On the quality of dissenting voices and the difficulties they pose

Tommy Gorman has hit an important point about the quality of dissension within the two major parties here at this critical juncture in the process (first audio link below story.) Whilst much has been made of resignations within Sinn Fein at a level well below the party leadership, Gorman points to the transparent unease and dissension within those who would sit at the top table within the DUP.
There’s no doubt that Sinn Fein’s hardballing over the past week has got Blair to endorse the need for a firmer, public commitment from the DUP over the timetable for devolution of policing and justice, and nationalists will clearly view this as a successful move on the part of the Sinn Fein leadership.
Gerry Adams’ quickly released public endorsement of Blair’s stance- backed up within hours by Gerry Kelly, the party’s Policing spokesman, has cleared the republican side of the fence.
However, the rash rejection issued live on Talkback by DUP MP, Gregory Campbell, indicates that it is now the DUP who will be faced with either supporting the new position of Tony Blair or taking the flak for the postponement of the election.
In this regard, Campbell’s hard line response (listen out for his reference to Herod and Child Care!) illustrates that Paisley may have a hard sell on his hand, before he even gets to the grassroots.
UPDATE: In fairly strident tones, Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, has stated that the ball is firmly in the DUP’s court to provide “absolute” clarity over their commitment to devolution of justice and policing. Interestingly, Ahern comments that it would be ‘preferable’ if this was to occur before May 2008 (interview approx. 40 minutes into ‘Evening Extra’ programme.)

  • Dualta

    Good post Chris.

    Plan B anyone? I don’t think Paisley will jump. As I said on another thread, if he does he risks splitting his party, if he doesn’t then he risks the implementation of Plan B, but at least that will galvinise his party and he will still be in control of at least that.

  • Yokel

    Look lads before ya all go on, the NIO has put out a statement saying they are happy that both parties have responded positively.

    There ya go, all done. Thus the NIO, the government voice, has said ok.

    Thus what does Gerry do now, say it isnt enough?

  • Yokel

    No disrespect, but there’s one side looking desperate, apart from Tony, who is mean’t to be an honest broker.

    Hint, it isn’t the DUP.

    No amount of posting threads on here is going to change the reality of this in the big bad political world.

    No sale but thanks for the offer.

  • Observer

    The ball is in Sinn Fein/IRA’s court … no backing of the police … then no Government. Simple as that!

    It’s time Irish Republicanism gave something in this one sided process.

  • I think I say for the third time today, time will tell (it’s what we have archives for).

    When the DUP have resignations (Jack McKee is currently the most prominent of those threatening to go over powersharing), I’ll buy it. Until then, I’m staying cautious.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Thanks for that incisive piece of analysis.

  • Yokel

    Well thank you. It don’t need much more does it.

  • Observer

    Mick et al,

    The thing is who has more to lose in this process?

    Sinn Fein will face national and international pressure.

    The US Government has been putting pressure on them for some time. The Shinners are dragging their feet for a reason.

    Whilst there will be some disgust within the DUP I think that they will maintain order within their ranks.

    However I do not think that any party should be forced into coalition with Sinn Fein who are after all ‘inextricably linked’ to the IRA – even after their little show of disarmament as the organisation still exists and remains intact.

    Voluntary coalition offers a democratic way forward for all the people of this province.


    I think Yokel is one the money when he points out that the NIO is happy that both parties accept Blair’s view.

    But we’ve moved into the PR phase, which Adams knows he’ll win because the DUP aren’t able to endorse Blair’s position as strongly as he can. I hate to be a pessimist, but when people are positioning themselves for the blame game, it doesn’t look good does it?

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    if you had have been involved at the pre GFA negotiations nearly a decade ago, then your views could have been taken into account. As it is we are working under what was agreed.

  • Observer


    I understand that. However I advacate that Voluntary coalition would offer a more stable way forward.

    Obviously the Belfast Agreement (or GFA) has set a precedent and political parties seem to be wedding themselves to it. Let me tell you, the Government does not care either way.

    It may offer an idea for the future, if the Assembly ever gets up and running; but I do not feel that any Sinn Fein/DUP administration will work. The Government can push both sides all they want; but at the end of the day it is ultimately up to them.

    Therefore what other option do we have on a way forward?

    Plan B offers what we already have, or will have under the future super 7 council structure. However I do not believe that that forfills NIO policy as it will create further division.

    Lets see the Government and parties jump through hoops to get something in operation, but not necessarily together!

    There will be an election come March, but not necessarily an Executive to follow suit. Look at Trimble post-agreement 1998 after all the hype and love. It became a stop-start-stop process.

  • Truth and Justice

    I dont belive the DUP have any chooce to make it is up to Sinn Fein to hold their meeting and support he rule of law and order and Polcing.

  • Keith M

    So SF/IRA might not now hold a meeting to agree to support policing. The reason they seem to be giving for this about-face is that the DUP didn’t cheer on their initial decision to have a meeting. It appears that nowadays it’s the DUP and not Adams are noe dicating SF/IRA’s policiy towards the police.

