54% of Catholics reckon failure to agree should result in the collapse of Institutions…

Interesting figures in the latest poll on policing and justice. If you total up all the figures, it’s a grand 81% in favour. Yay! However, if you break that down between those who want the decision time bound (ie, 25% immediately and 14% before general election) 39% (in legal terms this is a meaningless option without the agreement deemed necessary under St Andrews) and those who want to see it as a result of agreement between the parties, 42%, you begin appreciate the fork in the road the two parties in Stormont Castle have brought us to. And, unsurprisingly, a sizeable proportion of Catholics are feeling pretty reckless over the issue:

The threat of the collapse of the current Assembly over this issue elicited markedly differing views from the majority of Protestant and Catholic respondents — 63% of people surveyed said that the timing of the devolution of powers should not warrant the collapse of the institutions, 83% of the Protestants polled and 38% of Catholics. Of the 27% who believe that a failure to resolve the current row should result in the collapse of the Assembly, this figure is made up of only 5% of the Protestants polled but 54% of Catholics.

It’s unsurprising in the sense that it’s probably a fair reflection of Sinn Fein’s support in the population at large (ie 27% of the whole population, whilst Bairbre de Brun pulled 26% in June’s Euro election).

So we can reasonably surmise that of that sector of the Catholic community which backs the SF party line, is prepared to see the indigenous deal that Gerry Adams once warned us not to interfere with go west in the event there is a failure to get agreement on a new deal.

So although 37% of Protestants say they still lack confidence, more than 80% say it is not worth the collapse of Stormont. So despite the talk of growing cynicism within that community towards Stormont, it is the unionist population which seems more sanguine about retaining the Assembly and Executive, albeit at some limited cost.

Sinn Fein will likely take heart from this. They have their people lined up behind them, and the sentiment within unionism appears broadly that P&J is not worth the hassle hustle.

However they are still stuck with two big headaches: how they manage the break down of the game with an opponent who appears keen to keep the ball in play; and, perhaps more importantly, how they deal with the aftermath in which they are likely to have to deal with a tougher unionist response to what amounts to a severe breach of various promises in early 2007. Spinning it out for a few years until people forget the original settlement is not a great solution when you’ve not got much else going for you on your other strategic fronts…

Whether it is a breakdown to negotiations, or a breakdown to an election, negotiations will be unavoidable. The party’s consistent messaging on this (along with an unwillingness of the MSM to call it as it really is) has clearly prepared their support for a moment of departure. It seems unlikely though that they have prepared that same support for the kind of deal that protracted negotiation is likely to bring them.

Given 81% of the population agree on the desired outcome (as opposed to the means by which it may be had) it would also be a grand denial of the art of the possible…

This is a game of diminishing returns for both protagonists… They’d be better doing a functional deal and taking it to their respective homes soonest… Just don’t hold yer breath. There is a lot more spin and playing of the MSM optics yet to come I fear…

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Stephen Blacker: “Thats a cheap shot saying those things to help make your arguement. ”

    Are you suggesting that I am lying and that it didn’t happen, or that it merely unfair of me to allude to uncomfortable facts that some would rather sweep under the rug? If the latter, how is alluding to the uncomfortable and unfortunate truth a “cheap shot?”

    If Northern Ireland is going to progress beyond the current situation, *EVERYONE* is going to have to deal with the uncomfortable truth, rather than the comfortable myths.

    Stephen Blacker “Everyone on Slugger could quote some atrocity to benefit their arguement. ”

    Which, combined with the corollary that all sides have blood on their hands, is my point.

    Pretending that “your” side was all big-chinned heroes whilst claiming the other side had all the bastards, that “their” bombs were atrocities and “your” bombs were just retribution, is the reality of N.I. Republicans give their bastards a pass on their atrocities, broadly speaking, whilst Unionists simply disowned theirs.

    Stephen Blacker: “If that attitude had been taken over the years of the GFA, it would not have lasted long. The killings would probably be continuing and a lot of our people would have an early grave or have terrible injuries.”

    No, Stephen, it would be as it is now — two sides neither at war or at peace. The killings haven’t stopped, although they have greatly slowed. They have, however, been marginalized — no longer are organizations or movements credited, is it “fringe members” or “splinter groups” or “rogue factions.” It is a grand game of “let’s pretend.” It will take some being uncomfortable to make things real.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    CS: “I know what you’re trying to say. There is a wider picture in both cases; it was about the IRA (as you indicated in your final comment) making it clear to everyone that it was still active and wouldn’t brook anyone trying to interfere with its authority. Both incidents damaged Sinn Fein. ”

    Which, while not entirely fair, was certainly just.

