Fractures at the edge of consensus?

Alex Kane’s piece which I mentioned below has already been suggested by one of our more sharp eyed commentators (take a bow It was Sammy McNally what done it) to be an example of the UUP moving to the right of the DUP. Alex Kane comments may or may not be part of a strategy to achieve this. However, the unionist politics of what happened last week are interesting and worth assessing.

The first issue which must be very clearly stated is that the overwhelming majority of unionists do not want to go back to violence. I only refuse to say all since I cannot know if there might be someone who dissents from that analysis. I certainly know of no one, myself very definitely included, who wants any return of violence (by all means disbelieve me if you want).

As I commented previously, however, the murders were a deeply political act and have political repercussions for both nationalism and unionism.
Unionists (like nationalists) have, I would submit gone through a series of responses to the events of last week. Initially there was a numbness and amongst many a disbelief. Even I, someone who expected this, was shocked. The shock fairly rapidly gave way to anger: anger regarding murders themselves, anger regarding the late SF response, anger regarding what many perceived (rightly or wrongly) as the stuttering nature of the initial condemnation. Much of that anger was directed at Gerry Adams.

Then came the murder of Constable Carroll. With that event there was not just shock and sadness but a genuine terror that the troubles really were back. In that terror people wanted to see some hope. The appearance of Martin McGuinness with Peter Robinson and a condemnation from McGuinness which was perceived as more fulsome than Adams’s, complete as it was with the denouncement of the dissidents as traitors settled many nerves. There then appeared a feeling that one could not criticise the events unfolding before us and could not even criticise McGuinness for the past lest somehow that lead back to violence. That desperation to cling to some proof that we were not going back to the past somehow seemed to be encapsulated in the person and words of McGuinness. Somehow if he, a man practically every unionists regards as having not merely blood on his hands but all over himself, had denounced the dissidents then maybe just maybe we were all going to be okay.

However, now as people are looking at the events from a little way off one sees the very beginnings of a fracture in the consensus, at least amongst unionists. The fact that McGuinness was involved in countless previous murders can now be said again, albeit many still desperately hope he has changed.

Also political opportunity has begun to reappear. Peter Robinson may have seemed to speak for almost all unionists only a few days ago. However, many will remember the vitriolic attacks he used to make on McGuinness and find it odd to see him standing shoulder to shoulder with McGuinness. At the beginning people may have welcomed the joint appearance. However, it might soon be seen as ill judged, maybe even hypocritical.

In all this there is an opportunity for the UUP. Reg Empey may have been slated at the time for suggesting that the recent murders should put off the devolution of policing and justice. However, it may be a legitimate point and although he received opprobrium for it initially, later it could look like a sensible and brave thing to suggest. The more brave and statesman like for its initial unpopularity. It certainly means he can more easily resist any suggestions from republicans that the outbreak of murder means that P&J should be devolved more quickly. Jim Allister has predicted that republicans will soon suggest this.

The UUP may on this issue be performing the act which I have long suggested they might namely crossing the DUP’s T to end up to the right of the DUP on this issue. At the Battle of Tsushima the Japanese turned each battleship in front of the Russians, exposing each in turn. The could have been annihilated; however, the Russian response was ineffectual, their T was crossed and their fleet was the one smashed. I just wonder if this might be happening here? Whilst that might seem impossible one must note that Reg with his admittedly slightly rocky pact with the Tories might feel that he has tied down the liberal wing of his support base and maybe now is going to go after the hard line support? As I have repeatedly pointed out the only UUP leader to gain ground against Ian Paisley was Jim Molyneaux who openly stated that he had “out righted” him. Whatever his failings Reg Empey cannot have forgotten that fact.

In addition the TUV are of course lurking to the right of the DUP. In the immediate aftermath of the murders many liberals may have suggested that the TUV are dinosaurs who are irrelevant and that these events showed how out of touch and even how dangerous they were. Jim Allister and his ban of lunatics could be safely denounced as yesterday’s men. However, liberals very often fail to understand how unionists think and many supposedly nice liberal unionists who are so liberal in front of their liberal or nationalist friends are far from liberal in private. They are also far from liberal within the privacy of the voting booth. Many unionists may have nearly panicked when violence was in danger of returning. However, when people calm many will feel that they will not be blackmailed by republicans be they dissident or otherwise and they will not run into the arms of Martin McGuinness no matter what he may seem to offer. Then some may exact a vengeance on those of their politicians whom they felt did that.

