Why I support devolution

Partly in response to a Letter by Walter Millar (14th May 2007),

I would like to outline why I support Dr Paisley`s position. Firstly the DUP put forward several alternative models for government in Northern Ireland including voluntary coalition and accountable direct rule, all of which were dismissed by Nationalists and the British and Irish governments leaving only the options of power-sharing or continued inept unaccountable direct rule with the possible implementation of joint authority with Dublin (and possibly unaccountable Sinn Fein Ministers).

Secondly the differences from 1998 being decommissioning, accountability mechanisms on all institutions and a Unionist veto over all decision and crucially for the very first time full support from the Republican movement for the police, courts and rule of law.

Thirdly is anyone in any doubt that should Peter Hain still be in charge that we would now be faced with water charges, the destruction of our education system (to be replaced with a failed system the English are now replacing themselves), North-South bodies continuing to operate unaccountably, an Irish language Act implemented, the effective sectarian repartition of Ulster via new Super Councils and Plan B implemented “with all the arrogance of an unaccountable colonial viceroy” (News Letter 2nd June 2006) in an arbitrary manner.

Instead we have accountable devolution with a strong Unionist voice and a Unionist veto where we can for the first time in a generation move Northern Ireland forward for ALL the people.

  • Aughavey, can you (or anyone from Dundela Avenue) comment on these words by Peter Robinson in the Commons on 27 March (Column 1328-9) at Second Reading of the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) (No. 2) Bill:

    “I want to say something about the position of my party. The DUP reached a decision on its own. It
    decided what the consequences might be. It was not bullied into that position by anybody.”

    How do you square these comments with those of Ian Paisley on the Nolan Show on 4 April who said that he had agreed to share power with Sinn Fein precisely BECAUSE he had been told that joint authority via a Plan B was to be imposed otherwise?

    Who is telling the truth?

  • Aughavey,
    “Decommissioning”: Complete, transparent, photographed and witnessed?
    “Unionist veto over all decision”: Are you not forgetting the SF/IRA veto over all decisions? You have replaced a deal which gave SF/IRA complete control over some departments with a (very similar) deal which gives them a veto over ALL departments.
    “full support from the Republican movement for the police, courts and rule of law”: When did the DUP decide that having IRA members on the police was a good thing? That wasn’t always the party’s attitude see http://bp1.blogger.com/_3rimtAVYQqA/Rb3Ggb3BTdI/AAAAAAAAAIY/UZYjyRSYVWg/s1600-h/IRA+police.jpg

    “is anyone in any doubt that should Peter Hain still be in charge that we would now be faced with water charges”: 1. I would rather dig my own well than except unrepentant terrorists in government.
    2. Do you seriously believe that we are not paying for them anyway? The Executive had to bow the bulk of the pathetic amount they got from Mr Brown on putting them off for a year.
    “the destruction of our education system”: So you except SF/IRA to do a good job then?
    “North-South bodies continuing to operate unaccountably”: With Dr No pulling down the hedges there soon won’t be any need for them at all.
    “an Irish language Act implemented”: [comment removed – if you want to disclose potentially libellous information, please do it in your own name and on your own (ie not someone else’s) site. – moderator]
    “effective sectarian repartition of Ulster via new Super Councils”: I will wait and see what happens there.
    “Plan B implemented”: Have you (unlike Jim Allister) seen Plan B? Does it exist? If so, could you please mount it on the site so that everyone can see it.

  • willis

    I must admit I do not see the statements as incompatable.

    The DUP realised that JA was not an idle threat or bullying, but an inevitable consequence.

  • jj

    “…effective sectarian repartition of Ulster…”

    LOL! What, the first partition of Ulster (and Ireland) WASN’T sectarian?

  • The leader says a deal was forced on his party, his deputy says it was not so forced. You may be able to reconcile those statements, Willis, but I can’t.

    “… for the very first time full support from the Republican movement for the police, courts and rule of law.”

    Perhaps someone could inform the Agriculture Minister who has a problem with the police making an arrest in relation to a murder investigation.

    BTW, Aughavey, you can perhaps tell us the substantive details of Plan B. We’ve all been told that it was a great threat, but no one has actually seen it. I mean, it’s not as if the DUP was spooked by a green bogeyman – is it?

  • Watchman,
    As you and I both know, it doesn’t exist. If it did, I fail to see how it could be any worse than Plan A.

    The DUP line is very strange. On the one hand Aughavey is telling us it is great (the arguments for this can be pulled apart by anyone with half a brain) and on the other hand they are telling us that they had to because of the mythical plan B.

  • Aughavey,
    Would you like to defend your post?

  • interested

    Watchman,
    I would imagine that anyone who takes a decision completely blind to all outside factors isn’t taking a very well informed decision.