    The ugly realities keep going under the rug and will continue to do so, so long as the comfortable lies are embraced and the unfortunate truths are considered “cheap shots.”

  • Stephen Blacker

    Dread Cthulhu,

    I wish you were lying! It was a “cheap shot” because it is such an emotive subject and all it was, was a good sound bite! Most people are trying to deal with our past in a way that will hopefully see as few people hurt or killed as possible!

    I dont know where your answers are coming from? Maybe when you dissect a blog like you always do you loss what the person is trying to say. I do agree that all sides have blood on their hands!

    When you say, “No, Stephen, it would be as it is now—two sides neither at war or at peace.” That is a statement that will never be proved and i doubt that many people would agree with you on that.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Dread,

    Really?  Blowing up an old man and his grand-kids was “human?”  Dropping a bomb in a pub was “human?”

    Last I checked, killing women and children is *inhuman*, at least when it someone other than (“insert your preferred bastard here”) doing it.

    Quite frankly, yes. You can throw any example that actually relates to the troubles and I’ll say yes. Is suicide bombing in Israel human? Yes.

    However uncomfortable it is to confront the nature of these crimes, they can be seen as inherently human. And not that I think most of the aforementioned republicans should celebrate those atrocities, but when you are deeply aware of the circumstances that lead to it, however irrational those actions were, you don’t have to condemn the person who committed it. Condemn the actions.

    I’m also not denying that there were not some crazed lunatics who did what they did for their ends.

    I can’t stand those who celebrate the IRA or it’s actions, it drives me mad how those people cannot see the pointlessness of it. But I cannot condemn outright those involved at the time for making irrational choices at a time when they faced the irrational actions of unionists with an irrational hatred of Catholics. I can condemn those who do it now, because even some of that hatred exists, the actions are not so sufficient as to cloud better judgement.

    The obviously approve of what was done in their names, since they elect the terrorists to office.  By the same token, they obviously don’t want or expect progress, given whom they choose to represent them.

    This is profoundly out of touch. I can’t stand Sinn Fein. I like some of the politicians involved who see as more or less progressive. Actually I just like Martin McGuinness. But he would never get my vote, even if he could. But even with, the surge in popularity in Sinn Fein occurred after the ceasedire, and remember, however much unionists were understandably cynical of ceasefires or decommisioning or outright disbandment, republicans/nationalists were not. Almost the entire community was in favour of the GFA from the outset and wanted to see it work, they wanted to see an end. Sinn Fein knew it and the public knew that they knew it. So a vote for Sinn Fein then was a vote of confidence for what they were doing. That’s progressive, something the SDLP even had to encourage though they would suffer for it. Alot of it is tribal now, to keep out the DUP, I’m not denying that but most. SF voters do believe they are the best people to finish the job.

  • Lionel Hutz

    They’re wrong I might add, but they do believe it.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Stephen Blacker: “I wish you were lying! It was a “cheap shot” because it is such an emotive subject and all it was, was a good sound bite! Most people are trying to deal with our past in a way that will hopefully see as few people hurt or killed as possible!”

    And you think that sweeping all the ugliness under the rug would actually accomplish that?

    Stephen Blacker: “When you say, “No, Stephen, it would be as it is now—two sides neither at war or at peace.” That is a statement that will never be proved and i doubt that many people would agree with you on that. ”

    Then they would be akin to you. Northern Ireland is enjoying a period of greatly diminished conflict. However, the simple absence of conflict is not peace.

    Lionel Hutz: “However uncomfortable it is to confront the nature of these crimes, they can be seen as inherently human. And not that I think most of the aforementioned republicans should celebrate those atrocities, but when you are deeply aware of the circumstances that lead to it, however irrational those actions were, you don’t have to condemn the person who committed it. Condemn the actions.”

    Somehow, when dealing with terrorists, I doubt turning the other cheek accomplishes very much. Additionally, given Stephen’s reaction, even mentioning the action seems to be “a cheap shot” in some quarters… Before they can be condemned (and, by your own admission, there is no shortage of Republicans unwilling to condemn them) you first have to be willing to acknowledge them, would you not agree?

