Alliance: two nevers and counting

After the possibility that Alliance might have been reconsidering its position on taking the policing and justice ministry that door seems to have been closed. The Irish News is reporting that an Alliance spokesperson has said that their position has not changed from two weeks ago.

  • Observer

    Two weeks without changing their position! Thats a pretty good effort for the Alliance Party. We normally associate them with shifting tides, especially if the political price being offered is right. To think for years they just sat on that old fence!!

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    The Alliance Party – the party of the muddle ground.

  • fair_deal

    If the answer is No what is there to talk about?

  • Turgon

    fair_deal,
    I am inclined to agree. I suspect we may hear a few more “Nos” first though.

  • DC

    “If the answer is No what is there to talk about?”

    This coming from a member of Dr No’s DUP. How very rich, I’m surprised you haven’t got the runs after that one.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    I presume the requirement for the Alliance party in this role is because it is difficult enough for the DUP agreeing to the transfer without having a Nationalist about the place in the Justice Ministry.

    There was some speculation that SF did not want a moderate Nationalist about the place and they also favoured the Alliance – but surely the SDLP would have been jumping up and down by now if this was the case?

  • What are you on??

    It was Sammy McNally what done it-

    “because it is difficult enough for the DUP agreeing to the transfer without having a Nationalist about the place in the Justice Ministry.”

    So let’s get this straight- you think it odd that a unionist party doesn’t want to hand over positions of governmental responsibility to a nationalist party? You say that like there is a moral problem behind it??

    In next weeks news let’s wait for Gordon Brown to appoint Dave Cameron his deputy.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    What are you on

    “So let’s get this straight- you think it odd that a unionist party doesn’t want to hand over positions of governmental responsibility to a nationalist party? You say that like there is a moral problem behind it?? ”

    No its the most natural thing in politics – its just that when this topic has been discussed before some (desperate to pretend that the DUP actually want the transfer of Police and Justice) suggested that the reason Alliance were in the frame was to do with SF.

    I’m not sure if the DUP have actually said that they do not want a Nationalist in this post?

  • the SDLP would have been jumping up and down by now if this was the case?

    They were.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Sammy Morse,

    Are you suggestintg that the main driver behind the Alliance involvement is not the DUP?

    Turgon,

    have you got any light to shed on the above? Is Slugger in the habit of asking parties for a quote?

  • Turgon

    It was Sammy McNally what done it,
    Absolutely none. No one has ever given me a quote apart from Jim Allister once sending me what he was putting on his web site.

    If anyone from any political party ever wants to send me a quote I will be delighted.

    I was going to say that if Ms. Purdy ever wanted to send me a quote… but then I have already annoyed you by mentioning her before and I noticed on Newsline last night that she has a huge ring on her left ring finger.

    Sorry I digressed: no I have never asked anyone for a quote. I think the reality is that we are far too sad for any political party to take seriously (well I am anyway).

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Turgon,

    I think I will email the SDLP and ask them and report back. I dont suppose many people bother to contact them so I might get a reply. It sounds like it may be all cloak and dagger stuff at the Alliance so probably no point emailing them.

    re. the Purdy Gal – you are not just tryting to throw me off her trail perchance?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m not sure if the DUP have actually said that they do not want a Nationalist in this post?

    They don’t want SF in the post. SF do not want the SDLP in the post. Hence the compromise position. Do try to keep up.

    I wouldn’t suggest that anyone get themselves too strongly worked up about the idea of an Alliance justice minister. The SDLP are entitled to it, the SDLP want it really badly – why should they not have it ? Alban Maginness, with his legal background, is just the man for the job.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Comrade Stalin me old mucker,

    You may be right (there is a first time for everything) but I would like to collect a few party statements on this one before deciding.

    I take it you are dismissing the comments of “What are you on” above?

    If you have any facts to hand to back up your conclusions, then do share, as I think they would be useful in throwing some light on this debate.

  • fair_deal

    DC

    “This coming from a member of Dr No’s DUP. How very rich, I’m surprised you haven’t got the runs after that one.”

    When your awareness of politics reaches 2008 let me know. The DUP in the 2003 election sought and got a mandate to negotiate.

