High farce and low farce at Stormont in the rain…

Extraordinary events at Stormont this morning. Though it was hardly a re-run of Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero Molina’s takeover of the Spanish parliament in 1981. His attempt was organised and involved 200 member of the Civil Guards. Loyalist killer (and visual artist) Michael Stone appeared to be acting on his own.It seems he was relaxed enough to stop outside Parliament Buildings at Stormont this morning long enough to daub “Sinn Fein IRA War” on its grand facade, before bursting in through the doors declaring he had a bag containing a live incidiary device. He was quickly apprended and bundled back out of the door. Two security men have been taken hospital.

It brought a full stop to an extraordinary parliamentary episode.

The full Assembly had been called by Westminster legislation hastely rushed through both houses and given Royal Assent on Wednesday which required this session to meet and further that the two largest parties, Ian Paisley’s DUP and Gerry Adams’ Sinn Fein to indicate that they would nominate their candidates for the two top parliamentary jobs. If they failed, the penalty was, as Peter Hain put it on Radio Ulster this morning: devolution or dissolution.

The auguries for a successful outcome were not great. Stormont was bound in by the same miserable weather we had when this latest installment of the ever shrinking small time soap opera, as when it began last May. A text poll on a local phone programme had over 90% agreed with the proposition that Hain should should just pull the plug on Northern Ireland’s politicians and have done with the grand experiment altogether.

One hack, just before the session began, joked that there was no fudge left in the visitor’s shop. There was talk about who to watch on the benches behind Paisley. And then, when the delegation finally appeared, rumours that Robinson (‘the Reformer’) was looking relaxed and happy.

In the event there was plenty of fudge to be had in the chamber, albeit very thinly spread.

Despite the fact that the whole point (for months ahead) of this session was get nominations from the two party leaders, the wording in Dr Paisley’s speech fell well short of an unambiguous yes: “Circumstances have not been reach that there can be a nomination this day” (though it wasn’t consipicuously a no).

However, that’s not how Speaker Eileen Bell heard it, who accepted it as an assent. Or rather had been pre-instructed to accept it as an assent, after both parties had indicated in a private meeting what their positions were going to be. She anounced in accepting it as a yes, she was acting under ‘further direction of the Secretary of State’.

There were loud cries of derision, particularly from Paisley’s moderate rivals the Ulster Unionists, with calls of “You’re not speaker, you’re a puppet from the floor of the house”! When their leader Reg Empey took to his feet, he correctly summed up the mood in the house when he noted that, “the question on everybody’s lips is has Dr Paisley made a nominiation or not? Have we been witnessing a wedding or an engagement?”

The Unionist side of the house was in uproar. However, the Sinn Fein benches apart from a few humourous asides between Mitchel McLaughlin and Gerry Kelly, for the most kept a respectful silence and let the unionists get on with it.

By the time Mark Durkan got up to speak the whole place was in tumult. However it was his words that summed the feeling of many in Northern Ireland, both inside and outside the chamber,

“The manner in which these proceedings are being conducted under the remote direction of the secretary of state where language and logic has been turned inside out and on its head. We need to recognise that the slippage that we all criticise the government for allowing actually stems from the slippiness of two political parties who are claiming to lead this process but are deadlocking this process yet again.

The alarm warning us of Stone’s attack rang punctuated Alliance leader David Ford’s speech at a spookily appropriate moment: “If the Prime Minister had any integrity, he would close this place” (cue sound effect).

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  • horace rumpole

    “His attempt was organised and involved 200 member of the Civil Guards.”

    What!? The garda involved in a Spanish coup? Why was this kept from us?

  • Ian

    Blair and Ahern seem to be in disagreement about the outcome of today’s Assembly proceedings:

    u.tv/newsroom/indepth.asp?id=78116&pt=n

    Mr Blair said there was a “certain amount of confusion” as to what moves have been made by the parties this morning, but his understanding was that if Sinn Fein agreed to the “proper” support of policing, then the DUP would share power with the party.

    (‘His understanding’ is hardly going to inspire much confidence at this stage, is it?)

    Mr Blair urged people to “put aside the legalistic debate” and “concentrate on the substance”.

    (The substance is question being the stuff that the visitor’s shop ran out, presumably.)

    Meanwhile, ‘Mr Ahern tried to disguise his anger at the lack of clarity at Stormont’:

    “There was a clear understanding until I went to bed in the early hours of this morning that after Mr Paisley put in the conditionality in his statement, then he would nominate himself as First Minister. That line vanished overnight.”

