DUP: change, cul de sacs and P&J

More than a month ago Chris Donnelly produced a very interesting article here on slugger about how the DUP had (unlike SF) failed to prepare its grass roots for the realities of power sharing. It was a well written and well argued piece but it did in some ways leave out the point that the DUP had gained its dominant position within unionism precisely because it denounced the UUP’s attempts to prepare and implement power sharing. Hence, it had inadequate time to prepare its new supporters let alone its traditional base for the compromises ahead. The idea that the DUP should have prepared its base for the compromises ahead was, however, an excellent one and Peter Robinson openly acknowledged this. Unfortunately for republicans such as Mr. Donnelly, I would suggest that Nelson McCausland’s appointment as culture secretary and his recent cul de sac remarks, are actually an example of the DUP doing exactly what Mr. Donnelly suggested: preparing the base for further compromises ahead, as well as trying to regain some lost support.
It is most interesting that in most of the recent discussions about the devolution of policing and justice there had been less from the DUP about the necessary “community confidence” and more about who was to pay for P&J. Now, however, Peter Robinson has apparently outlined for Gordon Brown how he will measure community confidence by talking to the party leaders in Stormont. Once this “community confidence” appeared to be dependent on the DUP deciding itself that there was enough “confidence.” Now, however, other parties within Stormont seem to need to be involved; though Robinson seems to be pointedly leaving the TUV vote out of that equation by mentioning only parties within Stormont.

It is in this context of preparing for devolution of P&J along with the reaction to the European election that Nelson McCausland’s recent remarks should be interpreted. McCausland is an extremely intelligent individual and although he may have little insight into the thinking of nationalists and republicans he must have known that his interview would spark considerable anger form that quarter. Many of the phrases such as cul de sac and the comments about different sports sounded as if they had been carefully prepared in advance and not prepared to avoid offence. The fact that he was so vociferous and seemed to have carefully calculated his words to show how he intended to remain unknowing about both the Irish language and the GAA was, I submit, designed to do a number of things: On a short term basis it was to try to disguise the simple fact that McCausland was meeting with the dread Ruane and two Irish ministers in the RoI. On a longer term basis it can be presented as a hardening of line (not that Gregory Campbell was exactly liberal) after the European election and a move to reassure and win back some of the base. In addition bizarre as this may sound to nationalists the ability to have a culture minister who can say such things may be a way of the DUP going out to spread the “devolution gospel.” After all they can argue with some justification that no Westminster appointed minister could say such things.

All this may, in part, be an attempt to set the necessary mood music for P&J devolution. The DUP may feel that bashing the Irish language and the GAA and demonstrating that the DUP are in control and have changed after the European election will help them in selling P&J devolution. Further delaying the P&J issue as was announced on Friday may also, by annoying SF, demonstrate the DUP’s claimed ascendancy; though it may also demonstrate genuine anxiety about the issue.

This is of course a very zero sum game strategy which may well not be what Donnelly and others were arguing for. However, having built their recent electoral success (until Europe) on being the hardest line of all and on the basis that they were going to and then did defeat SF, it is difficult to completely change the narrative overnight. Instead the DUP seem to be going back to what they have repeatedly done over recent years: loudly announce their victories over SF and then just possibly compromise. They can speak very loudly and carry a (fairly) small stick. However, all these strategies, useful as the DUP may feel them to be may not really reassure the base. As Mr. Donnelly suggested SF prepared their supporters for their movements over years and had no single organised opposition to their plan. The DUP has, however, come very late to the realisation that it has not prepared the ground adequately and already has its nemesis in place.

There is also a cultural problem for the DUP. Nationalism / republicanism has recently had relatively few splits apart from within the actual paramilitary groups and even they have had less of the internecine divisions which characterise loyalist terrorists. The SDLP has had some splits as have SF. However, the dominant group tends to quickly establish itself. Unionism by contrast is absolutely riven with splits: there have been almost innumerable different unionist parties and within the UUP there has frequently been open warfare. That the DUP avoided splits is probably a testament to the fact that for years it was so dominated by Dr. Paisley: once it enlarged and his influence waned it began splitting. In this context of splitting preparing the grass roots for a radical change in direction is quite difficult as the party may well split before the change is completed: as indeed happened to the DUP.

