Freudian slip

The News Letter’s city edition gave Alasdair McDonnell MP a new position today, Deputy Leader of the DUP. However, considering the manner and tone of the attack on Sinn Fein the sub-editor could be forgiven for the error. McDonnell argued:

Peter Robinson and the DUP are running rings around Sinn Fein in the Executive, blocking them at every turn on every major issue. So Gerry Adams has resorted to the politics he knows so well, the politics of the solo run and side deal…The fact is that the Sinn Fein project has hit a brick wall in the form of Robinson. We are wasting a lot of time politically over issues like policing and justice which Sinn Fein did not nail down at St Andrews. It’s quite clear Sinn Fein was outmaneourved by the DUP at St Andrews and Sinn Fein have been paying the price ever since.

His comments also highlight the problems with an instrumental (partial) rather than constitutive (full) approach to deal-making. An instrumental agreement is easier to achieve but harder to implement and a constitutive vice versa. With the Northern Ireland process into its second decade it has become a classic case of the flaws of instrumentalism. Maybe leaving issues outstanding at St Andrews was not such a wise decision.

  • ulsterfan

    I read these remarks earlier today and thought they were a declaration of war on SF incompetency and must surely open a debate between them and SDLP.
    If his views are a true reflection of SF poor negotiating position it shows the great divide which exists in nationalism.

  • cynic

    SF’s problem is simple. No more guns and bombs and no gullible Blair desperate for a deal / a place in history = a harder life.

    It’s much more difficult to bullshit your neighbours who have a real interest in the outcome.

    Threaten to collapse the Assembly all you like Gerry. It’s all hollow. So now let the real politics begin.

  • Dave

    Exactly, Cynic. Without Devolution, what political stage would Gerry and his ilk have to prance around on? None, they’d be busy ripping British symbols out of council buildings in order to attract media attention. The Shinners cannot exist without their beloved internal settlement and they’ll cling on to Stormont with the same tight grip of the other unionists.

    Anyway, it’s sweet that the SDLP are taunting the Shinners for being outplayed by the DUP when the SDLP were played for willing fools by the Shinners, forsaking their own political party in order to advance the local political ambitions of the Shinners.

  • 6countyprod

    I’m sure Jerry and SF are pining for the good old days when Trimble and the UUP were negotiating for Unionism.

    It’s nice to see the SDLP developing a little bit of a backbone. Wonder how long it will last?

  • Eireannach Saolta

    The same usual drivel coming out of the Newsletter.
    It seems hooked on publishing DUP propaganda. While there is truth in this analysis the mutual veto is a double edged sword. In the next election the SDLP will more than likely be more or less wiped out due to their incompetence. Which will then pave the way for a Sinn Féin first minister. The DUPs actions dont make good “real politik” unless of course they want to go back to the bad old days

  • Quagmire

    “the Sinn Fein project has hit a brick wall in the form of Robinson.”

    And what may I ask is the SDLP project Alistair? As a nationalist party, surely the SDLP’s strategy is something similar to SF’s? Surely they both share the same aspirations in terms of the re-unification of this Island? What would the SDLP do different if they were the leading nationalist party? The problem with Mr Mc Donnell and the SDLP in general is that they still haven’t got over the fact that they play second fiddle to SF within the nationalist community and fourth fiddle in the executive. The only brick wall the SDLP should worry about is that of the nationalist electorate. A brick wall that they have failed to penetrate in successive elections and I’m afraid pointlessly attacking a fellow nationalist party in this manner, especially when there are more pressing issues such as loyalist non-decommissioning, will do very little to endear them to the majority of nationalism. I thought they couldn’t stoop any lower, but I stand corrected.

  • paul kielty

    Alastair Mcdonnell has long been out of touch with nationalist/republican thinking. His acceptance of the deputy lord mayorship some years ago, and advising the community off the lower ormeau road, to take themselves off to Donegal over the twelth, just two examples of this.

    Most of what he says has more to do with personal advantage rather political principal.

