“to Sinn Fein and hardline nationalist commentators it is nothing short of a declaration of war..”

During the Politics Show discussion Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd attempted to deflect attention towards the SDLP’s Mark Durkan’s recent speech. In the Sunday Times Liam Clarke provides a timely reminder of the history behind that tactic.

The most backward sections of northern nationalism were enraged that Durkan had put another nail in the coffin of the so-called “pan-nationalist front” which has dominated the movement since the mid-1980s. The expression was first used by Adams, but became more widely known after being adopted as a term of abuse by unionists. It fell into disuse after it was cited by loyalist terrorists to justify attacks on the SDLP, but the fury shown by Sinn Fein towards Durkan demonstrates that it is still a powerful factor in Sinn Fein’s thinking. The party still believes that the SDLP owes it something.

The pan-nationalist front, which chopped years off the IRA’s campaign and helped tempt republicans out of the cul-de-sac of violence, was based on the thinking of Father Alec Reid, the Redemptorist priest who oversaw the decommissioning of IRA weapons, and a mediation group based in Clonard monastery. Reid first mentioned it to me in 1985. His big idea was that the moral authority and political clout of the Catholic church and the broader nationalist community could be substituted for the IRA campaign of violence. If republicans believed that some of their objectives could be secured by peaceful means with the help of broader nationalism, then the campaign could be ended.

Reid recruited Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich, then the Irish government and John Hume for different aspects of this project. It was never meant to be a permanent arrangement. It was a way of bringing republicans into the constitutional fold and weaning them off violence. It was meant to be an assistance when it was needed, not a meal ticket for life.

Over the years Sinn Fein has come to take the support of broader nationalism as a given. The party has characterised those who say it’s time Sinn Fein stood on its own two feet as backsliders. The list now includes Durkan as well as Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern.

Pan-nationalism enabled Sinn Fein to hollow out the SDLP and to trade on other people’s political capital. Sinn Fein believes it can keep borrowing against the resources of others but it is wearing a bit thin. It faces the political equivalent of the credit crunch and is being asked to pay its own bills in a competitive political environment.

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  • Pancho’s Horse

    All those who think William Clarke is a petomain, shout “Yeah”.

  • Pete Baker

    Pancho’s Horse

    The ball?

  • Jer

    I read this article and viewed it as a rather crude attempt to beat into SF. Similar to someone in Britain writing about a Gordon Brown gaff giving the Tories ample opportunity to demonstrate their worst reactionary tendencies etc. In that case Brown would be the story and here it should be Durkan, not Sinn Fein.

    “The most backward sections” – well reading that you know we have entered analysis dominated by emotion rather than cool hard thought.

    Does Liam Clarke have a point or did he get sidetracked by his obvious dislike of SF into writing the same story as usual – Sinn Fein bogey men.

  • Jer

    Pete, The ball is Durkan. SF are a spectator in the crowd and Liam Clarke has done a Cantona on it.

  • Dave

    Whereas, I suppose, the ‘enlightened’ sections of [Irish] nationalism are to pretend that the “most backward sections of northern [British/Unionist] nationalism” wouldn’t rule Northern Ireland exclusively in their own interests as they have always done if they were ever allowed to return to majority misrule, and are to further pretend that such an Executive wouldn’t be able to exercise sectarian favouritism if a BoR acted as a token safeguard, giving the opportunity for every second decision to be challenged in the courts.

    Two competing nationalisms can’t share one sovereign territorial entity. Give this ‘power-sharing/stagnation-sharing’ farce another few years and folks will eventually face up to that reality.

  • Pete Baker


    “The ball is Durkan.”

    No, the ball here is what Liam Clarke has said.

    Durkan’s speech is available in the links to compare what Sinn Féin representatives have said and what Liam Clarke has said.

    Go read the whole thing.

  • aquifer

    Durkan is just right, otherwise intra-ethnic solidarity just becomes a license for SF to dictate terms to everyone else. Accustomed to armed blackmail SF will respond to refusal with threat.