One could go a bit overboard and argue that this tendency to split within unionism may in part be associated with Protestant denominations. These seem to split with extreme regularity: there are multiple forms of Presbyterian (at least four), three sorts of Methodist and innumerable small denominations. As such Prods are extremely used to splitting and to changing their leaders rather than their leaders telling them to change position.

I have no doubt that Chris Donnelly’s advice was wise. However, I suspect that the DUP come to the position too late, have inherent problems in implementing such a strategy and also have the nature of the unionist community working against them. Whether or not they can overcome these hurdles remains to be seen.

  • Dave

    There is some merit in your central thesis but also some problems. Firstly, there is nothing to suggest that McCausland’s remarks are out of character and are therefore tactical rather than sincere. If the trick was just to place him in a position where he would run his mouth, then that wouldn’t explain why, as you claimed, the remarks were calculated rather than ad hoc. Secondly, the DUP have always said that devolution of P & J would occur at a time of their choosing, so there is no need to prepare their supporters for an occurrence that they already knew would occur. That is very different from telling their supporters that they would not go into government with members of a sectarian murder gang and then going into government with members of a sectarian murder gang.

    Those who transferred their political allegiance from the UUP to the DUP will have moved on to the TUV, so that is a group who wouldn’t have been persuaded by top-down propaganda to share power murder gangs because their own convictions would not allow it. Propaganda only works on the weak-minded and expediency only has relevance to those who lack convictions.

    The merit, I think, is that most voters are exactly as stupid as the politicians think they are and that the NIO/Whitehall mandarins can teach old dog-owners a few new tricks which they can in turn use to train their dogs (the saps who vote for them). Whose tactic was it to promote the DUP and SF at the expense of the UUP and the SDLP by playing the two tribes against each other? That was done because the British government felt that agreement must be seen by the two tribes as being between the hardliners in order for it to be lasting and in order that the DUP could not undermine powersharing by sniping from the sidelines (where the TUV are).

    It isn’t that SF were hardliners since they agreed, as directed by the British government, that their supporters had no inalienable right to national self-determination or to live in a nation-state, so they weren’t even nationalists after the mandarins put down the castration knife, never mind hard-line nationalists. However, the trick was to encourage their supporters to see them as hard-line so that the surrender of specific claims that northern nationalists previously made would be seen by the muppet supporters of SF as promotion of a hard-line position by alternate means rather than the renunciation of them. If Mr Robinson is just learning such tricks, then he is way too far behind in the game to master them before his time is up.

    Any construction that must be maintained by this level of chicanery and contempt for bottom-up democracy is built on bog, and will sink into it in due course. Good riddance to it.

  • qubol

    “I have no doubt that Chris Donnelly’s advice was wise.”

    I’m going to bed now and I’ll check in the morning if that’s still there.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Preparing the base is in one sense simply telling your supporters honsetly what you are going to do and the DUP were probably better off leading many of their supporters to believe they would not cut a deal with SF and then selling the fact that they did the deal on the basis that they out-negotiated SF – a line which the SDLP were only too happy to use for their own purposes. You can only preprare your base if they are willing to take their medicine and there is no point in preparing your base if as a result they simply desert you – so on balance the DUP probably got the call about right because there seems to be virtually no Unionist political party loyalty as evidenced firstly by the demise of the UUP followed by the fracturing of the DUP to the TUV.

    The key problem for firstly the UUP, now the DUP, and potentially the TUV is that the Englezes have cut a deal with militant republicanism that basically says that Norn Iron should be reformed to meet the bottom line of militant republicanism ie the GFA (including transfer of Police and Justice) or the they will allow greater papal rule from the South.

    This deal continues to shape the events as they unfold and unless PoshBoyDC signals some change of direction(away from the GFA) then Nationalists can sit back and watch/enjoy the tripartite Unionist cival wars as they are shepherded slowly and painfully along the GFA path.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Good piece, Turgon.

