“I know it will not be an overnight transition..”

Behind the hope-full rhetoric in the Deputy First Minister’s speech to the British Irish Association is a familiar message to “the sceptics and cynics” [*ahem* – Ed]. It’s a variation on the message previously heard from his party leader Gerry Adams.. but at least he’s not accusing us sceptics of adopting the tactics of Satan.. And it’s also worth pointing out that the issues are likely to be more difficult to address with the poisonous foundations that the top-down political process has been set upon.. and it won’t be helped by any apparent reluctance, on the part of the consultative group and others, to extract that poison from the system.

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  • peteb
    given you despise the peace process so much; why don’t you take your embittered poisonous views off to ATW, as there’s an opening due to McCann’s imminent departure; and give us a break.

    As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, the poison is within the bigoted mindset, and your views are not dissimilar from Ivan Foster; clearly you regard SF in gov’t as a perversion
    Blunt but civil !

  • joeCanuck

    C’mon.
    The last thing we want is a blog where everyone agrees with one another.
    This is a place where there is a robust exchange of views and hopefully it will stay that way.

  • merrie

    I get the impression that Pete does not like Nationalists generally and Sinn Feiners in particular.

    We agree on the cricket tho…

  • Pete Baker

    Indeed, joeC.

    Although it would be an improvement if people disagreed with something I’ve actually said..

  • kensei

    It’d be even more helpful if there was some kind of point to disagree with. All you’ve done is added another link to your single transferable post.

  • Briso

    I wish I could find some content in your posts without having to hack through 15 layers of oblique, self-referencing thicket, leaving me exhausted and none the wiser.

  • kensei

    I’m just waiting for the post that is 100% red links.

  • joeC
    I have challenged peteb repeatedly on his use of the word “poison”; reasoning thus that as much as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is ugliness.

    Being answered with self-referential hyperlinks to previous posts where that word is mentioned is not an honest attempt at debate; and is more to do with repeating a lie, and hoping it will stick.

    I simply do not accept his underlying assumptions.
    And have coined the phrase “Bakerism” to describe that kind of nasty sneering myopic snobbery we find repeatedly in his paltry offerings.

    That’s why he has to go, because its just a broken record.. whilst the many positives in norn iron flowing from from the current settlement are ignored.

    I beg to move the motion. “This house believes Bakerism is redundant, and past its sell by date”

    Lets call in the tellers 😉

  • I Wonder

    “imminent departure”?? Do tell!

  • oh yes, scroll down a few threads on ATW, due departure date 16th Sept..

    peteb, 6 words “shit or get off the pot”

  • joeCanuck

    But the thing is, Parcifal, you don’t have to read anything Pete writes.
    To suggest that we can henceforth vote on whose opinion has the right to be published suggests that you fear some people’s words.
    What next? Go back to burning books?

  • JoeC
    That’s like saying, buy a newspaper and ignore pages 1/3,5,7 etc I like Slugger Central and will continue to counter with pleas for positivity, not for its own sake, but it does reflect Reality.

    The optimist sees an opportunity in every difficulty; the pessimist sees a difficulty in every opportunity.

    The biggest challenge is to play the ball.

    I do this piece ( siren’s wail- tear-jerker ) every few months, one day I’ll get the break-through, and hold up the mirror… right that’s me zipped till January 🙂

  • have a little pity on me joeC, there’s hardly a rug in the house left that hasn’t been chewed to shreds, or a chair-leg not gnawed right through !

  • merrie

    Pete:

