Sleep walking or bluff?

From here in London, judging from the coverage national and regional, (though I’ve haven’t been catching the newsjocks) we’re either sleep walking to collapse or we believe it’s bluff. Apart from a comment wrapped in Wales from the Guardian’s Mike White, the UK nationals have hardly bestirred themselves. Yawns are coming at me from Belfast – are they trying to tell us we’ve been here before? Some raised an eyebrow over Marty topping that Bel Tel poll (but the size of the sample and the scores didn’t impress). A pay rise for MLAs pulled, another damaging deadlock this time over the new education board, and true enough, Gregory’s latest stink bomb. But these are all symptoms rather than the disease itself . That is being shrugged off, apart from two other pieces of deeper analysis in the whole of the press as far as I can make out. Liam Clarke, a qualified admirer writing in the Newsletter advises Peter that his chess tactics are short sighted. The Irish Times’ Gerry Moriarty believes the DUP has more to lose than Sinn Fein ( the chance, even the likelihood, of Sinn Fein coming top in an emergency election). Contrast that with Tom McGurk already noted, that Sinn Fein would take the bigger hit. It depends on what you’re referring to. Gerry scores on the election point, Tom has a case if the Assembly collapses. The DUP ‘s default is always the Union which continues to exist, and a united Ireland doesn’t. But what sort of Union is that? After a decade of stop-go and all that effort and energy, the consequences of Assembly collapse are unpredictable but are unlikely to be benign. The DUP’s apparent complacency over a return to direct rule could be as misplaced as the neocons’ fatal belief that the invaders of Iraq would be welcomed with open arms.

  • Only Aksing.

    What a load of tosh that ‘letter’ is from Clarke, and Moriarty’s take is somewhat exaggerated. In essence ‘who cares?’. No wonder only the local yokels have taken this up, it is sooo boring, really could anybody give a s**t? Scrap it, they’ve had enough time, and too many chances to make this work, why shore it up until the next ‘crisis’ or ‘mini crisis’, scrapping it would at least save money.

  • fair_deal

    The NIO is doing its bog standard approach. It wants a deal so is trying to get one by applying some media pressure. They have obviously decided to give DUP first bash. If that doesn’t work then in a little while it’ll be SF.

    “The DUP’s apparent complacency over a return to direct rule”

    FFS bother your backside to read the speeches from the DUP party conference and you might learn the world has moved on from when you were a journo.

  • Only Asking

    Very civil comment there fair deal. Nice.

  • Ultonian

    Reality check for all politicos – the rest of us don’t care!

    You had your chance 58% didn’t vote in the Euro election and continue with this crap and even more won’t vote next time round.

    Cynicism rules

  • DC

    Yes a mild mannered direct rule system as per the New Labour “what worked in NI” handbook will suffice.

    A double direct rule system of a few of each ministers from Britain and Ireland should do it.

    Put the money which otherwise would have been spent on the Stormont administration into a community fund for bottom up community peace-processing.

    The main rule of play being don’t shoot any Catholics or Protestants via state forces and also remain mild mannered and respectful throughout so as to compromise for the common good.

    This should work over the next decade or so to allow for an attitudinal shift which is pushing up through the younger generation. One not as defined on the past as this lot.

  • heck

    If the assembly falls can we have “Plan B”?

  • andrew white

    bottom up community peace-processing…..

    wtf is this? more “community workers” just what we need

  • Dave

    “This should work over the next decade or so to allow for an attitudinal shift which is pushing up through the younger generation. One not as defined on the past as this lot.”

    Jedward for joint first ministers!

  • fair_deal


    Yes they were rather intemperate. Lazy arguments do light my blue touch paper but that is no excuse. My apologies to BW.

    Revised comments

    The analysis you offer of what the DUP is thinking or saying bears no relationshiip to what they are actually thinking and saying.

  • DC

    wtf is this? more “community workers” just what we need

    Better than a bunch of expensively suited do-nothing argumentative politicians.

    At least the money is going to the community and families and beyond. Top down has been pretty hopeless in terms of efficiency at least in voluntary / community sector there are success stories – and success stories in as much as people doing *hard work* and getting on together.

    In my mind that beats a Robinson and McGuinness government.

  • Dewi

    What are they actually thinking then Fair Deal? Don’t you think they have talked themselves into position where any devolution of P&J would be portrayed as a defeat? – which to my simple mind is:
    1) A no-win situation for the party.
    2) Daft.

  • fair_deal


    Read robbo’s conference speech. The reason P&J has not progressed is SF are refusing to deal.

  • kensei


    Read robbo’s conference speech. The reason P&J has not progressed is SF are refusing to deal.


    It’s themmums fault

    Funny, SF seem to think the same thing.