    Lionel Hutz: “I can’t stand those who celebrate the IRA or it’s actions, it drives me mad how those people cannot see the pointlessness of it. But I cannot condemn outright those involved at the time for making irrational choices at a time when they faced the irrational actions of unionists with an irrational hatred of Catholics.”

    And, yet, you see no impediment or problem coming from Republicans electing terrorists to represent them in the halls of government. The terrorist is celebrate and you accept the celebration, despite your claim of not being able to stand them.

    Lionel Hutz: “This is profoundly out of touch. I can’t stand Sinn Fein. I like some of the politicians involved who see as more or less progressive. Actually I just like Martin McGuinness. But he would never get my vote, even if he could. But even with, the surge in popularity in Sinn Fein occurred after the ceasedire, and remember, however much unionists were understandably cynical of ceasefires or decommisioning or outright disbandment, republicans/nationalists were not.”

    I will grant that wee Marty knows when to keep his mouth shut, unlike some of the political set, but seating an admitted former terrorist as a representative cannot help but help keep the old wounds open. As for Unionists being cynical, can you give me a rational reason why they should be hopeful now? As has been pointed out, they’ve yet to truly “go away,” and that’s not counting the rest of the alphabet soup gangs (RIRA, CIRA, etc).

    Lionel Hutz: “Almost the entire community was in favour of the GFA from the outset and wanted to see it work, they wanted to see an end. Sinn Fein knew it and the public knew that they knew it. So a vote for Sinn Fein then was a vote of confidence for what they were doing. That’s progressive, something the SDLP even had to encourage though they would suffer for it.”

    Except, after the initial feel-good “the future is ours,” progress hasn’t really progressed. While I will allow that it isn’t all the executive’s fault, a good chunk of this failure to move has been — the electorate chose from the tails of the political curve, not the middle and the predictable outcome — gridlock — has been the result. Great symbolism, but sometimes it is a dangerous thing to be too symbol minded.

    Lionel Hutz: “Alot of it is tribal now, to keep out the DUP, I’m not denying that but most. SF voters do believe they are the best people to finish the job. ”

    Let ’em believe in one hand and spit in the other — we’ll wager on which one fills up first.

  • Brian MacAodh

    Dread

    Read a lot of Horror?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Brian MacAodh: “Read a lot of Horror?”

    Do you mean my handle or my sunny disposition?

  • Brian MacAodh

    Hahaha. You’re handle.

    Anyway, is it really so important that P and J get devolved (if that is the right word)? It could end in disaster.

  • Stephen Blacker

    Dread Cthulhu,

    Again, i cant see where you get the idea that i am trying to sweep all the ugliness under the rug? People, well some people, are dealing with our past in a positive way, some have been working behind the sceens for decades, the majority of the GFA supporters have declared their willingness to deal with our past through the ballot box. Dealing with the “ugliness is part of the GFA!

    If you are implying that the “greatly diminished conflict” has happened as a coincidence and not as a result of the GFA I would repeat, i doubt that many people would agree with you on that.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Stephen Blacker: “Again, i cant see where you get the idea that i am trying to sweep all the ugliness under the rug? People, well some people, are dealing with our past in a positive way, some have been working behind the sceens for decades, the majority of the GFA supporters have declared their willingness to deal with our past through the ballot box. Dealing with the “ugliness is part of the GFA!”

    Oh, for starters the “that’s a cheap shot!” shtick of yours — if we cannot acknowledge the past misdeeds without others seeking to demonize those who point out the Imperator has no clothes, then we’ve not made any progress.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Brian McAodh: “Hahaha. You’re handle.

    Anyway, is it really so important that P and J get devolved (if that is the right word)? It could end in disaster. ”

    I read my share — the old pulps are preferred — not a fan of the “Julia Child” school of horror.

    Given the lack of will and lack of competence of the PSNI and the prosecution service, does it really matter who is putatively in charge of Keystone Kops?

  • Lionel Hutz

    I have a big concern if truth be told over any NI politician getting their hands on the Criminal Law. They would just try to out tough each other a create ridiculous new laws.

  • Stephen Blacker

    Dread Cthulhu,

    It was a cheap shot, but maybe you can forgive me for expressing my view, i’m new to Slugger and I’m still learning how bloggers express themselves and how they try to highlight points!

    It is imperative that our recent past is dealt with to the satisfaction of the victims of our Troubles.

  • Mason Powell

    BLUE HAMMER: “…my honestly held position is that prior terrorist activity should (must) preclude anyone from holding high office.”

