There is no telling what will get someone’s back up

This straight out of the UUP Press Office:

Sir Reg Empey MLA Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party has responded to an ‘extraordinary’ letter in Irish Times today by a senior member of staff for the Alliance Party.

Sir Reg said:

“There is an extraordinary letter in today’s Irish Times, written by Stephen Douglas, a very senior member of their staff. (The text of the letter is at the end of this release)

” Mr. Douglas, who describes himself as a ‘nationalist and a republican,’ praises David Ford for ‘his consistent agnosticism on the question of either the union or a united Ireland’!

“So are we to assume that the Alliance Party in general and David Ford in particular don’t really care one way or the other about the Union? Because if that is the case then it explains why they have never really been noted for their enthusiastic promotion of the Union.

“And this does matter, because (and contrary to what Mr. Douglas says in the opening paragraph of his letter) David Ford has given a very clear indication that the Alliance Party is prepared to take the Justice Ministry. Many unionists—those who are not agnostic on the issue—would be very concerned that our first Justice Minister could therefore be someone who is not pro-Union.

“I’m also very concerned by the fact that Mr. Douglas (and perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he is a ‘nationalist and a republican’) makes no distinction between unionism and loyalist paramilitaries when he says that he has to ‘work in a bomb-proof building because of threats from the unionist side…’

“Anyway, I would be interested to know if the views of Mr. Douglas are truly representative of both the Alliance Party and David Ford?

(Letter below)

“So are we to assume that the Alliance Party in general and David Ford in particular don’t really care one way or the other about the Union? Because if that is the case then it explains why they have never really been noted for their enthusiastic promotion of the Union.

“And this does matter, because (and contrary to what Mr. Douglas says in the opening paragraph of his letter) David Ford has given a very clear indication that the Alliance Party is prepared to take the Justice Ministry. Many unionists—those who are not agnostic on the issue—would be very concerned that our first Justice Minister could therefore be someone who is not pro-Union.

“I’m also very concerned by the fact that Mr. Douglas (and perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he is a ‘nationalist and a republican’) makes no distinction between unionism and loyalist paramilitaries when he says that he has to ‘work in a bomb-proof building because of threats from the unionist side…’

“Anyway, I would be interested to know if the views of Mr. Douglas are truly representative of both the Alliance Party and David Ford?

(Letter below)

As an Alliance insider, I can assure Fionnuala O’Connor (Opinion, August 20) there is a very long way to go before Alliance would even consider accepting and justice and policing ministry which may or may not be devolved before 2011. And as for Alliance nominating itself for any such position, that is fantastic speculation masquerading as purported fact.

I don’t love David Ford as our party leader only because he, for instance, has just led us to our best performance in a European election since 1979. I respect ad admire him as our party leader for many other reasons: his organizational competence, his lack of ego, his affability even when under pressure. And for me, as a nationalist and a republican, most importantly, for his consistent agnosticism on the question of either the union or a united Ireland.

Such genuine agnosticism is extremely rare in Northern Ireland. And one reason why Mr. Ford is perfectly suited to lead a party whose membership includes unionists, nationalists and ‘others’ working together to overcome sectarianism wherever we come across it.

Alliance and its members have been at the forefront of confrontations with unionists over issues such as flags in towns like Carrickfergus and Bangor for most of the past 40 years.

The threats and intimidation we have undergone as a result of taking such stands usually go unreported and unnoticed by those outside of our families. I work in a bomb-proof building because of threats from the unionist side for stands Alliance has taken in the past.

Stephen Douglas

Assistant Director

(Development & Campaigns)

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

University Street

Belfast

  • RepublicanStones

    Only in the north would we have some gombeen complaining because somebody isn’t biased.

  • willis

    Conall

    I suspect this was the sentence that sent sir veg over the top:

    “I don’t love David Ford as our party leader only because he, for instance, has just led us to our best performance in a European election since 1979. I respect ad admire him as our party leader for many other reasons: his organizational competence, his lack of ego, his affability even when under pressure.”

  • mirth

    No harm but that Alliance guy must have been drunk to write such a ridiculous letter – I love my leader, has anyone actually said that since Stalin died?!

