SDLP suffering from Durkan’s indecision…

If there is a raging debate going on inside the SDLP it is barely obvious to those on the outside. Yesterday we noted Conall McDevitt laid down an elegant case for the SDLP going on its own. in yesterday’s Irish News, Brian Feeney argued that Mark Durkan’s ‘weakness and indecision’ as a leader is the primary political quality currently defining his party’s future:

After the SDLP’s breakfast in bed with Fianna Fail at the Carrickdale, Fine Gael finally woke up to how real the courtship has become. It issued a statement saying any closer SDLP relationship with Fianna Fail would mean a fundamental rethink of Fine Gael’s relationship with the SDLP. Whoo. Scary. Well that wouldn’t take long given that Fine Gael has had next to no relationship with the SDLP.

What there was could best be described as mutual exasperation. In fact Fine Gael in the past has shown more affinity with the NIO’s front party than northern nationalists.

Even so, Fine Gael’s shot across the bows was enough to spook Durkan into remembering that there are two other parties to be reckoned with in the south. He reckoned he’d better give them their place.

In that context Durkan’s afterthought about Labour and Fine Gael was downright insulting so both parties will correctly ignore him.

They will be well aware, even if Durkan is not, that the SDLP committee Durkan set up to consider ‘all political options’ is his admission that the SDLP is dead. The party is over. In the words of the Monty Python sketch, it has ceased to be. A political party doesn’t set up a committee to consider its own position.

Neither does Feeney think that there is any other serious suitors (there are some in Newry who will dispute at least one element of what follows):

There is no ‘Labour element’ in the SDLP. It’s a middle-class Catholic party. The party has no infrastructure in Newry. It has no members at all in most working-class districts of Belfast. We know Derry is just dying to go Fianna Fail. Besides, the SDLP leadership will not go out of business only to become the northern wing of a Stickie-led Labour Party in Dublin. They hope linking up with Fianna Fail will offer life after death to the party leaders but a link with Labour would be what Ian Paisley likes to call “a Sadducee’s grave” – no resurrection.

Finally, he cites a knotty, but not necessarily insurmountable problem:

What’s holding up a decision, apart from Durkan’s inability to act decisively? Timing is one issue. The right moment to announce a FF/SDLP candidate for Europe next year but one who won’t go down in humiliating defeat to Sinn Fein on the first outing. Secondly, since Fianna Fail will not contest British elections what on earth will become of the SDLP’s Westminster seats? Alasdair McDonnell has long been an ardent advocate of Fianna Fail but he couldn’t call himself a Fianna Fail candidate in the next British general election.

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  • Garibaldy

    I don’t think Durkan has been indecisive so much as guily of making the wrong decisions. Wrong in forcing out almost the entire old guard in one go most spectacularly, costing the SDLP Assmebly seats and status, but there have been other mistakes. Some successes too however. The On the Runs/collusion issue, and the last Westminster election. Margaret Ritchie has also been the right choice. Though I agree with Feeney that the FF merger/alliance is the only viable option.

  • Briso

    “We know Derry is just dying to go Fianna Fail.”

    That made me laugh. It’s completely true I believe, and I could envisage 40% of SF voters would go too, first time out.

  • URQUHART

    You’re right to point out his mistake on Newry – in fact it’s probably one of the best areas in the North and is, judging by attendance at the Carrickdale event, very close to his thinking in the rest of the piece.

    Uncomfortable reading for MD and some others, but it’s pretty close to the mark I’d say.

  • An Lochlannach

    I don’t always agree with Feeney but I’m glad to see someone else was stunned by Mark Durkan’s approach to Fine Gael. The issue of Southern parties organising in the North was raised on RTE’s Questions and Answers and dissed very publically by Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes T.D. (with a snide reference to Fianna Fáil being wlecome to go north in search of ‘their Fourth Green Field’). Doesn’t anyone tell Mark Durkan anything? Don’t SDLP strategists have television sets?

