Sammy Wilson flays Woodward

It’s that man again. A fiery Sammy Wilson let rip against an unctuous Shaun Woodward at an NI Select Committee hearing this afternoon with a host of grudges – over pressure to devolve Justice and Policing, funding Irish language programmes, “gifting” MoD sites, treading on the Executive’s prerogatives and “one-sided behaviour” generally. “You wouldn’t treat Scotland that way!” he complained. After Sammy’s tirades, you’d fear the DUP were about to declare UDI…Woodward had no doubts. About anything. Only polite hesitation for fear of rousing the natives. Devolution of justice and policing should happen now. “There’s no practical reason not to do it.” Peter Robinson’s speech at the Waterfront showed the “kind of leadership that we’ve seen since 97,” ( but not from Peter, Shaun.)

Are you exerting pressure, Secretary of State?

Momentum yes, pressure no.

Sammy Wilson’s fuse had burnt out even before the display had begun. His sharpest comment to Woodward was : How could the unionist community contemplate devolving justice and policing after the judge’s remarks about the IRA covering up evidence in the McCartney murder?

Mallusk’s finest Kate Hooey (still a Labour MP, I think, but Olympics adviser to Tory London mayor Boris Johnson and about as close to the DUP as it’s possible to get ), joined with Sammy Wilson to suggest that someone had put words into George Bush’s mouth in Belfast when he linked his backing for future US investment to the achievement of “full devolution.” Bush though ” a very clever man” wouldn’t have thought that one up on his own, now would he?

Woodward, all smarm and injured innocence (” with the greatest of respect to Mr Wilson,”) could only drive Sammy further and further up the pole, and the chairman Sir Patrick Cormack, no slouch at unctuousness himself, tried to wind up the tetchy exchanges and move onto the comparatively safe ground of fuel smuggling.

But not before Woodward had steeled himself to deliver a little lecture about value for money to the British taxpayer. There’s no point in “gifting” ( when did they make it verb?) fresh MoD sites to the Executive when they can’t make use of previous gifts, like the Maze.

Not your prerogative to champion a stadium, snarled Sammy.
I was only answering your question, wheedled Shaun.

The stadium was a purely political project and we’ll not go there, thundered Kate. And she should know about stadiums, having been sacked as Sports Minister by Tony Blair, unfairly I thought, in the terrible wrangles over trying to make the emerging new Wembley Olympics-compatible. But we’ll not go there.

Oh yes. And Gordon Brown’s gift of an extra six million quid for Irish language programme development just after Gerry Adams dropped by wasn’t political at all- it was just the same as what happens in Wales, Woodward assured us.

Pull the other one, Shaun.

But he’d been pulling it all afternoon.

As for Sammy, never fear. Peter has it all under control. Hasn’t he?

  • CS Parnell

    Here’s an idea, get a 12% corpo tax rate and a police and justice system that relentlessly pursues and jails IRA men that kill policemen and also get a government that has effectively given up on promoting the Irish language in any meaningful way. Plus you don’t need to build any new stadiums.

    Get the idea, Sammy?

    In any case about time Albion was a bit more perfidious with these spongers.

  • PeaceandJustice

    It’s about time someone from the DUP let rip. You get the impression that most of them have given up on promoting Unionist interests and are instead busy counting their money: Old UUP = New DUP.

  • Quagmire

    The problem with the DUP and unionism in general is that it wants its cake and indeed wants to eat it. We won’t be treated as a special case anymore Sammy and as Shaun Woodward has suggested, the British tax payer has to be considered as well. It seems Sammy and co want the union to remain but very much on their own selfish terms but this simply wont be the case. Over the next number of years watch for smaller budgets from London and the general squeezing of “norn Iron” as we in the wee 6 are told to pull our own weight. If Sammy and co don’t like this “interference” coming from London in our affairs, then I must ask him where has he been all this time? SF has been arguing this for ages! Cue the steady and slow transfer of responsibility for “our wee country” away from London and placed firmly in the hands of Dublin. What do people think the National Development Plan is all about for goodness sake? The Republic is investing in the north now with their eyes set firmly on the inevitable out-workings of the current process. The Republic is at hand and London will do all it can to push us in that direction.