    Frankly I’m glad the DUP assessed what all the options were, including what the Government may or may not do as part of deciding what to do. Glorious failure is what unionism has been all too good at. Its very well to say we took a stand but managed to lose out in the process. Gives you a nice warm fuzzy glow inside doesn’t it. Of course, us cyberwarriors and other various newspaper letter writers have the absolulte luxury of criticising from the sidelines (usually anonymously – myself included) gloriously free from responsibility.

    Hanson,
    You obviously dont understand accountability. SF cant destroy the education system because unionists wont allow them to.

    I’ll not bother commenting on your other issues – strikes me that one is potentially libelous (moderators take note).

  • “I’ll not bother commenting on your other issues”

    Yes, that’s right, run away from the debate. I can assure you that they are all accrue but let’s look at the ones which can be easily verified:
    1. Decommissioning has been hailed as a DUP achievement. Yet it didn’t meet the DUP’s own criteria.
    2. SF/IRA (as well as Unionists) have a veto. Government by unaccountable minister has been replaced by government by mutual veto.
    3. DUP members put up those posters. It was on the DUP site until a wee while ago.
    4. The Assembly blew a fortune of Brown’s money on putting off water charges.
    5. SF/IRA hold the education post.
    6. Dr P said he wanted to pull down the hedges.
    7. St Andrews includes an Irish Language Act.
    8. No one has seen Plan B.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Aughavey
    let me posit a scenario.
    Those devious Shinner chappies might just not see the Assembly as the end of things. They might even now be planning for a referendum on aunited Ireland. They would factor into the equation the need to remove the stigma which Unionists feel about their dodgy past/present-the thing that got anti-Agreement voters to back the DUP in the spring (“We can’t let them be the biggest party”).

    To neutralise this they would recognise that they would have to make symbolic but harmless gestures like-say-supporting joining the Commonwealth parliamentary body. They would appoint competent bland technocrats to their ministries which they would probably run well.To keep the core vote on board they would have a trusted hard man as Deputy First Minister, but he would come over all cuddly to the DUP and in so far as he can do charm, would try more charm, less offensive.

    So…
    It’s 2016, and the Unionist vote has continued to tail off as the Big man has retired and Unionist voters can’t see the difference between tired and grumpy elder statesman Punt and UUP leader surprise comeback kid Duncan Shipley Dalton.The seven super councils the DUP didn’t bother to do their homework on have produced a situation where the south and west are run by nationalists steadily harmonising with the south. Unionists in those councils are now weaker and wetter than Willie Hay.
    It’s the week before referendum day. Old Papa Doc is wheeled into a tv studio in his bath chair in a depserate attempt by the “No” campaign to galvanise support. He trots out the old familiar rhetoric. Mark Carruthers Junior fixes him with a contemptuous stare and says “But Dr Paisley, you’ve been in coalition since 2007 with these people who you now say are a threat to all Unionists hold dear. What makes you think they will feel threatened by Sinn Fein now?”
    What indeed.

  • darth rumsfeld,
    You are assuming that Dr P will still want to keep the boarder in 2016. I wouldn’t be so sure;)

  • darth rumsfeld

    He says “Never! Never! Never! Oh alright then”

  • Sam Flanagan

    The “Plan B” tactic is not a new phenomenon, 2Kings 18:31-2Kings 19:4.

    I have been informed today, the tone of the comments by Pope Lundy and the Baroness in the latest REVIVALIST magazine indicate “Plan P” seems to be setting in!!! P for PANIC that is. LOL.

    I have also heard “character assassination” of anti-agreement individuals has commenced.

    Strange the way most commenters who support “Government by Mass murderers” hide their identities???

  • slug

    Darth

    “But Dr Paisley, you’ve been in coalition since 2007 with these people who you now say are a threat to all Unionists hold dear. What makes you think they will feel threatened by Sinn Fein now?”

    Are you saying that Sinn Féin’s policy of being =bland and anodyne would in some sense undermine the unionist spirit; if so you seem to think we require a nasty Sinn Féin to keep us strong. But isn’t that to underestimate the basic strength and integrity of the unionist position, something which I tend to associate with nationalists rather than unionists.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Darth

    Why is it important that people of the broad Protestant tradition feel threatened by the prospect of reunification? I understand that you are opposed to reunification, but surely reaching a situation where no-one feels threatened either way would be an unambiguously good thing?

    Then we could have the kind of referendum you describe, without anyone having to die for either cause.

  • Porlock

    According to Liam Clarke, in the latest Sunday Times, Peter Robinson and Timothy Johnston were taken for a private briefing during the St Andrews Talks (it named the Irish minister concerned, but I have forgotten and the paper has now been used by the cats) and told what Plan B would be.

    They chickened, later buckled and eventually rolled over.

    Porlock

  • the Emerald Pimpernel

    Strange the way most commenters who support “Government by Mass murderers” hide their identities???