  • Marcus Fartlighterus

    It is a good point about McDonnell. I mean he clearly he to my mind he is mad luckin into Fianna Fáil – what then, a Fianna Fáil man taking the oath of alliegence to the British Monarch.

    I cant see Cowan going for that.

    I agree that the SDLP has little in the way of a Labour element, but there may be a younger SDLP type not currently in view.

    As to Fine Gael. I think it is clear that that would be madness altogether. I mean would not Northern Nationalists voting for Fine Gael be a contraction in terms?

    I think there are SDLP people who will continue as SDLP people though I think that their Derry stronghold seems likely to be lost to Fianna Fáil. I think this will adversely affect Sinn Féin’s vote in Derry but outside of Derry I think Sinn Féin have everything to gain with this one.

    Very interesting anyway but strange to see a party with a significant vote and steady base seeking to destroy itself in this manner.

  • Hogan

    What is all this stuff about McDonnell mad about a FF merger? Can anyone point to anything he’s said/done recently that would give you that impression? What is this based on?

    The most you can say is that he is playing his cards close to his chest, probably a clever strategy.

    As for Derry? The SDLP vote in all rural and border areas will be vulnerable to a FF competitor in the market.

    The urbanite electorate with liberal-lefty aspirations will be more resilient but will come eventually.

  • J Kelly

    I have been saying this for years Mark Durkan is very intelligent but lack street sense he, talks too long, talks over the heads of the punter, beats the detail to death, gets annoyed and lets it be seen when he is attack by opponents and he couldn’t make a decision to save his life. He has destroyed the SDLP in Derry by indecision which has allowed factions to grow. Its no secret that he and Pat Ramsey virtually hate each other all down to Durkans indecision back in 2003.

    Fianna Fail will just wipe the SDLP to one side when they decide the time is right. But can Fianna fail replicate their structure from the 26 to the 6 it will be hard.

  • Marcus Fartlighterus

    Hogan,

    My impression stem from an interview he did on Radio Ulster – maybe I am wrong but.

    I still thin the oath is an Irish and may be a bigger issue for Fianna Fáil that many SDLP people think.

  • Mick Fealty

    JK,

    “But can Fianna fail replicate their structure from the 26 to the 6 it will be hard.”

    Million dollar question. I suggest it depends on their capacity to roll out a quality bridgehead. For that, they will need to attract the youthful talent that’s been steadily heading in SF’s direction, not just the SDLP folk.

  • Briso

    what then, a Fianna Fáil man taking the oath of alliegence to the British Monarch.

    I cant see Cowan going for that.

    They’ve already ruled that out. No FF people in Westminster, full stop. They won’t even contest the election and then boycott.

  • Alan

    Was someone suggesting that McDonnell is likely to get in again in S Belfast?

  • Marcus Fartlighterus

    “They’ve already ruled that out. No FF people in Westminster, full stop. They won’t even contest the election and then boycott.”

    Now I am confused.

    So if there is a merger what happens to the SDLP’s westminister seat(s)? – maybe this question is irrelevent??

    I mean are they going to un-take the oath – can you still get hung for that?

  • Briso

    They definitely will never stand under an FF banner. Whether they would require sitting members to apply to the Chiltern 100’s in the event of a merger, I doubt it, but I actually don’t know.

  • J Kelly

    Fianna Fail will just wipe the SDLP to one side when they decide the time is right.

    Rubbish. We had Fianna Fail in the North before in the form of the IIP and they melted down after SF entered the fray.

    What credibility have Fianna Fail in the North? They have a few support groups that need quality assured due to the poor quality of recruits.

    I favour merger with FF but not because they are going to wipe us out. It is the most appropriate direction for the SDLP to go – the All Ireland direction, but FF will need to learn their place or it won’t work.

  • Gregory

    “Was someone suggesting that McDonnell is likely to get in again in S Belfast? ”

    I liked Martin better. Will they help you, if no, support somebody else.

    G.

