Well that’s a first….

The voice of middle unionism and one time self-proclaimed ‘National’ (sic) newspaper, the Belfast Telegraph, has editorialised in support of the Deputy First Minister’s call for the devolution of policing and justice powers by Christmas.
Describing the arguments made in an interview in the paper with Martin McGuinness as ‘compelling,’ the paper’s editor suggested that

The Government at Westminster will fund the transfer of powers, but its patience on the issue is wearing thin.
So is the patience of people here.

I don’t know about the latter assertions to be honest, but unless I’m mistaken this would be the first time the paper has publicly taken a line so clearly consistent with a Sinn Fein stance and contrary to the public pronouncements of the major unionist parties.

  • Pete Baker

    *shakes head*


    That editorial would be consistent with the NIO [and Northern Ireland Secretary of State] stance.

  • Pete Baker
  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    ” contrary to the public pronouncements of the major unionist parties.”

    The DUP position appears to be one of support for the transfer but only if UUP also support it – in the SDLPs view this amounts to giving UUP a veto. What was amusing, as also reported in the BT, was Marty apparently summoning Owen Patterson to tell him to knock the anti-agreement UUP into line and Marty sharing with us Owen’s take on the concerns within the Tory party about the behaviour of Wee Reggie and his party.

    The alliance between the UUP, a party dominated by people who find their political inspiration from the 17th century with the Tories who have been trying their hardest to show they belong to the 21st was never going to be easy – so it will be interesting to see if Marty was just stirring the political pot or if Wee Reggie will be getting a kick up his political jacksie from Patterson.

  • Pat the Baker

    Id say it’s fairly in line with the wish of the people rather than following prompts by NIO etc.

    Good call by the Tele and down with the pedants.

  • Pete Baker


    I look forward to the previously obligatory NIO survey.

  • borderline

    Headshaking a bit harsh Pete.

    The story’s about the BT editorial line, not the NIO/SoS line, which Chris never mentioned.

  • Pete Baker

    Sins of omission, borderline.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    the fact that Unionism is out of step with the British government view is hardly news – they have struggled with British foreign policy on Ireland since the Anglo-Irish agreement.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Head shaker

    borderline’s correct.

    Focus of thread is on Telegraph’s unprecedented decision to row in behind Sinn Fein.

    Shake head, spin and link to your many, many, many threads on this one, but you’re still straying off-topic.

    Bit ironic that, eh?

  • Comrade Stalin

    was Marty apparently summoning Owen Patterson to tell him to knock the anti-agreement UUP into line and Marty sharing with us Owen’s take on the concerns within the Tory party about the behaviour of Wee Reggie and his party.

    I know you love wanking but this really takes the cake.

  • abu nicola

    I’ve been in favour of the devolution of these powers for quite some time. I am disturbed, however, about the DFM calling an ACC about an ongoing operational matter. Everyone in government needs to fully understand that this as a major “no-no”. The correct response to this phone call would have been for the DFM (or more preferably, an aide) to have told the caller to fully cooperate with the police and to refer the matter subsequently to the Ombudsman, if it was felt necessary.

  • Chris Donnelly

    abu nicola

    Not really.

    Politicians frequently state that they ‘have been in contact with’ or ‘will be contacting’ the PSNI to discuss police behaviour- look at the next thread I’ve posted and David Simpson says that he will be doing just that.

  • Pete Baker

    “Head shaker”

    Is that a reference to me, Chris?

    “Focus of thread is on Telegraph’s unprecedented decision to row in behind Sinn Fein.”

    Except that the evidence shows that the Belfast Telegraph editorial also rows in behind the NIO stance and that of the Northern Ireland Secretary of State.

    Funny that.

  • fair_deal


    The time when a Unionist party lost a vote for not listening to a BT editorial are long gone (even if they ever existed). As PB as pointed out the BT editorial line is a creature of the NIO not Unionism. It is not also unprecendeted as the BT backed devolution being put back up even when SF did its usual short delivery and look where following the BT’s advice got David Trimble.

  • abu nicola

    David Simpson says that he will be doing just that.

    I did say “everyone”, Chris. But there is a hell of a difference about hindsight quarterbacking and “interfering” in an ongoing operational matter.

  • Driftwood

    The devolution of policing and justice to another (tiny)UK region (despite the furore in Scotland over the Lockerbie bomber)is academic. As long as the long suffering mainland taxpayer doesn’t have to pay for it. Pete and Marty have pocketed millions of English taxpayers money to fund their own lavish lifestyles, they can afford to pay for any new bureaucracy from their playboy funds.
    Otherwise leave it to REAL politicians. In a REAL parliament.
    How’s the diet going Peter and Iris?

  • abu nicola

    How’s the diet going Peter and Iris?

