Then and now

The Belfast Agreement is now 10 years old. Jim Allister has produced a press release contrasting the positions of the DUP 10 years ago with the position now. Even those who fully support the DUP position might care to look at the change in language which has occurred.

Just a few choice parts of Allister’s message:
“The unholy alliance is now exposed – Trimble, Ahern, Hume and Adams – partners in the campaign seeking support for the all-Ireland deal. Perhaps now that Sinn Fein are in harness with the Glengall Street leadership we will see the “odd couple” – Adams and Trimble campaigning together.”Peter Robinson

Now we see McGuinness and Paisley campaigning for all sorts of things together

This also from the pen of Mr. Robinson:

“The hapless fools who ask what our alternative is to such a process are implicitly suggesting there is no alternative to a united Ireland process. They are not entitled to make that claim as there are many alternatives to Dublin Rule. Complete and total integration within the United Kingdom is one such alternative and the fashion of devolution given recently to Scotland within the United Kingdom is another. However, these pint-sized political thinkers are not really asking “have you got an alternative?” They are implicitly asking “what alternative have you that the IRA will accept?”

The reality is of course that the St. Andrew’s Agreement offers a small, but very small gain for unionists over the disastrously bad (for unionists) Belfast Agreement. To have gained so little having promised so much can only be explained as either extremely poor political negotiation, or a blinding lust for power (or both).

I agree entirely that the IRA has decommissioned some weapons but it clearly remains extant. There is greater accountability in government and some semblance of cabinet government but it is only a semblance. The d’Hondt mandatory coalition remains, the interlocking vetoes, the cross border bodies which unionists must be involved in, the First / Deputy First minister system; with the added “benefit” of the largest party now being able to select the first minister. That short term political decision is a classic example of the error the DUP made at St. Andrew’s. It is only not a problem if the DUP can blackmail the unionist population to keep them the biggest party or if they admit that in reality the First and Deputy First ministers are co-equal.

What that decision on the First minister is illustrative of is that the DUP cannot get out of the mindset of trying to defeat and surpass its enemies in unionism. I fear the DUP is more interested in “Leading in Ulster” than “Leading for Ulster.”

Personally I would be very happy to be wrong and for the DUP to move the whole agreement in the direction they have recently suggested. I just remain utterly unconvinced that they can achieve this. My biggest criticism of them is that I fear they know this to be impossible, have always known it to be the case, and that they are using such suggestions as a smoke screen to cover their capitulation; not in the face of overwhelming odds but in the face of being offered power. I would be genuinely delighted to be proven wrong.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon:

    The reality is of course that the St. Andrew’s Agreement offers a small, but very small gain for unionists over the disastrously bad (for unionists) Belfast Agreement.

    From my rather lofty and arrogant position in the centre, the Belfast Agreement was a Unionist document in many more ways than it was a nationalist document. I don’t see that as a problem, but to claim it as a wholesale sop to republicans is to be severely economical with the truth.

    What concessions did the agreement contain which gave any ground whatsoever to the cause that the IRA went to “war” over ? There was no ban on plastic bullets, no independent investigations into collusion on republican terms, no “disbandment” of the RUC, no roadmap to Irish reunification, no commitment or timetable to the withdrawal of British troops, no end to the “unionist veto”. In fact nothing on the traditional republican shopping list was included.

    Let’s look at what there was :

    – the removal of Articles 2&3;and the acceptance by all parties including the Irish government of unionism’s legitimacy. Some interpretations could suggest that these two clauses made the IRA’s actions legal under the Irish constitution. The Agreement removed these possible interpretations.

    – the enshrinement in law of the Principle of Consent, and it’s incorporation in the Irish constitution and in the Northern Ireland Act which superceded the Government of Ireland Act 1920 (which gave the British government the sole right to change NI’s constitutional position without consulting the people of NI)

    – closure of Maryfield and the removal of the key provisions of the Anglo Irish Agreement, and their replacement

    – decommissioning of weapons. This all turned into a bit of a farce. But it was the Agreement, and the work done by Trimble and his contemporaries as well as the Alliance Party, that made decommissioning the essential part of the process that it eventually became.

    The really controversial part of the agreement was the prisoner releases. Bearing in mind that these secured the release of unionist paramilitary prisoners whose communities voted unionist at the elections, I cannot see how this is a concession to republicanism. How could releasing Johnny Adair from jail be described as a concession to the IRA ? Do you think it was easy for Johnny Adair’s “legitimate target” constituency to vote for his release ?

    The Belfast Agreement marked the point where nationalism, including republicanism, abandoned it’s long-held principles and made common ground with unionism. Nationalism accepted the entire unionist shopping list, incorporating the principle of consent, a veto over Dublin’s role in local affairs, devolved government, and no commitment to anything which furthered nationalism’s traditional objectives. The trouble with unionists is that they just can’t see when they are handed a victory on a plate.

  • Turgon

    Comrade Stakin,

    I have not seen you around much recently: have you been helping your fellow communist brother in Zimbabwe?

    I agree that prisoner releases were not a disaster for unionists, no they were a disaster for absolutely everyone except for the assorted criminals who got out.

    We are left with a mandatory coalition, a utterly inefficient system of government, assorted pointless commissions telling us that people of 17 cannot be treated as criminals.

    Indeed the agreement has been a disaster for unionists but I agree not merely unionists but nationalists and non political people as well.

    The only “gain” seems to have been “peace” except of course this is not a true peace but appeasement of assorted criminals for up to a point agreeing to do what the rest of us always had done ie not kill people.

