the course of history any more than the dissidents on the other side will.

    Just as Sinn Fein succeeded in introducing 32-county politics over the last two years so the DUP are currently introducing post-unionism. There is nothing for them to feel loyal to in modern day Britain and they are concentrating quite rightly in ensuring that unionists, particularly themselves, do well out of the North/South initatives and the gravy trains associated with them.

    If an Assembly isn’t established quickly unionism will have no base to operate from and Direct Rule from London will be succeeded by Direct Rule from Dublin.

    The only credible policy for unionists is to show that Northern Ireland can become a viable entity which can attract the support of middleclass Catholics. UUP begrudgery and delaying tactics won’t cut it this time.

  • Ian

    lib2016,

    Following on from your post, I sometimes wonder if the DUP migntn’t come round to thinking that a United Ireland (with no powersharing Northern Assembly but the DUP in an Ireland-wide coalition) might be the best way of keeping Sinn Fein out of power (north and south) for the forseeable future. The likes of McDowell’s PD’s seem like more natural allies for them than the British Labour Party. Is the prospect of a United Ireland, with a guaranteed place in government for the DUP to look after their interests, that much less appealing (from their perspective) than long-term enforced coalition with Paisley and McGuinness as joint First Ministers?

  • Ian

    Should add at the end of my last post:

    [long-term enforced coalition with Paisley and McGuinness as joint First Ministers…]

    …in the north, with the potential of Sinn Fein Ministers in the South having an additional say in the north via the North-South Ministerial Council?

  • Mick Fealty

    I want you to make life as hard as you can for us. But be honest, there is very little reference to FD’s post. As such there little or no challenge so far as I can see. Though please correct me if I am wrong.

    I was aware that we might not be catering to everyone’s tastes, which is one reason why I put up the open thread. The conversation below has virtually no connection with the top.

    Now I’m not getting at you personally. This disconnect is a cultural meme that seems to have lodged itself in the majority of Slugger threads. I’m not suggesting people can’t have those conversations. I’m just wondering out loud what their value is here.

  • Ian

    Mck,

    Fair Deal brought up the issue of the Whiterock riots, which was a classic case of the still-armed UVF BREACHING the rule of law and political Unionism failing to UPHOLD the rule of law by condemning the gunmen (who just happened to be on their side of the parading argument).

    That to my mind would have constituted a breach of the shiny new pledge of office and of Section 6 of the Friday 13th Agreement (henceforth to be known as the F13A).

    I fail to see how much more relevant the posts could have been! I must be missing something?!?

    Is my contribution at posts 16/17 of Part 1 of Fair Deal’s blog any better?

  • Gonzo

    Constitutive v Instrumental… could that be translated as Settlement vs ‘Process’?

    Process will continue for a long time, as Settlement requires genuine agreement between republicanism and unionism. If that’s a pipe dream, then Process will go on until the British and Irish go over the heads of the locals and implement Plan B, ‘joint stewardship’.

    Since time is running out (if the Govt is to be believed) then the question for the DUP is the one Paisley asked in Lurgan – if not the St Andrews Agreement, then what exactly will the naysayers agree to if joint stewardship is to be avoided?

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s fine Ian. But check out JR’s comment in that same thread. Two words s/he uses capture an crucial distinction for me: reason and brand.

    I have no problem people chewing over reasons/logic/argument, and contending each others narratives since it implies engagement and serious mutual challenge. Instead most of what we have been seeing recently are base reactions to what some see as an inferior brand, rather a good enervating scrap over ideas.

    It may pass as good conversation in the pub after a lot of pints, but it’s reads as dull and repetitive in the cold light of day. The least requisite for a good conversation is the capacity to listen, as much a sound wit and a sharp tongue!

  • mark

    Mick,

    I am waiting for the next instalments and waiting to engage with the author.

    I don’t know how substantive debate can be called for when the blog author has put his contributions on a time delay and said he’ll get back to us after his holidays.

    If the thread goes away from the subject matter it must in part be to do with this silly IMO posting method.