  • stewart

    “They’ve already ruled that out. No FF people in Westminster, full stop. They won’t even contest the election and then boycott.”
    Now I am confused.
    _____________________________________________
    Its pretty straightforward. The options Fianna Fail Northern Committee are examining are:

    1. Do nothing
    2. Find a “Strategic Partner”
    3. Go it alone

    If they intended to do nothing they wouldn’t have set the committee up. They can’t replicate their structure in the South or contest Westminster elections – so that rules out points 1 & 3.
    Since Fianna Fail won’t contest Westminster elections they need a strategic partner. Dermot Ahern has repeatedly highlighted this option and Bertie’s speech at the FF-SDLP breakfast was in keeping with this. I accept the oath is a bigger issue for Fianna Fáil that many SDLP people think, but Fianna Fail can let the strategic partner take the oath without sullying their consciences. That may not be quite what Alisdair McDonnell wanted in his BBC Radio Ulster interview last year, but he can be linked to Fianna Fail and still go to Westminster (if he can hold his seat).

    There are SDLP people who will continue as SDLP people and I think a strategic partnership is how they will keep their Derry stronghold onside and keep most of the rest of the party together. How Fianna Fail entices some new hungry candidates onside in such a context I am unsure of.

    Conall McDevitt’s description of an SDLP is of a party that cannot neatly break into they southern party system. It is as he describes it a party of Fianna Failers and broad Social Democrats. Perhaps the SDLP should rebrand themselves “Fianna Fail-The Social Democratic Party” to reflect this reality. That way they can form a strategic partner to Fianna Fail and keep their link to other Social Democratic Parties.

  • USA

    Drawing on previous discussion on this topic it seemed logical to have FF field candidates fight assembly (local Irish elections) campaigns with SDLP candidates standing in Westminster elections. This way FF candidates avoid the “oath” issue, but are in government in both jurisdictions. This would also be a threat to SF. It would also maintain SDLP infrastructure and activists to fight Westinster elections and support local assembly FF/SDLP election candidates. Throw in a health dose of FF money and you have a plan, maybe.

  • austin

    If political talent is the measure by which a leader is elected, then Ritchie should get the job. As a comparitive outsider to the South Down area, I was impressed by the manner in which the slick local operation (ran by Ritchie and not McGrady) easily beats the Shinners hands down.
    One of the few astute decisions made by Durkan for the benefit of his Party was allowing Ritchie to go forward as the SDLP Minister-right for the Party but very wrong for Durkan’s aspiration to be the long-term leader of the SDLP..

  • USA

    This way FF candidates avoid the “oath” issue, but are in government in both jurisdictions

    One would hope that the principal way for FF to avoid the oath issue is to grow up a little and accept that it is no longer a major issue.

    Didn’t their leader address both Houses of Parliament a few months ago? We’re not at war any more.

  • Marcus Fartlighterus

    John,

    I would suggest that if a member of the party which effectively makes up the government in the ROI swears allgience to the Queen of England there might be a slight problem?

    Fianna Fail owe their existence fundamentally due to the fact that they originally refused to bow to the Queen.

    Now perhaps they copuld once again declare it an empty formula but …. What I am talking about. It is not going to happen.

    Its loyalty to the Irish constition and the President or to the Bristish Queen, it is one or the other, we can waffle about identity all day long but I think that one is back and white.

  • Gregory

    “Fianna Fail owe their existence fundamentally due to the fact that they originally refused to bow to the Queen.”

    the King even, they broke with SF, even the IRA boke with SF, several times, darn it, who the heck were SF,

    a shower of austro-hungarian monarchist opportunists, thinking they could tell the OnhE what to do, bloody eejits.

    Thy kind of did take the oath. Scandal following about rent for lodge of Governor general etc.

    Why don’t they just pet a corgi this time?

    G.

  • Marcus

    Fianna Fail owe their existence fundamentally due to the fact that they originally refused to bow to the Queen.

