Ulster back at a crossroads

I’ve watched the bitter rejoicing that has always accompanied hard line unionist victories for 40 years. And victory of sorts is what Jim Allister has achieved, a victory against expectations if not against worst fears, just as the young Ian Paisley almost toppled that most modest of reformers Terence O’Neill in February 1969. Peter Robinson would shrink from the comparison but that is how he has been cast. 1969 was the one and only election in 40 years when hopes were high of a breakthrough. Once dashed, they were never repeated. Such progress as was made later came not out elections but from attrition on the streets and in the conference chamber.

Rejoicing must be how David Trimble and the Conservative unionists must be feeling. Even in their wildest dreams they never thought they’d get their own back on their DUP tormentors. But rejoicing will be short lived. Unionism faces a choice, whether to turn away from powersharing or turn back the clock. They have decisions to take; for Mr Allister must believe he can destroy New DUP and with it, the compulsory coalition.

We now know that the parties of the extremes can be outflanked. This a blow to those who assiduously courted the DUP at Ulster Unionist expense, but it need not be fatal. There is no need to be spooked into paralysis by Mr Allister. There will be a decent majority for powersharing as the seal on the end to conflict, but this is plainly a wasting asset. Unionist infighting can still increase the risks of general breakdown, as Sinn Fein and everybody else should remind them.

Facing the logic of being outflanked requires a strategy. The DUP has been without one ever since the chuckling stopped. Sinn Fein are still living on the gains of disarmament and power sharing, though they are far from invulnerable too. The DUP have no such resource in their political bank. The electorate are confused between cooperation in government and deadly enemies in elections. The only way to make sense of this is to take initiatives both directions.

First a change of attitude. Don’t demonise Mr Allister and his supporters. Take the conscientious objectors to power sharing with killers seriously but separate them meticulously from loyalist killers. Catholics see DUP fumbling over condemning of Kevin McDaid’s murder as according them less than basic human respect.This is no a basis for power sharing. Sinn Fein whatever the flaws in the logic passed a sterner test with Martin McGuineess sensational ” traitors “attack on the murdering republicans.

Next, introduce the devolution of justice and policing at a run. Further delay is pointless and betrays weakness. Speed will build confidence with all nationalists. An Alliance minister extracts much of the the political poison from this essential step.

The common challenge of creating a new budget for the recession would be a good idea too. It would exploit the SDLP’s policy making skills. Ministers should pay attention to public demands for more openness and consultation, particularly over deadlocks like academic selection. Local choice may provide a route to a solution. The Assembly’s virtual disuse is a disgrace.

Unionist splitting is not the brightest of ideas. Now is the time for greater co-operation between the two main unionist parties, under a big Conservative umbrella perhaps, to keep them respectable. Nationalists will be suspicious but Cameron will not let them stray from the Agreements. He has nothing to gain from a retreat from the British-Irish framework and unionism has nowhere else to go. With an end to double jobbing now certain, an electoral pact for the Westminster general election is the logical next step. The longer term political outlook will be helped by the emergence of a new generation and the retirement of the old warriors. Once indispensable to the settlement, they are more and more an obstacle to its progress. Around 60 is not bad retirement age from the front line, I’ve found.

Jim Allister is not a bad man but like many barristers, he is better at putting hostile questions than coming up with generally acceptable answers. Northern Ireland cannot wait another forty years for him to find them. It’s the last thing he wants, but the limited logic of his boundless, excitable intransigence could lead us down the narrow road to another Omagh bomb.

  • alan56

    Brian

    I agree with much of what you say but it does not need Allister’s intransigence for the dissidents to replicate Omagh. The will try to do it anyway.

  • hear hear

    It is simply disgraceful that anyone would attempt to lay any portion of the blame for a future (and inevitable) republican atrocity on Jim Allister.

  • Pete Baker

    Hmm..

    I wouldn’t overplay that ‘crossroads’ analogy, Brian.

    The ‘wise’ electorate hasn’t changed.

    And the ‘indigenous’ deal is done.

    Who would you see walking away from the current arrangements, and in what circumstances?

    As for policing and justice.. many problems remain.

  • sj1

    Good article Brian.

    Facing the logic of being outflanked requires a strategy.

    There was strategy by the main parties in Britain to put up candidates in areas where the BNP were standing, even if the main party candidates got slaughtered, in order to prevent the BNP from getting in, but they got in. It’s the system of voting that is at fault rather than the lack of strategy in my view.

  • cynic

    To lower the tone a little, given that European elections are in effect a tribal headcount, and the low turnout, the vote for nationalist parties was 204673 and for broadly unionists (discount the Greens) 295569. Pro union parties therefore got around 57% of the vote.

    So where does that leave ‘a United Ireland in our generation ‘ or even better ‘by 2016’?

  • Turgon

    alan56,
    You misunderstand. In Brian’s little universe the fault is with unionists: they are responsible for violence. Such is the perversion of such moral relativists that they cannot identify the true perpetrators of murder. Instead they blame those who refuse to give in to the murderers for their own murders. Brian believes in collective responsibility whereby non violent unionists and nationalists are responsible for the problems of the past and hence, are responsible for their own murders.

    The murderers on the other hand having accepted what they did are raised to a morally superior position.

    Interestingly Brain did not advance this particularly perverse form of moral reasoning when employed at the Belfast Telegraph: it might have been bad for his job prospects. Now, however, he is free from such constraints and can pontificate to his heart’s content.

  • GavBelfast

    Yes, an at best clumsy, at worst irresponsible concluding sentence to an otherwise interesting contribution from Brian Walker.

