Jim Allister’s new group and d’Hondt

At the end of October there were a flurry of DUP pronouncements about the current mandatory coalition arrangements, most accusing the UUP of being bad eggs for suggesting the idea of an opposition. At the time I asked: does the DUP now expressly support mandatory coalition? Sammy Wilson says they did as far back as 2004, which is perhaps a suggestion that the future “Chuckle Brothers” situation was an implicit manifesto commitment of Jim Allister. I doubt Jim will see it that way.

So bullish is Sammy about the DUP being in a d’Hondt government, he seems to claim credit for the very idea!

This is the same Jim Allister who stood for election in 2004 on a manifesto which reads:

‘There are three potential forms of administration which could be formed:

– a voluntary coalition which can command cross community support,

– a mandatory coalition involving all the major parties, or

– a corporate assembly in which the Assembly as a whole would take executive decisions’

Europe04 manifesto: Leading for Ulster; Page 8

This is blatant hypocrisy and inconsistency at its highest level. Jim even travelled as far away as Washington DC to sell this idea to Senators and Congressmen, posing for pictures on Capitol Hill brandishing the DUP’s ‘Devolution Now’ document which first mooted the concept.(my emphasis)

Also interesting is:

As Allister punches in his time in Brussels, every utterance he makes illustrates further just how little he has to offer Northern Ireland and unionists.

So why did the DUP select him in the first place if he’s such a waste of space? Not as if he breezed in one day without knowing a soul. Jim and Sammy seem to have been fairly well acquainted before 2004 for a start.

  • T.Ruth

    He was brought in from the cold to heal a long standing rift when he was not selected for a position many years ago.He is now biting the hand that fed him.He clearly believes that all who voted DUP in the last European election voted for him personally on the basis of his charisma and political instincts.How wrong can one get. I have always found him a surly bad tempered little man with a chip on both shoulders He is the typical lawyer =this is what happened-not a politician who has to work on what can be made happen.
    T.Ruth

  • Godfrey

    The whole event seems to have been a bit of a shambles.

    To organise this the same day as Paisly was going to the White House to meet Bush seems a srange move as most of the morning apers will be devoted to use.

    I’m guessing Allister opted for a Friday launch so that it would be covered in Saturday’s Newsletter and hopefully help him attract donations from the large Saturday rural audience.

  • Tampico

    An implicit manifesto commitment? I’d say Jim Allister made a fairly explicit one in support of mandatory coalition.

  • The Whisperer

    Interesting point made by Godfrey. If you look at the BBC website it’s not even one of the featured articles – totally overshadowed by other stroies today.

    Obviously Allister and his staff never thought that the press might see the First Minister meeting the President of the United Steates as a more important item to cover. And they accuse others of egotism?

    Even on its launch day this movement has been deemed irrelevant. I guess that sets the tone. Allister will forever be in Paisleys shadow.

  • clearly believes that all who voted DUP in the last European election voted for him personally on the basis of his charisma and political instincts.

    He rather reminds one of another ‘skilled advocate for the pro-Union cause’.

  • Clonakilty

    Sammy

    Absolutely spot on. Although at least Bob had the grace to admit he lost the argument within Unionism.

  • The Whisperer

    And Shilliday – what a pathetic link you provided to a story from 7 years ago.

    if researcing articles from 7 years ago is all UUP staff have to do with their time, then its a good job Unionism wiped them off the electoral map, deemed them yesterdays men and made the DUP the voice of Unionism.

    Pathetic – just like the party

  • Fitz

    Sammy,

    Did you hear him on H&M;talking about how he could go back to a more lucrative career elsewhere?

    Sounds very like that other “skilled advocate”!

  • Fermanagh Unionist

    The Whisperer – The DUP certainly don’t want people to remember the past. Until now I thought it was just because of their executive carve-up with SF, but I see now its even over any story remotely conected with their past. I’m glad Shilliday put up the link, as the story still makes me laugh even today.

  • Clonakilty

    “Did you hear him on H&M;talking about how he could go back to a more lucrative career elsewhere?”

    Yes I thought that was fairly churlish. Given that most people think politicians get paid too much do we really want another sneering barrister telling us all what bucket-loads of dosh he’s worth?

  • Séamaí

    Allister is a dinosaur and his future is about as rosey as their’s was too.

  • The Whisperer

    Fermanagh Unionist

    As a DUP supporter i have no problem talking about the past.

    I have no problem going over the broken pledges of the UUP, the decline in UUP vote, the sways of people who left the UUP to join the UUP, the decline in any real talent in the UUP. Or maybe you want to talk about UUp introducing the idea of 50/50 recruitment into the police service which they had destroyed. Or maybe even we could talk about agreeing to let terrorists out of jail.

    Take your pick pal.

    Would you like me to continue?

    From the performance in the Assembly of UUP members so far, it really doesn’t look good as they look to the future either. When Basil McCrea, Roy Beggs jnr and Tom Elliott are the best you’ve got, you really are screwed.

  • Clonakilty

    By the way, Michael, what does it say about the quality and standard of the UUP that Wilson was able to bounce back from his public humiliation and take East ANtrim off your party?

  • Bigger Picture

    Allister has alot to answer over the coming months. I agree with all that has been said on here so far, those who voted for Bob at the last election took there place as the 1% minority, the rest of the ‘groundswell’ of opinion against the DUP has not been from people who claim to have been ‘DUPed’ but from so-called unionists who did not even vote at the last election. I have yet to come across anybody who actually voted DUP and then felt betrayed, all those who spoke out against already were on their way out ie cllrs in Ballymena.