    It had crossed my mind that the DUP could be employing such a strategy, but it doesn’t go any further towards resolving their central problem. If preaching the ‘gospel of devolution’ reads showing the base that we can kick the taigs and get away with it, does that prepare the base for the ‘pains’ when Sinn Fein kick back because the system, ultimately, doesn’t permit one side to ‘get away with it’ without payback?

    After all, your reference to the offensive remarks used by McCausland as being possibly motivated by a desire to distract the base from his involvement in North-South meetings along with a Sinn Fein Minister may work once or twice, but the ‘base’ will not be long in catching on to the fact that the ‘dreaded’ Sinn Fein Minister ain’t going away, nor are the North-South meetings, and if/when Sinn Fein upps its game at Stormont, the DUP base will realise two are needed to tango- as they probably know already.

    I note you refer to the DUP gaining its ascendant position by ‘damning’ the Ulster Unionists for preparing and implementing the sharing of power with nationalists/ republicans.

    You are, of course, correct in this, but the ‘Fair Deal’ mantra of the DUP in the years leading up to the compromise can be interpreted as a high-minded attempt to retrospectively claim it was the nature of the ‘deal’- as opposed to the principle and practice of power-sharing- that was the primary motivation and reason for the DUP’s ascent. That line clearly wasn’t sold at grassroots level.

    Finally, I like your reference to the cultural/ religious dimension as an explanation for the predicament facing local parties. It is something I have thought a lot about recently, though for differing reasons. Firstly, I wouldn’t consider the dissenting tradition to be a negative- as far as unionism is concerned, I believe the failure of (initially) Trimble and (latterly) the DUP to take the road of conditioning the base for a compromise which will involve showing respect to the ‘Other’ is more to blame for the destructive fragmentation that occurred in the post-GFA era.

    However, the current malaise within Irish nationalist politics is partially a consequence of the more deferential mentality long associated with political parties from the nationalist tradition. Just look at the state of the SDLP: no unionist party would tolerate the retention of a leadership which has failed for nearly a decade to mount any credible electoral challenge to its primary political opponents. Yet here’s a party where there appears to be little if any sign of disgruntlement with a leadership which has led the party to one disastrous election after another.

    Furthermore, the difficulties I alluded to within Sinn Fein in the initial post you link with are largely a result of the failure by republicans to prepare the party for a parliamentary-based future. It could be argued that an absence of critical-minded voices from within republicanism contributed to this failing.

  • frustrated democrat

    Turgon

    I think your statement that the UUP who voted for the DUP moved onto the TUV bears examination.

    From my experience it was mainly the DUP voters who moved to the TUV leaving the UUP voters holding up the DUP vote. It is obvious that votes in the pro UK parties are fluid and belong to noone apart from the core 80,000 who will always follow the UUP or their alliance with The Conservatives.

    This leaves the DUP in a difficult position with their core vote being difficult to determine and therefore retain.

  • Comrade Stalin

    USA:

    IMHO the DUP have an established history of saying one thing but doing another.
    1. Never, Never, Never….well they did.

    That’s the nature of the political process here where sides which formerly stated that they would never back away from their positions, do so. How many times has republicanism done this in the past 100 years ? There have been four or five jolts to the extreme, followed by those extremists changing their mind and advocating a peaceful path.

    The people who are working the deal with the DUP now are those responsible for the most serious escalation in violence since the war of independence. They invoked the old indefatigable obduracy, they said they’d never stop until the Brits were gone.

    2. Photographs and sack cloth with ashes….it was Gerry A who got the photograph when everyone got sick of Paisley and decided to take him down a peg or two.

    Paisley didn’t get his sack cloth and ashes. Instead he got the unilateral surrender of the IRA which was forced to give up all of its weapons, repudiate violent means, and operate a revised form of the system of government it was established to bring down. In his position I know which I’d prefer.

    3. Won’t share power with SF….yeah, that worked out well for the DUP also didn’t it.

    It did when you look at what SF had to give up in order for this to happen.