  • joeCanuck

    Turgon,

    I, and others, have asked you repeatedly “What exactly is it that you want?” You not only do not answer, you do not even acknowledge that the question has been asked.
    Paisley’s failing as an effective First Minister is that after 40 years of only being against, he didn’t really know how to be positive. Allister is Paisley reincarnated. He is only against too. What exactly do you want to replace the current dispensation, recognizing that the electorate on the “other side” have chosen SF to represent them and there is no going back to the old ways?
    It is insufficient to say just no terrorists in government because there are terrorists or associates of terrorists on “your side” too.

    What exactly do you want?

  • willis

    jC

    What exactly do you want?

    Very effective question. I must deploy it when I want to close an argument.

    The truth is that they want the Old Paisley back. They want the glory days when the DUP trounced Lundy Trimble and the Perfidious Brits.

    They want Peter Robinson back posing with an assault weapon or wearing a crimson beret.

    Gone all gone

  • CS Parnell

    TUV need to stop pretending this is about Sinn Fein. In 1998 the dominant Nationalist party was one which, unlike the DUP, has consistently rejected violence as a means of “solving” the crisis.

    The obstructionists secured one thing – the dominance of SF.

    Nationalists know what the “coded” or not so coded language means. It’s not about republicanism or the IRA. TUV objects to sharing power with Taigs. End of.

    It almost makes you like Paisley. Almost, until you remember that all that Alistair is is Paisley with a law degree.

  • Turgon

    joe,
    I am going to do a blog on this soon. There are specific reasons for not doing so at the moment(they are very prosaic). It is a very fair question and I will indeed attempt an answer soon.

  • Oilifear

    Turgon, you had 50 years where you could have done what you wanted. You blew it.

  • Turgon, Jim put out three press releases. Here’s a line from one of them that I’ve already posted:

    “An inescapable conclusion from Jonathan Powell’s book on “the Peace Process” is the wholesale lack of morality which characterised government dealings with the terrorist IRA.”

    Yet Jim prefers ‘Direct Rule’ – by London and Dublin – to what we have at present. Is it a matter of the lesser of two evils?

  • Norton

    I think, Turgon, that Jim Allister at least would say that he prefers full integration. His essential problem is that the DUP secured a big vote last March and I would contend that the majority of those voters wanted devolved government with Sinn Fein. Anyone with any hint of understanding of realpolitik would have realised that this was the case, regarding the talk about ill-gotten gains and the Army Council as essentially spin.
    The problem for the DUP and the good news for TUV is that a fair number of those voters, though by no means the majority, largely evangelical Christians, do indeed have no sense of realpolitik and through their biblical absolutism really did think that Ian Paisley would pull back from the brink at the last moment.
    I therefore think that a large number of those mainly rural voters will shift from the DUP to the TUV at the next general election.
    That is very bad news for unionism as it signals yet another damaging split, where the DUP will represent urban, working class unionists, the TUV rural evangelical unionists, and the UUP those who consider themselves neither.
    And then Martin McGuinness will be the first Minister after the next Assembly election in 2011, unionists will refuse to support that and a British Government will throw them to the wolves, not being prepared even remotely to try to understand the evangelical mindset.
    As a side note, it is my personal belief that I have just spelled out medium-term Sinn Fein strategy, republicans having the good fortune to have no such easily manipulated ideological or religious fissure.

  • Mark McGregor

    Norton,

    That’s exactly how it works. SF are making Unionists fight/split on class/fundamentalist grounds. It was all a cunning plan devised in 1981.

    See that bald patch in your lawn, they did that too but that was just for badness.

  • [aside] An earlier then and now:

    When DUP Politician Met An Irish President

  • FYI

    Turgon

    And 20 years ago Jim Allister called Direct Rule, Dublin Rule – now he’s demanding its re-imposition. Still we can always rely on you to recycle his hypocrisy here.

  • Greenflag

    The basic structures of the Belfast Agreement were, and are, these:-

    • government by mandatory coalition, so that a party can never be voted out of office and Opposition is denied.’

    Allister is incorrect here . The DUP can be replaced by the UUP or TUV if either gets enough votes /support . Likewise SF can be replaced by the SDLP. The UUP can resign from it’s Ministry as can the And form an ‘opposition’

    ‘The purpose, of course, is to guarantee IRA/Sinn Fein a permanent place in the government of the state they are dedicated to destroy.’

    True at least in part . What is also true is that SF have agreed to only destroy the State in a peaceful manner and only with the consent of the majority of the people within NI.

    • the dysfunctional office of Joint First Ministers, OFMDFM, whereby equality is guaranteed for republicanism and the right of veto is enshrined by reason of the First Minister being unable to do anything – even sign a letter – without Sinn Fein’s agreement’

    Allister omits to mention that the same is true in reverse i.e in the event of an SF First Minister the co signing of letters becomes the DUP’s ‘right ‘ . This is just another measure of Allister’s sheer unadulterated arrogance in dealing with the republican and nationalist communities within Northern Ireland .

    • entrenched north/south executive bodies to advance harmonisation on an all-Ireland basis.

    The intended trajectory of the Belfast Agreement was, and is, eventual Irish unification. Hence the continuing pledge of the British Government to legislate for Irish unity, as and when the people agree – with the only proposal on the constitution which can ever be put in referendum being one for unification.’

    So what’s wrong with that ? Has Allister suggested any other proposal ? Independence perhaps ? Repartition ? What is his alternative and more importantly how does Allister propose to win any support for his proposal among the republican and nationalist population of NI ?

    ‘The Belfast Agreement was wrong and flawed in 1998.’

    Oh dear what a surprise 🙁 Ten years wasted for nothing . Ah well on top of a previous wasted 30 years shure whats another 10 or if Allister has his way another 35 wasted years 🙁

    ‘The fact that they are now its prime implementers is a sad commentary on their departure from traditional unionist principles.’

