Mervyn Storey’s wish list

An interesting piece in the Newsletter reporting North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey suggesting that there has been progress from a DUP viewpoint but that there are still changes to be made, more detail from the DUP website.

Much of his fire seems to have been directed at the Education minister who seems to be the chief hate figure currently for the DUP (and indeed others). Storey again shows great delight in the resignation of Gerry McHugh from SF. His comments seem less friendly towards the RoI than his party leader was during Mr. Ahern’s visit to Mr. Storey’s constituency. Some of the remarks about competing with the RoI economy might almost have come from a different North Antrim source.

The whole tenor of the piece seems much less pro agreement than many DUP statements; the fact that it has been placed on the DUP website is also quite interesting. This may be the DUP beginning the process of setting its stall out for when the review does finally come around. However, just how much change in the agreement can really be expected from the review is unclear. Ending the mandatory coalition and D’Hondt and moving to a voluntary coalition without the support of the other parties will prove extremely difficult; and the other parties are unlikely to be prepared to move in the direction which Storey desires, certainly not without very considerable concessions on things which the DUP is most unlikely to want to give. Of course Storey is probably simply pointing out the things the DUP wants and its initial negotiating position ahead of the eventual review. The fact that these remarks were made shortly before the Dromore by election is, I am sure, mere coincidence.

  • Mark McGregor

    Adams was outlining SF’s achievements at the weekend: http://sinnfein.ie/news/detail/23888

    I got equality proofing the DUP budget and PfG as the only achievements at Stormont he mentions.

  • steve48

    Still harping on about McHugh being on their side. I thought the sunday papers pointed out an alternative theory on McHugh’s departure, then again I doubt Mervyn is up early on the sabbath for his dose of Jim Mcdowell so maybe he isn’t up to speed.

  • lib2016

    From Storey I got a reasonable tone and vague objectives which is a step forward for the DUP. At least the ice is breaking even though one realises that the DUP have to take care to bring their support with them.

    From Adams I got an understated approach to the failure of loyalism to build a working class unionism. If loyalists want a party which will speak for the Shankill and the Falls they don’t have far to look. They know that the existing unionist parties have failed them but in the context of mandatory coalition Adams can’t tear into unionist failures. He has to rely on quiet attraction over time.

  • Mark McGregor

    lib,

    Are Unionism’s failures not SF’s failures too now or is SF, like the SDLP, only part of Stormont when it suits? The ATN pointed this out many months ago: at some point SF and Adams himself will start to have start accepting responsibility and even Squinter thought the time for that was long since past.

  • interested

    Turgon,
    I don’t think its much more or less “pro” or “anti” (the St) Andrews agreement than anything else I’ve heard. I’m glad to see that devolution day wasn’t considered as the end of the road – its just the beginning. Like Storey says, it was a fair deal, but its not the place that unionism and Northern Ireland ultimately wants to end up in.

    The DUP have put the issue of Voluntary Coalition (and other alternative forms of Government) on the agenda since the days of the Corporate Assembly (remember that one) so its not exactly too much news that they’re keeping it there.

    They have put other stuff forward which was initially rubbished by other parties but eventually adopted. For all they talk of it now, the UUP and SDLP (and the Alliance too to a degree) never talked about any review structures under the Belfast Agreement to allow change. The possibility of change is a good thing as it does give the possibility of moving to more normal structures.

    The DUP were the only party at the start to ever talk of cutting back on the costs of government, reducing Assembly Members, less Government Departments etc, – the other parties were all initially opposed to this but are now at least nominally all supportive of those proposals. Those should make for some interesting possibilities when the reivew of the Assembly and Executive do come forward.

    Turgon – I wouldn’t get too hung up on the Dromore by-election. There seem to be some who believe the entire future of the universe revolves around some (with respect) tin-pot town in Co Down. If Jim Allister et all wish to believe that they have somehow forced a change in DUP policy then I’d let them have that particular bone. It might be one small (but very lonely) crumb of comfort for them to cling to.