    So far Preston’s prediction has not come to fruition (though it is still early days):
    Quoting from one of your Xrefs: >> Paisley and McGuinness can hobble along together for a while in a nightmare coalition of twisted motives, but don’t for a moment believe that four-party rule is anything but an illusion. Where else in the world would such a construction work?<< The reality in NI is that unfortunately, at present, the most important division in NI is the sectarian one and the GFA was the compromise agreed upon "bottom up" since the majority of electors voted "yes" in a referendum and voted in the DUP and SF in two subsequent elections. So in what way is the solution imposed "top down"? And in any case so what if it is "top down" since most decisions in most democracies are made "top down". For instance: 1. the people of Kensington and Chelsea did not want to be included in the congestion charge area in London and voted against it, but Ken overruled them. 2. In Australia, the people of the Australian Capital Territory voted in two referenda against self-rule (knowing, as the majority of the citizens there are public servants. that elected representatives are an expensive nuisance) and the Federal Government said another referendum would not be held for a decade but within two years Bob Hawke imposed self rule upon them. 3. UK: Recently there was a petition signed by a huge majority of motorises against possible new charges to be imposed by the government. The government is ignoring this petition and quite rightly for budgetary, environmental and user-pays reasons. Let the type of government fit the circumstances. One of the benefits of this "construction" in NI is that two opponents are working and governing together, getting used to having "themmums" about the house - as equals. And the jointly ruling parties are working on the less contentious matters of day-to-day governance such as infrastructure, agriculture and tourism, though no doubt there are disagreements on these as well. IMHO the current setup is a temporary one but it seems to me Pete that you think it is permanent. Uniqueness. Yes, currently it is unique because NI has got unique problems, but who knows it may be a structure that will work in Iraq too. I think political scientists are very interested in NI's unique setup and there should be some PhDs on the subject. So instead of harping on negatively about the "poison" NI joint rule, Pete what do you have as an alternative? Chaos? Seven fairly autonomous councils? Repartition? Direct rule from London? A UN military zone? Majority Unionist rule? (If so, what would you suggest when Nationalists are the majority?)

  • páid

    I beg to move the motion. “This house believes Bakerism is redundant, and past its sell by date”

    Lets call in the tellers 😉

    I vote against the motion.

    Earnest, decent, scientific, serious, honest.

  • Nevin
  • merrie

    A part of eastern Ulster had joint rule in the Dark Ages/Middle Ages where there were two distinct peoples (history repeats itself??). One side ruled for several years, then the other for the same period.

    I don’t think this would work today. Say, for six months SF ruled so passed the Irish Language Act and had all the street signs bilingual. Then in the following six months the DUP would abolish the legislation and have all the Irish signs removed. And so on…

  • The Dubliner

    Good post, Merrie, but it’s a simple reality that there can’t be any shared future unless some attempt is made to address that which is referred to as the past but which is actually the present, i.e. the great pile of bodies, limbs, and broken hearts that have lined the road to Stormont for the current incumbents. That past/present is deliberately ignored in order to facilitate certain political careers and the status quo where all sides can impose their own narratives on what went on for the last 40 years, with no regard to how dramatically those narratives conflict with each other. That dismal expedient belies the reality that those sides are still deeply divided – even though it should be self-evident from how different their narratives are. Burying one’s head in the sand has only one outcome: drowning in the next tide. Ergo, folks need a device to get as close to the truth of events as testimony and record will allow. While they still may not agree, it is likely to make it a lot harder for outright lies to be told – and grotesque charades to occur such as PSF’s “March for Truth (About What The State Did, But Not What We Did To The State Or Its Citizens.” Fantasise about a shared future all you wish, but it simply isn’t going to happen when so little of the truth is shared. And the window-dressing of ‘top down’ unity-creation exercises such as “Ian and Martin get a long grand, so why can’t everyone else get along, too?” are too infantile to have any lasting influence. What you have, really, is a malign influence within the body of the state: and it corrupts all around it, seeking either not to be judged by others or to be judged only by the self-serving standards that they stealthily superimpose. That is how, for example, you will find that such a state will show a tolerance to terrorists because to brand them as pariahs is to brand its ‘statesmen’ as the same – it’s purely serving but very corrosive.

    And, by the way, I vote with páid on the motion. Pete Baker is easily one of the most outstanding Bloggers on the Internet – an irreplaceable asset to Slugger, and to the debate on NI politics generally.

  • Briso

    Posted by The Dubliner on Sep 08, 2007 @ 01:28 AM
    And, by the way, I vote with páid on the motion. Pete Baker is easily one of the most outstanding Bloggers on the Internet – an irreplaceable asset to Slugger, and to the debate on NI politics generally.

    I wish I could understand his posts without the archaeology , but I guess that says more about me than him. I also assume he is the jocular editor who adds inline contrasting links to his own prose. That does annoy the crap [*ahem* – Ed] out of me.

    Doesn’t make him wrong though.

  • The Dubliner

    Well Briso, if I didn’t kill the thread or Pete’s rep by praising his Blog entries on Slugger, you just did.

    I don’t click all of the links; hovering over a link to see if it is internal or external. Some of them are self-referential (and pointless if the reader is familiar with the thread) and some are – in the dismal practice of journalists – self-reverential or unduly reverential to other journalists.