  • i wonder

    @ 12.Hey if your really a fair_deal why did they ALL agree to throw out a third party right of appeal in the new planning laws.ALL the ordinary voters want it.Now you know why we wont vote WE REALLY DONT GIVE A FUK ABOUT P@J BUT WE DO ABOUT PLANNING and other little things that really affect our lives .

  • andrew white

    WE REALLY DONT GIVE A FUK ABOUT P@J BUT WE DO ABOUT PLANNING and other little things that really affect our lives ……….

    such as rates? stormont froze the regional rate. Water charges? taken of the agenda for 3 years. Education? Grammar education still available for all and a block of Sinn Feins socialist agenda for schools.
    Health? The largest ever health budget.
    Transport? More money invested under devolution than direct rule , free transport for the over 60s.

    HOw anyone thinks we would get a better deal under direct rule is beyond me

  • i wonder

    i wonder why dear ANDREW didnt mention his partys part in betraying the ordinary person over the third party right of appeal.

  • andrew white

    betraying people…lol wise up…
    Try looking at how long it takes for planning applications and you`ll find out why.

    You can read cant you?

  • fair_deal


    Some free advice – never buy decode-o-specs off the back of An Phoblacht.

    SF want something for nothing. It might have worked with Tony but it doesn’t cut with the DUP. P&J headed to problems when McG tried to take parading off the table in the summer – SF wanted no pain involved for them and that was never going to happen.

    Since Peter Robinson took over the DUP have done the following on P&J:
    1. Agreed the steps for the devolution of P&J
    2 Voted for the enabling legislation to go through the Assembly
    3. Negotiated a financial package for the devolution of P&J – managing to get much more than SF were willing to settle for.
    4. Have outlined how the condition agreed in the St Andrews agreement of community confidence can be met
    5. The DUP has said repeatedly in public in wants to see the devolution – for a full argument on this see Robbo’s conference speech.

    This has not been a never never approach from the DUP however much SF are trying to pretend otherwise. Sinn Fein are spoon feeding nationalists what appeals to their standard prejudices and it is being lapped up but it doesn’t make it right.

  • Brian Walker

    Ok fair deal. Thank you for withdrawing the FFS. I would like to ask some basic, genuine questions as one who would cut Peter some slack and would reject an SF deadline. I read Peter’s speech carefully and I still don’t know the answers. What precisely is the confidence problem at the heart of the delay in devolving J&P? How can it be addressed? Why can’t it be negotiated face to face with Sinn Fein – and I’m not assuming it’s all the DUP’S fault. What is the “something” the DUP wants from SF?

  • i wonder

    betraying people…lol wise up…
    Try looking at how long it takes for planning applications and you`ll find out why.

    You can read cant you?

    Posted by andrew white on Dec 01, 2009 @ 05:51 PM

    you obviously have no idea about how the current planning laws are ruining peoples’ lives – look at the Holyland/South Belfast/Newry – are you a developer who just wants to buld build build and f***k everybody else. The power to change things is in the hands of our dick head politicans who are in thrall to the developers and their money. Why else would they AGREE to not give 3rd party rights of appeal. One of the major problems with the planning laws is the abuse of multiple applications by developers – these clog up the system – as recognised by the planners themselves. We are not governed from Mars – laws are made here. How f**king selfish can you be to deny someone the right to defend their home from rampant greed? How come all the parties agreed on this? Let me think……. oh yes MONEY for themselves.
    What do you mean can I read? – I bet that I have read more planning policies than you have unless you are part of the system that is the problem
    How can you defend the indefensible?
    BYW they can afford 3rd party appeals in the South

  • Dewi

    “Read robbo’s conference speech. The reason P&J has not progressed is SF are refusing to deal.”

    Why do you need a deal? Why not just devolve on your own terms?

  • i wonder

    See even big mick fealty thinks its a load of oul nonsense.Nick says- As for the Trimble trap, SF are are already in it. Driving the DUP out means you are stuck with less chance of ever getting P&J (the small beer that it actually is).
    It would never get me or thousands of others out to vote but planning issues and health issues
    things like that will.P&J hey Andrew and all you wannabe poloticians give us a proper planning system only you can the planners can only work the system that you give them.

  • fair_deal


    “What precisely is the confidence problem at the heart of the delay in devolving J&P? How can it be addressed?”

    It is a mistake to think it is the TUV. A deal potentially helps the DUP in dealing with the TUV as a good deal demonstrates their insider strategy delivers as opposed to the TUV outsider strategy. As I say above confidence was an agreed criteria and the list above shows how the DUP has been acting in good faith.