  • abu nicola

    Empey is a puffed up guy. Leading a party which has declined precipitously and heading for oblivion as the DUP moves ever so cautiously towards the middle. This because of totally ineffective leadership. Time for him to step down and let some younger leader rejuvinate the party.
    Rants like this gain him nothing.

  • Ironically just before I saw this I was blogging over on http://www.oconallstreet.com about regionalism in NI

  • alan56

    This could be disasterous for Alliance in places like North Down in coming election. Parsley had a good performance in EU election. Might not appreciate this Alliance intervention right now. Many of his voters would be quite pro-umion I suspect?

  • willis

    alan56

    Much as I would love the thought that the voters of North Down are reading Slugger every night, I fear it is not yet so.

  • alan56

    willis

    you might be surprised….
    where else would they turn? !

  • John

    Time to retire Reg, you’re just making a complete eejit of yourself. RepublicanStones got it bang on.

  • fin

    swings and roundabouts alan56, if the story developed it could well bring nationalist voters to the Alliance.

    However there are several Alliance people who read and post on slugger, I wonder what their views are.

  • borderline

    So an Alliance Party hack is a republican.

    He obviously is one of the very, very few people in Ireland who understands republicanism.

    Expect him to be savaged by the Nationalist extremists, Irish and British.

    Reg Empty has to attack him, and his attack had better succeed in Douglas’s demotion. Because if it doesn’t, there are serious implications for the UUP.

  • alan56

    The serious implications here are for Alliance. Supporters of the union or not.

  • Mark McGreg

    I’m going out on a limb here but I have a feeling Stephen wrote that while well drunk and regrets it now.

  • Mark McGreg

    But ‘I love him’, very funny. I have done similar but ending up as a press release for being pissed is wick.

  • Joe

    Am I missing something? Alliance do not designate themselves “unionist” in Stormont, ipso facto they are not pro union!

    Nothing more to it, I’m afraid.

  • alan56

    Joe
    Are you saying that their refusal to designate as ‘unionist’ means they are supporters of a united ireland. If the are not supporters of a united ireland then is it really so crazy to think they might be pro union?

  • McGrath

    Reg is only pissed off because no one loves him.

    Robo wont say a word cause the Mrs thinks its all too homo.

  • underwood

    The letter was embarassing. Like Mark, I thought whoever wrote this must have been drunk at the time.
    Reg should have mocked it, or said nothing.

  • aquifer

    So Alliance put the rule of law above political or sectarian allegiance. They look safe for the job of Peace and Justice.

  • Drumlins Rock

    mite be just a drunken letter, but maybe it has just given the UUP a chance to raise the issue of whether the Alliance is unionist with a small u or all things to all men, Reg is jsut stirring the pot and hoping the media will pick it up and run with it.

  • frustrated democrat

    Alliance have been passing themselves off as a non sectarian ‘pretendy’ unionist party for too long.

    They should get serious splinters from sitting on the fence on the subject of UI/UK split however allowing the electorate to believe they are really unionists allows them to attact voters who are middle of the road unionists on both sides of the divide.

    This may flush them out to have an opinion about something, in this case agnosticism is not really an option as there are very few border agnostics amongst the voters.

    A ford may spent its time running between two banks, this Ford will have to pick a preferred bank.

  • 0b101010

    The UUP have become a yappy little Jack Russell under Reg Empey, pausing every so often to listen obediently to His Master’s Voice across the water.

    Many unionists—-those who are not agnostic on the issue—-would be very concerned that our first Justice Minister could therefore be someone who is not pro-Union.

    Is Reg saying that it isn’t acceptable to have non-Unionists in the Justice ministry? Are non-Unionists acceptable in the Executive? In the Assembly? In the Council? Living next door?

    The disgusting death-throes of a bigoted, short-sighted, old, white man that leads a party of bigoted, short-sighted, old, white men for bigoted, short-sighted, old, white men to vote for.

  • agnostic

    to b fair finnoula o connor had said of david ford that he was unloved even b his own supporters. heres one supporter at least to prove her wrong.

  • DC

    More to the point if Alliance is non-nationalist and non-unionist why do they have a sycophantic self-styled nationalist and republican organising party campaigns?

    Never heard of him.