  • DC

    To add further credence to a potential withdrawal 30 years ahead you could speculate that because out of 100% UK university provision Northern Ireland has only 2.2%, which per year a 3.6% of NI domiciled students need places. Apparently then that extra 1.4% of the brightest don’t return.

    The Catholics are outperforming Protestants in terms of higher results and get the pick of choices in NI. The other Protestants leave disproportionately to those Catholics and you begin to see the bigger picture.

    If Northern Ireland continues to focus on having unimaginative Unionists politics, then those in pursuit of innovation simply leave. The remainder fight it out for top jobs with others working in underemployment type jobs doing their best no doubt to innovate against a hell bent political system that is out of sync with there creativity, if not bust even for decent positive ideas for the future.

    Northern Ireland needs new vision, definitely. Innovation is miles away both in terms of Unionism and indeed Nationalism at the Regional helm; however, at the current rate Nationalism can sit back and play it as currently is and let the numbers do the talking so long as this dichotomy continues whereby NI is nothing but a political ethnic-baseline.

    The way our high-profile leaders act and the way in which people here talk about the place itself and in the end ultimately act leaves those with half a brain unfulfilled, hence that brain drain effect.

    Removal of the cap on universities here is the key but can life under divisive Unionism spur those more adventurous to stay on, especially if we take it that their lifestyle choice is lightyears ahead of unionist politics. Cue Iris, for example, and her homophobic remarks, and Sammy’s views on global warming, educational attainment being potentially run down by Ruane, etc.

  • Sound Bloke

    Brian,

    Where can I find out what Sammy said about the Irish language Broadcasting Fund?

  • Gareth

    DC

    An excellent post. A unionist up until very recently, I have decided that if a border poll takes place I am going to vote for unification because I would rather take my chances in the modern, sensible Republic than in stultified, perpetually de-facto DUP-controlled Northern Ireland. I may be brain drained at the minute, but I intend to come back and the way things are going at the minute doesn’t make the prospect seem too enticing.

    Actually, I often wonder what effect the previously brain drained people would have if they did all return. But there is little chance of that I suspect.

  • Turgon

    DC,

    Sorry to disagree with Gareth but yet more utter drivel. You accuse unionists of being unimaginative. I think the problem is that you do not like the ideas they put across. That may make them disagreeable to you but there is a difference. Incidentally I have never seen anything imaginative in any of your proposals, essentially because you never make any. All your posts simply reiterate your dislike of unionism which I suspect at times is simply a cover for your dislike of unionists except for your lack of intellectual honesty.

    Leaving aside politics there are plenty of imaginative ideas in Northern Ireland. One can have a vibrant and imaginative country without constant political change. I doubt you would describe China as lacking in such things yet sadly their politics seems to have little sign of change. Japan seems to be doing quite well with little political change. I could go on.

    Such things would, however offend against your favourite rant that Northern Ireland is falling apart and it is all unionists fault. Beneath all your posts we have the same insult to unionists (and indeed nationalists) that we are all thick (especially unionists) and you so clearly understand what we need. Sadly that is not democracy and in view of the complete lack of substance in any of your posts I am dubious that you have any constructive ideas.

  • indeed

    Quite the defence and so full of substance. Would you care to elaborate on these imaginative ideas that you speak off?

