Theory of Everything

Apparently some physicists at times search for a grand unifying Theory of everything. All encompassing theories or solutions are of course also the realm of the conspiracy theorist.

Despite the imminent demise of the Great Leader there remain a number of problems facing the Chuckle Coalition up on the hill; even after all the dust has settled over commemorating Ms. Farrell etc. longer term problems remain. One of these centres around the devolution of policing and justice.
SF has been demanding for some time that this occur. However, Paisley and various other DUPers have said already that this is not possible at the moment. Indeed some relatively recently (though before Dr. Paisley’s demise) linked it to the disbanding of the Army Council. As Pete has noted below; Robinson has just linked them again.

SF were apparently to arrange a number of “town hall meetings” in April and although I have heard little about this recently, it has been suggested that these might be preparing the way for an end to the Army Council as a sop to the DUP prior to having policing and justice devolved. Of course the end of the Army council would be useful to the DUP; it would to a significant extent shoot Jim Allister’s fox on the subject. It might also have advantages for SF: when (rather than if) various members of the IRA next murder someone, SF could claim complete innocence and indeed a complete lack of knowledge. However, to disband the Army council and to use the DUP’s words might be too bitter a pill for the republican movement to swallow.

Hence, I would suggest a compromise might be something along the line of Mr. P O’Neill (is it Mr? I guess it could be Miss, Ms or Mrs, or maybe Dr or Professor; though Lord or Sir might be a little unlikely unless the benefits of being a tout are getting ever greater) announcing that the Army Council was “Indefinitely suspending its operations” or other words which would be going away yet “They haven’t gone away you know”.

Turning back to the theory of everything; however, if it was decided to link policing and justice and Professor O’Neill’s going away these events could be combined with dealing with some other flies in the ointment. The two worst performing and least popular ministers from DUP and SF are surely Poots and Ruane. Both have managed to become hate figures for the other community without sparking much devotion within their own communities. As such one could propose a simultaneous removal of both of them along with the devolution of policing and justice. This could then be presented as a reshuffle and extension of devolution; hopefully distracting everyone a bit from Allister’s inevitable complaints about devolution of P+J. The DUP could point out that the bogey person of Ruane had been dispensed with and the Army Council had gone away (at least a bit) and P+J devolved with only the likely unlamented loss of Poots. SF on the other hand could claim that they had not given in on the Army Council, had got P+J and disposed of Poots for only the loss of the likely unlamented Ruane.

I am not proposing that this set of events happen immediately and indeed they might well happen at different times. Also of course Robinson’s practically inevitable assumption of the First Minister’s post and the ensuing reshuffle might itself be an opportunity to get rid of Poots. However, a packaging together of several things might get the DUP and SF out of some of their current problems, draw a line under the Paisley era, devolve P+J without too many complaints of a sell out and rid us all of Poots and Ruane. It might mark the rebirth of not the “Love in” but a “Like in” or a “Tolerate in”.

Then again maybe I do believe that the world is ruled by twelve foot tall blood drinking shape shifting lizard aliens.

  • “The fact that Ian Paisley feels free to move on content with what he has achieved is a sign of the strength and not the weakness of devolution in Northern Ireland.” Robinson 08.03.08

    Is Robinson living in fairy land? Would it be too much to ask for a ‘smidgen of the truth’?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The Army Council is an illegal organization and it should not exist. However, unionists who believe that it’s ongoing existence is some kind of problem are perhaps simplifying the situation. The Council does nothing other than establish policy within the IRA. It doesn’t hand out orders to kill people.

    For that reason, your suggestion that disbanding the army council might help Sinn Fein is wide of the mark. Sinn Fein, and indeed the army council itself, can already quite credibly claim that they have no knowledge of murders or attacks carried out by IRA men, for example in the case of Paul Quinn.

    On the other hand, you could well argue that if the army council isn’t capable of policing it’s policy position – the people who killed Paul Quinn were clearly in violation of orders – what’s the point in it being there in the first place ?

  • joeCanuck

    some physicists at times search for a grand unifying Theory of everything

    Lesser mortals rely on tea leaves reading.

  • DC

    Policing and Justice is one thing alone but there are several other things which Paisley’s DUP has never faced up to.

    The two-communities model of governance, which is overblown in its reliance of just ‘two’, places an obligation to work a manadatory coalition and that has indeed happened at a very basic political level.

