Is it time someone pulled the trigger on the Assembly?

With the executive now seemingly deadlocked longer than it has been functioning, threat and counter threat exposed as ineffectual and now the apparent unraveling of even the limited agreement made, is it time someone brought the matter to a head?With Sinn Fein apparently rowing back on the form of the Policing and Justice Ministry, and the DUP’s stance seemingly dictated by Jim Allister, the Assembly seems locked in a death spiral. In normal circumstance it would probably do little harm to allow it to spin out, and hope that eventually reality would dawn. We have, after all, been here before. However, the economic crisis has changed the calculus. While the economic storms will hit whether our politicians sort things out or not, there are a number of actions the Assembly could take to alleviate the worst of the pain. Key among them is likely bringing forward capital projects to help a construction sector that is circling the drain. In any case, just the drain in confidence is doing us no good.

I fully expect someone to pop up to state that SF should seem allow meetings to go ahead. The response is simple; the DUP could simply agree to let Policing and Justice through in some form. The suggestion that either side will voluntary back down is naive, as is the suggestion that capitulation is a viable long term solution. Some of the underlying problems need solved in order to progress.

It is unlikely that the fundamental differences between the DUP and SF are going to be resolved any time soon. But there are several unknowns and assumptions that are helping to fuel this crisis. The DUP is clearly frightened of the TUV making even modest gains by attacking them from the right. Sinn Fein is clearly concerned about the drip drip loss of support and reaction from its base over support for the PSNI and the failure to deliver the devolution of P&J. It also assumes, perhaps lazily, that there is little imminent threat from the SDLP. Even the Alliance party seems concerned with electoral dangers in going back on its position as the leading party of opposition and accepting a policing and justice ministry.

An election would make some of these uncertainties more certain. It would also force the parties to make their respective cases on Policing and Justices directly to the electorate, who may be more unforgiving of poor argument than in happier times and it is unlikely that the pieces would fall exactly as they are now. Even if both main parties are returned largely unchanged, there may be advantages. It would be almost inconceivable that a new Assembly could be convened simply to deadlock, and the option of going back to the electorate again in that circumstance would seem to be remote. The question would then become an existential one, and a starker choice may help create some more fluid positions.

Either main party could pull the trigger; there are risks and advantages to both in taking this course. Clearly something needs to change to break the current impasse. If not the people in a democracy, what can?

  • joeCanuck

    Kensei,

    This problem is a symptom, not a cause.
    When the Assembly was set up, I think it was an unique institution in terms of governance. No one really knew if it would work. It has proven to be unworkable.
    So, P&J;is really a side issue. There needs to be a complete review of the arrangements that were set up and modifications need to be made. I demur from suggesting what the modifications should be. But the present arrangements are demonstrably unworkable.

  • Mick

    On the election speculation generally.

    I got the sense last year that people were slightly puzzled as to what each of the parties were standing for. There is a risk that that sense of puzzlement will simply deepen and the numbers of people not voting will increase.

    But I suspect with the fuming rage that Catriona’s got nice middle class parents in, it would be hard to predict just how that would play out. Unionist voters would have a better incentive to turn out than they’ve had in a very long while.

  • joeCanuck

    That would certainly give a lot of people food for thought, Mick.
    Are the UUP and SDLP really to be written off as serious players?
    Does anyone, other than the parties themselves if even them, carry out opinion polls?

  • Dewi

    Please Kensei don’t follow the trend of putting all those blasted links in your posts. I honestly think it’s time for a Soviet style quota – one post a day and no more than two links…..just can’t keep up with it all.

    On the topic – too depressed to say nowt. How it ended up like this might take a PHd to enravel..

  • Mick

    They keep people honest and help build solid arguments Dewi. Let him link away. Like footnotes in a book, you don’t have to read them (otherwise they would not be footnotes) but it enhances the experience if you do! 🙂

  • The Raven

    “But the present arrangements are demonstrably unworkable.”

    “I got the sense last year that people were slightly puzzled as to what each of the parties were standing for.”

    Couldn’t agree more, gentlemen. And yet within the whole edifice, some lights continue to shine.

    McGimpsey, as I have argued before, continues to do a no-nonsense job at Health – some will argue against that, but in the main, the issues he has tackled, he has tackled bullishly. He has much to do, and I would hate to see him out before he is completed his task.

    Mrs Ritchie – CTA stumbles aside – fights with considerable aplomb over at DSD. Her fight is more with the inept minions in her department than anything else, and again, there is more to do. But she seems to have grasped the workings of, what no-one who is familiar with it should deny, was a shambles of a Department.

    Wee Michelle is a firm farmer’s favourite. Crap alliteration, and obvious jokes aside, she has handled the brief well, and has fought again, against another inept schizoid internal mess – if she can get the Rural Development Programme up and running against all Departmental odds, it will be a feather in her cap.

    All this aside, where is our MIA First Minister? Where is Mrs Foster, while some boroughs outside of Belfast and Derry (yes…they exist…) have lost around 1000 jobs each over the past eight months? Where is the Environment Minister, when not lobbying officials of his own Department for planning applications, and eternally putting off local government restructuring? And how has Ms Ruane still got a job? Maybe she and Michael should swap for a month or so.