    This raises an interesting little conundrum. If SF/IRA were serious about supporting the police and it wasn’t just a political stunt, then surely they would make up their own minds irrespective of what the DUP said or did.

    If on the other hand they aren’t serious about supporting the police and are only playing a political game, then they have proved that the DUP’s scepticism was spot on.

    Game set and match to the DUP.

  • fair_deal

    Timing and what is being debated is more of an issue than who.

    The St Andrews timetable means SF has to have a big row about a core principles before the election while the DUP doesn’t have to have a row until after the election and it isn’t over principle but about timing – how long a test before power-sharing.

  • joeCanuck

    Fair Deal

    That was quite the bit of analysis you did on possible voting outcomes.
    You don’t perchance have any idea of the difference it would make if the dissenting voices in both SF and the DUP (say 10% each) stayed at home?

  • fair_deal


    I am afriad there is no short answer to that nor have I done the detailed number work so please don’t be quoting these back to me as my considered opinion.

    Off the top of my head and based on the assumption the 10% drop from 2005 levels is evenly spread across all the constituencies and the other parties do not experience similar problems with turnout.

    There should be no DUP losses but it would prevent growth possibly even in the two ‘given’ gains of south and east belfast.

    With Sinn Fein the same is true it would stop growth (No gain in LV, SA or WT). It would make the at risk south belfast seat probably a goner and the SDLP attempt to take a seat off Sinn Fein in Newry and Armagh would go from longshot to a real fight.

  • joeCanuck

    thanks Fair Deal

    I certainly won’t be quoting you.
    I was just intrigued.

  • betterireland

    Herod, childcare?

    a line stolen from Mark Durkan actually, who had said that asking MI5 to take over in the North was like appointing King Herod Children’s Commissioner.


    Let’s not forget that Republicans have a history of using DUP statements as a convenient pretext for backing out of situations they can’t deliver.
    Just look how luch they milked Paisley’s sackcloth and ashes speech.

    What we should be asking ourselves this time is, will it be enough to use PAisley’s we will not be found wanting response?

    I don’t think it will.

    The DUP have learned from their last mistake. Paisley’s latest response was a calculated effort at cutting the ground from under Sinn Fein’s Feet and not giving them an easy get out.

    Sinn Fein are the ones feeling the heat at the moment.
    Having said that, let’s not forget that the leadership is showing leadership, and trying to move an unwilling grassroots to a place where the leadership knows it has to go. All credit to them for that.

  • Yokel

    Dermot Ahern..

    God knows when he did the interview but the NIO had already moved on.

    To paraphrase the man, ‘we are not working on a Plan B, we are full steam ahead with Plan A’.

    They don’t have a Plan B and there never was one. By the time a Plan B could be put together, Tony will be long gone and Gordon will probably just leave things. Republicans know this is their best chance to get some serious concessions whilst Tony is still there with his vanity project and you can’t blame them for that.

    Ah all that talk about Joint Authority, all those wetting of pants with excitement, all that energy used up washing them….

  • N S Killen

    Paisley has played a blinder. He has not moved from his position yet the NIO have accepted his statement and now poor old Gerry has to deliver or get the blame.

    What on earth is that tosser Campbell whinging about? Has he not the wit to see that his captain has scored from the half-way line?

  • N S Killen

    Not a DUP member but I am a DUP voter. Almost all the unionists I meet think Allister and Dodds have lost the plot and trust the party leader.

    I suppose those who attack the restoration of the Assembly will not be seeking membership of it???

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin


    Talking to yourself (albeit through your various sockpuppets) is a bad sign. Since you first posted under this one, I’m leaving it up.

  • sam

    It’s maybe not losing the plot from Dodds, Campbell etc as much as not having the guts to go through with it. The Dirty Dozen aren’t exactly the people you would go to looking for courage. Some of these morons don’t seem to catch on that the voters who have taken them beyond their traditional loony vote aren’t voting for their rubbish from years ago- they want a deal and devolution. They seem to forget that in the public eye, it won’t take long for Campbell to return to being just that Free P headcase selling trash at his wee stall on the twelfth again when people catch on he’s not up for any heavy lifting. Gutless fools

  • T.Ruth

    Allister,Dodds Morrow,McCrea Simpson and Campbell et al dissidents all have jobs to go to if the STA proposals dont run-it makes it easy for them to be tough guys.What is their game plan? Allister reminds me of someone who has been in Long Kesh for the past twenty years and has come out thinking its still 1986-same old rhetoric. Its not about anything but delivery. If any sensible Unionist looked at this deal they should realise its the best deal ever. Unionists will control North /Southery,unnaacountable ministers as easy as turning a volume control up and down.Whats the diisident solution to the problems faced by the people of Northern Ireland ?.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Off the top of my head and based on the assumption the 10% drop from 2005 levels is evenly spread across all the constituencies and the other parties do not experience similar problems with turnout.”