  • DC

    Ok how about Dr No’s question from Eileen Bell the speaker during May 06:

    Madam Speaker: Dr Paisley, do you accept the nomination as First Minister on the restoration of devolved government? Order. If there is not order, I will stop the proceedings completely.

    Order. I must say that you are really all terrific parliamentarians.

    Dr Paisley — once again — do you accept the nomination to be First Minister on the restoration of devolved government?

    Rev Dr Ian Paisley: Certainly not, Madam Speaker. It goes without saying that my reasons are well known across this Province, and they have been endorsed by the majority of unionist voters.

    So in under a year Dr No became Dr Yes after decades of Noes, so if anything lectures from yourself about catching up mislead, as the No from your party to a Yes was one of the biggest U-turns in N Ireland political history!

  • fair_deal

    DC

    “during May 06”

    Again an ignorance of politics that I find rather surprising. In May 06 the negotiations had not concluded. It was not until October 06 St Andrew’s Agreement was reached.

    You also overlook the other parts of Paisley’s career where he tried a constructive role ie Atkins talks, Prior Assembly.

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised of the willingness of anyone to reduce someone else to a stereotype for the maintenance of a prejudice even if it is monumentally dull and intellectually lazy.

    “So in under a year Dr No became Dr Yes after decades of Noes”

    Again wanting to ignore the fact the DUP sought and got a mandate to negotiate in 03. They did not run in 03 under Ulster says no they ran under it is time for a fair deal.

    You also ignore the things that changed between 06 and 07. Again I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised of the willingness of anyone to reduce someone else to a stereotype for the maintenance of a prejudice.

    People are perfectly entitled to complain about the deal that was finally struck (I certainly do) but to claim that the DUP did not say they were in the business of making a deal is nonsense.

  • Are you suggestintg that the main driver behind the Alliance involvement is not the DUP?

    No (not sure how you read that), I’m suggesting that the SDLP were jumping up and down at the merest suggestion we would get the Justice Ministry, or at least Alban Maginness was.

    http://www.albanmaginness.com/comm_0104.html

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Thanks Sammy,

    The extract from Alban Maginness statement below throws some actual light on the issue:

    “So much so that Sinn Fein is now a willing, albeit junior partner, in initiating a policy of Executive exclusion against the SDLP. ”

    This obviously suggest that it is the DUP that are the main mover behind Alliance’s involvment and therefore the SDLP’s exclusion.

    re:”not sure how you read that”

    My original question was

    “There was some speculation that SF did not want a moderate Nationalist about the place and they also favoured the Alliance – but surely the SDLP would have been jumping up and down by now if this was the case? ”

    You answered “they were”.

  • DC

    FD the DUP did a deal that didn’t equate to the cherished value of its own anti-GFA narrative, even you know that as you wrote about the need for a new narrative that made sense in relation to the deal done.

    Paisley said ‘certainly not’ only for him to say certainly in May 07. You must really need to understand that people will not accept lectures from the DUP over the use of ‘no, maybe and yes’ because of the contradictory nature of the way the DUP negatively strategised to gain power, only to carry on doing what the UUP did.

  • fair_deal

    DC

    I appreciate the difference in tone of your last comment. Thank you.

    “FD the DUP did a deal that didn’t equate to the cherished value of its own anti-GFA narrative, even you know that as you wrote about the need for a new narrative that made sense in relation to the deal done.”

    The article pointed out they had foolish dropped the ‘fair deal’ narrative with a ‘victory’ narrative. It was the victory narrative that was unsustainable not the fair deal narrative at that time.

    Also that is more about the deal they did achieve in comparison with the Belfast Agreement rather than the principle of making a deal and whether they had told people.

    “You must really need to understand that people will not accept lectures from the DUP over the use of ‘no, maybe and yes’ because of the contradictory nature of the way the DUP negatively strategised to gain power, only to carry on doing what the UUP did.”

    I did not lecture (11 words in my question). Equally people must understand that reducing anyone to a stereotype does not contribute to a productive debate.

    In the context of Policing and Justice Alliance behaviour is as much at odds with its past positions and advice to other parties of how they should approach political issues in Northern Ireland.