    And through it all, the fucked up tribalism that continues to dictate which side of the house gets to do what, means that we have no clear system of eliminating the arseholes, while keeping and encouraging the “few good men” that this entire farce has thrown up. Reasonable politicians bear the brunt of the vagaries of “which-side-of-which-side-of-the-house-will-we-vote-for-this-time.”

    Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

  • Dewi

    I’m sure you are right Mick – but as a business paradigm (that was clever) surely an hour a day on Slugger is the most you would expect? I get fed up when I ain’t got time to read everything. Don’t you think you should manage it so that we should be able to read everything in an hour?

    And anyway when u don’t read Baker’s links he shouts at you !

    Code = “Why” – there’s something going on…

  • Pete Baker

    Dewi

    “And anyway when u don’t read Baker’s links he shouts at you !”

    I’m sure you have examples to illustrate that claim?

    Don’t you..?

  • Mick

    Don’t try to read everything Dewi… just pick and choose…

    TR,

    Most people reckoned that Robbo did a good job at F&P;Night all…

  • Dewi

    “I’m sure you have examples to illustrate that claim? ”

    Pete – please – a joke – however – many times you have advised people to read the links to get understanding – quite understanadable.

    Just keeping up is a full time job – it’s 12.40 tonight and what I wanted to read was Chekov and Nic Whyte on Kosova and I still have no idea where it is.

  • Dewi

    BTW – Pete – always welcome in Cardiff – I do enjoy your posts honest.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Kensei

    Did you read Brian Feeney’s column today? It was entitled: An election won’t solve anything for DUP. I’m not convinced it will solve much for SF either, but maybe this needn’t reach the stage of an election. Suspension might be preferable from the perspective of the British and Irish govts.

    To them, this row is storm-in-a-teacup stuff compared to the state of their respective economies.

    Sort it out Stormont peeps, this is getting more and more boring. I mean, a row over what “at all times” means?!?! Get a grip! While the politicians have been debating the meaning of these three words, my electricity bill has risen and the prices of gas, heating oil and petrol have become unpredictable, house prices have risen to their highest levels ever and sunk again, the jobless numbers have jumped and inward investment now seems like a distant dream.

    And the most worrying thing is how little influence Stormont has over these when in full flow.

  • Billy

    JoeCanuck

    “When the Assembly was set up, I think it was an unique institution in terms of governance. No one really knew if it would work. It has proven to be unworkable”

    Spot on. Frankly, The truth is that there are very very few NI politicians with the intelligence and/or ability to hold local ministerial office. Most of them are laughable.

    Coupled with the tribalism that both the main parties (the DUP in particular) still have at their core and it’s a complete waste of time and money.

    I don’t think there are any measures that would make any real difference to this farce.

    Much better to hand the whole thing back to London + Dublin until such times as local politicians show that they have the maturity and intelligence to be trusted with this responsibility although I would’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

  • kensei

    Dewi

    I’m not a fan of mad linking myself either. I basically just treat them as references to support the argument. I try to make sure they are relevant to the section they are linked, and avoid Pete’s irritating habit of putting them as some knowing aside. I could link a [1], [2] beside the relevant word, which might make the impact less, but not entirely sure how to solve the problem. I thin part of it is that they are all red, which makes them stand out too much.

    Mick

    I think one of the advantages of going to the electorate over this is that you are going to have to make your case fairly clearly. Why does SF feel that this is so important, even in the face of the economic problems? Why does the DUP feel the end to spin this out permanently, even when it’s conceded the principle?

    Maybe the fear of actually having to do that will be enough during the suspension period.

    Gonzo

    I didn’t see Feeny’s column. But I think he’s wrong. So much of the problem is based on electoral calculation and narrow party interest. Actually having the election clarifies the issue, and removes it from the table. It will show how strong the TUV is. It will show if SF’s support will hold up or not. It’ll force the Alliance to pick a position one way or another, and face the consequences. The ministries could get mixed up. It is unlikely the pieces will fall in exactly the same place.

    We are essentially in deadlock here. Something has to change the calculations made by the parties in order to progress. So what is it?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Much better to hand the whole thing back to London + Dublin

    Billy, read my lips. Joint authority is not going to happen. Nobody wants it, and that includes Sinn Fein who have a great deal to lose from power being handed over to a hostile Dublin government.

  • DC

    Mick, it isn’t so much as about a new election but I would say pulling the plug altogether for a while would help save some money.

  • Is there not a possibility that the whole long tedious on-off-on-off history of the Assembly and Executive is a strategy to demonstrate to the whole world (and to unionists in particular) that Northern Ireland is actually a failed political entity?

    As every step forward is met by an equal and opposite reaction, the whole edifice is getting precisely nowhere. It is ironic, of course, that the unionists themselves have been persuaded to contribute heavily to the on-going failure of the system. They have, perhaps unwittigly, done a very good job of showing us all that the north is pretty incapable of ‘home rule’. The logical conclusion that many will draw is that another solution is inevitable.

