False political gods?

A reply to Turgon on who won last week?I personally doubt the value of anyone seeking to make a victory lap even when they have achieved something broadly positive. It is better to be focused, consistent and precise rather singing from the rooftops. There is a temptation to try and build Unionist confidence in the value of politics by over-egging positive developments. However, such a process will not be made in great leaps. Also Unionism’s view of negotiations needs to mature, it isn’t about victory, it is about getting your interests addressed. If you achieve that then you have been successful.

Turgons’ piece takes on various aspects but the core question is:

“Firstly if the latest deal is so poor for Sinn Fein and so good for the DUP why did SF agree to it?”

‘Poor deals’ – It is a fact of life that people, organisations and governments do sign up to ‘poor’ deals for a variety of reasons. Unionists don’t have to look to far to find a precedent – the UUP and the Belfast Agreement (Turgon and I would share doubts about St Andrews too). Why did it occur in this case I offer three possible reasons:
Negotiating skills – There is a strange aspect of Unionist political culture and that is the veneration of the Republican movement. It verges on presenting them as all-conquering even omnipotent. It is becoming ever clearer that during the process that London and Dublin had a predisposition to be generous to republicans and assisted them in the process e.g. Powell writing PIRA statements. The concession a day wasn’t because they were such crafted and wily negotiators but because the people in charge wanted to give it to them. SF now finds itself without many of the key individuals in power and in a devolved setting faced with no one with a similar predisposition. As you admit part of the problem was Sinn Fein’s past failure to negotiate the date, they had showed they could make mistakes in negotiations. Unionists may have to realise that we could have been making false political gods of republicanism and its leaders. They may not be as all-conquering and omnipotent as is so often imagined in the Unionist mind.
The Blame Game – The manner of how Sinn Fein tried to disrupt did not ensure the equal application of blame or pressure. The DUP were not getting off scot free but SF were getting more of the blame. The poorly chosen ground SF tried to fight the battle on should also reinforce questions about their strategic skills.
Circumstances – Consider what was happening beyond policing and justice, who would have predicted when Sinn Fein started its blocking tactics that the global economy would go from dodgy to down the toilet? This increased the pressure to stop the blockage. Also Sinn Fein’s preference for the two governments to ‘re-engage’ didn’t happen. There were no big pressure cooker talks at some old castle, largely because the governments had plenty else to do when faced with an economic crisis. Negotiation Plan A didn’t happen for them and they were left with the Plan B of sorting it out with the DUP, a scenario which always meant they were going to get less.

There are two other issues worth responding too – the preferability of direct rule either from a unionist or republican perspective. There is a degree of wilful ignorance to present Direct Rule as a benign option for Unionism. While there are no guarantees what will happen, past precedent bodes the least well for Unionism. For republicanism, again there are no guarantees what will happen even if past precendent gives them greater grounds for optimism. One advantage devolution has for Sinn Fein is their direct participation while direct rule it is indirect. Sinn Fein seems to think its southern strategy could have new life. The common perception has been this increased the willingness to walk away (one I held), maybe I and the common perception is wrong. Perhaps fulfilling a constructive role in Northern Ireland is a key to southern success not wrecking. SF demonstrating they are more than a protest party.

Overall it needs to be accepted it is possible for Unionist to go to a negotiating table and not get screwed.

PS Turgon what are you basing the claim on that the selection system defaults to d’Hondt?

  • PeaceandJustice

    In the past, the Sinn Fein PIRA gang were perceived to be ‘good’ at negotiations as the Government was keen not to annoy them too much due to the amount of guns and bombs they had. I believe it’s called appeasement.

    However, I’ll wait before I make any comment on this so-called DUP win. As mentioned elsewhere, the EU has been asked to fund a centre for the promotion of terrorism and suicide at the Maze – by Sinn Fein PIRA and the DUP. Is this Robinson’s way of telling us that he supports such a centre? What other announcements can we expect over the coming weeks from the ‘great’ negotiators of the DUP?

  • fair_deal

    “asked to fund a centre for the promotion of terrorism and suicide at the Maze”

    Where did the EU or anyone else for that matter say it was going to fund a centre with those particular goals?