    COMRADE STALIN: “Yeah, but that’s not democracy. Democracy is where you appoint leaders based on their votes, not on someone’s ideas about whether they should be “allowed” into office or not…”

    Good God, Comrade, have you joined the TUV? You have identified the number one reason why our shabby, blood-stained, shameful excuse for an Assembly should be allowed to collapse: we DON’T get leaders based on their votes. No democracy I know of requires a party with 25% support to be in government as of right, with its nominee appointed co-equal leader. (I think Nick Clegg might like this idea, but he has the distinct disadvantage of being wholly unconnected with terrorism, so he has no chance of frightening his way into government.) Sinn Fein harp on about their “mandate” but the truth is that they would kill to have an electoral mandate the size Hitler achieved. Martin McGuinness is not DFM because his party won an election. He is in office because the craven DUP decided that overlooking the past activities of a self-confessed IRA commander was a price worth paying to get their own snouts in the trough.

    The only way Stormont is going to work is with a voluntary coalition. If there are no (or too few) takers, then so be it. We already have a government. Let them govern, without fear or favour (a cliche which in this case is very apt).

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Stephen Blacker: “It was a cheap shot, but maybe you can forgive me for expressing my view, i’m new to Slugger and I’m still learning how bloggers express themselves and how they try to highlight points!”

    It was a cop out, a desperate attempt to white out an ugly fact via the use of shame, that it was somehow unfair of me to bring up the past to illustrate my point. If your position is so weak that pointing out historical facts are “cheap shots,” you might need to reconsider your positions.

    Stephen Blacker: “It is imperative that our recent past is dealt with to the satisfaction of the victims of our Troubles. ”

    And how, pray tell, is that ever going to happen when folks whine and wheeze that bringing up the past is “unfair” and “a cheap shot?”

  • Stephen Blacker

    Dread Cthulhu,

    IT was not a cop out, it was your arguement that was weak and you dropped in the bit about murders, a easy to make your arguement sensational! Someting you do a lot!

    You say i am trying to demonize you, i believed your colourful language was a cheap shot not for highlighting our past but because you ran out of anything constructive to say.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Stephen Blacker: “IT was not a cop out, it was your arguement that was weak and you dropped in the bit about murders, a easy to make your arguement sensational! Someting you do a lot!”

    No, Stephen, I challenged the notion that the terrorist’s acts were “human” by pointing out their inhumanity. I would have thought that was obvious. When one rebuts someone else, it is sort of traditional to show how their point was less than valid. In the case of PIRA, it involved acknowledging that the terrorists were, y’know, terrorists.

    Instead, here you are, saying I’m being less than fair and peppering your post with exclamation points. “Fair” is a playground word and you getting self-righteous and emotional does nothing to strengthen your arguments — school-boy histrionics just don’t impress.

    Stephen Blacker: “You say i am trying to demonize you, i believed your colourful language was a cheap shot not for highlighting our past but because you ran out of anything constructive to say. ”

    Says the fellow who thinks “That’s unfair” is a rebuttal…

  • Lionel Hutz

    Mason Powell,

    Its much better than the UK system, the only “democracy” I know were 40% of the vote can result in a landslide majority one party that then have automatic right to govern and use their “majority” to push through whatever they.

    There are problems with D’Hondt ofcourse. Can I ask you though, if the DUP pissed everyone off and the UUP, SDLP and Sinn Fein decided to enter into a voluntary coalition would u like it. Or supposing by the next assembly election, Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance could make a majority, would you prefer that?

    I assume you are unionist as Ive never heard of a nationalist speaking of a voluntary coalition. The Unionist support for the idea is predicated on the notion that the only ‘side’ of the community that could form a voluntary coalition would be the unionists. Well at the moment, UUP and DUP couldn’t do it on their own, they would require a third party. I’m just curious, what would your government look like.

  • Lionel Hutz

    That first paragraph in English:

    Its much better than the UK system, the only “democracy” that I know of where 40% of the vote can result in a landslide majority for one party, which then have automatic right to govern and use their “majority” to push through whatever they please. A Great Model.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Lionel Hutz: “There are problems with D’Hondt ofcourse. Can I ask you though, if the DUP pissed everyone off and the UUP, SDLP and Sinn Fein decided to enter into a voluntary coalition would u like it. Or supposing by the next assembly election, Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance could make a majority, would you prefer that?”