  • WhiteKnight

    Two brief points worth making:

    1) There is a difference between a nationalist and a republican (hence the significance of the line ‘as a nationalist and a republican’) and the interesting thing about this letter is that Douglas freely describes himself as a republican.

    2) The fact that he describes the threat as coming from the ‘unionist side’ rather than using the phrase loyalists or loyalist paramilitaries, also speaks volumes.

    Never mind, this may well be a one or two day wonder, aimed more at the DUP (re P and J) than the Alliance Party.

    Also, from what I can gather the Alliance may have a much bigger problem in the near future over a much more senior figure

    WhiteKnight

  • slug

    I thnk David Ford is great – he champions a lot of important issues. FOC’s comments are out of line as far as I am concerned. As for Alliance and the Union, its fair enough for the UUP to point this up, but the party is hardly “nationalist and republican” either.

  • IJP

    Would Sir Reg have the same problem with the SDLP taking Justice?

    What does this say to those trying to promote a UUP-SDLP axis?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Reg reads the Irish Times ? I’m sure that means that David “Slasher” McNarry will be along to complain about him advancing a nationalist agenda by reading newspapers from “abroad”.

    I see nothing new or contradictory in Stephen’s letter. Alliance supporters on Slugger and elsewhere have said on more occasions than I can count that the party includes people who would be in favour of reunifying Ireland, as well as those who think it should remain within the UK. Stephen is himself from the south. Personally, while I would not call myself a nationalist or a republican, I can see many benefits to reunification and I can see many downsides to the union, a view shared by many people in Scotland. We should be able to have a sensible debate about this when the time comes. In the meantime, though, the necessary task is getting Northern Ireland working, improving our public services, reducing waste and division, and creating an environment within which business and jobs can flourish.

    The Alliance Party’s position is essentially embodied in the constitutional aspect of the Good Friday Agreement. People have differing opinions on constitutional matters, but most people agree on a least-worst platform (namely devolution and power sharing in a Northern Ireland context) so it’s about building on that and trying to repair the damage that divides our community.

    Alliance should be a comfortable place for any shade of political opinion in Northern Ireland who accepts the basic principles of democracy, consent, power sharing and so on. There is a gap between this and the perception that Alliance holds in the minds of the voting public, which is something the party is working on – to some degree of success – and needs to continue to work on.

    I’m sorry to hear that Sir Reg believes that loyalty to the Union is a prerequisite for the Justice Ministry. I hope those who continue to persist in the delusion that the UUP are somehow moderate will take note of the fact Reg’s vision for Northern Ireland requires that a role in government is to be denied to anybody who does not profess unconditional loyalty to the State. These views are, of course, anathema to the basic concepts of democracy, and freedom of speech and opinion, and are more characteristic of the hateful worldview emanating from continental Europe which was roundly defeated in 1945. Is Sir Reg planning to resurrect the Vanguard movement of his, and his predecessor’s, youth ?

    WhiteKnight, Alliance representatives have often commented on the relationship between unionism and loyalist paramilitarism. Unfortunately the media ignores it. If I were a little more paranoid I would almost believe there is a conspiracy that prevents this linkage being discussed. Stephen’s absolutely right to point out that Alliance representatives have come under attack for their view that nationalists and republicans – provided they are committed to peaceful means – should be accomodated. David Alderdice had a loyalist campaign mounted right outside his home and they yelled abuse at his kids when he was taking them to school, and petrol bombs were thrown at Alliance headquarters a few years ago. Not a single, solitary word was uttered in condemnation of any of this by unionist politicians.

    Also, from what I can gather the Alliance may have a much bigger problem in the near future over a much more senior figure

    Stephen’s views exist at higher levels in the party, yes. What’s the problem ?

  • Joe

    [i]Joe
    Are you saying that their refusal to designate as ‘unionist’ means they are supporters of a united ireland. If the are not supporters of a united ireland then is it really so crazy to think they might be pro union? [/i]

    Alan, I think it is crazier to suppose a party is pro union when it does not declare as unionist, does not have unionist policies and does not use British symbols/colours.

    If they were pro union, would they not declare themselves as such? And no I don’t think it follows that they must then be pro UI. Although I do not think they are anti UI like mainstream unionism is.

