Dougan becomes second Independent republican MLA

It was first reported on Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra, and it seems to have been confirmed. A second SF MLA has joined Davy Hyland in formally resigning from the party. Geraldine Dougan, who had previously announced she would not be seeking reselection as a SF candidate, has redesignated in the Assembly as an Independent. The interesting point to note is her previously stated position – “It has been reported that I remain a member of Sinn Féin. While this is true at present, if a special ard fheis mandates Sinn Féin to support policing and the judiciary while still under British control in any shape or form, membership of that party would be untenable for me as an Irish republican.” Updated link Adds Members list confirms Independent statusI’ve added a link to Evening Extra – since UTV seem to have pulled their short report – where you can listen to a discussion on this issue with Barry McElduff, about 8-9 minutes in.. after he suggests that MI5 [not MI5? – Ed] might have been involved in this story..

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  • If she is still a Sinn Féin member then she is a Sinn Féin MLA, the fact that she has redesignated would suggest otherwise.

  • Pete Baker

    Chris

    I realise that. She has resigned.

    But I had to include the first sentence of the quote to allow the second, and more relevant, sentence to make sense.

  • Pete Baker

    I’ve added some emphasis. Hopefully it will make it clearer.

  • Yokel

    I’m guessing she has concluded what way the wind is blowing and jumped now.

    Interestingly will she stand in March..or June..or November..depending on when this elction is.

    If she does, we could have the makings of two strands of rejectionist candidate, the comparatively mainstream ex-Shinner and the more radical sorts of the McGeough ilk.

    Still it needs someone bigger to break ranks, though that wouldnt happen (if at all) until I assume the AF makes its decision.

  • marty (not ingram)

    If she does, we could have the makings of two strands of rejectionist candidate

    All rejectionism will do is split the nationalist & republican vote and strengthen the DUP’s hand.

    What I can’t understand is why all the bad feeling on the ground (if I’m too believe what’s been written) now? This bridge was always going to have to be crossed from the day the GFA was endorsed by the majority of people on this island.

    I imagine one explanation is that the people in question were biding their time to jump ship in the hope they could take a decent chunk of the electorate when they showed their hand.

    Given their policies aren’t clear I can only see them getting a token protest vote. It’s not as if they have a generous amount of time to come up with policies and can get away with being empty for quite a while e.g. Cameron’s Tories. Then again, this is NI :O(

  • Yokel

    Maybe they expected to have a lot more ‘gains’before this point was reached.

  • marty (not ingram)

    Possibly – in which case their bluff may well be called if the election goes ahead in March.

  • Doreen

    Many did not know that this day would come. The Belfast Agreement was sold to Republicans by Messrs Adams and McGuinness as the road to a united Ireland, not, as is happening now, as an endorsement of the fact that Northern Ireland is and will remain British.

    In the circumstances I say to both Sinn Fein and the DUP: what on earth were the violence and suffering of the last 40 years all about?

    At least Ms Dougan is true to her principles.

  • Gerry & the peacemakers

    I don’t understand why pro GFA republicans are leaving SF over policing. Can you not disagree and argue from within and then accept the decision by the Ard Fheis.

    I’ve said it elsewhere, you didn’t get the likes of Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner leaving the British Labour Party when Blair abolished Clause 4.

  • Gerry & the peacemakers

    I’m sorry but the GFA was a recognition of the state. I believe it is a transitional step to a unified Ireland.

    Politics is about being in a position of power. By June of this year SF could be in power in the North and hugely influential in the south.

    The GFA was about taking the British Govt out of Ireland and giving it back to the Irish (both nationalist and unionist). I dont believe giving our communities accountable civic policing detracts from that argument.

  • Yokel

    Gerry

    I reckon some, including a few high up in SF are sceptics and will not like it if the AF does vote for the motion (which they will).

    They will, however, likely stay put within SF and, similiar to some in the DUP, will fight over the detail, be a sceptical wing and keep their leaders up to the mark.

  • marty (not ingram)

    I dont believe giving our communities accountable civic policing detracts from that argument.

    Agreed. And as great as principles are, they have a habit of preventing much needed progress, particularly over here.

  • Gerry & the peacemakers

    We are in a peace process and therefore have to make huge compromises and stretch ourselves to the limit. I’m sure that most unionists didn’t agree with prisoner releases and the thoughts of having SF in policing after the IRA killed hundreds of RUC personnel must be tough. But this is how peace is made – unpalatable maybe but absolutely the right thing to do.

  • Yokel

    Gerry

    The peace process is effectively over, its a straightforward political power thing now. There is no one group capable of bringing NI into a full state of armed conflict again. Anyone who kicks up will be shat upon in an unprecedented manner.

    One thing to bear in mind as well, it broke a lot of Unionist hearts to see loyalists get their ‘get out of jail free’ cards as well just as I’m sure some nationalists didnt particularly like Provos coming out.