    Some will call for a permanent restoration of direct rule (‘integration’), other for re-partition (‘greenflag’), and others will call for re-unification (successfully, I hope). In any case, if the cause of devolution fails, as usual it will not be tried again for another generation. But by then the context will be entirely different – unionism will be a clear minority, and in an even more powerless situation.

    Who will benefit most from the failure of the institutions? In my opinion nationalism will. This is unionism’s Alamo, and so far the Mexicans are winning (as they did at the original Alamo, of course).

  • Jean Baudrillard

    Devolved NI government is fantast football government. No one – that includes the ministers, the party hacks, the civil servants – nor indeed the public takes ulimate responsibility for the bottom dollar. And that’s because we don’t have too. London calls the shots and takes the blame,

    The american cry of ‘No taxation without representation’ needs to be inverted here. We need ‘No representation without taxation ‘.

    Tough as it might be – the decisions of our ministers must be seen to be directly related to the financial pain (or lack of) for the electorate.

    Without such a link we can all continue to play at politics and let London foot the bill or take the blame.

  • Greenflag

    Raven ,

    ‘the fucked up tribalism etc’

    Comes with the State -Raven . That’s why it was created . That’s the millstone around it’s neck that it can’t shake off – not as long as the State is in it’s present format, and human nature remains as it is. I can’t see any election either now or in the longer term future making any difference . Nothing for it except to muddle through until the ‘groundswell’ for a radical departure from the norm in terms of a politicial solution appears . Given the present economic environment both in the UK , ROI and worldwide my guess is that NI politicians never the most flexible or innovative in the profession are now ‘transfixed’ like rabbits caught by headlights .

    Kensei,

    ‘With the executive now seemingly deadlocked longer than it has been functioning’

    The Emperor is now accepted as being if not naked then covered with barely a stitch.

    ‘Clearly something needs to change to break the current impasse.’

    Question 1 :

    ‘How do you stop two dogs barking on a Sunday morning ?’

    Answer 1 :

    Put lead in their ears on Saturday night .

    Question 2 :

    ‘And how do you put lead in their ears ‘?

    Answer 2:

    Pull the trigger -twice

  • Alan

    “Please Kensei don’t follow the trend of putting all those blasted links in your posts. I honestly think it’s time for a Soviet style quota – one post a day and no more than two links…..just can’t keep up with it all.”

    I agree with the links issue on this. Let the readers search out their own angles and back them up. It has got to the stage that some sub-editing would be a boon.

    There is a balance to be found between lucidity and obscurity – and, sometimes, pure pointlessness. Some posts have declined into ill-considered link-dumps.

    This is one of the worst examples ( http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/now-we-potentially-have-the-worst-of-all-worlds/ )

    And I’m not getting at ANY individual, just commenting on a trend.

  • Greenflag

    Alan,

    Links are like arsenic . One or two or even three ca a tonic and informative but too many are poisonous . Again it depends on a particular topic . If one is interested in the ‘cosmos ‘ Pete Baker can never put out too many links IMO 🙂 If it’s a topic on the colour of kerbstones or post boxes in Ballymagash – one is more than enough .

    What I find mildly irritating about a surfeit of ‘links’ is that somebody wants to make a point which is fair enough but then tries to buttress that point by several links . The presumption being that if one does not read through all the links one can’t critique the ‘point ‘ being made .

    It’s also a cop out for the person making all the links sometimes relying on others to make their point for them .

    Is ‘regulation ‘ the answer ? This isn’t Wall St. I would hope that common sense might prevail .

    Links save space but often they offer a ‘cover’ for people making a point which they’d rather not make directly themselves . Dewi’s frustration is understandable .

    On this one I think the solution might best be left to the ‘free market ‘ .

    Not too much – not too little -just enough – and always commensurate with the topic being raised ?

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    A decalogue:

    * 1.) Sinn Fein have (needlessly) lied to *their* most lumpen support re the transfer of P&J;

    * 2.) the DUP (& HMG, and to the limited extent it matters, the Free State regime) aren’t giving SF a face saving exit from this hole they’ve not merely dug for themselves, but are currently attempting to deeper-still dig themselves out of;

    * 3.) the Stormont institutions (in both their BA & StAA variants), whilst an unstable duopoly, requiring both parts of the topmost duo to agree to ‘work’, are also the very best SF are going to get;

    * 4.) SF, right to the very top are compromised by the British state;

    * 5.) SF’s ‘political’ leadership do not want to lose the fruits of ‘peace’ they’ve personally become very accustomed to;

    * 6.) the present government in London suffers from a juvenile political fringe (20 or so utterly self-indulgent Trot backbenchers, of zero collective political ability, and with a profound, arrogant indifference to Blairite trivia like ever actually being able to win general elections): surmounting this in tight votes is greatly assisted by 9 opposition votes being sure, after a little showy dance, to drift your way as and when necessary (meaning 18 in total can be lost from your own side – 9 off the maximum possible opposition, 9 added onto your own tally);