    What are they threatening exactly?

    Let the Real IRA put our body bits in black plastic bags? Exposure of Ogra SF activists to new effective UK anti terror powers? War crime trials for their leaders? Repartition? Balkanisation?

    Lets take these options to the electorate, alongside water metering.

  • DC

    Oh here we go, welcome aboard ship ‘Nonsense’ Dave…but I’m with you only in so far as then Ireland and Britain should leave the EU immediately, otherwise you must have to realise in part that the concepts around sovereignty have been re-written when operating in the EU.

    Not to mention immigration and free access post-2004 of other nationals in large cohorts to Britain and Ireland, the natural follow-on from that along your line of thought is that they just cannot be and aren’t part of any political discussion or real worth inside an EU member state. Besides people are Irish and British citizens in NI but nationality isn’t the real theme here it is the poor manner in which dialogue is being conducted in terms of making the actual demands transparently and fairly.

    McGuinness said that there had been no request between himself and the then FM when questioned in the assembly about it, so if the executive or talking arrangements since then haven’t happened then how are the actual matters meant to be resolved?

    Ideally if only the lesser big parties could come to arrangement in parrallel with each other perhaps they could lead the way…

    Until then the DUP are firmly rooted in a limted electorate due to that party’s own cultivation of the way in which it came to power. Sinn Fein can goad the DUP because it is more flexible and conditioned in terms of pace and GFA acceptance. Whereas the DUP seem to be slow on the uptake linked to the no-never restrictive vote base. SF and most people are saying: “make the jump, it’s easy”. The DUP just cant do it now because they hammered home for a decade the never-ending story of peace-politics not being worth it due to a lack of DUP moral-clarity. The DUP are rooted and out of place with the pace of the peace process – they joined late on an utterly negative ticket. But SF are clearly making things difficult by not being positive in approaches and holding off on issues.

    The problem with community designation is that it tends to bluff demands. I mean do people really believe that there isn’t enough confidence for movement, I suppose they believe that as much as Irish should be legislated as a primacy language with similar rights to English…but then again they would believe that because the community vetoes linked to the designation system says so.

    The reality is much different so let’s debate it, openly, fairly and honestly!

  • JD

    “Sinn Fein believes it can keep borrowing against the resources of others but it is wearing a bit thin. It faces the political equivalent of the credit crunch and is being asked to pay its own bills in a competitive political environment.”

    Good point

    Sinn Fein may well think they are the vanguard of the nation, but part of the “process” is that everyone else just comes to see them as another party.

    The shinners might well have got a shock from those faithless southerners last year, having the timerity to think there are other issues in Ireland besides the peace process, but if they are to rebuild (and crucially refocus) they have to accept that it is not everyone else’s duty to dance to the tune they play.

  • Quagmire

    “The most backward sections of northern nationalism”

    Backwards in what sense? That they don’t long for a return to the good oul days of Unionist (mis)rule? The only thing that has been going backwards in the last number of years is the number of people choosing to vote for the SDLP and I’m afraid sentiments like this will not be conducive to them regaining their place as the main nationalist party in the north. Durkan has really put his foot in it this time. The sooner the stoops leave the stage the better. They should amalgamate with the UUP. They’d be right at home there. As for Liam Clarke… I won’t even go there.

  • IJP

    This line is spot on:

    Sinn Fein believes it can keep borrowing against the resources of others but it is wearing a bit thin. It faces the political equivalent of the credit crunch and is being asked to pay its own bills in a competitive political environment.

    Sinn Féin is frankly lying about what Durkan said, to make up for the fact it is clearly unfit for government.

    People have begun noticing. Sinn Féin should focus on what the electorate elected it to do – stop lying, start governing.