  • BeardyBoy

    I could never see why the nationalists voted for the GFA – I was always against it – to me it was obvious that this would happen – I just thought it would happen sooner

  • tom

    Is anybody silly enough to believe these conveniently timed SF politician bullet stories.

    Wise up SF spin doctors, the only people issuing threats is SF. No one takes these stories and the b*** **** stories about threats against Gerry seriously.

  • starbuck

    “I could never see why the nationalists voted for the GFA – I was always against it – to me it was obvious that this would happen – I just thought it would happen sooner”

    it was like the cavalcade down the Falls when the ceasefire was called – what was all that about?

    the GFA was dressed up as a victory and a stepping stone to a UI which as we can clearly see now nearly 10 years on was no such thing

    around the time of the agreement our local SF office had posters in the window saying Retain Articles 2&3

    then overnight the posters were changed to proclaim the opposite

    wtf ?

    there was and is a lot of self delusion going on about this “Peace Process”â„¢ and what Republicans can achieve through it

    I believe the Dup have come to realise that the GFA is in their best interests and copperfastens the Union for at least another 50 years which it will do if and when SF accept the local arm of the British Constabulary

    It looks like Scotland will get a Border Poll before the 6 counties at this stage

  • ‘Marty’ stated –

    ‘This bridge was always going to have to be crossed from the day the GFA was endorsed by the majority of people on this island.’

    Have you got figures to support that claim ?

    Sharon .

  • Getreal

    ‘By June of this year SF could be in power in the North and hugely influential in the south.’

    It’s not Power in the North it is administering British rule – its a devolved assembly dependent on and subservient to the UK Parliament.

    As for the South it more likely that Ahern will buy off the Greens or Labour and leave Sf twisting in the wind!

  • Pat

    By June of this year SF could be in power in the North and hugely influential in the south.’

    Yea right. I that with 7% in the southern openion polls and only 6% in Dublin 🙂

  • Garibaldy

    Presumably she will be expelled tomorrow for breaking party discipline. If not, an important sign of the delevopment of an almost separate parliamentay party, like in Britain or the south. And we know where that led for The Workers’ Party.

  • starbuck

    looks like it already

    current

    google cache

  • Alan

    And what are the implications for the SDLP ? Will SDLP voters be likely to cross to SF in order to protect an agreement?

  • Shamrock

    Convenient that the current page is down now isnt it?

    They have to take a few off that list dont they?

    On reading Greey Adams bio there I see that he doesnt mention his family while most others do!

    He is married isnt he and he has children – is politics and writing about how he has led the struggle etc more important than mentioning his wife and children?

    I know he probably doesnt see them much but he could at least give them their place!!!!

  • Shamrock

    Alan why would sdlp voters cross to SF to protect the agreement?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t understand why pro GFA republicans are leaving SF over policing. Can you not disagree and argue from within and then accept the decision by the Ard Fheis.

    There is a response to this “where did they all think this was going anyway?” point, which is that I think there are many republicans who never took the GFA particularly seriously, and never thought that they would have to live up to their side of the bargain.

    The GFA was about taking the British Govt out of Ireland and giving it back to the Irish (both nationalist and unionist). I dont believe giving our communities accountable civic policing detracts from that argument.

    Gerry,

    I regard myself as a centrist in NI politics, and from that perspective I think that the GFA was a unionist document. What did unionism concede, except the desire for the return of majority rule ? The GFA consolidated the Northern Ireland state and successfully persuaded republicans to concede the principle of consent, in exchange for the handful of magic beans otherwise known as the prisoner release scheme. The document provides consent in both states in Ireland which is quite clearly a dilution of the republican desire for a single all-Ireland self-determination plebiscite. There is no road to a united Ireland in the GFA that did not exist before.

    The whole problem with the process has been trying to get unionists to understand that they won and got the republicans to (politically) back off. However, they have allowed themselves to be intimidated by GA’s slick politicking, and the fact that many of them just don’t want any kind of deal with the taigs.

  • DK

    Where do those perennial losers of elections, the Worker’s Party, stand on policing? This could be a golden opportunity for them to grow (if they are also against cops).

  • Rubicon

    With 2 SF defections it’s interesting what a running of d’Hondt would now produce – if such defections reflect feeling among SF supporters who may now vote for dissidents.

    DUP with 32 seats, UUP with 24 seats, SF with 22 seats and the SDLP with 18 seats produces the following nomination sequences:

    DUP 1st, 5th and 8th
    UUP 2nd, 6th and 10th
    SF 3rd and 7th
    SDLP 4th and 9th

    A net loss of 2 SF seats not only looses them a nomination but also puts them in 3rd place (all other things being equal).

  • Yokel

    Rubicon

    The problem is will the DUP keep all their seats.

