“more at stake here than simply electoral calculation..”

Interesting analysis from Paul Bew at CommentisFree. He also references Frank Millar’s article in the Irish Times and suggests the Northern Ireland Executive’s current difficulties could be eased by the proposed UUP/Conservative Party link-up.

There is more at stake here than simply electoral calculation. One of the reasons why the Stormont assembly has degenerated into a sectarian stand-off in which executive meetings are postponed month on month is the calculation by Sinn Féin that the Unionist parties need the assembly, so bad is their relationship with London. If that assessment is shown to be flawed, then there is a possibility that the institutions of the Good Friday agreement would work more smoothly and we could have an end to the current strategy of tension which once again threatens the stability of the province.

Adds Is this a reaction to that analysis?Paul Bews ends by asking an important question

The Good Friday agreement is the clue to this new development because the Tories and the Ulster Unionists both support it strongly. It has made irrelevant previous sources of Tory-Ulster Unionist division such as Margaret Thatcher’s Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985 – but it also stands to be the beneficiary if the Cameron-Empey deal works. The big question is this: the Ulster electorate is now given the choice it has long said it wanted – to contribute to the wider issues of nuclear politics. But has it reached a condition of war-weary sectarianism and privatised depoliticisation which makes it unlikely to respond in significant numbers?

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  • picador

    I just counted and this is the eighth thread on this subject.

  • Garibaldy

    Pete,

    Totally off topic, but this should appeal to the pedant in you if you haven’t seen it already.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jul/23/mediamonkey

  • Paul Bew states:
    “The Good Friday agreement is the clue to this new development because the Tories and the Ulster Unionists both support it strongly. It has made irrelevant previous sources of Tory-Ulster Unionist division such as Margaret Thatcher’s Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985…”

    This is stretching reality.

    The GFA was built on the Anglo Irish Agreement. The principles are the same, the key sets of relationships are the same. The fact is Ulster Unionism evolved to accept the very thing it so strongly rejected in the 1980s.

    More wishful thinking than serious analysis from Prof Bew.

  • DC

    “Good Friday agreement would work more smoothly”

    In my opinion isn’t much of the GFA implemented, the problems are with democratic demands in the Northern Ireland context, which are not being met.

    There are of course two outstanding issues: policing and justice (found in GFA) and the new add-on from St Andrews, the Irish Language.

    But for what it’s worth, I agree Bew’s analysis seems to be suffering perhaps proving to a point the problems arising from a certain Westminster disconnect from local NI politics, or conversely should I say too much Westminster connectivity. Bew fails to see that the peace process only survived largely due to a Labour Government that for once in British-Irish political history made up for lost initiatives by drastically overhauling the political landscape with decades of reform delivered largely in Labours 1st term, and political bumps in the road which were apparent road blocks to Unionists were simply ignored at the expense of the UUP. In the end it stuck, only because Trimble stuck at it, while his political team melted away due to the acidic bile of Unionist disgust, spat out from both the UUP and DUP.

    Is it realistic to think that the Tories would countenance Irish Language, be genuinely sympathetic towards cultural issues, or listen to the anti-war demands from the dark green and socialist voters in NI should foreign policy become contested. Particularly whenever Unionists themselves ignore it all in the hope that it might just go away with time.

    The only way this can conceivably work is if all UK parties fire up in sync and challenge, this will cater for the various political dispositions when it comes to Westminster, thus hopefully boosting political debate here through genuine national engagement. If it is only the Tories what use is that to non-Tories who yet still fancy life in the wider political UK?

  • seanzmctaggart

    What do members of the Conservative party in Northern Ireland think about this mooted link-up with the UUP? People here should of course be afforded the democratic right to join and vote for national parties (all-UK or all-Ireland) if they so wish.The quarantining of the North off into communal sectarian regional party politics is a root cause of the conflict.

    However, what Prof Bew does not say is that the UUP is primarily a protestant party with a continuing Orange link. The Tories are sending out a very negative message to pro-union Catholics by playing footsie with the UUP. Better for Cameron to invite all those in the region who wish to join the Conservative party to do so and leave the UUP -which has only one MP – Lady Hermon-to drift further into electoral demise.

    As for the SDLP,I am puzzled as to why they are not considering a merger with the Irish Labour Party rather than Fianna Fail,given that they have have long opposed British Labour organising in N Ireland on grounds that the SDLP is a “sister” Labour party.