  • DC

    “Sinn Féin is frankly lying about what Durkan said, to make up for the fact it is clearly unfit for government”

    And I think this goes back to the values and beliefs approach at a *party level*, not strictly nationality or ethno-religous issues (a case in point is that the DUP has made its peace with FF re the Boyne and St Andrews and SF with the British government).

    The DUP along its moral clarity route have had trouble believing, as have many people agreeing with the moral clairty narrative, that SF are to be valued and believe that SF’s recent tactics are negative and irresponsible – behaviour by SF has been threatening almost terse encouraging those former threatening tones to emerge that most people heard back in the times when multiple murders were called the Troubles.

    Whereas SF are saying they dont value the DUP as partners, that party believes in its old narrative of intransigence especially after it behaved postively by selling the pass to allow the DUP to enter government with them backing the police in advance. Robinson, his wife and most of the DUP’s irascible behaviour triggers all the ‘bad’ back for SF too.

    A confused troubles-lite environment is beginning to be created; but, anyway, I value the progress made since the peace process and believe SF to be on the right track, along with the other parties, to get delivery on PJ powers but also believe that these two parties have been extremely negative allowing heads to drop and ideas to slip into community vetoes.

    Proper dialogue and consenus politics perhaps by frontloading agreement on issues first via a voluntary coalition might be a way to solve it rather than falling back into the community veto as a means to absolve both parties of responsible and positive debates.

  • Crossborder

    What is Durkan actually saying? Why has there been no rebuttal to charges that he is opening the door to a UUP-DUP coalition? He should resign as SDLP leader.

  • Herring


    “Unionist misrule” is a mere piece of rhetoric. An allegation getting very long in the tooth. Will nationalists still be speaking of “unionist misrule” in 2108? Unionists could offer every right and privelege to nationalists as indiviuduals and they’d still be laying the charge of “unionist misrule”.

    What people such as the IRA have always wanted was an all Ireland democracy, i.e. a majority rule whereby the British population in Northern Ireland become a mere “ethnic minority” and therefore a dominated and subjugated people in principle (whatever the practice), like the Basques in Spain or Chechens in Russia or Tamils in Sri Lanka. That’s all the IRA campaign was ever really about. Pretentions that it had anything to do with the likes of ratepayer franchise or people of a certain religion having lower incomes (mostly because they did less well in school) are utter bullshit.



    What constitutes a ‘backward section of Nationalism’? Is it someone who remembers just what majority Unionist rule was ALL about? Are those Catholics who live in Castlereagh, Ards, Ballymoney, Larne, Lisburn councils borough councils etc ‘backward Nationalists’ because they object to living in Afrikaaner separatist councils dominated by Unionist majority rule? Is it NOT lazy journalism or simply prejudiced to suggest that certain Catholics are ‘backward’ because they won’t hand the keys of the chocolate factory back to the Billy Bunters of Unionism? That is a ridiculous suggestion and a TOTAL insult to those who lived through AND STILL live in rotten Unionist dominated gerrymandered boroughs.
    I am one of those who have given Mark Durkan a hard time over this and I think, at the time of the speech, he deserved it ALTHOUGH I am now prepared to cut him some slack. Mark is a VERY intelligent fella and someone with the mind to dissect political deals and agreements. He is an extremely capable politician who, when he was a minister, knew his brief well. HOWEVER sometimes politicians like Mark Durkan can run so far ahead of themselves in their ideas and thoughts THAT they forget their constituency and those they represent. NO ONE is saying that there were no good parts of his Oxford speech but he should also know that the media will report and run with certain comments that they see as relevant, important and controversial. He should have foreseen that comments POTENTIALLY suggesting that Unionists be handed back majority rule WOULD have been flagged up by Sinn Fein and most other Nationalists. He should also have known that the wee woman who reads the Irish News for the deaths would be startled at the ‘SDLP ENDORSE UNIONIST MAJORITY RULE” headline. Likewise the man at the bar who does the horses sees this too and the sports readers. Irrespective of what he meant to say the fact is we live in an image and soundbite era and this was a big headturner. If he didn’t see this political minefield he is either 1. Badly advised or 2. Totally detached from the people he purports to represent. I am minded to think it could be the latter but, after listening to him demolishing Sinn Fein on the triple lock mechanism which handed the DUP another veto, I think he has been badly advised. Most politicians have someone who writes and vets speeches and maybe this was where the SDLP leader fell down.
    Finally Sinn Fein have a real cheek if they think that this gets THEM off the hook. They have proved themselves to be TOTALLY inefficient and incompetent when it comes to representing the rights of Northern Nationalists. They have handed over a triple lock mechanism to the DUP who have used this to run and dictate EVERY agenda at Stormont. The Shinners are as useful as ashtrays on a motorbike in political negotiations for the Catholic community. They should take NO solace in Mark Durkan’s silly comments because they have been played like a fiddle by the DUP.

