What Hopes An Election For March?

As Mick has already noted, Peter Robinson is the latest DUP front bencher to adopt a hard line in the aftermath of the historic republican shift on policing indicated by Gerry Adams.

Robinson’s sabre rattling follows on from earlier comments attributed to Jim Allister and Gregory Campbell which, taken together, indicate that the DUP do not seem to be prepared to take the next step and openly commit to a power-sharing government and corresponding elections this March.

In the past several weeks, there has been much discussion about candidates selected/ deselected to run in the proposed March election from all of the main parties here– excepting the DUP. Could it be that the party never intended to go ahead with the St Andrew’s timetable? Or, could it be that they didn’t count on republicans pushing forward plans to endorse policing structures so quickly?

  • Crataegus

    Chris

    From the point of view of SF it needs to do what it believes to be in the best interest of the people of NI. It needs to do this honestly and openly. Keep it simple. At present it is anything but simple and appears to lack honesty. Better to say we have difficulty with this for the following ideological reasons, but in the interests of the collective people of NI….. But no too easy, so what it appears as is moves within moves, of begrudging progress. Some sort of black art. To suggest that the problems of candidate selection within Republican circles is the normal run of things is stretching it a bit.

    The DUP don’t trust SF one inch and given the experience of the UUP can you blame them? They expect problems and endless conditions and new areas of disagreement and endless vetos. They want a government that is workable and they don’t want to put their heads on the chopping block as Trimble did. They are not known for their positive action and risk taking. All I can say is it would have been easier with the UUP but you have made your bed so you better get used to the discomfort. Unfortunately the rest of us have to suffer as well. I don’t like the DUP but i can understand their caution.

  • Irish Aussie

    Surely this isn’t a one way street it can’t all be the Shinners fault.
    Garret Fitzgerald who is no friend of Republicans named the biggest obstacle to peace 30yrs ago whats changed

  • Crataegus

    Aussie

    It isn’t all the fault of SF but some of their difficulty is self inflicted, and I agree with Garret.

  • heck

    does’nt this just prove that it was never about policing. Like the arms issue it was just one more excuse to keep fenians out of government.

  • Irish Aussie

    I wasn,t nessasarily haveing a shot at you Crataegus I have the utmost respect for your opinion. It was more a wail of dissapiontment at the turn of events

  • Frustrated Democrat

    As a Frustrated Democrat am I the only one who wants to leave all this tribal sectarian politics behind?

    When can the real issues that effect people in their day to day lives be dicussed?..you know things like health, education, crime, social issues… it doesn’t matter what your background is they are all important to everyone.

    This posturing nonsense of will we won’t we Powersharing & PSNI, will the border be there or not, in the end won’t improve the lot of people in Northern Ireland. It is all about trying to improve the parties standing with their more extreme wings.

    If there is a politician standing in your area in the next election who wants to discuss real issues instead on any of the above, vote for them and not the usual rabble.

  • fair_deal

    Chris

    “there has been much discussion about candidates selected/ deselected to run in the proposed March election from all of the main parties here- excepting the DUP.”

    1. The only party that has deselected candidates is Sinn Fein. The UUP (Nesbitt, Wilson) and SDLP (Farren, Lewlsey) have each had two existing MLAs stand down plus the two SF members taking a sudden interest in their families.
    2. Big deal. Selection meetings aren’t that difficult to get organised.
    3. There is electoral logic to waiting to the others have selected ie Wilson’s announcement in south Antrim makes it a more intertesting prospect for 3 DUP seats.
    4. SF have not produced the policing motion held the Ard fheis or passed the motion. You are going to get nothing for saying you are going to say it. Say it and do it.

    Maybe you can sort out the confusion PB has highlighted, has one been called or not?

  • Crataegus

    Frustrated Democrat

    If there is a politician standing in your area in the next election who wants to discuss real issues instead on any of the above, vote for them and not the usual rabble.

    I’ll second that one!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Chris Donnelly

    FD
    “two existing MLAs stand down plus the two SF members taking a sudden interest in their families.”

    I don’t know how long you’ve been observing politics, but the most common reason provided by retiring politicians for standing down from politics is to spend more time with their families.

    You may be cynical, but you’ve no reason- other than spite- to suggest such an interest is ‘sudden.’

    ‘Big deal. Selection meetings aren’t that difficult to get organised.’

    So it has nothing to do with the fact that calling such meetings would be a statement of intent to support the actual calling of an election? Given that senior members of the DUP have lined up publicly to oppose the proposed March election, you’ll forgive me if I find that excuse somewhat hard to believe.

    “SF have not produced the policing motion held the Ard fheis or passed the motion. You are going to get nothing for saying you are going to say it. Say it and do it.”

    Sinn Fein has committed itself to holding an Ard Fheis and that will happen- having said that, if there was to be a rapid retreat from the DUP away from the choreographed timetable to the election, who knows how that will effect people’s views.

    The DUP need to realise that ‘it takes two to tango:’republicans can play hardball too.

    Crataegus

    Firstly, noble intentions aside, let’s be honest here: republicans, like unionists and indeed anyone else, will do what they perceive to be in the best interests of people.

    On your observation about the UUP/ DUP, I have to say I couldn’t disagree with you more.