    As for the way the DUP got were they got the willingness to negotiate was a central part to that. IMO they would not have been viewed by the centre of Unionist voters as credible if they had declared a ‘No deal’ position.

    The complaint of the manner in which the DUP gained their position risks becoming sourgrapes that they were better at the political management issues than the UUP were.

  • DC

    “In the context of Policing and Justice Alliance behaviour is as much at odds with its past positions and advice to other parties of how they should approach political issues in Northern Ireland.”

    In the context of the St Andrews deal, Alliance is well entitled to say deliver unto yourselves especially over the last two years where it has set its stall out in a similar fashion to the DUP.The fact that the DUP is considering devolving policing and justice proves that the problem actually isn’t policy but SF personnel. If there is no confidence why is the DUP power-sharing with SF at executive level across the ministries. So now Alliance is saying it’s not structural, but personnel heading up the local administration which it has no confidence in. Sour grapes perhaps, but it is most certainly inkeeping with longrunning DUP negativity over any issue I can recall, what Alliance is doing is something that the DUP should hardly find surprising!

    The UUP were not trumped by the DUP on polical management basis but by exploitation of potential liabilities with managing change, outflanked by negativity to which there was no counter argument only bluff calling. The DUP bluff has now been called and big Ian spat out.

  • fair_deal

    DC

    “In the context of the St Andrews deal, Alliance is well entitled to say deliver unto yourselves especially over the last two years where it has set its stall out in a similar fashion to the DUP.”

    Which is a side-step of the central point rather than addressing it. Alliance as an independent party are entitled to take any position they wish now but it remains that it is “as much at odds with its past positions and advice to other parties of how they should approach political issues in Northern Ireland.”

    “If there is no confidence why is the DUP power-sharing with SF at executive level across the ministries.”

    Because the operation of the other devolved structures had the potential to create confidence around a highly sensitive issue.

    “So now Alliance is saying it’s not structural”

    It has been reported they gave a No at St Andrew’s as it was then proposed the position would not be part of the Executive, sounds like a structural objection to me (if accurate).

    Their manifesto did say structures were one of the issues:
    “It is important that these powers are
    delivered in an appropriate context and the
    necessary structures for accountability are in
    place.”

    Also the emphatic No was followed by:
    “willing to negotiate if the terms on offer meet his party’s requirements”

    The manifesto requirement is “Alliance proposes that criminal justice and policing functions, when devolved, are placed within a single dedicated Department as part of an Executive working to collective responsibility.” The first part of which has been agreed.

    Although as I have said before I am not a fan of the Alliance minister idea.

    “The UUP were not trumped by the DUP on polical management basis but by exploitation of potential liabilities with managing change”

    How is “political management” different from handling “potential liabilities with managing change”?

    “outflanked by negativity to which there was no counter argument only bluff calling”

    As I pointed out positivity was part of the DUP accession, a series of things which the UUP had not achieved were, the DUP asked to negotiate a deal and did. Hardly a bluff called.

  • DC

    “Which is a side-step of the central point rather than addressing it.”

    No this is part of the DUP’s deal, really. They got it right, what is wrong with power-sharing policing and justice?

    The war really is over. Sensitive an issue as it may be but leadership is required to move people into new positive relations, to date it has been pushing of doubt in the quality of these relations by the DUP because it lacks positive visionary leadership.

    Personally, education is up there as sensitive a topic and it has been left by unionists on several occasions because they know that as a political unit they can resort to a well known and prolific tactic – negativity – in order to diminish the strength of change. Rather than addressing change in a wider academic environment unionists resort to blunt arguments to a blunt instigation for change by SF.

    And in continuation of N Ireland political fashion, who suffers the most in the cross-fire? That’s right – young people, families and their children. Just like the Troubles.

    Give me a party that puts people first.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You may be right (there is a first time for everything) but I would like to collect a few party statements on this one before deciding.

    Fair enough.

    I take it you are dismissing the comments of “What are you on” above?

    Nope.

    If you have any facts to hand to back up your conclusions, then do share, as I think they would be useful in throwing some light on this debate.