    So why fight elections inside the United Kingdom, not to put it bluntly, if you are not aware of the duality of identity.

    Attending Westminster is about representation, which was the basis of many early SDLP leaders entry into politics – to end the sterile wasted years of the old Nationalist Party and of republicanism generally.

    The SDLp will never go for abstention. It goes against the grain of everything they believe in.

    And I understand that Eamon De Valera signed the Oath, albeit in a darkened room. Are we all not now a bit more mature after 30 years of violence to conclude that these things are relics of by-gone eras and what is important is that people are represented.

  • Marcus Fartlighterus

    John,

    Then I think you rule out the supsumation of the SDLP into FF.

    FF are coming north to take on SF, it would hardly make sense for them to surrender such on a principle as alligence to the crown to do that – how would they sell that to their supporters in the south?

    How would they stop Fine Gael questioning this dual loyality. You mentioned identity, identity is nothing to do with it.

  • Marcus

    FF are coming north to take on SF, it would hardly make sense for them to surrender such on a principle as alligence to the crown to do that – how would they sell that to their supporters in the south?

    The same way that they sold there irredentist united Ireland or nothing policy that disappeared in recent years with the advent of the acceptance of the consent principle. This is the party that opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement and insisted that the New Ireland Forum had a unitary state as the number one option.

    Now they have come to accept the SDLP position on the constitutional question. So why not on Westminster while there is a divided island.

    And they’re not coming North to defeat Sinn Fein, only to keep them out of the South.

  • Brendan, Belfast

    The problem for Conall is that he places so much faith in those elements of politics which do not matter 1% to the ordinary NI citizen or voter.

    How many people have heard of the PES? How many now what it means or which local party belongs to it? How many within the south Belfast chattering classes realise that belonging to the PES matters not a damn when you don’t even have a seat at the European table?

    This element of his argument serves to show just how flawed his argument is. It is an argument based on high level politics, and carries no weight on the streets where the SDLP claim to be representative.

    I’d say it goes down well with a nice Pinot though…..

  • Patrick Stephens

    In Conall’s defence he does chair the largest branch in the SDLP and one which has grown it’s vote over the past decade.

    All politics needs an ideological basis otherwise it is simply populism and reactionary.

    I think there is a big opportunity for a progressive party in the North and I believe FF would love to be able to call themselves social democrats. The SDLP are quite different from any party on this island. They are proudly Irish and progressive and do not carry any bagage from the past. That could well turn out to be a very attractive thing to other parties.

    I am glad Conall is sticking up for the SDLP and showing some leadership on the issue.

  • Joe Holt

    Why is the SDLP regarded as the only ‘Strategic Partner’ for Fianna Fail? Recent relevations regarding dealing with property developers in north Antrim would tick most of the boxes for the DUP

  • Comrade Stalin

    I find the SDLP-FF Anschluss fascinating. Bring it on!

  • picador

    Brian Feenet for North Belfast on an abstentionist ticket. Ex-stoop. Republican. Dodds – toast!

  • picador

    Brian Feeney for North Belfast on an abstentionist ticket. Ex-stoop. Republican. Dodds – toast!

  • LURIG

    ANY party that allows talented politicians like Brian Feeney & Martin Morgan to walk away deserves to be held up to total ridicule and ALL the criticism coming it’s way. These were 2 people who got their hands dirty in nationalist inner city North Belfast and the SDLP let them go. THAT WAS SHOCKING and many who voted for them simply stopped after that. They are indeed a conservative rural middle class party and appear quite happy to remain so. Fianna Fail & the SDLP are natural allies with a mutual constituency, big business & rich farmers but like other things in nature all is NOT what it seems. Fianna Fail do NOT need the SDLP but the SDLP DO need Fianna Fail. When the merger happens it will be a complete take over lock, stock and barrel.

  • Lurig

    Fianna Fail do NOT need the SDLP but the SDLP DO need Fianna Fail. When the merger happens it will be a complete take over lock, stock and barrel.