    * 7.) if the Labour government loses the next election, the incoming Tory government will not indulge SF even to the limited extent Labour has;

    * 8.) we still, as far as any plausible US government is concerned, live in a post-11th September environment, meaning, should ‘Irish republicans’ be foolish enough to pursue their political ambitions through violent methods, neither will there be unofficial American support permitted for their actions, nor will a silent, official hand of restraint be placed upon HMG’s counter-terror response;

    * 9.) British domestic counter-terror preparations are legally, technologically and militarily greatly in excess of where they were when the Troubles started;

    * 10.) the DUP in particular and Unionism in general stand only to profit should SF, because of their own Republican internal contradictions, feel obliged to go through the pretence of collapsing the StAA, and at best from their point view, triggering a local election.

    Ergo? There’s only going to be a local poll if SF’s, uh, actual leadership feel particularly minded to throw Unionism a bone. And who knows, perhaps they are . . .

  • Greenflag

    horseman ,

    ‘Is there not a possibility that the whole long tedious on-off-on-off history of the Assembly and Executive is a strategy ‘ to demonstrate to the whole world (and to unionists in particular) that Northern Ireland is actually a failed political entity? ‘

    If it is – then it’s ‘Confucian ‘strategy based on the Chinese sage’s ‘journey of thousand miles beginning with first forty years :(?
    We have seen the wanderings in the political desert of no power sharing -power sharing on and off for forty years and our political wanderers still believe in their separate ‘promised ‘ lands .

    What if there is no promised land ?

  • Greenflag

    Why am I still a UUP voter?.

    The decalogue sounds more like a monologue . Nothing new and no the Giuliani 9/11 world change is as likely to be as much in vogue post Novembers Presidential Election as Giuliani himself is .

    ‘the DUP in particular and Unionism in general stand only to profit ‘

    Profit ? Unionism ? It’s been running at a loss for 80 years and the losses are mounting .

    As for throwing ‘unionism ‘ a bone it looks to me like the choice for unionism is between grabbing some crumbs or an anchor.

    Political Unionism in NI has a strong record of always going for the heavy metal approach . I’m informed by sea faring folk that anchors are notorious for their non floating skills .

    If the TUV don’t yet have a political logo or symbol why not the anchor ? .

  • Greenflag,

    If the TUV don’t yet have a political logo or symbol why not the anchor ? .

    Sorry, but they already do have a registered logo. It’s more of a fishing hhook than an anchor …

    TUV logo

  • George

    Why am I still a UUP voter?,
    I feel your decalogue is more of a hopeful wishlist of where unionism hopes Sinn Féin is rather than the reality.

    1. I believe Sinn Fein’s “most lumpen” support don’t feel lied to about the transfer of P&J;but they do feel it’s a point for SF to dig its heels in. What’s the worst that can happen? Stormont put into mothballs again. They will think so what.

    2. SF don’t need a face-saving exit from this, the easiest option is to continue blocking things as they have been. There has been little or no flak for SF south of the border on this and I haven’t seen nationalist commentators north of it having a go at them either.

    3. The Stormont institutions may be “the best” this generation will get but letting them fall won’t be seen as an indictment of Irish nationalism but rather as an indictment of the dysfunctional political entity created by partition. In the greater British-Irish relationship scheme of things (aka the bigger picture), this Stormont parliament means absolutely nothing.

    4. SF could very well be compromised but that won’t necessarily save Stormont, and who says British intelligence has the welfare of unionists at its heart?

    5. SF’s leadership is living comfortably but they can still eke out a comfortable living without Stormont.

    6. ?

    7. SF doesn’t really need to be indulged by Westminster, especially if devolution fails.

    8. What makes you think violence will fill the Stormont vacuum?

    9. What makes you think violence will fill the Stormont vacuum?

    10. SF will continue as they are. I don’t see why they have to actively trigger its collapse or why there has to be a subsequent election.

    The question is who wants and needs devolution more? In my opinion, it is of greater benefit to unionism than nationalism.

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    If devolution-as-is is of ‘greater benefit to unionism than nationalism’ than surely the next step for SF is delightfully straightforward? After all, why on earth would SF want Unionism to needlessly benefit, if preventing that lies so easily in their hands?

    Somehow I didn’t think a decalogue would produce much of a response from the more witlessly tribal end of Sluggerdom, but it was worth a go.

  • George

    Why am I still a UUP voter?,
    If devolution-as-is is of ‘greater benefit to unionism than nationalism’ than surely the next step for SF is delightfully straightforward? After all, why on earth would SF want Unionism to needlessly benefit, if preventing that lies so easily in their hands?

    I think you’re already seeing how straightforward the step is.

    SF has an idea of what it wants to achieve from devolution and where it can benefit in the short term.

    If it turns out that these benefits don’t look like accruing then it’s a no-brainer for them to follow the “delightfully straightforward” steps they are now taking.

    Why? Because in the long run, devolution holds no interest for SF so if they can’t get what they want now then it’s time to move on.