    Firstly, republicans have no reason to trust the DUP, and can point to as many reasons for that distrust as anyone from within the unionist community. You need to realise that trust and mistrust is a two-way process: far too often we hear about unionists needing republicans to provide them with confidence-building measures; for there to be real progress here, reciprocation will be essential.

    Secondly, you bemoan the fall of Trimble and the UUP and suggest republicans should expect a rougher time with the DUP.

    I will openly state that I am quite happy that the political process has progressed to the stage where republicans now know that a deal with unionism will be irreversible, a position that could not be established when negotiating with the UUP.

    This political process will tie all strands of unionism into a political framework which includes all-Ireland bodies and power-sharing structures; as importantly, with one fell swoop the destructive sectarian rhetoric commonly referred to as ‘Paisleyism’ will have been decommissioned, and the cannon fodder who provided the still to be decommissioned unionist paramilitary groups will either go along or retire in disgruntled disillusionment- just listen to the shocked former Paisleyites who are ringing the Talkback programme on Radio Ulster regularly.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Chris,

    republicans et al have to continually remind themselves that playibg to the lowest common denominator is an essential part of unionist politics. In fact the DUP have mastered the art of seeing which way the mob was running before jumping at the front of it and then calling it leadership.

    Robinson, Allister etc are simply trying to gauge where the mob are at this present time.

  • Nationalist

    FD the problem with everyday politics is that they don’t “pose a threat to the union”, which is what the Ultra right wing conservative fascists of the DUP use as their platform at every election.

    It is very hard to beleive why working class protestants continually vote for a party with such right wing policies. Anywhere else and those same people would probably vote Labour.

    Given that both the DUP and UUP have been telling those same working class people of the Shankill that the union is safe and how there will not a united Ireland for 100 years maybe it is time for those people in working class protestant ares to take a chance and vote for a party that has working class policies – maybe the PUP.

    But whats the bet that after telling the Protestant people for the last year or more about safe the union is they come out know and start telling them if they don’t vote DUP then they be in a united Ireland tomorrow?

    And like sheep guess who they will all vote for?

  • J Kelly

    can anyone provide a link to the full text of Paisleys New Year Message currently being reported on BBC. An examination of this full statement will give us all a better understanding of were things are at. RTE are reporting that the statement is more about his own supporters rather than potential partners in government. Gerry Adams said that an Ard Fheis was predicated on positive moves from both governments and the DUP. Could the wheels becoming off this already.

    From the sidelines it seems that Sinn Fein delivered their first part of the bargain and Paisley seems to be faltering. It looks like to no camp in the DUP are coming out on top.

  • Ulster boy

    Nationalist or:
    ‘the problem with everyday politics is that they don’t “rally Republicans to the cause”, which is what the Ultra right wing conservative fascists of the SINN FEIN use as their platform at every election.’

  • jaffa

    “It is very hard to beleive why working class protestants continually vote for a party with such right wing policies. Anywhere else and those same people would probably vote Labour.”

    Mad that identity, dignity and freedom would be more important to people that material things. Who’d have thought it?

    The way to kill off reactionary unionism is to address the question of identity with respect rather that material bribes, condescension or Borg like declarations of the inevitability of assimiliation.

  • Nationalist

    Ulster Boy, if you care to take the time to read the policies of both parties on the everyday issues you would see that the DUP are Ultra right wing conservatives – and Fascist in their nature and delivery of their demands.

    The Policies of Sinn Fein are more Socialist based and aimed at the working class people.

    Simply replacing the titles of parties on text does not therefore always fit as no-one with any sense or knowledge would ever accuse Sinn Fein of being Right wing conservatives.

  • mickhall

    What is all this nonsense about trust and building trust, trusting your political opponents is not the business political party’s are in, otherwise they would all belong to the same hubby bubbly organization. The who purpose of party politics is to do your opponents and their party down.

    Get in the real world and stop talking like adolescents, the DUP understand what the peace process is all about, it was designed to endlessly tie up the PRM in red tape and administrative bureaucracy and so it has.

    The world has seen three so called peace processes, north east of Ireland, Palestine and Sri Lanka; and they have all gone the same way and not one of them has come to fruition, because it was never intended that they would. That is where Trimble went wrong, he misunderstood the whole purpose of the dam thing.

    In the late 1990s, the then Sri lankan Prime Minister Wickremasinghe, let the cat out of the bag when he said, “they [Tamil Tigers] want government, I’ll bog them down with red tape, the Peace Accord is a way to tie them up with admin whilst life [business] goes on.”
    This is exactly what has happened in all three countries in which radical leaderships were fool enough to bite this particular bullet.

    The outcome of these Peace Process is intended to be either a totally neutered radical organization[SF and PLO?] or an exhausted and discredited organization, either way Capital wins.

  • kensei

    “Mad that identity, dignity and freedom would be more important to people that material things. Who’d have thought it?”

    Why isn’t there a successful left wing Unionist party then? It is true that anywhere else they’d likely be Labour to the core.

    Also – freedom? Check where the ROI falls on things like free speech and press freedom these days. Then look at ID Card legislation and the increasingly authoritian rule coming from England and get back to me on that one.

  • Nationalist

    Jaffa, in what way would working class portestants voting for a party with working class policies, such as the PUP, be giving up their identity, dignity and freedom?

    The issue I have made is that the DUP and UUP are Conservatives and that working class people should and in any other place would be voting for a party with working class policies.

