Live Blog: SDLP Leaders Speech

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Is anyone else not getting any sound on the live stream?

  • Expense

    I was the same but it is through now on BBC

  • Mick Fealty

    Okay that’s good… I’ve switched to BBC2… But the live blog should be up and running now…

  • Mick Fealty

    Alban “They… or we…”

    Metion for the “polit bureau’… H/T Pete…

  • Mick Fealty

    We have a battle on our hands:

    Allister Frozen in the 1980s or maybe 1690…

    Bairbre: Has maintained a silence in at least two langauge…

    DUP: Unfortunately the DUP appear to be playing a game of I’m a European Candidate Get Me Out of Here.’

    We must proactively engage with those from other traditions both religious and political.

    And we have to turn all those stay – at – home SDLP supporters, into active SDLP voters.

    After all we committed ourselves to the European ideal when others rejected it as anti-Irish, neo-imperialist, or as a rich man’s economic club.

    They were proven wrong on all counts.

    As I have said many times before Europe is Here! Not over There!

    We are citizens of Europe, as well as citizens of Ireland. Europe is the living political reality of today and it was never more important than today.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nice guy; bit wooden though… Some stuff in there which is more about talking to what the party has to do… not what it has to offer…

    Mustache is gone…

  • Mick Fealty

    Claire Hannah introduces Gerry Conlon; who will introduce Durkan…

  • Mick Fealty

    20 minutes late; he points at his watch:

    As the new President embarks on his journey to change America; the SDLP draws confidence from the unlikely journeys we have made ourselves and on which we have brought others too.

    The road we walked – and the risks we took – for an end to violence and lasting peace.

    The course we navigated to the agreed Ireland we now have.

    The courageous steps we took to bring about the new beginning to policing.

    The steep hills we climbed for equality, inclusive power-sharing and real partnership.

    The distance we travelled to keep hope alive in the face of despair.

    Key difference with Obama: Durkan is charting the past; no mention yet of the future…

    Now it’s Civil Rights… Getting into deeper history… Goes down well in the hall but not great for anyone looking into the future…

    Emphasising that this party is one from an earlier generation… not this one…

  • Mick Fealty

    “Different outcomes can be achieved” in the EU elections… Wreaks strongly of Managerialism: we need you to pick up where John Hume left off… pauses for applause which doesn’t come…

  • Mick Fealty

    Using the SDLP’s influence in Europe… That is through being involved with the socialist group… It’s all insider stuff… doesn’t seem to be aware that he needs to pitch to ordinary people…

  • Great crowd. Durkan strong on the issues as always. Focus on SDLP opposition to budget.

  • Mick Fealty

    This is typical of his technocratic approach:

    Sinn Fein and the DUP have been making a big deal out of their decision to defer charges until next year. That’s an admission that they had decided to impose charges this year. When did they honestly announce this decision? When did they get it approved by the Assembly? When will they explain to the public why they have broken their doorstep pledges and poster promises from the last election?

    It’s too focused on the party’s rivals… last election… again…

  • Mick Fealty

    Too focused on the ‘opposition’ for me Conall…

  • William

    Conall… may have ceased being an Advisor, but your vision of Mark is ‘wide of the mark’ and coloured by loyalty… Mark is as dull as dishwater and inspirational, only if you inspire to sleep.

  • Durkan using his live TV slot to question the dup and sf who is accuses of stroke politics and petty power play. Applause for Margaret ritchie standing firm against dup and sf.

  • Expense

    Why did Margaret Ritchie agree to the Budget? Then the SDLP continually oppose it

  • William

    Mick….Is the Live blog working???? Seems to have stopped at 12.31….

  • Mick Fealty

    Agree on the crowd, very impressive… Claire Hannah every impressive too in her intro to Conlon…

    But this is too much of a retrospective, when it needs to be a prospective…

  • Mick Fealty

    No, that’s I have had it with it…

  • Mick Fealty

    A Palpable HIt!

    “While Ogra Shinn Fein glorify atrocities in our country, young SDLP members put their commitment into stopping atrocities in other countries.”

  • Mick Fealty

    In the live blog Stiofan asks: how is attendance on previous years?

    Cannot say for certain, but it looks healthy…

  • William

    The Stoops have gone on a kissing frenzy….Big Dolores Kelly slabbering over him now… [behave – mods]

  • Mick Fealty

    Very emotional at the end… Here for All… no doubt that he beleives that. I have rarely met a more decent, straighter man in politics anywhere…

    Devenport: But there was nothing new there… These are things we already knew about the SDLP…

    FitzPatrick: We’re good guys and we get things done…

    Margaret ritchie got the biggest applause… by a long way…

    Attwood: “This party has such pride and emotion for what this party has done over the last forty years”

  • Mick Fealty

    Also think that he spent too much time attacking the other sitting MEPs and the DUP’s candidate, and very little pushing Alban as the answer to Northern Ireland’s European needs…

  • Mick Fealty

    ‘Future fearful..’ is how I would wrap that…

  • ZoonPol

    Mick you left out the UUP MEP or did the SDLP?