All the above may well be complete nonsense and speculation. However, the latest comments from Diane Dodds are noticeably lukewarm. The DUP have received plaudits from the government, from the media and from many throughout the world. However, they may have begun to wonder if, when the dust from terror of a return to violence settles, that they are rather uncomfortably far away from their supporters.

As I said at the end of another recent blog: “For the wheel’s still in spin. And there’s no tellin’ who That it’s namin’.” Now I may well be talking complete nonsense: we will wait and see.

  • Paddy

    God help us when the Tories come back into power. Cameron and Wee Raving Reg are, I believe, a bigger threat to peace and stability in the north than the threat posed by dissident republicans. It would seem that Wee Reg is in the process of forming an unholy alliance with the R/CIRA, the mainstream British print media and irrelevant, ultra-loyalist voices within the TUV in wishing the old days would come back. More exciting weren’t they? And a Tory government can only mean one thing for all the ‘peace-dividend’ community centres, projects, Surestart programmes etc. – massive funding cuts that will inevitably lead to greater social exclusion and the re-emergence of the petty grievances of the past: in other words, the very conditions in which dissidents, militarists and pathetic wreckers thrive.

  • Paddy

    God help us when the Tories come back into power. Cameron and Wee Raving Reg are, I believe, a bigger threat to peace and stability in the north than the threat posed by dissident republicans. It would seem that Wee Reg is in the process of forming an unholy alliance with the R/CIRA, the mainstream British print media and irrelevant, ultra-loyalist voices within the TUV in wishing the old days would come back. More exciting weren’t they? And a Tory government can only mean one thing for all the ‘peace-dividend’ community centres, projects, Surestart programmes etc. – massive funding cuts that will inevitably lead to greater social exclusion and the re-emergence of the petty grievances of the past: in other words, the very conditions in which dissidents, militarists and pathetic wreckers thrive.

  • ABC

    The comments from Diane Dodds are sensible. Yes, McGuinness comments are welcome but after years of doing wrong, people shouldn’t be hailed as Saints for starting to do what is correct. Her comments are measured and sensible, unlike your leaders “bring in the SAS” clap-trap.

  • riverlagan

    In regards to Diane Dodds’ statement (I term statement in the loosest terms, as I have a feeling her English isn’t that sophisticated).

    “The events of the last week have been significant in terms of republicanism coming up to mainstream democratic standards. People will recall that there was a time when republicans would have refused to be in the same room as members of the police force, let alone urging co-operation with them and describing as “traitors” those who engage in the evil actions which we have seen over the last seven days.

    What is ironic about the “statement” above, is that it could be argued that the DUP have also mellowed into democratic standards, by injecting themselves into Government with Sinn Fein.

  • ??

    unlike your leaders “bring in the SAS” clap-trap.
    Posted by ABC on Mar 16, 2009 @ 07:14 PM

    If allister is so opposed to the Belfast Agreement why is he wanting votes for the creators, and supporters of the agreement, the UUP?

    Have the TUV no principles?

  • Mick Fealty

    Yes, I picked up that ‘prompt’ from Sammy too. Nothing I’ve picked up indicates that this was anything other than Alex on a solo. Which is why I didn’t double blog it.

  • I dont agree with Sir Reg on this. Firstly, nobody from the Unionist side or the Government has made any case that NI would be less safe if political control was transferred.

    Secondly this is a department which the people of NI have to take ownership of, otherwise nationalists who make stupid suggestions without being in any position of responsibility only have to open their mouths to sound plausible.

    I dont yet know what mainstream conservative thinking is on this.

  • ArchiePurple

    I have just had an opportunity to read the Alex Kane column in today’s Newsletter and find it an excellent article. I just don’t understand this nonsense about the UUP ‘moving to the right of the DUP’, because of an article written by one of its members.

    After all the DUP have divested every article of political clothing they ever wore before they became the largest Unionist Party and gained power.

    The words of Lord Acton are certainly relevant to the DUP / Sinn Fien partnership, when he said, ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’, whilst Lord Pitt [The Elder] claried it by saying, ‘Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.’

    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of the DUP and Sinn Fein. But then I repeat myself!