    Politics in the North as far as the Protestant people have been concerned have been dominated by one question at each and every election, and that question has never been asked as yet in a referendum – the one about the boarder.

    As the question about the boarder will never be answered until such time as it is put to the electorate then the working class Protestants should stop voting on the issue and backing Conservative parties.

    What is so wrong with asking people to vote for parties which have policies that are more for the working class, Sinn Fein on the Nationalist side and the PUP on the Unionist side?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘The world has seen three so called peace processes’

    The world has seen dozens mick, but that does nothing to support your view of the DUP take on things.
    Seeing that the Irish and Palestinian processes are pre-requisite for any socialist revolutionary argument that means you have to include Sri Lanka in the equation in order to use the quote of the then Sri lankan Prime Minister Wickremasinghe, re the red tape.
    You sledge hammer the square block into the round hole and hey presto it fits.

  • fair_deal

    Chris

    BTW it was the DUP that WANTED an election and not a referendum. It certainly has been widely reported

    “The SDLP and the Ulster Unionists favour a referendum, as does the Irish government, but the DUP and Sinn Fein prefer an election and that is likely to prove the deciding factor.”

    Times link

    “Although neither government has clarified whether an election or referendum will take place, it is widely expected that an election is the preferred choice of the DUP”

    SBP link

    The Irish source added: ‘Paisley wants an election to confirm the DUP’s domination of unionism, while the Irish government needs a referendum because under its constitution any changes to the Good Friday Agreement must be put to the Irish people. So the solution is to have both on the same day.’

    Guardian link

    “Unionist sources who attended the St Andrews negotiations said that no serious intention of holding a referendum on both sides of the border was mooted by either government.

    “There was no serious discussion of a referendum and no great talk about it. Dr Paisley’s view is that an electionto a new Assembly is all thatis necessary and he doesn’tfavour holding a referendum,” one DUP negotiator confirmed.”

    Irish Indo Link(membership reqd)

    The annoucement of an election was welcomed

    “DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson welcomed the announcement of elections”

    BBC link

    You also overlook or choose to ignore that Hain publicly said an Ard Fheis was required before the election

    UTV link

    Or Rooker’s comments in the House of Lords

    “If at any stage between now and 26 March we run out of track then devolution will become dissolution. The clock is stopped; the election scrapped; that is the reality. This is not a threat either from me or the Secretary of State. There would simply be no point in continuing.”

    Hansard link

    There wasn’t much point selecting for an unconfirmed election.

    However never let significant details get in the way of DUP bashing.

    “I don’t know how long you’ve been observing politics, the most common reason provided by retiring politicians for standing down from politics is to spend more time with their families.”

    I am shocked and stunned by that revelation. Now I have picked myself up off the floor, I will show my age and point out that a number of tories used it during thatcher’s period but came back once she was gone. Ever since there has been a cynicism about its use.

    The cycnism showed up in political humour. Spitting Image did a sketch about a Kuwaiti minister resigning as he wanted to spend less time with his family. Martyn Turner did a good cartoon about how Saddam hussein was staying in government to spend more time with his family.

    “Given that senior members of the DUP have lined up publicly to oppose the proposed March election,”

    Did you mean to refer to the march deadline for an Executive? I can see nothing in the three statements above objecting to an election in March.

    Surely you are not trying to misrepresent scepticism about the deadline for a March Executive as opposition to an election?

    “‘it takes two to tango:’”

    Then get on the dance floor and strut your stuff like the rest of the parties not say “Sometime this month we will say we will tango”

  • fair_deal

    Chris

    My apologies I need to refine the last point after you kindly answered my question thus

    “Sinn Fein has committed itself to holding an Ard Fheis and that will happen- having said that, if there was to be a rapid retreat from the DUP away from the choreographed timetable to the election, who knows how that will effect people’s views.”

    It should read

    Then get on the dance floor and strut your stuff like the rest of the parties not say “Sometime this month we will say we will tango but we may change are mind about that.”

  • mickhall

    Pat,

    You can hardly accuse me of including the Sri Lanka peace process for malicious reasons when your own martin m takes his hol’s there under the pretext of teaching the locals to suck apples a la the GFA..

    You really will have to come up with an alternative argument if you wish to ‘contribute in the real world’. I am sure there have been hundreds of peace processes down the centuries, but there are striking similarities between the three I mention, plus that which has been proposed for the Basque country. The fact is as I said all four were designed to destroy one way or another insurgencies without giving ground.

    Surly even you would admit they have been extremely successful in doing this, Israel is stronger not weaker, whilst the PLO is a broken vehicle that is held in contempt by a majority of Palestinians.

    The Tamil Tigers are in disarray and have been pilloried for restarting the war, when in fact the reverse is true. And the PRM has dumped its core beliefs and is still not in sight of the winning post whilst partition is set in stone. Even you might agree 2016 is being somewhat over optimistic?

    I have never thought what has happened in the north was about heros and villains, but about the failure of the SF leadership to understand radical politics needs openness to survive in the political arena; and once it allowed the Brits to dominate both venue and structure of talks it was doomed to the whispering, innuendo and lie machine of the UK state, plus its enticements etc.

    Even now as crat writes Adams is unable to be honest with his members and electorate, why is beyond me, unless that is he has struck back room deals that the British can make public to the detriment of SF. The fact that I even consider this confirms my point about the need for open politics and especially public negotiations, or at the very least the publication of the minutes of negotiations.