  • alan56

    Ahh Turgon

    You have had a good day so relax, dont be too hard on Brian ! I do agree though that democrats cannot be held responsible for the acts of thugs who reject democracy. That is a very dangerous idea.

  • LURIG

    As a Nationalist I commend Peter Robinson for clearly stating tonight on TV that powersharing and the Assembly are the only way forward. He was obviously disappointed but held his nerve quite well and was very controlled; now that was leadership. It is now important that the two governments come out quickly and back Robinson’s comments. Allister & the TUV MUST get the message quickly that there will be no return to apartheid Unionist rule dressed up as mandatory coalition.
    I accept that there are those within Unionism who may have genuine and moral opposition to sharing power with Sinn Fein. HOWEVER many of those who support Allister also have very selective memories and total double standards when it comes to ‘unreconstructed terrorists’ and ‘the men of violence’. A lot of the older NO camp who row in behind Allister are the same people who marched in Ormeau Park in the early 1970’s with Vanguard and promised to ‘liquidate the enemy’; they stood with the DUP & Paisley on picket lines in 1974 & 1977 alongside the UDA which intimidated, threatened and attacked Protestants & Catholics going to work; they strutted up and down Ballymena hillsides in 1981 with firearm certificates as members of the Third Force; they cheered and whooped as Paisley & the DUP donned red berets in the Ulster Hall in 1986 at the birth of Ulster Resistance who imported 100’s of guns from South Africa which were used to murder innocent Catholics. Most of these guns are still at large. Yes Brian there are indeed those with grievances at governance with Sinn Fein but let’s not pretend that most of it doesn’t just boil down to apartheid anti-Catholic sectarian mindsets

  • cynic

    Turgon

    At least Brian’s little universe is based in this one

    The TUV is a broad church of malcontent’s from many who simply find it morally repugnant that SF should be in power – a legitimate if (in my opinion misguided) view – to a smaller rump of complete nutters who either believe that the Pope is the anti-christ sent to earth to prepare the way for the End of Days or, on principle, just wont have a Taig about them.

    The TUV got 66000 votes – around 23% of the overall unionist vote. So its a problem but not a fatal one and the best way to deal with it is make devolution work and demonstrate that they are wrong

  • Turgon

    alan56,
    Yes maybe but Brian has a history of this sort of moral relativism and I think it should be challenged every time it raises its ugly head.

  • cynic

    Turgoin

    Bless me, NI is founded on moral relativism and always has been – it runs through all aspects of our politics like the blue mould in Stilton

  • Turgon

    cynic,
    Yes fair up to a point in that you are disagreeing with my political position: I have no problem at all with that. One can argue for the current arrangements: I do not deny that in any way. UI also have no problem with you criticising my politics or anyone else in the TUV’s.

    However, to suggest that I or Jim Allister or any other non terrorist supporter will be in part responsible if a group of murderers decide to murder someone is morally objectionable.

  • alan56

    Turgon

    Now that TUV have a mandate (a significant one) I wonder if SF could ever be part of a ‘voluntary coalition’?

  • Turgon

    alan56,
    Sorry I will discuss later. I am off to bed. Goodnight

    Regards

  • alan56

    Fair nuff

  • Driftwood

    So Jim Allister was to blame for Omagh? Well at least now the relatives can get peace.

    Their disgraceful civil actions against innocent republicans can now be seen as pathetic.

    The real culprit has at last been revealed!

  • Modernist

    Turgon while Im sure you are a decent person I am finding it increasingly hard to accept (while I am beginning to understand it) the unionist midset where they fail to see the blatantly obvious end result of their actions. The actions of hardliners on both sides have had the same effects. Namely people getting killed and mamed. While the politicians may not have had a direct involvement in these things their actions and rabble rousing words often lead to them ( I can think of one sh*t stirrer) . This has been shown many times in NI with the constant cycle of violence. It is of no use for unionists to hark on about morallity (often dubious ie DUP- Willie McCrea and Billy Wright etc) when the end result is as predicted. Just move on. Sinn Féin are sharing power whether you like it or not

  • TUV 1st time voter

    Re: Cynic #10 – your reply typifies republican arrogance in writing off genuine unionist distrust of former PIRA death squads as “not wanting a taig about the place”.

    People like Adams, McGuinness and others have very bloody recent histories and for many unionist people – people like me – its simply unacceptable that republicans who are responible for the deaths of my friends and relations should be in power.

    It doesnt worry me one iota if the assembly falls into the ground as a result and British / Irish secretariats dont scare me either. How bad could they be compared to a former terrorist lording if over the very people he terrorised when he wore a balaclava?

    Bravo to Jim Allister for giving disillusioned and disenfranchised people like me a voice – may there be many more days like this one…

  • Driftwood

    I disagree with the TUV, but I find it objectionable that a blogger has implied they were complicit in the bombing of Omagh.
    Some people might think the Real IRA were prepared to bomb and kill no matter what. At least now Brian has supplied us with a valid context for their actions.

  • cynic

    “to suggest that I or Jim Allister or any other non terrorist supporter will be in part responsible if a group of murderers decide to murder someone is morally objectionable.”

    I didn’t suggest that at all – far from it – and I think you are overplaying the comments by Brian and others.

    In my view, the reality is that a lot of NI Politics is played as a zero sum game….and that is the line the TUV take. If themmuns gain something we must (by definition) lose.