    This is merely an attempt to squeeze an extra couple of hundred votes from sinn fein at the next GE. He relies heavily on a small, but significant, bout of tactical voting, maybe 1000-1500, from sinn fein voters.

    He better be careful not to antagonise them too much, especilly with the DUP so close in south Belfast.

  • joeCanuck

    So now let the real politics begin

    As it always should have been.
    Both sides are somewhat “naked” now and if they don’t or can’t work together, then they’re both out on their ears. For another 10 or even 20 years I would guess.


    I wouldn’t start bleating about others Alisdair, the SDLP has been in hibernation since John Hume & Seamus Mallon called it a day. What’s your leader called again, for all we hear from him? The fact is that the SDLP remains a middle class rural party totally out of touch with much of urban nationalism. The party has given up on working class nationalists as it is virtually NEVER seen in these areas. David Attenborough might start to study the SDLP soon as an endangered species in Belfast. In North Belfast the SDLP allowed two very capable politicians in Brian Feeney & Martin Morgan to walk away from the party AND they took away MANY people who voted for the party. They understood these areas but for WHATEVER reason they walked away so what does that tell you. HOWEVER Alisdair is 100% correct about Sinn Fein. The DUP has played them like a fiddle and it has been a walk in the park for Robinson, Campbell and Dodds. What did Gerry & Martin expect? Unionists have been given back their own wee Protend Parliament and once again they treat it as their own wee fifedom ‘FOR PRODS ONLY’. The Orange Dalmation hasn’t changed it’s sectarian spots NOR it is likely to do so. The Shinners & SDLP are the monkeys ONCE AGAIN to the Unionist organ grinder. They are as flaccid, weak, ineffective and incapable as the tired old Nationalist party of the previous Stormont.

  • DasKapital

    I must CONFESS to having a SLIGHT aversion to your use of CAPITALS lurig. They always make me burst out LAUGHING when I read your posts and I just CAN’T take them SERIOUSLY.


    EMPHASIS DasKapital EMPHASIS old chap. It’s better than SHOUTING!!!!!!

  • Alistair’s analysis may be accurate re SF. Yet he knows that his time at Westminster – as an MP, no doubt a lordship beckons – is running out as the DUP snap at his heels in South Belfast.

    The SDLP resembles a collection of political fiefdoms more than it does a political party and it seems now it is in the business of trying to find a political sponsor from south of the border to save its hide north of the border. I’m all for United Ireland politics but I wonder which party the SDLP will end up with – Fianna Fáíl or Labour or FG or the PDs -the only option I’d rule out is the Socialist Party!

    I think SF have blundered through their first year in the Executive with the DUP – but then again the DUP has already lost two ministers with questions hanging over their political probity, Paisley Senior and Junior, and had a reshuffle due to the incompetence of their ministerial team, particularly Edwin Poots, was showing, and have the misfortune to have a First Minister’s wife who is challenged on the equality front. SF could be a great deal better – but they could be a great deal worse too.

  • outsidegawkingin

    Whats the chances that Robinson is posturing, all this hold up at the executuive will appear on election lit next year about how tough they have been on the Shinners. Let us kow just what victories you are winning Robbo instead of all the tough rumours that the back room are leeking

  • When is the search party for Mark Durkan – remember him, the SDLP leader – going to get together? Do we have a recent photograph?

  • harry

    gerry should be able to spot him easy enough from his working class helicopter.


    Come on Harry! (Look away DasKapital) ALL Republicans are equal but SOME are more equal than others. Can’t you play the game right?

  • Napoleons nose.

    HA HA good one harry!

  • Eddie

    Lurig’s CAPITALS I quite LIKE. They DO have rhythm and you can almost hear him TALKING. It sounds as if he is getting to the HEART of the matter. So it does. AYE.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    This is all predicated on the assumption that Robbo will not agree to the transfer of police and justice. El gorda has told him to do it when he was summoned to Number 10 and grizzly has told him that he will be doing the collapse thing if he doesn’t.

    Before xmas is a cert or the curent set up at Stormont will be at an end. I will wager £10 to the first taker who does not think Robbo will not locate the necessary Unionist ‘confidence’ to agree to the tansfer before then. Loser donates money to Slugger.