    Still that will be for future generations of Republicans one hopes.. funny how republicans always seem in the long run to lose out in negotiations with the British State, but never seem to draw any conclusions for the future from doing so, thus each generation of leaders repeat the mistake of their forbears. Perhaps Irish Republicanism is to blunt an instrument for the modern world?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘You can hardly accuse me of including the Sri Lanka peace process for malicious reasons’

    Not at all mick, you’ve included it for the purpose of a soundbite that supports your view of what the current process is according to the DUP.

    Even now as crat writes Adams is unable to be honest with his members and electorate, why is beyond me, unless that is he has struck back room deals that the British can make public to the detriment of SF.’

    I bit like your use of ‘i don’t know if they are agents but’. Come on mick everything Adams says is analysed to death. Not being able to counter argue with any degree of conviction it is now ‘he must have struck a side deal’. A sorry tangent on SF members can’t think for themselves, are robots etc etc. Gerry is lying to them and they can’t see it, ‘though I can of course’.

    I am glad to see that you have stood by your own plea to keep the debate at a certain constructive level. Liars, agents, side deals behind peoples backs, thank god you didn’t ask for the gloves to come off.

  • Nationalist

    mickhall, just to pick up on your sentence “Even you might agree 2016 is being somewhat over optimistic?

    The 2016 date is possible depending on the overall Catholic support for re-unification in that the Alliance parties numbers are generally Catholic and viewed as Unionists with a small u.

    Those people are generally people looking at the quality and standard of life and given the changes at present may well opt for the Celtic Tiger to provide a higher standard than we currently have and are increasingly having to pay for.

    The updated population figures to the end of 2004 show there was 43.8% with a Catholic background and 53.1% with a Protestant background. An increase in the Catholic population of 5.42 from the 1991 Census figures.

    As the Protestant population is a majority, that majority is in the upper age group of the over 55s whilst the Catholic population has a majority of the under 55s.

    In general it is more likely that the over 55s will die first and this has been shown to be the case as the population swing towards a Catholic majority is greater year on year.

    All in all 2016 is possible, it may of course be a little over optimistic but unity is achievable within a short time after that.

  • Aaron McDaid

    Even if the ‘deal’ does fall apart, there should be elections anyway. The electorate should be able to judge the parties. My guess is that British government might decide to hold elections even if the DUP aren’t interested in powersharing.

  • jaffa

    Nationalist / Kensei

    “Politics in the North as far as the Protestant people have been concerned have been dominated by one question at each and every election, and that question has never been asked as yet in a referendum – the one about the border.”

    That’s the point. So long as Republicans keep playing the one state one people card protestants will keep voting for the party which most balances the identity see-saw, even at the expense of their material advantage.

    Re ID cards, they make you say who you are, they don’t tell you who you are. I’m against them but I’m wasn’t talking about civil liberties here – I was talking about the right to define ourselves. Maybe it’s all a cruel existential joke but we seem to care more about who we are than just about anything else; bread and circuses included.

  • kensei

    “That’s the point. So long as Republicans keep playing the one state one people card protestants will keep voting for the party which most balances the identity see-saw, even at the expense of their material advantage.”

    I think the Republican view would be more – one state, one people, multiple identities. In a sense the “Ulster Scots” stuff some sections of Unionism seem to want to pursue is preferable to “British2 in that it’s a uniquely Irish phenomenon and easier to accommodate.

    “Re ID cards, they make you say who you are, they don’t tell you who you are. I’m against them but I’m wasn’t talking about civil liberties here – I was talking about the right to define ourselves.”

    Except it isn’t really about that at all. You can define yourself more or less how you wish in any democratic society — and the South certainly qualifies — it’s about power and who wields it. Who controls your destiny? I don’t think anyone here could claim to be master of their own.

  • mickhall

    Pat,
    It is not that i believe that SF members cannot think for themselves, i am sure you can, it is just when you tell us your for something, then when your leader does otherwise you seem to fall in line immediately without a shameful look, or the need to explain to the electorate why you changed your mind. [You also write that I accuse your leader of lying, well when he claimed not an ounce etc what was he doing if not lying? it really is difficult to describe such behavior in any other way]

    It is almost stalinist in the manner it happens as to is the heat which you turn on any members who refuse to dance to the leaderships tune. It is the same how you respond to criticism of your leadership, it is always aim at the man not the ball. I have made a number of points as to why i feel the Peace Process was flawed from the beginning and the reason as to why imo Mr Adams has failed his party and electorate. Yet you refuse to enter into any debate on these points.

    Do you really believe the Peace Process is the offspring of Gerry Adams and John Hume? and what has occurred in the four countries I mention is great minds think alike. Or is it as I say, yet another ‘cunning plan’ by perfidious albion and their international allies to bring radical insurgencies to an end without gain for the rebels, or pain for the powers that be.

  • Aaron McDaid

    jaffa: “So long as Republicans keep playing the one state one people card protestants will keep voting for …” [My emphasis]

    Don’t you mean ‘Unionists’ not ‘Protestants’? For example, who are Protestant Republicans meant to vote for in your analysis !?

  • Mick Fealty

    The DUP are slated to begin selecting in the next seven days. It makes sense to leave it late. In contrast to the bitter ground war ahead of nationalism, the unionist game still resembles a continuing game of Dominoes. And the UUs have made it relatively easy in places, by playing the optics of being a ‘big’ party by selecting full slates where they need only have selected one or two.

