Who exactly tamed whom?

DC from Democratic Centre has an interesting take on the DUP’s Damascene conversion to Belfast Agreement, mk II. In short, s/he is not convinced that things will run sweetly for them (or Unionism in general) in future.Who beat whom?

The baggy-eyed Robinson claimed that the DUP had transformed Sinn Fein but merely it is Sinn Fein who has transformed the political landscape by reforming the Agreement more so than the DUP reforming them. Policing and justice will now be in the control of the Assembly and rightly so. But it is an Assembly that today looks more like an Oireachtas-lite form of governance, given the swelling of republican MLAs who are due to take up their seats.

In settling for the deal that Trimble couldn’t close, s/he believes the DUP’s ‘victory’ is skin deep:

This recent DUP pyhrric victory has been at the expense of unionism itself and the day this all started was the day that certain people of the same political hue huffed and puffed and walked all the way home. A homeward journey spent blaming fraternal soul-mates, agitating and exciting it may well have been for a worried unionist electorate who lapped it all up; but, what of those cursed institutions which got much grief and ridicule? Well it looks as though they are now magically suitable and should do just fine as a means to govern Northern Ireland.

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  • merrie

    >> This recent DUP pyhrric victory has been at the expense of unionism itself

    I disagree. It was not really a victory, pyhrric or otherwise, but a simple acceptance. What choice did unionists have? What else could they suggest as an alternative?

    In the end, it had to be Paisley and the DUP who could make this decision of acceptance because had any other unionist been in Paisley’s position (head Unionist honcho) Paisley would have kicked sand into his/her face and promoted the illusion that there was an alternative for unionists.

  • seanzmct

    This self-styled “Democratic-Centre” -who is not actually a party or pressure group, but a one-person website sounds pretty much to me like a designer nationalist – if not republican.The”harmonisation” business is all one way ie North-South. Some Centrist!

    The fact is that circumstances have conspired to force the DUP and SF to belatedly re-invent themselves as the DUUP and SFDLP respectively. And we are meant to be overjoyed that these ponderously slow political knuckledraggers have returned to the future that was Sunningdale via 30 years of murder and mayhem.

  • But it is an Assembly that today looks more like an Oireachtas-lite form of governance

    Or alternatively, a Westminster-lite form of governance. Wishful thinking here methinks.

  • merrie

    >> looks more like an Oireachtas-lite form of governance<

  • Yes, merrie, but the Oireachtas doesn’t do all-party government neither.

  • T.Ruth

    The present situation is that given the disastrous Belfast agreement-where things stand now represents a massive step forward for the Unionist community and a massive step on the way to a mature form of democratic responsibility sharing government.For the DUP it was about getting the best deal.That deal has been delivered big time.The people wanted the DUP to do a deal. No one could have imagined they would be so successful.North /Southery and Ministers are accountable to the Assembly.The guns and the IRA are going going almost gone.
    The nature and strength of the Irish dimension is at last under Unionist control.That was the reason for the failure of Sunningdale from which the DUP was excluded.That has always been the main reason why previous deals were unacceptable to the Unionist people.Now the majority Unionist community controls the political agenda-SF is signed up to policing and recognition of the province as an integral part of the UK etc.
    Now we can have progress with the constitutional and border issue off the radar while we try to build a better future for the people.
    Unionists find it abhorrent that terrorists,bombers and murderers may be admitted as of right to the Executive level of government. Any democracy should find that difficult.It is no surprise that the legal eagle politicians like Allister and MacCartney see it as especially difficult-they live by the Law. But the Law is about the past and deals with what has happened.. Politics is about the future and about what can be made to happen.The DUP did not create the current situation where power must be shared with terrorists. That situation was created by betrayal of the Union by successive British Prime Ministers, the malign influence of the government south of the border and Unionist failure to work cleverly over the past 40 years.But the DUP can celebrate a massive victory.It is now positioned to become permanently the main Unionist party and is the unique voice of the Unionist people.The UUP will lose strength and numbers as the DUP proves its ability to deliver for the Unionist and Loyalist people in securing the future of the province politically and delivering for all the people of the province the peace and prosperity we all want.
    T.Ruth

  • DC

    “The”harmonisation” business is all one way ie North-South. Some Centrist!”

