New Force: old idea

Owen Paterson one of the leading members of the Ulster Conservative and Unionist – New Force; known hereafter on this thread as Fifth Force (to prove a large leap away from the Third Force, or possibly to sound like Fifth Column) has suggested that the Fifth force would like to negotiate with the other Stormont parties to reform the power sharing structures. He seems to feel the current arrangements are fine for the moment “But I don’t see this as the final arrangement and we’re quite open about that – we would like in due course, this could be years away, to move to a more normal democratic arrangement.” Unsurprisingly Martin McGuinness has dismissed any move towards any form of voluntary coalition as it amounts (according to him) to unionist majority rule. What Paterson seems to be saying may well be sensible from a unionist point of view and I have little doubt is not actually a proposal to return to majority rule. It is also what Peter Robinson has been advocating for some time. However, unless the world changes a great deal to do this from within the current structures would be impossible due to Sinn Fein having a veto.

Paterson may feel that the Fifth Force is proposing this from a different starting point from the DUP and as such it would be acceptable to nationalists due to his new organisation’s non sectarian nature. It is, however, far too early days to even contemplate saying such a thing no matter the caveats of “this could be years away” and I am afraid this may simply be used by SF as “proof” that the New Force is not remotely new.

Paterson is, however, correct in feeling that the current structures do not provide a normal democratic arrangement and indeed are self evidently useless. Unfortunately for both Paterson and the DUP the only way to introduce a more sensible mechanism of power sharing would be to tear the whole thing down and start again. Paterson should know this to be the case and as such his latest intervention is, I am afraid, pretty pointless. Unless that is, it is an attempt to attract TUV 2nd preferences by a very subtle form of masquerading as a hard line unionist / integrationalist aiming destroy the agreement? That is too cynical surely?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Turgon,

    From a Nationalist viewpoint(post GFA) it is very refereshing for the leader of Nationalism in Norn Iorn, the boul Marty, to be able to correct the Tory government in waiting as to how the future governance of the province will work.

    NF for Ulster (or whatever they are called) are not now,post GFA, able to offer the one thing that surely most Unionists really, really, really want – to be a ‘normal’ part of the UK.

    How crazy is it that the REAL reasson people vote for the DUP is to protest their Britishness (Deputy Dodsy and Robbo actualt say this) because they cant trust the British parties of government to not sell them out (further )to the dreadful papal state to the South. As the famous sporting philospher ‘arry Redknapp oft quips – “Its a funny old game”.

  • So that would be all the main parties other than SF who have some pointed stated that the current arrangements are not a satisfactory end point. Must be playing to the TUV vote obviously. (Which is what? Some people in Dromore?)

  • Glencoppagagh

    It would be depressing if we had to look forward to this abridged form of democracy indefinitely. Sadly, I doubt that fundamental problems would be addressd even under more ‘normal’ arrangements. The best option is to restore direct rule so that they can undo all the damage they did over thirty years by bloating the public sector.
    Then we can think again about devolved government.

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    Already it appears that the Tories are calling the shots. Unionists folk aren’t gonna take that, are they?… especially as a proportion of Unionists are known for being kinda disagreeable and kinda stubborn.

  • danielmoran

    this new name for the unholy alliance [as opposed to the redundant alliance of david ford and ….er….david ford]. it’s a bit too close for comfort to the paisleyites third farce. does this mean that we can now expect to see tory mps on antrim hillsides at night waving guns and licenses? surreal. what kind of ulcer do you want?

  • Seymour Major

    An end to power sharing is desirable from the point of view of getting for Northern Ireland and efficient non-dusfunctional executive.

    From my understanding of the Conservative position, the dismantling of power sharing should not take place until voters started electing on a cross-community basis.

    Power sharing and sectarian politics go hand in hand. Once normal politics kicks in, there is no justification for keeping power sharing.

    If there is is significant partial cross community voting (I would put that as 20%+ of Catholics voting CU or similar number of Protestants voting SDLP or a combined 20% switch of both communities). I dont think power sharing should be retained once that threshold has been reached.