    Where does unionism go if devolution fails? What would you be calling for?

  • Greenflag

    horseman ,

    Nuff said or should I say shown 🙁

    Hook and line but no sinker eh 😉

    Old Chinese saying

    ‘If you hunt for fish do not climb a tree ‘

    Old Unionist saying

    ‘ If you hunt for fish make sure it’s not a fenian ‘

    Old Joke in New Clothes .

    After the collapse of the Assembly -Robinson , McGuinness, , Empey, and Paisley , all meet in hell to discuss the situation .

    Robinson says:

    I was the First Minister but I must have upset a great many people and we can now see what happened.

    McGuinness says:

    I was the Deputy First Minister in very difficult times , but I was too stubborn and too righteous and here I am .

    Empey says :

    ‘I was negotiating with the TUV and the Tories and suddenly I end up here ‘?

    Paisley says :

    I am Ian Paisley -the Second First Minister of Northern Ireland -enemy of the Pope – and Doctor of Divinity . This place is not hell and I am not here.

  • PaddyReilly

    A friend is the sister of a schizophrenic. He takes his medication regularly. She complains he does nothing all day. I tell her that is a great improvement on the days before effective medication, when he committed any number of solecisms.

    It’s the same with the Asssembly. If nothing happens, that’s good news. After all, with a schizophrenic society, you should be grateful. Nothing doing is not necessarily the worse kind of political scene. There has been much worse.

  • Greenflag

    george,

    ‘Where does unionism go if devolution fails?’

    It goes where an empty train goes when it pulls into an empty station – no passengers get off and none get on. Name of Station anyone ?

    World’s End ? Twilight Zone ? Union Station ? Upyoursminster ? Deja Vu Junction ?

    paddy reilly

    ‘Nothing doing is not necessarily the worse kind of politics’

    True . As long as the Great Gordo keeps pulling the dosh from his magic hat.

  • Billy

    Comrade Stalin

    “Billy, read my lips. Joint authority is not going to happen”

    Can you please point out where I mentioned immediate Joint Authority in my post? However, have you been watching events in NI over the past 10 years?

    The UK govt have been working ever more closely with the Irish govt who have been gaining ever increasing involvement in the running of the North.

    You (and other Unionists) may like to believe that Sinn Fein are getting all the blame for this current impasse but, unfortunately for you, that doesn’t make it so.

    If the assembly goes, it will reflect badly on all parties here but especially the DUP.

    The DUP WANT DEVOLVED govt, they are really Ulster Nationalists and also (as the recent 25 years should have shown you) the UK govt has no long term interest in the North and would love to get out.

    If you can produce any evidence that there is any substantial support for NI unionism in Westminster, the UK or anywhere else outside NI then please do so.

    If we go back to Direct Rule, the UK govt will gladly welcome substantial and increasing input from Dublin – it will cost them nothing! on the “mainland” as NI is a total non-issue.

    It won’t be joint authority but with 45%+ of the population Catholic\Nationalist and growing, it’s hardly going to move towards stregthening the Union, is it?

    As David Trimble pointed out, the only way that the “Union” can be safeguarded in the future is if Unionism brings Catholics on board.

    However, that is clearly too much to ask for many DUP/TUV supporters who delight in seeing the DUP use their current position to block anything that is a benefit to Nationalists.

    Like many Nationalists, I would be happier to have decisions that effect me made in Westminster than by people like Wilson, Campbell or Foster.

    Read my lips – there is NO fear or worry in the Nationalist community about the UK govt getting pissed off with DUP intransigence and scrapping the whole thing.

    What do you think is going to happen? The DUP will be seen in Westminster as having being the decent guys who were brought down by those damn Nationalists and Sinn Fein?

    Dream on, the Westminster community are only too well aware what motivates the DUP and people like Iris Robinson, McCrea, Campbell, Wilson and Simpson don’t exactly command a lot of respect do they?

    Apart from you, it is clear to everyone including the DUP that Gordon Brown wants them to get on with it – a position also held by the US + Irish administrations.

    The vast majority of Nationalists, like myself, would be happy to have decisions made by the UK govt who have “no selfish, strategic or economic interest in the North” than by our pathetic local representatives.

    On the other hand, do Unionists really want to place their trust in UK govts that have consistently (since 1985) moved towards substantial and ever increasing involvement from the Irish govt.

    In the Nationalist community the strong felling is that Unionists need the devolved assembly much more than we do. If Sinn Fein continue to employ their present tactics and the DUP continue their intransigence – so what?

    Eventually we’ll go back to Direct Rule and, like I said, that doesn’t worry Nationalists one bit – we’re hardly likely to be any worse off and frankly probably better.

    Do you really think that we trust people like Campbell and Wilson to give us a better deal than a UK minister?

    Unionists on the other hand will lose any input into Irish govt influence in the North – the UK govt will simply bypass them as they have done so many times before.

    And, for all their bluster, Unionists will simply have no choice other than to stand back and accept it i.e the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

    Every time Unionists go back to the table, they have a weaker hand.