  • Napoleons nose.

    Nah Sammy if you’d said Easter then I’d have taken you up on it.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Napoleons nose

    my phraseology was arseways there – as I had a double negative. A tenner says that Robbo will do a deal before xmas. Bet is on with first person who thinks he will not do a deal before xmas.

  • cynic

    “In the next election the SDLP will more than likely be more or less wiped out due to their incompetence. Which will then pave the way for a Sinn Féin first minister.”

    Yeah just like in the last one and all the ones that SF forecast that before. SF have a double bind on this. The SDLP vote is reasonably solid. As time goes on their greener vote leeches way as the truth sinks in and the zealots ask themselves, what was that all for?

  • cynic

    “Alastair Mcdonnell has long been out of touch with nationalist/republican thinking.”

    Presumably that’s why they elected him.

    Dont confuse “nationalist/republican thinking” with your belief in what they should think. Sorry…I forgot – thats SF policy, isnt it?

  • Sammy

    My worry is that Gerry has done a deal over policing with the DUP and the price he has paid is to put the ending of selective education back in the box. Which if true, for working class catholics and protestants will turn out to be a very bad deal indeed.

    It is sad that political activists always turn there fire on those nearest to them politically, rather than target their main enemies and deal with the core of the debate.

    Revolutionaries very rarely come up trumps when they enter into secret deals with their enemies. Lenin understood this and to prove his point, soon after he gained power he published all secret deals and treaties that previous Russian government had signed with the UK, France, USA etc.

    Lech Wałęsa when he negotiated on behalf of Solidarność with the Stalinist government of Poland, insisted that the negotiations were broadcast live. Both men under stood the limits of negotiations with powerful forces and the only way one could safeguard ones position was to make all deals, side bar or not public.

    Myself I have never understood SF position in the GFA, SAA negotiations, as not only were they conducted in total secrecy with a government that had a long history of double dealing Irishmen, but to this day SF has not made them public, thus future generations will not be able to benefit from knowing what went on, if they ever find themselves in a similar position.

  • cynic

    SF could be a great deal better – but they could be a great deal worse too. ”

    Errrr… have you seen the mess in Education? At least Robinson had the balls to replace Poots and to manouevre Baby DOC out.

    Sinn Fein is in shambles. They havent shown any ability to do real politics in the Executive and Robinson is squeezing them. He has engineered a situation where he is under no time pressure. They are.

  • cynic

    “My worry is that Gerry has done a deal over policing with the DUP and the price he has paid is to put the ending of selective education back in the box. Which if true, for working class catholics and protestants will turn out to be a very bad deal indeed.”

    I think that the DUP will have wanted much more than that Mick. Selective Education is a 5 / 10 on their list, Policing and Justice is a 10. They might trade Selective Education for an Irish Langage Act but no more.

    Anyway, whether or not its a bad deal depends on your viewpoint and what the overall shape of the education system looks like. At the moment under Ruane it looks like a free for all and a total utter shambles. Over the next few years I will bet that all those nice Republican parents will thank SF for messing up their kids’ education even further when Seamus and Sinnead can’t get into grammars.

  • Garibaldy

    There’s no doubt the DUP have handled things better than PSF. Despite the warnings from PSF (even from Chris in some posts on this site) that the plug might be pulled, there has been no sign of it. I’d say Murphy is fairly good at his job, as is Mc Guinness, but they have not succeeded in identifying themselves with any successful, high-profile policies. Abolition of the 11 Plus was supposed to fit that bill, but it has been royally ballsed up. Is this all down to Ruane, or is the leadership not as talented at administration as it is at agitation? It looks a lot like the latter.

  • harry

    when PSF “community worker” thugs have to pepper spray the nationalist people in the Ardoyne, you know things are not rosy in the garden. the new “P” Specials, aka the latter day Broy Harriers

  • Sam Flanagan

    It the situation was so great for the DUP there would be a very evident public posturing from those who would see themselves as Euro MPs. Self delusion and greed would ensure that.

