Jesuitical Paisley and the tactical abandonment of the straight-talkin Ulster Scot vocabulary

Taking stock: It wasn’t so long ago that republicans were accused of employing the language of evasion to avoid answering direct questions. It woud appear things have turned on their head and it is now the leader of Unionism, Ian Paisley, who has been accused of evasive language at a time when clarity holds the key to progress.

Of course, there are reasons for Paisley’s evasion, and they’re to be found in the numerous interviews given by party colleagues like Gregory Campbell and Jim Allister, which has provided an insight into what the DUP see happening once republicans have jumped the policing hurdle.

Aware of the traps that lay ahead- thanks (doubtlessly intentionally) to a heads up from Campbell and Allister- Martin McGuinness (today’s Inside Politics) has indicated that republicans will await a much clearer and firmer commitment from the unionist leader about his future intentions before committing to the Ard Fheis.

An interesting divide is emerging between the stated positions of the two governments at this point. Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, decisively pointed to the need for clarity from Paisley in his RTE interview earlier in the week; whilst the decision by the NIO and Tony Blair to accept Ian Paisley’s ‘jesuitical’ welcome of the British Prime Minister’s statement has been criticised by Martin McGuiness.

It all essentially boils down to this: if Sinn Fein pass the Ard Fheis motion on policing by January’s end, will the DUP, firstly, go live with devolution on March 26 and secondly, support the devolution of policing and justice by May 2008?

  • exuup

    if sf wont support the police then the DUP should not help to cover their shame. The process will fall because republicans still want to murder rather than support the forces of law and order here

  • As much as I despise the exact phenomenon you describe, I don’t think one can really blame the DUP. The government’s reaction to Sinn Fein has demonstrated that those sort of tactics work, and the DUP would be fools not to adopt it into their own strategy.

    It really is a sad state of affairs, but that’s just our politics (or, more likely, politics generally).

  • Pete Baker

    Actually, it all boils down to what Prime Minister Tony Blair stated

    On the above basis the Government is in a position to facilitate the timeframe set out in para 7 of the St Andrew’s Agreement, namely on or before May 2008, provided of course that the Sinn Fein commitments are translated into action within that timeframe; and the DUP undertake it will do nothing to delay or obstruct devolution of policing and justice when those conditions are met.[added emphasis]

    As I pointed out yesterday

    Not, I’ll add, for the first time either.

  • fair_deal

    LMAO. I can see why the cultural kick of describing Paisley as Jesuitical but the message is plain from Paisley, if the republican movement don’t like what it means for them that is their problem. The New year message message laid it out:

    Say it and do it things can happen.
    “Quality support for the police, the courts and the rule of law would do much to change the mistrust and suspicion held by the unionist electorate,”

    The more that is done and the quicker it is done the better.
    “and the sooner we have delivery, the better for us all.”
    “The DUP proposal, while acknowledging that the Assembly needs some time to bed-in, put no restrictions on when the powers could be devolved. This is achievable with delivery.”

    Delays will beget delays.
    “the fact that between October and December 2006 there have been no deeds, and that for the next three weeks we must await the outcome of a Sinn Fein party conference on policing, reduces the prospect of any immediate action.”

    Say it but don’t do it things won’t happen.
    “words are not enough.” “It is deeds that count”

    Just saying you will say it gets you nothing.
    “Unionists stand ready to respond but have been denied opportunity because we must have something of substance to which we can respond.”

    The one issue the DUP can stick to its position on without losing a vote to either left or right is this one. If SF want to pick their fight over this one they are making a strategic misjudgement of attitudes in the Unionist community.

    SF’s bizarre behaviour in the past week seems to indicate they have went back to aims 7 and 8 of the TUAS document. They expected the AF announcement to make the DUP implode. It didn’t (and thread after thread wishing it had won’t change that).

    PS if SF is so dedicated to ‘clarity’ when is it going to publish the AF moton?