    No it’s not . It’s just that the DUP and UUP have accepted that Unionist majority rule will never again be possible in a 6 county NI state.

    ‘What goes around comes around!’

    Indeed and NI has certainly been ging around in several circles each of diminishing returns since the 1974 Sunningdale Agreement. If Allister has his way and this Assembly collapses then it’ll be back to even more ever diminishing circles of the downward spiral .

    “NOTHING THAT IS MORALLY WRONG CAN BE POLITICALLY RIGHT”

    Ah yes nothing like th’oul bit of sanctimonious biblical claptrap to bring the Protestant Unionist God out to defend the chosen people from Beelzebub’s crew eh 🙁

    Someone might want to inform Allister that there are many on this island and on the neighbouring island who might regard Allister as representing an ‘immoral ‘ State that has been morally wrong from it’s inception and which will never be politically right. The failed political entity can only be stiched up and plaster casted in forced mandatory power sharing for one simple reason and that is that the NI 6 county State simply does not have sufficient internal overall democratic consensus to enable it to be governed on say the same basis as the Irish Republic or the UK .

    Allister had just better get used to it .

  • Greenflag, it’s very good of you to cheer-lead for the appeasers. You’ll be getting your Order of the Grand Nimby any day now 🙂

  • Norton

    Mark McGregor – I do not think it’s their long-term strategy thought out in 1981 but I do think it’s an inevitable consequence of what has happened in the past ten years and that they will see it as something worth exploiting.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin,

    ‘it’s very good of you to cheer-lead for the appeasers.’

    Eh ?I’m not appeasing anybody . I’m just telling it the way it is . If this Allister gobaloon has his way there’ll be another generation of corpses and destruction to pile on top of the last lot:( Is that what you want to see ?

    BTW if you’re still looking for perfect ‘justice’ I regret that it’s not to be found neither in NI nor the Republic nor the UK nor anywhere on this planet or any other !

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    What I was trying to get at was this notion that the Agreement was some sort of a final nail in the coffin for the union, and the signing of it marked a treachery and a sell-out. Quite to the contrary, as is plain by reading the document, it was the nationalists who sold out.

    This country is so bizarre. The nationalists sell out all their principles, and manage to sell it to their constituents as a huge gain. The unionists see all of their fundamental tenets and beliefs reinforced, win allies in the British and Irish governments, and win legislative support – and they present it to their supporters as a loss.

    I agree that prisoner releases were not a disaster for unionists, no they were a disaster for absolutely everyone except for the assorted criminals who got out.

    How much of a disaster ? Pretty much all of the prisoners released then, would be out by now. It was an easy concession to give. What did it cost me ? Or you ?

    We are left with a mandatory coalition, a utterly inefficient system of government, assorted pointless commissions telling us that people of 17 cannot be treated as criminals.

    I find the idea that the government shouldn’t exist on the basis that it is inefficient and appoints pointless commissions to be very dangerous and, in some respects, you appear to be attacking democracy. Democracy means that people get whoever they voted for. You need to deal with that.

    No, the only reason Allister is going on about this is because he thinks that voluntary coalition would mean excluding Sinn Fein. Believe me, if there was a voluntary coalition government and SF were in it, his position would be no different.

    Indeed the agreement has been a disaster for unionists

    You don’t seem to be able to talk about any disasters specifically that strike me as earth shattering. Unionism is quite simply about maintaining the union. That is what the Agreement delivered. It provided legislative and political protection for the union from nationalism, in exchange for what amounts to a handful of beans in the form of a wing-clipped government and the complete absence of a springboard to a united Ireland. John Hume once said “it’s a united Ireland, or nothing”. Clearly he changed his mind. Unionism, on the other hand, has held onto the union.

    but I agree not merely unionists but nationalists and non political people as well.

    It was/is not a disaster for people who recognize that in order to make real progress in this place, you have to set some of your principles aside. And if you want to draw up a scorecard of who had to set more principles aside, it’s clearly the nationalists who score highest, hands down.

    The only “gain” seems to have been “peace” except of course this is not a true peace but appeasement of assorted criminals for up to a point agreeing to do what the rest of us always had done ie not kill people.

    Most people seem to be happy enough with this situation, safe in the knowledge that the time of the paramilitaries is coming to an end. The long and the short of it is – the paramilitaries exist because people support them. Getting rid of them should be our top priority, but how can we do that when our elected representatives maintain such a close link to them ? It’s a real shame Jim Allister’s principles on keeping paramilitaries out of the picture didn’t apply when the DUP was busy flirting with loyalists in the immediate aftermath of the Agreement.

  • truth and justice

    If Jim calls the following as small gains for Unionism then he really has a problem

    end to 50/50
    Financial package 1 billion extra for NI
    de rating of Orange Halls
    3 million pounds for Ulster Scots extra
    Veto over North South Bodies
    Vetos of Sinn Fein Ministers
    Deputy First Minister swearing an oath of support to a Briish Police Force PSNI
    decommissioning
    SF support for PSNI and on Policing Boards
    Free travel for 60+
    Regional rates frozen
    victims commission
    36 million funding for victims
    Irish Language stopped
    No United Ireland Ulster is British

    What more does this man want, he only left the DUP over timing of when the DUP should share power not that they should share power, if he gets his way he will lead us into JOINT AUTHORITY not DIRECT RULE.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Irish Language stopped’

    what have you got to fear from a language?

    ‘No United Ireland’ (yet)
    ‘Ulster is British’ (governed irish soil)

  • dupmember

    Turgon aka Jim Allister

    Remove this post if you may I will not be surprised as you did my last in reply to Turgon.