    The one nasty chestnut they have to crack is in Newry and Armagh. With Paul Berry and Willie Frazer standing, their vote will get squeezed. But that is very much against the run.

    In contrast the nationalist battle will be fought on very narrow ground and involve a handful of seats:

    – Lagan Valley, SDLP vulnerable (although it could go to Alliance)

    – South Belfast, Sinn Fein vulnerable

    – Upper Bann, SDLP vulnerable

    – South Antrim, SDLP vulnerable (though keep an eye on Mitchel, this is no shoe in)

    – Newry and Armagh, Sinn Fein vulnerable (though a steal is possible for SDLP from DUP)

    – West Tyrone, (though the odds are lengthening somewhat) SDLP vulnerable

    – South Down, (a very long shot), Sinn Fein vulnerable

    It cannot be stressed enough that all or most of these could as just as easily return the status quo as deliver shock defeats.

    Alex Maskey will have his work cut out for him in South Belfast, a seat he won at the high point of his popularity after a highly successful year as Lord Mayor. In contrast his profile lately has been low, and it’s thought the McCartney debacle played poorly for him in last year’s election. He needs the support of uncommitted SF voters to get him over the line.

    And Mitchel McLaughlin may struggle to dig in beyond the Republican heartland. Expect his parachuting in to be an issue to be repeatedly brought up on the doorstep. Alliance leader David Ford (probably the most implausible candidate for a seat there), may relish having a larger target to aim at than the party’s previous Westminster candidate, Anne Marie Logue.

    Policing is the key. So far it has been submerged, but several of Sinn Fein’s ‘de-selected’ candidates have cited it as a source of discontent. In places like Newry, a decision to run by a high profile dissenting candidate like Davy Hyland could tip the local balance. It remains to be seen what difference the loss of personnel will make to Sinn Fein’s ‘ground war’.

    But in general, given the hunger in some Republican areas for a reliable police force, it is not likely to be too much of a hard sell to ordinary voters. It will have effects only where there are already wobbles in the constituency, or where a Sinn Fein victory depends on drawing in sufficient ‘neutral others’. And whether the SDLP’s remarkable recovery last year was anything more than a blip.

  • dissident

    Mickhall, I am having a similar discussion with Pat on a different thread (Another One Bites the Dust), with similar outcome. He does not debate any of the points I am making, instead reducing them to a soundbite that does not reflect what I have said at all, and he does not like it when liars get called liars. Oh, well. What can you do?

  • jaffa

    Kensei,

    “I think the Republican view would be more – one state, one people, multiple identities. In a sense the “Ulster Scots” stuff some sections of Unionism seem to want to pursue is preferable to “British2 in that it’s a uniquely Irish phenomenon and easier to accommodate.”

    Ok, but try to put a muzzle on knee-jerk anti-British sneering while you let the Ulster-Scots (or even the Scots-Irish) try on their new clothes.

    “it’s about power and who wields it. Who controls your destiny? I don’t think anyone here could claim to be master of their own.”

    Big question! On the day to day economic level I don’t think swapping capitalist owner bureaucrats for state owner bureaucrats is the way forward. Tried and died. Workplace democracy, employee ownership, some kind of discouragement from owning shares in businesses you’ve never worked in, community rather than state ownership of assets, local control of planning laws – that sort of stuff may be the way to give people a sense of responsibility and control. A dogmatic 32 County Marxist Socialist Republic is a bonkers substitute for dogmatic religion.

    A clever shinner re-brand might re-work the whole “Ourselves Alone” tag as national sovereignty being the pooling of individual autonomy rather than all the out of date dialectic materialism stuff.

  • jaffa

    Aaron,

    Good question. Our wee parrallel thread started with a query as to why working class prods vote for economically conservative parties. I suggested that identity is more important to people than materialism. To stay on message I’ll have to posit that Republicanism is a choice of identity based on the self image of someone with an enlightened mind and a rationalist disposition.

    It’s snobby to say but not everyone is as tied to rationalist enlightenment thinking as you might be. (“The people have spoken, the bastards” seems to be a recurring complaint of liberals and democractic socialists).

    You may say that republicanism is an objective managerial decision based on maximising material returns for the greatest number of people. You might be right as to econcomic outcomes (not sure meself) but I still think you’d be talking out yer arse if you think that’s why some prods decide they’re republican.

  • Carson’s Cat

    Chris
    “I don’t know how long you’ve been observing politics, but the most common reason provided by retiring politicians for standing down from politics is to spend more time with their families.”

    A politician ‘spending time with the family’ is like a celebrity leaving a nightclub ‘tired and emotiional’. When a phrase is used as a euphamism so often it really is stupid to use it even if in some cases it happens to be the truth.

  • ChairmanMao

    What about in Strangford? If the SDLP play it right, they could win the first nationalist assembly seat in the constituency.

    They just missed out last time and this time the Alliance vote will be under pressure from a more confident Tory candidate. The SDLP could do another south belfast by sneaking up the middle of the Alliance and Tories to snatch the seat. Good luck to them.

  • Mick Fealty

    True CM, but it doesn’t really constitute a part of the main Nationalist feature.

