2008: a year to vindicate St Andrews…

Gregory Campbell reckons the Executive has got this next year to prove the St Andrews Agreement is a significant step forward. It’s significant most for its departure from the usual upbeat tone of party colleagues rather than in content. It undoubtedly reflects some of the unease that party activist are feeling at the sight of Ulster’s new comedy duo, the Chuckle Brothers. But he also raises serious concerns around public order. Not least he is looking for a tangible policy response to the serial attacks Orange Halls.From Gregory Campbell

2008 could well prove to be the most decisive year yet in the protracted period of time that the political process has taken to develop here.

The devolved settlement reached at St. Andrews has been in operation for just over six months, the most obvious questions that people will be asking are; Is it delivering and are steps being taken to ensure that the strategic direction this process is taking us in is the right one. While six months is obviously too soon to pass judgement on these criteria, it will become fairly obvious over the next year as to the merits or otherwise of proceeding further with the same deal. The benefits are obvious, having forced the IRA to the point where they have had to decommission their weapons, we have managed the process to the point where those who supported the killing of Police Officers now must support the Police and the Law which they seek to uphold, this has to be seen as significant progress.

There are downsides, who would seek to defend the photos that give the mistaken impression that not only is political business being done with Sinn Fein but that enjoyment is being had while doing it? What is more relevant is HOW business is done with Sinn Fein not that it never should be. Our demeanour and conduct in how political business is carried out from the highest offices in the land will set a template for future generations. One way or another 2008 will establish that in a way that must be justifiable and durable. This is not merely some quibble of who stands beside whom in photographs but is a definitive message being given to present and future generations about how former terrorists must be treated by democrats.

For over three decades the IRA sought to impose it’s will on the people of Northern Ireland, the most important and relevant point in the events of the last few years is that people never forget they failed in those endeavours. Just as they failed in their so called ‘war’ we must ensure their political wing fails in it’s peaceful attempts. The Northern Ireland that we must see emerge must be a warm house for the Orange tradition not the burning cesspool that some republican elements would reduce our halls to. One of the most straightforward answers to the parasites that are carrying out these attacks is for both the Secretary of State and the Office of First & Deputy First Minister to undertake that every time a hall is attacked it will be re- built bigger and better than before. This would be the single most effective response to whoever is behind the attacks on more than 30 Halls over the past year alone.

The economy in Northern Ireland is one of the most vital elements of the process which needs to see radical improvement over the next year. The over-dependency on the public sector can be addressed with significant investment in the small business sector. As the tighter spending round takes hold, and the international difficulties with currency fluctuations, particularly in the United States, making foreign investment more difficult it is all the more vital that local entrepreneurs are assisted in developing their skills base.

We have another 12 months to demonstrate the tangible improvements that this form of devolution offers, we must not waste the opportunity for this and future generations.

  • Alex S

    “The devolved settlement reached at St. Andrews has been in operation for just over six months..”

    There were talks at St Andrews, but nothing more, Lord Trimble’s Good Friday Agreement is still the only show in town, the problem for Gregory is that by sticking to the lie that the GFA is scrapped they can’t blame Trimble for any shortcomings in the present arrangements!

    “There are downsides, who would seek to defend the photos that give the mistaken impression that not only is political business being done with Sinn Fein but that enjoyment is being had while doing it?”

    If Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness don’t get on why are they seen laughing at each other jokes, is it just for show, if so why, a more plausible explanation is that the past thirty years of DUP struggle weren’t about defeating the IRA or securing the union, it was about the big man getting himself into Terrence O’Neill’s seat at the top table, and now that he’s there he can’t contain this excitement!

    “The economy in Northern Ireland is one of the most vital elements of the process which needs to see radical improvement over the next year. The over-dependency on the public sector can be addressed with significant investment in the small business sector. As the tighter spending round takes hold…”

    The task of building up NI economy would have been easier if the DUP had kept their manifesto promise about the extra millions “we have made it clear that resolution of this issue is a precondition for establishing devolution”, another DUP failure!

    Campbell’s New Year Message is just more of the same DUP self delusion, he would be better throwing his weight behind Jim Allister, at least then he could tell the truth!