    Slugger does seem happy to support Republican and Nationalist posters and allow them to spew out their bitterness at Unionists and their politicians but others seem to be treated differently and they do not use the abusive language which is posted by others so remove this if you will.

    I will refrain for commenting on your posting as it would only give you and it credence. I remember the TUV’S leader of old his hatred of the DUP goes back to when he was not allowed to run at the Westminster election and he left the DUP but never forgave Dr Paisley and the DUP for stifling his political career in those days. A big mistake to allow him back into the party you know the old saying ” A leopard never changes it spots”. This vendetta from May 2007 to now is continuing of that you can be sure, he is not interested in Northern Ireland he is only trying to secure his European seat next year which he will not do, so a spoiling tactic is his rule of thumb. He says Direct Rule is better to what we have, well I can remember in a meeting years ago when he uttered the words Direct Rule Is Dublin Rule, so what have you Turgon to offer the Unionist people of Northern Ireland “Dublin Rule” because for sure that is where we were heading if the DUP has not taken control. People in glass houses should not throw stones as they rebound to hit them remember the European Manifesto you should read it again!!!!!!!

    TRUTH AND JUSTICE

    I could not have put it better myself, I agree with every word you have stated, Jim Allister is more a friend of Republicans than Unionism.

    Unfortunately I cannot use my own email address now which I always did unlike others because I have been threatened so I am using this method. It is not that I am afraid that anybody new who I was it is for the reason stated.

  • George

    Comrade Stalin,
    The nationalists sell out all their principles, and manage to sell it to their constituents as a huge gain.

    They just got real and managed to sell the reality better to their constituents than unionists did.

    The unionists see all of their fundamental tenets and beliefs reinforced, win allies in the British and Irish governments, and win legislative support – and they present it to their supporters as a loss.

    Unionists don’t need their beliefs enforced and have never needed allies. Needing allies and sharing power with Sinn Féin when you have run the place on your own for decades is a loss, for a unionist.

    Unionism is quite simply about maintaining the union. That is what the Agreement delivered.

    The union wasn’t going anywhere and everyone knew it. But what it did do was(for the first time since the creation of Northern Irleand) deliver a way out of the union for Irish nationalism that didn’t involve violent revolt.

    More importantly, it gave northern nationalists a chance to re-engage with the south. People speak of the alienation of unionists but the IRA’s campaign was also driving a bigger and bigger wedge between nationalism north and south.

    Now, roads are reopened, the Republic can invest in infrastructure and business projects north of the border. I don’t see unionists petrol bombing the Titanic Quarter for example. Normality is returning and the healing process has begun.

    It provided legislative and political protection for the union from nationalism, in exchange for what amounts to a handful of beans in the form of a wing-clipped government and the complete absence of a springboard to a united Ireland.

    The south was completely alienated from NI with the high watermark coming after Enniskillen. Something had to be done and the Agreement has delivered on that front. Northern nationalism is finally re-engaging with a hinterland that is slowing willing to re-engage with it.

    Ironically, one of the imperatives of the GFA, we are led to believe, was to create a situation where unionism could re-engage with the rest of an ever more alienated UK. I don’t see this happening. Do you?

    We have arrived at the beautiful situation where unionism has to deliver for everyone in Northern Ireland to survive. It’s called normality. Nationalism has nothing to fear from this situation.

    But some in unionism do live in fear of this, as evidenced by the TUV desperately hoping for all power to be taken away from NI and for Westminster to do the delivering instead.

    And if you want to draw up a scorecard of who had to set more principles aside, it’s clearly the nationalists who score highest, hands down.

    When the place you live in has the problems that Northern Ireland has, then you would be an idiot to keep clinging to the principles that got you to the position you are in.

  • Jazz

    Truth and justice
    You should add, Foreign policy, Taxation, Defence (5000 British Soldier garrison in NI), Economy, and all the basic functions of a state in Westminster for at least the next 50 years.
    And Sinn Fein administering this British rule in Northern Ireland for several generations, with some Irish window dressing to save face.
    Wonder what Gerry and Martin are called by their handlers at Palace Barracks, Laurel and Hardy probably.
    Jim Allister should join the club.
    Denis Faul was right about Britain playing a long game. They won. A few meaningless promises to Gerry/Martin to help them stay afloat. And they followed the money.

  • The one thing that the DUP will never accept is that Ian Paisley is one of the two beasts of Revelation (along wirth Gerry Adams) so Jim Allister has a point:-

    I cannot mention Gerry Adams without mentioning the fact that the second beast is Ian Paisley who, as a religious preacher, represents religious extremism. The second beast is coincidentally called ‘the false prophet’ (Rev 19:20), making him a flawed part of the Old Testament tradition of prophets.

    ‘He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon,’ (Rev 13:11). Paisley is a religious preacher like the Lamb, or Jesus, but he has a roaring voice (akin to what the mythical creature, the dragon, would sound like, some would say). This is a significant coincidence.
    Again, Ian Paisley’s name coincidentally comes out at 666 on my numeric alphabet (see website) which makes the alphabet all the more credible in that there are coincidentally two beasts in the Book of Revelation and the number of the beast is 666.

    Another prophecy was fulfilled at the reconvening of Stormont on May 8th 2007 with Ian Paisley being elected First Minister and Gerry Adams decided not to be part of the government: “[The second beast, i.e. Paisley] exercised all the authority of the first beast [i.e. Adams] on his behalf [i.e. because Adams remained outside government], and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed [Adams was shot and seriously wounded in 1984]” (Rev 13:12).