    4. First Minister comes from the biggest party (St AA)….great move guys, just guaranteed MMcG will be First Minister.

    The DUP will walk out of this happens, along with the UUP, and then there will be no executive. Sinn Fein aren’t the only ones who can make threats to collapse the whole thing. The question you have to ask is to do with who stands to lose the most if it collapses.

    I think that Sinn Fein is actually damaging it’s own cause by clinging to this idea that it actually won, or that the institutions as presently constituted are delivering for them. By being in government they are handcuffed.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Oh look: it’s ould Sammy, back to his lying ways. Sammy lies: “the DUP were probably better off leading many of their supporters to believe they would not cut a deal with SF”. That’s, of course, precisely the opposite of what the DUP said they would do: they said they *would* ‘cut a deal’ over P&J. Moreover, they said they would do it on their terms, principally as to when and whom. Which is to say, it would happen *when* they said it would happen, and it would go to *whom* they said it would go to. Sinn Five (and their more than slightly weird cheerleaders here on Slugger) screamed otherwise. Sammy, for instance, made the most awful fool of himself by assuring us that P&J would *already* have been in place last year, other Sinn Five would walk out of the devolved institutions (and that, somehow, such non-existent huffing would then cause the institutions to fall). We’ll note, laugh, and move on from this ficiton of Sammy’s (not least because there’s always plenty more to laugh at). Then, Sammy, and to be fair to him, Sinn Fein themselves, spent a full two years after St Andrew’s insisting that there could be no question of a formal ‘unionist veto’ on who will be P&J minister come the day: there is, the DUP are exercising it, and, as per usual, Sinn Five are rolling over to have their tummy tickled. Good Sinn Five, good Sinn Five, there’s a good constitutional party, here boy! here boy! roll over boy! Good boy!

    Sammy, you can make as big an eejit of yourself as you like, you can slabber round Slugger telling whatever lies you like, but other than making you feel better, you do know it does you no good at all in the ould propaganda stakes? Take, for example, that barmy line of yours that the ‘process’ represents British surrender to the Provos, as opposed to Provo surrender to the British (what with, you know, partition still being in place, the army still being here, British sovereignty being unimpaired, and, er, Sinn Five sitting obediently in their devolved British institutions): only you actually believe if: Muderin’ McMarty certainly doesn’t. He knows his place, and knows he’s well off staying bought and paid for. The alternatives from his point of view are very disagreeable indeed. But then I suppose that rather reinforces the fact that at least McMurderous is looking at things from the vantage point of what’s really happening in Norn Iron: I quite understand that the plastic viewpoint seems so spacerishly diffferent.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Indeed, the more I think on it, the more Slugger, in microcosm, illumines all of Norn Iron’s wider political failings. Republican posters, pace the serious ones (and even the fantasists) seemingly need to maintain that all is always the best in the best of all possible Republican worlds. Every success has been attained, apart from those successes still to be attained: everything is a triumph, and that notwithstanding, somehow everything is going in an ever better ‘inevitable’ direction. Obviously, some small degree of this represents a psychological compromise. As the Comrade points out, when you’ve suffered defeat as comprehensive, undeniable and irrecoverable as northern Republicans have, the need to have resort to the comforts of illusion is obvious. Far better them living in a world of make-believe, and thereby, letting others live, than living in a reality that makes them so unhappy they kill other people simply because of their miserable, petty discontents. And then, inevitably, when it comes to, well, paid Republicans, there’s an equally obvious imperative for them to retail the state-sanctioned line. We can pass on from that quickly enough. Unionists, of all shades, have their delusions, but where we, and the SDLP and the Alliance, all together differ from Republicans is that our foundation myth isn’t born out of self-deception. Like many others, I’m curious as to what’s going to happen within Republicanism when finally the wheels fall off Gezza’s bus, and am not exactly confident that all our most beloved current crop of Republican leaders are actually ever going to get to collect their hard-earned British pensions. Still, that’s for the future, and we’re all free to make stuff up about about that.

  • [i]Sammy, you can make as big an eejit of yourself as you like, you can slabber round Slugger telling whatever lies you like,[/i]

    Man. Ball. Or is this rule destined to continue to be applied selectively?