    You see, when a journalist proffers an opinion, said opinion is deemed by other journalists to have a higher status than opinions that are proffered by non-journalists. So, when a journalist agrees with an opinion proffered by another journalist, he will often cite said journalist as an authorities source on the subject in order to support his own proffered opinion (on dubious basis in logic that if two journalists share the same opinion, then the opinion must be correct). In this manner, journalists become the world’s leading group of know-it-alls on all subjects, while those who are actually authorities on the particular subject are relegated to irrelevance.

    Bloggers envy this practice. It would be deemed absurd if Bloggers were to cite other Bloggers as authoritative sources, since the reader assumes that any ponce can post on a Blog whereas only a selected group of ponces can write for a newspaper. I think Pete is breaking new ground by challenging the legitimacy of that public perception by citing Blog entries in addition to newspaper articles, thereby giving parity of esteem to both. Admittedly, he has only cited his own Blog entries thus far, only conferring parity of esteem to them. But one step at a time, eh?

    Next, it might even be deemed appropriate to cite Commenters, allowing the people in the peanut gallery (down here, folks) AKA the comment zone to enjoy such elevated status of having opinions deemed to be as important as that of journalists and Blogger(s).

    Waffle aside, who else in Blogland is questioning the fundamentals of this process as diligently as Pete is doing? So, that’s why I rate him highly – nothing to do with style, just content that I personally think is important.

  • merrie

    I note that Pete hasn’t bothered to reply to my query.

    The Dubliner: I know of a couple who split up – let’s call them Sean and Mary. Sean had a few girlfriends and later married one of them. After ten years Mary, who considers herself the victim, still harps on about how badly her former husband had treated her and her main topic of conversation is how sad and bitter she is. She is stuck in a rut and she is boring, boring, boring. She is also ruining her life by her attitude. What opportunities she has missed. Meantime Sean is happily enjoying family life with a more congenial partner. He has moved on from a mistake of a marriage, and has let bygones be bygones.

    Would it have improved Mary’s life if Sean had been subjected to a truth and reconciliation process in which he admitted his guilt and shame at the way he had allegedly treated her? Very unlikely because of Mary’s mindset. Whinge, whine, no forgiveness. And Mary would be outraged if she should be subject to the same truth and reconciliation process she demands of Sean.

    Then there are victims such as Abigail Witchells whose family and herself have forgiven the attacker who paralysed her and quietly have got on with their lives.

    I can cite a few other examples of people not moving on (drunks killing beloved children/ fathers/ mothers/ aunties, etc, people getting murdered and so forth). Sure these are sad, even shocking, events but if you don’t forgive (not necessarily forget) you are only hurting yourself.

    There is enough whataboutery in NI to go on forever and a day. Isn’t it time to just dump the past, let’s draw the line under it and move onto something more positive. The joint governance currently in place in NI is such a positive step, albeit a temporary one.

    I am afraid I disagree pretty much with your comments (and no doubt you disagree with mine).

    Pete: any chance of a reply to my query?????

  • Turgon

    Merrie,
    You suggestion that people move on is missing the point. The people whose relatives were murdered are not in the same position as a jilted wife. Yes there may be some similarities but the positions are actually quite different. The pain of having your loved ones murdered frequently in front of you must be extremely difficult to simply “get over”.

    The failure of those who perpetrated these acts to make any realistic form of apology also makes forgiveness extremely difficult.

    You regard the current situtation as temporary. Why and what will replace it?

  • Pete Baker

    merrie

    “And in any case so what if it is “top down” since most decisions in most democracies are made “top down”.”

    So what indeed..

  • The Dubliner

    Merrie, I’m sorry to hear that your husband dumped you for another woman.

    However, does it really need to be pointed out that you have made a classic fallacy of analogy in your comparison, making the presumption that relations between two spouses (which, presumably, didn’t involve several thousand murders and tens of thousands of casualties) and relations between two ethnopolitical groups are the same?

    I would ‘proffer an opinion’ that your attitude is one of a multiplicity of good supporting reasons why a Truth Commission is needed, i.e that moral values have become so corrupted by vested interests in this process that some folks can’t even think straight anymore.

  • merrie

    Pete & Dubliner:

    As the Buddhist said “Sh*t happens”. Merrie suggests: don’t wallow in it.