    “By remaining outside government, Adams has shrewdly ensured that his spirit remains to dominate proceedings. Paisley will govern with one eye on keeping Adams happy under government by the lowest common denominator (i.e. he exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf).”

    Paisley’s often-heard oratory contains considerable elements of bigotry, even hate, against his opponents, rather than forgiveness and love. He has regularly called for an eye for an eye, in dealing with those who ‘sin’ against his community.

    For more click on my name.

  • Steve

    John O’Conenell seek mrdical help a wee stay in the rubber room will do you a world of good. Follow it up with some serious chemical therapy, you will be alright.

  • Harry Flashman

    *The nationalists sell out all their principles, and manage to sell it to their constituents as a huge gain. The unionists see all of their fundamental tenets and beliefs reinforced, win allies in the British and Irish governments, and win legislative support – and they present it to their supporters as a loss.*

    As I recall from ten years back the quip was “the prods have won and are too stupid to realise it and the fenians are too clever to let them know”.

    If anyone thinks that the IRA secured a ‘victory’ with the GFA then they know bugger all about Irish Republicanism.

    The Provies lost, they lost big time, in their heart of hearts they know they lost and the GFA was merely a way to spare their blushes.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Nationalists know what the “coded” or not so coded language means. It’s not about republicanism or the IRA. TUV objects to sharing power with Taigs. End of.”

    Oh dear- poor old Parnell in denial again, just like when he stole the bicycle at university or cheated with Jonathon Powell’s great great auntie or whatever…

    See, everyone in our wee cesspit “objects” to sharing anything with anyone- do you really think Adams wants this coalition? And Robinson probably objects to sharing with the SDLP and UUP- heck probably even Jeffrey wouldn’t be in his ideal cabinet (FM Punt; DFM Iris; Junior Minister Mark)

    It’s only when you can’t form an intellectual argument which can counter the obvious point that the fundamentals of the Agreement are not the only valid show in town, that you run- and not for the first time- to sectarian stereotyping.

    The agreement recycles the flabby 1970s nostrums of a generation of plodding civil servants and second rate politicos. It will produce the same disillusionment with devolution that we see in Scotland, because there aren’t enough talented MLAs. It will flounder on the farce of a mandatory coalition which has achieved nothing at all in one year of junkets, spin and chuckling Sensible cross border cooperation in the form of economics will move us along the road as far as we are comfortable with.

    What it won’t address is the problem of criminality which is now causing SF so much grief in West Belfast, and is likely to spread- where their ambiguity on criminality is a major impediment. Nor will it sort sectarianism, which is a card they play when is suits- see Limavady Council or IRA monuments in Castlewellan for example.

    So,two simple reasons why noone-including the SDLP, with whom Allister is quite happy to work BTW- ought to want a Shinner about the cabinet table

  • ““Dublin Rule” because for sure that is where we were heading if the DUP has not taken control.”

    The Paisley of old would have shredded that line of argument, as you very well know, DUPing Member. But that was in the grand old days of yore. When Papa became Top Dog he sold out all the people who took him at his word. Get used to the brickbats, sunshine, the traditional unionists have hardly got going yet.

  • Comrade Stalin

    George,

    You’re preaching to the converted there. In many ways I admire people who have the ability to set aside principles and technicalities, make a few compromises and then try to make the best of it – it’s the way good politics works. I particularly admire the extreme examples of this – Gorbachev, De Klerk, etc – who did this to the expense of their own careers and indeed their own country and power base. It’s not yet clear whether Gerry Adams will be our Gorbachev, or Trimble/Paisley our De Klerk, but we’ll see. For unionism, qualities like these generally tend to be bad things.

    A couple of specific points :

    The union wasn’t going anywhere and everyone knew it. But what it did do was(for the first time since the creation of Northern Irleand) deliver a way out of the union for Irish nationalism that didn’t involve violent revolt.

    Actually, the agreement reduced the number of paths by which reunification could come about. The changes to the Government of Ireland Act and the Irish constitution essentially mean that the Irish and British governments can’t conspire to do it without consulting people here. Are you referring to the referendum ? – if so, that’s a u-turn. The last time there was a referendum on the union, nationalism boycotted it.

    Ironically, one of the imperatives of the GFA, we are led to believe, was to create a situation where unionism could re-engage with the rest of an ever more alienated UK. I don’t see this happening. Do you?

    No, but then again the union was never really about this, even though they tried to dress it up that way. The golden age for unionism involved devolution and separation from the UK.

    dupmember, I do not agree with Turgon but he makes his argument clearly and he has a point of view, and an insight that most of us don’t have into non-mainstream unionism. His contributions invariably result in some of the busiest threads on Slugger. You need to get over it.

  • Prince Eoghan

    DUP man

    >>Slugger does seem happy to support Republican and Nationalist posters and allow them to spew out their bitterness at Unionists and their politicians< < Ahhhh, obviously not a regular reader then lol! And the days of the Taigs knowing their place has gone. You my friend are a dinosaur. >>Unfortunately I cannot use my own email address now which I always did unlike others because I have been threatened so I am using this method.< < That Turgon, all 120 pounds, and 5 foot of him with his hands waving in the air is well known for this kind of madey up ohhhhh I'll get death threats for telling it as it is shite. What a crank! Norton >>As a side note, it is my personal belief that I have just spelled out medium-term Sinn Fein strategy<< And you were doing so, so well upto that point. Regarding your analysis. Really wouldn't it be for the best if the Unionist vote was split, With a large section needing a fenian bogey-man to help them function. I reckon let them keep their fears if it helps with the rehabilitation, just keep the levers of power out of their hands.