    FD has opened himself up to a lot of questions; he is the only one who can answer them.

    Making people read the posts in this manner and expecting them to stick to some defined narrative when the substance of the debate should be an exchange between the author of this very personal analysis and the readership seems a bit of an ask when he is totally absent.

    Topic drift will continue to occur on these posts until FD is back to answer the issues he raises and has decided to drip feed us while he goes off for some nookie.

    These thoughts aren’t anyone’s policy but FD’s and discussion on them can’t stay on the field when the team that kick off has left the stadium.

  • greg

    “The UVF are reduced to ‘two men and a bicycle’. Oh, they might ‘do an Omagh’ but they won’t affect the course of history any more than the dissidents on the other side will.”

    The problem being lib

    Is that some nationalist communities still live in a real fear of unionist & uvf/uff killer gangs.

    Vulnerable Nationalist areas don’t want to be the next ‘Omagh’ & have to(even in 2006) take steps to protect themselves.

    The wider political process might be a great ‘chatting’ point, but some of us still have to deal with the realities on the ground and have to think about the safety of our kids and our homes.

    No agreement(GFA or SAA), will stop the fear factor of having a fully armed loyalist paramiltary organisation kill my family or burn me out of my home.

    Sectarianism is real, and for some it still dominates our everyday lives.

    Isn’t it about time unionist political leaders adressed our fears ??

  • greg

    ‘addressed our fears’

  • Wilde Rover

    An interesting, thoughtful response to “The Peace Process TM Gang goes Golfing” Fair Deal (and I hope your weekend away goes well) but at the risk of incurring the wrath of the powers that be I hope you may indulge me a few broad strokes.

    I believe your argument is mired in the constitutional, blinded to the hilarious potential for the farce of the bread and butter.

    Or maybe Bertie Ahern was talking crazy when he said he would never go into government with anti-European neo-Marxist Sinn Fein.

    Their unwilling bedfellows the quasi-religious DUP are also masters of the dark arts of the constitutional smoke and mirrors game, but what will they be saying in government, when the time for nay saying is over and normal political decisions have to be made?

    Only the perversion that is the constitutional beast could have produced two parties on the verge of forming a government without any mention of actual bread and butter policy at such a meeting.

    How about “Plan B Lite (now with less Fenian interference)”?

    Sorry Mr O’Toole, just throwing it out there.

  • Briso

    FD’s argument in this part seems to be

    1. We need a ‘Constitutive’ deal.

    2. You can’t trust the IRA (without point 1 at least).

    3. Whiterock reinforces the view that the parades issue must be ‘solved’ before power-sharing is re-introduced.

    1. is impossible. There is no such thing as a constitutive deal (according to FD’s definition) for the political governance of a region (however defined). If this is a demand, it’s game over. Try it on another region. “Before we would agree to go into government in the UK, we need a deal which ties up all possible outstanding issues to all our satisfaction.” Utter nonsense! What is parliament for? Circumstances change every day. Like it or not, government, politics, its a process.

    2. If so, game over.

    3. There will always be another parade, another dispute, another determination. It is IMPOSSIBLE to set all this as a precondition. We don’t even know what next years issues are, never mind in five years!!!

    I look forward to the next parts. A very worthwhile exercise by FD I feel.

  • bertie

    Ian

    “See the recent thread about the ‘old’ vs ‘new’ UVF – it appears the threat of violence by Unionists, when employed to prevent change to the status quo, doesn’t count as terrorism. Vulnerable nationalists (whether in 1912, 1969 or the present day) would beg to differ I am sure.”

    You may think that the old UVF is not better than the current one, I’m sure that there are many injured nationalists (and indeed unionists ans those with no preference),who wish that the new crew had done as little as the old one did. Of course the dead are past such wishes.

  • fair_deal

    George

    Instrumental and constitutive basically deliver the same type of deal. The difference is how they do it.

    Briso

    “is impossible. There is no such thing as a constitutive deal”

    1. Yes there is. Guatemala adopted the cosntitutive approach to end their civil war. As regards what parliament does that is primiarily policy issues.