    I think come border poll day, their voters will be fairly evenly distributed so as to not really affect the outcome in a meaningful way.

  • grannie trixie

    FOC piece is as under-researched as her “award winning” book.If she had done even a modicum of legwork she would have found that David Ford is extremely popular within the party (or “loved” to use her terms). Members appreciate that he steered the party through the worst of times and treats people fairly. This is why,although there are many within Alliace capable of leading it, Ford has not faced a leadership challenge (and by party rules, Alliance Council has to vote in the leader annually).Stephen Douglas is also very respected within party ranks as contributing to diversity which is a significant feature of Alliance culture, not just a figment of some PR exeuctive’s imagination. Infact, come to think of it, Sir Reg would do well to take leaf out of DFs book to answer the question “how do you stop a party going dpwn the pan”).

  • YelloSmurf

    I think that Stephen has been a little indiscreet, but you have to rmemember that he was writing for a nationalist audiance to defend his leader, and was therefore selling Ford to the Nationalist people. He could and, in my opinion, should have stated his case in less bold terms, but Stephen is his own man and can make his own statements (as we all on Slugger do, although some of us use psudonyms).

    As to FOC’s laughable assertion that Ford is unloved, she could not be further from the truth. I have always found David Ford to be one of the nicest politicians in Northern Ireland. I have not come across anyone in the party who has seriously criticised him, and his record in internal elections speaks for its self. Under his leadership the party has not only grown in electoral terms, but is genuinely united. This unity is, in no small way, down to Ford personally. Compare to the UUP who are divided, losing ground and confused as to whether they are moderates or whether Slasher McNarry’s TV breaking is a Nationalist conspiracy to stop him watching the British athletics team and make him watch GAA.

    And as for being agnostic about the union, so what?

  • YelloSmurf

    And what about Alister Ross’s comeback.

    I am appalled to see a figure in the Alliance Party attempting to tie wider political unionism into attacks or intimidation against Alliance Party representatives.

    Unionists believe in support for the rule of law, they do not believe in law-breaking.

    In that case I expect full condemnation of Loyalist attacks, not just on the centre ground, but on Nationalists and even Republicans.

  • riverlagen

    I was of the belief that members of the Alliance Party were on the fence regarding the constitutional question: so it has come as quite a shock to me, that they have members who designate themselves personally, as Nstionalist, and more shockingly, Republican. I’m off to do some head scratching!

  • Mike

    Comrade Stalin

    As someone who voted for a several years for the UUP, and more recently for the Conservatives and Unionists (ironically, having actually resolved before this ‘link-up’ to transfer my electoral support from the UUP to the Conservatives), I cringed at Empey’s “Many unionists—-those who are not agnostic on the issue—-would be very concerned that our first Justice Minister could therefore be someone who is not pro-Union”. An idiotic statement to say the least and with some serious implications if he’d thought them through.

    On the other hand, this bit of yours:

    “I hope those who continue to persist in the delusion that the UUP are somehow moderate will take note of the fact Reg’s vision for Northern Ireland requires that a role in government is to be denied to anybody who does not profess unconditional loyalty to the State. These views are, of course, anathema to the basic concepts of democracy, and freedom of speech and opinion, and are more characteristic of the hateful worldview emanating from continental Europe which was roundly defeated in 1945”

    …is pretty reprehensible. There are plenty of democratic movements, and indeed governments, around the world today, which would subscribe to the idea that only those parties that profess loyalty to the state should be brought into its government. This is far from being “characteristic of [Nazism]” – an utterly preposterous statement. (and by the way, I’m a strong supporter of power-sharing in Northern Ireland, in case you try to misinterpret what I’ve said).

  • Alliance are in the market for soft unionist voters. In fact at the Euro election we had nats lining up to inform us that liberal unionists should vote for Alliance. It’s perfectly reasonable to point out that the party is not in fact pro Union by any description and use this letter to substantiate the fact. I’d tend to agree with Mike on P & J though.

  • Continental Drifter

    Chekov/Mike,

    The point here is this: Sir Reg’s comments are much more important (as he is Party Leader) than some random Alliance hack (Assistant Director for Stapler Purchasing or whatever he is).

    The random Alliance hack has obviously got a bit excited (and perhaps drunk).

