“Northern Ireland Water will still be established, as planned, on 1 April”

Eamonn McCann, writing in the Sunday Business Post, deals swiftly with the previously identified shadow-boxing and points instead to the deep fractures the election result actually revealed. He sees more internal difficulties for the DUP than for SF in the weeks ahead but he also wants to know whether the parties intend to re-engage with the shadow-boxing, given that the contracts are signed, and that the GoCo is.. apparently.. go.. [added new link]From the SBP comment piece

Firstly the shadow-boxing deep fractures

Candidates seen as the most vigorous in advancing ‘‘our side’’ vis-a-vis ‘‘the other side’’ were well set for success. The British government played a role in promoting the outcome. Tony Blair and Peter Hain were repeatedly explicit that they envisaged Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness as First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

For New Labour, the delivery of mandates to the two parties to go into government together was the point of the election. The endorsement was something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And then to the weeks ahead.. and that GoCo..

While Republicans have been accused over the years of claiming an ‘‘apostolic’’ succession from revered founders and expressing their ideology in ‘‘theological’’ terms, they have never been as theological as that. The rumbling and recriminations about the ‘‘sellout’’ of cherished beliefs will continue to be more ominous and threatening within the DUP than within Sinn Fein. Whether the two parties, thus positioned, can buckle down to deal in businesslike fashion with the issues which a majority on both sides want resolved is questionable. They may have succeeded in finessing the water charges issue, as far as campaigning for votes was concerned. But on this – as on education, health, ‘‘reform’’ of the public sector and much else – now comes the hard part.

They and their voters may discover that, notwithstanding talk of ‘‘local elected representatives taking the decisions which affect local people’’, key decisions are – and, it is intended, will continue to be – taken by individual s and institutions who don’t present themselves for election to anyone.

Three days before a photographer recorded the historic Paisley/Adams picture, the chief executive of the NI Water Service, Katharine Bryan, wrote to senior members of staff urging them not to be confused by press reports.

‘‘Northern Ireland Water will still be established, as planned, on 1 April. NIW will be a government company outside of the Northern Ireland Civil Service . . . Planned changes in how we are regulated both economically and environmentally will continue.”

The thought that water privatisation the charges are designed to provide a revenue flow for the envisaged private company – might be affected or even reversed by an incoming executive clearly hadn’t occurred to Ms Bryan.

If a new executive is to make even a plausible show of delivering on the economic agenda its leaders were pressurised into outlining to the electorate, it will have to take on Ms Bryan and scores of other New Labour appointees to key economic agencies and boards who remain in place.

The best evidence of whether this will happen may be that no DUP or Sinn Fein spokesperson has yet told Ms Bryan to cool her neo-liberal ardour, that there’s a new management in town, with different ideas and an electoral mandate.


From the Notes in the DOE statement

By 2010, £614 million from Northern Ireland Water and Public Private Partnerships will be invested in our wastewater treatment and collection systems.

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  • SuperSoupy

    Whinging links wot I have found.

    Pete Pessimist (15).

  • shoulda gone with the Brits out/ Hain story.
    pete you’ve become a laughing stock, knew this would happen once a bit of hope and happiness came to norn iron.
    Do the decent thing !

  • Roisin

    From the same article, and something McCann, along with others, have professed before:

    [i]The mass of Northern Catholics have never been republicans in the sense in which Sinn Fein has used the word.

    Commentators frequently refer to the Falls Road as ‘‘traditionally republican’’. But Gerry Adams was, in 1983, the first republican ever elected in the area. In the December 1918 general election – which, until recently, the modern manifestation of Sinn Fein insisted was the last legitimate election held on the island – West Belfast was one of only two constituencies in which Home Rule trounced republicanism: Joe Devlin hammered de Valera.

    Thus it has been since. One former hunger striker recalled last week: ‘‘We were always a small minority on the Falls. Looking back on it, we were a minority in the IRA.”

    Donegal man Eddie Gallagher, a very senior IRA activist in the 1970s, said: ‘‘The fellows from Belfast weren’t fighting for a Republic, they were fighting for their streets.”

    The IRA’s 25-year campaign can meaningfully be seen not as a war to drive Britain out of Ireland, but as a reaction to British and Unionist violence and a continuation of the civil rights campaign by inappropriate means. Viewed in this perspective, the shift in the line of Sinn Fein which culminated in acceptance of the legitimacy of the Northern state – and all else followed from that – appears not as a challenge but as an adaptation to the consciousness of its base.

    It has been Adams’s genius (it’s scarcely too extravagant a word) to have sensed this at an early stage and to have patiently set about drawing and implementing the conclusions.[/i]

    No analysis of why the Catholics in ‘traditionally republican’ areas like West Belfast would have voted Home Rule over Republicanism.

    Perhaps it was because people who lived in areas that were more vulnerable to sectarian attacks were conscious of that when they went to the polls.

    Sorry for going off the point of this thread (not actually sure what the point of it is), but it seems to be something that ‘republican’ analysts and commentators pay only passing reference to, without any thought as to why.

  • pete any chance of a sky at night thread 50 yrs episode just on air now, very funny and exciting. cheers.

  • Pete Baker


    Eamonn touches on a few points, which I tried to indicate, but his focus is the GoCo.

  • susan

    It may be a sideline, but I find Roisin’s point about who were the Northern Catholics of 1918 intriguing. In addition to her point about vulnerabilities of residents in West Belfast at that time, going on purely anecdotal evidence I imagine the area contained a high number of veterans receiving war pensions, as well as young war widows. I know Belfast in its entirety lost about 6,000 in the Great War.

    Going again on anecdotal evidence, it was not unusual for both urban and more rural nationalist families to contain both republicans and those who’d enlisted with the British forces — and sometimes perished — during the first world war, so why the difference in the voting patterns? On purely bread and butter issues, residents of Belfast and Dublin may well have more fears than rural republicans about whether or not they could literally afford independence.

    Interesting to think about, Roisin.

  • Nevin

    Clear as Crystalplease give generously – ‘[Northern Ireland] companies will benefit in the long run from letting some jobs migrate to India and China’

  • páid

    I have long held that the IRA were in fact extreme Nationalist for the most part, rather than republican.

    And I note that when Mr Adams refers to the North, he refers now to 3 peoples: Nationalists, Unionists and Republicans. I suspect his agenda is to promote republicans as a link between Nationalists and Unionists, rather than being greener than the Nationalists, as they have long been perceived.

    So now, in a peaceful scenario, republicanism is positioning itself where it always should have been.i.e uniting orange and green under the watchwords of liberty, equality and justice.

    I think this provides a context to the Shankill reachout.

    Getting the unionists to actually buy in is a different matter.

  • Roisin: that’s fascinating. Tell us more?

  • BeardyBoy

    I would say that the present SF is not representative of the traditional Catholic view – it would be more prone to Defenderism than Republicanism – I think that the rift is still there but is not articulated and the terminology is interchangeable on most occasions – but there is still the anti-Masonic French Republican mind set that will not accept the SF analysis. I would point out McGeogh as an example.

    What say you?