    And Pete, you still haven’t made any suggestions as an alternative to the current political setup in NI.

    Dubliner: My example was not of me. My husband did not dump me for another woman. My life has been pretty satisfactory on a personal level – in fact generally. I hope yours is too.

    I was actually thinking of Lady Diana as another prime example of the “wronged woman”. Sure she did a few attention-getting things after her marriage failed but she was still embittered and took every opportunity to have a stab at her ex (who had made her famous and a princess by marrying her). Another “wronged person” is David Trimble who is however moving on – away from those unhousetrained Shinners. He has dumped the party he misgoverned to trash and has now joined another!!

    Turgon

    Yes, I appreciate that forgiveness is extremely difficult for some people and especially for the dreadful circumstances they encountered over the past 30 years in NI, but it is (probably essential) for their own well being and for their happy futures to not keep dwelling upon a bitter past and not depend upon another’s apology to make it better. And I did mention murder in my last post and also the example of Abigail who has suffered more than many people injured in the Troubles and is likely to for the rest of her life. Nonetheless she has forgiven her attacker.

    I don’t know what will replace the current governance in NI but hopefully it will be (at the very least) one not based on sectarian divide and, as I am a nationalist, at best one which reunites the six counties with the other 26 so that the Republic is the island of Ireland.

  • The Dubliner

    “My example was not of me.” – Merrie

    Merrie, I didn’t actually assume it was. It was just a joke about third party narratives disguising the narrator’s actual role in the story and a play on Mary/Merrie.

    Anyway, to use your own analogy of a married couple, would reconciliation be possible after an affair if the husband refused to apologise, blamed the wife’s poor housekeeping for causing the affair, and then burnt the house down in a fit of temper? Methinks that you know already how weak that ‘spin’ is. And while I am not a Christian, isn’t repentance a condition of forgiveness? Whatever about Christianity, it is most definitely an inviolable law of human nature.

    It’s very easy to ‘move on’ when nothing is holding you back; and for the majority of the north’s citizens, that is the fortunate circumstance. However, a significant minority of people have suffered greatly as a result of the actions of those who now manage the state. For thousands of people, no doubt, each day is a struggle, an oscillation between some terrible event in the past and the vacant present. They are the people whose needs should be at the centre of society’s ‘forward’ agenda, rather than stunted into a ditch and told to shut up while those who inflicted such misery on them ‘move on’ with their fabulous new political careers, lest those who voted for them should be reminded of what their great leaders are responsible for. I think I really need to point out why such an act will not be forgotten or forgiven by future generations, but will come to be a source of great shame for them. Many of them were denied basic justice by their own state, despite crying out for it. I don’t that think a Truth Commission is an outrageous request.

    There practical many considerations here, too, for example: compounding divisions between the two social groups that existed prior to the violence (and which weren’t actually resolved by the GFA), you now have new divisions as a result of that violence that are even more intractable than the pre-existing divisions – they dominate the debate here at Slugger. They are powerfully polarising and they deepen with the passing of time, not lessen. So, I’m afraid, dear Merrie, that you will ignore them at your collective peril, foolishly thinking they’ll just ‘go away’ by that expedient.

    Incidentally, it’s never a smart move to wish to remain in ignorance of your political leaders’ history. That serves no one other than those politicians with something to hide. In the south, we go to the other extreme and hound our politicians excessively about the minute detail of their lives – as poor Bertie knows all too well. It’s just another example of how different northern nationalists have become from their southern counterparts, alas. It’s also not smart to elect sociopaths – but that’s a different debate. 😉

  • Pete Baker

    At the risk of rejuvenating the playing of the man that has characterised much of this discussion so far..

    páid and Dub

    Cheers. It’s good to know that some people get it.

    Dub, to an extent only – see Bacon’s histories – and “Admittedly, he has only cited his own Blog entries thus far, only conferring parity of esteem to them.” Not so, I do link to other Slugger posts in our archive, or history. But if I’ve been focussing on a particular issue for some time the majority of links provided will naturally be to posts I’ve previously done – they are the ones I’m most familiar with.. and others may not be paying as close attention as yourself.

    merrie

    You shouldn’t believe every mis-characterisation of us sceptics that you read – neither by the Deputy First Minister, nor by parci.

    The original post is noting what the current situation is and suggests what should happen next to improve that situation – It’s not about alternative realities.