    There is also the policies that Allister advocated while in the DUP. I hear he proposed all sorts of models, including at a meeting in Cariick, where he proposed the prospect of a coalition with SF! I doubt he was as big a hardliner when in the DUP as he makes out now and it will be very interesting to hear his previous views.

    I think now that Jim has announced this new movement it will be gloves off from the DUP from now on and i don’t know if Jim will be able to stick the pressure of it all.

    Clonakilty

    Well said!

  • Clonakilty

    Allister advocated a voluntary coalition with Sinn Fein? Can anyone confirm? If true it shows just how off the wall he really is!

  • Sir Herbert Mercer

    How much does the DUP pay you to put your supposed names to this tosh?

  • Frank Sinistra

    Anyone know if Stoneyford Loyalist Mark Harbison is part of Allister’s group?

  • Jo

    Not sure if Mark is, but here’s the death knell for the group:

    I understand I am to be invited to a meeting with Jim. Hopefully it will suit my diary.

    Friday, December 7, 2007 at 01:29PM | David Vance

  • Truth & Justice

    I have to be honest i am not detecting a great deal of interest for Jim and his new movement people have moved on just look at Sinn Fein in the last week losing a councillor and MLA for supporting the police and being stuck supporting a British state hardly a reason to oppose the new agreement.

  • Nevin

    Unfortunate acronym>

    SUV: Sports Utility Vehicle

    TUV: Totally Useless Vehicle

  • darth rumsfeld

    oh dear aren’t we all falling over oursleves to get the jibes in? Perhaps just a teensy weensy bit concerned about a modest first step to meet the demand for some principled Unionist voice opposed to the Chuckle brothers? It is sad to see the depths people like t.ruth will go to to silence their own guilty consciences, voiced so articulately by Allister.

    Y’see it’s not a political party- it’s just a movement, which you can join while remaining in the DUP or UUP, if you really have the urge- or just belong to it, like I intend to. A bit like the forgotten Donaldson/Foster vehicles friends of the Union and Union First- or indeed Vanguard ( without the motorcycle outriders). And the number of DUP people who will privately tell you they would like a fulcrum for their reservations never ceases to surprise me. They can’t put all the members on the payroll

    And while Jim Allister is no Tony Blair, he isn’t going to be pushed around by the DUP or Noel Thompson type interviewers. He’s as tough as nails, and that’s why he was headhunted by Robinson – bet he’s glad he did that. He’s the only person who faced up to the great Crocodile
    twice- prepared to throw away a career laden with promise on each occasion.

    He may never lead Unionism, but as his analysis of the cancerous political establishment is proven correct, who can say whether he will attract more support. John Howard wasn’t exactly Mr Soundbite , yet he connected with what a large number of Australians were thinking and revived his party’s fortunes. I agree that it will be a huge task, especially given the nauseating fawning which passes for political journalism here, but at least he has a distinct message unlike the “soft cop, even softer cop” UUP

    If you want a politician whose sole talent is to simper or squawk a prepared statement you’ve got Arlene and the new generation of sub-Stalinist DUP MLAs. BTW talk to those at Carrickfergus and you’ll know someone on this thread is being a wee bit disingenuous.

    And just think of the possibilities for entertainment- you know there could be no better television punchup ( with apologies to Ricky Hatton- to whom good luck goes)
    than a debate between Jim and Robinson- sarcasm overload!!!

  • Turgon

    The opponents of the new movement (I can finally stop calling it the prodiban) have identified a number of problems here. As ever there is much sniping along with a reasoned analysis from bigger picture. I happily accept his criticism of TUV (finally I have got to type it) as he is actually willing to analyse things. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

    It is undoubtedly true that Allister is no fire brand orator. That is fine by me. Does he have the charisma to make a viable movement? Possibly; I do not know not knowing the man. Let us remember the politician who cut the DUP’s vote most in the last twenty five years was Jim Molyneaux.

    There is no doubt at all that the initial disastrous agreement negotiated (even negotiated seem to be too flattering) by Trimble et al. was utterly flawed. Even the UUP seem to accept some of that now. Furthermore there is no doubt that the changes negotiated by the DUP at St. Andrew’s were an improvement from a unionist analysis. The question is was the improvement adequate for unionists? Some think it was; that is fine. Personally I think the changes were inadequate.

    There certainly are some people who will never countenance power sharing with SF. Some may be bigots who do not want “A fenian about the place”. I submit that I am not one of those.

    I have huge problems having power sharing with SF members whom everyone (even they accept) were members of the IRA and most people think were heavily involved in personally arranging the murder of other people; and who are unrepentant. I find accepting power sharing with such people extremely difficult. However, I accept that one cannot tell the nationalist electorate whom they should vote for. As such if we want power sharing we may have to accept it with members of SF who may well have murdered people.

    To accept power sharing in such circumstances I personally would insist that SF show proper support for the police in practical measures. I do not demand they are uncritical but I do insist that they stop their constant attempts to attack and belittle the police. The IRA must go away and are demonstrated to have gone away. The army council cannot be extant with SF in power. People cannot be murdered by the IRA whilst SF are in government. Unionists should not hide behind weasel words like “corporate responsibility”. Reading other threads one can clearly see that many nationalists and republicans are heartily sick of the murderous antics of the IRA and SFs support for them. I find it incredible that the DUP seem less concerned by and see less political significance in Mr. Quinn’s murder than many South Armagh republicans.