  • Turgon

    That is an interesting statement from Campbell. I would suggest it hits most of the right buttons for those in the DUP and indeed many in unionism at large who are extremely sceptical about the current arrangements but who might be inclined to give it a bit longer. It could even be taken to imply that the DUP might collapse the executive and the whole of power sharing if they it is not seen to be working out properly.

    On the politics of this the statement it can, I submit be analysed in at least four different ways:

    Firstly, the most unlikely. Namely that the DUP leadership are actually unhappy with what is going on and might collapse the agreement. This is; I would submit a pretty remote and fanciful suggestion.

    What is much more likely is, however, the second which is that the above is what is being implied with no real prospect that the DUP are going to do it. Campbell may be acting as a lightning conductor for some of the elements within the DUP and unionism in general which are very unhappy with the agreement and with the way in which power sharing has been conducted. The suggestion is probably something like “stick with us we are not that dying about it either and if it came to it we would pull the plug.” To have Campbell; a known, leading, hard line DUP, member saying this is a particularly good idea from the DUP’s perspective. It can help shore up the situation against any danger of loss of support to the TUV. Even Campbell’s position as East Londonderry MP may be important to help ensure that the small amount of visible dissent is kept largely localised to County Antrim (that may well be over analysing it).

    Next option: it may be the beginnings of Campbell positioning himself on the hard line of the DUP for any forth coming leadership bid. This might be Campbell taking on some of Jim Allister’s mantle from within the party. People did speculate on Jim Allister being a possible candidate in the past. I do not know but maybe an apparent hard liner from the edge of the inner circle could take the leadership (just like Trimble in the past with the UUP).

    Finally it is just possible that Campbell really is considering jumping. In the past I have been asked about who I thought might jump ship from the DUP and both I and others have mentioned Campbell’s name. He certainly has no track record of having any personal relationship whatsoever with republicans and he may be genuinely disgusted by the love in. As such this could be an implied threat to stop the love in nonsense or he would leave.

    If by any chance it was this last option and Campbell did jump (both steps pretty unlikely but possible) that would really set the act among the pigeons. Things could then get really interesting.

  • lib2016

    Let’s see – we’ve had devolved majority rule and it didn’t work. We’ve had direct rule from London and it was a disaster not least for the British legal system and we know that integration was never an option.

    The only thing left seems to be direct rule from Dublin with say a 5-year handover. Sounds like an idea Jeffrey!

    You’d do better being honest with the punters. We know that the DUP are there because it was the best deal they could get. With a steadily shrinking majority they won’t get better and with Hume gone no new Sinn Fein leadership will be anything like so generous.

  • lib2016

    As for the sectarian vandals behind the attacks on the Orange Halls. They are the enemies of both communities but at least nobody has been badly hurt yet as far as I know.

    I suspect that one would find a great deal of quiet sectarian viciousness still going on from both sides. I don’t mean to minimise that vicousness when I say that it’s good to see people surviving and getting on with their lives.

  • sms

    Gregory always speaks as if we were still in the massive Unionist majority era. He should take a look again at the 2007 election results where the combined electoral vote of the DUP and the UUP was just 25129 ahead of the combined SINN FEIN SDLP vote and it doesn’t look as if that is going to change anytime soon. Gregory has a personal difficulty with Republicans being in power and that is understandable but that is how the cookie has crumbled and he will have to forget the gripping and get on with life.

  • Bemused

    Bitter, ill-tempered twaddle from a bitter ill-tempered man. Campbell’s morose insistence that his party members are in some way required to either look, sound or act unpleasant and unhappy when standing beside or working with Republican politicians really sums up the stupidity of this joker. Jim Allister and his merry band of flat-earthers would now seem Campbell’s most comfortable destination. Good riddance.

  • DC

    Gregory’s statement is just a puff-piece.

    Firstly, one year will not bring about tangible benefits given the investment and programme for government is structured with objectives that are due for maturing well beyond the one year.

    Secondly, everyone is in agreement about the economic downturn on the way and with this in mind, especially over the next year, how can he really predict a better environment against the backdrop of economic restructuring across European and other markets.

    So it’s just a little sop, lightning conductor is a good take but there really isn’t any alternative, politically. We all know this. The only real alternative would be if there were to be UK economic malaise while the Republic maintained its growth, this would de-stablilise opinion.

    People look at value added and see that the Republic offers more of it than work opportunities here.