  • borden

    I reckon that Joe Boyle could very well become the first nationalist MLA in Strangford. He has a good profile and was extremely unlucky in 03. Also Mick, I would probably put the SDLP at 18/19 MLAs in March if the election happens. They will probably remain rock solid in their key areas like Foyle, just about scrape home in N Antrim/ Upper Bann and W. tyrone, but could cause an upset in Newry/Armagh and E Antrim. Will be interested to see who the stoops finally choose in Derry.

  • kensei

    “Ok, but try to put a muzzle on knee-jerk anti-British sneering while you let the Ulster-Scots (or even the Scots-Irish) try on their new clothes.”

    I am neither anti-British, lots of things about the place I like, merely anti the British Government exercising power here, nor am I sneering. Just thinking out loud – I am merely pointing out that most Nationalists despair at Unionism (or at least a section of it) trying to do anything to get away from being “Irish” but in the long run, this might be easier to accommodate than “British” as that has certain features that simply cannot be accommodated in a UI context, the same way there are limits to how much my Irishness can my accommodated under present arrangements. “Ulster Scots” has less barriers, possibly.

    “A dogmatic 32 County Marxist Socialist Republic is a bonkers substitute for dogmatic religion.

    A clever shinner re-brand might re-work the whole “Ourselves Alone” tag as national sovereignty being the pooling of individual autonomy rather than all the out of date dialectic materialism stuff.”

    The thing is, SF doesn’t really stand for that any more. It is certainly left wing, “Socialist” in a Northern European sense, but any Marxist stuff is clearly vestigal. It’ll not be a Marxist state they are selling to the electorate (especially Southern), anyway.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    mickhall

    ‘it is just when you tell us your for something, then when your leader does otherwise you seem to fall in line immediately without a shameful look,’

    What like?

    Your points around the current process are usually vague generalisations. Outside of slagging Adams off I can’t remember you making any point that meritted a reply. Though if you want to debate the issues I will start if you want.
    It is impossible to convince you Adams is not a liar as you seem brain washed to that effect, It is hard to convince you that the current process stands alone as you seem brain washed that it is a vast conspiracy all the way from here to Sri Lanka via Palestine.
    A solid grounding for a debate would be a goosd start.

    Also I repeat the point that being accused of playing the man does come across as a bit rich

  • on the subject of liars

    Pat, it is very simple. Was Gerry Adams in the IRA? Yes or no will do.

  • mickhall

    Pat,

    If I was to say Gerry Adams is not a liar, I would become a laughing stock and might as well put my pen away now. Without doubt he sits alongside Blair as being the biggest liar currently engaged in UK/Irish politics. You may defend him by stating that at times he had good reason for telling porkies, but Adams tells lies when there is absolutely no need and it is difficult to conclude what his reasoning is for doing so.

    The best example of this is his claims over IRA membership, he had no good reason to issue a denial in the manner he did, he just had to keep quiet. The British and their US allies new it was rubbish, such a lie was bound to upset the troops, those within the SDLP or Unionist community guffawed at his claims, what possibly could have motivated him?

    What about the republic by 2016, did he believe such rubbish, if not then he was telling lies. the list is bloody endless and most people have a favorite Adams porky, even yesterday he was at it with nonsense about no contradiction between what South did and what he [Adams] is about to do on policing.

    If you feel a better world can be built by politicians lying or being shall we say economical with the truth fair enough, I do not, the more so when the b a s t a r d s do it before they even get into government, for if that is not being forewarned I know not what is.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    mickhall,

    ‘If I was to say Gerry Adams is not a liar, I would become a laughing stock and might as well put my pen away now. Without doubt he sits alongside Blair as being the biggest liar currently engaged in UK/Irish politics.’

    Can you not see by making such a point you undermine your call for debate between genuine republicans and dissident elements. In that context I can only conclude that your call for an honest and civil debate was merely for the optics.

    ‘You may defend him by stating that at times he had good reason for telling porkies, but Adams tells lies when there is absolutely no need and it is difficult to conclude what his reasoning is for doing so.’

    I have never done this.

    On the question of his IRA membership pre 1994 he had been questioned quite publicly on this issue almost on a daily basis, common sense stated that he replied at that time the way he did. At that time the charge carried a sentence of 10 yrs in jail. Work out the rest and the subsequent follow on from that.

    ‘What about the republic by 2016, did he believe such rubbish, if not then he was telling lies. the list is bloody endless and most people have a favorite Adams porky, even yesterday he was at it with nonsense about no contradiction between what South did and what he [Adams] is about to do on policing.’

    People have clear aims and goals. Better to have a date to work towards (aspirational or not) than the current dissident position of a 32 county republic etc with no way, means or policies to get us there. But don’t worry we will think something up eventually.

    The word liar is bandied about with such abandon by dissident elements that one is tempted to hold up a mirror to many of the leading lights involved. Come on now the Irps, Contras etc are a pretty east target. But I believe deep down all the dissidents really want is a slanging match. Their lack of ideas or policies or strategies get lost in all the bile.
    So by all means carry on as you are others will opt out.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick

    Couple of glaring errors there:

    Anne Marie Logue never contested a Westminster election for Sinn Fein: Henry Cushinan was the 2005 Westminster candidate for the party in South Antrim.

    In Lagan Valley, Alliance already hold a seat and will only be running one candidate- therefore it will be impossible for them to claim a second seat there (even with a 2nd candidate it’d still be impossible.)