    The next issue is the disastrous nature of government: there is quite clearly no proper cabinet government, there is no proper collective responsibility, the control that the executive members have over the legislature is excessive. The ability of the executive to ignore a specific motion of the legislature (on agricultural wages) sets an extremely bad precedent.

    The d’Hondt formula is extremely flawed. It provides for no effective opposition and essentially permanent governance for most of the current executive parties. The fact that the DUP have recently been talking up the review is interesting. The fact that they will be unable to make any move without SFs agreement shows this review strategy to be specious. I am sure the DUP know this but are currently trying to ensure no defections to TUV.

    Even leaving aside the totally flawed method of governance; the behaviour of the parties in government has been little short of a scandal. Rows and threats of legal action in the so called cabinet. The complete failure to make any constructive decision (though in fairness the UUP are just as bad as DUP and SF in this regard). The ongoing whiff of corruption and nepotism.

    So indeed few can argue that there is not something for TUV to complain about. Can it produce a coherent alternative? I am cautiously optimistic. Can it attract enough votes to produce a viable alternative? I am less optimistic. If successful could it produce benefits for all the people of Northern Ireland unionist and otherwise? I believe so. Is this a project that is worth attempting? Yes. As such do I think I should try to get involved? Yes. Could I be wrong and the whole thing be either a disaster, or a crowd of flat earth, nutter bigots? Maybe; in which case I would leave. The fact that something might fail is not, however, justification for not attempting it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    And while Jim Allister is no Tony Blair, he isn’t going to be pushed around by the DUP or Noel Thompson type interviewers. He’s as tough as nails, and that’s why he was headhunted by Robinson – bet he’s glad he did that. He’s the only person who faced up to the great Crocodile
    twice- prepared to throw away a career laden with promise on each occasion.

    Darth, talk about spin. How much can be said for someone’s political cunning when that someone gets fooled by the same guy twice ?

    This is fUKUP all over again.

  • Turgon

    Maybe Jim Allister lacks political cunning. His leaving the DUP twice is not necessarily evidence for this, however, as on each occasion it seems to have been about policy disagreements. However, maybe he is not politically cunning. Whilst cunning is quite a useful political attribute; I would suggest principle and maybe even statesmanship is what we want at the moment. Does Allister have these? I have no idea, He has walked away from political power twice which could be seen as laudable and not an egotistical lust for power at any price. Maybe he is just a poor politician. We shall wait and see.

  • Jo

    TG

    I am sure I am not alone in thinking that your own good talents would be wasted with this group of no-hopers. As someone who comes across here as basically decent, honest and representing all that is best in Ulster Protestantism, you would be ill advised to be associated with Mr Allister who represents nothing remotely connected with these qualities.

    As someone with principle, consider: had he an ounce of that, he would not cling to a MEP position to which he has forfeited all moral right due to his departure from the DUP.

  • Theres’s little enough reason to laugh on a grey day but Red Sammy and Sillyboy accusing others of breaking pledges is well worth a chuckle. Folks, would you read the document again? It sets out the types of administration that “could” be formed? It was after all a position paper.

    Red Sammy seems to believe that including a mandatory coalition option excuses the current repulsive “Chuckles with the Chuckie” double act. It doesn’t even give him a fig-leaf, so to speak. On the other hand there are plenty of explicit DUP pledges that the party would not do what it has gone on to do. These were the people who spent years throwing dirt at Trimble and once they got into the driving seat did exactly the same. Even now they defend their position in terms identical to the Turtle all those years ago.

    I agree that the movement has an uphill task to put it mildly. But even if it just means a voice for Darth and me alone, it will be worth it. And hopefully it might one day challenge the cartel, machine politics of the DUP.

  • Jo

    While I can understand the simmering resentment at the DUP, whether this is founded on genuine annoyance at their hypocrisy or jealousy, it strikes me that the barometer of success for any anti-agreement “movement” would be the destruction (or diminution) of the present, democratic arrangements. Arrangements which reflect the electorally expressed wishes, freely given, of ALL the people in NI.

    Following that destruction, then what?

    Exercise your right to voice unease and objection, by all means. But recognise what the consequences would be of “success”.

  • Alex S

    Allister’s problem is that while most unionists, (even DUP bloggers) can see that the DUP have torn up the ‘policy book’ and went back on pledges galore they are broadly in favour of the present arrangements, as for the bits they dislike, they are holding their noses, while the are happy with Paisley 2007, they still remember his antics in ’67’ but have out it to the back of their minds, for now!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    I seem to recall Allister having a certain set of standards regarding entry into government for Sinn Fein. Those standards weren’t met at the time, but they have been met since then .. but no, ol Jim has moved the goalposts. I think his use of the Quinn killing to further his political ends in this respect is sick.

  • Jo

    CS

    On Radio Ulster yesterday morning he mentioned the conditions for SF in govt. I think they involved the IRA being dismantled. Other more attentive listeners may recall more exact wording. In any case, the gap between where we are and where he would want them to be wasn’t really miles across…which leads one to think…

  • Clonakilty

    Did Allister at any point advocate a DUP-Sinn Fein voluntary coalition? If so it exposes his utter hyposcrisy and will blow this small group wide open at the first test. Mandatory coalition with SDLP and UUP – out of the question says Allister but a single voluntary coalition with Sinn Fein is OK? Just how much of a hypocrite is he?