  • Driftwood

    And a Tory government can only mean one thing for all the ‘peace-dividend’ community centres, projects, Surestart programmes etc. – massive funding cuts ……

    A bloody good reason to hope the Tories get in then, and the leeches that have gorged on the post conflict moneygoround have to look to actually earning a wage rather than these ludicrous handouts. And, if they start bleating, I would just love to hear (hopefully) NI secretary of state David Trimble tell them all to fuck off.

  • picador

    In all this there is an opportunity for the UUP. Reg Empey may have been slated at the time for suggesting that the recent murders should put off the devolution of policing and justice.

    Cynical opportunism of the worst kind

    However, it may be a legitimate point and although he received opprobrium for it initially, later it could look like a sensible and brave thing to suggest. The more brave and statesman like for its initial unpopularity.

    Now I am laughing

    It certainly means he can more easily resist any suggestions from republicans that the outbreak of murder means that P&J should be devolved more quickly. Jim Allister has predicted that republicans will soon suggest this.

    The devolution of Policing & Justice was part of the St Andrew’s Agreement. While I believe that a deal has been done and that it will be implemented after the forthcoming European elections any delay beyond the summer will only destabilise the Executive again.

    Is this really what people want when the CIRA/RIRA are shooting people?

    I find the attitude of the UCUNF leader astounding and I am fearful about what will happen under a Tory government.

  • ??

    so are the Tories in favour of the St Andrews agreemnet or , like the UUP, against it?

    Are they for the transfer of P+J powers, or like the UUP, are agianst it?

    Where is Jeff Peel when you need him?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Turgon,

    for dissidents there is now a chink of light – after their initial ‘military’ success they like almost everyome else must have been surprised by the solidity of the relationship between Robbo and Marty and they may well have been wondering what they could do, if anything, to cause a political crisis and the change in security policy they need to sustain their campaign. The answer may well now be – nothing further required.

    Anyone who has read the Daily Telegraph recently knows that there is a strain of British right wing ideology that has never come to terms with SFs inclusion in Stormo or with the the GFA and with the sensitive issue of Police and Justice coming centrestage this ideology may now have greater traction with the PBDC’s camp.

    So as Wee Reggie begins to lead his diminshed, bedraggled, humiliated troops towards the right flank of the battlefield to occupy the same patch of ground as the TUV for the looming Euro battle if he does have the signed up support of PBDC for this manouvere then the dissident strategy may well prove successful after all.

    Without Tory/NF support the game will surely be up for Wee Reggie as his small politcal corpse will lie beside the much larger corpse of Jimbo and the TUV and best chance for the bad guys will have gone.

  • ArchiePurple

    Jeff Peel is where he should be….suspended as vice-chair of the NI Conservatives and persona non grata in Conservative and Unionist circles for his ‘mouthing off’ regarding the Joint UUP/Conservative committe’s decisions.

    A political career for Jeff grounded before it had taken off…..for him a serious case of foot in mouth disease or perhaps opening his mouth prior to engaging the brain in gear!!!

  • ArchiePurple

    Sammy McNally…..What a piece of convuluted nonsense you have just written….absolute windbaggery at its worst….you haven’t a clue about Unionism – in fact, I think you’re obsession with the UUP/Conservative link-up, is due it scaring the s**t out of you, for the success it is going to be.

    Give over and address the lack of compassion and apologies from your friends amongst the terrorists now in Government. The ghosts of people like McGuinness’s fellow ‘Derry men, Frankie Hegarty and Patsy Gillespie demand it, not to mention the thousands killed by Sinn Fein/IRA.

  • ??

    Jeff Peel is where he should be….suspended as vice-chair of the NI Conservatives and persona non grata in Conservative and Unionist circles…….

    you obvioulsy dont know many local tories, do you.

    go have a chat with them, many share jeffs views and remember he was suspended NOT for what he said but for the way he resigned, he didnt follow protocol.

    Im sure Mr Peel, or any other local tory, could confirm this

  • picador

    it scaring the s**t out of you, for the success it is going to be.

    The only reason it is scaring me is because it is, as Sammy says, giving succour to the crackpots who killed two soldiers and a policeman recently.

  • fin

    And a Tory government can only mean one thing for all the ‘peace-dividend’ community centres, projects, Surestart programmes etc. – massive funding cuts ……

    and in a difficult climate a southern government offers to continue the funding in the event of a popular vote winning unity referendum (funded by a big payoff from the British govt. and the EU) Britain gets shot of a drain on the taxpayer, and a certain Irish party retains power, and the NI gravy train continues for a while.