  • Dave

    DC, while it is quaint that you are still trying to redefine the State as being a state of mind in line with the risible semantic endeavours of your idol, John Hume, the reality (and I know that reality is something you have difficulty with) is that what you might like to see as a meaningless line on a map actually delineates a democratic republic where Irish culture is cherished from a realm where a monarchy is cherished and where British culture is promoted by the State…oh, and not forgetting, corporate tax rates are considerably lower in one sovereign jurisdiction compared to the other.

    See, it’s not really that hard to figure out why nationality as determined by sovereign jurisdictions is at the core of the conflict between competing nationalisms within NI: whichever nationalism gains greater control of the State in the sovereign jurisdiction gains the greater power to promote its own interests; and since those interests are competing, one is promoted at the direct expense of the other.

    Irish nationalists would like the road signs to be in the Irish language as part of their cultural expression, whereas British nationalists would see that cultural expression as competing with their cultural expression and so they resist that initiative. I suppose you could paint half the posts boxes red and the other half green as a shared future, but it’s all a tad more problematical when it comes to constitutional issues as opposed to cosmetic issues, i.e. when the monarchy is an intrinsic part of British nationalism but is utterly irreconcilable with Irish nationalism.

    Oh wait… how about we all transfer our allegiance to President Sarkozy (or however you spell that French’s midget’s name) and switch nationalism to the artificially engineered national identity of European. Oh wouldn’t it be so wonderful if we would only stop being British or Irish and recognise that we are all Europeans – and descendent from apes? John Hume was a man ahead of his time – shame his time was the Neanderthal era.

  • DC

    As to John Hume’s semantics – yes and I’m proud of it – because everything is a social construct Dave to which you have your little way of thought about sovereignty, next you will be telling me there is more than just one race on earth too.

    As to the reality, the reality Dave is that these are not national issues but finer and tigher party political ones, the party-political behaviour of SF and the DUP is the cause of the deadlock.

    I understand the thrust of your views but as ever your views are not the whole truth, if you like. Yes Irish language is important but is an Irish language act as championed by SF and Pobal really that important so as to be a first language and commensurate of the whole and indeed cross-party nationalist ethnic vote bloc, delivered via Stormont. Is it really like that – think hard.

    I know it is important but if you are telling me that it matters so much then why did people vote for the GFA, pretty much banking up full support within nationalism, if a shunt into another jurisdiction was that utterly important like you make it out why did people not just demand it all.

    Your theory over sovereignty is stand alone, like a boring academic argument and thus is detached from practical realities, let alone of the agreements that have already happened. Bizarrely these agreements have received the bi-national endorsement of those sovereign states, they themselves, which causes your sovereignty argument to crumble under complex analysis.

    National exchage will come about by consent and by sovereign agreement of the Republic in an other jurisdiction, that was the aim of the GFA – to do it peacefully using political arguments; but, that is if Ireland isn’t affected by all this talk of global warming, which could displace people into other terrorities, as is the case over time anyway re emigration/immigration – take Irish-Americans for example. I suppose your pompous behaviour around sovereignty might just mean people may as well hang themselves rather than have to be accommodated elsewhere…?