    Whereas the Ulster Unionist Leader has specifically said that being “pro-Union” should be a pre-requisite for being Justice Minister.

    That is an utterly sectarian position to hold, runs entirely contrary to the whole notion of power-sharing – AND IT IS HELD BY THE PARTY LEADER!

    How, then, can you continue to support his party?

  • Continental Drifter

    PS:

    Mike – You can be loyal to NI, to its people, to power-sharing, and to the principle of consent without being specifically “pro-Union”.

    It is precisely this sort of thing FROM A PARTY LEADER which made me switch to Alliance and would keep me there, despite the great potential of the Conservative/UU link.

  • Junior Apparatchik

    Continental,

    That’s leaving aside the point that Sir Reg is happy to leave in place the direct-rule Minister – who is from a party which is agnostic on the Union!

    Simple fact is this was an attempt to out-Orange the DUP.

    Cameron should think again.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mike,

    There are plenty of democratic movements, and indeed governments, around the world today, which would subscribe to the idea that only those parties that profess loyalty to the state should be brought into its government.

    Name a few where these beliefs are implemented in any meaningful fashion.

    This is far from being “characteristic of [Nazism]” – an utterly preposterous statement. (and by the way, I’m a strong supporter of power-sharing in Northern Ireland, in case you try to misinterpret what I’ve said).

    I have no doubt that you are.

    But you have to look more closely at some of the beliefs that underpin unionism. I have heard unionists tell me that discrimination and gerrymandering was necessary to control those who were “disloyal” to the NI State. I appreciate that this is not a view held by moderate unionists, but that is where the line of argument being used by Sir Reg ultimately goes. It also reminds us that unionists are not likely to recognize the result of any referendum which would see a majority supporting the end of partition.

    In a democracy, no party which acts and operates legally can be excluded from government provided that it has an appropriate mandate.

    In the political framework that we have where the rules by which the constitutional configuration of the state may be altered are well-defined, there is very little point in parties having the constitution as their sole raison d’etre.

  • Driftwood

    Never heard of him.

    Posted by DC on Aug 25, 2009 @ 05:28 AM

    Neither had I or the vast majority of people in NI. However, he deserves to get the Private Eye OBN (Order of the Brown Nose)for such a pathetic grovelling excuse to get noticed.
    Unfortunately Sir Reg waded in unnecessarily.

  • Is maith liom Stephen Douglas.

  • John East Belfast

    The most telling thing in this letter is the fact that he says he is a nationalist and a republican but does not say why he isnt in either the SDLP or SF ?

    Instead he leaves his bashing for unionism and goes on about flags and threat of “unionist bombs” – As Sir Reg has pointed out I dont think I would hear SF use phrases like that.

    For those of us in active unionist politics the sneering of holier than thou Alliance unionists is something we have had to bear. However now the Alliance nationalists want to have a go at us as well.

    If he had been balanced he should have given us chapter and verse why as a nationalist he was unable to join a Party that was actively working to achieve his goals – which of course is all unionism and nationalist parties in NI are about.

    Also if Ford is agnostic on the Union (which in my opinion is “dont give a damn”) then at least he is Honest. Alliance “unionists” and “nationalists” are in my opinion dishonest, confused or cowardly or probably all 3.

  • Driftwood

    John East Belfast

    The Stephen Douglas letter should be compulsory reading for the residents of your area shortly in advance of the General Election next year. Maybe Naomi can use it in her election literature. It will certainly crop up here again around that time, much to the delight of Alliance’s Assistant Director (Development and Campaigns)

  • YelloSMurf

    Never heard of him.

    He’s backroom staff, not a politician. No one need ever have heard of him.

    he deserves to get the Private Eye OBN (Order of the Brown Nose)for such a pathetic grovelling excuse to get noticed.

    I think it was just a poor attempt to show FOC that she was talking crap (a sentiment I fully endorse).

  • DC

    I think cutting to the point that the UUP seems to be u-turning on the last piece of the peace process, a deal which they brokered and supported.

    Begging the question what do they actually stand for other than sheer opportunism playing on the fears of mistrust (aka ‘not ready for PJ’) that the DUP once used as a tactic, quite successfully, against the UUP.