    It would have the benefit of being normal Parliamentary democracy, without the training wheels.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Would u prefer it then?

  • Stephen Blacker

    Dread Cthulhu,

    You took Lionel Hutz blog out of context and you are certainly not a person that should talk about anyone being self-righteous!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Lionel Hutz: “Would u prefer it then? ”

    I said it had a few benefits, i.e. stating the obvious. “Preferring” the current set-up is essentially admitting that the voters of N.I. are constitutionally incapable of handling grown-up politics.

    Normal parliamentary politics would require folks work with one another, as opposed to the current game of brinkmanship, veto and grid-lock. Admittedly, given the current crop of politicos, I’d expect that N.I. would change governments at a rate that would put the Italians to shame, but that would be part of the learning curve. Frankly, I think the current crop of politicos could foul up a wet dream, given more than half a chance, regardless of the system used.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Stephen Blacker: “You took Lionel Hutz blog out of context and you are certainly not a person that should talk about anyone being self-righteous!!!!!!!!!! ”

    Still throwing toys out of the pram, I see…

    First of all, Lionel Hutz did not blog, he commented.

    Second of all, his comment was a rationalization of terrorism. By bringing up the uglier incidents, I was examining / testing his sincerity, at least as far as one can, via this medium. I may disagree with him, but at least he is willing to stand on his chosen ground and accept the inevitable slings and arrows that come from his chosen position, all without throwing a tantrum or complaining that he’s not being treated “fairly.”

    Life is, by its nature, is unfair. Plan accordingly.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Well Stephen, that’s what happens. The blog is dissected and contradicted before the qualifications to each dissection are looked at:

    a response to dreads post at 6
    Somehow, when dealing with terrorists, I doubt turning the other cheek accomplishes very much.  Additionally, given Stephen’s reaction, even mentioning the action seems to be “a cheap shot” in some quarters…  Before they can be condemned (and, by your own admission, there is no shortage of Republicans unwilling to condemn them) you first have to be willing to acknowledge them, would you not agree?< \I>

    You’re taking Stephens comment out of context. It was a cheap shot insofar as it is basic whataboutery, which I don’t get into. Ofcourse all acts of violence have to be acknowledged. And before condemning comes in you have to hear the explanation and try to understand otherwise it’s just finger pointing. For example, a wife kills her husband, does the judge hand down the sentence straight away? No. Because it just might be that she was abused for decades. That’s an analogy by the way, I’m not equating it. The point is, everything has to be heard, examined and understood.

    And, yet, you see no impediment or problem coming from Republicans electing terrorists to represent them in the halls of government.  The terrorist is celebrate and you accept the celebration, despite your claim of not being able to stand them. 

    Again you’ve taken my comment out of context. The context is the part you quoted directly below and I explain why I think Sinn Fein’s popularity grew.

    Except, after the initial feel-good “the future is ours,” progress hasn’t really progressed.  While I will allow that it isn’t all the executive’s fault, a good chunk of this failure to move has been—the electorate chose from the tails of the political curve, not the middle and the predictable outcome—gridlock—has been the result.  Great symbolism, but sometimes it is a dangerous thing to be too symbol minded.< \i>

    I would agree with this but I would add that this doesn’t mean that the electorate do not genuinly believe that the tail ends are the best to make progress. It boggles my mind but I honestly believe these voters do, partly because they think that are best placed to get the best deal for them. Sinn Fein are showing their inadequacy, DUP are just lucky that SF are so inept since they castrated any bargaining chips they had.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Dread,

    So it’s not ready yet. That’s the point. It’ll be 20 or 30 years before they are. The brinkmanship must end first. The learning curve is better completed with the training wheels on. There’ll be less blood spilled that way. And those who use voluntary coalition as a cover for the wish to disenfranchise sinn féin voters are disingenuous. I suspect you know that.

    This was the point I made last night about NI being unusual in managing to sustain peace with a new democratic model. The mandatory coalition was successful and the need is still there

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Lionel Hutz: “I would agree with this but I would add that this doesn’t mean that the electorate do not genuinly believe that the tail ends are the best to make progress.”

    Despite all evidence to the contrary?