  • DC

    Dave – one word sums you up: anachronistic.

    Anachronistic Dave – tatty bye now.

  • Dave

    Sweet brainwashed child, there are 197 states on this we earth and bar the Vatican and two or three others of dubious status, all of them are nation-states.

    How can some that is current and overwhelmingly modern be an anachronism?

    Yes, it’s true that a small number of those nation-states, accounting for less than 7% of the global population, have ‘pooled’ sovereignty in certain areas but they have done that without the consent of the people to whom that sovereignty properly belongs and without informing the people about what it actually means to transfer sovereignty to foreign agencies and how it undermines the democratic process. The people, innocent quisling, do not approve of this process and that is why those who seek to engineer it do so without gaining the consent of the people. As Leonard Cohen rightly said, “Any system you contrive without us will be brought down.” 😉

    The Europhiles are engineering nationalism under your unseeing eyes because they know that no state can survive without it. What do you think European is? It’s a bloody continent, not a country and yet it is to serve as the basis of the new nationalism. Indeed, folks are already transferring their loyalty to the new national identity and demanding that it have its own sovereign (there’s that word again) borders and its own army to defend them. Post-nationalist? No, child, just transferring loyalty from one nationalism to another.

    Don’t let reality get in the way of your devotion to Humespeak – I’m sure there’s a career as an SDLP councillor at the end of your little rainbow.

  • Dave

    Typo: “How can [b]something[/b] that is current and overwhelmingly modern be an anachronism?”

  • Dave

    By the way, since I’m in a good mood, here’s an extra free clue: in order for those who want to gain control of your sovereignty to succeed in their aim, they must first convince those who control that sovereignty to transfer control of it. This, oddly enough, is not a process that is best achieved by telling people talking up the importance of sovereignty but rather by talking down its importance. Of course, if sovereignty isn’t important they why do they put so much effort into conniving to steal it? Probably because they knows its importance whereas the poor brainwashed plebs have brought the spiel and now thing ‘tis a terrible thing for a people to freely determine their own affairs rather than the very basis of freedom and democracy. Oddly enough, this crap doesn’t hit any fans outside of the particular zone where Europhiles fling it. 😉

  • DC

    Dave I said I was with you but only then if Britain and Ireland left the EU immediately, nice side stepping of all the complex issues too.

    But on your above post you mentioned about corporate tax rates, but you conveniently failed to mention that the Republic has been so successful economically as a result of EU monetary union in all of that!

    And about painting post boxes, well yea people might go on re-painting or perhaps the EU will forcible open up even more that public service utility so that people are painting over DHL or TNT post boxes anyway!!!

  • Briso

    “Whereas, I suppose, the ‘enlightened’ sections of [Irish] nationalism are to pretend that the “most backward sections of northern [British/Unionist] nationalism” wouldn’t rule Northern Ireland exclusively in their own interests as they have always done if they were ever allowed to return to majority misrule, and are to further pretend that such an Executive wouldn’t be able to exercise sectarian favouritism if a BoR acted as a token safeguard, giving the opportunity for every second decision to be challenged in the courts.”

    Good Lord. I agree with Dave….

  • Jer


    Thanks, but i have read it.

    I dont think Liam has any real sustantive grounds other than a strong dislike of Sinn Fein to write this article. Thats fine I guess but it cant be dressed up as fair analysis. Durkan made a speech and then rowed back pretty hard on it claiming that he was sorely misunderstood. This is simply targetting Sinn Fein for nother reason than antipathy.

    So Sinn Fein feels that the SDLP owe them something. Really, like what? The only thing Sinn Fein want from the SDLP are their seats. Sinn Fein may well see the possible advantage of having a Pan Nationalist front but I dont see why they want the SDLP arond the place. Clarke says that the fury of SF’s attack highlights the importance of the Pan-Nationalist model in their thinking. One possible reason I guess or alternatively the SDLP leader came out with a pretty silly idea that in no way reflects political reality and having been given such a gift SF used it.

