Foster stonewalls on when the decision to stand Iris down first took place…

{encode=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/the_politics_show_northern_ireland” title=”The Politics Show yesterda”}y had lots of meat in the sandwich… One of the interesting lines was Arlene Foster’s stonewalling of Jim FItzpatrick’s questions on just when Peter Robinson had decided that Iris no longer had a career in politics: ie, back in March when he discovered the affair and the dodgy transactions over the Lockkeeper’s Inn, or when he received the letter from the Spotlight programme. She completely stonewalled him, and told him he should ask the First Minister that question. The FM who is currently not available to the press, other than strictly on his own terms…It all has the feel of a political party regaining its equilibrium and returning to business as usual, even though the question seems a reasonable one to me… There’s also one interesting little snippet in that Sunday Times diary piece worth noting… It’s the Chamoix skiing story:

The papers are saying Iris is in Chamonix, skiing. I’m not sure where that story comes from. Perhaps our people have been testing to see who’s leaking. There was only one place where Iris was ever going to be spending some weeks and that is where she is now.

Now, he’s not exactly saying it was made up by the party, but the possibility that a political party might deliberately misinform in order to work out the identity their own spy in the camp (be it internally, or amongst media trustees), is a peculiar one…

In the meantime, Jim may be waiting some time before he gets a straight answer to that question now the media circus shifts its focus to the troubles on the other side of the street…

  • Interesting, though entirely predictable utterance from Arlene is her suggestion that there was going to be a deal on Police before the lastest Robinson crisis and not just as Allister was claiming because of fear of an election. Although I tend to agree with her suggestion, it is not helped by the revelation that Peter Robinson recently shook hands with Mc Guinness.

    From BBC:
    “Mrs Foster said: “These are real negotiations being done in a positive way – there is no hype surrounding this, there is no gun to our head.

    “This was coming to a head in any event and now we’re dealing with these issues.”

  • granni trixie

    This interview reveals much about PR’s take on events – some obviously made strategically but others unconsciously show his perspective.
    eg
    “I have handed over some duties to Arlene Foster”
    – is how he portrays AF legally taking on responsibility for First Minister. The discrepancy between the reality and how he perceives it to be can only work for a very short time before,in practical terms, the DUP have to clarify the position. You either are FM or you are not – a half way house is not in the interests of effectively leading the Exeuctive.

    “I have to decide to take decisions about my future and Iris’s future”: sounds like he doesn’t see Iris as having a role in these personal and perhaps political decisions concerning herself?

    Also, he adds something to what we already know namely that the letter left by Iris when she attempted suicide was to McCambley,which is how the family learnt about the relationship. Which clarifies the sequence of events.

  • danielmoran

    MU. Msg 1 You’re going to hear a lot of this ‘clarifying from DUP figures if a deal is done this week. There’ll be more than a few of those who were saying only last week that ‘community confidence’ was the key,
    This is the device they’ve been using as a delaying tactic as recently as last tuesday. [Campbell and Morrow].So, realising the credibility damage if a deal was done this week, Campbell was on the radio this morning to er……clarify what he meant and prepare the justification of his assessments up till then. He’s definitely rattled about this from his irritable tone.y

  • Mick Fealty

    Westminster seats may rest on this issue for the DUP. Also, it seems to me Gregory is stationing himself at distance from the rest of the party to maintain contact with the TUV inclined constituency.

  • Presumably Maurice Morrow will be keeping his head down after this latest epistle from Jim Allister:

    the DUP’s current path is to empower republicanism, first as Joint First Minister and now with controlling veto over policing and justice.”

    Can we expect a big pay-out and a roll-over in the latest game of Stormont Lotto? Roll the balls ..

  • “the TUV inclined constituency”

    Is East Londonderry so inclined?

  • Mick Fealty

    I meant in the wider, more generic sense of the term. But, yes, I believe it has some potential there. Maybe not to actually take the seat but to set themselves up for one in the Assembly elections.

  • Banjaxed

    Makes you think, doesn’t it? Heads of both parties have gone out of their way to state that everything is at a crucial and ‘sensitive’ stage and who comes on to the radio, treading and retreading his tired old canard about community confidence, the very architypical example of the sensitive politician, the boul’ Gregory Campbell. Gregory wouldn’t know sensitivity if it bit him on the ballocks. It would appear to me that the difference between a statesman and Mr Campbell is that a statesman knows when to shut his gob.

  • East Londonderry is a potential SF Westminster gain, Mick, which probably partly explains Gregory Campbell’s nervousness. It will be a very interesting seat to watch as the current shenanigans play themselves out.

  • Banjaxed,

    If Gregory has to let some air escape ocassionally to ease the pressure then so be it, what most commnentators seem to not appreciate is that this is understandably a very difficult issue for the DUP and people like Gregory not only have a lot to lose in terms of thier own political future but a deal will require a lot of soul searching on this very sensitive issue.