    CC/ FD

    You amuse me with your observations on a politician’s reasons for retiring, but nevertheless the point remains: in your opinions, is it impossible for a politician to ‘genuinely’ retire, other than through electoral defeat?

    FD
    I never stated that the DUP were opposed to an election as such; rather, the thread addresses the timing of that election and the indications that some in the DUP are getting itchy feet about an election any time soon.

    I’d say you’re smart enough to recognise that much of the bellicose political statements being made at the moment- as well as the choreographed political moves- are a form of preparation for a very public tango, which will occur when the DUP finally endorse a deal leading to a joint First ministerial office of Paisley and McGuinness.

    However, what is becoming clear is that a number of their leading figures are intent on reducing the possibility of that occurring in the short term- as their pronouncements clearly indicate hostility to an election in March. The fact that many senior DUP figures couldn’t wait to get out their statements ‘ruling out’ an election in March, even before their party leader spoke on the matter, is a clear indication of rocky ground ahead.

    But we shall see…

  • mickhall

    Pat,

    You really do not seem to have got the hang of this democracy game, in a democratic society the whole basis of politics is what you term a slanging match, that is how we argue out our differences before the public, why do you fear it so. What politics should not be about is sending the party line down to the troops and if any of them disagree publicly, sending them a black spot.

    As to a debate amongst republicans, you jest, your leadership will not even allow its members to debate this issue publicly without an honor guard present, thus making clear that if any of them differ from the leadership there will be consequences. As indeed there has been, still at least those of your members who have been de-selected had the balls to take the piss out of Adams when they said they wished to spend more time with there families, not it seems Mr Adam’s very own ‘republican family’ which is increasingly resembling a Dickensian nightmare of a family. Although of course in Dickens day the tyrant at the head of the household used a big stick, not a text to express his displeasure of a family member.

    Pat I have enjoyed our exchange, but I must do some work, so I will leave the last word to you.

  • Aaron McDaid

    jaffa,
    Maybe I’m misreading your comment, but I guess you’re referring to the link between Irish republicanism and socialism? I don’t like the way that republicanism has tied itself to socialism. But I would expect SF to be able to shake it off if it had a realistic chance of getting into government anywhere.

    Socialism is not “we’ll help the less well off” – instead it’s a set of policies which socialists think will help the less well off. They have lost the argument and are just fooling the electorate by pretending that socialist policies will help anyone. Maybe protestant republicans aren’t very socialist, but non-protestant republicans aren’t necessarily all socialists either. In the political climate nowadays bread and butter issues might have more time and people might realise that it’s not enough to have well-meaning economic aims, but that your policies actually have to correspond to your aims.

    SF could outflank everyone by having sane economic policies that actually help the less well off. (Irish) Labour would look pretty stupid after ‘socialist’ SF convinces the electorate that the usual suspects of lefty economic policies are stupid. For example, we should scrap VAT instead of pretending that there is such thing as a ‘tax free allowance’. We need to realise that corporation tax does not hit the rich – only income tax is capable of targetting people accurately. Income tax should be by far the main source of the government’s income.

    Can SF grow to include those who actually have a clue how to create an Ireland of Equals (i.e. non-socialists)?

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris,

    You got me on the Anne Marie thing. Should have checked it before pressing ‘submit’.

    Re the Alliance seat in LV, I was allowing for the possibility that a Unionist of some description would take the fifth seat. That might result in a three way scramble for the last one, and one that is too tough to call cleanly: not least since Alliance and the SDLP will be running new candidates.

  • fair_deal

    Chris

    “I never stated that the DUP were opposed to an election as such; rather, the thread addresses the timing of that election and the indications that some in the DUP are getting itchy feet about an election any time soon.”

    As squirming goes a fairly good attempt. However, scepticism about the 26th March deadline is not the same as not wanting an election nor has anyone of the DUP figures you list attacked the idea of a March election.

    Furthermore as potential supporting evidence you tried to infer meaning to the lack of selection meetings. If Mick’s post is correct that doesn’t fly either.

    “are a form of preparation for a very public tango, which will occur when the DUP finally endorse a deal leading to a joint First ministerial office of Paisley and McGuinness.”

    Since I began commenting on slugger I have been persistent in my advocacy that the DUP would make a deal. A position was viewed with deep scepticism by nationalist and republican contributors.

    “could it be that they didn’t count on republicans pushing forward plans to endorse policing structures so quickly? ”

    The expectation at St Andrews was SF’s executive would announce in November when an Ard Fheis would be held. So republicans are running late not acting quickly.

  • Crataegus

    Two things never cease to amaze me;

    The first is how people in political parties, close ranks and swear that there is the fragrance of roses even if they are in a field of pig slurry. The clever ones among them stay well to the back and say nought, but the young and the zealots defend the incongruity with zeal. The great fonts of wisdom has spoken and therefore their word must be defended. Let me give some advice, if you think it’s a bit iffy let the high priest defend it himself, for you are being used and you will be a disposable asset if future convenience dictates. But of course you think it will never happen to you? Don’t jeopardise your own credibility in defending others it weakens your own future position. Would those who you are so loyal to do the same for you?

    The second is; why is it so difficult to see the obvious? In a world divided to get your way you need to persuade a percentage of the other camp that your views are right. It is better to strike a deal with those who will try to honour an agreement and give you a bit of room than those who will make you walk on coals. Better to try and find common ground make progress and build trust. To do that you need partners who will work with you. You need some flexibility.