    I think you’re right but in the sense that Hong Kong was a complete takeover lock, stock and barrel for the Chinese. It was the bitterest pill they ever swallowed. Bring it on. Bring Social Democracy to a natural country for social democracy. Like the Chinese swallowing capitalism, Ireland will swallow social democracy.

  • Christina Aguilera

    So Fianna Fail wouldn’t take the oath? Ha, ha! They would sell their sole to the British Queen if they thought it would get them into power! Sir Tom Kelly, Fianna Fail’s biggest fan, has already lead the way!

  • Christina Aguilera

    I should have said ‘soul’ in my last post instead of ‘sole’. It must have been a Freudian slip as I was talking about people who are under the British jackboot!

  • Christina

    There’s none so enslaved by the British than those who spent their lives using the methods of the British, violence, and achieved nothing.

    The good thing about the SDLP is that they’re uniquely Irish and international at once.

    They are the party of non-violence, not the violence that founded empires, great and small.

    You should celebrate as this is a great time to be Irish. Have a toast to Social Democracy, the foundation stone of a New Ireland.

  • the original sam maguire

    Now, I’m far from politically astute but for the life of me I can’t see how FF benefit from any of this. It’ll take a generation’s worth of work and re-organisation to compete with SF anywhere outside of the current SDLP strongholds of Foyle and South Down, even in 2011 a SDLP/FF amalgamation wouldn’t be the largest party in any of the new 11 councils. Is playing second fiddle to SF in the North really going to do them any favours in the State?

  • Charlie Drake

    For some nationalists/republicans, anything that opposes Sinn Fein’s monoply of power in our areas is to be welcomed.

    Few, outside nationalist areas, have any real understanding of the power/nepotism/cronyism that Sinn Fein exerts on peoples’ lives. The reality is: if you’re in the club, if you, ‘kick with the right foot’ (remember that?), it’s happy days. If you’re a ‘left-footer’, the dole awaits.

    So, for some, any nationalist iniatative that breaks this stranglehold would be welcomed.

    The SDLP are incapable of re-gaining the ground they lost to Sinn Fein.

    That forces the question: is an SDLP/Fianna Fail coalition capable of re-gaining the ground lost to Sinn Fein?

    Absolutely. It would work.

    Fianna Fail have the capability to take the SDLP to a new plane – if the SDLP are big enough to grasp the opportunity.

    Alternatively, if the SDLP remained myopic and refused a Fianna Fail-inspired coalition offer, then they would be wiped out, once and for all at the polls.

    Fianna Fail will flourish, nonetheless.

    Sinn Fein will also get burned by Fianna Fail’s intervention. Many of those who vote for Sinn Fein now, do so, because of the inherent weakness of the SDLP, and the apparent strength of the Unionist parties.

    Fianna Fail would offer the perfect balance: a real All-Ireland deal, that no-one else could replicate.

  • the original sam maguire

    “The SDLP are incapable of re-gaining the ground they lost to Sinn Fein.

    That forces the question: is an SDLP/Fianna Fail coalition capable of re-gaining the ground lost to Sinn Fein?

    Absolutely. It would work.

    Fianna Fail have the capability to take the SDLP to a new plane – if the SDLP are big enough to grasp the opportunity.

    Alternatively, if the SDLP remained myopic and refused a Fianna Fail-inspired coalition offer, then they would be wiped out, once and for all at the polls.

    Fianna Fail will flourish, nonetheless.

    Sinn Fein will also get burned by Fianna Fail’s intervention. Many of those who vote for Sinn Fein now, do so, because of the inherent weakness of the SDLP, and the apparent strength of the Unionist parties. ”

    Tell me why?