  • Clonakilty

    “they still remember his antics in ‘67’ but have out it to the back of their minds, for now!”

    The UUP have been casting up these “antics” for the last 35 years and it didn’t stop the DUP from becoming the biggest party. Why would it work now? UUP = Utterly Useless Party.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Jo,

    It’s the usual play on words. How can anyone prove the IRA are dismantled ? As long as a person exists who wishes to use arms to secure an end to British rule, then the IRA exist. There needs to be a clearer definition than that.

  • Jo

    CS
    As was ever the problem with demonstrating the IRA declared – permanently – an end to violence.

    By definition, that means that at the end of time, the ceasefire be demonstrated.

    Most people accept that, with the absence of a concerted IRA campaign, the Provies have gone. I along many others will accept their bona fuieds. Can they, on their part, accapt my acceptance? Or will they continue to believe that David Vance and Jim Allister are their foes?

  • “Most people accept that, with the absence of a concerted IRA campaign, the Provies have gone. I along many others will accept their bona fuieds.”

    Jo,

    Who murdered Paul Quinn? Al Quada?
    Do you accept Conor Murphy’s bona fides when he says that the IRA had nothing to do with it?
    Who’s responsible for all the organised crime?

    Do you care about the answers?

    Or like many supporters of the present dispensation do you prefer not to think about them?

  • Mark McGregor

    I can’t wait to they become a political party. The Traditional Unionist Party – TUP.

    For some reason the thought of Allister and Tweed TUPping together amuses me.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Or like many supporters of the present dispensation do you prefer not to think about them?

    As if unionists don’t have friends getting up to things that they don’t like to think about. If Allister had principles, how could he join a DUP which did not satisfactorily explain the appearance of Billy Wright on a podium with Willie McCrea ? If you’re going to bitch about other people avoiding the tough questions, then you need to answer that one.

    You don’t give a damn about Paul Quinn. If Quinn hadn’t been murdered your view would be the same.

  • Ahem

    With all due respect Comrade, fuck off telling people what exactly it is they do or do not give a damn about. Sincerity isn’t the preserve of self-righteous Alliance pricks alone, and some of us, some of us who are ‘traditional’ Unionists reject *all* terrorism, Billy Wright very much included. And, seemingly more or less alone, we do care that Provos are still murdering people, whether or not Provo leaders are in devolved government. But as I say, fuck off, if you’re not big enough to accept that other people do honesty.

  • Turgon

    Jo,
    You raise difficult questions as you always tend to. I would suggest the major difference between and your view and that of many of us supporting a TUV position is that I am unwilling to accept the word of the republican movement. You (I suspect with significant caution) are as you so want a definite end to violence. As such you are willing (with I am sure a very heavy heart) to accept ignoring some highly unpleasant things. I just cannot accept that suspension of morality for this little reward for all the people of NI (the extremely poor government we have). I also feel that a house so clearly built upon sand cannot stand. In no way do I suggest my position is morally superior to yours it is just a different (and I hope equally honest) assessment of the available evidence.

    There are many reasons why unionists might hold a rejectionist position viz a vis the agreement. Could I suggest four different positions not necessarily mutually exclusive:

    Not wanting a “fenian about the place”. This is a position which would be silly and vaguely amusing were it not offensive to a large proportion of our fellow citizens. It also is the beginning of the road to justification for violence. Some with this view may wish to join TUV. If many of them do; then we are indeed doomed and quite rightly so.

    Not accepting power sharing with SF under any circumstances. I feel that one can hold this position without holding the position above. At some level I would like to say no I would never accept power sharing with SF. It is a purist’s position. It leads on inevitably to continued direct rule along with probably significant Dublin involvement. Whilst I am not dying about Dublin involvement and would argue for it to be kept to an absolute minimum I do think it would be better than the current amoral farce.

    However, I do think that a proper local government is a better idea than continued direct rule (just about). As such power sharing is preferable. Whilst I am saddened that the nationalist population vote SF in large numbers being saddened by it will not make it go away. Hence, if one believes in devolved government one must de facto believe in power sharing with SF. I have previously suggested what I would personally feel was needed to persuade me that unionists should share power with SF. In brief I would require: proper co-operation with the police, an end to IRA criminality, the disbanding of the IRA and the army council.

    Then there is the issue of the foolish system of producing the government (d’Hondt) along with the disastrous implementation of it which has occurred. This in my view does not need to be refined but torn down and a new system created. I am not a constitutional expert and have no set prescription for this but I do feel that reviews and reform are inadequate.

    These positions are not all mutually exclusive. My position is to reject position one, after some soul searching reject position two and to advocate three and four.

    I do not know what Jim Allister and TUV will advocate. I hope something fairly similar. There is always the danger that one thinks that people also opposed to the current arrangements will have similar views on the way forward. However, I do feel that my views are not represented by the current two unionist parties. As such I feel that TUV may be my best bet. What follows is not me having the arrogance to believe that my views have any great weight nor relevance. However, if one wishes to influence a party’s direction a good way is to be a member of it. As such there is little point in me sitting on the sidelines complaining that no one represents my views. Instead I feel I should join an organisation like TUV. As I have said before if they turn out to be flat earth, catholic hating bigots I can and rest assured will leave and return to the position I have been in since I left the UUP. I doubt anyone would notice let alone miss my views, I do not have the self importance to think that my leaving the UUP had any significance. As such if I leave TUV it will make little difference. To be fair I just let my membership lapse, I felt that writing a formal letter of resignation would have implied that I though myself more important than I had any right to. I am very fond of Asquith’s comment and I, like the rest of us will have to “Wait and see” what happens.