    Of course that is not true but TUV Triumphalism today (even though they lost the seat!!!!!) or zero sum messianic triumphalism by any other unionists does help reinforce the view in the republican nutter fringe that they have been done down in some way. In that sense its part of the background music to how our street politics are played out – as are the actions of everyone else.

    I don’t think at all that that makes Jim Allister responsible for it – nor do I think Brian even suggetsed or hinted at that. But he’s right in that either we make politics here work or others on both sides will step in to fill the vacuum

    If you want an object lesson on a different approach, look at what the DUPs have done in the Assembly. They have neutered SF on almost every issue. They are corralled and cut off. They cannot move without Unionist support an cant get that support until they compromise and do some real politics. And it has all been done almost without fuss, without tub thumping, jumping up and down and shouting.

    Now I say that as someone who wont vote DUP.I think we need to move to to a new consensus where there is compromise on both sides and we deal with real issue not sectarian totems. So I don’t actually admire what they have done but I recognise it as an object lesson in realpolitik and a demonstration of the Shinners weaknesses.

  • cynic

    Dear TUV 1st Time voter

    I am actually a unionist but you are so blinkered that wouldn’t occur to you.

    I have met some TUV supporters who, as you say and as I said, have genuine deep felt concerns. I respect those views but disagree because I think we can either look back or look forward and I prefer to look forward.

    I have also met a few others (and it is a minority) who, frankly, would not be out of place in the BNP.

  • LURIG

    You TUV 1st time voter merely confirm the hypocrisy that exists within Unionism. I am sure a lot of the older TUV people and sympathisers can tell you of the gold old days when they marched with Bill Craig & Vanguard; sat in the UDA Headquarters on the Newtownards Road in 1974 & 1977 discussing tactics; wore paramilitary clothing as members of the Third Force; eulogised and gave speeches at the gravesides of Loyalist death squad leaders like John Bingham in 1986; sang lustily in the Ulster Hall in 1986 as members of Ulster Resistance with red berets on and threatened all sorts of violence; stood in allliance with Billy Wright/LVF & Johnny Adair/UFF/UDA at Drumcree as the police were attacked with blast bombs. Go and learn some truth and history before swallowing the bigoted brainwashing of your headbanging heroes.

  • for shame

    The suggestion – nay, the proposition – that a vote for Jim Alister leaves one complicit in republican atrocities to come – is as disgraceful as it is bereft of any ability to analyse the raison d’etre of irredentist physical force republicanism.
    Useful idiot. Thank God today a corner was turned for real democrats.

  • Outsider

    I commend Slugger for becoming a more impartial site than it was this time last year, I also commend it for having the vision to appoint a TUV member as a regular blogger, this allows 25%-30% of the Unionist community to have a voice.

    I am however appalled that becuase Jim Allister rejects Sinn Fein IRA/DUP in government he is blamed for causing atrocities that the man himself whould abhor.

    Jim Allister’s vote is only going to rise, he would have polled better had people been more aware of how well he would eventually do. My vote for Jim Allister is not a temporary protest vote, provided Jim Allister continues to oppose Republicans/Terrorist and flushes out the Lundies he will have mine and many others for many years to come.

  • Driftwood

    LURIG
    Mainly true.
    Thankfully no protestants or unionists were murdered during the troubles though eh?
    2 examples:

    Gerry Adams mastermined La Mon

    Martin McGuinness murdered Joanne Mathers

    All of them simply because they were ‘Protestant’.
    I’m not a protestant, but disagree with murder, Don’t take a one sided approach to religious pogroms.

  • LURIG

    Thus ensuring Outsider that Sinn Fein’s mandate increases accordingly. The more that Rejectionist/Apartheid Unionism cries, yaps, screams and tries to cling to their bigoted past so Nationalists & Republicans will thwart them at every turn. Get used to it, the Catholic population of the North is sitting at 44/45% of the population and will eventually become a majority. Allister is leading you nowhere except to political oblivion. The Irish government and the US have the veto here NOT Unionists or the British government. Britain wants rid of you and the antics of Allister & the TUV will make it happen so much faster.

  • TUV 1st time voter

    To “Lurig” #23 – I voted for Jim Allister – was he a member of the 3rd Force? He left the DUP around 1985, so that rules our Ulster Resistance as well, doesn’t it?

    As far as Im aware, Jim Allister doesn’t have a terrorist conviction, doesn’t carry the coffins of people who murder women and kids in a Shankill Fish Shop and actually thinks people like that shouldnt be in government and Im fairly sure he has no history of throwing “blast bombs” at the security forces.

    All things considered, I think I’m quite content to vote for such a person.

  • Outsider

    Lurig

    I am from the younger generation, I don’t want terrorists in government, this ethos should be timeless.

  • LURIG

    Driftwood

    I am most certainly not taking a one sided view to murder and killings but I make NO apologies for highlighting the Unionist hypocrisy on ‘terrorism’ and ‘the men of violence’. Of course many innocent Protestant people suffered, have I ever denied that OR said otherwise? Don’t confuse my criticism of the headbanging Allister brigade as justification of other violence BUT it has to be said nonetheless. They are two faced bigots when it comes to this.

  • ed

    Outsider

    Absolutely correct problem lies in who is a terrorist? Paisley is every bit the terrorist that Yasser Arafat was, Robinson has more of a paramilitary record then Adams! And driftwood lies told often enough still arent the truth

  • Nomad

    1. I am not sure that votes for Jim Allister give the TUV a significant mandate. I believe he received many votes as a) he’s a unionist pol who b) worked hard in Europe who c) Isn’t Dianne Dodds

    2. While I don’t think what Brian said was right, I don’t think it was wrong either- it certainly was not the crux of the post. Maybe it would be wiser to look at the point of the rest of the words and get past the sentence you’re all wound up about.