    In theory that’s fine – but I’d suggest that’s a situation where it’s more hope than expectation, The Northern Nationalist electorate have more than enough cop on to see through the political expediency of FF trying to bate SF into submission in their own back yard. FF will have to play a long term game if they’re to have any hope of being a force this side of the border – SF are too entrenched in FST, MU, WT, N&A;and WB for FF to have any impact in the short to medium term

  • Hogan

    Original Sam

    The Northern Nationalist electorate will vote for the biggest cock on the block if they think it will deliver a United Ireland, always have, always will and don’t fool yourself otherwise.

    Think i’m wrong? why else would they reject those who opposed the murdering of their neighbours sons in ditches, and reward those who’s eyes were looking through cross-hairs?

    SF have stolen the SDLP’s clothes for years, Durkan whines about it ad-nauseum, his favourite soundbite is ‘if you want to know what SF policy will be in ten years time look at the SDLP’s now’.

    The question for Durkan is does he have the political nous and courage to do to SF what they did to the SDLP, copy them. Govt. North & South = Harmonising regimes = Closer to UI.

    SF sold the package and Nationalists broke down the doors to get at the sales early, only problem was the Republic’s electorate knew snake-oil men when they saw them.

  • JD

    The SDLp will never go for abstention. It goes against the grain of everything they believe in.

    And I understand that Eamon De Valera signed the Oath, albeit in a darkened room.
    ____________________________________________
    John

    Fianna Fail understand this and as a result they are quite content to let the SDLP go to Westminster for them. Remember Fianna Fail are not talking about abstentionism at Westmintser – they won’t contest Westminster elections. Fianna Fail will let someone else do it for them.

    Its the 21st century version of DeV’s “empty formula” description of the oath. I think Stewart’s point about the SDLP rebranding as “Fianna Fail-Social Democratic Party” is a good one. FF-SDP would be known as “Fianna Fail” to the man on the street but could still be the PES affiliate that the middle class lefties want to stay in. FF-SDP could go to Westminster while Fianna Fail in Dublin could claim they don’t send MPs to Westminster or take and oath to the Queen.

    “Fianna Fail-Social Democratic Party” as a strategic partner would be classic Fianna Fail double think – being all things to all men. Abstaining from Westminster and fully participating in it all at once. Very much Fianna Fail’s pragmatic republicanism.

  • kensei

    the PES affiliate that the middle class lefties want to stay in.

    Christ. I repeat: no one cares.

  • JD

    the PES affiliate that the middle class lefties want to stay in.

    Christ. I repeat: no one cares.

    Kensei

    Perhaps I was too subtle – I think that was implicit in what I said!

    That said I still stand over Fianna Fail’s capacity to be all things to all men and on “abstention”

    JD

  • eire

    the main reason ff was thinking of joining sdlp was because dermot ahern, ireland’s erstwhile foreign minister and aspirant leader, had been shafted by bertie ahern into that wasteland of ambition the department of foreign affairs. how else could dermot ahern whose seat is close to the border maintain a hope that he might one day lead the soldiers of corruption than by pursuing the pet project of the proposed merger. Dermot Ahern now will continue to pursue it, but it will never wash and he is finished politically. BTW? Alastair McDonnell is distributing literature in south belfast which does not mention the sdlp on it once.

  • ANY party that allows talented politicians like Brian Feeney & Martin Morgan to walk away deserves to be held up to total ridicule and ALL the criticism coming it’s way. These were 2 people who got their hands dirty in nationalist inner city North Belfast and the SDLP let them go.

    Couldn’t let this comment by Lurig go unchallenged. I grew up in the Oldpark ward in Feeney’s and Morgan’s heyday and (coincidentally live within a few hundred metres of Feeney, Morgan and Maginness all these days). I have no gripe with Marty Morgan at all, who was prepared to get his hands dirty, but Feeney? I never saw the man except when he was collecting his children from St. Malachy’s, the only time he was ever seen near the New Lodge unless there was a TV camera in the vicinity.