  • Butterknife

    Just reading down this blog: good blogs people!
    As I wrote elsewhere, the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (NIA 1998) is a constitutional statute: it is a primary law that is first amongst equals at Westminster. It is fact that the Stormont Assembly is sub-ordinate to the UK Parliament in law, thus preserving the legal principle of the supremacy of the mother of all Parliaments. However, in practice the citizens of the State are the final arbitrators of the law and as the NIA 1998 started life with a referendum then it can only be repealed by one (including the obligatory repealing statue at Westminster).
    In other words, citizens of suffrage in Northern Ireland have the freedom to control the future destiny of the good ship Northern Ireland. The (Stormont) Assembly members should remember this as make (or not make as the case may be) law for us. The question is, as the evidence changes from peace to the machinery of Government: Are we getting our monies worth out of them – is it a case of the peace train morphing into a gravy train for instance.

  • “The failed political entity can only be stiched up and plaster casted in forced mandatory power sharing for one simple reason”

    Greenflag, perhaps you’ve not spotted nimbyism in action 🙁

    Dublin backed the toppling of the then ‘commie’ IRA leadership to protect it’s own institutions, with no regard for the consequences here. Dublin and London were both prepared to do side-deals with the loyalist and republican ‘mafia’ so that the ‘virus’ could be more or less contained to here.

    And then you have the gall to trot out ‘failed political entity’. Sheesh.

  • abucs

    Whether people think they ‘won’ or ‘lost’ all depends on what they wanted.

    I think it’s difficult to get inside of people’s heads that you disagree with and purport to say what they wanted and didn’t want.

    Part of the stalemate IMHO was a mis-communication and extreme language to counter-act the extreme language on the other side.

    The gradual changes of demography, British support for the union and shared (or neutered) administration changed the framework for what people wanted. And what then became a necessary outcome with the absence of conflict.

    My 2 cents worth.

  • “closure of Maryfield”

    Surely you mean the transfer of the AIIC/BIIC folks to Windsor House, Comrade. If you want something done in the non-devolved sphere, just ring the office.

  • George

    Harry Flashman,
    The Provies lost, they lost big time, in their heart of hearts they know they lost and the GFA was merely a way to spare their blushes.

    Did it ever occur to you that the Provos losing was a victory for Irish nationalism as a whole? The GFA is an agreement for constitutional republicanism, the “majority” republicanism on this island.

    Comrade Stalin,
    Actually, the agreement reduced the number of paths by which reunification could come about. The changes to the Government of Ireland Act and the Irish constitution essentially mean that the Irish and British governments can’t conspire to do it without consulting people here.

    If taking the Provos out of the equation means reducing the number of paths by which reunification comes about, it’s a small price to pay. In fact, the Republic, which the Provos don’t recognise and are pledged to overthrow, would pay quite a bit for such a deal.

    Consulting with and also working for the people of Northern Ireland is the way forward.

    10 years ago unionists despised the New York City Comptroller and what they saw as Irish America’s republican influence over it.

    But that was then and this is now. Today, unionists happily line up to hear news of the 150-million-pound investment cheque. Roll on the future.

    These are the benefits of the GFA and Jim Allister’s desire to roll back the years would return us to total stagnation.

  • Lenny

    Is the union as safe as it was in 1969 or even 1984? Prior to the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, Dublin was told by the British government to “stop interfering in the affairs of the United Kingdom” if any minister opened his/her mouth about the north.
    That is certainly not the case today. Dublin’s foot is inside the door and as George has pointed out, the way for nationalists to achieve a UI peacefully has been established by the GFA.

  • dub

    there is a lot of twaddle here about “The Union”. Ni has never been since its inception a part of the UK in any meaningful political sense. It was designed to keep Irish politics out of Westminster. The Troubles had the unwelcome effect of letting the virus out on to “The Mainland”. It has now been safely returned to its off shore postion where it will be kept. This is what “the Union” means. In this sense and in this sense only, there is continuity with the pre-Troubles past. However power in NI is now divided up equally so nationalism can now function in a normal political fashion. That and all ireland economics are what the gfa has unleashed on the island of Ireland. That’s why the TUV want the virus transferred back to Westminster. But the British did not fight for 30 years to rebottle the genie only to let it out again. And nationalists will never again accept strangulation in tne North. Comrade Stalin and co, you do not seem to realise that the reason many Unionists see only loss in the GFA arrangements is that the ability of Irish nationalism to function unfettered in the North and normal econmics to operate on the island are the very 2 things that preservation of the Union was meant to prevent ever happening, as far as Unionists were concerned. If the Union means the very opposite of that which they were used to it meaning, then arguing that it has been “preserved” is meaningless. They are right in their sense of loss. The best way to deal with this is to explain patiently that the old system cannot ever come back in the real world and that, even if it could, that it is wrong and unnatural. The DUP are not up to this in my view.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    You have to hand it to the Englezes the GFA was a masterpiece of complexity and mirrors – both sets of Padz still wrestling over who has won 10 years after the deal.

    From my republican lite perspective I see the GFA/STA as the De-Britification and the Re-Irishification of Non Iron – it feels much more like one country now – and that coupled with the fact there is no more violence will do for me.

  • dub

    Good post. Very interesting.

  • DK

    IWSMWDI: “From my republican lite perspective I see the GFA/STA as the De-Britification and the Re-Irishification of Non Iron – it feels much more like one country now – and that coupled with the fact there is no more violence will do for me.”

    Almost. I’d see it as the De-Britification and De-Irishification of NI. To be replaced by Ulsterisation. Now that sounds vaguely familiar!