    Lionel Hutz: “It boggles my mind but I honestly believe these voters do, partly because they think that are best placed to get the best deal for them. Sinn Fein are showing their inadequacy, DUP are just lucky that SF are so inept since they castrated any bargaining chips they had. ”

    So, despite the obvious, the electorate still waiting for Santa Claus…

  • Lionel Hutz

    Yes, it’s a combination of Sf/DUP being better party political machines and the failure of Sdlp and UUP to effectively make their case. No alternative is themost common excuse.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Lionel Hutz: “So it’s not ready yet. That’s the point. It’ll be 20 or 30 years before they are. The brinkmanship must end first. The learning curve is better completed with the training wheels on.”

    I have to disagree. Failure is the best teacher, while over-reliance on crutches merely breeds dependence on those crutches. The reason the DUP and SF fight so hard over such small stakes is that they have so little to lose in failing. They can holler and posture and play games of brinkmanship because regardless of whatever happens, the UK and RoI will prop them up, regardless of how stupidly they act.

    Lionel Hutz: “And those who use voluntary coalition as a cover for the wish to disenfranchise sinn féin voters are disingenuous. I suspect you know that.”

    Hell, I’d say you’re being polite by pretending they have cover.

    SF has the problem that, as the one major party that was explicitly aligned with a terrorist organization, they have at least twice had the spectacle of being in government while their hard-men have killed folks — it makes rationalizing their presence a little difficult to stomach in some quarters, as you might imagine.

    Lionel Hutz: “Of course all acts of violence have to be acknowledged. And before condemning comes in you have to hear the explanation and try to understand otherwise it’s just finger pointing. For example, a wife kills her husband, does the judge hand down the sentence straight away? No. Because it just might be that she was abused for decades. That’s an analogy by the way, I’m not equating it. The point is, everything has to be heard, examined and understood.”

    Ah, but that is “unfair” and “a cheap shot,” according to Stephen — too horrible to even mention, let alone something that someone could expect PIRA to explain. Likewise, I don’t seem to recall PIRA permitting those aboard the yacht such niceties as a full and complete hearing.

    Please, by all means, tell me what crime the grandson committed that blowing his up was a “rational” response. What horrible misdeed did the fifteen year old deck-hand commit that would make his death “understandable?” PIRA blew them up with no more feeling than a man swatting flies or picking weevils out of a biscuit, evidenced by Gerry’s bland comment in the aftermath. I’m not even sure they’d be able to sell “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

  • Mason Powell

    Lionel Hutz,
    In answer to your response to my earlier post, no electoral system is perfect, but at least other systems, however imperfect, don’t have a pre-determined result (“You can have any government you like so long as it includes Sinn Fein, because we don’t want them to go back to what they do best…”). You criticize the UK system, but every constituency elects the most popular candidate and the formation of a government requires the support of a majority of those elected. In a “hung parliament” the government is a voluntary coalition, and those excluded because they don’t get enough support to get included in the government go into opposition without threatening murder and bombing (even tacitly).

    Would you prefer the U.S. system which in 2000 gave the Presidency (and therefore control over the U.S. nuclear arsenal) to the candidate who got fewer votes?

    You ask me what I would think if we had a voluntary coalition form of government at Stormont and this threw up, say, a coalition of UUP, Alliance and SF? I would adopt the attitude of an American politician (whose name escapes me) who, on losing an election, said: “The people have spoken. The bastards!” In other words, I would hate it and work democratically for a different result in the next election, but if was arrived at freely, I would, as a democrat, have to accept it.

    The irony of democracy is that fitness for government requires a willingness to accept opposition if you lose. (And please spare us the arguments that Northern Ireland is a gerrymandered state with a built-in Unionist majority: single-party (or single-philosophy) government is long since consigned to history. The only large-scale gerrymandering going on here now is courtesy of the GFA/St A. Agreement which essentially guarantees places in government for IRA leaders to appease them. Democracy? I don’t think so.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Firstly, Can I ask both Mason and Dread, does your opposition to Mandatory Coalition go right back to the GFA? If not, when did this change?

    Dread,

    I have to disagree. Failure is the best teacher

    Do you have any evidence for this statement? Can you provide an historical example of where a sectarian conflict has given way to a settlement of majority rule, or voluntary coalition, which has not resulted in bloodshed? It didn’t work in NI after partition, why would it have worked in 1998?

    The reason the DUP and SF fight so hard over such small stakes is that they have so little to lose in failing. They can holler and posture and play games of brinkmanship because regardless of whatever happens, the UK and RoI will prop them up, regardless of how stupidly they act.