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Grow. Up.

    Or perhaps you’re new to this site, Pat, certainly, I don’t recognise your name, but as I’m around ever more infrequently myself, that’s obviously possible. But if you are new, here’s how it is: Sammy’s lies have been detailed, at tedious length, by me, and other folk, as an amateur sport for some time now. Basically since he started telling them in fact. Here’s him in prime, fibbing form: http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/its-an-ex-stadium-plan-for-maze/P50/ & when he’s confronted with having told pork pies, he runs away. It’s the one great merits of the internet, whatever it’s other, over-hyped qualities, that when someone like Sammy tells lie after lie after ever more shameless lie, you can call him on it. Which I’ve done, and will continue to do for as long as Sammy tells obvious, verifiable lies (cf. that total misrepresentation, by Sammy, of what the Punt has done over P&J: Robinson couldn’t have been clearer in saying that he supported devolution of P&J, just on his terms.

    So here’s a simple enough hint even for Sammy: either, don’t tell lies. Or, tell smarter ones.

  • Laughing @ Trimble

    *Whatever* Trimble. *Is* Daphne *not* keeping *you* occupied *these* days? *Your* obsession *with* Sammy is very *odd*.

    You’re a portentious lonely man

  • Laughing @ Trimble

    *pretentious, *very* *pretentious*, my *Lord*

  • John O’Connell

    Chris Donnelly

    Just look at the state of the SDLP: no unionist party would tolerate the retention of a leadership which has failed for nearly a decade to mount any credible electoral challenge to its primary political opponents. Yet here’s a party where there appears to be little if any sign of disgruntlement with a leadership which has led the party to one disastrous election after another.

    Yes, only a Nationalist party would do something like that. For example, Sinn Fein under Gerry Adams failed for more than two decades to mount any credible challenge to the SDLP (1982-2002).

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    CS,

    “I think that Sinn Fein is actually damaging it’s own cause by clinging to this idea that it actually won, or that the institutions as presently constituted are delivering for them. By being in government they are handcuffed. ”

    Who has won or lost is a matter for debate – politicians, including SF, will obviously talk up their own position. The GFA is a deal between the Provos and the Englezes and the Englezes are still honouring their side of the deal to deliver Unionism into a settlement that includes Police and Justice and the silly billy Unionists continue to engage in civil war between themselves.

    Pat the Baker,

    thanks for that – but the laughing Unionist Paddy is harmless.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Who has won or lost is a matter for debate

    The people who lost are the people who surrendered their arms, jettisoned most of their principles, and accepted a compromise which fell substantially short of what they went to “war” over. That’s Sinn Fein. So I don’t see what there is to debate there.

    Englezes are still honouring their side of the deal to deliver Unionism into a settlement that includes Police and Justice and the silly billy Unionists continue to engage in civil war between themselves.

    The Brits have never been able to deliver unionism. The problem with unionists is that they’ve got a death wish. They don’t care if they shit in their own nest. They’ll fuck their own country up if they think that’s better than whatever else is on offer. Look at the history of the past 40 years for cryin’ out loud. This little problem up here could have been all sorted out if they’d operated some sort of token power sharing during the 50s and 60s.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Dearie me Sammy, it really doesn’t make any difference to you, does it? Any lie will do, eh? Pathological and funny at the same time: keep on keeping on. Though it’s no wonder Republicanism is in quite the position it’s in with plastic fellas like you cheering it on . . .

  • Bavid Durnside

    Christ Almighty Sammy, what did you do to make Laughing (Lord Trimble) Unionist so bitter and sad? Did you shag his daughter on his bed and never call her again?

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    My dear old things, a fantastic draw salvaged in the criket, and I’m thus as happy as happy can be: and laughing at the pitiful ad hominem stuff to boot. Oh, and delighted that I don’t have to live in the fantasyland the likes of poor ould Sammy take refuge in. So once again: if you don’t want to be nabbed for lying, don’t lie, or, lie better. A simple enough choice, requiring only morality or talent. Obviously still too much for some, but there we are. Ho, ho, ho, ho.