    Facts ? You don’t know the meaning of the word. You dismiss them with arguments which aren’t based on facts at all, but assumptions, guesses, and the odd bit of prejudice. You take a single statement by a politician and spin it into a huge web of fantastical conclusions. I’ve wasted enough time on you as it is. Reading your replies to Sammy above, it doesn’t even look like you can comprehend explanations in plain English. You’re too busy trying to catch people out by quibbling over details in what they’ve said. I’m sure I remember a previous poster a few years ago with a very similar approach to yours, so I’ve got a gut feeling that you’ve been here before, under another name.

    FWIW, I don’t think there will be a lot of light thrown on the debate. It sounds to me as if an Alliance justice minister is highly unlikely, but not impossible. The DUP and SF are likely to spend some time working on that, and the party have indicated that they are open to talking about it. What will decide this is whether or not they can come up with a package which will suit Alliance. That package is going to involve changes to the programme for government, review of the way the executive is established, and various other things. I don’t believe they will be able to meet those demands.

    Perhaps the party’s idea with dismissing the justice ministry a few weeks ago was to focus the minds of the DUP and SF on coming up with a more serious proposal. Like I’ve said before, I’m just a concerned supporter, but I don’t have any insight or forewarning into what the party is doing or planning to do. If you’re so concerned, why don’t you phone them up (the number’s on the website) and ask ? Or send an email to the leader/deputy leader. Come back on here and post the reply, and we can talk about it. Surely that would be better than the usual imaginary speculative drivel you usually post ?

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Comrade Stalin,

    Calm down, calm down. I know getting it wrong is not fun but even so – that was some rant.

    All I asking was who was the main mover behind the decision to involve the Alliance. I didnt rush to judgement but preferred to establish the facts first. Sammy supplied an SDLP statement which tells us it was the DUP.

    I had already emailed the SDLP to ask them and have not had a reply but Alban’s statement will do me just fine.

    p.s. When is the Alliance Party Annual Circus/Conference, it could be exciting, will Wee Davy survive or will he trip over a bucket of water and knock over a few ladders?

  • Jack Cade

    I hope no one minds me going slightly off topic for a short question that hopefully only needs a short answer.

    With the dup have a pro-capital punishment stance, is it within the vauge realms of possiblility if at some distant stage in the future they get this post for themselves (rather than the alliance) of it being re-introduced here? Would this need cross-community consent?

    Thanks.

  • Sammy supplied an SDLP statement which tells us it was the DUP.

    No, I supplied an SDLP statement that tells us that Alban Maginness says it was the DUP in public. But I personally happen to believe that it’s actually the Shinners who are vetoing the SDLP and I also believe that Alban Maginness thinks the same way too. You think people necessarily believe everything they put in a press statement when there’s a high-stakes poker game going on? How sweet!

    With the dup have a pro-capital punishment stance, is it within the vauge realms of possiblility if at some distant stage in the future they get this post for themselves (rather than the alliance) of it being re-introduced here?

    Absolutely none, as it would violate UK international treaty obligations.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Sammy,

    lets just say its better to go on the available facts, in this case Alban’s statement, until something better comes along – and that does not include your apparent arguement of convenience posted above.

  • fair_deal

    Jack Cade

    The UK government has signed Protocol 13 of the ECHR which prohibits the death penalty and a devolved administration cannot go gainst that AFAIK.

  • fair_deal

    DC

    “Sensitive an issue as it may be but leadership is required to move people into new positive relations”

    Careful now you are starting to sound like old Alliance 😉

    “education is up there as sensitive a topic and it has been left by unionists on several occasions because they know that as a political unit they can resort to a well known and prolific tactic – negativity – in order to diminish the strength of change. Rather than addressing change in a wider academic environment unionists resort to blunt arguments to a blunt instigation for change by SF.”

    On education there was a deal and everyone knows that. Unionism was not the source of the problem on that. Ruane (and/or SF) has decided she/they didn’t want it. I personally think if Ruane hadn’t adopted that approach P&J;would be less of an issue.

  • Jack Cade

    Fair-Deal
    That’s a relief. Thanks.

  • lets just say its better to go on the available facts, in this case Alban’s statement, until something better comes along

    Do what you like, but if you think it’s the DUP that has the big problem with the SDLP, you are living in a fantasy world of your own creation.

  • DC

    “How is “political management” different from handling “potential liabilities with managing (GFA) change”?”