    Talk is cheap. Feeney talks real purty but delivery was never his strong point. And not that it’s my role in life to defend the SDLP, since he left politics he seems to spend his time slagging off the Stoops with the implication that they’d have been sooooo much better off if only they’d have done what he said. And in case you think I’m just being bitchy, here are the SDLP votes in Oldpark since the ward was created, which given all else that has happened in NI in the past 23 years hardly bespeaks Feeney’s vote-getting prowess:

    2005 (Maginness) 15.9%, 2001 (Morgan/Connolly) 19.1%, 1997 (Morgan/O’Hara) 16.3%, 1993 (Morgan/Prendiville) 15.8%, 1989 (Feeney) 18.4%, 1993 (Morgan/Prendiville) 15.8%, 1985 (Feeney/Hunter) 16.1%

    The SDLP and/or FF will never get anywhere by navel-gazing, but that’s what they’re going to spend the next three years doing, before they get hit by a landmine in the 2011 elections. Pity, but still, non-sectarian progressives of whatever stripe will always find a warm welcome in Alliance.

    Oh, yes, and Alasdair disowning the SDLP on his literature… what could he be thinking!

  • Hogan

    It always helps when people on slugger have a fucking clue what they’re on about.

    I received said McDonnell literature, if you look carefully i’m sure it will tell you who paid for it i.e. a Westminster budget, that means party political has to stay out of it. Its a means by which the local MP communicates with his constituents.

    Now the SDLP might be many things but they are sticklers when it comes to respecting protocol’s and administrative restraint.

    But if you wolves want to howl “CONSPIRACY!!!” at the moon don’t let me interupt.

    Eire i don’t know about but Sammy i expected more from a seasoned sluggerite like you?

  • Confused

    Re literature from Alistair McDonnell – I received this at two addresses, one in South Belfast, and one in East Belfast.

    I know in the past I may have been expected to vote twice, but surely not for the same candidate in different areas.

    Sorry, I forgot about the Robert McCartney scenario

  • I received said McDonnell literature, if you look carefully i’m sure it will tell you who paid for it i.e. a Westminster budget, that means party political has to stay out of it. Its a means by which the local MP communicates with his constituents.

    I’ve done these reports too, and if you pay for part of them yourself you can make some party political comment, and as far as I know it’s customary at the very least to pay for a small part of it to include the party logo. At least in my experience.

    I received this at two addresses, one in South Belfast, and one in East Belfast.

    That isn’t suspicious – Royal Mail delivery areas don’t match constituency boundaries, so you always get some bleed over at the edges. Was the East Belfast address in BT6 or BT8 by any chance?

  • Where’s the talent??

    In response to the comment, by the usually accurate Mick Fealtey, I have to ask him where all this so-called young talent in Sinn Fein is supposed to be? I’ve looked about for it all over and can’t find any. We have Daithi McKay in the Assembly who is famous for being the Baby of the House and not much else. All these young Shiiners do nothing more than read their pre-prepared scripts- badly. They strike me as being second rate actors more than the second rate politicians they claim to be.

  • Briso

    Can I just point out the bloody obvious? If the oath were removed tomorrow, Fianna Fail would not take seats at Westminster. The natural party of goverment of Ireland will NEVER NEVER NEVER take seats at Westminster for reasons which have nothing to do with Northern Ireland, the oath, or the Gods of Irish Republican history.

  • There have been multinational parties before, Briso. The Greens claim to be, and before you scream they aren’t a natural party of government, what about the Ba’ath Party?

  • Gregory

    “For some nationalists/republicans, anything that opposes Sinn Fein’s monoply of power in our areas is to be welcomed.”

    It is paternalistic for the most part, one can take the pee out of them quite openly,

    I think the Squinter thing was different because it was without humor, it was a cold stab at Big Brother No1

    It is a monopoly of power translated via the IRA to SF and a host of community groups.

    If one had a public meeting about chewing gum on sidewalks, SF would probably want to be on the panel in case it migrated to something else.

    Every vote not tossed at SF, is a step in the right direction, not voting has a lot to be said for it.

    G.