    Mind you of course – many of Jim’s people (incuding himself at least initially) didn’t want to form a Party, that’s why there was all the talk of movements. It meant that they could pursue their ultimate aim of simply changing DUP policy through pressure. Maybe Jim’s had a chance to take a better look at the Robin Sterlings, the Davy Tweed’s and the other assorted ‘talent’ surrounding him and is trying to take things away from the ‘party’ and back to the ‘movement’.

  • Elvis Parker

    “Ending the mandatory coalition and D’Hondt and moving to a voluntary coalition without the support of the other parties will prove extremely difficult”

    If the next UK Govt decided to abolish mandatory coalitions would the support of other parties matter?

  • Fraggle

    No mention of his other interest, getting the Flintstones version of history into schools.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2090664,00.html

    http://bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/NorthernIrelandCreationistFlareups

  • Turgon

    interested,
    A fair criticism re Dromore. In my defence I have said before it is not that massively important and do not worry the blogs I am preparing on it (which one I will use depends on Dromore’s good citizens) all recognise that. To be honest the bit at the end about Dromore was a kind of throw away signing off piece. It is really difficult writing this stuff several times a week. I will understand if you have less that gushing sympathy for how difficult I find it.

  • lib2016

    Mark,

    I think that the Brits have set things up so that they will be the nearest convenient patsy. Unionists and nationalists will be driven together to protest at the inadequacy of the block grant, which will become ever more inadequate. There is nothing to be gained for the British in NI and they want out. It will be a simple matter to convey this message to unionists, many of whom already believe it.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Turgon

    I’m afraid I read Storey’s statement in an entirely different context.

    His statement really amounted to the following:
    1. DUP demand/ desire/ ‘pine for’ an end to mandatory coalition;

    2. DUP don’t want any legislation promoting and safeguarding the place of the Irish language in the six counties;

    3. DUP frustrated by failure of republican/ nationalist politicans and community to view the 26 counties as an ‘opponent’ and, ergo, foriegn state;

    4. DUP want parades through overwhelmingly and predominantly catholic areas.

    5. DUP want end to sectarian attacks- at least, those on Orange/ Loyal Order properties….

    6. DUP frustrated by inability to control education agenda completely.

    7. DUP opposition (publicly at least) to devolution of policing/ justice in specified timeframe.

    8. DUP desire (expressed publicly, at least…) to streamline government.

    Now, let’s take each of these in turn.

    1. DUP demand/ desire/ ‘pine for’ an end to mandatory coalition;

    Not going to happen, and even floating it merely allows for Allister and others (indeed yourself, Turgon) to flag up the limited power of the DUP in the mutual veto scenario that exists at Stormont. Quite why unionist politicians build themselves up for such a fall remains beyond me: no strand of nationalism would contemplate abandoning the stringent safeguards ensuring power-sharing on proportional basis within the Executive and the mutual veto in operation within the Assembly.

    Indeed, given the experiences of nationalist politicians on majority unionist local government councils, successful reform of local government (via RPA) will not happen without the introduction of cast iron safeguards a la Stormont within each of the local government councils proposed.

    2. DUP don’t want any legislation promoting and safeguarding the place of the Irish language in the six counties;

    I’ve said it before, and will again: the DUPers are playing a dangerous game with this one. Boasting about their ability to block such legislation will only result in more ‘egg on faces’ when the inevitable legislation on the Irish language comes to fruition. Again, the logic is simple: sooner rather than later, the DUP will come to Sinn Fein seeking support over a policy matter dear to their hearts; and when that happens, how will Storey et al look when they return to the backwoods to relay the message of the about turn?

    3. DUP frustrated by failure of republican/ nationalist politicans and community to view the 26 counties as an ‘opponent’ and, ergo, foriegn state;

    Again, this stems from a failure to understand the collective mindset of the nationalist community, which does not view the rest of the country as ‘foreign;’ indeed, in places like Derry, Strabane, Fermanagh right along to south Down, Belfast appears much more foreign than Louth, Monaghan, Leitrim or Donegal.