    Robinson and Dodds aren’t stupid, they know that the collapse of the assembly is much worse for them (and their future) than for Nationalists.

    That’s why the local media is full iof Unionist politicians whinging and trying abysmally to paint this as all Sinn Fein’s fault. What Unionism fails to realise yet again is that it’s easy to appeal to their backwoodsmem but, outside NI, they are non-starters in the PR contest.

    I don’t see any Nationalists or Nationalist politicians panicking. That’s because we know that either the DUP compromise or we go back to Direct Rule – no real problem for us but a major blow for Unionism and the DUP.

    You may not realise but the DUP certainly do. That’s why it’s they are panicking and whinging

  • Bigger Picture

    Can i just say it is an absolute joy and beauty to see arrogant and bitter nationalists back to the fore on Slugger O’Toole the place hasn’t quite been the same without you lot and your romantic visions of a united Ireland, it makes me realise that there are still some people who fell for SF’s betrayal and I am glad you have found a suitable place to whinge and complain.

    First off I must start off with the lead author…

    Kensei

    “the DUP’s stance seemingly dictated by Jim Allister”

    Ok and this would be the same stance that the DUP had in their 2007 manifesto? It hasn’t actually changed it’s in black and white, and yes Jim Allister was in the DUP when that manifesto was written, are we to then gather that all DUP manifesto’s throughout time have been dictated by Jim Allister?

    “While the economic storms will hit whether our politicians sort things out or not, there are a number of actions the Assembly could take to alleviate the worst of the pain. Key among them is likely bringing forward capital projects to help a construction sector that is circling the drain. In any case, just the drain in confidence is doing us no good.”

    And who is to blame for that? It wasn’t the DUP who created this crisis, in fact when Peter Robinson said there could be an executive meeting with an open agenda, you all rejected that as well. If you actually want the system to work, it isn’t about doing side deals, there are 3 other parties in the executive come and get a consensus and move forward. You had the opportunity to do that, why was it not taken?

    “I fully expect someone to pop up to state that SF should seem allow meetings to go ahead. The response is simple; the DUP could simply agree to let Policing and Justice through in some form.”

    Now i think someone else is being naive. SF demand so the DUP must jump. What kind of politics is that? Especially when we have people on here stating that for SF devolution is just a short term option – does that actually inspire any confidence to let your grubby hands anywhere near it?

    “the economic crisis has changed the calculus”

    Ok then why not do a face saving exercise where you say, we are putting our differences aside for the time being for the sake of everybody out there in these days of financial difficulty? If you wanted to that could happen but the reality is that using the economic situation is simply a cover for the fact that you are frustrated because the DUP has not played ball with the way you want things to proceed.

    “The DUP is clearly frightened of the TUV making even modest gains by attacking them from the right. Sinn Fein is clearly concerned about the drip drip loss of support and reaction from its base over support for the PSNI and the failure to deliver the devolution of P&J;.”

    This may be all true on the point that there has been no election recently, but if we look at the last by-election in Enniskillen, there are pointers and trends to how any gen election would go

    (I obviously know the problem with using these results, however much was made of the Dromore by-election in Feb so I think it is only right to contrast that with this later and more accurate result)

    In Enniskillen the DUP won with an increased percentage of the vote, the SF vote stood still, UUP same and SDLP down. In a council ward that is more nationalist than unionist that is a suprising result. The SDLP lost 600-700 votes but instead of these going to SF, which would have made them victorious, they stayed at home. That is surely something that SF must be seriously worried about. It is unclear what happened, did moderate SDLP types stay at home or did they indeed vote SF instead of SDLP and the loss was down to hard line Republicans staying at home and not voting SF?

    Now i know it will be pointed out that the TUV didn’t stand. However, with that factor, if the dissent in the unionist community was high, would the same not have happened to the DUP vote as happened to SF with their vote standing still or worse falling?. No instead it actually rose.

    A nationwide election would of course be different, no doubt but the resources of TUV being saved for a mediocre Euro campaign and poor finances in republicna circles I can’t imagine anyway that the status quo will change.

    On another election point raised by many republicans here can i ask one question. Why would a unionist electorate actually punish the DUP if SF pull the plug for not getting their way? The DUP’s argument will be simple- we are pushing SF all the way, they have been forced to want, DESIRE BRITISH DIRECT RULE, don’t change a winnig team for unionism. Why on earth would unionists want to actually let you off and get your way while every average citizen is more concerned about their next fuel bill rather than who gets to talk to Shu Orde every week.

  • Bigger Picture

    Ok main rant over a few minor points..

    George

    “I don’t see any Nationalists or Nationalist politicians panicking. That’s because we know that either the DUP compromise or we go back to Direct Rule – no real problem for us but a major blow for Unionism and the DUP.”

    That has to be one of the most laughable things for a republican to say, it shows you really how close you are to a UI, WAKE UP damn ye! The DUP compromise and let Republicans get control over a police service they murdered for thirty years or they go back to rule by her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, God Save the Queen, trooping of the colour and Boris Johnston. It really is a no brainer what unionists would prefer. I can’t believe you used that as an argument to advance Irish Republicanism!!!