  • ulsterfan

    Would someone tell our nationalist/republican friends that the Celtic tiger was shot earlier this year and as the ROI is the first country to declare a recession is taking place the national development plan is on hold for at least the next ten years.
    The national debt will grow and they will be lucky to look after themslves.
    Why would they want one million unionists who will never give any allegiance to the State and we know where that road leads to.
    Unlike NI many professional have jumped from the sinking ship seeking employment—-guess where —-yes back to UK.
    History repeating itself back to the bad old days of emigration.
    Dublin do not give a damn about the people of NI unionist and nationalist alike.
    Dublin will control the pace of any movement towards a UI and will go at such a slow pace even the Shinners will be forced to forget what is all this debate about.
    Dublin has no Gra for you —sorry Gerry!!!!

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Turgon, would it be boorish to remind you again that, at present, the area in which we both reside is not a country but a region of the United kingdom. Let’s not get above ourselves. More people live in Finchley, beloved of the raver Thatcher.

  • iluvni

    I take it the Republic is still intending to honour its pledges of millions upon millions of Euros for us poor Northerners, to help us develop our infrastructure. Surely, they wouldnt let us down now, would they?

  • Oh yes. And Gordon Brown’s gift of an extra six million quid for Irish language programme development just after Gerry Adams dropped by wasn’t political at all- it was just the same as what happens in Wales, Woodward assured us.

    Pull the other one, Shaun.

    Engage brain, Brian, before sounding off on this issue. The money promised by Brown for Irish Language Television Programme Development was merely a stop gap measure following the highly questionable decision by former DUP minister Edwin Poots to axe the fund after March 2009. It was a disgraceful and highly bigoted decision by Poots.

    If this were in Wales, of course, the Irish language could expect to get a great deal more funding as approximately £120m per year in public funds is given for Welsh language TV. Yet again unionists shoot themselves in the foot with their bigotry diluting their ability to get a good deal for NI, on a par with other parts of the UK.

  • Quagmire

    Why would they want one million unionists
    Posted by ulsterfan on Jul 02, 2008 @ 11:49 PM

    Ah that old chestnut. I think you’ll find from the 2001 census that of a population of approx 1.7 mill people roughly 880,000 make up the protestant, not necessarily Unionist, section of the north. I’m sure that it is even lower than that now given it has been 7-8 years since the last census and that demographic trends point to a growing catholic and diminishing protestant population. That argument was used back in the day when there actually was 1 mill prods/unionists in the north but alas, as with most things in our modern northern society, those days have gone hence your argument which attempts to paint the picture of 1 mill angry prods is fundamentally flawed! All that is legally needed is 50+1 and nothing you do or say can change that. A united Ireland makes sense in so many ways and given time I believe that enough people within the Unionist community, like our friend Gareth, will be persuaded of the benefits of living in this new society. A new Ireland for all the people! Moreover I think you may find this link useful. Over 400,000 people in the north now claim Irish citizenship. Astonishing really considering that this has only been afforded to the people of the 6 counties in the last 10 years. Attitudes are already changing as we speak. What will it be like in another 10 years??

  • Quagmire
  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    ” I take it the Republic is still intending to honour its pledges of millions upon millions of Euros for us poor Northerners, to help us develop our infrastructure. Surely, they wouldnt let us down now, would they? ” IluvNI

    “Why would they want one million unionists who will never give any allegiance to the State ” Ulsterfan.

    That’s the point …we don’t, and why should we?

    And I am all in favour of removing that orange bit from the yoke that is our tri-colour flag.
    Ye see, (or maybe you don’t) the less we have to remind us of you lot and your quirky little archaic ways the better.

    And nor do we owe you anything either, for you can continue sponging off the English tax payer. Big Brit looking after Little Brit…..in Ireland.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Very True.

    As Quagmire points out Irish passport applications are up in NI.

    The 1 million Unionists in NI today estimate is a myth.

    “Beggars can’t be choosers” as the old saying goes!