  • Outsider

    Ed

    You wont find me defending Paisley or Robinson, but to say Adam has no paramilitary background is ludicrous.

  • Driftwood

    LURIG
    Paisley, Willie McCrea, Robbo and many other DUP headers have indeed been ‘implicated’. But not sure Reg or Jim Nic have. Or Jim Allister.

    Of course Adams was never in PIRA. Although he’d apparently heard the ‘bright side of life’ song, a year before its release.
    Anyway, sure Chris Donnelly claimed that David Cameron and his shadow cabinet were ‘a bunch of murderers’ on this site recently, so it goes…

  • Liamo

    Time and Time and…….we are getting there.

  • ed

    Outsider show me Adams paramilitary record? Not the anecdotal crap but the written in stone stuff like say a raid on Clontribinet

    If this wasn’t a throw away vote for europe would Alister have poled so well? We will know in the next election for whatever level of government occurs and that is the real interesting bit

  • Brian Walker

    I’m not sure why “moral relativism” is so much used as a term of abuse. I don’t know of a single moral injunction that applies uniformly to every situation where choice is applicable. Moral absolutism unleavened by tolerance and a wish to understand and embrace complexity, risks becoming immoral, the morality of the Pharisee. Morality also lies in more than intentions; it lies also in accepting consequences, including those consequences you have not instigated or intended but experience and knowledge informs you may happen. Thus, if you know bad people will do bad things as a result of your actions and you still persist, you share the responsibility: it’s a no brainer. So if you anger people with your inflammatory language and they throw stones, you share responsibility. I can’t believe my critics’ moral education would deny that but maybe it does. Mr Allister is not the young Paisley, he is a lawyer who keeps his self discipline, though he can verge on personal hatred as he did with McGuinness yesterday. That is a bad example to others. His failing as I see it is a basic refusal to accept the position of others in a democratic society and to insist on the exclusive right of his own judgment to prevail. That for me is morally questionable, if morality is always your touchstone. I hope I have shown respect for conscientious objections to “terrorists in government.” But just like conscientious objections in war time, it is not a viable political position, unless your position is not to accept the position of the other guy. I regret this approach to life not because it’s morally worse than terrorism, it isn’t, but because it leads unerringly nowhere. I know I can’t make people stop who are prepared to kill. They have to be killed, subdued, contained or they give up. Yet those who insist that an end to terrorism is morally the same as continuing with terrorism and requires no adjustment whatever to the moral judgment applied, seem to me to be self-evidently wrong. That is a tragedy I will fail to overcome but I can suggest political strategies that may get round it without trying to destroy the unreachable. However I’ve found it a characteristic that they avoid clean rules of engagement and descend to abuse fairly quickly. That exposes the kind of moral relativism I do understand.

  • Drifferent Drummer

    Well Brian I think you should have re-read your sentence about
    another Omagh – I think it stands OK on the acceptance that you
    were saying that a powerful TUV will mean that dissident Republicans would use it activities as their moral justification for bombing/atrocity – YOU on the other hand do not agree with this
    deadly cycle.

    Anyway Brian you are forgetting that the it was the UVF bombs that put O’Neil out of office

  • As I found myself reflecting elsewhere, we have just had an election where no Party, across the whole of the UK, managed to attract the support of more than 9½% of its electorate. (I stand open to correction on that).

    Yet, we are being told it is a storming success for the Tories (who are claiming the NI result as just another “Conservative” success — ConHome seem to have lost the significance of the “Unionist” tag on the way).

    If anything approaching a “majority” can be engineered on the support of just a tenth of the franchise, we are in a context as corrupt as anything that persisted before the Great Reform Act.

  • Harry Flashman

    “If anything approaching a “majority” can be engineered on the support of just a tenth of the franchise, we are in a context as corrupt as anything that persisted before the Great Reform Act.”

    Er, no we’re not.

    You seem to be unaware of the fact that the reason only a tiny proportion of the population voted before the GRA was that only a tiny proportion of the population was allowed to vote.

    Now we have full adult suffrage with a private ballot, if in such circumstances people choose not to vote that is as much an exercise of their democratic rights as those who vote.

    If after the election the government is run according to the whims of only the 9% of the population who voted for the winning side well then there is a very easy remedy for the rest; be sure to vote next time.

    Try not to lose the run of yourself Malcolm, I do appreciate that left wing politics is about as saleable in Europe these days as a bag of fish accidentally left in a drawer over the course of a particularly hot August bank holiday weekend but that ain’t the fault of the voters.

  • Liamo

  • redhugh78

    Allister’s vote is unionism in it’s dying throws.

    The sooner unionism realises that nationalists/republicans are their equals the better.
    Unionism can only move to the right as the nationalist population grows the inevitable unification is only a matter of time, the sooner unionism realises this the better.

    There will be no going back to unionist misrule and the fenians are not goin anywhere,DEAL WITH IT!!

  • Nomad

    What does seem like the next logical step is for unionists to promote their conservatism, as opposed to their sole ambition to remain where they are constitutionally.

    Which in itself is a form of progress, I suppose..

  • Harry Flashman @ 02:28 AM:

    … left wing politics is about as saleable in Europe these days as a bag of fish…

    Ah, yes! The famous recipe for revenge on a bank: rent a safe deposit box; insert one large, fresh salmon; depart on extended vacation.