    However, respect and full equal legitimacy and worth of the two communities’ identity remains to be seen. Already allowing a sense of allegiance towards each others own culture is becoming a problem especially when it is to be expressed via ‘parity of esteem’ lines. I don’t have at hand verbose texts and so on, but much of these issues have grown out of Frameworks and ground out as understood in the Belfast Agreement / GFA.

    The problem is DUP think that they can move forward under St Andrews just because it wasn’t peppered with such talk but St Andrews Agreement is predicated on the Belfast Agreement due to its unaffected legal status.

    Sinn Fein can run rings around the DUP with ‘cultural identity’ demands which aren’t set at the appropriate level by which to be legislated upon. But that doesn’t matter to Sinn Fein because the DUP haven’t grasped or aren’t prepared to grasp just how to approach nationalists demands concerning identity, belonging and sense of place. Especially in the ‘public sphere’.

    Sinn Fein are getting away with political-culture tricks as a result of the DUP not being able to grasp the demands really required of nationalists, which would be some sort of Irish language Act not so highly Shinnerised, because in order to legislate an acceptable level of cultural recognition the party would have to accept changing N Ireland’s cultural landscape to accommodate nationalist’s demands at a political assembly level.

    As a result, Sinn Fein misuse the Irish language, turning ‘true’ culture into a political-culture wholly misrepresentative of the language’s origins and its wider-usage. The problem was Northern Ireland always suffered an image and identity problem based around alternative stances of how it should function and appear to function.

    The political demands are now met but cultural-identity progress is key in order for Stormont to truly be at ease with itself and wider electorate.

    Thing is, the impression to be taken is that the corporate DUP think they can pull ahead off into a harsh economic climate without addressing very longstanding identity problems. To do so, they must ignore Sinn Fein and look at what is acceptable.

    Perhaps set the agenda via North South Ministerial Council, placing language issues there and seek appropriate guidance on how to legislate something worthwhile under the Irish government’s co-operation and steer. Rather that than suffer cultural bollix from Sinn Fein.

    If the DUP do nothing, there would be more than policing and justice to worry about.

  • DC, the constitutional settlement IMO is a recipe for an ongong tug-of-war, even violent conflict.

    I think they should have gone for a devolved administration within the context of shared sovereignty, merged strands 2 and 3 and left no hiding place for the exponents of fascism and mafiaism.

  • DC

    You ignore the centrality of language especially to ethnic-nationalists, so opt for a more civic approach, call in FF and over-sovereign Sinn Fein on more realistic grounds.

    But there isn’t a constitutional settlement, life is fluid the only thing is consent but that is matched with the politically legal approach to pursue aspirations held by those whoever want to aspire to it.

    The key is by democratic and constitutional means. And that requires all local parties to work democracy. Democracy is workable and fair. I imagine along the democratic route there will be no immediate, tumultuous rush anywhere new too fast and if accommodation is reached for change it hopefully should be apparent, agreed and therefore smoothe.

  • DC, 50%+1 is the settlement for constitutional change. If that’s not a recipe for conflict I don’t know what is.

  • DC

    Sorry Nevin, I missed out the ‘shared sovereignty’ in your post.

    The unionists would never have bought that though to endorse the GFA. If channels are there by which to talk to those with sovereign powers then possibly a hybrid approach in terms of recognition of culture at public sphere may work.

    But I doubt whether the DUP will ever, let alone at this stage, be up to comprehending the amount of give, which may not be that much in the end, in order for this to happen. This is the wider problem associated with walking away a decade ago and placing heads in sand.

    Wakey wakey time.

  • DC

    ‘DC, 50%+1 is the settlement for constitutional change.’

    But the two governments will ensure that this sort of parity of referendum wont happen like that. Appropriate shifting should be apparent enough to call a vote with threshold well past that, if it happens.

    The DUP need to realise that while the Irish Republic grows the likelihood is cultural muscle grows on the bones of nationalists up here.

    Culture really shouldn’t be a threat but lumping IRA-symbols into the Irish language pot is ridiculous. And you must ask why it was done?

    Time to deal Punt, time to deal but deal a hand with the help of the Irish government.

  • Rory

    What is this demand that the Army Council of the IRA be disbanded? How could it happen? How could such a happening be verified?