    And people can’t see a UI on the horizon, really……

  • ??

    Give over and address the lack of compassion and apologies from your friends amongst the terrorists now in Government. The ghosts of people like McGuinness’s fellow ‘Derry men, Frankie Hegarty and Patsy Gillespie demand it, not to mention the thousands killed by Sinn Fein/IRA.
    Posted by ArchiePurple on Mar 16, 2009 @ 08:22 PM

    Strange that the lack of compassion from republicans didnt bother the tories or the UUP when they let them into government 3 times while they were fully armed.

    Ah well, better late than never

  • frustrated democrat

    Seymour

    I believe mainstream policy is that devolution of P&J is desirable when the time is right. I have heard a suggestion that they could be devolved separetely policing first then justice.

    The reason for Reg’s reluctance being that the politicans can’t agree on what they have, that it could be devisive at the moment and there is no money in the local budget to pay for it without additional subvention.

    I would add that Peter and Martin (the former knuckle brothers, now brothers in law support) have enough problems appearing together without having policing disagreements as an additional wedge to drive them apart.

  • ??

    The reason for Reg’s reluctance being that the politicans can’t agree on what they have,………….

    real shame the UUP didnt devolve P+J to Sinn Fein in 2005 as they had planned

  • TAFKABO

    If last week saw a return of the violence of old, it also saw a return of zero sum punditry and binary thinking.
    The problem is that what used to shore up this type of view amongst the great unwashed no longer exists.
    There is no moral high ground Turgon, your high horse bolted long ago.
    McGuinness killed people for political gain, or at least he belonged to an organisation which did.
    Guess what, so did the British government, so where does that leave us Unionists?
    Sure we can play the game of pretending we never supported the Loyalists but we were only too happy to try and get into government with their handlers.
    The dissidents are doomed to failure because they’re not operating from a basis of addresssing the reality.
    Similarily, most Unionists have moved on, the taboo of sitting down with Sinn Fein has been broken, you can’t make them the bogeymen again, just because Jim Alistar says so.
    The majority of us are getting on with things, when you slow learners wake up and smell the coffee, we’ll be here waiting for you, in a shared future.

  • ArchiePurple

    ?? [whoever you are]

    The UUP took the Sinn Fein/IRA into Government because the artifical enforced government dictated that the four major parties form the Executive. The took a chance on the Shinners and were let down time and time again by their broken promises….of course the DUPes were in that Government too, operating by ‘remote’ control and pretending they were operating two ‘an out of body’ ministries.

    There are a number of differences between the UUP position in Government in the first Executive and the more recent ‘road to Dublin’ conversion of the DUPes in bed with the terrorists. The DUPes conned their electorate during the last election – ‘Vote DUP to keep Sinn Fein from having the First Minister’, they roared, whilst at the very same time, throught the auspices of a RTE journalist, they were having face to face talks about going into power with them, making Marty the Joint First Minister. Furthermore, in David Trimble’s Executive, Sinn Fein / IRA had only two Ministers, McGuinness and de Braun, whilst they now have five, McGuinness, Kelly, Murphy, Ruane and Gildernew, thanks to the efforts of that great Unionist party, the DUPes.

    Need I go on…….?????

  • Driftwood

    (funded by a big payoff from the British govt. and the EU)

    fin, Are you serious?

    ‘Community workers'(and lets be blunt, they are paramilitary scumbags)are a huge drain of money which should be going to cancer research, children and animal charities etc instead of lowlife wasters.

    I would rather government money went to the USPCA rather than Jackie McDonald or his counterpart in Kilwilkie or wherever.

    In fact give north Lurgan to the Republic. We’ll take south Dublin in return.

    keyword: market; cool

  • ??

    ?? [whoever you are]

    The UUP took the Sinn Fein/IRA into Government because the artifical enforced government dictated that the four major parties form the Executive. The took a chance on the Shinners
    …………..

    3 chances all while the shinners were armed and committing crimes

    Furthermore, in David Trimble’s Executive, Sinn Fein / IRA had only two Ministers, McGuinness and de Braun, whilst they now have five,
    …………………..

    Thats the way the UUP set up the system.