    However, Harry has obviously not considered the election results, including the local ones, in Dublin (and the other cities). On turn-outs around the 50% mark, the Left and even Labour have made significant gains.

    Try to stay with the game, Harry. Try the excellent Irish Times .pdfs. Failing that, consider Fintan O’Toole’s analysis (forgive the extended rip; but it’s worth it):

    … two things. The first is the emergence, in the local elections, of a clear class divide. For the first time we are seeing the Fianna Gael machines lose their grip on urban working class voters. There are now whole swathes of the population, mostly concentrated in urban and suburban housing estates, that have become alienated from the mainstream conservative parties.

    In northwest Cork city, in Ballyfermot, in Crumlin and Kimmage, in the north, southeast and southwest inner city areas of Dublin, in Balbriggan, in Tallaght and in the north of Waterford city, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil can barely muster a council seat between them. In a large range of working class and commuter belt suburbs, they are massively outpolled by parties of the left. In the Dublin Central byelection, Fianna Gael got just over a third of the vote. Something is happening here, and it is particularly worrying for Fianna Fáil, whose social coalition has always included a hard core of working-class voters. The fact that these votes have not just swung between the two big centre-right parties, but gone in a very different direction, suggests that this is not a merely temporary phenomenon.

    The other thing that is genuinely historic is that, for the first time since Daniel O’Connell forged a mass political Catholic identity in the early 19th century, both Catholicism and populist nationalism are undergoing a crisis of authority at the same time. There have been previous crises for both Irish nationalist politics and for Irish institutional Catholicism. Those crises have never been simultaneous. When nationalist politics were in disarray during the Parnell split, the church was riding high. When the church was losing authority in the 1990s, mainstream nationalist politics were delivering an economic miracle.

    What’s happening now is that the whole weave of religious and political power is unravelling. The ideological glue of Irish public identity was a potent mix of populist nationalism on one side and Catholic institutional control of the moral agenda on the other. That glue no longer sticks.

    I rather like that, and its implications.

    Or, perhaps the RoI, and Dublin in particular, have been expunged from Harry’s map of Europe.

  • Well thought out and sobering article, Brian.

    As a nationalist, I think unionists have three choices:

    #1 Run Stormont into the ground, return to direct rule

    #2 Take a deep breath and continue to share power with those that nauseate you

    #3 Reach beyond your unionist base and court those catholics you’ll need to secure the union long-term

    If I were a unionist, the third option would make the most sense. Unfortunately, and I think, tragically for Northern Ireland, the first option seems to be gaining traction within the unionist community.

    Unionists may make no bones about their distaste for sharing power with Sinn Fein but for the wider nationalist/catholic community, it masks, none too subtley, a distaste for sharing power with the catholic community. That’s how it’s perceived and in N.I. as we know, perception is everything.

    Unionists need to be careful about the signal this sends out. One, it alienates those nationalists who’ve worked hard for power-sharing. Two, it creates the unstable, antagonistic political environment that terrorists feed on and recruit on (and this, I think, is the point Brian was making). Finally, it will send a message to non-political catholics that supporting a union is not in their best interest. Their vote may not matter now but some day it will and it may be at the union’s expense.

    A large bulk of unionists seem to wish for good old days of the sixties. I fear that the seventies are more likely to be revisited if tribal attitudes of this sort aren’t consigned to the dustbin of history. Unionists need to grasp the nettle that the surest way to secure the union is not to alienate the other tribe. The surest way to undermine it is to alienate them.

  • Harry Flashman

    Take what comforts that ye may from our own wee isle Malcolm, but God love you, Ireland hardly represents the true state of the electoral thumping handed by the voters to the Left throughout the great landmass of Europe.

    Perhaps you believe that in this great dark age for European socialism, Ireland will become the beacon it was in the past and Joe Higgins will, like Columbanus, go out to bring enlightenment and salvation to the benighted masses of Europe.

    It’s a touching vision.

  • JoeBryce

    It should not be lost on anyone that for the first time ever the nationalists have just won an election in Scotland, as well as NI.

    Perhaps there is a dynamic involved that goes beyond the old zero-sum game that Mr. Allister still thinks he’s playing.

    On the republican / nationalist side, please note that nationalism is winning in Scotland without mudering policemen or old ladies out shopping. Indeed I would suggest that nationalism would be stronger now in NI had The Armed Struggle never taken place.

    On the unionist / loyalist side, it would seem unwise to cling to a Union that is breaking up without Ulster’s permission. The Ulster nationalist push that Paisley’s astonishingly successful First Ministership manifested found a resonance throughout all communities.

  • cynic

    “the nationalists have just won an election in Scotland, as well as NI.”

    They didnt ‘win an election’ in the sense you suggest – they got 43% of the vote compared to Unionists 56%

  • cynic

    “the Catholic population of the North is sitting at 44/45% of the population and will eventually become a majority”

    As a Unionist I have to say, “so what?”

    Dont assume all Catholics are Nationalists or all Prods Unionists. The biggest disservice SF have done to reunification is push people on both sides into polarised boxes that make any attempt at discussion of the national issue still too raw and divisive.

    The reality is that, in hour hearts, aside from the extremists on both sides (who have the right to be extremists if that’s what they want)we all know that we are a mixture of both traditions and have a large degree of shared identity, social attitudes etc which is often different from the rest of the UK and Ireland

  • Greenflag

    BW ,

    ‘I’m not sure why “moral relativism” is so much used as a term of abuse’

    It’s the only weapon left to those who would rather return to a Northern Ireland when Nationalists and Republicans were neither seen nor heard and when they kept out of the way of triumphalist ‘unionism ‘. When the current ‘excitement’ over the TUV dies down -the TUV will still have nothing to offer to the people of Northern Ireland except a return to the past .