    Funnily enough the NIO had another of its private opinion polls before Christmas to establish the possible fallout in just such a scenario. My mole beneath the SoS’s sunlounger tells me that it predicted the UUP as still flatlining in disaster central and the DUP at risk in possibly five constituencies to Continuity Unionists behind Bob’s banner i.e. losing the splintered votes of 1998 that they picked up in 2001. No UUP gain from the DUP is predicted

    The Bob brigade are targetting East, North and South Antrim, E Londonderry, and North Down, and have popular names available for some of those seats, as well as an adequate warchest

    If even I know this, and the DUP’s moles are notoriously wellinformed, who thinks that the rash of tough statements yesterday is pure coincidence?

  • Percival

    In this post Chris Donnelly demonstrated admirably the forked-tongue approach of Sinn Fein – which can be summed up as thus – we don’t have the guts to do the deed on policing and we’ll scramble around blaming anyone and everyone for our shortcomings.

    Mr. Donnelly is to be in one respect admired for his sheer brass-neck, but the truth is that no-one will buy his latest Goebbels-esque propaganda.

    It is the Shinners who are holding the whole thing up, and they alone who are risking de-railing the process, because their leadership can’t adequately face down a bunch of hicks like Geraldine Dougan and Davy Hyland.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mr. Donnelly is to be in one respect admired for his sheer brass-neck, but the truth is that no-one will buy his latest Goebbels-esque propaganda.

    Oh drat, snared again by one of those pesky kids..

    Seriously, though, do you actually believe your own drivel, ‘Percy’? In which case, why don’t you have the ‘guts’ to stand over it using your own identity?

  • fair_deal


    “all have jobs to go to”

    Sorry that doesn’t stand up to any particular examination.
    1. The same is true of all the DUP’s MPs.
    2. The Dodds family would take a hit. Morrow’s peerage isn’t the basis of a great life either. I assume McCrea Jnr runs in Mid-Ulster so that family would take a hit too.
    3. DUP domination of constituencies has been partially built upon the assembly offices supplementing westminster offices, so they take a partial hit that way too.
    4. The new DUP was built on the appeal of all of these people not Paisley (who was a barrier to its expansion), to continue to succeed all are still needed.

    “Whats the diisident solution to the problems faced by the people of Northern Ireland?.”

    As for the TINA ending:
    1. The DUP won’t succeed in selling this to doubters if they adopt UUP rhetoric.
    2. I take it from a comment like that the ‘outstanding issues’ stuff was a fig leaf after all.

  • Percival

    You handled that well Mr. Donnelly. I think it is offensive and insulting to readers for you to come on here and attempt to blatantly spin a situation because you are so blinded by your devotion to the Sinn Fein line.

    The truth of the matter is that Sinn Fein appear to all intents and purposes to have bottled it on this issue. Blair statement endorsed the DUP position wholeheartedly and now to hide Sinn Fein’s blushes you come on here and try to talk up DUP divisions.

    It’s a tactic which you have used before and demonstrates your Goebbels-esque nature.

    BTW. Slugger allows for anonymity, attacking someones argument because you cannot identify them is childish and infantile.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Goebbels-esque nature.

    Ahh, two references to Nazi Germany in one 24-hour setting.

    A sure sign of an argument lost…

    “BTW. Slugger allows for anonymity, attacking someones argument because you cannot identify them is childish and infantile.”

    Ouch! In that case, care to reveal you own political preferences, and perhaps capacity within any political parties then???

  • interested

    Disappointed to see Gregory Campbell with these kinds of statements – think we’ve allowed SF too many easy grabs at evading the blame before.

    No need to hand them an opportunity to move the spotlight away from their failure to support the police.

    I dont think he wants another ‘sackcloth and ashes’ moment but the way some are talking you would nearly think they did!

  • 2050

    Were all speculating at this stage and there is alot of smoke which won’t clear until the end of Jan. SF shouldn’t expect anything more off the DUP, they have been consistent and are no longer just saying NO which is progress.

    The British Gov have the responsibility now and could make this potential deal happen by stating clearly that “Policing / justice powers and responsibility’s will be transferred to a Northern Ireland devolved government by a particular date in 2008 with no veto by anyone and the removal of any involvement by MI5’s in policing in Northern Ireland”. Then passing any necessary bills or laws that copper fastens this.
    They are the only ones with the power to make that happen and I don’t think its alot to ask. Let’s see some vision from them for our future.

    They needed sit back and play the honest broker as they have the key role here. The Irish government also have a big role and responsibility to use their influence. So they both need to be clear on this issue to make the deal happen.

    I don’t think ordinary people (majority) in Northern Ireland will have a problem with that and our own wee justice minister responsible to the people who voted for him/her.

    Come on Britain, divide and conquer is so last century or the one before.

  • fair_deal


    On reflection, two additional points:
    1. You also overlook that 8 of the 12 would lose their jobs.
    2. There is also an implication in your remarks that others back it simply because it keeps them in a job. Hardly a belief the DUP should be promoting.