    I’ve no doubt that ministers and representatives within the Executive and Assembly will seek to do their utmost for the people they represent, but this doesn’t detract from their sense of identity stretching well beyond the six counties.

    4. DUP want parades through overwhelmingly and predominantly catholic areas.

    Felt like yawning- or crying- when reading that one; suffice to say, the enforced departure of yet another Orangeman from the Parades Commission will not do this campaign any good.

    5. DUP want end to sectarian attacks- at least, those on Orange/ Loyal Order properties….

    Thought this one was an unfortunately restrictive call by the DUP man, who could’ve used this as an occasion to affirm the DUP were committed to ending all such sectarian attacks- including those on catholic churches in his own constituency in the past week.

    6. DUP frustrated by inability to control education agenda completely.

    The DUP scored a significant success regarding academic selection in the St. Andrews discussions with the British government, but of course they know that, in itself, the legislative veto may be insufficient to actually effect the retention of a system in which selection is used widely.

    7. DUP opposition (publicly at least) to devolution of policing/ justice in specified timeframe.

    One of the most frustrating things for that element within the DUP spoling for a fight over this one is that Sinn Fein appear quite relaxed over the possibility of a modest time slippage over this one. McGuiness’ impressive performance on H and M last week (and I note how that judgement differed from some of our unionist commenters here- just shows once again how differently we perceive things…) indicated to me that republicans are willing to be pragmatic over this one, consistent with the policy to date at Stormont, as the new dispensation beds in.

    8. DUP desire (expressed publicly, at least…) to streamline government.

    This one amuses me. Is this the same DUP who are opposing the streamlining of local government from 26 councils to seven councils?

  • Turgon

    Mr. Donnelly,

    Loathe as I am to admit it actually I have significant points of agreement with all that. I will not bore everyone with a blow by blow answer but a quick comment on your points
    :
    1. Agree end of mandatory coalition difficult to see without complete renegotiation.

    2. Again agree that they will have to come back to SF re this. Though of course I am not really as excited about the Irish language as some.

    3. Agree though I think you overstate the oneness a bit. I would agree re Fermanagh the border bit I know a little of.

    4. There may be some give but not that much.

    5. Sectarian attacks. I am pretty sure the DUP whatever I think of them are opposed to these. I am opposed to all such. I hope you are as well.

    6. I think the DUP won on this but as I have said with falling birth rate I suspect a defacto comprehensive system may be coming.

    7. I cannot comment on the DUP re this. I suspect another sell out may be coming. Never, Never, Never, Never. Well okay actually.

    8. Unsure re this.

    You see I think the DUP gained at St. Andrew’s just not enough for me. There are also possibly circumstances where I would share power with SF (not that I have any nor ever will but you see what I mean). They would have to do a great deal more than they have done, over a longer time. Now is not the time to go into all that lest people die of boredom.

    You think Storey’s list is unachievable. I agree outside of a complete renegotiation of the agreement. That is why I am a TUV not a DUP supporter. That and the fact that I have an overwhelming problem with terrorists in government

  • Chris Donnelly

    Turgon

    Thanks for your take.

    Now: what do you make of Dromore? Slightly off topic, but would be interested to know if you have canvassed and/ or are aware of response from electors to TUV on the doorstep.

  • PaddyReilly

    Maybe Gerry McHugh has a point about the committees. But after the next election, which I assume cannot be more than 4 years and 1 month away, the balance of power will pass to the Alliance Party or the Greens, and after that the DUP can put their wish list where the monkey put his nuts, unless they can reinvent themselves as Alliance Lite.

    Quite how the DUP electorate is going to react when it discovers that it is never ever again going to have any significant influence, I do not know. Retreat into religious obscurantism? Emigration? Rebellion? Finally make the move into class politics? Bargain for local autonomy in agreed areas? Perhaps DUP supporters would care to enlighten us.

  • Comrade Stalin

    If loyalists want a party which will speak for the Shankill and the Falls they don’t have far to look.