  • PeaceandJustice

    To fair-deal – it will be dressed up as some well-meaning conflict transformation centre. But the reality is clear – it’s on the site where terrorists committed suicide in order to forward Republican goals. Are you saying that these terrorists won’t feature prominently? And given your question, is this the attitude of the New DUP – in favour of the centre?

  • FD,

    You are right. The DUP have been running rings round the Provos. Having said that, the reality is that the GFA was actually a good deal for unionism – as has been shown by where we are now – but the relcutance of many unionists and the DUP to see this weakened unionism’s hand under Trimble, who in this respect I think was underestimated.

    Adams and co are in danger of losing their air of invulnerability. Maybe we’ll see his remarkable career end in failure yet by being pushed aside in the future like Big Ian.

  • Fair Deal

    Surely when all is said and done Gerry Adams, as the Antichrist, is a false political god:-

    I believe that Gerry Adams is the Antichrist because of the coincidence that his name comes out at 666 on my numeric alphabet (see Appendix 1 of Revelation on my website), a numeric alphabet that I discovered during my years at St Columb’s College in Derry and further investigated during my years at University College Galway. If his name didn’t come at 666, using some reasonable means, then I would not believe that he is the Antichrist. He would simply be to me just another delinquent who leads a very large conspiracy to undermine Ireland.

    Second of all, due to another pertinent coincidence his name contains “Adam”, the name of the first man, and from a theological point of view, this adds much to the basis of him being the Antichrist. Adam coincidentally means ‘man’ in Hebrew, and the number of the beast is specifically described as “man’s number” (Rev 13:18).

    These are extraordinary coincidences and not to dismissed by any means by any intelligent observer of matters theological.

    The apostle Paul wrote: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). Adam therefore symbolises death, and thus the question must be asked, is there significance to the ‘Adam’ in Gerry Adams’ name? Does Gerry Adams, the effective leader of the IRA’s republican movement, symbolise death?

    The descriptions of the beasts in the Book of Revelation are interesting.

    ‘The inhabitants worshipped the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed,’ (Rev 13:12). Coincidentally, Gerry Adams was shot and wounded in 1984, but recovered. Afterwards, he became Sinn Fein president and one of the foremost politicians in Northern Ireland. The use of violence for him is a matter of tactics. That is a matter of fact and record. Gerry Adams has not stepped away from violence. He believes in his own words that “there is a time for peace and a time for war”, mocking the Prince of Peace and equating Christ with the Antichrist, good with evil.

    The first beast, who is said to be the Antichrist, is prophesied to have “seven heads” (Rev 13:1), which is coincidentally the number of heads on the IRA army council, including Gerry Adams’ allegedly.

    “Who can make war against him?” (Rev 13:7). The IRA has been described as ‘the most sophisticated terrorist organisation in the history of mankind’. Their structure makes it impossible for a conventional army to defeat them

    Gerry Adams fulfilled another prophecy during the run-up to the 2007 Assembly election campaign in the North of Ireland. This involved him requesting the use of Clonard Monastery (Roman Catholic) church in West Belfast for a political meeting discussing his party’s policy. He still believed that armed struggle was a legitimate means of resolving differences.

    When Gerry Adams took to the altar of Clonard monastery while his beliefs were in conflict with Christ’s teaching, he was proclaiming himself to be wiser than God and better than Jesus Christ. He was in logic proclaiming himself to be God.

    “[The man of lawlessness or the Antichrist] will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thes 2:3-4)

  • fair_deal

    P&J;”Are you saying that these terrorists won’t feature prominently?”

    You are running ahead of yourself. A request for funding has been made. It hasn’t been answered so far. Also even if the EU says yes the who/what/when of the centre is to be is to be sorted. The ‘shrine’ concern is a legitimate one but I think it’s too early to declare defeat on a centre that is simply an idea on a page with no funding or fully developed plans.

    I see no reason to believe what you will say happen is by any means a certainty.

    “And given your question, is this the attitude of
    the New DUP – in favour of the centre?”

    I would remind you that was you who said you knew what the DUP’s position was not me ie “the EU has been asked to fund a centre for the promotion of terrorism and suicide at the Maze – by Sinn Fein PIRA and the DUP”

    I personally doubt the DUP (old or new), UUP, TUV or whatever part of the Unionist alphabet soup you chose supporting a centre “for the promotion of terrorism and suicide at the Maze”.