    There would be no prospect of a repeat of an abuse of democracy as there was before 1972. To emphasise that point, there is no way that the CUs will be able to continue to attract Catholic voters AND go into a coaliltion with the DUP.

  • edward

    Turgon

    Might I sugest a new title?

    New Farce: Old Idea

  • Turgon

    Seymour,
    I am not dissenting from your analysis of the Conservative position but who would the Tories voluntarily share power with in your scenario: the SDLP? Would you have a majority between you???

    Also do you really think the UUP would refuse to share power with the DUP? If they did I would suggest huge numbers of their members and voters would jump ship.

    I entirely laud your attempts and enthusiasm to end sectarian politics here: I just find it really difficult to believe it can happen; still all the best with the attempt.

  • Comrade Stalin

    From a Nationalist viewpoint(post GFA) it is very refereshing for the leader of Nationalism in Norn Iorn, the boul Marty,

    It’s very interesting, and revealing, that you don’t see the Sinn Fein President as the leader of nationalism here, and that you also refer to the leadership of nationalism in very distinct partitionist terms. I definitely get the feeling you’re a unionist in drag doing a very bad impersonation of a chuckie.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Guyz,

    Nationalists will only agree to voluntary coalition when it is in their interests to do so ie when they are the biggest block – by which time Unionists will be against it.

    The GFA recognies Norn Iron as sectarian statelet and the way to end that is in a UI – such jibber jabbering is just a Unionist wet dream.

    SF have a veto on any attempt on back-door voluntary coalition/Unionist supremacy and any attempt by the SDLP to change that will end in their obliteration at the polls.

    Unionists have proved themselves – and continue to show with their support for sectarian marches etc to be totally unfit to govern without Nationalist guidance. We wont be ‘aving any of it and Posh Boy David Cameron(PBDC) was actually telling Unionists that when he made speech when he was announcing the National Front of Ulster Alliance some month ago.

    If Unioists dont like it they should not have voted for the GFA – or maybe the DUP are right and a majority of unionists did vote against it and perhaps it was the just the famously elusive graden-centre-Prods who turned up for the day to ensure the end of Unionist domination and mismanagement for good.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Turgon,

    where did you get the idea that “new organisation’s non sectarian nature”?

    Are you saying that Ulster Unionists do not support the Orange Order?

    If they wanted a non sectarain party to support the Alliance were the men for the job. It is simply hypocritical nonsense from the Tories – a party with a disgraceful history of involvment in Irish affairs.

  • Turgon

    It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    The blog on this subject is currently being typed: now stop interrupting.

    Regards

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy,

    I’d be more interested in why you think the Sinn Fein President is not the leader of Irish nationalism. I hope you’re not going to studiously avoid that question ?

    Nationalists will only agree to voluntary coalition when it is in their interests to do so ie when they are the biggest block – by which time Unionists will be against it.

    What’s the difference between voluntary coalition and what we have right now ? Either way, Sinn Fein’s shopping list is worthless. For this reason, mandatory coalition is damaging Sinn Fein’s electoral prospects, and that they will lose seats at the next assembly election. You can hold me to that.

    SF have a veto on any attempt on back-door voluntary coalition/Unionist supremacy and any attempt by the SDLP to change that will end in their obliteration at the polls.

    I suspect the SDLP, and everyone else, are quite happy to keep Sinn Fein in government for the time being where they can continue to mess up and demonstrate that they are impotent in government alongside the DUP.

    I’d make no secret of the fact that I believe that the country is being badly run, and a significant part of that is because Sinn Fein are in government. It’s not because they’re nationalists or fenians or whatever, it’s because they’re shit, and they’re too weak to stand up to the DUP agenda.

    Remember that it isn’t necessary for SF voters to switch to other parties. It’s only necessary for them to stay at home. Why would anybody bother getting up out of bed to vote for a party which has failed to implement any of it’s lofty policies, while places like West Belfast are sinking under a quagmire of anti-social behaviour ? Why should anyone vote to return SF to government ?