  • Crataegus

    Fair_deal

    The one issue the DUP can stick to its position on without losing a vote to either left or right is this one. If SF want to pick their fight over this one they are making a strategic misjudgement of attitudes in the Unionist community.

    I agree, and not only that many non Unionists wish progress.

  • TAFKABO

    I think it’s fair to say that strategically msjudging Unionists is the one thing the Republican movement does better than anything else. A lot of problems stem from the simple fact that Unionists are not as Republicans think they are.

  • Carson’s Cat

    I actually agree with one sentiment – the process has taken a huge u-turn; the DUP are now playing Sinn Fein at the game which they employed for so long and so effectively against David Trimble.

    SF used to make Trimble do all the running and then they’d decide what, if anything, they would decide to do. Finally, and thankfully, we’re now in the position where we should have been a long long time ago. Its time for SF to jump and then the DUP will follow, providing all the conditions have been met.

    This is probably a strange feeling for you Chris, and the rest of you in Sinn Fein – but its just a little like how unionists felt from 1998 to 2003 – someone is tactically out-working you.

    SF in the past were able to make half moves and know that unionists would buy them, realise afterwards that they were duff, shallow, cynical show moves simply to buy some time and then would be forced to bring the process to a halt, conveniently shouldering all the blame in the process.

    Now its time for republicans to deliver up front. The old tactics wont work and SF are being shown up to be the people who are always in default and wont deliver.

    This time however if you dont deliver you take the blame too. The DUP have already said they wont be found wanting – its time for you to get things done and support the police. It cant be too much to ask surely……

  • jim

    Tactically yes, SF are in a no win situation but strategically Unionism is defunct and this will not change.

    The fair deal presented by the DUP has not been negotiated and will never be delivered.

  • Yokel

    “The DUP proposal, while acknowledging that the Assembly needs some time to bed-in, put no restrictions on when the powers could be devolved. This is achievable with delivery.”

    What does that say to everyone? I know what it says to me, game on if you get this policing business sorted.

    Chris, I noted the words of Dermot Ahern as well but there are two things to add to what you say.

    1. He also said that they were not working on a Plan B, it was full steam ahead with Plan A. No threats, no bogeyman and no comfort to the Sinn Fein line that was trotted out encouraging the Governments to go to Plan B if the DUP didnt do this or that. So in effect it was comparatively well balanced. There’s no rescue there at this point.

    2. The truth is Dermot Ahern and the rest are bit part players here. The Irish governments influence as regards this process is largely at the behest of the UK Government. Fact. Thats why the hotline rang to Tony, not to Bertie. What matters is what the parties do and the UK government do.

    Sinm Fein knows there are differences within the DUP and they know Paisley is holding it together by letting people loose to talk. What they have done in their public response, however, is basically claim there no major internal problems within Sinn Fein and its all external forces that are shaping their current stance. That is just a lie. In addition you have the very real possibility that the DUP are pulling a stroke and are sending out the apparent rebels to wind SF up. It’s not the DUP’s job to give comfort and settle the ranks within SF and their voter base who are unhappy.

    There are a few days to go before this meeting on Tuesday and much may happen but no amount of talking is going to hide the fact that Sinn Fein blinked first and hit the panic button.

  • Yokel

    Jim

    Explain to me what the over half the population who consider themselves Unionist are then..defunct?

    What magic..oh I can’t see them either, except for the fact that they are there.

    Don’t try the semantics of Unionism/Unionist either.

    Nice offer but no sale. There’s a real shop down the road….

  • Chris Donnelly

    The one issue the DUP can stick to its position on without losing a vote to either left or right is this one. If SF want to pick their fight over this one they are making a strategic misjudgement of attitudes in the Unionist community.

    FD

    And do you actually believe Sinn Fein are losing any votes within nationalism over the current impasse?

    In the broad nationalist community, there would be strong support for Sinn Fein’s stance, not least because it appears to nationalists a wholly reasonable demand, particularly given the lack of trust between both communities; the idea that Paisley and co. be allowed to determine ‘when’ delivery has been achieved sends alarm bells ringing for nationalists.