  • Bavid Durnside

    Merry Christmas to you too, and your celebration of a team that meaures its success in terms of Welsh rain and archaic regulations.

    By the way, how’s your daughter my cheap thing?

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Better than your mum.

    (Quality stuff this! Oireland free by Christmas!)

  • Mason Powell

    Some interesting comments here. Allow me to comment on three of the many issues raised:

    (1) Where have the TUV votes come from? Some contributors (and most media commentators) seem to assume that TUV votes are almost exclusively ex-DUP. Now we see suggestions that many had journeyed from the UUP to the TUV via the DUP. There are at least some of us who made the journey without the intermediate error. Some of us never trusted the DUP to act honourably once they got their snouts in the trough.

    (2) Policing and Justice: I don’t pretend to know or understand the DUP’s true intentions or whether they have genuinely been changed by the Euro-results. I do know that P&J is the next “line in the sand” which the DUP must decide either to defend or to rub out. How much more swill will they need to be offered to wipe out the line? I no longer believe the prospect of an IRA killer as Minister for “Justice” is off-putting enough to force the DUP to defend that line in the sand. If a Sinn Fein “Justice” Minister is the price to save DUP Stormont salaries and expenses, Robinson and his styful of amoral freeloaders will clearly pay it – if they can frighten or bully the electorate sufficiently to let them get away with it.

    (3) On the subject of fear, we move on to the key point. Frightening the Unionist electorate was a central plank of Diane Dodds’ Euro-campaign. The threat of SF topping the poll clearly DIDN’T frighten a substantial section of the Unionist electorate. They realised that voting for the right candidate was the most important issue, hence the size of Jim Allister’s vote. (As an aside, we are told by some commentators that many of Allister’s votes were to reward his excellent work in Europe and won’t necessarily follow him to North Antrim. Perhaps that applies to some, but how many Dodds voters DID succumb to the DUP propaganda that “only a vote for Diane Dodds will stop Sinn Fein topping the poll”?? How many of THOSE voters will now realise they are free to follow their consciences by voting TUV at forthcoming elections?) Returning to the key point, it is clear from the Euro-vote that, in spite of disgust about MPs expense issues, which had a disproportionate impact on the Unionist side, the Unionist share of the overall vote held up. At the next Assembly election (if there is one) there will certainly be a Unionist majority. But will the DUP try to repeat their failed attempt to frighten the Unionist electorate? Will they tell us that we MUST all vote DUP or we’ll get a Sinn Fein First Minister? It didn’t work in June and it won’t work in 2011. The DUP will have to face the almost inevitable prospect that with the Unionist seat-majority divided three ways, the largest party in the Assembly will be Sinn Fein (albeit with considerably less support than Hitler in pre-war German elections). Either the DUP must insist on the law being changed back to what it used to be (and what would be Sinn Fein’s quid pro quo for that, I wonder) or the DUP must be forced to tell us, well in advance, whether they will serve in a Stormont coalition in which an unrepentant IRA commander is the de facto Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Robinson and his swill-bloated piglets will try to wriggle their way out of answering this question, but it must be put to them again and again until they give a straight answer. Sinn Fein are not in government because they have 25% of the vote. They are in government because the DUP agreed to share power with them. There cannot be a Sinn Fein First Minister unless the DUP agrees to it. If we enter the polling stations in 2011 to elect a new Assembly, we must have a clear, unambiguous answer to this question from the Robinson sty. The Unionist electorate is entitled to know if Robinson would serve as Deputy to McGuinness. If the only alternative is Direct Rule by mainland Ministers with no terrorist convictions, so be it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mason,

    If the only alternative is Direct Rule by mainland Ministers with no terrorist convictions, so be it.

    You’re daft as a brush, Mason. The people over in Westminster don’t want to have the bother of running Northern Ireland anymore. They don’t care about people here. They won’t act in our best interests; they’ll protect the interests of the people who actually have to elect them first.