    That may be part of the reason, but I would suggest that this is only happening because the devolution envisaged by the GFA and SAA have not been fully envisaged yet. Stormount is not falling over bread a butter issues. The 11+ debacle didn’t even take it down. When devolution is fully rolled out and this starts to occur because of bread and butter issues, i’ll agree with you. Until then, I believe you are looking at this too simplistically.

    Ah, but that is “unfair” and “a cheap shot,” according to Stephen—too horrible to even mention, let alone something that someone could expect PIRA to explain. Likewise, I don’t seem to recall PIRA permitting those aboard the yacht such niceties as a full and complete hearing.

    You’re taking Stephen’s comment out of context, he meant it was whataboutery! I don’t believe an eye for an eye is gonna work with NI. In any democratic society, we don’t pass sentence until we hear mitigation. We have to hear it, investigate and examine it and understand it. But this is a seperate issue…

    Back to the mandatory coalition:

    Mason

    In answer to your response to my earlier post, no electoral system is perfect, but at least other systems, however imperfect, don’t have a pre-determined result

    Thats hardly correct, the government today is vastly different than in 1998. The people still have a choice over who really leads this country, its just also have to respect the diversity of the electorate.

    You criticize the UK system, but every constituency elects the most popular candidate and the formation of a government requires the support of a majority of those elected

    Thats a very cleverly constructed sentence. Ofcourse you are correct, but the formation of the government does not require and in fact has rarely attracted the support of the majority of the elecorate.

    Would you prefer the U.S. system which in 2000 gave the Presidency (and therefore control over the U.S. nuclear arsenal) to the candidate who got fewer votes?

    Yes, quite simply, its by far more democratic. Its not perfect but George Bush got more votes than Tony Blair ever got. And the American’s actually vote for Bush, whereas Blair only got votes from his own constituency. And also, the electoral college only elect the president. The sovereign power, Congress, gets two separate elections. Thats democracy!

    In all seriousness,the people have spoken argument doesn’t work in a fragmented society. The poeple do not have a collective voice, and there is no point in considering NI as a single nation as the two communities have different nationalities. The wishes of both communities, so long as they are so fragmented, have to be recognised.

    Also the GFa and St Andrews Agreement do not guarantee places for IRA leaders and its not to appease them. The agreements guarantee that every substantial part of the electorate, if you have around 10% or more, will have a say in government. If Sinn Fein lose the debate amongst nationalists, they dont govern. UNfortunately they are winning it, and who are you to undermine that democracy1

  • Stephen Blacker

    Dread Cthulhu,

    Sorry I have not responded, had to go to bed, now work, reply later.

  • Stephen Blacker

    Dread Cthulhu,

    When Lionel Hutz expressed his feelings on why republicians took up violence during some reminiscing about his Mother & Father being disenfranchised and discriminated against, your response was to imply that Lionel was trying to rationalize what was done. L. Hutz denied your riposte and went on to define rational and irrational thoughts as human traits.

    As far as I am aware, the human species holds the rights to rational and irrational thoughts. This is when you took “a cheap shot” by highlighting nasty events from our past. I do admit you had the right to express those views but you had already lost your arguement but not to be outwitted you resorted to the emotive card.

    Just because you think something is irrational does not mean everyone else will. If you did, that would make you self righteous.

    After I said it was a cheap shot you then proceeded to insinuate that I called you a liar and that I wanted everyone to stop talking about all the murders and I also wanted to sweep uncomfortable truth under the rug. These notions of what i was saying come from you andonly you, i never came close to expressing these opinions.

    When you came up with the word “unfair” and atributed it to me, then went on to make snide remarks like, “Instead, here you are, saying I’m being less than fair and peppering your post with exclamation points. “Fair” is a playground word and you getting self-righteous and emotional does nothing to strengthen your arguments—school-boy histrionics just don’t impress.” I did feel less than impressed myself!

    It is good to know that P&J will happen and it would be great if more people would catsh up with modern Northern Ireland instead of living in the past. The past must be dealt with comprehensively to secure our future but we must not let our past dictate our future. Night!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Lionel Hutz: “Do you have any evidence for this statement?”

    Not off the cuff, but it has to better than this make-work idiocy of the current Executive. As a minimum, a failed government, followed by an election, would give the populace a chance to make their opinions known. The failure of an iteration of the Executive needn’t be fatal to the process, as you seem to assume. In fact, failure followed by a new election — in other words, something that happens in normal countries, would be a confidence builder.