    In that regard, Gregory Campbell let the cat out of the bag when, in his Derry Journal interview, he appeared to suggest the DUP had a check list waiting to be published on hoops republicans had to jump through before devolution itself in March- never mind for policing in May 2008- could happen.

    On this one, it could just be that, like Sinn Fein, the DUP know they are on solid ground within their own community.

    In which case, we may be some distance yet from resolving this problem.

    On the issue of misjudging unionist attitudes, I think its fair to say unionist politicians have never given the slightest thought to how their words or deeds would affect nationalist attitudes over this and many other issues, so I’ll frankly dismiss that charge as fairly irrelevant: in the end, political leaders need to lead their own communities.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Donaldson has just piped up to say that powersharing with Sinn Fein will be achieved in 2007.

    His statement sounds quite positive; what do republicans think ?

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0106/northpolitics.html

    (this silly bullshit would be cleared up in five minutes if the two parties got around a table and flipping well ASKED each other)

  • inuit_goddess

    Paisley surely has to say whether he *agrees* with the Prime Ministers paper – he cant just ‘welcome’ it’s issuing and leave it at that. You can ‘welcome’ something whilst disagreeing with parts of it.

    Which must be the fear among SF – that they will jump and then get shafted. At least the shinners have (at long last!) been clear about their intentions – the dups must now do the same.

    Why can’t Paisley just have the balls to say that he will power-share and devolve policing? – as this was what he agreed to at St Andrews.

    The answer’s obvious – the so-called ‘big man’ is shit scared of his own taliban wing. So scared in fact that he has ceased to talk plain and has retreated to twisted linguistic ambiguity.

    The sort of language that sounds real strange comin’ from a preacher man…

    Paisley has been leading Unionism now since 2003 – but now that the time has finally come to show Unionism true leadership he seems to be bottling out – cos he just doesn’t seem to have the balls to face down his own ultra-Right wing.

    That’s just political cowardice, not leadership.

  • john donnelly

    I can agree with Carson’s Cat on the one hand and on the other I can agree with Chris Donnelly.You see there is this awful mistrust on both sides.SF can jump but what if Paisley doesnt move on general devolution?They’ll have been seen to silly by their own support base ,although Im not too sure about the general populus.If Paisley goes ahead with some timetable he will be judged to have given too much to republicans,although he never gave too much anyway!Someone has to take a big risk here.Is there anyone man enough on each side to say “we will definately do this if you definately do that?”

    That said, I’d get the support for the police ,if I were Adams.Then he will have done everything “required” and will hold a few more aces than he has right now.I know what I’d be doing.I would be leading my party instead of always seeming to react. Just go ahead and get things done. If after that the DUP are found wanting and are adding more preconditions then they will be the ones who are delaying the process.

    SF ought to be good at this type of politics.Problem is,they seem to have a fear of what will happen if they jump.Is it a fear that Ian will slap on a precondition such as an oath to the crown?If that is the case then Adams should come out,right now and state that there will never be an oath to the crown made by republicans who join up to the police force. That should be made clear right now and no one has been mentioning this.

  • qubol

    “On the issue of misjudging unionist attitudes, I think its fair to say unionist politicians have never given the slightest thought to how their words or deeds would affect nationalist attitudes over this and many other issues”

    fair point chris – who was it that made that speech about sackcloth and ashes?

  • inuit_goddess

    Yokel: “Sinm Fein knows there are differences within the DUP and they know Paisley is holding it together by letting people loose to talk.”

    They’re not just ‘talking’ though, this is the problem. What the likes of Campbell and Dodds have been doing is setting out clear public red lines – i.e. no devolution of policing for a ‘political lifetime’.

    The picture the DUP is conveying to its negotiating partners is one of a divided party, with a weakened leader reluctant to impose himself upon younger colleagues who are out doing solo runs, publicly sketching policy on the hoof.