    Bizarre.

  • abu nicola

    Empey vessels make most sound.

  • Neil

    Not to worry though, not be long before Wee Reggie gets to head off with poshboy DC to run Northern Ireland from their love nest near Westminster.

    Wee Reggie can continue his marked downward trajectory in terms of votes (as he has done consistently election by election for many years now), as long as Poshboy DC wins then Wee Reggie gets to run NI without having to be elected at all. Just as well really, given his apparant lack of wisdom when it comes to out orangeing the DUP as so well put by Junior A above.

  • Reader

    IJP: Would Sir Reg have the same problem with the SDLP taking Justice?
    What does this say to those trying to promote a UUP-SDLP axis?

    I think it means Reg will have to go.
    However, I would be more interested in seeing the SDLP get the job than Alliance, in spite of being a fairly frequent Alliance voter and never an SDLP voter. The point should be that the job should go to anyone who could be trusted with it. Having met that criterion, then letting the SDLP have the job would be a nice bit of symbolism. After all, it’s not as though Alliance could keep the job for ever, even if they were the first. Bite the bullet now.

  • Comrade Stalin

    For those of us in active unionist politics the sneering of holier than thou Alliance unionists is something we have had to bear.

    And you’ll have to keep bearing it, John, until your party stops speaking out of one side of it’s mouth on the question of loyalist paramilitarism. Yours is the party which was holier than thou when it walked out of the Belfast City Council chamber when a Sinn Fein Mayor was elected – but was quite happy to vote individuals connected to the UVF and UDA into that same position – right while those organizations were still actively murdering and engaging in criminal activity. Your ongoing support for the party obviously means that these are issues that are not important to you, but they’re important to those of us who think that standing up to paramilitarism in this side is an essential prerequisite for a party committed to peaceful and democratic means.

    You guys never did provide a straight answer on how a Sunday tabloid newspaper was able to obtain a photograph of a senior loyalist apparently assisting with hanging posters for the UCUNF European Election campaign.

  • IJP

    Reader

    Your points are well made.

    However, I’m not sure this is one for “symbolism” – and if it were I can’t think of anything more appropriate that the job ending up with the Alliance Party. It would be apt reward for having made the sacrifices necessary to keep the process and the Assembly moving in the past, and also fitting that the cross-community system which has so long worked against the Alliance Party should now work in its favour.

    However, I agree that there are several SDLP MLAs who would be perfectly competent in the position, and it is outrageous of anyone to suggest they should not get it on the basis of their constitutional preference alone.

    The problem with the whole Justice debate is that we have all become obsessed with the identity of the Minister rather than the scale of the task. The job will involve starting a fundamental reform process of the whole system, which will require all-party support regardless of which party holds the office.

  • DC

    I actually agree with Reader’s comments Ian as I’m sure you know I’ve posted something similar on here before about it when things were originally aired.

    I just don’t see the point in being used as a stop gap.

    Also, historically, Alliance designated as unionist to keep Trimble in to keep the extremists out, now it is they who are in and Alliance is potentially supporting.

    Thing is, just because Unionists can stomach a potential nationalist and republican at the justice ministry this shouldn’t serve as a prompt for Alliance to overcome that begrudging attitude by stepping in – precluding thought and debate in the political realm of ‘dealing with it’. It’s time for certain politicians to ‘deal with it’ and the various identities.

    And finally in terms of personnel Alban Magennis is better placed to take the post and, despite my views of all parties here being tantamount to Conservative Christian Democrats, which jars with my outlook, he is a fairly accessible and affable person with experience at the Bar.

    As Reader says, Alliance should probably play bluff, pretend that that party will take the post, carve out a justice ministry in an Alliance way i.e not an Unionist Nationalist Noah’s Ark in 2×2 (just like the Victims’ Commissioners). It probably is better in terms of goodwill gestures and electoral respect by letting it go to the SDLP.

  • Driftwood

    What about appointing Paul Goggins as police and justice minister until the next General Election? Alongside Brigadier George Norton. Or this that too sensible?

  • Many unionists—-those who are not agnostic on the issue—-would be very concerned that our first Justice Minister could therefore be someone who is not pro-Union.