    The DUP have to a large extent found their feet as an elctoral force at the expense of the UUP and Unionists should understand that the reason that DUP are being cajoled into a deal at all is at least partly due to the lack of support from their own government, just as the UUP were. At some point Unionism needs to understand unlevel palying field it is expected to work on and try and find some unity.

  • danielmoran

    Nevin. Msg 9 According to the Irish Times piece on talks, a source told them that a briefing among DUP top brass on Saturday was ‘tetchy’. It has sunk in finally with Gregory that all his hardline statements are now making him a liability to his party in the event of a deal this week, and it’s entertaining to witness or hear his inching away from the ‘community confidence’ figleaf, which everybody knows was a delaying tactics. He’s about as subtle as a JCB approaching an ATM wall machine.

  • Daniel, the IT does indeed use ‘tetchy’ but it doesn’t elaborate. The DUP might find it difficult to maintain unity under so much pressure from London and Dublin.

  • Banjaxed

    MU, whilst I agree in general terms with you on the sensitivities of the Unionist position, and which I find perfectly understandable, I must point out that, to my mind, I place the entire blame on past and present leaders of Unionism. Neither Trimble nor Robinson ever gave the impression that they were leading from the front (a case of ‘Where are my people, I must follow them’). That is, they didn’t lead their people into any of the agreements nor did they, until very late in the game, attempt to explain their position.

    Instead they crowed about the various ‘gains’ that were made while continuing to insult their co-partners in power, eg, Trimble’s ‘ain’t house-trained’ comeent, and the DUP’s constant refusal/denial to even treat them as human beings. This is not politics, it’s just being gratuitously offensive – sectarianism, if you like, under a different guise.

    The DUP has *always* been the Nasty Party. Now, they’ve nowhere else to run. They are in a position of power, for God’s sake! They are not now in opposition or a protest party. The dynasties look like they’ve come to a natural end so it’s now time to do business. Unfortunately, as I’ve already mentioned, the bulk of the party have been force-fed the ‘No Surrender’ line and therein lies the problem.

    In an environment like this, it is therefore no surprise that Gregory still has a voice. He’s not alone, of course, there are the other 11 disciples (btw, has Willie McCrea gone awol?) However, it is to be hoped that their screechings will fall on stoney ground and that the rest of us can grow older with a more positive view of life and our neighbours.

  • joeCanuck

    If Gregory is now to be a sacrificial lamb then hell rub it into him. I would say (as a non-catholic) that not only has he been deliberately obnoxious to SF supporters, which is fair enough, but also to all “Catholics”.
    His blatant bigotry should have no place in our new dispensation.

  • danielmoran

    msg 14 Joe Canuck. You hit the nail on the head, Joe. Campbell is the one ‘not housetrained’ if anybody is. Other DUP figures don’t walk past members of the party they depend on for their fat salaries, without greeting them. Campbell seems to get a kick out of annoying nationalists with his sneering tone. He should have manners put into him. Perhaps the voters of East Derry will do the honours, and soon.

  • danielmoran

    Banjaxed msg 13 You get the inpression that some inb the DUP haven’t yet come to terms with the fall of Stormont in 72, the way they go on. I believe that if the SDLP were in SF’s position now, Campbell and a few others would refuse to serve as DFM to SDLP first minister Even with the vote share provided for it. that’s how dyed in the wool they still are.

  • Banjaxed

    Exactly my point, Daniel. But leaving aside the sectarian nature of Norn Irn politics, powersharing itself is not only alien to the DUP but the UUP has also difficulties with its very concept. How many, for example, Unionist controlled councils share power? Answer, not one.

    The demographics of the place have changed and are continuing to do so. Some, however, choose not to recognise it as fact.

  • danielmoran

    ” the UUP has also difficulties with it’s very concept”

    Banjaxed msg 17. That reminds me of Fred Cobain’s [UUP] incredible statement a few months back when he said in reaction to the suggestion that under the new NI councils, Belfast would be neutral, ‘Belfast is a Unionist city’ implying that any slippage in majority must always be corrected by gerrymandering. He and a lot others in both Unionist Parties, don’t seem to have learned anything from Derry 40 years ago. I suppose we should be grateful that at least the UUP don’t have the brass neck to put ‘Democratic’ in their name.

  • The sharing out of committee chairs is no guide to a fair allocation of resources.

  • Banjaxed

    We’ll see, Daniel. Half a lollipop is better than none. So the lack of power, perks and mercs – if indeed the Shinners follow through on their threat to collapse the Assembly – just might help to concentrate minds. After all, politics makes strange bedfellows. However, in light of all that’s surfaced recently, I’m slightly reluctant to use that analogy! 😉

  • danielmoran

    No, Banjaxed. feel free to use that term. This whole circus at Stormont is long past it’s sell by date. Remember, in ’07, Paisley waited until the votes were in, and he knew the DUP had eight seats more so they could appoint first ministere, even though the post is identical to deputyFM in powers, I think, the old Karma might be waiting for payback on the DUPlicity party very soon.