  • Turgon

    Comrade Stalin,
    Ahem has answered a little more directly than is my wont but his directness has considerable merit especially so in this case. I was never a member of the DUP. I had the application form on my hall table for several months a few years ago. I never filled it in. I am very glad I did not. Clearly because I reject their position on the agreement. McCrea’s position regarding Billy Wright I also found and still find extremely offensive. To be honest when I first heard it I did not believe it could have happened; that was until I saw the television pictures. I will comment for no one else but I do regard the murders of various South Armagh and other Roman Catholics by the IRA as of extreme importance as I do those of Protestants, Roman Catholics or anyone else committed by the alphabet soup. I would ask if you have seen any sign ever in any of my comments on this web site which could be construed as support for any action of the alphabet soup?

  • Comrade Stalin

    With all due respect Comrade, fuck off telling people what exactly it is they do or do not give a damn about.

    Touched a nerve there.

    Fact remains, the Quinn murder had certain people rubbing their hands with glee.

    Sincerity isn’t the preserve of self-righteous Alliance pricks alone, and some of us, some of us who are ‘traditional’ Unionists reject *all* terrorism, Billy Wright very much included.

    The abusive language you’re using doesn’t explain why so many DUP members didn’t seem to think that the McCrea/Wright incident was worth kicking up much of a stink about. I wonder if it troubled Allister at all.

    And, seemingly more or less alone, we do care that Provos are still murdering people, whether or not Provo leaders are in devolved government. But as I say, fuck off, if you’re not big enough to accept that other people do honesty.

    There’s words, and there’s actions. Jim Allister is making ongoing activity by IRA members an election issue. He isn’t making ongoing activity by loyalists an election issue. Is it really true that the unionist electorate are more concerned about who is in government than they are concerned about who is murdering, drug dealing and terrorizing their own neighbourhoods and why they aren’t being stopped ?

    When the UDA were shooting police officers in Carrickfergus, where was Jim Allister ? Where were you, for that matter ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    I wasn’t directing my comments at you. Like you, I consider all murders and other paramilitary activity to be equivalent. Our politicians don’t, and it annoys me when people try to pretend that politicians apply the same yardstick and that some murders are not more equal than others. The Quinn murder is one such case. The family have specifically said that they are not interested in damaging Sinn Fein or stopping the powersharing executive; they just want the people who murdered Paul to be locked up. The McCartney murder was a similar case. Unionism takes a much greater interest in activity by republicans than it does in activity by loyalists.

    Clearly because I reject their position on the agreement. McCrea’s position regarding Billy Wright I also found and still find extremely offensive.

    You did, but the electorate of South Antrim didn’t, and returned him as Westminster MP. I don’t have a problem with that, except when people try to pretend that DUP MPs get elected on a platform of opposition to terrorists, as Allister is trying to claim. They don’t, they get elected on a platform of opposition to terrorists which happen to be fenians, which isn’t the same thing.

    I would ask if you have seen any sign ever in any of my comments on this web site which could be construed as support for any action of the alphabet soup?

    You have made your position very clear. Jim Allister, on the other hand, has questions to answer about why he chose to join the DUP in the first place, considering it’s history of association with loyalist paramilitarism personified in the TV footage of the company William McCrea chose to keep years ago.

    You talk about “proper co-operation with the police”, but unionism does not do this. As I’ve said often before, when the PSNI raided the Alexander Bar to catch the UDA in the act, this important piece of police work was criticized by the DUP MP, Nigel Dodds, who wrote a letter to the Chief Constable to complain about it. Who exactly whas he representing when he made those comments ? This is the behaviour I would expect from Sinn Fein.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    Reading through a lot of your opinions I’m left with the conclusion that there are very few of you about.

  • Turgon

    Comrade Stalin,

    One thing I would say; not in defence of McCrea or anyone else but as an observation, is that it is relatively easy to maintain a fairly morally upright position on politics when one is commenting on but not actually involved in politics. Once one gets involved compromises tend to follow as night follows day.

    This is the position taken by some Christians that essentially as a dirty business it is one they should not get involved in. It is the position of many in the Brethern. I understand their position but since democracy does indeed seem to be the least worst option to be unwilling to participate especially if one is interested in politics could itself be seen as morally wrong.

    I suspect that completely high minded individuals can be corrupted almost without noticing. If you remember the speech in the film “Bob Roberts” about how a frog thrown into boiling water suffers awfully and tries to escape. A frog put into water which is then boiled is just as dead but never tries to escape. Now, I am not into torturing frogs but the explanation rings true. I guess if one is involved in politics one must be very aware of the danger of being morally corrupted by it and how much of the inevitable moral corruption one is willing to accept; if indeed one can still tell. I guess you could end up being completely corrupted and not even being able to tell. Does that mean a decent person should avoid politics? Well maybe but then only less decent people will go into it. A catch 22 one might suggest.