    This is a fairly amazing statement and I’m not surprised the Kunningham Kids floating about this thread have ducked discussing it. I thought Reg had been possessed by Basil Brooke’s dead ghost when I read it.

    Would an SDLP Justice Minister be acceptable to Reg?

    If not, does he actually realise what he signed up to in 1998?

    Is it a case, perhaps not of “not a Fenian about the place” but rather “we’ll tolerate a few Taigs as long as they don’t go about getting all uppity and wanting the important jobs”? (And if you don’t like the tone of that comment, don’t make statements like the one above.)

    Since the European Elections, the UUP have completely lost the run of themselves: McNarry’s wacko statement on policing and justice; McNarry’s wacko statement on GAA and nationalist conspiracies in the BBC; and now “no fenians in charge of our peelers” from Reg. When you think that the whole point of the Tory/UUP link up was to sell a positive, forward looking, image of the UUP (well, that and clearing their overdraft) deciding its time to sound like Jim Allister this month is bizarrely off-message.

    The DUP is quite internally panicked at the moment and the UUP sniping from the right seems to be unsettling their grass-roots more. The UUP, with a little help from Allister, might just snipe their way into collapsing the current governing arrangements, especially if they manage to spook the DUP into nixing the transfer for policing and justice. Or, if Allister does well enough that SF end up being the largest party in 2011 and McGuinness then has the right to the First Minister’s spot, the whole thing might collapse by itself.

    I know there are Tory fanboys in these parts who think that is all wonderful and means Downpatrick will turn into Wells overnight, but it would mean that a Tory direct rule administration is running Northern Ireland, while at the same time representing with the UUP less than a fifth of the electorate – and although I assume they’ll have the wit not to appoint any UUP people or local Tories as direct rule ministers, they are still joined at the hip at the moment. If (God help us all) that happens, it’s going to look to a lot of people, by no means all of them nationalist or republican, like Unionist intransigence winning out once again, with backing from their Tory allies in Westminster.

    That’s quite a dangerous place for Northern Ireland to be in. I also doubt its the best strategy for keeping Northern Ireland in the UK in the long-term. Something all those breathlessly panting about how more unionist than everybody else they are might want to think about.

  • Stalin said:

    These views […] are more characteristic of the hateful worldview emanating from continental Europe which was roundly defeated in 1945. Is Sir Reg planning to resurrect the Vanguard movement of his, and his predecessor’s, youth ?

    and Mike replied:

    …is pretty reprehensible. […] This is far from being “characteristic of [Nazism]” – an utterly preposterous statement.

    I think Mike has a point here, Stalin. Vanguard always reminded me more of the SA than anything the Nazis actually did in their genocidal, warmongering phase. The sort of people who were in Vanguard were always up for a bit for marching through the streets and scaring the Papishes, but they were the type that had to be brushed aside by the real hard-core Nazis at the Night of the Long Knives before the mass murder could start.

    There quite a few people floating about Vanguard who have more than a passing political and moral resemblance to Ernst Röhm (remember Kincora?)

    (and by the way, I’m a strong supporter of power-sharing in Northern Ireland, in case you try to misinterpret what I’ve said).

    And if Reg Empey were too, he wouldn’t have made such a silly, but revealing, comment in an unguarded moment. Can’t make my mind up if it was accident or deliberate “flash of the sash” aimed at TUV types, though.

  • Erasmus

    Maybe I am a literalist but to my find being an Irish nationalist/republican, if you want to join a political party, necessarily involves joining one that espouses Irish unity.

  • Maybe I am a literalist but to my find being an Irish nationalist/republican, if you want to join a political party, necessarily involves joining one that espouses Irish unity.

    Under that logic, if you believe in filesharing, then you MUST join the Pirate Party. What happens if you are a Republican who also believes in filesharing? Well then, you have to decide which is more important to you.

    Politics is about priorities. By emphasising republicanism over all else, you are stating your personal priorities. Far be it for others to have different priorities…

  • Sorry, I meant to say “by emphasising the constitutional question over all else”.

  • John East Belfast

    I must say this has come as a surprise to me – I genuinely thought everyone in AP was neutral on the Union like Ford.

    Serious question – when there is a Border Poll and the Unionists and Nationalists are involved in a major debate for hearts and minds what are the AP going to do ?