    I cant see either losing more than a couple of seats from their current (pre-defection) positions.

    Admittedly, if the UUP held their position then it would get very interesting. The critical item though, is not losses to where seats fall to people within the same bloc (nationalist or unionist) but where, thanks to PR, seats fall to those of the opposite bloc.

  • Wilde Rover

    If these resignations are based on revolutionary republican principles then why did they not come before decommissioning?

    Without the means to propagate revolution there is only evolution and variations of the status quo.

    This belated maudlin retreat to the political hills wrapped in the comfort blanket of ideology is terribly undignified.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Rubicon,

    the nominations for ministries will take place after the election in March.

    SF came out with 24 seats after the 2003 Assembly elections. They will not come out with less than that total in March.

  • SF came out with 24 seats after the 2003 Assembly elections. They will not come out with less than that total in March.

    Risky prediction, Pat. On my own personal little election prediction excel tracker I now have them at 23 (down 1), and that’s with taking a very conservative estimate of any impact anti-policing republicans might have.

    What credible gains to SF have – South Antrim, hardly in the bag, and… er… West Tyrone if Donal Deeny collapses and… er… I suppose five in West Belfast or a second in Upper Bann if they have a real annus mirabilis. Third in FST? Only if you ignore the effect tactical voting has on Michelle Gildernew’s Westminster vote, and even then Tommy Gallagher still had a clear quota’s worth. Lagan Valley, forget about.

    On the other hand, I suppose there aren’t all that many at risk SF seats either. South Belfast (very hard to predict what happens at the end of the South Belfast transfer frenzy, but it hasn’t been great for SF in recent elections), Newry and Armagh 3rd (if Crossmaglen-area chucks like Gaskinbalrog stay at home and the Stoops can convince Unionists to transfer), South Down second (would be really bad news for SF, but McGrady can still pull three clear quotas worth even if P.J. and friends can’t, and the Shinners have never quite managed two quotas worth here).

    You’re right that the Shinners probably don’t have that much to lose unless the dissidents start polling 5% or more of the NI-wide vote, at which point people like McGeogh and Geraldine Dougan or her successor can start causing them real problems. But there isn’t that much for SF to gain, either, and in the knife-edge marginals a few hundred stay at homers could cost them seats.

    The Shinners have had fifteen years of uninterrupred growth, Pat, and many young SF activists have never really known what it means to lose seats, etc. But what goes up must at some point come down, and 2005 had the first set of elections where the SF wave was patchy rather than sweeping every part of NI. I wouldn’t be too cocky if I were you, either.

  • marty (not ingram)

    Sharon,
    Have you got figures to support that claim ?

    That the majority of people North & South on this island endorsed the GFA?

    Er…there was a referendum. That the majority of people voted for. Maybe you where away on holiday that week.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Sammy,

    having admitted your role in the Alliance Party I understans where you are coming from. When you act and think like a loser you are in fact a loser.

  • Rubicon

    Pat – I’m not predicting the March election result and the figures I posted are unlikely to be those of the next election – if only because if SF loose a seat it would be the larger parties most likely to gain it and not dissidents. What it does demonstrate though is that MLAs elected on the SF ticket have decided to overrule the wishes of the people who put them there. Any of that happening between March 7th and the 1st meeting of the Assembly will significantly damage SF’s position.

    Normally, when a MLA crosses the floor there’s a row over them having misrepresented themselves to the electorate, got votes on false pretences – that sort of thing. Even Donaldson got criticised on these grounds – though his position was pretty clear at the time he stood. With only weeks to go to dissolution – perhaps it’s not too surprising that little has been said this time.

    It does beg a question as to need for SF candidates to comply with the party whip. Any pressure here of course will be criticised as heavy handed and quashing dissent.

    As for your prediction of SF returning with no less than 24 seats – perhaps. That may be the result on the 8th March – but will it still be a week later? SF have lost 2 seats from MLAs getting votes on false pretences (assuming they represent a small unelectable minority view)– could the same happen again? Is it possible that SF candidates unhappy with the PSNI policy will cause as much damage as they can by keeping their cards close to their chest?

  • Rubicon

    In case the above seems a remote irrelevance – you may want to consider the choices that face the nationalist voter. After the SF AF there may be no actual movement on policing – as allowed for by the motion being put to the AF. Once the AC consider movement is justified some of SF’s MLAs may disagree and break ranks. These MLAs can argue they are acting on principle – for whatever credibility that would have.

    Here’s the conundrum. Is a vote for the SDLP a safer bet? SF and SDLP policy has moved closer but if one of those 2 parties cannot ensure appropriate nationalist representation in the Executive – that could be a cause for concern among nationalists.

    One way of reducing this risk is by SF actioning support for the PSNI before the election – and thereby taking away any credible excuse for defectors justifying defrauding their electorate. Mind you, that sense of shame may not deter …