  • Expense

    Can someone tell me –

    Why did Margaret Ritchie agree to the Budget? Then the SDLP continually oppose it

  • Expenses

    Why did Margaret Ritchie agree to the Budget? Then the SDLP continually oppose it

  • Mick Fealty

    Check the Ministerial code. She voted against it inside the Executive. But is obliged to support it as part of the Executive.

    No such obligation extends to her party though.

    If it weren’t for that kind of differentiation, I am not sure what the Assembly is actually for; other than rubber stamping the proclamations of the polit bureau..

    There political problem is explaining that situation to someone like yourself who has less than detailed knowledge or interest in the workings of Stormont.

  • Expense

    She didnt vote against it in the executive. She came out saying that it was great as she got plenty of money for social housing. Even today she says that the budget needs replaced

  • Damian O’Loan

    The problem with the budget and programme for government decision was uniquely how it was sold. It’s not too complicated.

    In the Executive, if you disagree, you’re out. So Margaret Ritchie had to vote for, to keep the party’s place fighting for those same priorities the MLA’s showed in voting against.

    I agree with the need to look to the future and, from my distant armchair, I hope the weekend offers the chance for those conversations that will allow Mark Durkan to lay out a clear way forward. One that is distinctive, and to the left of the civil service emissaries that are Northern Ireland’s government.

    The media haven’t been very helpful in recent years, but you do need to give them a story. This weekend is a good chance to define something that will reconnect the SDLP with those voters they have lost, and those they still risk losing.

  • percy

    Anyone know the date of Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis?
    Will they let let Mick/+ his handlers in to live-blog that?

  • Rory Carr

    Emotional? Moved to tears?

    Me too – especially towards the end as I was listening while slicing some Spanish onions for this evening’s stew, although earlier I must admit I did feel a tear-trickle or two upon my cheeks as I chuckled at middle-aged suits deliver fourth-form, good boy speeches to a class of like minded idiots.

    I just love the shit outa politics!

  • J Kelly

    Mick I watched the speech and you got it spot on just like the Noel Thompson interview looking at other parties, looking back, nothing to offer and full of silly cathphrases screensaver government and snug pacts. This nonsense that anyone who doesn’t vote is a former SDLP voter and if you the party activists worker harder they will become SDLP voters again is dillusional and we are listening to it from 2001. Mark what are you going to do about it. They decline in your party is all on your watch. Don’t ask what your party can do for you……

    Mark needs to watch folks on the hill or the taxi driver and learn that when people laugh at his punchlines they are laughing at him not with him.

  • Mick

    I thought about that too J Kelly. He was unfortunate enough to take over whilst the decline was already in progress. 2001 elections were the first to show SF decisively passing them.

    Trouble is the Hume stuff goes down with an ageing generation Hume’s work was a thing of beauty. Mark is leaning way too heavily on that inheritance. It’s not a reliable passport into the future.

    The stuff about their parliamentary experience was good but got lost in a speech that was just too long.

    I also think they all need to invest in teleprompts now the cameras are here for good. All the southern parties have been using them for years.

  • William

    From what I witnessed, there is little chance of a bright future for the SDLP…..Mark is totally unispiring and they come across as a very tired party. The same could be said for the UUP until recently and in my opinion there is ‘spring in their step’ since the link-up with the Convervative party was agreed.

    It was noticeable that Mark and indeed Alex Attwood didn’t have a bad word to say about Jim Nicholson….there is undoubtedly a good understanding between the two parties….too be expected of course seeing how the Politburo of SF/DUP are sidelining the UUP and SDLP Ministers in the Executive to such an extent, that the two of them learn minutes before a meeting what the other two have carved up and decided what is going to happen.

  • Comrade Stalin


    In the Executive, if you disagree, you’re out.

    Would you care to explain to the slowcoaches among us how this squares with the fact that the membership of the executive is decided by d’Hondt?

    So Margaret Ritchie had to vote for, to keep the party’s place fighting for those same priorities the MLA’s showed in voting against.

    Nonsense I strongly doubt the electorate will buy this doublethink. If the SDLP cannot support the government then it should withdraw from it. You can’t have a foot in both camps.

  • slug

    I watched a bit of it on the internet today.

    It was good to see them doing the business of a real party…debating composite motions and proposing and seconding motions and voting on them and so forth, there was even a guy who was critical of the leadership, though a bit inarticulate. A good attendance.

    My sense was that they need a bit more passion and a clearer vision. Even Conall McDevitt who is a bright PR guy-I wasn’t clear what he was arguing for in his motion other than to be a modern tax cutting party.