    Lionel Hutz: “That may be part of the reason, but I would suggest that this is only happening because the devolution envisaged by the GFA and SAA have not been fully envisaged yet.”

    The agreement wasn’t envisioned with Smilin’ Gerry and the Rev. Dr. No running the show, either. I wouldn’t trust this collection of geeks and freaks with rounded kiddie scissors, based on their past performance, let alone the current gridlock.

    Lionel Hutz: “You’re taking Stephen’s comment out of context, he meant it was whataboutery!”

    For starters, Stephen’s kvetch really is neither here nor there — you suggested a standard — we should listen to their explanation and try to empathize with the murdering bastards. Now, glossing over the fact that PIRA hasn’t exactly been forth-coming in the whys and wherefores of their murders, I accepted your standard and challenged its validity, based on the circumstances of the Mountbatten murder. I would disagree that this is “whataboutery,” insofar as it is your proposed standard. I am merely proposing a test case for your standard. Now, I will freely cop to cherry-picking the test case, but this standard you propose has to withstand all the misdeeds of all parties.

    Lionel Hutz: “I don’t believe an eye for an eye is gonna work with NI. In any democratic society, we don’t pass sentence until we hear mitigation”

    And I ask again, what could possibly “mitigation” could there be for killing a couple of children and their grandfather?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Stephen Blacker: “When Lionel Hutz expressed his feelings on why republicians took up violence during some reminiscing about his Mother & Father being disenfranchised and discriminated against, your response was to imply that Lionel was trying to rationalize what was done. L. Hutz denied your riposte and went on to define rational and irrational thoughts as human traits.”

    His feelings and a bob might be able to get him a coffee at Starbucks, but that’s about all their good for. And, yes, his “re-contextualizing” of Republican violence was, at its base, shellacking a turd. And, yes, his notion that there is possibly any “rational explanation” or “mitigation” for the murder of a couple of teenage boys and their grandfather is unreasonable on its face.

    As for the rest, I’ll ask you the same question that Lionel can’t answer — what possible rational mitigation can there be for blowing up a grandfather, his grandson, a 15 year old deck-hand and an 83 year old woman? You keep telling me that I am somehow unreasonable for looking askance at this notion, but no one seems to have the faith in their position to answer that question. You seem to think it is unfair that I present a loaded example to test this mitigation nonsense — and, frankly, that is what meant when someone mewls “that’s a cheap shot.”

    I’m not the one trying to put a smiley face on either the present idiocy of the current politics, nor the murders of the past. Call me old-fashioned and uptight, but I really don’t see any “mitigation” or “rational response” in killing grandfathers and children or killing non-combatants in soft-target hits.

    I am, however, tired of folks trying to “re-contextualize” and “mitigate” what happened with happy little platitudes and mealy-mouthed conflict resolution psycho-babble.

  • Mason Powell

    Lionel Hutz,
    The GFA and SAA may not actually guarantee places in government for IRA leaders, but the whole sceme was designed to have that effect, and its designers have (so far) succeeded in their amoral aims. Ask a sample of fairly average NI citizens (particularly apolitical middle-class types) whether it would be a good thing to change the electoral system so that SF might not be in government and their faces will cloud over and they will whinge: “Oh, but you have to have the republicans in government or they will take us back to the bad old days.” That is not democracy, it is the politics of fear. As I suggested in an earlier post, to be fit for government, a party must be absolutely and unreservedly willing to go into opposition if it doesn’t win enough support to negotiate its way into a coalition government. To that I will add that the same party must command confidence among those who would not naturally vote for it that it would not under any circumstances go to war if it didn’t get its way. (I cite the example of the SDLP: I disagree with their policies and philosophy, but they are fit for government because they would accept an opposition role without anyone thinking they might go to war. I acknowledge (as do the DUP, TUV and I think the UUP) that in our two-communities society, an agreed coalition should have to command the support of more than 50% + 1. It might be 60%, even 65%.

  • Stephen Blacker

    Dread Cthulhu,

    I will not try to answer your question for Lionel Hutz but I will answer for myself.

    I did not say it was ME trying to justify any type of violence, it was a case of trying to understand why someone would feel the need to murder. If you talked to any one who committed violence during our Troubles “THEY” (not me) could and would argue all day long that it was a rational response to events happening around them.

    Nasty, but a reality in our Country. No one should ever forget our past and it should never be swept under the rug but it should not be allowed to consume our fragile Peace Progress.

    I trust your question has now been answered in an unambiguous way.