    As an example just suppose hypothetically (forgive any self importance and arrogance here) I stood for TUV and a nice old dear came up to me as I was canvassing outside my polling station. Now suppose she says. “Ah I will vote for you; you are a nice young man (okay she needs glasses as well) because you will make sure there are no fenians about the place.” What should I then do? Say no madam you are a bigot I do not want your vote. Maybe try to explain that I actually do want “fenians” about the place hence wasting vast amounts of canvassing time and putting her off voting for me? Just an example but I guess getting involved in politics means making moral compromises. However, possibly being interested in politics and not getting involved lest it sully one’s own supposed purity could be just as morally wrong.

    Of course being a pretty strict Calvinist and genuinely believing in Total Depravity; I could say that I am so corrupted anyway that it does not matter and I will rely on Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints. That is of course another moral cop out and as such is immoral.

    I think I will just go to bed.

  • Jo

    TG

    I have to agree with Joe’s comment immediatewly above mine. My position, as you perceive with admirable insight, is that I am prepared to accept bad men (and women) evolve. The speed at which they can do this (Mandela?)lends me to a Darwinian position with which you may not agree, but I digress.

    The absence of satisfactory contrition or repentance from SF for what they and their fellow travellers did is not a small matter for me, or, I suspect for you and many like you. My (much-thumbed) copy of “Lost Lives” amongst other activities in my offline life, is, I think, testimony to my – often tearful – remembrance of what we have been through. But, and it is a BIG but, I will do what I see as needing to be done, to prevent my wee girl (8) from seeing what I saw. Like you, I am prepared to accept some things which my parents could and would not. I am prepared to accept Martin as a joint First Office holder with another man that, like him, I never voted for. I do not and will never support murder for political ends. But I do expect my view and the view of many hundreds of thousands of people here to be RESPECTED and for an end to “punishment” meted out to 20-something men, whatever their background. I expect that the 108 people I and others elected to represent – hundreds of thousands of people – to exercise and encourage standards of behaviour concomitant with a twenty-first century society.

  • Jo

    “When the UDA were shooting police officers in Carrickfergus, where was Jim Allister ? Where were you, for that matter ?”

    I think, Joe, that Turgon and indeed, I, would be with you on this one. Unlike you, I suspect that he, like me, has a CBE. “Can’t be Everywhere”. 🙂

  • Jo

    “I do not know what Jim Allister and TUV will advocate…as such I feel that TUV may be my best bet.”

    I think that the first phrase represents what all of us feel. Leaping to the 2nd phrase is what they are hoping for. Joining a movement which is being considerd by advocates of mass murder (see other post) is not something I myself would begin to consider.

  • Garibaldy

    Jo,

    I’m surprised to see you suggest Mandela was a bad person. Taking up arms against the regime was a completely moral choice in South Africa. Perhaps you ought to have said De Klerk.

  • Jo

    G:
    I was looking at Mendela from the perspective of a right-wing Unionist who might be opposed to “terrorists in government”.

    From a personal POV, I think he is a paradigm for Martin.

    I would cite certain Unionists who, in their days at Queens sported a “Hang Mandela” badge, but now espouse somewhat different views – but only when appearing on “Hearts and MInds”. 🙂

  • Nevin

    “I expect that the 108 people I and others elected to represent – hundreds of thousands of people – to exercise and encourage standards of behaviour concomitant with a twenty-first century society.”

    Jo, if we vote for fascists and/or mafiaists then we shouldn’t be surprised that they tolerate thuggery – and worse. The scum of society have a cheek to demand respect (for their mandate) – but that would be one of their lesser failings. London and Dublin will ‘happily’ embrace these thugs in the hope that they will contain their barbaric and other debased activities to here; it’s an expression of nimbyism.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon, Jo,

    I think we all understand each other.

    The issue of repentance is an important one. The other important one, which seems to receive less attention, is forgiveness. In danger of invoking Godwin, consider the crimes of Nazi Germany; and then consider where Germany was 10 years after the war – back on it’s feet, rebuilding, with the full support of the western Allies – albeit with it’s wings permanently clipped in military terms. You can’t sit and dwell on the past, waiting for some kind of satisfactory repentance before you move on.

    I am wondering if this is one of those differences between prods and taigs here, perhaps slightly less subtle than the way the letter “H” is pronounced. I remember canvassing in the mid and late 1990s whenever the UDP and the PUP had a high profile in the press, during that wonderful fresh wave of optimism that occurred after the ceasefires in 1994. On many occasions, in the soft nationalist areas, a lot of people would say to me that they respected what the PUP/UDP were trying to do, that fellas like Ervine and Hugh Smyth were articulate and came across well, and they deserved to be given a chance, that they should have a seat at the talks, etc. This was at a time when unionism was still refusing to even talk to Sinn Fein (seems like such a long time ago). This made me think of the differing perspectives on forgiveness and repentance.

    The other story I’ve always been fascinated with is that of the Bobby Baird, who lost his wife and daughter at the fish-shop bombing on the Shankill Road. You might expect that if anyone was qualified enough to refuse to countenance talks with republicans or Sinn Fein in government, it would be him. Instead, he seems to have devoted his life to cross-community reconciliation. I believe I read a while ago that he had actually gone to meet with IRA members; and when various IRA statements were being read, he was to be heard expressing hope for the future. What’s the difference between Bobby Baird and Jim Allister, other than that one is a victim and one is a person claiming to speak for victims ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin:

    Jo, if we vote for fascists and/or mafiaists then we shouldn’t be surprised that they tolerate thuggery – and worse. The scum of society have a cheek to demand respect (for their mandate) – but that would be one of their lesser failings. London and Dublin will ‘happily’ embrace these thugs in the hope that they will contain their barbaric and other debased activities to here; it’s an expression of nimbyism.