    The main recurring theme from the speakers was how the DUP were very capable people who immerse themselves in the detail of government and were running rings around Sinn Féin. Alistair McDonnell called Sinn Féin the “So Here’s to you Mr Robinson” Party. (I liked that line. Here’s to you on language, on education on the Maze etc.)

    Much talk about how amazing a negotiator Peter Robinson is – when he agrees something one day he comes back for more the next. He would have enjoyed the speeches!

    Mark Durkan did talk about the party name quite a lot – seeming to emphasise that they were their own party, not FF and had a Social Democratic/Labour philosophy. I think this is what they should develop.

    Durkan’s line that “the SDLP was the best party for The North in EUrope and the best party for Europe in the North” made me pause to work it out…too complicated. I believe he is a very smart guy but he perhaps needs to get snappier speech writer.

    Margaret Ritchie did her thing emphasising just how much in favour of a United Ireland she was. (Applause).

    I also thought the young woman Hanna was a very good speaker, and it moved me a lot.

    I agree they should have autocues now they are televised.

    Margaret Ritchie is very likeable and it was the most memorable and passionate speech but there is something awkward about her delivery. She needs to train a bit.

    Overall I like a lot of the people and leadership in the SDLP and want them to do well but I do think they need a bit more setting out “the concepts” they are standing for.

    What was the conference motto? Your Issues our Priority. This did come up in Durkans speech but I am not sure its a very memorable phrase.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Comrade Stalin,

    I’m not a lawyer, but as I understand it, the relevant articles of the Ministerial Code of Conduct are 2.3 (V) and 2.8.

    2.3 The Executive Committee will provide a forum for:

    (v) agreement each year on (and review as necessary of) a programme incorporating an
    agreed budget linked to policies and programmes (Programme for Government);

    2.8 Ministers have affirmed the Pledge of Office to:

     support, and to act in accordance with, all decisions of the Executive Committee and Assembly.

    Regarding d’Hondt, the replacement Minister would have faced the same situation, ad infinitum.

    “Nonsense I strongly doubt the electorate will buy this doublethink. If the SDLP cannot support the government then it should withdraw from it. You can’t have a foot in both camps.”

    I take your point that the position may be too complicated to be popular. Then again, it seems that one of Barack Obama’s selling points is that he doesn’t take the electorate for idiots.

    In mandatory coalition, it is important that this distinction becomes clear and practicable. If we bind the Assembly to supporting the Executive, we are selling ourselves short of an arm of government.

    Whether leaving the Executive may in fact bring more results than can be had from this method is open to argument – I’d be interested in your opinions. It is difficult to gauge though, because we don’t see enough of the decision-making processes, or the debate that leads to the papers eventually tabled.

  • Quagmire

    The problem for the SDLP is that they are nothing but a wee 6 county party. How can they be truly nationalist if this is the case? I want to be able to vote for a party that participates in national politics (Island wide). At the moment the shinners are the only party to fill this vacuum. The also concentrate too much of their efforts on attempting to attack SF which does the nationalist cause no good. They should have sided with the shinners over their stand off. It was clear that unionists and the DUP in particular were not interested in partnership govt or recognising the rights of nationalists up on the hill, and instead of showing solidarity with their fellow nationalists they continually berated them. For a while there I actually thought that Margaret Richie was a member of the UUP, she was with them so often. Durkan’s comments on voluntary coalition and Richies unnecessary jibe at Maskey over Robert Mc Cartney did not help matters either. As a Young nationalist, I seem them as irrelevant and as things currently stand they will never get my vote.

    p.s. I’m not a member of SF.

  • Tom McK

    Quagmire…yer certainly in it son !! Up tae the oxters I think….yer not in the Shinners, but ye’ll naw vote SDLP…well then why don’t ye do the dacent thing and vote Conservative Unionist…you know it makes sense!!!

  • michael

    When listening to Ritchie I always feel as though I’m being told off, I feel she’s likely to be trying to project some clarity of purpose/ pro-active attitude or such like. It just doesn’t work for me.

    The party leadership needs a face. They have the talented policy hacks (Mark Durkan), but policy isn’t a commodity, the punters need something to attract them. Even Marty McG has an air of leadership, no doubt a residue of his demagogue days in Derry.

    I think the UUs, or is it CUs, and the Lib Dems suffer this same ‘boredom factor’.

  • Quagmire

    “Quagmire…yer certainly in it son !! Up tae the oxters I think….yer not in the Shinners, but ye’ll naw vote SDLP”

    Not true my friend. SF are the only real viable option at the moment so my vote will rest with them.

    “well then why don’t ye do the dacent thing and vote Conservative Unionist…you know it makes sense!!!
    Posted by Tom McK on Jan 24, 2009 @ 09:53 PM

    I already told you. I will not be voting SDLP. lol