    Leaving aside the issue of the party leader carrying the coffin of a man who launched an attack on the heart of their community, Squinter at the Andytown News disagrees. What has West Belfast got to show for 25-odd years of uninterrupted SF hegemony ?

  • Turgon

    Dromore,
    Genuinely no idea. I am away with work every week and so am not in a position to canvass. As I have said before even after the result it may take a few days to see what the mood is. These ephemeral concepts like momentum and such like are extremely difficult to predict. A pathetic showing worse than McCartney’s would be relevant but other than that it is really very difficult to say.

    That is not spin it is just honesty.

  • Dec

    Again, the logic is simple: sooner rather than later, the DUP will come to Sinn Fein seeking support over a policy matter dear to their hearts; and when that happens…

    Finally, the SF masterplan revealed.

  • lib2016

    Comrade Stalin,

    Some people will always disagree of course but things have got a thousand times better in the last 30 years for the nationalist community. There’s still a long long way to go of course but we’re on the road at last and hopefully a growing number of the loyalist community will see the sense in building a new NI together.

    Large scale loyalist voting for Sinn Fein is maybe a bit optimistic at this stage but the electorate gave the UUP and the SDLP the opportunity to build a powersharing Executive. When they failed the electorate chose the people who were quite open about their intention to go into partnership. I repeat – loyalists wanted to go into partnership with Sinn Fein and voted for the party willing to do that.

    The full significance of that has still not filtered into the unionist mindset but it will. Remember how long it took to get from ‘not a bullet, not an ounce’ to the present position where Sinn Fein are fighting for more involvement in policing – the DUP are only starting on that road but the UUP still don’t even realise the depth of their error.

  • interested

    Turgon,
    Fair enough about the Dromore stuff… whatever the result, someonewill attempt to make it into something it probably is not.

    Few points worth thinking about in Chris’s post/your reply.

    1) End of mandatory coalition. No-one’s saying (I think) that this is likely to come about overnight, but I think its hard for any party to claim that they dont want to move to a normal system of Government. SF might attempt to play the “NI is a failed state” the odd time, but even they have a hard enough time arguing we could never move to a more normal system of Government.

    The difference between the DUP and Allister on this one is that he argues it should be delivered now (and it should be) – but highly ironically he’s the least likely person in NI to be able to negotiate or deliver it (even if he did suddenly become the largest party)

    2) The DUP don’t want legislation promoting Irish. What exactly is the need for it? What can someone not do now that they could do with a piece of legislation? There also is never an answer why Irish should be placed at a level above other languages here. Of course SF pay lip service to the “cherish all languages” line but it seems we cherish them all, but throw money and legislation at just one…. equality ineed…shared future indeed..

    3) DUP frustration at nationalists/republicans refusal to view RoI as ‘foreign’.
    Only the very hardest of thinking of unionists believes that we’re somehow going to convert nationalists/republicans into closet unionists overnight. Only the very dodgiest of unionist politicians still clings to the “cant have those nasty nationalist insurrectionists in Government” either.

    Its less the frustration that nationalists suddenly won’t become unionists overnight that frustrates, but more the fact that after decades of nationalists crying for people to treat their political philosophy as equal and for parity of esteem and all that, some/many still don’t call NI by its proper name.

    4) Parades through ‘Catholic’ areas. – See above – somethings just arn’t worth responding to.

    5) End to sectarian attacks.
    Yup – don’t you?

    6)DUP inability to control the education agenda.
    Again, this is more about how you view the situation. Surely there needs to be at least one light bulb which switches on inside the Minister’s head which reminds her that she cant actually control it either.

    The DUP did ‘win’ on this one in the sense that putting academic selection back in legislation means Ruane needs unionist support for its removal. She kinda even admits that, but then does precisely nothing to recognise the fact but blindly whitters on about consensus.

    I suppose ‘failure’ is stalemate which comes back to bite all children. Comprehensive isn’t necessarily on the way unless Ruane decides a wrecking mission is better than admitting defeat.