    My question was to see if your comment were based on suspicions or some piece of information. Suspicions are not certainities.

  • McGrath

    Posted by John O’Connell on Nov 24, 2008 @ 10:03 PM

    I see they have let you out for a while again. Those pills they gave you when you were leaving, you are supposed to take them everyday.

  • McGrath

    When Gordy told SF and DUP to sort it out themselves, SF’s game was up. DUP had nothing to lose by waiting it out, SF because they don’t have control over republicanism like they once did, had nothing to bargain with. The whole exercise simply sets a precedent for how things will be handled in the future.

    The Maze site needs to be bulldozed and a few fields of turnips planted. This conflict center is just an excuse to pick at scabs.

  • Dan’s Breen Revolver

    I wonder if all those PIRA veterans who don’t enjoy the trappings of power will seriously consider a return to violence.

    I doubt it.

  • Dubin voter

    “Also Unionism’s view of negotiations needs to mature, it isn’t about victory, it is about getting your interests addressed. If you achieve that then you have been successful.”

    Well spoken FD. I think the key is for all sides to develop that mature understanding of what negotiations should be about. The really hard bit for Northern Ireland in general (not just the case in point) is to develop solutions which meet the interests of all parties. (Yes, I work sort of in this area.) It seems to me that the GFA made a good start on that.
    One side “winning” over the other is not a solution. Northern Ireland from its inception, in my view, entailed the Unionists “winning” over the nationalists. It didn’t last. So the future is a Northern Ireland where nationalists are happy that their nationality and rights are respected and unionists likewise. So a bit of jointish authority, respect for each other’s emblems and so on. Easy. Now JFDI please!

  • blinding

    The politicians in Northern Ireland that are prepared to do the boring day to day stuff are the most likely to be sucessfull in the Northern Ireland of now and the future.

    Thankfully that perverse human excitement that is engendered by murder and mayhem has passed.
    And lets not try to pretend it does not exist.

  • Greenflag

    When the winds of change blow you can build either walls or windmills . In the history of this island Unionism has always gone for the wall – Irish Constitutional Nationalism for the windmill .

  • McGrath

    It’s great fun, isn’t it?

    Schizo or OCD?

  • Dave

    [i]”The DUP, with characteristic bluntness, stated the obvious, that we could not envisage a situation in the foreseeable future where community confidence would exist for a Sinn Fein minister of policing and justice. Our candour disturbed some. The Government and the DUP already support the police, and want to see devolution in the proper circumstances. The Government and the DUP are already creating confidence in policing and urging people to support and cooperate with the police. Sinn Fein needs to act to create the corresponding confidence.

    As a consequence of our proposals for policing and justice we have changed the context of the debate on when policing and justice powers are devolved by proposing that the minister be appointed by a cross-community vote rather than by the d’Hondt system. This would ensure that only someone who has widespread support and enjoys community confidence could hold the post. Consequently, only someone whom we support can be chosen for the post.” – Ian Paisley, January 2007[/i]


    The DUP hasn’t shifted its position one iota. Paisley never ruled out a SF Justice Minister; he said that he “could not envisage a situation in the foreseeable future where community confidence would exist for a Sinn Fein minister of policing and justice” and that it was up to SF “to create the corresponding confidence.”

    That remains the DUP position. SF have now agreed with the DUP that they cannot hold that position for the “foreseeable future” and that they cannot hold that position at all if the DUP do not agree to them holding it. They have further agreed that “community confidence” needs to be created before they will gain the approval of the DUP. Of course, ‘community confidence’ apart from being undefined and highly subjective is at the sole discretion of the DUP as the largest unionist party, so it simply means that a Shinner will hold the position whenever the DUP feels that the Shinners have ‘put manners’ on their own tribe, along with learning a few manners themselves.

    Sinn Fein agreeing to this ‘four-year decontamination period’ might look to nationalists like they have agreed to nationalists remaining as second-class citizens, but those nationalists need to keep in mind that they elected members of sectarian murder gangs to public office and that the actual objection that the DUP has is to a murder gang member holding such a sensitive position – it has nothing to do with ‘not wanting a taig about the place’ contrary to SF’s deliberate obfuscation.