    There will be no voluntary coalition in Northern Ireland until the present State has ceased to exist and is replaced by another either through agreed Repartition or a UI and as neither of these two options looks likely anytime soon then it’s ‘mandatory ‘ coalition for as far ahead as one can see.

    Brian Faulkner knew what the TUV and others within the pre agreement DUP and UUP failed to see 15 years ago . Irish nationalism and republicanism within Northern Ireland is not going away and ‘unionists ‘ of all parties either work with that reality or prepare for ‘repartition’. I suspect that the latter is Allister’s ‘default’ political position. He may yet hold out hope that a Cameron premiership might reverse the kick in the head which Maggie Thatcher doled out to Molyneaux when he tried to have NI ‘integrated’ into Westminster a la Finchley or Tunbridge Wells .

    The Northern Irish nationalist electorate will stay with SF as their preferred party for they know how the SDLP were treated by the precursors within unionism of todays TUV. And just like their precursors the TUV have nothing to offer Northern Ireland except more division and continuing sectarian conflict .

    So the question we all have to look forward to is if Allister wins ten seats in the next General election which may come sooner rather than later which ‘unionist ‘ party will hold the DFM position ? As Allister has proclaimed he will not not share power with SF then it’ll have to be DUP or UCUNF ?

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    After Walker blamed Allister for future terrorism, anyone who didn’t have the measure of this man now fully has it. You were unfit to even pretend to be a politically neutral state employee, incapable of ever actually behaving thus in practice, and thank God that that charade is long over.

    Though do tell us more about your ‘morals’: for you Allister’s ‘hatred’ of McGuinness is ‘morally questionable’. What exactly are McGuinness’ murders then? ‘Dodgy’, ‘a bit of a faux pas’, ‘off-colour humour’? But perhaps, as Turgon has so keenly observed, Brian will come back and tell us to ‘move on’, as McGuiness’ murders were in the past, and are thus dullsville, you squares, whereas those future murders Allister’s guilty of, well those are just horrendous.

  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow,

    ‘What’s happening now is that the whole weave of religious and political power is unravelling. The ideological glue of Irish public identity was a potent mix of populist nationalism on one side and Catholic institutional control of the moral agenda on the other. That glue no longer sticks.’

    In which case Fintan O’Toole might have added that the Republic is becoming more like England , France , Germany and Italy in it’s political make up? That would be no bad thing for it would help to focus the politically minded on actual issues rather than on whether one’s grandfather wore a Blueshirt in the 1930’s or supported De Valera or Collins in the Civil War .

    From another perspective lets hope the glue when it becomes fully unstuck does not release forces which lead to the kind of division which has plagued NI since it’s establishment . For while the NI division was/is largely across a sectarian divide it also had an economic basis underlying that division . Of course there were always ‘some ‘ nationalists much better off than the poor prods of the Shankill etc but neither had any chance of attaining real political power or influence.

    As for the demise of Fianna Gael ? With the victories of both De Rossa and Higgins in Dublin O’Toole might have a point. The next General Election will show whether the present anti FF ‘uprising’ is not just part of a natural reaction to the present economic setback or whether it’s something more fundamental .

  • gram

    Allister could’ve walked around North Antrim for the last 4 weeks with his lad hanging out of his trousers and still picked up the vote he did.

    The simple fact is, and the one he didn’t answer on UTV yesterday, the anti agreement vote has now dropped from around 30% to 14%.

    But hey thanks to Jim I look forward to seeing a nationalist first minister.

  • McCollum

    GRAM: “thanks to Jim I look forward to seeing a nationalist first minister.”

    Clearly you know nothing about the st Andrews agreement, yet still see fit to foister your misguided views upon us

    1. 1st and deputy 1st ministers are equal therefore it really does not matter whether a nationalist or unionist is 1st minister

    2. Before st Andrews the UUP had ensured that the largest blog would select the 1st minister the DUP at st andrews (supposedly a better deal) changed this so the largest party could claim the office of 1st minister

    Therefore it is the DUP who are soley to blame should SF become 1st minister!

    Maybe you should get your facts right before subjecting us to your nonsense

  • Comic Book Gut

    Worst and Ugliest maiden EVER!

  • Conquistador

    But hey thanks to Jim I look forward to seeing a nationalist first minister.

    Now now credit where credit is due. ’twas the DUP that negotiated that one

  • gram

    McCollum:Maybe you should get your facts right before subjecting us to your nonsense

    Please let me know where I got my facts wrong? I didn’t mention anything about the equality of the two postitoions.

    Still looking forward to a nationalist 1st minister though.

  • Big Maggie

    The TUV are decidedly lacking in grace. That makes for ugly television, radio and presumably any political “cooperation” they’ll eventually have to enter into with Nationalist parties.

  • fin

    perhaps someone can enlighten me, unionist objections to powersharing is the fact that SF is the largest nationalist party hence the powersharing is with them, hence thats the reason for unionist discomfort. However, SF are fairly newcomers to elections in NI and even more recently the largest nationalist party. Yet there is no historical evidence of unionism sharing power with nationalists, is it fair to ask, is unionism looking for excuses not to share power.

    Both the TUV and DUP campaigns pretty much omitted the SDLP and focussed on SF.

