UUP blogger in call to leave Executive…

YOUNG Unionist blogger Rick Cairns has laid his cards on the table and said the UUP should move into Opposition, attracting a fair amount of criticism in the process. However, the party appears to be keeping such a shift on the long finger.Cairns writes:

The UUP needs to gain the trust of the electorate that has been lost to the DUP since 1998. This can be done by offering a real alternative to the DUP-Sinn Fein coalition. The issue of power-sharing has been resolved; the UUP has repeatedly proven, and the DUP now has proven that unionists cannot be accused of ‘not wanting a Catholic about the place’.

The D’dondt system was always an interim measure to build confidence in the community to allow the politicians to share-power. The work begins now to move from mandatory to voluntary coalition; from collective to majority government. The first step in that journey is opposition. That is democracy. The one party slogan I agreed with in recent years I will reiterate now: Let’s get real.

  • IJP

    We’re all obviously out enjoying the bank holiday…

    The post, for me, actually raises three questions:

    1. Should the Ulster Unionists be in the Executive?

    2. Is a political party which continues to have such debates in public ever going to be in a position to make an electoral comeback?

    3. What is the purpose of a youth wing (and, by extention, a youth wing blog)?

  • for all of us?

    Surely attacking party policy and kneeing the Party Leader in the balls is in the oldest traditions of the Young Unionists?

    Though if anyone still needed proof of Empey’s vanishing leadership authority in the party, the YU blog offers plenty of proof.

    Lengthy quotes from Jim Allister, attacks on the party’s reforms, bashing the gay pride parade, loving photographs of YUs posing with Ian Paisley…

    They’re probably planning to defect again, though whether to Paisley to Jim Allister remains to be seen…

  • abucs

    “The D’dondt system was always an interim measure ….”

    saving a move to a UI, where in the GFA / SAA does it say that ?

    It looks like the UUP are running on the old Republican ticket of abstentionism, and forcing change from the outside.

    How things have changed.

    Difference is with D’Hondt is that the spoils are not left vacant but are redistributed to other parties.

    It will be difficult for the UUP to criticise an assembly executive department when the easy reposte is … well you can actually run it if you want to….. you don’t want to ? ….. OK, shut up then.

    It’s a tough political position to put yourself into. Unionists should really think more about the future political consequances of their current actions. It’s not a good track record.

  • Ignited

    Fair play, the UUP needs to be doing something to claw back lost ground, and opposition offers plenty of opportunity. Unionists should be thinking about the future and it is evident that people such as the above young unionist are giving it thought and due consideration.

    The problem with the current political situation is the democratic deficit which exists due to lack of opposition and playing musical chairs every four years doesn’t create normal politics.

    I’ve been vocal on the merits of opposition pre and post election before the executive was formed, and the same arguments stand now. The only difference is the UUP need to find a credible way out of the executive.

    Leave the DUP and Sinn Fein to it – they already control the executive and by remaining in you are bound by their executive control. If anything a piece like this should be giving Sir Reg a stronger hand while he takes on the vested interests during this internal review; it shows an appetitie for real change.

  • O’Neill

    “The work begins now to move from mandatory to voluntary coalition; from collective to majority government.”

    I thought the UUP was meant to be the more moderate party?

    This is just the same old Unionist Majority Rule agenda rearing its ugly head again…

    If they’re that fed up with being in govt they’re welcome to leave anytime, I’m sure the DUP and SF will be happy with their extra ministries!

    But what kind of youth wing is it that thinks its okay to undermine their own ministers on an official website??

  • abucs

    Fair play Ignited.

    Shouldn’t we give it a chance to work before wanting to scrap it ? The quickness to get rid of it, coming from unionists, looks like a desire of winding back of shared goverenment in order to give unionists more control.

    Wouldn’t you admit though that many nationalists believe scrapping D’Hondt is below the line of what is politically acceptable ?

    As you say, the current setup is seen as a DUP / SF administration. If it goes well – great. If it goes badly, won’t it be natural to see it as a failing of DUP and SF ?

    It would be great now if parties were involved in good ideas and management as a way to gain favour instead of a return to questioning the political structure of the state IMHO.

    A continuing instability of NI, even after the GFA might have other political consequances then simply saying – OK, lets all be happy having voluntary power sharing. ??