    Well because the DUP manufactured the worst possible situation that never materialised, hocus-pocus politics, therefore it was bogus and bluff; it was exploitation of the GFA changes which were sold as one massive grievance to conservative unionists who wished to preserve everything that Nationalists wanted amended. Whatever happened those DUP narratives…

    And the words ‘exploiting potential’ were key because it was sold to unionists as being big factors as to why the DUP couldn’t deal only for the public to see factually that the DUP are sharing power with people they always set out to undermine. Rather than undermine they boosted themselves and SF into power on a like-for-like electorally progressive yet deeply negative political strategy, progressive in that the DUP overtook the UUP above all else, damned the consequences. But, the DUP had to maintain relevance as a political party so they had to slant into the right by undercutting confidence in the UUP’s strategy of power-sharing using every worst possible scenario and blamed it all on the UUP, despite all the issues they used against the UUP remaining untouched. Prisoners out, RUC gone, PSNI 50:50, British symbols removed, Northern Bank non-conviction, Castlereagh unsolved, Denis Donaldson Stormont-gate buried too.

    People were manipulated, that’s why the likes of David Gordon are keen to investigate the DUP itself, not because they are sectarian anti-Unionists, but because like most tuned-in people they can see the harm from longstanding negativity that played on fear and anger linked to change. People were played in the game of party-politics which ultimately in NI cost lives. Such principled stances ditched once the DUP were within sight of the finishing line.

    A contradictory power-grab and people are just waiting in the wings for the DUP to mess up as they messed around with peoples fears, anger, hope and others expectations. It was highly emotional politics lacking substantive, proven so by today’s set-up, highly emotional in a time requiring cool heads inside a sensitive process of change for the better. The DUP have been found out and people played in the process, unless this magical new narrative can be sought and written up to disguise such a horribly negative campaign that actually ran down confidence of Unionists towards a new Northern Ireland, now they will have to build it up again.

    A new Northern Ireland which the DUP must now sell to the people as being great. Cue Peter Robinson’s ‘Brave New World’ article. I didn’t buy one word of it, 10 years too late and written up all before back then.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    FD wrote: The manifesto requirement is “Alliance proposes that criminal justice and policing functions, when devolved, are placed within a single dedicated Department as part of an Executive working to collective responsibility.” The first part of which has been agreed.

    And the second hasn’t. You’d think after the last few years’ events a DUP man would understand ‘condition led – not according to a timetable’! ;op

    (…and that republicans might remember what ‘context’ is.)

    There plainly is zero collective accountability in the executive – indeed, it doesn’t even meet any more – so for Alliance to jump now would clearly be in breach of its 2007 manifesto.

    Perhaps if the party’s conditions or concerns were met, progress would be made. Right now they haven’t even been acknowedged, and the executive is in utter disarray. Talks might help decide if a justice ministry is possible in the future, but at the moment it’s a ‘no’. That’s how the DUP and SF have operated anyway, and it surprises me that others are surprised by this perfectly reasonable stance. But since there is no deadline, there is plenty of time to work things out, if that’s possible.

    Looking at how that well-oiled, slick and perfectly-functioning executive has operated over the last year, I can just imagine loads of Alliance supporters going: “Look what we’re missing – We really must get ourselves into that gosh-darn executive. Maybe, just maybe, we won’t get f***ed over, just like the SDLP and UUP.”

  • fair_deal

    Belfast Gonzo

    “And the second hasn’t. You’d think after the last few years’ events a DUP man would understand ‘condition led – not according to a timetable’! ;op…Alliance to jump now would clearly be in breach of its 2007 manifesto.”

    So what Alliance preached for 30 years about how to approach negotiations (compromise/greater good/taking risks/banging doors demanding what was taking so long) was all bollix then? Fair enough. Maybe it is simple cowardice, they are happy to tell others to take risks but not for them? Over the top lads I’ll be here waiting for you after ti is over! Or perhaps it is plain old fashioned elitism we’ll tell the commoners what to do, we know best but getting hands dirty is for them not us? ;-P

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy etc. :

    Calm down, calm down. I know getting it wrong is not fun but even so – that was some rant.

    Yeah, I shouldn’t allow your trolling to bait me.