    If it was me negotiating with you, and I was faced with the need to take a risk, I would be asking myself serious questions about your ability to reciprocate.

    This is why I think, on this one, SF will find a great degree of public understanding when they ask for a nailed-down commitment from you, rather than mere ambiguity.

  • Betty Boo

    Comrade,
    try to visualise (acoustics include) five minutes between the proposed first and deputy minister.

  • Yokel

    Ah ha Comrade Stalin. Warmer words but no rock solid dates. Exactly to be expected of the DUP. Sounds warm and fuzzy and sits alongside the St Andrews Agreement nicely. Such statements however make it harder for the SF leadership not easier.

    Inuit Goddess. Sinn Fein will be on solid ground with their own voter base and no one else really. Thats all that matters. Same with any party.

    Apart from that everything you say about the DUP could be wriiten about Sinn Fein with just a few changes, the thrust would be the same. Thats where we are and there’s no point arguing over the fact that both party leaderships are looking over their own shoulders. They have their galleries to play to and their splits to avoid.

    Can you expect implaccable opponents to help each other out? Nope.

  • Comrade Stalin

    SF can jump but what if Paisley doesnt move on general devolution?

    Most of SF’s problem at the moment seems to be that there isn’t a timetable for devolution. Therefore, I’m pretty sure SF can withdraw their support for the police until control over them is in the hands of local politicians. Surely it isn’t *that* much of a risk.

    try to visualise (acoustics include) five minutes between the proposed first and deputy minister.

    I am much less than enthusiastic about the whole deal. But I’m assuming that both of those individuals have already considered this.

  • Pete Baker

    “the idea that Paisley and co. be allowed to determine ‘when’ delivery has been achieved”

    The thing is Chris it’s not just an idea, it’s the reality.

    And it’s not a new reality, either

    *wanders off muttering to self*

  • qubol

    Pete: “The thing is Chris it’s not just an idea, it’s the reality.”

    That may be but without a real and solid commitment from the DUP, waiting for DUP to decide when they will allow Republicans into government or indeed any future Justice ministry is rediclous – it will be the same old jumping through hoops story. If they are serious about a deal let them come out and say that the want to work to the timetable of devolved government this march and devolved justice by may ’08.

  • fair_deal “..if SF is so dedicated to ‘clarity’ when is it going to publish the AF motion?”

    Could not agree more!

    They should at least publish the motion as soon as they give notice of the meeting – or, will they even keep their own members in the dark till the last minute? Or, perhaps the leadership is so befuddled at the moment that they are even keeping themselves in the dark!

    Any other bright ideas?

  • fair_deal

    Chris

    “And do you actually believe Sinn Fein are losing any votes within nationalism over the current impasse?”

    I don’t know but:
    1. I doubt their handling of the situation will not have been inspiring confidence – those opposed will stay peeved, those who backed them annoyed and pretty much everyone else in the nationalist community as confused as the rest of us.
    2. The SDLP held its ground in the nationalist community by wrapping itself in the cloak of law and order, two years on maybe they can make some modest gains.
    3. Republican communities have been without the Provos brutal methods to control crime(thankfully) for a few years now. The ‘sort of’ decision to have an AF shows SF has no objections to the PSNI as an organisation. So it isn’t the need for ‘proper policing’ that is the source of the delay but a political linkage of SF’s making.
    4. Paisley isn’t playing the role of arch-bogeyman this time so it won’t be as easy to sell. You can try and make Allister out to be the new one but most eyes will remain focussed on Paisley.
    5. The fact there has been very public ructions internally will mean any blame the dup line will face some scepticism.

    Any response on the AF motion question?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Law and order isn’t a bargaining chip to hold up the progress of democratic politics, it is the bed rock on which democratic politics is founded.

    Any party which doesn’t understand that is not a democratic party and should not be in power anywhere.

    I am very far from being a DUP supporter but they seem to have everyone, apart from SF, agreeing with them on this point in the UK, Ireland, the EU and the US.