    The last time there was a queue for the job. Berry (the first man outed in the ongoing outing sting), Morrow and Mcrae all it made it clear in a public fashion they saw themselves as EuroMan.

    Any sign of a “volunteer” this time?

    By the way, how is wee willie these days, I hear his brother died not so long ago?

  • cynic

    “when PSF “community worker” thugs have to pepper spray the nationalist people in the Ardoyne, you know things are not rosy in the garden”

    ….but thats nothing new…remember a few years back with half of west belfast PIRA were drafted in to beat back the locals trying to protest at a Loyalist Parade? THe police even praised their intervention.

    Sometimes the serfs forget their place.

  • Derry Man

    With reference to SDLP politicians being scarce on the ground in “urban” areas, perhaps they were all forced out much like Pat Ramsey was forced from the bog in Derry?

  • JG

    Everyone is out of step except the Newsletter.

  • Danny O’Connor

    All the criticism of the sdlp is bollix.If you want to know SF policy tomorrow look at what the sdlp policy was yesterday.Now that what negotiating leverage SF had has been buried in concrete ,the people will start judging them on their performance,Is anybody going to give me decent odds against Margaret Ritchie beating Catriona in S.Down.
    Remember that old sf election strapline-no return to Stormont.

  • Where’s your leader Danny? What did he do wrt, for instance, getting the Irish Language Broadcast Fund refinanced? He is an MP after all.

  • Danny O’Connor

    He was in Westminster last week speaking on a debate about McGurks bar,not swanning around in a helicopter.

  • That’s all very well, Danny. I appreciate you’re covering for your leader – but it still strikes me that Mark Durkan is invisible as a leader. He’s so invisible that it takes a political anorak like myself to ask about his whereabouts. David Ford has a higher profile in the north, as does Dawn Purvis. Even Brian Wilson. Your leader has his head so far beneath the parapet that it’s underground. I respect Mark Durkan. I think he’s articulate and reasonable – in a way which say I wouldn’t have the same time for the party’s deputy leader. It’s just such a pity that he’s out of sight. It’s not my business to tell the SDLP what to do, but I wouldn’t fancy the party’s chances at the next election based on its current performance.
    As for your remark re ‘swanning around in a helicopter’, I hold no brief for SF and I have been critical of them in the past, on the public record, re their performance on the Irish Language. But when Lá Nua put it to SF that they had failed the Irish Language community when they allowed Edwin Poots axe the Irish Language Broadcast Fund, and the Irish Language Act proposal, the result of the recent mini crisis was that the Irish Language Act was restored [and Poots was despatched to the back benches]. Dominic Bradley, alone of the SDLP, was fighting for the Fund – but to no avail. Now it’s back thanks to Gerry Adams.
    Give us results, Danny, not attempted put downs. The votes of y likes are out there to be won still….or have you already given up on that?

  • Danny O’Connor

    The money (broadcast fund)was never axed ,it was just that Poots never claimed it.There is no Irish Language act.Poots being sent to the back benches probably had more to do with his support for the Maze project.As for Durkan not being visible enough for you,Adams is a man without a role.

  • It was about to be axed in March 2009. Many people were going to be without work as a result of that. The SDLP, apart from Dominic Bradley, sat on its hands. As for your claim that Poots never claimed it- it’s rubbish. The end result that it was going to be axed and the nationalist ministers on the Executive didn’t raise a whimper, SF ministers included. Then Lá Nua, when I was editor, directly criticised SF and SDLP ministers and subsequently SF took the matter seriously and, particularly, Gerry Adams. He went to Brown with a whole slew of demands and the restoration of the fund was the only one granted as far as I know.
    Gerry Adams proved his worth on that occasion but even if he doesn’t have a role, as you maintain, that doesn’t improve Durkan’s visibility. What is the role of Durkan anyhow? He’s not a minister either. He’s doing as much a Devalera as Adams is – Adams is visible however. You yourself noticed him flying about in a helicopter. The problem is that the SDLP is a party in terminal decline, notwithstanding your noble efforts in Larne and the likes of Dominic and Patsy McGlone.