    Nah, this tolerance of thuggery occurs everywhere. I remember a while ago, The Sun had a column from that “loveable old rogue”, “Mad” Frankie Fraser, who used to pull out people’s teeth with pliers. I also saw the TV news footage of the Kray funerals, with hundreds of people following to pay their respects.

  • Richard James

    “What’s the difference between Bobby Baird and Jim Allister, other than that one is a victim and one is a person claiming to speak for victims ?”

    Cheap shot. Michelle Williamson lost her parents in the Shankill bomb and she is opposed to the Belfast Agreement. While Bobby Baird’s attitudes are to be admired, the outrage and hurt felt by those who feel justice has been denied to them and their relatives, a few months in jail for each of Michelle Williamsons parents, shouldn’t be ignored.

    The recent murder of Paul Quinn; with the unwillingness of the British and Irish governments, the PSNI, Garda and mainstream politicians (with the honourable exception of Lord Laird) unfortunately voices like Jim Allisters are needed to highlight the plight of those who are an inconvience to the peace process (much like the hundreds of people who cannot live in this country due to terrorist death threats have been forgetten about).

  • Turgon

    Comrade Stalin,

    I am afraid I am with Richard James here. Gordon Wilson so famed for his statements of forgiveness later said he thought maybe internment should be reintroduced.

    Some relatives of victims support the agreement on the grounds that they do not want the same to happen to anyone else. I entirely respect this analysis but I do think there is in it a danger of giving terrorists what they want in exchange for them being so good as to not murder people which could be seen as giving in to blackmail.

    People may be prepared to forgive the terrorists, some require that such people ask for forgiveness, others do not. Forgiveness is, however, not the same thing as giving the violent people what they want. It also does not necessarily mean not wanting the guilty to be punished.

    I am in no position to claim to speak for any such people. I can only observe what the few I know say (and in fairness I try not to bring up such issues in conversation; for obvious reasons).

    Honest people may have many different reactions which I do not think are wrong before God or man and forgiving others does not necessarily mean accepting the current political dispensation in Northern Ireland.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Cheap shot. Michelle Williamson lost her parents in the Shankill bomb and she is opposed to the Belfast Agreement. While Bobby Baird’s attitudes are to be admired, the outrage and hurt felt by those who feel justice has been denied to them and their relatives, a few months in jail for each of Michelle Williamsons parents, shouldn’t be ignored.

    My point was that politicians who claim that their political perspective comes from sympathy with the victims are not necessarily speaking for the victims.

    Michelle Williamson’s point of view is understandable, but I don’t agree with it. When WW2 came to an end, we didn’t deny the Germans the right to have a democratic government and participate and trade internationally (Christ, I’m in Godwin overload today) because of what they did they did.

    The recent murder of Paul Quinn; with the unwillingness of the British and Irish governments, the PSNI, Garda and mainstream politicians (with the honourable exception of Lord Laird)

    Unwillingness to do what ? Say what you want them to say ?

    They’re scared that reactionary people like Allister will use the murder to destabilize the political arrangements. I do not agree that the failure of certain sections of the IRA to get with the programme means that the rest of us should be made to suffer. That said, if it is established that Sinn Fein knew anything about what happened to Paul Quinn, the people involved are obviously going to have to be removed from the party. I’m sure Jim Allister would accept this, given that he joined a party where the expulsion of George Seawright was deemed as a sufficient measure to disassociate the perspective of that person from the party.

    unfortunately voices like Jim Allisters are needed to highlight the plight of those who are an inconvience to the peace process (much like the hundreds of people who cannot live in this country due to terrorist death threats have been forgetten about).

    Jim Allister’s crocodile tears do not fool anyone. Do you think he’ll visit Crossmaglen to show solidarity with the Quinn family ? What sort of a reception do you think he’d get?

    Turgon:

    I entirely respect this analysis but I do think there is in it a danger of giving terrorists what they want in exchange for them being so good as to not murder people which could be seen as giving in to blackmail.

    I’ve got two points. The first thing is that the chuckies have a mandate. You can’t just airbrush them out of the picture because they don’t meet your standards. You might have a mission of getting away with that if unionism didn’t have it’s own failings, but given that it has plumbed the depths of quasi-fascism itself it is hardly in a position to do this.

    Secondly, remember that the creation of the Northern Ireland was done at the behest of a threat of violence. Carson drilled men in the grounds of Belfast Castle and openly threatened the British government, an act which would otherwise be considered treasonous. If you’re going to say “anyone who uses terrorism should be excluded”, you’re putting unionism as well as nationalism out of the picture.

    People may be prepared to forgive the terrorists, some require that such people ask for forgiveness, others do not. Forgiveness is, however, not the same thing as giving the violent people what they want. It also does not necessarily mean not wanting the guilty to be punished.

    It does not take a great deal of insight to observe that conceding to Sinn Fein in power is not giving the men of violence what they want. The IRA did not fight a 25 year campaign in order to secure the reinstatement of Stormont within a legally copperfastened partitioned state, in a local parliament which has recently been suspended several times by the British government. They did not throw away their lives in order to sit on the Police Board or the DPPs with the Chief Constable telling them that they are going to use tasers and that they will have to lump it. The current political arrangements amount to a humiliation for physical force republicanism; the Irish people rejected them and their methods and sided with the unionist view of consent.