  • Hogan

    Seanz

    Alot of the red aspect to the SDLP was hammed up in the 1980s when it suited the image of Hume at the heart of the PES pumping rivers of Euro-cash into our crippled economy.

    I think you have been misled.

  • Dewi

    I’m reading Mr Bew’s book – Ireland 1789 – 2006 – the politics of enmity – very well written – you have to concentrate. So I’m reading a chapter from the back and then a chapter from the front in turn. From the back I’ve got as far as Collins and from the front as far as O’Conell…. Good stuff though,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,just the famine in the middle I suppose!

  • Rooster Cogburn

    Dearie me, could that possibly be Paul’s most crapulent effort yet? The DUP, the scunners, or so he keeps telling us, are simply implementing the whizz bang deal he and the Turtle cooked up. But now, all of a sudden, those sodding arrangements don’t work. I don’t doubt for one moment that Paisley was full of cr*p prior to the last Assembly elections. Equally, anyone with Bew’s ego, and arrogant inability to admit that the Belfast Agreement structures were *and are* hopelessly inadequate, should be harvested as an alternative source of energy.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Hmmm. You should start a thread on how *you* define “interesting”. You have used it to introduce several threads and you are in serious breach of the Trades Descriptions Act.

    Bew is groping in the dark as much as anyone else. “One of the reasons why the Stormont assembly has degenerated into a sectarian stand-off…” Has degenerated into?!! Oh, I forgot the Golden Age of Stormont when we had a thriving mixed economy, social justice and The 12th was Europe’s must see community festival. That man is a muppet.

  • Seniorhas

    Perhaps Cameron and Empey are just playing catch up since there is now a Constituency Labour Party here in the North/Northern Ireland. Labour members have now got full representation and recognition and will be sending a full delegate to the Party Conference in September. Perhaps we might have another Labour Party Conference in Belfast – the last one was in 1907.

    Now there is the chance that national issues can be properly debated here and that Northern Ireland people can have a say in national politics as well as using our experiences here to contribute to policy making. Similarly we can bring a new, non-sectarian voice into politics here.

  • slug

    Conall: the GFA folloes the AIA but to unionists such as Trimble it repaces rather than builds on it. It might both replace and build on it iprove on it etc. Clearly the problem with the AIA was it dind’t have input from the political parties in NI – or support of the people of NI – while the GFA did. In that sense they are very different beasts.

  • fair_deal

    “there has not been a proper engagement or process”

    So SF simply demanding things hasn’t got them what they wanted. Wonder why?

    “these go beyond the issues of the transfer of powers on policing and justice and an Irish Language Act. Essentially, these are about getting as required by the agreements, a fully functioning and cohesive government”

    Hard to negotiate/engage/proper process when one of the participants keeps jumping about on what the issues are.

    If SF wanted a voluntary coalition where everything was agreed as to the basis of the coalition then why did they defend and agree to a mandatory coalition?

  • slug

    Seniorhas – that’s interesting to know, thanks.

  • DC

    “these go beyond the issues of the transfer of powers on policing and justice and an Irish Language Act. Essentially, these are about getting as required by the agreements, a fully functioning and cohesive government”

    “Hard to negotiate/engage/proper process when one of the participants keeps jumping about on what the issues are. ”

    Cross-reference there FD, but how about you give us a view on how the very democratic demands of cultural changes to NI can be approached at Stormont, you know fine well the very issues yourself or do you want me to outline them? Can you explain for us how, if at all, the DUP hopes to instigate democratic discussion over these very real cultural issues or if you can’t then why not? What are the problems?

    Please explain just where the insecurities lie?

  • Fair Deal

    DC

    “Cross-reference there FD”

    The point I wished to convey is the list changes. Apologies if I was insufficiently clear. The ILA and P&J;have been the most common issues raised but their order of importance seems to switch. Then John O’Dowd appears on the politics show and only highlights P&J;. Now Gerry has three issues and one as nebulous as “fully functioning and cohesive government” and supposed requirements in agreements that don’t exist.

    There are these things called a programme for government and budget, a key stage that they seem not to have bothered with. For example SF signed off on the budget that did not continue the special package for the Irish language brodcast fund.

    You seem to have developed a fascination with the term ‘democratic’ even if the context is unusual.

    The obvious scope for discussion about cultural issues is through the statutory duty on the executive to produce an irish language and ulster scots language and culture strategies.