    Stay out of it ?

    What about members like Douglas – what is he going to do ?

    Surely it lacks integrity to be in NI politics and then when the constitutional question comes up let others do the hard work and then sneak into a polling booth and cast a vote ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    John,

    Serious question – when there is a Border Poll and the Unionists and Nationalists are involved in a major debate for hearts and minds what are the AP going to do ?

    Major debate for hearts and minds ? Is that the kind of debate where Sir Reg is basically saying that fenians should be denied access to certain ministries because of their constitutional views ?
    The idea that you are interested in a debate on the matter is ludicrous.

    My guess is, like the abortion issue, that Alliance will say that it is up to people to form their own point of view.

    Personally, I have not made up my mind on what way I would answer a border poll yet. There’s no point, as the ground may have shifted when that day comes.

    What about members like Douglas – what is he going to do ?

    Going by what he wrote in his letter, I think he’ll vote for reunification. I’d have thought that was obvious.

    Surely it lacks integrity to be in NI politics and then when the constitutional question comes up let others do the hard work and then sneak into a polling booth and cast a vote ?

    I disagree.

    If you want an example of lacking integrity, that would be a party whose leader urged support for the GFA, who today appears to be arguing for it to be dismantled. Or a party that sits in devolved government, yet snipes at the very concept of doing so from the sidelines.

    The UUP is finished.

  • Erasmus

    JEB,
    I think the AP would split into its soft unionist and soft nationalist rumps.
    I have to agree with other contributors: it is quite an eyeopener seeing a self-declared Irish republican in the AP. It also raises issues about the Green party which the only all-Ireland party aprt from SF with representation in both jursidictions. It makes you wonder how much of its membership/support base is ‘green’ in the more colloquial sense of the word.

  • John, Stalin.

    The idea that a border poll in the current climate would involve anything worthy of the term “debate” is laughable. The likelihood that any meaningful percentage of the electorate will change their position on the matter during such a campaign is negligible.

  • John East Belfast

    Comrade

    You really will have to change the record with your lashing out at the UUP – are you a past member with a grudge or something ?
    The UUP that you constantly attempt to portray on here is not the one I know.

    Anyhow your view on a Border Poll is what I would have thought of an AP member. I just dont know what Douglas – as a Nationalist and Republican is doing in your Party – and you seem to be unable to explain his motives for him.

    Andrew

    I think the Border Poll debate will be more thrilling than you give it credit for. I would say there are at least 30% undecided and how the arguments go will decide the outcome

  • Emkl

    What is evidential basis 4 ur 30%? Its obvious w douglas would b in AP: to work with people to make NI better rather than mre divided. Empe said caths need not appl for justice minister he’s uup=not bashing identifing its qualities for good or 4 ill.

  • John East Belfast

    Emkl

    My 30% for a start is based on those who do not vote – then add those who traditionally vote for unionist or nationalist parties for various reasons but might not share their views on the Union. Then add those who could be persuaded if the case was put to them
    Therefore putting 70% as gut unionists or nationalists may even be too high

    Sir Reg did not say catholics could not be P&J Minister – talk sense.

    He was simply pointing out that in our unionist/nationalist designated political system the Alliance Party are neutral. Therefore in a highly sensitive post such as P&J we can all see the argument for letting the AP hold the post desipite their electoral base not supporting it. However if the AP was not neutral then that casts a different light on things – pretty simple. However I agree if some backroom staff publicly prefers his allegiance then it is hardly sufficient to upset the apple cart.

    As for
    “Its obvious w douglas would b in AP: to work with people to make NI better rather than mre divided.”

    The AP has no impact on this whatsoever. The people who really do this are the moderates within unionism and nationalism who steer their parties in such a direction from within.
    It cannot be done from without and the AP has no such impact other than being a conscience for the main parties. However as it spends its time sniping at the UUP (mostly) because it sees that as its electoral base then all it does is undermine moderate unionism on behalf of the DUP.

    If members of the AP cannot have an opinion on the Union but want to be in active politics then fair enough I can see the AP being a choice on them. However to be like Douglas and be a strong “nationalist and republican” and not to be in the SDLP is cowardice.