  • dub

    cs,

    the fact that unionists have a death wish is not imho something to be regretted. as they have contributed precisely nothing positive to this island’s history the sooner they fulfill that happy wish the better…

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    CS,

    “The people who lost are the people who surrendered their arms, jettisoned most of their principles, and accepted a compromise which fell substantially short of what they went to “war” over. That’s Sinn Fein. So I don’t see what there is to debate there.”

    The people who won are the people who got all their prisoners out, got a place in government, got the abolition of the UDR and the RUC, got a consitutional link to the ROI, got the right to self determination for the Irish people and have the British threatening the Unionists into compromise – admitted by the DUP leadership.

    Well you might not agree with the above or with the Daily Telegraph view that the Englezes simply surrendered to far too many Rpeublican objectives – but to say there is no debate about it is simply Unionist ideological silliness/wishful thinking.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This is getting very boring now, Sammy. The IRA surrendered on effectively the same basis that Michael Collins did in 1921. At least Collins told the truth, and presented what he achieved as a first step, rather than as a victory.

    but to say there is no debate about it is simply Unionist ideological silliness/wishful thinking.

    Ah yes. Sinn Fein won, and anyone who disagrees must be a unionist. There must be a tonne of unionists in eirigi and the RIRA then.

  • Mason Powell

    Stalin,
    Your insults are as limp as your political analysis. First, there is a school of thought that “the people over in Westminster” (do you mean Parliament? Or government? Or the civil service?) don’t actually care much for anyone in “the sticks”, and that would be anyone outside the Home Counties. It doesn’t alter the fact that they have an obligation to govern properly, even (in the case of the Conservatives) Labour’s tory-free heartlands and (in the case of Labour) the tory shires. (Yes, I know that using the term “proper” in relation to government opens a can of worms).

    Second, the return of Direct Rule is not a matter for Westminster. It is the inevitable consequence of the current undemocratic and unworkable Stormont system failing. Enforced coalition government is an abomination and the antithesis of democracy. That clearly hasn’t stopped the power-hungry DUP from accepting it as the only route to the trough, although their official stance appears to be that it should be phased out.As I have previously pointed out, if the electorate punish the DUP for its treachery by turning in large enough numbers to the TUV and the UUP, leaving SF the largest individual party (and having the post of First Minister) the DUP will have to decide whether they can stomach a Unionist majority being led by the nose by unapologetic IRA terrorists. If Peter Robinson is prepared to accept that, he must tell us in advance, and he will then be voted into the dustbin of history. If he gives a guarantee not to serve under McGuinness or any other Sinn Fein FM, that will give the Unionist electorate the green light to vote TUV to break the system of enforced coalition.

    If, on the then inevitable return of Direct Rule, there is a genuine desire both in Northern Ireland and Westminster to get Stormont working again, the only workable option would be VOLUNTARY coalition government. If parties like the SDLP continue to say “No” to voluntary coalition, then they will have to live with Direct Rule, as will Westminster. I can certainly live with Direct Rule, as can hundreds of thousands of other Unionists.

  • Reader

    Sammy: The people who won are the people who got all their prisoners out, got a place in government, got the abolition of the UDR and the RUC, got a consitutional link to the ROI, got the right to self determination for the Irish people and have the British threatening the Unionists into compromise – admitted by the DUP leadership.
    Then why couldn’t they have said so in the first place instead of banging on about a United Ireland for decades? And how is it better for republicans that the next referendum will have two hurdles to jump, when they failed to even take part in the 1973 referendum when there was only one hurdle? Likewise – accepting the Assembly having rejected Sunningdale?
    Will you specify the date when all of the provos fundamental objectives changed, or did the Brits wear them down one by one?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Reader,

    “Then why couldn’t they have said so in the first place instead of banging on about a United Ireland for decades? ”

    You may as well ask wh didnt the Englezes say they were going to abolish the RUC and the UDR instead of treating the IRA like terrorisits which they clearly were not. It took the Englezes decades to admit thet had a legitiimate insurgency on their hands and agree to let all their prisoners out and design a form of government to ensure insurgency involvment.

    The GFA is a compromise which allows the ROI an insitutional role in Norn Iron which can now never be as British as Kent – that would now require the consent of all the people of Ireland – now the ROI have the right to say NO.