    A party is either inside demacratic politics or it isn’t, SF have to decide what they want to be and then what the DUP do is totally irrelevant.

    It is time for everyone to move on and stop quibbling over futile demands and party points scoring.

  • Chris Donnelly

    FD
    Don’t take this the wrong way, but your answers indicate that, frankly, you have as little an understanding of what makes nationalists tick as I do of what makes unionists tick- which was kinda the point I was making in my previous post.

    The idea that the SDLP held its ground in 2005 by cloaking themselves in the PSNI is ludicrous: their electoral ‘reprieve’ was a consequence of the reaction within some quarters of nationalism to the Robert McCartney killing/ Northern Bank robbery.

    The ‘political linkage’ issue Sinn Fein is making relates to the devolution of policing/ justice powers, an issue that would have massive support within nationalist communities, who I can assure you can see the merit in taking these powers away from Britain and bringing them into local hands.

    On the bogeyman ‘Paisley’ aspect, you’ve actually made me laugh when reading that paragraph.

    I spent yesterday evening talking to residents of a nationalist area during a registration drive Sinn Fein had organised. Almost every individual had a go at Paisley over the Policing matter, so much so that I almost felt sorry for him because, as the more informed political anoraks will know, it’s been his sidekicks who’ve been causing the trouble with the more inflammatory statements in recent weeks.

    AND finally,

    I don’t know what you mean by ‘any response’ on the Ard Fheis motion question, but I’ll have a go at what I think you’re getting at.

    Visit the Sinn Fein website, go to the Newsroom and call up the statement Gerry Adams made on his proposals for any Ard Fheis statement – I’d link them but the site is taking forever to come up at present.

    I’d expect any Ard Fheis motion to be taken straight from the statement already given by Gerry Adams.

    I think you’ll find the language used is very clear- indeed, Ian Paisley could learn from it….

  • confused

    Martin M pleads for Paisley to use the word “agreed” when referring to T Blair statement.He has no chance. Unionists remember asking SF/IRA to use the word “permanent”when describing IRA ceasefire. We are still waiting.

  • Alex

    It’s understandable that the DUPes are wary of getting caught out by the Shinners given their track record, however the DUPes position makes little sense, first we have Paisley Sen saying that if the Shinners move on policing they (the DUPes) will move, or words to that effect, and thats part of the problem, then we have Allister saying that an unspecified period of time will be required before his party can contemplate devolution, before thought is given to policing and justice, Dodds, Simpson and Campbell have each made similiar statements, we then have Ian Paisley Jun assuring us that all the DUPes are singing of the same hymn sheet, so who do we believe, Paisley Sen or Allister, this pretence of DUP unity is in danger of distroying the whole process, which is probably what some of them want anyway, Paisley is going to have to take on his dissients, or see his dream of being First Minister go up in smoke!

  • fair_deal

    Chris

    I don’t claim to have a great insight to the nationalist community that is why I began my comments i said “I don’t know” before I mentioned a number of possibilities.

    However, there is one thing I do know from my time in politics, when a political party was expected to:
    1. Commit to call an AF in November but by the start/middle of January is still debating it.
    2. Won’t tell people what they actually will commit to
    3. Has a sitting MLA saying the decision hinges on electorate reaction
    4. are creating a mini-‘crisis’ to get a blame game going
    5. has an MLA team dropping like flies

    They are not behaving like a party that is confident of its position.

    “The idea that the SDLP held its ground in 2005 by cloaking themselves in the PSNI is ludicrous: their electoral ‘reprieve’ was a consequence of the reaction within some quarters of nationalism to the Robert McCartney killing/ Northern Bank robbery”

    I said law and order not the PSNI. A brutal murder and a record breaking robbery are pretty big law and order issues.

    AF motion

    Maybe it will maybe it won’t but your persoanl expectations and Adams talking about sentiments is not ‘clarity’. Paisley has been clear, if the RM don’t like what he said unlucky them, Tony does.