    The emphasis for who takes the initiative is those who want something. In this case SF want something from others in the mandatory coalition so then they have to trade. Insecurity hasn’t got anything to do with it.

  • DC

    “You seem to have developed a fascination with the term ‘democratic’ even if the context is unusual.”

    Woooooooooooooooooow!

    What? Tut tut.

  • DC

    No, hasten to add not ‘tut tut’ – shame.

  • fair_deal

    DC

    “What?”

    Eyes roll.

    Politics 101 – Support for and opposition to a measure can both be democratic so to imply that the democracy only lies on one side of this policy debate is odd.

    “Tut tut.” “hasten to add not ‘tut tut’ – shame”

    Also it would seem from these subsequent posts it was a rather sad ploy to try and represent disagreement as anti-democratic.

  • DC

    Or perhaps it’s just another veto, obviously lacking an appropriate explanation, which seems to characterise much of the ‘work’ up at Stormont.

    Clearly language is an issue to a certain section of Stormont body politic, why don’t you say you don’t like the thought of dealing with it, just say it.

    And outside the DUP, where are all the left-wing multi-culturalists in NI? How can such pro-EU thinkers stand up to the notion of supporting people and ‘rich’ cultural diversity yet remain somewhat tolerantly silent, silence is not a suitable explanation.

    I don’t see how on the one hand the DUP plead for innovation across the business community yet appear politically dim when it comes to their own line of work. I could be an MLA ya know, I am able to say no and use veto for easily less than the big thinkers earning 50k plus.

  • fair_deal

    DC

    “Clearly language is an issue to a certain section of Stormont body politic, why don’t you say you don’t like the thought of dealing with it, just say it.”

    How’s about letting someone express their own views rather than trying to force you preconceived notions upon them?

    “And outside the DUP, where are all the left-wing multi-culturalists in NI? How can such pro-EU thinkers stand up to the notion of supporting people and ‘rich’ cultural diversity yet remain somewhat tolerantly silent, silence is not a suitable explanation.”

    I’m sorry you find yourself in a state of confusion. However, I would suggest it is simply that they do not attach the same importance to the issue that you do. A belief in diversity does not require a belief in language acts.

  • kensei

    FD

    The point I wished to convey is the list changes. Apologies if I was insufficiently clear. The ILA and P&J;have been the most common issues raised but their order of importance seems to switch. Then John O’Dowd appears on the politics show and only highlights P&J;. Now Gerry has three issues and one as nebulous as “fully functioning and cohesive government” and supposed requirements in agreements that don’t exist.

    Oh please, come up with something worthwhile. Both the ILA and P&J;were in St Andrews: it has been abundantly clear since at least then that these were going to be big delivery items for SF. Different politicians from the party may have different priorities, nor do they need to mention both every single time. It is also fairly clear that “fully functioning and cohesive government” basically means “dealing with these issues”.

    You’re right in that SF took the eye off the ball, sometimes horribly in the case of the Irish Language media fund. But it is equally true that no delivery on these was going to cause issues sooner or later, just as decommissioning started to unravel the previous Assembly.

    The DUP has got itself in the driving seat by having delivery of its issues up front. Well done, it picked up all the important lessons from SF last time. But that doesn’t make the other outstanding issues from St Andrews go away, nor is there any big mystery on importance. You know it, I know it, if the DUP didn’t know it then the increasing paralysis means they certainly know it now. In which case, at least do the courtesy of cutting out the bullshit.

  • ggn

    “SF took the eye off the ball, sometimes horribly in the case of the Irish Language media fund.”

    And lucky for them the ball broke lucky and possession maintained.

    What I find amazing frankly is that Gerry Adams seems to be staking his reputation on getting an ILA when surely it is a mathematical impossibilty. Now maybe he knows something I dont but he has set out his stall most stridently.

    Clearly other SF MLAs would not take an ILA to be as important as Mr Adams, Im think DFM here but Adams’ consituency is culturally nationalist in ways that other constiuences simply are not.

    I am not sure how bringing down the assembly on the ILA would go down with the electorate to be honest.

    Some in the SDLP may see an political oppurtunity and develope open negativity to an ILA, that would of course cause problems for them with Dominic Ó Brollacháin presenting himself as the premier spokesman on Irish language issues in the North, which of course is true.

    code word : century