    The trouble with you guys is that you don’t know when you’ve won. The men of violence did not get their way, and they still have not.

  • Ahem

    You, Comrade, certainly have tocuhed a nerve – one of excruciating boredom. Indeed, it’s the same one that tingles for most of us every time an APNIer smugs his way about one of these threads, sanctimoniously doubting the moral bona fides of everyone else, whilst simultaneously, smugly proclaiming his own unimpeachable sense of self-righteousness. [Incidentally, has there, in some morally vainglorious sense, ever been a truer Ulsterman than your average Yella Fella – boastful, loud, prone to chuntering, incapable of listenting to, still less crediting the truth of what anyone else is saying to him? anyway . . .]

    Why on earth are you asking me what DUP members are or are not doing? I’m not one, so what in the name of God does it have to do with me? As for you’re especially spacerish effort:

    There’s words, and there’s actions . . . When the UDA were shooting police officers in Carrickfergus, where was Jim Allister ? Where were you, for that matter ?

    Well doh, where do you think we were and what do you think we were doing? Perhaps we were wearing lycra and fighting crime as a dynamic duo, under cover of our secret identities, Tradboy and QCman? Though come to that, what were you doing? Oh wait, that’s right – you were doing *exactly*, I assume, what we were doing? Repining the crime, repining the blatant inaction by the police, and the (comfortable, unaffected) political class that restrains them, and seething at the complicit, tame non-reporting by the equally untouched (by this sort of cime) local press.

    But obviously, you grade A absurdist, you’ve got me – neither Jim A nor I were, oh, actually shooting or pipe-bombing eg drug dealers on loyalist housing estates, any more than you were. We’re all, differently, advocates of constitutional politics. But then of course, you know better than we do what it is we actually believe in, so you keep on telling us how we’re actually not bothered about terrorism tout court, whatever it is we’re foolish enough to think we think or say we’ve said. That’s an impressively rigid Ulster mindset you’ve got going there Comrade, and as an avid student of impenetrably sealed hermeneutics I’d hate for liberal bigots like you to become extinct any time soon.

  • From Comrade Stalin on Saturday evening:

    “You don’t give a damn about Paul Quinn. If Quinn hadn’t been murdered your view would be the same.”

    Yes, my view would have been the same because I have been utterly consistent in my position: namely that criminal groups can’t strut around as democrats without being called to account. I’m not going to apologise to you for that. And I’m totally non-sectarian on the subject, see the way I took the UUP to task for its dealings with Davy Dictionary.

    The Quinn murder is important because it is ongoing evidence that the IRA intends to continue policing its “own” areas, no matter what the SF politicos would like to tell us.

    Get off your sanctimonious high horse, Comrade.

  • Oh and by the way Comrade Stalin,

    “As if unionists don’t have friends getting up to things that they don’t like to think about. If Allister had principles, how could he join a DUP which did not satisfactorily explain the appearance of Billy Wright on a podium with Willie McCrea ? If you’re going to bitch about other people avoiding the tough questions, then you need to answer that one.”

    I have never been a member of the DUP and have never even met Jim Allister, so shouldn’t you be asking him? Although, since you want my opinion, I think Wee Willie should have kept well clear of King Rat and the DUP should have admitted that it had all been a massive mistake.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Ahem,

    Thanks for your latest impotent, and rather sadly misdirected, anti-Alliance rant. There’s nothing for me to respond to in your latest contribution, it’s so laden with abuse and ad hominem. I suggest you take an anger control class.

    Watchman,

    Yes, my view would have been the same because I have been utterly consistent in my position: namely that criminal groups can’t strut around as democrats without being called to account. I’m not going to apologise to you for that. And I’m totally non-sectarian on the subject, see the way I took the UUP to task for its dealings with Davy Dictionary.

    All very noble, with the major serious problem that all four of the large parties have members who, in the past, have either actively been involved in criminality/terrorism, or have a history of links with other people who are. Your rules mean that it is impossible to have any kind of government elected here which is representative. People get the representation they elect, and if that includes crypto fascists like the DUP as well as militants like SF, then so be it. When it starts sounding like “the people aren’t capable of electing anyone fit for government”, that’s when we’re in real trouble – but that seems to be what your message is.

    I have never been a member of the DUP and have never even met Jim Allister, so shouldn’t you be asking him?

    No, I’m asking the people here who are talking about supporting him. I’m sure you’ve never met Gerry Adams but I bet that probably isn’t necessary for you to come to your own point of view about his outlook on life.

    Typically, this “I oppose all terrorism and refuse to allow anyone with links to terrorism in government” position is a unionist one, and it’s usually carefully framed in a way which overlooks unionism’s links with terrorism while punishing those of nationalism. I’d freely concede that I might have jumped the gun by assuming that this position was yours. But at the end of the day there are only two possible takes on this situation that you can have; either “only the chuckies meet the definition of what ‘terrorism’ is while unionists are ignored”, or the one where there can’t be government because the electorate won’t vote in anyone sufficiently squeaky-clean. Both are non-starters.

    Get off your sanctimonious high horse, Comrade.

    I’ll get off mine, if you get off yours. Both the unionist and nationalist electorate have more sympathy for people with links to terrorism than you do. So who exactly are you representative of ? Nobody who actually wins any votes, by the look of it.