  • joeCanuck

    whilst they now have five, (Ministers)

    You just can’t trust those fuckers, can you (the electorate that is)?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    It would be an encouraging St Padz day if Obama (the good Offaly lad) or Ms Clinton, reinforced even if it is in coded language, the need for police and justice to be transferred

    This will encourage PoshBoyDC to consider carefully if he is tempted to bring out the Orange card out of the back pocket of his plus fours.

  • Paddy

    “A bloody good reason to hope the Tories get in then, and the leeches that have gorged on the post conflict moneygoround have to look to actually earning a wage rather than these ludicrous handouts. And, if they start bleating, I would just love to hear (hopefully) NI secretary of state David Trimble tell them all to fuck off.”

    Agreed – there are far too many ‘leeches’ riding this gravy train across the north. However, some of these people have invariably played an important role in taming many young people intent on starting trouble over the last decade. Take away their jobs and salary and we’ll see how peacefully future marching seasons pass off. Their influence has never been more important given the distain many in the Provisional movement are now viewed with by some in the community.

    As for ‘Lord’ Trimble – the possiblility you raise gives me nightmares. I have no doubt in my mind that we are in for turbulent times ahead with the seemingly inevitable return of the Conservatives, the strong possiblity that Fine Gael could be running the 26 and the disgraceful manoeuvrings of the Official Unionists. We’ll see how long Robbo and McGuinness are able to hold their nerve if this ‘perfect storm’ manifests itself and we’re subject to more murderous atrocities by the dissidents

  • Paddy

    …given the distain many in the Provisional movement are now viewed with by some in the community..

    Obviously I mean the [i]nationalist[/i] community.

  • Paddy

    [i]…given the distain many in the Provisional movement are now viewed with by some in the community..[/i]

    Obviously I mean by some in the [i]nationalist[/i] community. Coming from a Sinn Féin-run town myself I see how their influence has diminished rapidly among young people – simply put, the Provisionals are no longer frightening enough for them to think twice about dissenting

  • ArchiePurple

    JoeCanuck…..

    You may think your ‘smart-arse’ retort carried weight….I have news for you….It doesn’t

    The electorate may well have given Sinn Fein/IRA the top spot on the Nationalist/Republican side but there should never been an election. Remember it was Paisley and the terrorists in suits that argued for it, not the UUP nor the SDLP….and of course HM Government, capitulated as per usual.

    The facts remain…that for Unionists 2 of the terrorists in our Government was much preferable to 5, thanks to the efforts of the headbangers in the DUPes.

  • joeCanuck

    Ah poor Archie; one of the last refuges of the weak scoundrel is name calling.

  • ??

    The electorate may well have given Sinn Fein/IRA the top spot on the Nationalist/Republican side but there should never been an election. ………

    ffs, so just keep the status quo to satisfy the UUP. no need for elections boys.. what a load of crap.

  • dub

    Turgon,

    Your cynicism and nihilism in this piece are truly breathtaking. Your mask is dropping very quickly now. All those silky smooth pieces in the nor so distant past are but a mere memory as you increasingly salivate as your long expressed fantasy of a return to violence seems to have come true for you… now real unionist politics can return, without the nightmare of a republican ceasefire… And you call yourself a christian.. That is some joke.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Dub,

    Try and play the ball? There is not a happence worth of sense in that diatribe. We had this kind of fantasy politics when the attack on the Massereene Barracks took place. As far as possible, stick to what you know, and if you are going to try and take a man down, do it cleanly by tackling what he says rather than what you think he says!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy,

    Why do you think it’s appropriate for a foreign government (the US government) to intervene in Irish affairs ? That’s not very republican.

    In any case, for you to suggest that the American government should do this is very confusing. You said yourself that the DUP and SF have already agreed a timetable (in secret) and that it is being implemented, and that you were very happy with what you saw as a DUP climbdown. So what is there to argue about ?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Why do you think it’s appropriate for a foreign government (the US government) to intervene in Irish affairs ?

    Its not over till its over and because they keep the Englezes honest – the Tories may be forgetting the recent lessons of Irish history before the GFA has even bedded in (ie you dont feck with the Irish people)- they need to be guided in the right direction.

  • Go to my website NOW, see how I am Jesus, Son of God and the Virgin Mary, BUY MY MERCHANDISE, line my pockets and then, [i]and only then[/i], will our problems be solved.

    The Lord (me) is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. Repeat, the Lord (me) is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want for I am the Lamb of Goodness

    http://www.johnoconnell.org/