  • Dave

    Quagmire, Gordon Brown has committed £51 billion of taxpayers’ money to Northern Ireland over ten years, so it’ll be a while before the fabled ‘pressure’ is applied on Irish taxpayers to keep ‘spongers’ in the style to which they have become accustomed via the hard work and enterprise of others. You might also discover that the pressure to cut handouts to NI comes from the Irish rather than the British Irish taxpayers, and that the money committed to developing NI’s infrastructure in the National Development Plan will be cut from it rather than the money committed the developing the Republic’s infrastructure as the need to cut public spending in the Republic due to its gloomy economic forecast hits home. Irish taxpayers have sweet FA intention of pouring money into that black hole. You’re on your own, kid.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Quagmire

    Fuck me you have gone and done it now. I bet the fantasists will now use your figures to point out the genocide of Prods. Not sure who is crazier, them or those emu’s with their head stuck in the sand shouting “nobody likes us, but we don’t care”. Apologies Turgon, but what happens when what was once significant, becomes insignificant? Pray for a miracle perhaps, a pestilence or two ;¬)

  • Brian Walker

    Sound Bloke. The transcript of the Woodward hearing will eventually appear in UK Parliament, Select Committees, Northern Ireland Select Committees. It usually takes over a week. You have to keep looking out for transcripts.

    Concubhar. Engage brain, please and open your mind beyond the search for sectarian points which don’t exist. My being sceptical about Woodward’s claim that the £6 million for Irish language development is just like Wales – i.e. was not a political gesture, does not entitle you to conclude that I’m opposed to either the grant or an Irish language policy as a whole.

  • Concubhar. Engage brain, please and open your mind beyond the search for sectarian points which don’t exist.

    I don’t think you’re right. That’s all. The axing of the ILBF by Poots was nakedly sectarian. The British are now coming in to ensure that this fund, a success story in its own right, continues and they don’t get the name of supporting the sectarian antics of the DUP. I merely pointed out to you that you should look at the full picture before sounding off on the issue.

  • DC

    “Sorry to disagree with Gareth but yet more utter drivel. You accuse unionists of being unimaginative.”

    Here’s a link to Horseman’s blog about particular ‘imaginative’ Unionist issues:

    http://ulstersdoomed.blogspot.com/2008/07/anger-management.html

    Right and here’s a link to O’Conall Street’s blog where there is some positivism coming through, but I have made a comment below it stating the problems that lie particularly with Unionism as leading up Northern Ireland:

    http://oconallstreet.com/2008/07/01/brand-belfast-launched/

    Oh and just to add, you will notice Turgon in the above post by me that I blamed both Unionism and Nationalism together, also I don’t have a problem with unionists but the lack of leadeership from conservative Unionism, hence Shaun Woodward playing it tight with you Wilson. Anyway, hope that helps

  • ulsterfan

    Quagmire

    What a load of nonsense to say 400,000 people in NI claim Irish citizenship.
    Are you basing this on the number of people applying for Irish Passports?
    I and all my family hold British and Irish passports as indeed do all my unionist friends.
    We are only using to system to pretend we are Irish when travelling abroad to certain countries.
    Please don’t read too much into these numbers because you have come to the wrong conclusion.
    I suggest you do some research and findout how many of these 400,000 are good unionist folk

  • interested

    Brian,
    You can take the man out of the BBC…..

  • DC

    “You can take the man out of the BBC…..” Another Unionist cliche, how very imaginative.

  • Brian Walker

    Concubhar. You still miss my simple point. I wasn’t “sounding off,” about the six million quid. “Pull the other one” does not imply agreement with DUP and other opposition to Irish language development. You may be right in your analysis of the British government’s motives and the context. It’s certainly worthy of detailed comment, but I wasn’t doing that, I was writing a sketch of a parliamentary hearing. Self-evidently, it neither clashes nor agrees with anything you’ve just said.

    I was simply saying that for Woodward to play down the political nature of the award was unconvincing. That’s all.

    There’s a fundamental point to make about reasoning and communication here.