    Ian Og has already got the ball rolling and said that the SDLP were tougher cookies in power. I gather unionists, DUP or TUV, do not have an arguement against powersharing with the SDLP.

    Posters here truthfully or not have claimed that the behaviour of the TUV and DUP made them decide to vote SF instead of SDLP.

    P&J is looming. If the DUP delay it further I believe it would show weakness to the TUV.

    If the DUP were to publically and politely campaign for nationalists to make the SDLP their largest party, would it be a solution to the TUV problem. Where would the TUV stand on powersharing with the SDLP?

    The DUP could start this programme by giving P&J to the SDLP, under d’Hondt they are next in line for a ministry, they’ve just polled 3 times the numbers of the Alliance and it helps to promote the SDLP within nationalism.

    The Alliance have flipped flopped on not wanting the post and then been open-minded, UCUNF don’t want P&J devolved, and other parties are too small to warrent the role.

    Giving it to the SDLP leaves the TUV exposed, will they support it or not, is their problem SF or just nationalists in power?

    It moves the DUP (if cosmetically) to the centre and steals some of UCUNF’s new clothes, in been seen to be non-tribal, reaching out to nationalists etc.

    It undermines SF, it sends a message to nationalists, that they want to work with them just not SF.

    It sucks the SDLP into the centre, noone bites the hand that feeds them, and if the SDLP see an opportunity to gain support – from where ever- to re-establish themselves within nationalism, they’d be made not to take it.

    Come the assembly elections enough nationalists might return to the SDLP to damage SF. The DUP may have done enough damage to the TUV (they’ll either have to support it or condemn it) and the UUP (in been more outreaching to nationalists) to remain the largest party.

    There are a lot of non-voting unionists out there, promises of smashing SF or not powersharing doesn’t seem to be encouraging them to vote, possibly it’s time to try something different.

  • Different Drummer

    Flashing Over Europe

    Hi Harry I think the opposite of your little scenario (S.Ireland being the socialist light at the end of Europe in reactionary dark ages) – is more likely – European reactionaries trying to out do each other at various venues and press conferences as to who can be the most effective right wing populist – a whose the best monster contest between UKIP BNP and Hungary’s anti Roma party that will make Berlesconi look like Shirley Williams.

  • Greenflag

    Fin ,

    ‘possibly it’s time to try something different.’

    But hang on a minute isn’t the TUV different ? We’ve never heard their message before have we ?

    Pardon my french but if you take a peek at the political history of NI since William Craig marched with Vanguard up to Paisley’s early a.m hill marching exercises with the turd/tired /third force ? you should realise that Unionism does not have within it the capacity for anything ‘different ‘ Never mind Allister just look at the UUP prostrating themsleves in front of the Tories as if it were 1912 all over again ?

    Eventually they’ll get around to remembering how the Tories ditched them in 1972 but it’ll be a while . If the Cameroonians get a strong enough majority next time out (30 +) seats , Northern Ireland and its ‘issues’ will be heard of once a year at subvention time unless of course the sound of gunfire is heard above the silence .

  • Al Ghurair

    Anyone else think the unionist vote actually represents a move forwards??? After all, it’s estimated that at the time of the GFA referendum 50% of unionists voted against the agreement – at these euro elections only 30% of unionist voted for the anti-agreement party….. What’s more, if we consider a DUP vote at the last euro election as being a vote against power sharing (in line with the DUP’s position at that time), then the number of anti-power-sharing votes has fallen significantly this time around…

  • fin

    *sign* thanks for the reality check Greenflag.

    But, can I say But, the landscape is different now, hence the sudden distaste for ‘tribal politics’ among nice unionists, the inability of fear or plain old paddybashing to get the unionist vote out, and not least the GFA and powersharing. Clever unionism would try something new, but (again) I know exactly where your arguement is coming from

  • Driftwood

    From a unionist perspective, I think we just sit and wait for David Cameron.
    The wee pretendy Trumpton parliament can amuse the parochialists until a return of real government this Autumn (hopefully) or next spring.

  • Driftwood

    From a unionist perspective, I think we just sit and wait for David Cameron.
    The wee pretendy Trumpton parliament can amuse the parochialists until a return of real government this Autumn (hopefully) or next spring.

  • The Truth

    I think we should change the Heading of this discussion as I don’t think Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan are in a crisis, or even the occupied 6 either for that matter.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    We can all say what we like about the TUV they have a view and have the right to hold that view. Many in NI agree with their view but don’t vote for them, in the words of one D. Cameron, they have the wisdom to accept it and move on.

    We are left with 67,000 voters who don’t want to move on, they want to have anything but power sharing with SF. I suspect little will ever persuade them to change but they now have a leader to follow who will articulate thier views. The question is what do we do with them? And more to the point, what do the DUP do with them? As they have taken half their votes.

    The DUP can stay where they are, move to TUV or move to the CU’s. I can see no real prospect of them going towards the TUV as they can’t ‘out extreme’ them, staying where they are is really not an option either as the CU’s have gained traction and the Wesminster election is their best hope of more success as it is their home ground.

    Will the DUP move to the CU’s and ditch some of their more extreme members to the TUV, there is no doubt that such a coalition would be attractive to ‘Unionist’ voters. It would cement the Union, give all sections of unionism a voice and would return to the CU the voters seconded by the DUP in recent years and leave the old DUP mostly in the TUV.

    I fear however that would not be a move welcomed by all the Conservatives and Unionists as there would still be too much baggage left in the DUP, it might take a few retirements in the DUP to make it happen e.g. the 6,000 yearers, two defectors and the family dynasties.