  • Bob Williamson

    I notice the Jim Allister quotes were mentioned in this post – in actual fact the YU blog didn’t just quote Jim, they actually re-printed his entire statement entitled “100 days of devolution” – the blogger who posted, on John Hussey, even went so far as to say; “I cannot find one single thing in that statement from Jim Allister that I disagree with.”

    Perhaps the Young Unionists could be the ones to answer Jim Allister’s call in today’s Newsletter for a new party to represent traditional Unionism??

  • 0b101010

    So the new UUP want to become the old DUP? How delightful.

  • exYU

    Young Unionists have a habit of making themselves and the UUP a laughing stock – i put it down to far too much ego and far too few brains

  • Ignited


    At this stage I am not reasoning for voluntary power-sharing – that should be a long term goal. At this stage the government needs to be held to account and scrutinised and opposition by UUP can help provide that. If the biggest party from unionism and nationalism returned from each election form a government (power-sharing) then I fail to see what is objectionable.

    If the current executive does well DUP-Sinn Fein get the accolades. If it fails it is more likely that the DUP-Sinn Fein can pass the buck ie poor NHS = UUP, poor housing = SDLP.

    Nationalists wanted D’Hondt as a measure to ensure inclusion in the government of Northern Ireland. I don’t think anyone believes it will be gone overnight, but in due course it should be removed so that parties can form a government based on policy.

  • Ginfizz

    Why turn your fire on the YU’s – the people who are really undermining Reg Empey are Alan McFarland and David McNarry.

  • Whatever the rights or wrongs of dissention being aired in public, this is a debate that is badly needed within the UUP. Before discipline can be enforced and the party can galvanise around a coherent message, the content of that message must be extablished. Eschewing the sectarian, ethno-nationalist carve-up of DUP / SF, leaving the executive provides the UUP with a perfect opportunity to emphasise its unique stance grounded in genuine British unionism. Ultimately the goal would be to bring down d’Hondt and establish cross-community coalitions in government and opposition. Doing away with d’Hondt isn’t the same as abolishing any requirement for cross-community government.

  • Garibaldy

    Surely the result of going into opposition would be to render the UUP irrelevant to a large number of voters who want to see unionists balancing nationalists in government? The vote and membership would then atrophy even further. This would be a huge strategic mistake. First thing the UUP needs is to modernise its structures to turn it into a proper party.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    I paid a visit to that blog and found it to be the haven of some modern day holdouts reminiscent of the Japanese soldiers who emerge from the woods years after the war thinking that there’s a conflict still raging.

    The double tragedy is that this, it seems, is the future of Unionism and not, as it should be, its past.

    There’s no interest in a shared future there. No ideas as to how to improve the lot of the Northern Irish. They still believe their own propoganda – that the North is part of Britain, which its not. Sure let them have their British identity, but don’t impose it on me.

    Learn to share, lads.

    As for getting a ‘coherent message’ to gather around, I doubt whether that’s possible given that most of these fellows are pimply gobshites whose contribution to political life is a negative value.

  • That’s rich coming from an eccentric Irish Language extremist living in cloud cuckoo land.

  • Mick Fealty


    I’ve had to take five or six contributions to this thread, you weren’t one of them. So can we try to play the ball, not the man?

  • Apologies. Although I retain the right to be irritated by Oliver being so pleased by his “Japanese soldiers” image that he’s used it twice on the YU blog and once here. I will also remain disdainful of someone who thinks it is an infringement of minority rights not to subsidise a language no-one speaks as their primary tongue.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    That’s rich coming from an eccentric Irish Language extremist living in cloud cuckoo land.


    I’ve had to take five or six contributions to this thread, you weren’t one of them. So can we try to play the ball, not the man?

    What do you expect from a pig but a grunt….

  • Oh Nuts…

    The Japanese soldier analogy is perhaps a little over the top.

    I think the young unionists have perhaps caught up to the 1940s by now.

    But if they’re still going to refer to LGB orientation as a “lifestyle choice” it seems that they’re not yet quite up to the 1970s.

    The lessons of the Troubles too seem to have passed them by pretty much entirely… confirming this thesis!

    Perhaps a deranged officer fresh out of the jungles of Vietnam after 40 years of isolation might be a more appropriate model?

    Like the officer guy Arlo Guthrie sang about in that song of his? What was it called? Alice? A song about Alice?

  • “What do you expect from a pig but a grunt….”