    7) Policing & Justice.
    I don’t see it happening – not for some time to come. What exactly do the DUP have to benefit from its devolution? Easy to answer that from SF’s point of view but a little harder from the DUP or even broad unionism’s point of view.

    8) Streamlining Government
    Chris, if you believe that the biggest savings in Government would be having 7 Councils instead of 11 here then you need to raise your gaze a little. The savings going from 26 to 7 would end up being fairly small stuff. No doubt the issue of cutting back on Assembly Members starts to take on a different shade when you have more of them, and more of them elected on latercounts but this one really comes back to the other parties.

    Which of them is prepared to call the DUP’s bluff if you believe they are so unlikely really to be serious about this issue. Call it and find out..

  • interested

    Following on from above…

    Its interesting that you believe the DUP did deliver at St Andrews but just not enough for you. Its a view which because of the anti-DUP fervour in the TUV is very hard to hear from them. The only message coming from Allister downwards is that St Andrews was a sell-out, the usual lundy insults and everything else are very forthcoming. My sense is that if he even brough the message an inch closer to yours he might have a little more success. Precious few people believe it was a sell-out, even those who aren’t happy.

    The only people who do are the nutters like Robin Sterling and his one man/one woman protest team. You of course might also get hounded out if you were to admit that you could see circumstances (no matter how distant) that SF could ever be in Government.

    Its for you to work out how TUV could deliver devolved Government were they to get all the votes and take over as the largest party. What exactly would they want and over what timeframe? Lets remember that Jim Allister’s timeframe wasn’t years or decades, it was six short months meaning we’d have been in Government since last November under the timetable he was arguing for.

    Its not quite complete re-negoatiation which is required. Whilst I admit they’re swimming hard against the tide of some/all of them the structures are there for them to do it. They also have the benefit that on quite a few of them there is no real reasonable argument why not. Its hard to argue for years upon years that we require a mandatory coalition – and the DUP never have to change the record on this one – its those who want to keep it who have to do the defending. Same with cutting down costs of Government.

    They just have to keep harping on till they get what they want. Now where could they have learnt that from?

  • darth rumsfeld

    Storey is typical of the DUP “stick your head in the oven if the Doc tells you to” calibre of MLA.
    It’s just poor leadership to blether on in this tone.

    Either you buy the package- terrorists inextricably linked to you in manadatory coalition government with all the compromises that brings- or you don’t.

    The pantomime politics of the education committee last week just prove the point. If Ruane is such a bad minister, why are you in goverrnment with her? If she can filibuster through a third of the scheduled time for a meeting and there is no sanction from an executive toi this breathtaking arrogance, then the scrutiny is a sham and Merv can puff all he wants about marking her homework. That type of bluster is a stock in trade with the DUP, but people have now seen through it- possibly not to the expense of widescale voter transfer, but more probably to the “a plague on all their houses” voters.

    The only change from the GFA is that the former independent fiefdoms of individual ministers have been replaced by a collective DUP/SF cabal who are unaccountable as long as they preserve each other’s dignity. Yup, well worth it then….and the significance is that all the people flooding into Dromore on the DUP cmapaign are paid staffers from Stormont and not the grassroots who are the backbone of every party

  • Elvis Parker

    Lib2016:
    ‘we’re on the road at last and hopefully a growing number of the loyalist community will see the sense in building a new NI together’
    I’m sure they will – now that nationalists have realised that this will be as part of the UK

  • Coleraine

    Adams’ speech continues usual twaddle – love the effort to talk pro-business and then talk about introducing a super tax!

    Unfortunately for him he gives it all away with one comment:
    “No British Chancellor – no British government – has ever worried about the impact of their policies on people living in East Belfast, or North Antrim or the Shankill.”

    Frankly thats just racist bullshit the UK Govt governs iwth the best interests of the UK in mind – it does not single out sections for special interest. The likes of Adams with their warped tribal facism cant even begin to comprehend such a concept – hence they invent the nonsense of the ‘inadequate’ block grant.