  • Greenflag

    Dub,

    the reason many Unionists see only loss in the GFA arrangements is that the ability of Irish nationalism to function unfettered in the North and normal econmics to operate on the island are the very 2 things that preservation of the Union was meant to prevent ever happening, as far as Unionists were concerned. If the Union means the very opposite of that which they were used to it meaning, then arguing that it has been “preserved” is meaningless. They are right in their sense of loss.

    That is probably the best summary on the thread of why Unionists feel they have ‘lost’ as far as the GFA is concerned despite the various spins being put out re the ‘sunny side’of the GFA. Trimble IIRC had to be dragged screaming to the table at the end.

    ‘The best way to deal with this is to explain patiently that the old system cannot ever come back in the real world and that, even if it could, that it is wrong and unnatural.’

    True but I would caution that just because it would be wrong and unnnatural does not mean that some diehards will not try to ‘return’ to the good old days when Unionists were top dog and Nationalists knew their place .

    ‘The DUP are not up to this in my view.’

    I agree. Neither were the UUP .

    For now and for as long as it takes it’s ‘lid back on time’ for NI. They don’t want Irish politics at Westminster and that pertains also and more especially to Northern Ireland politics and when all is said and done can you blame them ?

  • … They don’t want Irish politics at Westminster and that pertains also and more especially to Northern Ireland politics …

    This is something that the DUP need to be especially careful of, if ever their wet dream of holding the balance of power at Westminster comes true.

    If the next Westminster election sees a party (Lab or Con) needing DUP votes to win, then they will do whatever deal needs to be done. The DUP will crow about how they are ‘central to British democracy’ and might even get a junior ministership. But they will also try to push their own agenda – pushing unwelcome Northeern Irish politics in Westminster. While in the short-term they may even get some apparent success, the long-term effects would be highly negative. As soon as their usefulness is gone, the DUP would be dumped, and the British party (of whichever persuasion) will do whatever it needs to do to ensure that such a thing never happens again. As so often happens, a DUP ‘victory’ would probably turn out to be aa Phyrric victory!.

  • “Trimble IIRC had to be dragged screaming to the table at the end.”

    Greenflag, you needn’t take Trimble’s slap down of Ahern so hard. It appears that the Irish delegation tried to pull a fast one near the end of the talks and Ahern wanted to punch Trimble when he was firmly but fairly put in his place.

  • PaddyReilly

    This is something that the DUP need to be especially careful of, if ever their wet dream of holding the balance of power at Westminster comes true.

    It would have to be an very narrow balance of power:- at present with 9 seats, one would assume that the 3 seats of the SDLP would automatically go to the other side. Given that there is a slight risk of SF showing up and adding their 5 votes to the opposition, the DUP gives a certain advantage of one vote, (assuming that it does not lose any seats) which in the Westminster system (as opposed to Irish Politics) is just not worth having. Those days are over.

  • Half Pint

    “at present with 9 seats”
    The DUP will loose North Antrim to the TUV next time out and if the party puts in a similar performance to Dromore in other seats slipping from the DUP’s grasp to the UUP as well.

  • Half Pint (Half Brain)

    Half Pint

    And that’s what its all about isn’t it Philip? Destroying Unionism and making Sinn Fein the biggest party. Good to know where TUV stands.

    Oh and by the way, when will TUV be issuing a statement condemning Cecil Calvert for accompanying the group of heavies who attacked a BBC Journalist and his crew in Stoneyford. Y’know all that law and order, no room for criminality, no room for paramilitarism rant we keep hearing from the TUV I would assume we will be hearing that Mr. Calvert has been expelled. After all does anyone doubt if it had been Prods getting intimidated out of a town and a local SF Councillor turned up to harrass the BBC Jim Allister wouldn’t be all over it? Hypocrites.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “there is a lot of twaddle here about “The Union”. Ni has never been since its inception a part of the UK in any meaningful political sense. It was designed to keep Irish politics out of Westminster. ”

    ..er, unfortunately the twaddle is for the first time being added to by you dub.The point you make is totally valid for Stormont,but not the Union, which was designed to smother the Irish problem by putting it right in the heart of UK politics- which it did while a limited franchise returned Conservatives and Liberals from Ireland.And Irishmen like the Duke of Wellington were certainly West Britons in every sense. But when the Home Rulers held the balance of power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries they distorted political development in Westminster.

    Most Unionists would still gladly settle for political obscurity as a tiny region in the UK , no special sectarian designations or balancings,no multiple layers of government, and no particular concerns about the economics. If nationalists had ever recognised the advantages of playing the regional identity card they would have advanced their community’s interest much sooner- as the civil rights movement showed, when it deservedly ran rings round the colonialist mindset of the Unionist government

    And if we were never to the fore in UK politics, so what? When will anyone ever care about Sedgefield again? It doesn’t mean it’s French.

  • Yes, I wonder how secure North Antrim will be for the DUP in the future. As Papa Doc awaits the termination of his leadership of the DUP, it seems likely that at the age of 83/84 he will want to join Mammy in the Lords, rather than go for another term in the Commons. Knowing his limitless capacity for nepotism, I suspect that he will want Junior to take his place and will still have just enough clout to get Junior nominated. Now if the DUP succeeds in removing Jim Allister from Strasbourg, that would release Allister to contest North Antrim which is, along with Upper Bann, one of the staunchest of all unionist constituencies. I reckon Allister would have the beating of Junior.

  • FYI

    The Watchman

    North Down, Strangford, East Belfast not more staunchly Unionist than North Antrim or Upper Bann surely?

    Unless by “staunch” you buy in to the idea that Roy Gillespie actually speaks for the people of the area he was elected to represent under DUP colours?

  • dub

    Darth,

    Sorry if I was not clear, i wsa using the term, “The Union”, in relation to the Union between NI and GB since 1921.