    Seems the rules don’t apply too consistently here.

    The fact that all Oliver’s hissy fits occur any time someone defers from the Irish Language being “most important issue ever” seems to give him immunity.

  • Gee, Z, I’m sorry you were offended by the ‘Pig’ comment. That observation was a general comment from me, not intended for you in particular but for all those who resort to name calling in response to an argument that the Irish language is the most important issue ever and woe betide anybody who utters to the contrary. I’m even more sorry that you felt the comment was intended for you. SIncere apologies.

  • tok

    I am very suspicious of this this theory was first floated raised by David Burnside who has always beens stronfly anti agreement and anti powersharing and I think everybody should be.

  • Ignited

    I believe Alex Kane was one of the key members of the UUP who has publically floated the idea of opposition – and he is certainly not anti-agreement or anti-powersharing. I think its too easy just to believe that some is anti this and anti that if they put forward an alternative idea.

  • Oh Nuts…

    Well the post above explicitly calls for Majority Rule again.

    If any case for reform is to be successful it would need to have Power-Sharing at its core and the Nationalist community would need to be certain that no government could be formed or sustained without the support of at least 50% of nationalist MLAs.

    We dont necessarily need All-Party Govt forever – we could shift to a model where the largest nationalist and largest unionist party power-share.

    But must times the case for reform is floated its a thinly disguised call for a return to majority rule.

  • My one desire

    I don’t know if 50% of one community or the other is entirely necessary. Sectarian vetos cannot be the answer. Surely voluntary opposition and in time voluntary coalition can occur with satisfactory cross-community safeguards without damning Northern Ireland to suffer this current abomination of unaccountable and manufactured democracy ie. manditory coalition by d’Hondt?

  • BonarLaw

    Oh nuts & My one desire

    the answer is surely to remove the sectarian designation of the MLAs and require that any cabinet and programme of government must obtain the support of, say, 65% of voting MLAs within six weeks of an election. That cabinet would be bound by collective responsibility and whatever coalition deals were necessary to form it. The numbers mean it would be cross community in make up and face a proper opposition.

  • Oh Nuts…

    If it was 65% support that could mean 35% out of the 40% nationalists being excluded. In other words 7 out of 8 nationalists being excluded.

    Any govt must continue to have majority support from both communities here.

    Also, given that nationalists have a veto over any change, you guys can quit dreaming unless you come up with a reform that can continue Power Sharing.

    If you don’t accept Power Sharing, nationalists won’t accept the legitimacy of Northern Ireland.

    Full stop.

  • IJP

    oh nuts

    So you support a sectarian veto? That’s going to deliver us from sectarianism, is it?

    Personally I’d set the threshold a little higher than Bonar Law, at maybe 70%.

    But frankly, if a law has the support of all of one “side”, all not belonging to any “side”, and some of the “other side”, that’s comprehensive enough for me.

    Unionists only have 50% on their own. Even 65% is pretty secure for everyone.

    Time to end the sectarian veto and introduce democracy.

  • observer

    If you don’t accept Power Sharing, nationalists won’t accept the legitimacy of Northern Ireland.

    Full stop.
    Posted by Oh Nuts… on Aug 29, 2007 @ 09:44 PM

    Big deal, unionists wont lose sleep over it

  • BonarLaw

    Oh nuts

    maths not your strong point?

    Anyway, without designations those who were not part of the government would be those who could not cut a deal with potential coalition partners regardless of their position on the constitutional question.

  • kensei

    “So you support a sectarian veto? That’s going to deliver us from sectarianism, is it?”

    It’s an absolute guarantee that nothing goes on here without us saying so, and there will be no repeat of past misgovernment. Any Nationalist party that gives it up will get hammered. Not only Unionists have trust issues.

    Oh, and of course, 65% is enough to permanently exclude SF. Perhaps you remember th endless arguments of that theme. No deal.

  • BonarLaw


    make it 70% then.

  • kensei

    Why don’t we just randomly exclude one party to be the opposition? It would be quicker and more fun.

  • BonarLaw


    wait…why don’t we just create as many government departments as there are parties in the Assembly. That doctor chap from Omagh shouldn’t be excluded either…

  • kensei


    Why stop there? We could have as many jobs as there are MLAs?

    If you want “proper” democracy, it can be guaranteed in a UI scenario…….