    Posted by Sam Flanagan on May 15, 2007 @ 06:25 PM

    Depends Sam are you talking Storomont pre-1972 or British parliament post- magna carta

  • jimmyjoe

    Porlock
    No matter what was briefed to Robinson and Johnston the Dups were always going to roll over.Look at the way McCrea was bought.Campbell will be a minister soon and Simpson will always be a mouth,sorry to insult a mouth.
    The Dups are money and power driven All their crocodile tears for those that died during the troubles shows their true colours.

  • leaving only the options of power-sharing or continued inept unaccountable direct rule with the possible implementation of joint authority with Dublin

    So this is what an end to push over Unionism looks like?

  • páid

    Darth,
    enjoy your writing.

    There’s no way there’ll be a UI referendum by 2016, or 2026 either.

    What exposure to the ROI will bring is Ulster folk realising what they have in common with each other.

    There is a rule that applies to all countries which states:

    The North is very different from The South.

  • darth rumsfeld

    slug and billy
    I quite agree that the Union ought to be defended by pride rather than fear. But the total spin job done by Punt’n’Doc in March was a tour de force, motivated by whipping up panic.

    The number of people I spoke to who told me before and since the election that they voted DUP because they didn’t want those awful Shinners to be the biggest party, and that this would be a disaster is huge.

    The DUP always played the demonisation tactic better than anyone- and I believe it worked better in the middle classes than the working classes. But Nigel Dodds won;t be able to say “Vote for me to stop the bogeyman” next time if Gerry Kelly has an office down the corridor and pops in for a cup of tea and a rich tea

  • Editor:
    Point taken. Sorry about that.

  • Whatever Next

    Two quick things:

    1.) there never was any ‘killer threat’. To begin with, no such threat is plausible, but rather more to the point – no such threat was made. The only claim there was, was a senile moment from Paisley on Nolan’s show. No one inside the the DUP has ever backed this claim up, for the simple reason that it didn’t happen. This is a small place, and those of you who can, can easily enough speak to Robinson or Dodds off the record. Neither of them are going to privately back Paisley up on this one.

    2.) No one who calls himself a Unionist should ever pen drivel like this: “continued inept unaccountable direct rule”. ‘Direct rule’ [sic] was always accountable to Parliament, and if you’re a Unionist, and not a Free Presbyterian nationalist, there’s no higher accountability in this world than that.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Darth

    You do seem to be reaching the conclusion that the unionist cause can only be held together by demonisation and fear.

    I can only say I wholeheartedly agree. But I suppose the question is this: is any cause that can only be held together by fear, really a cause worth fighting for?

  • darth rumsfeld

    billy
    you really don’t get it do you?
    I repeat, that the DUP have undoubtedly scaremongered in the past. Sinn Fein have equally hyped up the chances of UI without any real chance of it happening. Neither tactic undermines the validity of their case.
    Perhaps I should condescend to your vision by saying that a cause that can only be held together by myths of the past and unattainable dreams of the future is also not worth fighting for- particularly when the fighting that was done for it involved murdering hundreds of non-combatants who are airbrushed out of history as “regrettable but necessary” casualties.

  • DK

    ” I understand that you are opposed to reunification, but surely reaching a situation where no-one feels threatened either way would be an unambiguously good thing?
    Then we could have the kind of referendum you describe”

    If no-one feels threatened either way what would be the point in any referendum? What would be the driver for change? To paraphrase Lord Palmerston: “Change? Surely things are bad enough already!”

  • pia lugum

    Judging by the steady flow of anti-DUP policy graphitti on Ballymena walls, they are pretty soon going to need to create their own Plan B to survive even the council elections in 2 years time as a purely lucre-hungry group.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Darth

    “I repeat, that the DUP have undoubtedly scaremongered in the past. Sinn Fein have equally hyped up the chances of UI without any real chance of it happening.”

    But you’re comparing scaremongering on one hand, and the raising of hope on the other. These two approaches seem to me to be polar opposites. Both have been successful, it’s true. What does this mean? Perhaps it means that the way to be successful if you’re a unionist is to scare the life out of the electorate, whereas the way to succeed within nationalism is to appeal to people’s hopes and dreams.

    Apples and oranges. Night and day.

    “Neither tactic undermines the validity of their case.”

    Actually, I think that a political philosophy that requires its adherents to be terrified of thinking outside a preconceived outcome is one that is ripe for a serious critique.

    “Perhaps I should condescend to your vision by saying that a cause that can only be held together by myths of the past and unattainable dreams of the future is also not worth fighting for-”

    ALL causes and indeed all countries, movements, organisations, even families, are held together by myths of the past. Ireland is no different. As to whether a reunified, sovereign island state is attainable, that’s for future historians to judge. Clearly though, there’s no possible way it can be declared “unattainable” by anyone. Clearly it’s one of several possibilities.