    The only way the subsidy could be described as inadequate is when you compare it to the amount of UK tax payers money funneled into the Republic via the EU!

  • kensei

    interested

    1) SF might attempt to play the “NI is a failed state” the odd time, but even they have a hard enough time arguing we could never move to a more normal system of Government.

    Actually it is very easy. It runs like this. We have a veto, we have a guaranteed place in government. Unionism has a bad record. Why should we give it up?

    2) yadda yadda shared future indeed..

    The Irish language is indigenous and in danger of dying out. That’s normally enough for most places to do something to protect language.

    Also: look up “shared”.

    3) Its less the frustration that nationalists suddenly won’t become unionists overnight that frustrates, but more the fact that after decades of nationalists crying for people to treat their political philosophy as equal and for parity of esteem and all that, some/many still don’t call NI by its proper name.

    Yeah, if all just called the place “Northern Ireland” instead of “the North” then Unionism would stop coming off with the above.

    Please, stop talking shite.

    <5) End to sectarian attacks.
    Yup - don’t you?

    You –>
    < -- The pointHe called for end to attack on OO Halls. Fair enough. But he did not explicitly mention all the other attacks going on. He may, as Turgon says, oppose all attacks. the fact he didn't mention ones other than on OO Halls says soemthign about the mindset.6)Comprehensive isn’t necessarily on the way unless Ruane decides a wrecking mission is better than admitting defeat.

    I do wonder: is SF purposely creating a sense of crisis in order to strengthen its negotiating hand? I mean, the heat could be taken out of the situation in an instant, by simply stating that present arrangements will be extended for another year if necessary, with a warnign given well in advance of the affected school year.

    7)I don’t see it happening – not for some time to come. What exactly do the DUP have to benefit from its devolution? Easy to answer that from SF’s point of view but a little harder from the DUP or even broad unionism’s point of view.

    I know, I know, Unionism is filled with morons. Complaining about attacks on OO Halls. Poor performance of the police? Why have the power to do something about it when you get some cheap points building up a phantom that doesn’t exist. Moronic.

    8)Chris, if you believe that the biggest savings in Government would be having 7 Councils instead of 11 here then you need to raise your gaze a little. The savings going from 26 to 7 would end up being fairly small stuff.

    Please. There are potentially fairly decent savings between 7 and 11, and even if it is only 5-10%, we are trying to reduce the size of the state and every little helps. But think of all those extra councillors out of jobs.

  • taxthehuns

    “The only way the subsidy could be described as inadequate is when you compare it to the amount of UK tax payers money funneled into the Republic via the EU! ”

    -Republic net contributor to EU. They fund you ungrateful rabble…

    -NI most subsidised place in NW Europe

    -Coleraine hardly well known for its vibrant local economy..

    Dear oh dear. Try talking to people outside you local loyalist drinking hole…

    As far as I am aware, the only people who want partition are the subspecies who huddle together like cornered rats in the NE of our island. They are costing places like south down hundrerd of millions a year in lost revenue. Closing down the place for two weeks in the middle of the tourist season. If they wanted to make the 6 counties work, they’d know what to do.

    Time for a Orangeman tax anyone for our unionist cousins??? We could start by selling all their Unionists memorabilia.. What the number of Limavady Council??

    Thoughts anyone?

  • There is some fine Kremlinology in the contributions above, which are well worth the writers’ efforts and the readers’ attention. However, for me, it comes down to:
    1. When did mediocre Mervyn become a great political thinker worthy of such detailed attention?
    2. What’s he doing, traipsing cross-country to regale the worthies of Upper Bann with such profundity?
    3. Why is the Newsletter, once a journal of note, reduced to a shallow rewrite of a DUP press handout?

  • Ian

    “Policing & Justice.
    I don’t see it happening – not for some time to come. What exactly do the DUP have to benefit from its devolution?”

    What about credibility? See the condescendingly barbed comment at the end of this blog by Mark Devenport:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markdevenport/2008/02/debating_matters.html