  • Briso

    The natural party of goverment of Ireland will NEVER NEVER NEVER take seats at Westminster for reasons which have nothing to do with Northern Ireland, the oath, or the Gods of Irish Republican history.

    I thought FF had grown up. But you think not.

  • Dave

    John, there is a good reason why directors of PepsiCo Inc. don’t sit on the board of directors of the The Coca-Cola Company, and it has nothing to do with immaturity.

  • Gregory

    “John, there is a good reason why directors of PepsiCo Inc. don’t sit on the board of directors of the The Coca-Cola Company, and it has nothing to do with immaturity. ”

    Pepse and Coca Cola use to shoot at each other in Asia. It is the real thing.

    Coca-Cola ran a competition asking several schools to come up with a strategy for distributing Coke coupons to students. The prize was $500. Greenbriar High School in Evans, Georgia went so far as to call for an official Coke Day, with every one wearing branded T-shirts and listening to the lectures of visiting company executives. 19-year-old Mike Cameron, (wonder what he’s doing now…), was discovered to be wearing a Pepsi shirt, and was promptly suspended.

    http://everything2.com/node/911239

    I believe that.

  • Dave

    FF/SDLP MPs will never be the directors or ministers of a British government unless they want to be just because they sit in Westminster.

  • Briso

    Posted by Sammy Morse on May 09, 2008 @ 05:48 PM
    There have been multinational parties before, Briso. The Greens claim to be, and before you scream they aren’t a natural party of government, what about the Ba’ath Party?

    Good one Sammy! 🙂 Just in case your serious, do you think Biffo intends to take Saddam and al-Assad as an example? Remember, the danger is not in being boss in both countries, but in being boss in only the smaller one and tiny in the bigger one.

  • Dave

    John, you can’t ride two horses – which is especially difficult if both horses are travelling in opposite directions. The United Kingdom and Ireland are two separate, independent, sovereign and competing states. There can be no conflict of interest. So, even if FF enter the devolved administration in NI, they must do so as a separate party from FF in Ireland, operating under strict codes of conduct and protocols to ensure that secrets of the Irish government, cabinet confidentiality, information about the strategies of the agencies of the state, FDI proposals, etc, etc, are not passed to those who are in the service of the British government i.e. in Her Majesty’s devolved administration (and, indeed, vice versa).

  • Dave

    In regard to the oath: the SDLP can swear an oath of allegince to Her Majesty’s but no party of government in Ireland must ever do that.

  • Dave

    This is politics not the secret service. Get a grip!

  • USA

    Dave,
    The SDLP are a party of government in Ireland. The have one minister in the Northern Assembly, M. Ritchie.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Dave,

    The SDLP take an affirmation, not an Oath of Allegiance.

  • Gregory

    “So, even if FF enter the devolved administration in NI, they must do so as a separate party from FF in Ireland, operating under strict codes of conduct and protocols to ensure that secrets of the Irish government, cabinet confidentiality, information about the strategies of the agencies of the state, FDI proposals, etc, etc, are not passed to those who are in the service of the British government i.e. in Her Majesty’s devolved administration (and, indeed, vice versa). ”

    Don’t we have that already, I mean if the UUP (as a political party) wanted to see Carmel Hanna’s DEL papers, could Sir Reg Empey get access to them? I don’t think so, leaving aside collegiate solidarity, it may just not be possible.

  • Gregory

    “This is politics not the secret service. Get a grip! ”

    I think you will find that Ruane would never be briefed as to the foundation documents for teacher vetting because, they relate to the security services, amongst other things.

    Finucane, Nelson etc. even Bloody Sunday, may amount to less in the over-all scheme of secrets than stuff that could have the NASUEWT out on street across Britain.

    Or to have to admit that Margaret Hodge Syndrome multiplied by a hundred, is the glad tidings of what we are talking about.

    Use your noggin, why spend 400 million bucks on a vetting system that doesn’t ban sex offenders?

    It is Britain’s dirtiest secret.

    G.