    In Liam Clarke’s world Durkan was a post-conflict messiah scorned by the backwards of the north.

    In reality he made comments that he spent the week rowing back on, looked silly in the process and gave his political opponents a great way to highlight some of his failings.

    One last point:
    “Sinn Fein believes it can keep borrowing against the resources of others but it is wearing a bit thin.”
    So the entire political strength of SF is built on the SDLPs capital. I thought we had moved away from this nonsense of the borrowed SDLP vote.

  • Dec

    Odd how Clarke in his desperation to get Durkan off the ropes with, lambasts SF for ‘misrepresenting’ what Durkan said, doesn’t address the fact that the UUP, DUP and the Alliance party appeared to draw the same conclusions as Sinn Fein did. If what Durkan said was so measured, how do you explain the backpedalling he’s been engaged in all week. If Liam Clarke was engaged in anything other than bitter sniping at SF, he would have targeted Durkan for his asinine comments regarding some Utopian Bill of Rights to protect minority interests. (Remember ‘balance’, Liam?).

  • Patrick Stephens

    Just more Sinn Fein lies and more Sinn Fein bluster to try and distract from their total inability to represent real people.

  • Rory

    “…this nonsense of the borrowed SDLP vote.” as Jer described it is just that – utter nonsense. If anything it was the other way round – the SDLP and before them the Nationalist Party were dependent upon the “borrowed” votes of a people who lacked a coherent, Republican party for which to vote. Indeed under the Special Powers Act any Republican party was outlawed.

    Prior to Sinn Féin effectively organising to provide a real voice for northern nationalism we were all in political hock to a small political gang of “respectable” Catholic doctors, chemists, solicitors, accountants and small businessmen of whom admittedly some where quite decent but all were first and foremost wedded to their own marginal class interests and would never rock the boat in waters where these were threatened.

    The development of the Civil Rights campaign scared them shitless and so they took on board some left-sounding new-boys-in-town like Gerry Fitt and Paddy Devlin in an attempt to head the people off at the pass. Now they are back to relying on the Catholic professional and small business class almost entirely and with a bit of luck Durkan’s latest gaffe will finally allow us to draw the lace-curtains discreetly across their dying whimper.

  • DC

    Oh nice one Rory, well if we are going to indulge in little cut and paste selections of history make sure you don’t leave out the fact that nationalists ruled themselves out of representation via abstentionism.

    But here, as you also criticise the SDLP cohort, of which I am not a member btw, can I just say that I watched a debate involving SF and Donal McIntyre about education, Charles Kennedy was on it too – the question was put to SF’s Martina Anderson about the importance of spelling. She said she didn’t think it was that important, Donal McIntyre thought that was risible so to SF’s heavy statist talk of stakeholders rather than parent-focus and parent friendly language. So the SDLP may have doctors and businessmen, key professionals et al but surely it’s better to have that than members who think spelling isn’t important and then turn round to dictate how an education system should be run in a totally bureaucratic language that is alien to most parents!

    There’s something incredibly hollow about SF; but, I’ll give in that Durkan has himself hollowed out much of the positive drive for change by his backtracking, rather than cultivating us more on how his outcome could come about in the end.

    As with Fitt so to Hume and now Durkan when interesting themes develop the SDLP has a bad habit of falling face flat whenever it really could be so different if led-on properly.

  • Jer

    Rory, I fully agree.
    The real story here was whether the SDLP were pushing a line that was drawing them further and further away from their natural base. Considering the back-peddling Mark Durkan must have been told/realised that he was going off message, not a pan-nationalist message, but rather the SDLP message.
    I just cant see how Sinn Fein became the story in this.
    Just musing – if Mark Durkan was not habitually afforded such forgiving coverage would he have made such a mistake. For to have to back peddle on your statements can only ever be a mistake. If when Mark Durkan steps on a landmine the explosion goes off near Sinn Fein does that actually help him to develop the required media and focussed message skills you must possess as a leader. Do protective journalists like Clarke actually harm the the SDLP by cosseting it?