    I’m finding it very odd to be ticked off by people who may well take my point but can’t see it because we come at it from different directions. And there are others who if I make a limited point of criticism, assume I sign up lock, stock and barrel to a particular camp but am concealing my allegiance.
    Remarks above about the BBC etc make the same mistake, if I understand them right.

    We have to move forward from that way of thinking.

  • Paul

    “We are only using to system to pretend we are Irish when travelling abroad to certain countries”

    hahahaha Are you ashamed to be British?

  • ulsterfan

    Paul

    Proud to be British?
    Of course I am.
    What a great tradition to inherit from my fore fathers and the land in which I live.
    I remind myself every day how fortunate I have been to live in freedom and liberty.
    I feel so sorry for those who live in other countries.
    Rule Britannia and God Save the Queen.
    Imagine the Irish government being so stupid to give the likes of me a passport.
    They have debased the value of citizenry.
    On second thoughts perhaps I should sent it back.

  • Cheap Ulster

    Ulsterfan,

    You’re just easily bought…..proud to be British….oh no wait look at the cost of the British passport …..thats it I’m Irish. Just a cheap bastard whose identity is worth the price of a passport.

  • I hate to be the one to break it to you, Ulsterfan, but if you’re living in Ulster, you’re NOT living in Britain. You’re living on the island of Ireland, which isn’t part of Britain. Northern Ireland may be part of the UK but it’s not part of Britain….

    As for your second thoughts about the Irish passport you acquired, hold on to it. You’re as entitled to it as any Irish citizen under the Good Friday Agreement.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Ulsterfan….

    “I remind myself every day how fortunate I have been to live in freedom and liberty.”

    Indeed Northern Ireland is a great place now that ‘freedom and liberty’ has been addressed correctly so that everyone can enjoy it’s full benefits!

    “Imagine the Irish government being so stupid to give the likes of me a passport.”

    How is it stupid?
    What do you mean when you say the likes of you? Do you feel somewhat inadequate?

    “They have debased the value of citizenry.”

    Again, how is that?
    Are you somewhat unworthy?
    Do you feel ashamed of something?
    Are you ashamed of yourself?

    “Rule Britannia and God Save the Queen.”

    ….and sure why not, Britain is a lovely land and the queen is getting old!

  • Quagmire

    “how many of these 400,000 are good unionist folk”
    Posted by ulsterfan on Jul 03, 2008 @ 09:29 AM

    It does not matter how many are nationalist, unionist or anything in-betweenist, the point still stands that they have all claimed their legal right to be Irish citizens.

    “We are only using to system to pretend we are Irish when travelling abroad to certain countries.”
    Posted by ulsterfan on Jul 03, 2008 @ 09:29 AM

    You really are a very strange, confusing bunch aren’t you? We always hear people bang on about the need to understand unionism. I’m afraid with statements like that, the only conclusion I can draw is that its very shallow and can easily be bought, neither of which are conducive to a solid political ideology. And what are these “certain countries” may I ask? Rule Britannia and God save the Queen and all that… until I go traveling on which case please don’t tell anyone I’m British. What a joke!! ha ha ha ha ha ha, my ribs, ha ha ha!!

  • ulsterfan

    Quagmire

    ” Shallow and easily bought” No

    Pragmatic and clever—perhaps.

    While I am proud to be British I understand some others abroad may not share this view because of their lack of understanding at best or bigotry at worst.

    Please don’t judge me too harshly and in return I shall overlook your failings.

  • George

    Ulsterfan,
    you have your reasons for having an Irish passport but what you seem to be forgetting is how others can use this fact for their own benefit.

    So don’t be surprised in a few years if Dublin is given greater influence in NI affairs because 600,000 Irish citizens live there (estimate by 2016 at current rate).

    It’s a bit like the issue of policing.

    I said a few months ago that the DUP would be hauled over the coals on the policing issue just like SF were on decommissioning, with talk of how it is holding up investment, delaying normalisation etc.

    A couple of months down the line and now we even have the President of the United States saying it.