    “…particularly when the fighting that was done for it involved murdering hundreds of non-combatants who are airbrushed out of history as “regrettable but necessary” casualties.”

    I hold no brief for the crimes of my countrymen. I don’t suppose you do either – which is why you haven’t renounced your unionism, any more than I have renounced my republicanism, even though adherents to your cause also killed thousands.

    I don’t blame you for them, nor do I expect you to renounce your political aspirations because of them. I simply ask you to extend me the same courtesy.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    DK

    “If no-one feels threatened either way what would be the point in any referendum? What would be the driver for change?”

    What, you can’t understand why someone would want something for positive reasons? That perhaps there are other motivations in life other than fear?

    If Ireland is to remain partitioned and the union is to continue for the rest of my life, then I would have certain feelings about that – disappointment, frustration, pain and a crushing sense of dislocation – but fear isn’t one of them. It’s not 1921 any more and northern nationalists have secured for themselves a position here where we’re strong enough not to have to be afraid.

    Still want reunification though, very badly, and for reasons that have nothing to do with fear.

    (Nationalists aren’t dominated by fear, the way unionists seem to be, y’know. Probably some kind of historical legacy – you know, the way unionism, as the defenders, are driven by fear of a nightmare, whereas nationalists are driven by a dream?)

  • darth rumsfeld

    trust me billy. It’s as unattainable as a Donegal cellick win in the Champions’ league final.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I’m sure you’re a source of unimpeachable credibility Darth, but I hope you won’t take offence if I don’t take your word for it this time….

  • DK

    “Still want reunification though, very badly, and for reasons that have nothing to do with fear.”

    What are they?

  • darth rumsfeld

    pity that aughavey, after floating this boat, seems to have disappeared over the horizon.

    And billy, Unionists are defending a very real, and thus very imperfect status quo. Nationalists are pursuing an imagined and thus very perfect dream.
    It’s like wanting to marry Angelina Jolie and them finding out after the wedding that in real life she snores, picks her nose in public, and has the intellectual dexterity and conversational skills of a cheeseburger. So if you have a crushing sense of dislocation it’s because you’re out of step with reality.Very noble no doubt, but also not very practical.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Darth

    “Unionists are defending a very real, and thus very imperfect status quo. Nationalists are pursuing an imagined and thus very perfect dream.”

    This is a classic unionist fallacy – that nationalists think a unified Ireland would be perfect, a land of milk and honey. It’s complete nonsense, of course, and betrays only the absolute poverty of your understanding of where nationalists are coming from.

    “It’s like wanting to marry Angelina Jolie and them finding out after the wedding that in real life she snores, picks her nose in public, and has the intellectual dexterity and conversational skills of a cheeseburger.”

    Actually it’s nothing like that at all. It’s more like a guy who has a handy, meaningless office job: one half of him (the pro-status quo half) is terrified of taking a risk and trying something potentially more rewarding. He’s a solid company man, loyal to his corporation and deferential to his bosses. He wants to stay where he is, keep drawing his salary, secure his pension, hold on to what he has and live out a life of quiet mediocrity. Then there’s the other side to him, (read reunificationists) which has aspirations beyond his present, humdrum existence. The side that recognises his present job is deadening and soul-destroying. The side that tells him he should quit his job, invest his savings and try to make something of and for himself. The side that believes the potential rewards are worth the risks, but furthermore that a life devoid of risks, of not trying to be the best he can be, is a life not worth living. He’s no fool, he knows there are no guarantees in life, and that he’ll have to work ten times harder than ever before, and take his beatings as he goes.

    But he is not afraid.

    DK – does that (at least in a very broad thematic sense) answer your question?

    “So if you have a crushing sense of dislocation it’s because you’re out of step with reality.”

    You’re going to have to explain that one. I’m not sure I follow?

    “Very noble no doubt, but also not very practical.”

    What, you don’t think that patriotism or civic pride might have a role to play in the development of a country? Or that lack thereof might be problematic?

  • darth rumsfeld

    Billy
    You remind me of the Monty Python sketch with Michael Palin’s nerdy chartered accountant telling careersa advisor John Cleese “I want to be a lion tamer. …I’ve got the hat!”.

    There’s a lot to commend quiet mediocrity- that’s what we elected 108 non-entities to deliver. It’s safe, comfortable, and predictable. And what’s to stop the company man aspiring to be CEO if he has ambitions to better himself?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Darth

    “And what’s to stop the company man aspiring to be CEO if he has ambitions to better himself?”

    I’ll tell you what’s to stop him – the same lack of ambition and courage that makes him a company man in the first place.

    You want to know why I want a united Ireland? Matthew 25: 14-30, that’s why.