    All I asking was who was the main mover behind the decision to involve the Alliance. I didnt rush to judgement but preferred to establish the facts first. Sammy supplied an SDLP statement which tells us it was the DUP.

    Repeating the same thing over and over again isn’t really helpful. Taking a politician’s statement at face value is a stupid and naive thing to do. Yet that’s what you base all your arguments on. You’re a child.

    I had already emailed the SDLP to ask them and have not had a reply but Alban’s statement will do me just fine.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath, they probably get millions of emails from weird keyboard warrior cranks like you.

    p.s. When is the Alliance Party Annual Circus/Conference, it could be exciting, will Wee Davy survive or will he trip over a bucket of water and knock over a few ladders?

    The fact that you believe that this was David Ford acting alone shows your cluelessness. Most political parties don’t work like this. They consult and decide internally, and Alliance is no different. Alliance has an executive whose members are involved in the decision making process.

    I’m pretty sure the party executive and leader have the full support of the party membership. David Ford has indicated that the deal which was originally proposed would not be acceptable and, based on what was being talked about, there would not be an Alliance justice minister. That was the right thing to say, although he didn’t make it clear that it was what was on the table that he was dismissing, rather than the whole idea. Nothing more than a communication problem. Ford subsequently entered into discussions with the DUP on the whole matter. That was also the right thing to do, since Alliance has never been opposed to dialogue even in the event that agreement seems highly unlikely.

    The situation on the ground has not changed. I cannot see how the justice ministry can be set up in a way that is acceptable to Alliance as well as the DUP and SF. And in assessing the question of who really wants to put the StA deal and the whole political process over their own narrow electoral interests, you have to ask why the parties do indeed appear to be conspiring to exclude the SDLP, a party which is already in the executive and which would be much less troublesome to the DUP/SF than Alliance would. If you weren’t an idiot, you’d be asking – whose interests does excluding the SDLP serve ?

    I think you need to get over your weird obsession with Alliance.

    Sammy Morse:

    No, I supplied an SDLP statement that tells us that Alban Maginness says it was the DUP in public. But I personally happen to believe that it’s actually the Shinners who are vetoing the SDLP and I also believe that Alban Maginness thinks the same way too. You think people necessarily believe everything they put in a press statement when there’s a high-stakes poker game going on? How sweet!

    Sammy etc. forms a conclusion in advance, and then finds a way to bend any given statement by a relevant politician to suit it. No amount of patient argument or rationale based on political strategy makes any sense to him.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Fair Deal

    So what Alliance preached for 30 years about how to approach negotiations (compromise/greater good/taking risks/banging doors demanding what was taking so long) was all bollix then? Fair enough. Maybe it is simple cowardice, they are happy to tell others to take risks but not for them? Over the top lads I’ll be here waiting for you after ti is over! Or perhaps it is plain old fashioned elitism we’ll tell the commoners what to do, we know best but getting hands dirty is for them not us? ;-P

    Well, neither the DUP nor SF seem prepared to ‘take a risk’ any more. They’ve passed the risk on, presumably in the expectation that someone else will bail them out. How ‘brave’.

    The fact that the DUP are so plainly desperate to get Alliance in to the position is almost funny; since it’s abundantly clear that the DUP prefer Alliance to the political masochists in the SDLP, it can only mean the DUP is dancing to a Sinn Fein tune.

    If Alliance is ever offered the position, they should take it – but only in the right circumstances. And they don’t exist, at least not yet.

    If the DUP had any sense (and no-one will until things go to the wire, and since there is no deadline they might not…) it might realise they both they and Alliance have many common views about governance. Just ask Peter Robinson why he turned up at an Alliance press conference in the basement of Parliament buidings a few years ago to hear their views about voluntary coalition and other matters. He wasn’t there for the good of his health. Just think about how easy it could be – if anyone in the DUP really put their minds to it – to reach a compromise here, or (to be cruel) isolate SF. It is curious that the DUP is reluctant to go down this path.

    ‘Maybe it is simple cowardice’, but since it would be so much simpler to just give it to the SDLP, who seem to adore being used anyway, it’s clear that SF has much influence on DUP decision-making.

    But then we knew that already…

    *chuckle*, brother.