    Since the Army Council is the governing body of the IRA elected at and by a General Convention of the IRA and since the IRA has followed the instructions of the Army Council to disband (a welcome step – indeed, some might argue, a victory for the DUP) the only way that the Army Council might disband is if it were to summon a General Army Convention and to put this proposition to the elected delegates of the volunteers. This would mean that the IRA must necessarily regroup in order that elections of delegates to the convention might take place.

    Is this what Peter Robinson is asking should happen? Does he have such confidence in his understanding of the mindset of the volunteers that they would vote for the disbandment of the Army Council and, effectively, their very own integrity?

    Preposterous as this likliehood is we must ask, if it were at all realisable, by what means could it be verified in order to satisfy DUP standards? Shall we have a retired Finnish or Canadian military commander assert that he witnessed a number of men embracing before waving a fond, but final, farewell to each other?
    Or will it be necessary to resort to the earlier strict photographic demands of the present First Minister and for there to be provided photographic evidence of the leavetaking? Perhaps even a verification of the photographic evidence by an eminent and trustworthy British historian? Hugh Trevor-Roper might have done but for his decease.

  • kensei

    But the two governments will ensure that this sort of parity of referendum wont happen like that. Appropriate shifting should be apparent enough to call a vote with threshold well past that, if it happens.

    Any suggestion at all that 50+1% would not be enough would almost certainly be an absolute A1 root back to chaos, particularly if the resultant referendum produced a majority under whatever total had been set. It would be overturning democracy, and I can’t see any strand of Nationalism living with it.

  • DC

    Rings sound here, but doubt remains whether it would be run out just like that. That’s all I’m saying really.

  • doctor

    “What is this demand that the Army Council of the IRA be disbanded? How could it happen? How could such a happening be verified?”

    I share your feelings. The army convention bit might not be that necessary considering everything else that should have technically been put to a vote but never did, like decommisioning or a formal end to the IRA’s campaign. But totally agree about trying to verify that a group of seven people meeting in secret anyway has “disbanded” based on a statement to that effect. If several of the alleged members meet in a room somewhere to discus strategy, does that qualify as an Army Council meeting?

  • DC and Kensei, my suggestion would appear to be the one most likely to ‘accommodate’ the two aspirations; it would also strengthen the position of the centre ground parties.

  • DC

    Nevin, if you press the DUP hard enough about what Ulster is along its own party lines, some might say:

    ‘The problem with Ulster is Northern Ireland.’

  • Steve

    Has anyone thought that now there has been a year of bedding down that SF is going to quit sitting on their hands and go out and demand any and all rights to which they are entitled

    That perhaps the soft approach of the last year have been an incredible blinder

    Havent they just asked for a list of unionist memorabilia, are they preparing a purge?

    And best of all unionist can’t do anything about it. If they collapse Storomont over refusal to extend nationalists their legal rights then they will instantly lose all credibility and relegitimize PIRA and SF all over the world.

  • Steve

    Perhaps the circus is in town, Paisley’s the DUP elephant and Robinson is the fellow that follows behind with the shovel

  • DC, I’ve been pressing the DUP fairly hard. I’ve left a question for fair_deal on “There are no DUP trappings about the place..”. If it’s too much for him perhaps someone else can have a go.

  • T.Ruth

    P and J powers will de devolved when there is confidence in the community for that to happen. DUP has Privy Councillors(on foot of the St.A/agreement) so access to intelligence in the matter of who did what will help expedite such devolution. An end to the IRAArmy Council and Loyalist Army Councils would be helpful first steps in this confidence building process.

    Republicans however cannot expect a democratic institution like the Assembly to honour criminals and those guilty of crimes against humanity. Mr.Adams of all people should understand that. The people who hung bombs on the windows of La Mon House hotel and incinerated members of the Irish Kennel Club can not be equated with the decent law abiding people they murdered and maimed.This was not an act of war. This like other sectarian IRA atrocities was a crime against humanity.

    There is lots of space in Stormont to share and honour those of all persuasions who in the future make a positive contribution to peace and democratic politics. Its time for Republicans to acknowledge the sectarian nature of their failed campaign to destroy Northern Ireland.

  • Steve

    T Ruth

    Storomont and all its trappings were specifically built and formed to honour criminals, its just they were built to honour unionist criminals

  • Steve

    Oh and unionist murderers