    It is all one way correct but not North to South; it’s all the one way to the table of the NI Assembly – the Centre, where democracy will be based and decisions put into the hands of locally elected members and as to whether they run with any integration proposals is a matter for them.

    But in times where authentic Irish government money is coming South to the North and earmarked to benefit both countries, with it comes those tangible benefits, if you call improvements to infrastructure a benefit. And I imagine people around the border area would call it just that.

    Coupled with that, is a realisation that commensurate funds will be displaced but directed elsewhere leaving economics to dictate that we have actually saved money.

  • Nevin

    Is there a connection between this Pete Milner and this one?

  • seanzmct

    T.Ruth I cannot accept your re-write of the facts . I am sure you are aware that the DUP was not “excluded” from the Sunningdale dispensation. It excluded itself because it opposed power-sharing on principle. That was the main factor.

    Besides, the cross-border element in Sunningdale- the Council of Ireland – was relatively minimalist compared to the current North-South institutions and yet the DUP helped to bring the Sunningdale Agreement down.

    I am also confused by your assertion that “now the majority unionist population controls the political agenda”. I am sure you are are aware of the cross-community voting constraints on majoritarianism embedded in the Belfast Agreement.

    Also, if you seriously believe that the conflict in Northern Ireland was everybody’s fault but the DUP’s then you are misguidedly partisan.

    The fact is that the current Agreement is the Belfast Agreement in essence and pretty much Sunningdale for the slowest of dilatory learners.
    The DUP may well displace the UUP as the “permanently” largest Unionist party, though not much is permanent in politics. But that is because it has become UUPised just as SF has stolen the clothes of the SDLP.

    I suggest to you that both the law and politics are very much about past, present and future and that it is an informed and balanced understanding of the past that will best assist future policy.

    I also suggest that there is no reason to be elated about a settlement which has taken so long at such a cost and which will most likely institutionalise sectarian politics.

  • merrie

    >>the Oireachtas doesn’t do all-party government either<

  • seanzmct

    Dear DC aka Pete Milner,

    It is just that your Website does not actually identify any possible East-West”harmonisation” possibilities. That is what led me to assume you were a designer nationalist. I am now informed that you are Alliance’s Pete Milner operating as a front organisation (of one) ie “Democratic-Centre”.

    For example, if educational qualifications are harmonised on cross-border basis, what would that mean in practical terms? And, why would unionists agree to being “harmonised” out of the UK system.
    Surely Alliance should by rights favour a provincially unique system of qualifications based on cross-community consensus.

  • DC

    “Is there a connection between this Pete Milner and this one?”

    I don’t know but I reckon he’s got his own blog as the DC is just that, but he’s got a point. Worth tracking down.

  • DC

    “It is just that your Website does not actually identify any possible East-West”harmonisation” possibilities.”

    When the parties eventually come together and sit round the table under the auspices of the British-Irish arrangements what you will see is debate informed by each other’s experiences. I would expect social policy rolled out in Scotland could be examined in relation to Northern Ireland, as Scotland shares similar social problems. Hence a previous summit on sectarianism. Drug and alcohol patterns and initiatives could be looked at even that of the concentrated heroin problem which Scotland has. I am sure the Doc’s DUP would welcome this examination especially given the problem with heroin in his own back yard, which the Big Man hasn’t been able to ameliorate.

    As for assumptions as to who’s who, keep on making them but be careful as it sometimes gives people false confidence especially as to political allegiance.

  • seanzmct

    Dear DC,

    We will assume you are Alliance Pete until you deny it.