    The Unionists did not want to be decoupled from “Mainland” British politics and set up in their own little Home Rule laager, at least Carson did not want that, but that is what happened. They were not too keen in general on British politics in the 70’s and 80’s, distrusting the British govt’s long term plans. So they kept looking for devolution. And anyway the British made it clear that integration was not on, ever. You may pine for it now, but that ship is not only gone, it went in 1921. That’s why Carson detested NI as it was actually set up.

    Don’t follow your point about Nationalists and regional identity card. The Civil Rights movement rang rings around the Stormont govt precisely because they exposed its divorce from British political structures and the norms of those structures. That brought them into head on collision with Britain who, for its own reasons, could not allow integration, which was the only solution to the Civil Rights movement plea from the Deep South to the Federal Govt, to use an analogy. AS that solution was not available from the British, revolt was all that was left for the nationalist community. That revolt has now achieved a return to Stormont and isolation from British politics, but with a level playing field this time, not one community ruling with its police force over another. Thus nationalism can now exist electorally with purpose, ie it can achieve office… No wonder you long for provincial dullness throught integration.

  • CS Parnell

    It’s been the same with unionism since 1974. Too stupid to know when they have won.

    Well, long may that idiocy continue. Better that than the stupidity we had before 1972 – when they were too stupid to know how to stay as winners.

    Actually, I don’t regard myself as much of a nationalist – indeed I hate the term. I’m Irish, I believe that a 32 county Irish state makes the most sense, but I’d never kill or die for it and could and do happily survive in a UK which is at least beginning to recognise I am not a second class citizen.

    But all it takes is for a few them uns to go on about what a disgrace is it that because they constitute 55% of the population they cannot tell the rest of us when, how high and with what foot to jump with and I am out in the GPO blattering away.

  • Comrade Stalin

    dub:

    I found your contribution very intriguing, and you’ve showed be a perspective that I’ve not considered before. Thanks.

    Comrade Stalin and co, you do not seem to realise that the reason many Unionists see only loss in the GFA arrangements is that the ability of Irish nationalism to function unfettered in the North and normal econmics to operate on the island are the very 2 things that preservation of the Union was meant to prevent ever happening, as far as Unionists were concerned.

    Indeed – but the unionists lost that in 1972. It took them a while, but I think by now they realize that they will never get it back. That dream was finally put to a stop when Trimble became UUP leader.

    The natural answer to the question of how do you solve a civil war between unionists and nationalists, is that you get rid of unionism and get rid of nationalism. I see the GFA as the beginning of the end for both. How indeed can there be a unionism where there’s any kind of co-operation with the republic ? How can there be nationalism when the nationalists who oppose the state are sittng there operating it ?

  • Greenflag

    Nevin,

    ‘It appears that the Irish delegation tried to pull a fast one near the end of the talks and Ahern wanted to punch Trimble’

    An awful pity he did’nt . Apart from Trimble deserving one there would have been no GFA -mass Unionist walkout -collapse of negotiations -reintroduction of DR and Bertie would have probably won an absolute majority in the Dail Election!

    And to round it off Nevin you might now be enjoying your much wished for ‘joint sovereignty’ 🙂

    But then Bertie always had beeter manners than that ignoramus and short fused Trimble!

  • Harry Flashman

    George,

    *Did it ever occur to you that the Provos losing was a victory for Irish nationalism as a whole? The GFA is an agreement for constitutional republicanism, the “majority” republicanism on this island.*

    Actually that’s a fair point, if you want to say who were the “winners” and “losers” with the GFA then constitutional northern Nationalism was the clear victor but the victory was over the militant Republicans not Unionists.

    John Hume, the SDLP, the original NICRA won; ie reform of the Northern Ireland state to allow equality for all as opposed to the revolutionary destruction of the state a la Sinn Fein, the IRA.

    Militant Irish Republicans suffered a major defeat, reformist northern Nationalists won hands down, for the Unionists it was earnings neutral.

    So the Royal Ulster Constabulary became the Police Service of Northern Ireland just as a decade earlier the Ulster Defence Regiment became the Royal Irish Regiment, “Ulster” was out and the Ireland identity was recognised, but they didn’t become An Gardai Siochana nor Oglaigh na hEireann.

  • abucs

    ….. and despite the occassional complaint most people seem content with the way the constitutional arrangements are.

    And contentment is a very difficult thing to overcome.

    Those who try to stir things up, on either side, IMHO, will come away with much less support, which in politics, should be a big no-no.

    That’s 4 cents now. :o)

  • Ex Pat Pat

    RS,

    “what have you got to fear from a language?”

    Perhaps the way republicans use a legitimate historical language as an exclusive political tool. I grew up in the north and can (well, could) speak gaelic Irish reasonably well. I lost the desire to take it further when I saw how many of my fellow religionists were using it to wind up proddies.

  • Porteydown

    Here’s another quote from Jim’s web site.

    “It [the DUP] alone, invigorated by the influx of additional talent, has shown initiative and imagination in pushing towards durable and democratic devolution. While Trimble and his party, still smarting from defeat, flounder about and implode with on-going internal dissension, the DUP has set about leading Unionism with vigour and determination. Its roadmap for devolution shows fresh thinking and a stark contrast to the failed Belfast Agreement which the Trimble/Adams/Durkin axis tried to foist on Ulster. I look forward to the Unionist people further endorsing the DUP’s leadership and strategy in the Euro election”

    [b]Quote above was by Jim Allister on 29 March 2004.[/b]

    He’s a fine one to be quoting back anyone on a positon 10 years ago when he was saying this 4 years ago.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Portey,

    that was before the DUP’s U turn on government with the Provos.