    Unionists have proved themselves – and continue to show with their support for sectarian marches etc to be totally unfit to govern without Nationalist guidance.

    Unionists are certainly unfit to govern by themselves, but describing Sinn Fein’s poodle-like role in the present administration as “nationalist guidance” is taking the piss. Is nationalist guidance where nationalists give in to every single DUP demand ? Like the one which says that nationalists should be excluded from the new justice ministry post ?

    We wont be ‘aving any of it

    Sure you won’t. To date you’ve had
    – climbdown on the May 2008 deadline for the devolution of policing powers
    – DUP veto on the appointment of a nationalist to the justice ministry post accepted by Sinn Fein
    – no Irish Language Act
    – no political shrine at the Maze
    – no stadium at the Maze, for that matter
    – privatization of grammar school selection, and DUP victory on preserving the status of grammars

    To follow all this by saying that you’re not standing for any crap from the DUP is pathetic. You’ve backed down at every turn.

    and Posh Boy David Cameron(PBDC) was actually telling Unionists that when he made speech when he was announcing the National Front of Ulster Alliance some month ago.

    Where exactly Cameron is going with this remains unclear.

  • slug

    Certainly seems to be a great idea – the present arrangements are due for review and can be changed under the GFA.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Comrade Stalin,

    I have dealt with the points in your anti-SF tirade previously – a bit like the Welsh Rugby team – you are elebrating victory prematurely – dont get too excited.

    No sginificant decision can be made by either side without the others agreements. I do find your style very amusing though “I’m no fan of the DUP BUT….” lol

    Slug,

    Review all you like – but the good guys will have non of it if – if it has any funny stuff in it.

  • Sammy,

    what part of the GFA says that NI is a sectarian statelet and that the way to end it is a UI?

    When I read this, I realise how people believed in 1994 that they would get a UI in 10 years cause Gerry was saying so privately.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Garibaldy

    “what part of the GFA says that NI is a sectarian statelet ”

    The part which says one side of the community cannot do anything without the other.

    “and that the way to end it is a UI”

    thats covered by the part that says the Irish people have the right to self-determination. That stops the mad Tory/NF feckers from doing anything without our (Irish) consent – hence the aspiration tone in Owen Goals statement.

  • Lurig

    It is a bit of posturing by the Tories and their arm puppet, the party previously known as the UUP. Unionists cannot be trusted with total control of ANY political institutions. As we see in Lisburn, Castlereagh, Larne, Ards, Belfast, Ballymena councils etc when Unionists have control they abuse it for their own sectarian agenda. The Tories can mouth off all they want but Barak in the WhiteHouse & Hillary in the State Dept. will have the final say in the devolved institutions here. Voluntary government Unionist style is White Apartheid power Afrikanner style, it ain’t going to happen folks. History has shown it can’t be allowed to happen EVER AGAIN. The Shinners & Stoops won’t buy any part of it. That is all!

  • Comrade Stalin

    I have dealt with the points in your anti-SF tirade previously – a bit like the Welsh Rugby team – you are elebrating victory prematurely – dont get too excited.

    No, you haven’t. You *think* you have which is different.

    And either way, you definitely haven’t dealt with that part about the SF President not being the leader of nationalism.

    LURIG:

    History has shown it can’t be allowed to happen EVER AGAIN. The Shinners & Stoops won’t buy any part of it. That is all!

    I wonder about whether or not you’ve got a couple of different personalities on the go. In other contributions you have lamented about how SF have become part of the establishment and how they appear to be ignoring the interests of their electorate. That’s essentially no different, except in name, from unionist single-party rule. Now you’re saying that they won’t stand up for this crap, even though the nature of the executive suggests that they are.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Comrade Stalin,

    “And either way, you definitely haven’t dealt with that part about the SF President not being the leader of nationalism”

    I think you have been reading too many of Pete Baker’s posts – the maestro at pinhead ( excuse the pun ) dancing and I have the following to say – whatever.

  • cynic

    “From a Nationalist viewpoint(post GFA) it is very refereshing for the leader of Nationalism in Norn Iorn, the boul Marty, to be able to correct the Tory government in waiting as to how the future governance of the province will work.”