    You have answered my question on education with a sensibe enough suggestion on drug policy-though Ballymena might just as well be Dublin Northside in this instance.. But what about education? What is the case for North South harmony?

  • DC

    “For example, if educational qualifications are harmonised on cross-border basis, what would that mean in practical terms?”

    It would mean that qualifications acheived in the Republic could be easily identified with their equivalence in Northern Ireland and vice versa. So people, who wanted to, could go down to the Republic and receive standardised treament from employers, for example, for what they worked for up North and those down South could come up North and be treated likewise.

    So really people could move more freely and help to increase potential labour market participation. As any such discrepencies affect employer confidence as to who to employ and this should be ironed out to place people on a qualified footing and not best judgement.

    An understanding written in legislation might help those concerned or perhaps, more naturally, a Code of Practice could be chalked up as to the application of educational standards attained both sides of the border and their worth in today’s workplace/educational establishments.

  • DC

    “Ballymena might just as well be Dublin Northside ”

    A fine example in itself showing the diminishing and misleading impacts of the border, given such shared social problems but I don’t think the DUP would agree with you on that one. However, as a means of stressing my point I will agree with your implication.

  • seanzmct

    DC

    The “equivalence” of qualifications you identify, already happens. Otherwise how would Southern applicants be admitted into universities in the North?

    I thought you were suggesting something more radical such as Northern and Southern students taking the same sort of exams based on the same curriculum and receiving the same qualifications.

    Mind you, many pupils here would not mind the South’s three months summer break!

  • DC

    “I thought you were suggesting something more radical such as Northern and Southern students taking the same sort of exams based on the same curriculum and receiving the same qualifications.”

    Education is a topic that’s top of the agenda for any new executive and to be quite frank, on the scale of things, every curriculum and educational system is worth examining across the UK and Ireland as Northern Ireland prepares to reform and move on and forward from the 11+ system.

    If parties are prepared to work amongst each other and with key stakeholders without absolute predetermined positions on the matter, then Northern Ireland should also easily benefit from policy lessons across the regions, as per the GFA institutions. Clearly, a comprehensive approach has failed many kids in England, for example.

    So, the banking of increased intellectual thought regarding educational structures could play a serious part in forming a modernised and effective education system. One which isn’t stuck in perpetuity as being black and white, in or out and fail or pass, like some political parties have expressed.

    While the old educational boards are being streamlined it seems that now is the time that educational opportunities were diversified to meet the needs of pupils’ choices and to also match their individual learing ability.

  • steve48

    T.ruth
    you have an unbeatable ability to write shite

  • Wilde Rover

    From the BT:

    “Moreover, the UUP allowed Sinn Fein into government while they opposed the police, often violently, and refused to even recognise our courts.”

    Our courts? Shouldn’t that be the courts? Freudian slip?

    T.Ruth

    “Now we can have progress with the constitutional and border issue off the radar while we try to build a better future for the people.”

    The people? As in “we are the people”?

    Honestly, this site is full of United Irelanders chanting about how everything would be fan-feckin-tastic in a UI.

    And yet I haven’t read anything about how the existing Republic of Ireland is supposed to incorporate the rump population of a bygone era and all the unfortunate psychological baggage that goes with it.

  • Reader

    DC: So really people could move more freely and help to increase potential labour market participation.
    Isn’t that an even better argument for East West harmonisation than for North South harmonisation? Or does Democratic Centre want the Republic to remain untainted by the process?

  • DC

    “Isn’t that an even better argument for East West harmonisation than for North South harmonisation?”

    We’ll I think the focus should be placed on Ireland because I feel assumptions are made by employers as to credentials. In Northern Ireland employers are more aware of educational standards in the UK because they have been standardised as a result of the direct legislative link with Westminster.

    It’s about judgement calls by employers and usually when this happens so does discrimination even if it is done on the basis of good intentions.

  • darth rumsfeld

    t.ruth is Christopher Stalford