    He added: “It would have been nice today if we got clarity. Mr Paisley said he is a man of simple words, and today he wasn`t.”

  • hero

    stoner ftw 🙂

    the guys a legend <3

    rofl

  • dpef

    Mick,

    Farce?

    An attempt to kill elected representatives in an elected Assembly using a suspect device to distract security only foiled by the personal bravery of two people?

    WTF are you on about? Farce? Your take on such a serious situation is the farce.

  • nmc

    Things have been a farce up until today. Stone’s appearance lends it a little more seriousness, though that said he is clearly demented, insane.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    The legend lives on.
    Michael Stone: Loyalist Hero

  • Jim

    The bell end lives on more like, and more’s the pity.

  • JR

    “The legend lives on.
    Michael Stone: Loyalist Hero” as stated by CL

    A “loyalist Hero” bitch slapped by woman!! How degrading is that? Hung up by his feet lol.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    The two Govts have no option now but to go to Plan B.

  • Yokel

    Looking at the pics, fair play to the security people. That takes immense balls, immense.

    If theres one abiding thought, apart from this was just a completely surreal, its that they were brave.

    As for Blair and Ahern, Tony made a very clear statement that is actually pretty clear and it leaves neither party any room, Sinn Fein sign uop to policing, DUP go into powersharing. Bertie can moan but he actually has no power, its all between the British government and whoever they choose to deal with on this.

  • POL

    #

    stoner ftw 🙂

    the guys a legend <3

    rofl
    Posted by hero on Nov 24, 2006 @ 03:42 PM

    Yeah some hero lol.Disarmed and wrestled to the ground by a crowd.....oops sorry a lone female lol.

  • Yokel

    Darren

    I would suggest you forget it, I’m concluding that there is no Plan B other than a vague notion and the UK government looks determined to have a lash at this until March. They were probably aware of what Paisley was going to do and will run with it. Thus, potentially, the onus is now on SF until March to sign up.

    Paisley is dead in the water if he doesnt deliver once Sinn Fein sign up to policing. Sinn Fein on the other hand will not take as much elctoral damage if they dont sign up to policing.

  • This guy wanted to get topped so he could be a loyalist martyr. He has probably been watching the muzzie loons in various parts of the world. Without the “troubles” he is yesterday’s man and does not know what to do with himself.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    “As for Blair and Ahern, Tony made a very clear statement that is actually pretty clear and it leaves neither party any room, Sinn Fein sign uop to policing, DUP go into powersharing. Bertie can moan but he actually has no power, its all between the British government and whoever they choose to deal with on this.”

    It was accepted in St. Andrews that SF would not have to accept policing until March though. Then the DUP lied and said that they had a written guarantee from Tony Blair that he demanded it before today.

    Even up until last night, Paisley told the two Govts. he would be nomintating today.

    You cant say ‘No’ all the time and expect things to always go your way. Plan B is the only option now. Providing the Irish Govt. doesn’t behave triumphantly the Unionists will get used to it.

  • Mark Neale

    The security staff are the heros and probably the least well paid members of the Assembly staff – two unarmed members of staff, disarm and detain an armed and dangerous man – these are the ones who deserve the medals. To both of them – well done and thanks

  • Yokel

    Darren

    I’d contest that the UK government believed he’d nominate outright. The UK government knew, just because Bertie didnt.

    I think we need to focus on where its at, and its ‘at’ London. You only had look at St Andrews, I’m not sure what Berties was doing there really.

    And I’ll say it again, per se there is no Plan B, it’ll take forever to draw up and get into effect. Hain will be gone, Blair will be gone and Brown will order a new go to stake his place early. And if he does, there’s next to sod all Bertie can do about it.

  • bertie

    “The legend lives on.
    Michael Stone: Loyalist Hero ”

    Some hero!

  • canwebanulster

    legend lives on – classic!

  • joeCanuck

    Can you imagine the carnage which would have resulted if he had got inside the chamber and exploded or or more of the 6 grenades that BBC World is reporting he carried?
    This is the starkest possible reminder that we need to move forward politically.
    And if had been a dissident republican rather than “hero” Stone. ……….
    Shudders to think.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Yeah some hero lol.Disarmed and wrestled to the ground by a crowd…..oops sorry a lone female lol.

    Posted by POL on Nov 24, 2006 @ 04:43 PM

    What the…? It looked like it took at least 3 security guards to pin him down from the BBC Newsline coverage at 1:30pm!