    So it may be that a few lonely DUP members will take the journey(s) on their own over the coming months as they see the contradictions of their position beginning to bite.

    Let us see who moves where and in which direction!

  • Frustrated Democrat

    We can all say what we like about the TUV they have a view and have the right to hold that view. Many in NI agree with their view but don’t vote for them, in the words of one D. Cameron, they have the wisdom to accept it and move on.

    We are left with 67,000 voters who don’t want to move on, they want to have anything but power sharing with SF. I suspect little will ever persuade them to change but they now have a leader to follow and who will articulate their views. The question is what do we do with them? And more to the point, what do the DUP do with them? As they have taken half their votes.

    The DUP can stay where they are, move to TUV or move to the CU’s. I can see no real prospect of them going towards the TUV as they can’t ‘out extreme’ them, staying where they are is really not an option either as the CU’s have gained traction and the Wesminster election is their best hope of more success as it is their home ground.

    Will the DUP move to the CU’s and ditch some of their more extreme members to the TUV, there is no doubt that such a coalition would be attractive to ‘Unionist’ voters. It would cement the Union, give all sections of unionism a voice and would return to the CU the voters seconded by the DUP in recent years and leave the old DUP mostly in the TUV.

    I fear however that would not be a move welcomed by all the Conservatives and Unionists as there would still be too much baggage left in the DUP, it might take a few retirements in the DUP to make it happen e.g. the 6,000 yearers, two defectors and the family dynasties.

    So it may be that a few lonely DUP members will take the journey(s) on their own over the coming months as they see the contradictions of their position beginning to bite.

    Let us see who moves where and in which direction!

  • Greenflag

    Fin ,

    ‘hence the sudden distaste for ‘tribal politics’ among nice unionists,’

    You might well think that Fin but I could’nt possibly comment 😉 It’s still a fist even if it’s covered by ‘white ‘ glove . The only reason the UUP have run to the Tories is because they see it as their only hope to regain lost ground in NI against the DUP. The ‘nice bits’ i.e the be nice to your Catholic neighbour is purely not to upset English middle class sensibilities mixed in with a reasonable anxiety over the longer term course of politics in a divided NI state .

    As for the landscape being different ? It’s just the summer light . Wait till the drums start bating again and it’ll be back to the dreary steeples etc etc .

    IMO – Northern Nationalists and Republicans should push for a fair Repartition and leave Unionists and Unionism to tear each other to shreds . They are more than capable of it. The rest of the UK and Ireland will probably approve and urge all parties on to self destruction.

    One thing is sure -Allister will NEVER be First Minister in any NI Executive unless of course he eats his own tonsils like Paisley and Trimble and the rest of them had to do .

    It’s about time Irish nationalism in NI stood up for itself and came out loudly and strongly to tell Allister and his ilk where to go .

    Come on Adams/McGuinness and Durkan speak up and out in defence of power sharing and tell the TUV where they can go !! Or else plan for repartition and be done with the endless shite of trying to make Northern Ireland a normal democracy ! It can’t be done -not in a 6 county context anyway !

  • fin

    Greenflag, I’m all for partition, but do we take all of Scotland and Wales or leave Edinburgh in the UK, I think Luton might want to come over aswell ; )

  • Greenflag

    Fin

    ‘but do we take all of Scotland and Wales or leave Edinburgh in the UK,’

    You’ll have to watch these imperialistic tendencies Fin . They can get out of hand . Before you know it you’ll be annexing France , Germany and even the Russians . Why you might even end up like a former Empire (we’ll mention no names ) which had 25% of the land surface of the earth under it’s jurisdiction and which went to war with a younger imperial power on the basis of the younger power being a vicious ruthless tyrant . And we would’nt want that now would we ?

  • Greenflag

    Fin

    ‘but do we take all of Scotland and Wales or leave Edinburgh in the UK,’

    You’ll have to watch these imperialistic tendencies Fin . They can get out of hand . Before you know it you’ll be annexing France , Germany and even the Russians . Why you might even end up like a former Empire (we’ll mention no names ) which had 25% of the land surface of the earth under it’s jurisdiction and which went to war with a younger imperial power on the basis of the younger power being a vicious ruthless tyrant . And we would’nt want that now would we ?

  • frustrated democrat

    Repartition sounds good, but we don’t want Cork as we don’t want to learn another new language.

  • Driftwood

    We’ll take South Dublin (and George Lee), yousunns can have South Armagh (and Conor Murphy)back.
    We’ll even throw in Rockall if we can have Tory Island.

  • Greenflag

    Driftwood ,

    We’ll take Fermanagh , Tyrone , most of Armagh , most of Down , Derry and Belfast and youse can have Tory Island on account of the fact that the fat faced puffins are probably Tories anyway 😉

    It could prove a place of refuge for when the Tories next destroy the British economy ?

    frustrated democrat ,

    You have a point re Cork -I can never make out what the feckers are saying either . They’re worse than the Welsh for speedy talking . Still they produce a fair few good rugby players not to mention the occassional internationally ranked soccer thug like yer man Keane etc:)

  • Ballycastle

    And where would a “fair repartition” leave us Gaels in the Glens of Antrim Greenflag?

    Thanks, but em….no thanks. I’m sure you understand.

  • Driftwood

    Greenflag, we’ll take all of Down, but offer you another island:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5357568/MPs-expenses-Sir-Peter-Viggers-claimed-for-1600-floating-duck-island.html

    Mary Lou could be Lord (or Lady)?