    “We don’t even know what next years issues are, never mind in five years!!!”

    We don’t need the powers of prediction on this issue and it repaeatedly appears.

  • George

    Fair_deal,
    “Instrumental and constitutive basically deliver the same type of deal. The difference is how they do it.”

    Only if both sides are agreed as to what the deal is and what the end product should be. I don’t think they do.

    On one side you have people looking to broaden and deepen economic, cultural, political links with the Irish Republic, with the aim of eventually unifying with the rest of the island and on the other we have people looking to do the same with Britian with the aim of cementing the union for perpituity.

    Your posts are making me move closer to a point where I don’t actually see a consitutive solution to the Northern Ireland situation. (I move this way when I read strong nationalist opinion too.)

    What I see is two parties with diametrically opposed objectives living an enormous lie that there could be a deal. And I see a Northern population who are swallowing this lie because they want to believe, not because they do believe it.

    So what we get is the clearing of the immediate path in front but not enough so that anyone can say with absolute certainty where they are going.

    Self delusion on a massive scale.

    It’s all one big hoax on the people of Northern Ireland, for the people of Northern Ireland and in some cases by the people of Northern Ireland, which is justified by the powers that be by the fact that people aren’t killing each other any more.

    Northern Ireland will be a grey zone for the next decade. This is getting clearer by the day. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has already been paid off and sometimes I think they like it.

    All for a snip cut-down price of 50 billion. Why move on anything when if you do nothing everything will stay the same for the next 10 years?

  • fair_deal

    George

    A constitutive deal is not possible if you don’t try. Instrumental is always the tempting option but it should not be seen as the only option. It focuses too much on the hope that trust develops and that this trust can ease delivery while constitutive focuses on delivery.

    “On one side you have people looking to broaden and deepen economic, cultural, political links with the Irish Republic, with the aim of eventually unifying with the rest of the island and on the other we have people looking to do the same with Britian with the aim of cementing the union for perpituity.”

    These are not entirely mutually exclusive propositions.

  • George

    Fair_deal,
    “A constitutive deal is not possible if you don’t try.”

    That smooth soundbite would nearly make me think you are considering going into politics.

    People have been trying for over 30 years and this is where we have got to – nowhere.

    “constitutive focuses on delivery.”

    This whole process is a bit like going for IVF treatment. One side only wants a girl, the other only a boy.

    Now the doctor wants to transfer the embryo into the womb to get things moving but both sides want to know first if the “delivery” is going to bring a boy or a girl. Both have a veto.

    The doctor replies that all he/she can say is that it will be a baby.

    Both sides desperately want a child but equally want it to be of the sex of their choice. After all, this a lifetime decision. Deadlock.

    “These are not entirely mutually exclusive propositions.”

    I used to think that but my time on here reading what both sides have to say has made me doubt this.

    The Irish Republic is going in a very different direction to the UK and Northern Ireland has to make a choice.

    It wants to sit on the fence, lick its wounds and heal a bit.

    I don’t think that will be possible for much longer. I give it 10 years.

    It seems to me that the choice we have coming down the road is either UK for good or the instability that comes with protracted withdrawal from the UK.

    I wish we could have it another way but I just don’t see it happening at this moment the way things are going.

    Maybe I am wrong. We will see in a decade when the 50 billion runs out and the “Troubles” are a distant memory.

  • fair_deal

    George

    “you are considering going into politics.

    LOL. I am not suited to be a public representative and my membership of a political party (the UUP) ended almost three years ago now.

    “People have been trying for over 30 years and this is where we have got to – nowhere.”

    1. They have been trying with instrumental deals for 30 years.
    2. Serious peace-making only began about a decade ago.
    3. The stop-start “getting nowhere” we have had over the past decade is the central flaw of instrumental.

    “I used to think that but my time on here reading what both sides have to say has made me doubt this.”

    The nature of debate on here can be unduly negative as people jockey for position.