  • andy mcnab

    POL

    “Yeah some hero lol.Disarmed and wrestled to the ground by a crowd…..oops sorry a lone female lol.”

    I dont know what you are on about mate, he took out 3 provos with pistol and nades outnumbered 2000 to 1. A brave lad indeed, no hiding behind ditches with command wires for our stoner.

    The legend Lives on

    hes red, hes white
    hes full of dynamite
    michael stone
    michael stone
    .
    .
    .
    altogether now

  • Observer

    It wouldn’t hurt the flow of the rhyme to substitute dynamite for total shite. You might even get more people to sing along.

  • My message is to the real leaders of the Irish Republican movement, Thomas Slab Murphy, Bobby Storey, Brian Keenan, John Trainer, Jock Davidson, Wille Gallagher etc, this is your chance to show your sincerity under extreme provocation and advise the rank and file to not rise to this bait.

    The reward for not getting involved in any tit for tat exchanges will be far greater than any percieved benefit from reacting to this attack.

    Clearly decision day is nearly upon the DUP and Loyalism in general.

    Of course they do not want to share power in any way shape or form with Republicans and to prevent any further dissident attacks the Brit and Irish govt should revert to plan B as soon as possible, beefing up all cross border co-operation and demonstrating publicaly the future of Joint sovereignty of the North.

    Too much time and money has been wasted trying to reach a deal and it now time for the Irish govt to slowly take control of the North via the Brits, who will slowly give back sovereignty to the Irish people.

    However, upon another lighter note, if there is ever to be First and Deputy ministers for NI, then may I suggest it be Fair Deal for First minister, and Chris Gaskin for Deputy.

    The current leaders have so much baggage they are incapable of going the final step.

    Pragmatic new leaders are what is needed.

  • Truth and Justice

    The DUP have palyed a blinder, they did noteven nominate and smashed through the dead line, it is now on Sinn Fein to move on Policing well done to the big man!

  • There is no plan B. Tony B has invested too much in the present strategy to back down.Power sharing in NI assembly is the only option open to all parties. SF have to pay the entrance fee to join the club.Until they make up their minds we all have to wait,after all Unionists are in no hurry.

  • rapunsel

    Pathetic posts by concerned loyalist and andy mcnab. No dount sub human UDA/UFF sectarian scum like Stone himself. As far as I can remember one IRA man was killed at Milltown by Stone and two other men. What sort of result would these two pathetic trolls have wanted today– perhaps Stone could have taken out a couple of unarmed security guards or other Stormont staff. What concerns me is that this may not have been organised and executed solely by Stone– where did he get the weapons and explosives? Anyway there is one good thing to come out of it. Whatever the outcome of any prosecution his early release will be revoked and he’ll be in maghaberry for a long time. Tell you what lads — go visit and worship your pathetic hero there.

  • Greenflag

    If Hain does’nt pull the plug today he might as well pack his bags tomorrow . There is fudge and there is fudge -But there should be no doubting that Paisley has called Hain’s bluff and Hain is looking like his hand contains a pair of deuces instead of a royal flush .

    A charade , a fiasco and a farce. High Noon showdown with no show .

  • Art Hostage

    I have never been considered pragmatic before, that’s a new one 😉

  • latcheeco

    Jaysus you could set the clock by some retard pullin “tit for tat” out of the cupboard

  • #

    Art Hostage

    I have never been considered pragmatic before, that’s a new one 😉
    Posted by Chris Gaskin on Nov 24, 2006 @ 11:19 PM

    Don’t worry Chris, it will be something that will grow on you when you are elected.

    So, Chris when are you going to start campaigning for the leadership?

    My point is I think new leaders are needed for both sides to avoid the he did, she did culture.

    You may not be regarded as pragmatic, but I believe it is the likes of level headed people like Fair Deal and yourself that is the future for Ireland.

  • Art Hostage

    I will never be elected because I have no interest in being an elected politican.

    I will also not be campaining for the Party leadership because our current leadership are more than up for the job.

    I have complete faith in them

    Sorry if this disappoints 😉

  • Toff

    Hats off to the security guards. But where were the PSNI? Is it true they didn’t arrive for 5 minutes? If so the Chief Conn has a cheek making any sort of comment. A farce inside and outside the Big House.

  • Bill

    According to George Galloway the two who dealt with him (when he trouble negotiating a revolving door!) were parliamenatry ushers and not security staff.