    “If you can produce any evidence that there is any substantial support for NI unionism in Westminster, the UK or anywhere else outside NI then please do so.”

    I would have thought the Tories prospective merger with the UUP shows that. (Even though i’ve no time for the UUP)

    “Eventually we’ll go back to Direct Rule and, like I said, that doesn’t worry Nationalists one bit – we’re hardly likely to be any worse off and frankly probably better.”

    So the whole fuss about P&j;is really nothing then? you don’t really care, you have nothing to lose from telling your supporters that yes we may have lied to you and said the DUP is signed up to p+j whenever they haven’t? and that devoluion is the first step on the road to a united ireland but that’s all bollocks because the real way to gain independence is by letting the imperialists that we have fought against for 30 years run the show. I wonder what Bobby Sands would have thought of it all?

    I have news for you George, as far as the two Governments are concerned the devolution issue is SORTED, they are not likely to take powers away. Once you compromise and say we can work together, the two Govts will always say ok you worked out once go away and work it out again. Ok the British Government may want to have less of a hand in NI in the same way there are devolved institutions in two other parts of the Kingdom, but it has left those issues in the hands of the people of NI who have elected the DUP as the largest party and that is the stark reality that republicans are faced with, whether you want to believe it or not.

  • Bigger Picture

    Sorry that last post was addressed to George when it should have been Billy whoops!

  • Dewi

    Shared future eh Bigger Picture?

  • Greenflag

    bigger picture ,

    You are ‘losing it ‘ cool down;)

    ‘it (HMG) has left those issues in the hands of the people of NI who have elected the DUP as the largest party ‘

    But maybe not the largest party after another election .They could lose out to the UUP and TUV and independent unionists through fragmenting and if SF end up with 31 seats as against 30 for the DUP then the next NI First Minister will be SF .

    Maybe you should read Feeney’s article .

    ‘They (HMG )are not likely to take powers away. ‘

    Right . Once SF walk out the DUP FM has 6 weeks to find an agreed solution with the partner party and if none can be found then there will be an election -The greater likelihood of an election is that both parties consolidate their support for opposing reasons then there will be no point in any new Assembly even meeting .

    Adams should wrap it up now . In any event given the current economic slowdown any minor powers which the Assembly may have to impact the economy of NI will be securely in London hands . So what’s the point in having an Assembly -No Talking Shop – anyway . NI did without a no talking shop for the better part of 30 years between 1972 and 2007 so it can do so again .

    It’ll also save Gordy money and right now that’s going to be his main priority .

  • Bigger Picture

    Greenflag

    I refer to my post above regarding any future election, I don’t wish to repeat myself.

    “Maybe you should read Feeney’s article ”

    No thanks nothing more than more scaremongering from a SF supporting columnist that does’t actually any insight into unionists thinking and their likely voting patterns.

    “Right . Once SF walk out the DUP FM has 6 weeks to find an agreed solution with the partner party and if none can be found then there will be an election -The greater likelihood of an election is that both parties consolidate their support for opposing reasons then there will be no point in any new Assembly even meeting ”

    I can’t see a problem with that, it’s not the DUP’s fault the excecutive isn’t meeting and believe me the unionist electorate isn’t going to stop voting for the DUP because they DON’T give in to SF political demands.

    “Once SF walk out the DUP FM has 6 weeks to find an agreed solution with the partner party”

    There are two other partners on Government the UUP and SDLP, the best way to seek a way forward is to meet around the executive table with all 4 parties present. The DUP have offered an open agenda therefore there is no need to go through that particular charade.

    “Adams should wrap it up now . In any event given the current economic slowdown any minor powers which the Assembly may have to impact the economy of NI will be securely in London hands . So what’s the point in having an Assembly -No Talking Shop – anyway . NI did without a no talking shop for the better part of 30 years between 1972 and 2007 so it can do so again .

    It’ll also save Gordy money and right now that’s going to be his main priority . ”

    Fair enough a unionist will be content with British Direct Rule, why not go further and integrate more NI run servicesinto their British counterparts that’ll save more money for Gordy and increase efficiency. I don’t have a problem with any of that and I agree with you. Just don’t try and argue that somehow that advances Irish Republicanism as it clearly does no such thing.

    You say there was no talking shop between 1972 and 2007 true but during the troubles SF/IRA wanted a UI through terrorism then came the time where SF/IRA wanted devolution and told their supporters that this was the non-violent path to a UI. Please then explain to me how SF welcoming back British Direct Rule which they fought against for 30 years somehow advances their struggle?

    Dewi

    “Shared future eh Bigger Picture? ”

    Unioinists aren’t the ones holding back the shared future agenda by refusing to meet and pass measures that benefit our entire community

  • Dave

    The Shinner leadership knows that there isn’t any alternative to Devolution that is acceptable to their masters, so, as far as they are concerned, they’re in it for the long haul (permanently) and they have all the time it takes to integrate their supporters into the reformed political institutions – by whatever roundabout route that requires.