    Yes Sammy….the future GOVERNMNET which ultimately will decide how it wants the system here to work whether Marty likes it or not. Of course it may not dictate. Just squeeze firmly on the financially sensitive organs to get its opwn way.

    Interesting declaration. This allows the UUP to enter elections promising that it can deliver what the DUPS dream of.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy,

    That’s all I needed to know, thanks.

  • No. 8 Turgon

    First question – I dont know. The key thing is not to rule anything out. Once sectarianism is margninalised, you can properly negotiate with other parties a programme for government.

    Second question – I think they would. Dont agree with you about having more to lose by not doing it. By that time, they would have changed into a proper cross community party.

    Last para – Thank you all the same.

    Sammy No 11

    First question. The non-sectarian proclomation is written into the Memorandum of Understanding reached between the Cons and the UUP back in November

    Second question. The OO and the UUP severed official ties in 2005 but with OO politicians still there, this is a problem,
    I want to make it clear that I dont think of OO members as being sectarian-minded against Catholics just because they are members of that organisation. This may be hard for some Catholics to understand but I speak as a Catholic who has made friendships with Orangemen. I also want to make it clear that there are many Orangemen who genuinely dont have a sectarian bone in their body.

    I acknowledge, however, that the presence of so many OO politicians is an obstacle to us making inroads as a cross-community party. My preference would be that they were not allowed to stand as candidates. Those members of the OO who have the party’s interest at heart would understand and appreciate this.

    No.17 – last para. The Constitution would effectively need another referendum to change it. I think there will come a time when people are ready for that change. They need to have time to see what a mess power sharing is first.

    Nobody has said what we are trying to do will be easy. Nobody can be certain this will be a success – or failure.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Seymour Major,

    I’m afraid that is not good enough to escape the charge of hypocricy – I personally have no religion – but would be of the “Catholic background” persuasion as delicately phrased in the census.

    The few/some good eggs in the basket is not the quesion here but rather is Orange Order a fit organisation for members of a party who want to be seen as non-sectarian to belogn to or support? The answer to that must surely be a resounding, uncompomising big fat NO.

    This an organisation whose leaders make speeches based on the politics of hate from the 17 and 18th centuries and who hold up trade in the centre of Belfast a city in which Protestants are in a minority and the majority have to stay out of the way whilst they are being insulted. And why dont they join in the fun day ? Just like the Black community might join a NF rally talking about the country being wrecked by ‘foreigners’ and whilst effigies of their leaders are burned atop bonfires – why not indeed?

    The Tories have serious tribal issues within their own party on the issue of Europe where there is lessening of British independence through the back door of Brussels and they have dealt very badly with that. Poitical colonisation of Northern Ireland is a break in the spirit of the GFA and a direct involvment with one tribe (the British) against the other the Irish whilst having the political brass neck to lecture Irish people about tribalism.

    Tories are very slow to talk about their party’s history in Ireland – namely I suspect to be fair because they realise that it a complete disgrace. We Irish, dont trust you and with good reason and throwing in your lot with a tribal and very sectarian political party only reinforces that.

    Thanks but no thanks.

  • New Yorker

    Patterson is talking of a game-changer at governance in Stormont and given the current morass there, his ideas should be welcomed. The current set-up of SF vs DUP is not reflective of reality, the constitutional issue is settled for the foreseeable future. Carping on about it is useless and reveals those that do so as out of touch. Sammy needs to go to an old age home.

    What other party has new ideas such as what Paterson raises? The Tories can change the game because they will be taking over power at Westminster and NI is part of the UK. They are not as heavily invested in the unionist-republican dichotomy, although they will have to phase out the UUP due to its history.

    The Tories may have a bright future in NI appealing to Protestant and Catholic on issues that really matter to them. When all is said and done, the Irish are more conservative than the Brits.

  • ??

    What other party has new ideas such as what Paterson raises?

    The DUP have always argued for a voluntary coalition, good to see the Tories catching up