    Do keep up, Driftwood. Haven’t you heard that Westminster politicians are existing on meager rations?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    what says you on Owen sharing his concerns about the behaviour of the UU with Marty?

    re. Trumpton, to use you your old favorite – the deal is no more violence in return for loads of money and the insurgents getting into government. If you didnt like it you should not have voted for the GFA.

  • Driftwood

    Sammy, leaving aside your spelling of meagre.
    1. I was taken aback by the Tory buffoon Cormack asking for a doubling of salaries this week, but 2. Hogg (of feeding mad cow beefburger to his daughter fame), a complete loony, – and all parties have them.
    Cameron has told them to fuck off.

    Re: Trumpton. You defend it. 1.5 days a week for 8 months and no legislation. A complete frigging waste of money. You defend it.

    When the cuts hit and you watch your parents put from a 6 month, to a 12 month waiting list for crucial treatment, You defend the Trumpton assembly.

  • frustrated democrat

    There are several areas that need to be taken into account when the devolution of P&J is being considered, some are.

    1. Are the people of NI and their politicians ready to take on this most contentious of areas.

    2. Can we be sure that the funds will be available to meet the potential costs over the years ahead without being a drain on the rest of the NI budget.

    3. Can we be sure that policing as currently constructed is what is needed in NI and will it meet the future requirements in NI that the people here demand.

    For the first the situtation in Scotland over Lockerbie is a warning to the sort of situation that can arise. If another country asked for the extradition of a loyalist or republican, are we ready to accept the decision without question, especially if the Minister concerned was an ex terrorist at some point in future.

    For the second no one knows what will happen here in the future, there may be increased terrorism or demand for enquiries that could add major costs to P&J that are not included in the current projections. How would they be paid for from current budgets, it seems the funds would have to come from the existing overall NI budget.

    For the third the major changes proposed under Patton have largely been completed. Have they resulted in policing in NI that meets the needs of the community for day to day policing, many on both sides of the community do not believe that we have an effective police force that can meet the requirements of routine policing on the ground. Maybe it is now time to relook at how policing is structured and funded in a joint iniative bewtween London and Belfast before it is devolved. Once it is devolved we are stuck with what we have for the foreseeable future, regardless of how inefficient it is in delivering what it needs to, as it is all we could afford.

    Is it worth rushing towards devolution for polictical reasons when what we really need is to look at what we currently have in terms of our political institutions and police force to see if they are both ‘fit for purpose’ and if not how we could achieve and/or pay for ones that are really ‘fit for purpose’.

    David McNarry of the UUP recently published a working paper on fincancing including P&J, which was largely ignored apart from the section on P&J. His proposals on the financing of P&J are worthy of consideration without the knee jerk reaction to what he in fact did not say about the overall devolution.

    We really do need to take the immediate politics and points scoring out of P&J and take a considered look at where we are, before taking an irrevocable decision that could possibly impose poor policing practice on several generations to come.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “Sammy, leaving aside your spelling of meagre”


    I was enquiring as to what you thought of Marty and Owen discussing the UU naysayers?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    frustrated democrat,

    anti-agreement wriggling.

    what do you have to say about Marty and Owen getting together to discuss the anti-agreement elements in the UU? lol

  • Guest

    “Otherwise leave it to REAL politicians. In a REAL parliament.”-Driftwood.

    What low self-esteem.
    No good old Scottish self-belief in those veins?
    You want to be breast-fed forever and are afraid to claim your place within the union.

  • Scaramoosh

    “voice of middle unionism.”

    Is it not the case that overall editorial control now rests in Dublin, unknown to you, and the vast majority of Belfast Telegraph readers?

    And then, of course, there is the case of Ulster Television, the majority of whose shareholders are now also registered in the Republic.

    In any other country, such control of the media would be analysed, in N.Ireland, the capital of inertia and negativity, it is simply ignored.

  • Chris Donnelly

    As PB (h)as pointed out the BT editorial line is a creature of the NIO not Unionism

    FD and PB

    Good Lord! You two are displaying the symptoms of a paranoia normally associated with republicans…

    I also did not suggest that the Tele line was ‘gospel’ for unionists, any more than the Irish News line is for nationalists.

    The point remains: the editorial was firmly- and explicitly- backing the Sinn Fein position. What it’s worth, well, that’s less clear.

  • fair_deal

    No paranoia needed just a systematic look at their editorials throughout the process. I understand why you are wanting to make a strong pitch on the basis of it but no on else is obliged to agree with it or not point out the actual weakness of it.