  • weeslabber

    Do people still read Sunday papers? What a waste of money. I gave up years ago. The quality of journalism in Sundays is abysmal.

  • Essentialist

    DC touches on an issue raised in Liam Clarke’s article.

    Alex Reid is credited with a strategy….

    “His big idea was that the moral authority and political clout of the Catholic church and the broader nationalist community could be substituted for the IRA campaign of violence. If republicans believed that some of their objectives could be secured by peaceful means with the help of broader nationalism, then the campaign could be ended.”

    Notice how this has been actioned through the joint Sinn Fein and SDLP position on grammar schools and academic selection. They are collectively backing the plan put forward by Reid. Unionists may content themselves to see bickering between the nationalist parties on semantics but the “Ruane” plans move ahead regardless. Any concession on the part of the DUP and UUP on the principles of academic selection and parental choice will undoubtedly guarantee more testing of the Reid project.

  • Red Diesel

    Jer, it’s ‘back-pedal’ as on a bicycle, OK? do try to keep up. And where exactly has this back-pedalling taken place? Not in the Irish News, where Durkan reaffirmed his theme on Saturday. Do you perhaps mean that Durkan did not go along with the mischievious and mendacious spin put on his original speech by Brian Feeney and other Sinn Fein spokespersons? I challenge you or anyone else to demonstrate that he has back-pedalled on any central tenet of powers-haring, of which designation is very clearly not one and was so acknowledged at the time of the Good Friday Agreement. Durkan is pedalling his own bike, not back-pedalling anyone else’s.

  • DC

    Well, fair play Red Diesel, as SF too were once on a bike. But the one they were on was a tandem except SF never pedalled, the British government did the leg work while Adams turned round over his shoulder wispering back to his crowd: tiocfaidh ar la.

  • runciter

    I challenge you or anyone else to demonstrate that he has back-pedalled

    You’ll be waiting a long time. The shinners are in panic mode as they realise the balls-up they’ve made of negotiations. This bluster about Durkan is a transparent attempt to deflect attention from the DUP stitch-up over policing.

    Conspiring with the DUP to hand a nationalist ministry to unionism was probably not the best idea they ever had.

  • Jer

    Thanks for for the correction of typo.

    Please note “central tenet of powers-haring”. If you are going to be a Dick on typos then do a spell-check first.

    Durkan made a speech that talked about the need to remove the ugly scaffolding, talked about bio-degradeable structures and removing them when necessary. He then called for a new focus on developing a bill of rights as a way to handle power sharing. All lovely stuff for the future but when you are a politician and you talk like that then its not unreasonable for commentators to say okay your looking for substantial changes to the present power-sharing system. In the absence of any further meat on the bones Durkan’s speech was read into and I think that he did spend the next week Back-pedalling (thanks BTW) because he had to go back and reinterpret a message that he himself was delivering.

    If Mark Durkan is not guilty of back-pedalling (thanks BTW) then is his back room team guilty of poorly controlling the news cycle, failing to advise how the speech would be/could be interpreted and being bested by the Brian Feeney, the DUP and SF who all seemed to get great milage from it.
    Please dont think that I am anti Mark Durkan though. I think he is quite a thoughtful politician who does bring some weight to discussions. I still feel that he had a bad week and that it was of his own making though.

  • Dec

    The shinners are in panic mode as they realise the balls-up they’ve made of negotiations. This bluster about Durkan is a transparent attempt to deflect attention from the DUP stitch-up over policing.

    Nice try but no cigar. As I’ve said before, if Sinn Fein misunderstood, Durkan they weren’t the only ones.