  • Billy

    Bigger Picture

    Enjoyed your rant.

    2 quick points:

    1. I am not and never have been a SF Member, supporter or voter. Frankly, I totally disgaree with their education policy among other things.

    I am talking about Nationalists in general – it is clear that the DUP are not yet ready to treat Catholics as equals and, in my opinion, we’ll get a better deal from a Lab/Con Minister than from the likes of Campbell, Wilson or Foster.

    2. Your evidence of “substantial support for NI unionism in Westminster, the UK or anywhere else outside NI” – the prospective meger of the Conservatives and UUP. Absolutely fantastic! – what a comedian you are.

    This is a “merger” of the Tories with a party that has declining support – ONE MP who won’t take the Tory whip and the chances are it won’t happen anyway (I don’t think too many Tories will want to be associated with people like the UUP council members in Limavady).

    Talk about scraping the barrel!

    I must admit that, with an arsenal of international support like that for the NI Unionists, we Nationalists might as well pack it in.

    Thanks for the laugh – I really enjoyed it.

  • Bigger Picture

    Billy

    Youasked to see where support for unionism in NI at Westminster cam from. I have duly highlighted that the Opposition and more than likely next Government is probably a little too close to Unionism for your collective comfort. No matter what happens in terms of mergers etc it shows where the Tories interest in NI currently lie. If that makes you laugh fine, if that is what it takes for you to ignore reality that British Direct Rule actually helps nationalist interests.

    By the way if you wanna take a stab at answering the questions i posed to Greenflag go right ahead. Or any of the other points i have raised for that matter

  • Billy

    Bigger Picture

    “where the Tories interest in NI currently lie”

    Yeah, right – Margaret Thatcher described herself as a “Unionist and a Loyalist” but proceeded to sign the Anglo Irish Agreement.

    John Major’s SoS for the North famously declared that the British govt had no long term selfish, strategic or economic interest in the North.

    John Major himself was a key player in the Downing Street Declaration and laying the foundations for the GFA.

    If the next PM is David Cameron, he will be leading a country that is facing many challenges.
    In case you hadn’t realised it, most people in the UK don’t regard the North as an integral part of the UK and really don’t give a shit about it.

    The North will be extremely low on Cameron’s priorities.

    Of course, we also have Unionism being primarily represented by the DUP and their enangelical, olde-worlde views on homosexuality (as expressed so well by Iris).

    Yet another winner for Unionism there.

    So, if you want to delude yourself that Cameron (if elected) will usher in a new golden-age for Unionists and a return to Catholics adopting a croppie lie down attitude, good for you.

    The Tory party has changed massively since they were last in govt. It is multi cultural, younger and (shock,horror!) even has prominent members + MPs who are openly gay.

    The are very few (if any) old empire building pro Unionists in it – the world has moved on.

    Cameron is a clever guy and a pragmatist. He will inherit a 6 county state where Nationalists/Catholics form 45%+ of the population and increasing.

    He will be dealing with a US + Europe that has very little time for NI Unionism and sectarianism.
    As I said, outside NI, Unionism is a non-starter in the PR/Support stakes.

    From a constitutional Nationalist point of view, I don’t think it makes much difference which party governs in GB.

    We all know that Britian (under any govt) would love nothing more than to get rid of the ‘pravince’. It’s really now a matter of how long it takes and how they go about it.

  • Greenflag

    bigger picture ,

    ‘You say there was no talking shop between 1972 and 2007 true ‘

    No I did’nt . My exact words were there was no talking shop for the better part of 30 years between 1972 and 2007 . Not the same thing .

    There actually was a power sharing Assembly in 1974 name of Sunningdale in which the SDLP were partners with the UUP or NIUP under Brian Faulkner. That too was too much for Unionists to stomach at the time . Now they get to stomach SF . As somebody else said here everytime Unionism rejects compromise the next time around they are forced to compromise with a political party even more incompatible with ‘unionism ‘.

    ‘Please then explain to me how SF welcoming back British Direct Rule which they fought against for 30 years somehow advances their struggle? ‘

    You’ll have to address SF supporters on that one . But I do know that Northern Irish nationalists made a lot more economic and social progress under British Direct Rule (1972 to 1998) than they ever did under Unionist majority rule (1920 to 1972) . I don’t see any reason how that scenario would change under renewed direct rule .

    Pinning Unionist hopes on the Tories in Westminster did’nt work when Maggie the ultra Unionist was in power. Remember she signed the Anglo Irish Agreement with the Dublin Government sending Paisley into an apopeleptic fit at the time calling Thatcher a ‘traitor’ no less.

    Cameron will ‘use’ UUP or DUP Westminster MP’s if he has to . That’s just Westminster politics .

    But we’ve been there before too with Major and at the end Unionists were still forced into ‘power sharing ‘ against their will by a combination of internal NI forces and outside Government pressure . One way or the other that’s the scenario . Only a Unionist UDI can alter that and it does not look as if either the DUP or UUP have any cojones left to pull that one – not in present economic circumstances anyway .