    To the actual editorial itself there are two obvious flaws within the editorial argument. The claim that the necessary money will be provided is dubious based on what has been floated about so far (although to be fair to the Treasury the worst downturn in public finances in a generation is a pretty valid excuse). The second is the claim around the patience of people, it may very well be different in the nationalist community but Unionists voters are not showing any such impatience about the non-devolution of P&J.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Golly, look, it’s slabberin’ Sam back at it. Do share with us your view on how the first 18 months of P&J has gone sometime. As, of course, it was tranferred way back early last year, as you said it would be, otherwise, as you also told us, Sinn Five would walk out of the executive and ‘pull the institutions down’. Or, no, surely not, you’re weren’t just spoofing and making stuff up, yet again? Shurely not? (I have to confess I feel slightly guilty as regards his Owen P space-cadetry, as I did v sternly injunct him to either, tell better lies, or at least tell some new ones: oh well, it is August, so you can’t blame him that much for the lack of inventive spirit. I’m sure next time out of the paddock he’ll entertain us with something slightly better than this pish).

  • Briso

    1.*shakes head*


    That editorial would be consistent with the NIO [and Northern Ireland Secretary of State] stance.

    So what? The interesting thing is the way they agree with McG against the unionist parties because is argument is compelling. The fact that SF agrees with the NIO is hardly new or particularly relevant.

    … my recent relevant post.

    I’ll be the judge of that.

    …Sins of omission, borderline.
    Not a sin you’re ever guilty of Pete, eh? What Chris should have done was linked to all your previous posts and modified his writing style in order to jam in the links making the text itself practically unreadable. That would have been better. Or perhaps he could just make his point the way he wants to. That way I won’t have to ignore his posts the way I have finally decided to ignore yours.

    ..Except that the evidence shows that the Belfast Telegraph editorial also rows in behind the NIO stance and that of the Northern Ireland Secretary of State. Funny that.

    Not really funny, new, relevant or interesting. In my opinion.

  • Frustrated Democrat


    DFM summons the SSS and the SSS tells him Canservatives are not happy with the UUP position on P&J.

    What planet are you on to either part of that?

    There is a clear press release this morning in the Belfast Telegraph from the Conservatives that they are happy for the local Assembly parties (including the UUP) to reach a decision and they will abide with it.

    It is all clear now?

  • John East Belfast

    I wonder how many people actually read a Newspaper’s editorial ?

    I would consider myself a reasonably educated middle class unionist who still buys the Belfast Tele 4 or 5 nights a week and I cant recall the last time I read its editorial.
    Infact I hadnt really thought about it until I read this thread.

    People buy newspapers for lots of reasons – the news, sport and I would read the feature columnists but I wouldnt dream of reading the Editorial.

    Infact what is the point of a newspaper editorial – who is going to take their opinions from the newspaper editor – whether Belfast, Dublin or the NIO.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Frustrated Democrat,

    lets not go crazy and exmaine the facts.

    The DFM meets the Shadow SOS and according to the DFM the SSOS shares his unease about some of those trying to hold up the transfer of Police and Justice.

    Tne next day the Tories issue a statement saying everything is just grand. Well we might expect that.

    Have we heard from the boy Owen yet?

  • Briso

    Posted by fair_deal on Aug 21, 2009 @ 12:34 AM
    The time when a Unionist party lost a vote for not listening to a BT editorial are long gone (even if they ever existed).

    Missed the point FD. The point is “The time when the BT lost a reader for going against the Unionist parties are long gone”.

  • fair_deal


    You seen BT circulation figures lately?

  • frustrated democrat


    Do you think the Conservatives issue press releases on NI that are not vetted by the SSS or written by his press team?

    The answer is clearly no.

    I am amused that you think the DFM can summon the SSS, I think you got the hierarchy a bit out of sink there. Also if you look at the same DFM statement on the same meeting from the previous week he said he (the DFM) complained to the SSS about the UUP not the other way round. I know which of the DFM’s versions I believe.

    So it is clear the UUP and the Conservatives are quite happy with the position that it is for the Assembly parties, of which the Conservatives are not one, to decide on the way forward.

    Personally I think a lot of things need to be sorted out first or it will be a complete mess.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    frustrated democrat,

    the statement does not directly contradict Marty’s asertion that the boy Owen shared his disappointment about there being some bad-dog-anti-agreement-types in the UUP.

    What about this bit

    “A spokesman added: “We would not talk in terms of issuing them a blank cheque and no doubt there will be further hurdles down the road. But we are not involved in the discussions between the parties in Northern Ireland.”

    Oh dear, oh dear – Wee (and then there were none)Reggie cant have liked that.

  • borderline

    Well, like yourself JEB, I can go to sleep soundly even if I haven’t read the BT editorial.

    But that’s not to say that the editorial in unimportant. In most papers it’s the received wisdom, and represents the soul of the paper.
    It is not usually signed, that’s because it represents what the Paper stands for, not an individual view.
    It is not called the Leader for nothing.