    Equally, in a few years the numbers of Irish citizens in NI will be presented as a reason for allowing more “Dublin interference”. And you, obvioulsy unwittingly, will have played your part.

  • wasting time

    Ulsterfan

    What a great tradition to inherit from my fore fathers and the land in which I live.

    I didn’t realise that hiding your identity abroad or applying for the cheaper passport was a unionist tradition. You live and learn.

    I remind myself every day how fortunate I have been to live in freedom and liberty.
    So we know that you are definitely not Catholic, gay or an immigrant (or all of the above) then.

    Imagine the Irish government being so stupid to give the likes of me a passport.
    They have debased the value of citizenry.

    I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself. You are welcome to the family, faults and all. I’m sure you are an outstanding member of society who won’t debase our citizenship. Sure people abroad consider you Irish anyway, so I suppose this prevents any of those embarrassing arguments you might have in trying to convince them otherwise!

  • ulsterfan

    wasting time.

    Thanks for your remarks and welcome.
    Like myself I imagine you sit and type at the keyboard tongue in cheek.

  • Rory

    Turgon,

    Your riposte to DC that:

    “All your posts simply reiterate your dislike of unionism which I suspect at times is simply a cover for your dislike of unionists except for your lack of intellectual honesty.

    misses the real problem with unionism, the flaw that is proving fatal and that is that with a bit of reaching out and open honest dealing with northern catholics, unionists, particularly with the bounty offered by the post war benefits of the NHS and the education reforms gifted by the Atlee government (the application of which they first opposed because of its universality and their inability to dole it out discriminately) might have wooed and won a considerable section to the benefits of the union – to unionism if you like.

    But, oh no, being “Ulster” unionists you had to be true to your sectarian nature and blow it, maintaining the idea of the protestant boot on the catholic neck, mainly in order to appease your own oppressed protestant working class and lumpen supporters with a false sense of superiority much as the Dixiecrats fooled the redneck “poor white trash” into believing that, whatever their plight, at least they were superior to the “nigra”.

    So it is not necessarily “unionism” that was impossible to sell, it was the impossible bloody unionists!

  • The Third Policeman

    Looks like theres still a few members of the nationalist community with a bit of growing up to do to the post-GFA north. In today’s Ireland there is nothing strange about a British person from the north travelling under an Irish passport. Ulsterfan’s use of the passport doesn’t diminish his culture or heritage in one bit.

    To my fellow republicans, can we please file the ‘haha are you ashamed to be british’ nonsense under ‘Things that only serve to push unionists further away from wanting Unity.’

  • Steve

    Ulsterfan

    You remind me of the americans who like to pretend they are Canadian when they travel. They arent as welcome as americans as they are Canadians you seem of the opinion that the Irish are better recieved than the english.

    nice to see you embracing your Irishness even if it is only belatedly

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    The Third Policeman ….

    ‘Things that only serve to push unionists further away from wanting Unity.’

    Well regarding the attitude of most unionists here on Slugger it appears that they’d run a mile from anything IRISH, ie ..language, culture, weather, etc…mar sinn. And I’ve reached the conclusion that I agree with them too. So let the unionists have their beliefs. And sure why have a softly, softly approach, wooing and enticing unionists to the idea of an all-Ireland ‘unity’. Fuck it, it won’t work, for such folk view themselves as British and so therefore they are British. I’m sure they’d agree 100% with me there too. Their allegiance is to an English Queen and English government. So firstly, let’s get rid of our silly ideology of Padraig Pearse (aka the Peter Pan of Irish Republicanism) with it’s myths of an all Ireland with the NI unionists on board. The NI unionists will never budge. Secondly, let’s get that piece of orange removed from the Irish flag. Why wave a flag with a colour that’s representative of a people that has always despised their neighbours, whom they live among and at one time dominated. And sure fuck it, we don’t need to go begging for approval from anyone anymore…we have our dignity!

  • ZoonPol