    Chris

    let’s be honest here: republicans, like unionists and indeed anyone else, will do what they perceive to be in the best interests of people.

    Not necessarily they tend to do what they consider in the best interests of themselves. The rest of us get shafted.

    You need to realise that trust and mistrust is a two-way process: far too often we hear about unionists needing republicans to provide them with confidence-building measures; for there to be real progress here, reciprocation will be essential.

    I agree but instead of blaming each other, each side needs to take account of its own actions and from my perspective SF have milked every ounce of good will and optimism out of the peace process for narrow party political interests. Many Unionist actions have also been hypocritical.

    Secondly, you bemoan the fall of Trimble and the UUP and suggest republicans should expect a rougher time with the DUP.
    Bemoan is not quite the right connotation, more like big political mistake. I think credit where credit is due, Trimble tried, he put his reputation and that of his party on the line and the response from SF was lamentable. Good opportunity screwed in the furtherance of SF’s political self interest.

    I will openly state that I am quite happy that the political process has progressed to the stage where republicans now know that a deal with unionism will be irreversible, a position that could not be established when negotiating with the UUP.

    Are you serious!*!*!*! You are in for a period of utter torture. You are about to get a large dollop of what the UUP had to put up with from SF. The problem I have with this is all the rest of us have to suffer the consequence otherwise it would be divine retribution.

    with one fell swoop the destructive sectarian rhetoric commonly referred to as ‘Paisleyism’ will have been decommissioned, and the cannon fodder who provided the still to be decommissioned unionist paramilitary groups will either go along or retire in disgruntled disillusionment

    Do you really believe this? Paisleyism is the politics of fear. It feeds on mistrust. The way to address mistrust is through your actions. Because of SF’s antics post the agreement, support for that agreement has fallen. The reason why the DUP (well one of the reasons) do not want a referendum on the ST Andrew’s Agreement is they know it would be lost and that a large majority of Unionists are likely to vote against. Do you really think a fall in support progress!

    You yourself have highlighted various speeches from leading lights in the DUP. It must be clear a bed of nails awaits.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Further to the selection of candidates issue I am told that the deadline for party nominations was Christmas. I am also told there are not to be too many surprises in store, though we may see several three candidate seats roll up to four.

    The UUP’s problems are unlike the SDLP’s in defending against SF, in that the party has no regional strongholds it can retreat to and defend. It was previously strong everywhere, and is now potentially just as weak everywhere.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    mickhall,

    always good to chat to you, like yourself work now beckons for my good self and my recent visit to Slugger is now over for a few months. Catch you up near the very important March dates.

  • Nationalist

    mickhall, you seem to suggest that policies and issues cannot change within a party without the leader of a said party being a liar?

    Would you then say that Ian Paisley is a liar as he stood before 100,000 or so in Belfast and stated Never, Never, Never. The DUP also stated that it did not take part in talks with the UVF in 1994 when they asked the UVF NOT to go on ceasefire (thereby any fair minded person would assume the DUP wanting the UVF to continue with their murder campaign), yet they stated the meeting didn’t take place even though it was confirmed by David Ervine PUP/UVF – is it therefore fair comment to label all members of the DUP executive liars?

    Your reasoniong of what makes a person a liar on the grounds that because they or the respective parties have changed their positions on some policy is very flawed.

    Politics is most certainly about arguing and debating out differences but it does not tie people of today to the same ideals and standards of the past.

  • Chris Donnelly

    ..nor has anyone of the DUP figures you list attacked the idea of a March election.

    FD

    Jim Allister
    It’s about tested and proven delivery over a credible period – which patently cannot exist between January and March (what does he mean?)

    Gregory Campbell
    KEY Democratic Unionist has predicted that devolved administration in Northern Ireland will not meet the March 26 deadline because this does not leave sufficient time to gauge Sinn Fein’s commitment to policing.
    Gregory Campbell, the DUP MP for East Londonderry, said: “This will not fly by the end of March.” (and what about him?)

    Edwin Poots
    Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday, Edwin Poots, a DUP MLA, said that it may be in his party’s interests to let this issue “dangle for a while” (possibly until after March?)

    On top of that, David Simpson has publicly made similar remarks- which I don’t have time to locate at this moment.

    As the governments have clearly stated that they will not call elections before an agreement is reached on the return of devolution, then these are clear indications that many in the DUP ranks are opposed to a March election.

    Cue squirming…

  • fair_deal

    Chris

    Standing tall thanks as trying to continue a dodgy foundation by repeating two of the original quotes you refered to in your original blog does not shore up a dodgy foundation neither does trying to change the context of a vague Poots quote when he was referring to policing not an election nor claiming someone else said something equally vague.

    There is not one reference to the election in any of those comments you list (old or new) let alone a negative one.

    You are trying to pretend that there is only one event in March, there are TWO events in March under the St Andrews timetable – an election and the nomination of the executive. Curious you use the the Gregory quote as it completely undermines that the issue is the election – both the article “26 March deadline” and his quote refer to the nomination of the executive “the end of march” NOT the election.

    I also see you choose to ignore the points that your reference to the lack of selection meetings has been answered and that republicans are running behind schedule not quickly.

    I can understand why a republican would try and get this narrative going but the quotes you offer as evidence just don’t even provide smoke let alone fire and the Gregory quote pours a bucket of water on it.