    The big problem in the Unionist community has little confidence in devolution overall see tonight’s BT poll for some evidence (even if it needs taken with some salt because of sampling etc). Thus they have no interest in seeing it expand. Simply put they don’t want what happened to education happening to P&J so they are content to see it stay were it is. Hence changes to the present operation are needed as part of a package. See Robinson’s September speech and the one from last Friday evening on possible changes and no majority rule is not what is being sought.

    There is also the issue of parades. P&J can’t be presented as an outstanding issue of St Andrews while pretending that parades isn’t. The parades review was part of it. Also as parading is a key public order issue it is not something that is a tangental issue plus the SF rep on it signed up to the proposals.

    They have also provided a list of other issues in a letter to government. The Police reserve stuff got people confused on this but what the DUP has done is said here are a range of issues that effect confidence – they are more a menu than a list – if everything happened wonderful but if not everyhting then anything not fulfilled more needs to be done on the others – hence why the Police reserve wasn’t a ‘principle’ (although how such a policy decision ever could be is personally beyond me).

    So the DUP has not said never never but instead showing how the square can be circled.

    However, the media is caught in an old narrative about the No No DUP and thinks this is the Trimble era when actually its McGuinness/SF who is behaving like Trimble/UUP – didn’t negotiate what they thought they had so start to issue deadlines and threaten to bring down all the institutions.

    “Why can’t it be negotiated face to face with Sinn Fein – and I’m not assuming it’s all the DUP’S fault.”

    Because SF only want to talk about one thing and and one thing only that is a date. The order is no trade/no dealing to get it. Threaten them with an election etc and the NIO is indulging them.

  • fair_deal


    “Why not just devolve on your own terms?”

    Please clarify what you mean by ‘your own terms’

  • Dewi

    “Your own terms”

    “We think devolving P&J is a good idea because we’d get a better service.”

    Or if you don’t believe that:

    “We don’t agree devolving P&J is a good idea.”


  • Sean

    Fair deal

    So you want commitments from SF with out giving any of your own how very trimbalistic of you

  • fair_deal


    Nope I expect both DUP and SF make commitments and more importantly act on them.

  • fair_deal


    In principle nothing wrong with devolution of P&J – no guarantee it gets better service as police operational independence and judicial independence rightly limit impact. It would give the NI parliament comparable powers to Scotland. Its the detail that needs hammered out.

  • Dewi

    So hammer it out internally – why bring in blasted parades and chesting up to Sinn Fein – act rationally for once.

  • fair_deal


    Parades is a public order issue and thus has a direct relationship to policing and justice. If SF weren’t issuing threats no one would be chesting anyone.

  • Mason Powell

    “The big problem is the Unionist community has little confidence in devolution overall (see tonight’s BT poll…..) [Fair Deal]

    Unfortunately for those on the Assembly payroll and their many hangers-on, it apparently goes beyond the “Unionist community.” I resent the fact that the BT poll figures split us into “Protestants” and “Catholics” (apparently no place for agnostics, atheists, Jews, Muslims, etc)but if we adopt this sectarian head-counting for the sake of the argument, the writing definitely seems to be on the wall for the wretched, unloved Assembly.

    If we exclude the 5% of “Don’t Knows” from the question “How has Devolved Government at Stormont Affected the Quality of Life in Northern Ireland”, the results are damning indeed.

    64.2% of respondents said the Assembly made no difference or made NI a worse place in which to live and work.

    72.6% of “Protestants” said no difference/worse.

    53.7% of “Catholics” said no difference/worse.

    So, almost three-quarters of “Protestants” perceive no benefit from the Assembly, and a majority of “Catholics” agree. If those figures are even close, the Assembly is doomed.

    The party hacks among us will protest loudly and say the survey is unrepresentative, but they would say that, wouldn’t they? Without the Assembly they might have to look for real jobs that involve real work. (It is worth noting that in a region of 1.5 million people, the sample was about half of the usual sample for the whole of GB. How is that unrepresentative?)

    There are those that say that you can never get rid of the Assembly. Frankenstein’s monster was another hideous abomination. It survived fires, explosions,molten sulphur, ice, and drowning and always came back, but it couldn’t survive Abbot and Costello. The Stormont monster won’t survive the truly horrifying partnership of Robinson and McGuinness.

  • KieranJ

    Joint rule from London and Dublin by St. Patrick’s Day.

    Remember, you heard it here first.

  • Mason Powell

    “Joint rule from London and Dublin by St Patrick’s Day” – KieranJ

    Why? I’ve had a really good look at my passport and I don’t see any reference to Dublin.

    The collapse of the Assembly should put us in much the same position as Yorkshire when they voted overwhelmingly in favour of Direct Rule from faraway London a few years back. (OK, OK, I accept that Yorkshire isn’t N.I. It takes longer to get to London from Yorkshire.)