    DUP: “While the SDLP and the other negotiators of the failed Belfast Agreement have in the past staunchly defended Mandatory Coalition it is encouraging that Mr. Durkan has broken ranks and joined the DUP argument of needing to move away from the Mandatory Coalition model as soon as possible. Indeed, even Reg Empey, one of the lead negotiators of the Belfast Agreement, is seeking talks on the matter.”

    Reg Empey:”The present arrangements were brought in to encourage everybody to participate in devolution, and now that has happened there is an opportunity to move on and consider alternatives”

    The actual report from Ireland On-line reads: SDLP chief Mark Durkan claimed in a keynote speech in Oxford last night that the time was approaching when rules introduced to protect nationalists in the North’s government should be removed.

    We even had Baker crowing (somewhat prematurely): And, of course, some people (Republicans) would “just have to be tolerant of that..” . Hmm, we’ll see about that.

    Yet Durkan now tells us: “It is rubbish to say that I want voluntary coalition or Westminster-style majority rule. We have always opposed it and always will.”

    You wanted back pedalling, you just got it.

    Of course the main issue here is not that the power went to Durkan’s head at Oxford University and he suddenly thought he was Moses, but how utterly useless he is as a party leader. Of course, being charitable, it could be said that since Durkan talks so much it’s unreasonable to expect him to remember everything he actually says.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    From the IRA ‘(Pan Nationalist Front)’ Green Book:

    “[i]The I.R.A. volunteer, except when carrying out a specific army task, acts most of the time on his own initiative and must therefore shoulder that responsibility in such a way that he enhances our necessary stated task of ensuring that his conduct is not a contributory factor to the Brit attempt to isolate us from our people.”[/i]

    Anyone participating in the Pan Nationalist front could have been a member of the IRA, even Alex Reid. It wouldn’t be the first time a Priest was in the IRA.

    [i]”The strategy is:

    4. To sustain the war and gain support for its end by National and International propaganda and publicity campaigns.”[/i]

    What movement propped Adams up into the ideologically sound mouthpiece for the IRA, in America and Dublin?

  • runciter

    You wanted back pedalling, you just got it.

    Backpedalling occurs when someone changes their opinion, not when they disagree with others.

    But I’m pretty sure you knew that.

    Any comments on the P&J;deal?

  • Dec


    Backpedalling occurs when someone changes their opinion, not when they disagree with others.

    You appear to be confusing backpedalling with a u-turn.

    Any comments on the P&J;deal?

    Other than how Durkan tried to raise the stakes before getting his bluff well and truly called called?

  • runciter

    You appear to be confusing backpedalling with a u-turn.


    >Any comments on the P&J;deal?
    Other than how Durkan etc etc

    A simple “no” would suffice.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Pete Baker, care to explain why my last post was removed?

  • Ulsters my homeland

    correction Pete. I mistakenly posted it on another thread.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    UMH, are you sure you have the same Green Book that the rest of us have? Yours wasn’t printed by the Protestant Telegraph by any chance? And Pete, this is not football and sometimes the man and the ball are one and the same. And William Clarke is still a petomain and anything he writes is dripping with anti-republican vitriol and that is why he is emplioyed by the Sunday Times.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    [i]”UMH, are you sure you have the same Green Book that the rest of us have?”[/i]

    How many of yous are there on Slugger? don’t you feel ashamed to own such a book?, which obviously was the source for much of the murder, torture and intimidation directed towards the good people of N.Ireland.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    UMH, where did YOU get a copy to ‘quote’ from? Don’t YOU feel ashamed to ‘quote’ from such a book? I mean, it’s only an army manual. Surely the alphabet murderers have a manual? No, maybe not.

  • Ulsters ,my homeland

    “UMH, where did YOU get a copy to ‘quote’ from?”

    I found it while renevating the roof of a Priests house and I took it home with me, funnily enough I was never asked if I seen it.