    However, my feeling is that Ireland has its eggs in one vehicle which is heavily hooked on the reliance of oil, leaving it vulnerable to energy prices, despite FDI gains.

    Most of the FDI is American and with the crunch on the way some rollback to its homeland may happen, who knows, but the long predicted downturn is coming.

    With this in mind Northern Ireland really requires a long term strategy in the economic field and should really focus on reform of public services especially education and health whereupon the benefits of this can hopefully unite with a potential upturn.

  • The Dubliner

    Summary: Ian, stop acting like that IRA blackguard is your favourite son-in-law – it’s unsettling the horses. The first six months were an unmitigated farce (don’t mention Ms Richie) but the next six months won’t be because I say so. The Northern Ireland that we must see emerge must be a warm house for the Orange and a cold house for those beaten Fenian taigs. Oh yeah… and I need to add in a mandatory right-wing economics bit, so here goes: we rely too much on the public sector (stating the obvious – ed.) and we need more of those home-grown thingies, indigenous entrepreneurs (more stating the obvious, any specifics on how to promote an enterprise culture? – ed.). Also, for good measure, here’s a bit that makes me look like I subscribe to The Economist instead of Anglers Monthly: gloomy global downturn looming – fault of those feckless yanks lending money to paupers to buy palaces. And Happy New Year – if you’re into that sort of thing.

  • aquifer

    “we have managed the process”

    The process of estranging unionists from Britain has been very successful, with the English unwilling to pay any price to defend a sectarian gerrymander by people with strange accents.

    The new process of mutual veto now leaves the last person smiling the apparent winner.

    Could you ever manage a smile Gregory?

    Acting angry at the edge of the union risks losing it entirely.

  • Outsider

    The simple fact is that the majority of people in the Protestant/Unionist community do not subscribe to the farce at Stormont.

    It is a disgrace that sinn fein/ira terrorists are in government with the DUP proclaiming victory as they forced the sein fein/ira to support the police, something which most in my community have seen no evidence of.

    We had to watch the DUP aid the cover-up of the murder of Paul Quinn by the ira and we have had to watch the deputy first minster and his socket puppet also know as Paisley mouth of their insincerities and falsities.

  • Not exactly a vote of confidence in the whole wretched caboodle, is it?

    “… we have managed the process to the point where those who supported the killing of Police Officers now must support the Police and the Law which they seek to uphold …”

    So does Gregory believe the Minister for Regional Development when Murphy claims that the IRA had nothing to do with the Quinn murder? Come to think of it, why has the DUP spectacularly underreacted to the murder and the implications of it? (The latter being that the IRA still intends to act outside the law in its “own” areas if it can get away with it.) If Trimble was still leading the largest unionist party the DUPers would never have shut up about it.

    Gregory needs to be a lot more than a lightning conductor for the Punt and Papa Doc.

  • By thw way, since Ian Paisley declared in his New Year’s Message last year that the IRA would have to return any ill-gotten gains, perhaps Gregory could update us on any progress in this regard.

    A fiver that in his New Year’s Message Papa won’t mention it.

  • Where did Campbell issue this statement or is this an article sent to Mick?

  • Outsider

    By thw way, since Ian Paisley declared in his New Year’s Message last year that the IRA would have to return any ill-gotten gains, perhaps Gregory could update us on any progress in this regard.

    Watchman

    You are quite correct, they also indicated that sinn fein/ira would need at least a generation (twenty years) before they could be decontaminated and ultimately be fit for government.

  • Twinbrook resident

    Outsider lets be fair…shouldn`t you have added..

    DUP/Ulster Resistence/Vanguard/UVF/UDA..
    British Government/RUC/Uda/Uvf/Rhc/Lvf/MI5/MI6/British Army/SAS/MRF..ETC ETC ETC…

  • aquifer

    Perp or Vic? Prods having had the whip hand for a while refuse to portray themselves as Victims, as it is culturally uncomfortable for them to accept that militant irish nationalists have progressed beyond equality to be effective aggressors and perpetrators. DUPers cannot even pass themselves as anti-paramilitary, as it is clear from the DUPs occassional strutting with amateur militias that they had no principled objection to extra-legal gangs of thugs. Are the DUP even pro-british? Don’t ask a Brit for the answer.