For the first time, a leading unionist party is keeping discipline

Praise be where praise is due. In the News Letter, while maintaining silence on the substance of the talks, Sammy Wilson has made a mature and balanced case for working hard to save the Assembly. Deadlines are useful but mustn’t be mandatory. Then he issues warnings to both sides.

So while some on the unionist side may argue that we should not be concerned about the consequences of no resolution of the policing and justice issue even if it collapses the Assembly, I believe they are wrong and after the smoke of their actions has cleared there will be angry questions from the electorate.

Equally, for those on the republican side who may be contemplating pulling the Assembly down if they don’t get an unrealistic deadline met, they should realise that it might not be easy to put the Assembly together again
The DUP appear to be learning lessons from previous Ulster Unionist mistakes. They’re maintaining unity and focus under pressure while ingeniously smoking out dissent to neutralise it. Remember Peter Robinson’s reference to the false leak that Iris was about to go skiing in Chamonix? That was disinformation of MI5 quality. Wouldn’t we love to know who was caught in the trap? Perhaps we will if someone is mysteriously demoted. Meanwhile, Barney Rowan suggests that over in Sinn Fein Gerry Adams remains unweakened and is calling the shots, despite the abuse controversy.
Slugger has consistently argued that light has to be shed onto the secret process between two secretive parties. The Irish Times reports: There were also suggestions last night that any deal that is struck will be conditional in that the DUP will then take some time to establish whether there is unionist confidence to proceed with the agreement. Sinn Féin could be amenable to this if the time is relatively short.

In this potential pre-agreement phase, the best way to do that is not by a direct appeal to the electorate or restricting it to closed local DUP cabals, but by involving the other parties without delay. The loyal orders will have a say but should not be allowed a veto. If this Portadown Orange reaction is typical, the outlook is hopeful.

  • IanR

    Anyone noticed the wriggle room is Sylvia Hermon’s denial statement?

    “So, am I about to swop roles and join the Assembly, thereby precipitating yet another by-election for Westminster? The answer is a definite ‘No’, she said.

    Does that ‘definite No’ only apply to that entire sequence of events?

    After all, as in the case of Iris Robinson, for Sylvia Hermon to resign as an MP wouldn’t trigger a Westminster by-election, as we’re so close to the last possible date for the general election, there won’t be any more by-elections beforehand.

  • IanR

    Should have read ‘so close to the last possible date for [i]calling[/i] the general election’.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Personally I would not care if it was never to resurrect itself if the plug was pulled.

  • danielmoran

    ‘they should realise it might not be easy to put the assembly back together’

    This, Brian, sounds very like a veiled threat from Wilson to SF that they [DUP] might refuse to play along as DFM in the aftermath of election especially if SF have the numbers to take FM job. This, from a SF voter perspective, might suit, as they, with their votes can then hold them, and keep Unionists out of power here indefinitely, since SF will be the only nats party for Unionists of whatever hue, to deal with. The SDLP is no longer regarded by most nats as strong enough to get their former vote power back, whoever leads them.

  • Daniel, it is a very sad reflection on the nationalist electorate that so many are prepared to endorse SF, a body that is part of PRM with its organised crime wing, and whose record on child sexual abuse is seemingly not dissimilar to that of the Catholic hierarchy.

  • OscarTheGrouch

    Nevin, I echo your sentiments, but I suspect however sad you may consider it – you’re not actually that suprised? This is Northern Ireland – normal rules don’t apply – thats why perhaps 2 of our 3 most senior politicians are likely ride out issues that would have destroyed politicians in any normal democracy.

  • danielmoran

    Nevin. msg 5 On the surface of it, it is a sad reflection not only on nats, that they end up supporting a party connected ,as all those voters know, to an organisation with so much blood on it’s hands. But you must remember that the party [SF] was shunned by nats until the DUP became the main reps of unionists, and since the start of the troubles, nats voted only SDLP from 1970, and found that their voices and votes counted for nothing as unionists were not prepared to recognise their mandate,
    [witness the events of May 1974 when Trimble as a member of Craig’s fascist and sectarian Vanguard, chained himself to railings to protest at Faulkner’s sharing power for just five months with SDLP before bringing the north to it’s knees then ]
    So, some blame for SF’s strength of suppost now surely lies with intransigent unionists down the years..

  • Coll Ciotach

    If you are saddened then go into the troughs of despair, we are not foolish enough to reject our representatives and our rightful desire to be rid of foreign control due to some individuals faults, but however, we do reflect on the mistreatment of us by those who claim to aspire to civil and religious freedoms and yet ran a fascist regime until those who should have known better relieved them of the responsibility and indeed their latest display of denying us our rightful cultural expressions shows that this attitude still exists. This “crisis” is one manufactured by unionist inability to accept the expression of an Irish identity. You will be taught, no matter how painful it is, that there is no area of government nationalists cannot exercise control of. If unionism tries to block or delay nationalism has the power to deny unionism. It is a game of all duck or no dinner.

  • Banjaxed

    Nevin writes:
    ‘…. it is a very sad reflection on the nationalist electorate that so many are prepared to endorse SF, a body that is part of PRM with its organised crime wing, and whose record on child sexual abuse is seemingly not dissimilar to that of the Catholic hierarchy’.

    Nevin, a little bit of evidence would help your argument here. Or are you one of those Unionists who are convinced that no one in a Nationalist area pays a TV licence, car tax, doesn’t work, keeps coal in the bath and pigs in the parlour,etc. – apart, that is, from voting for gunmen, gangsters and child molesters?

    So far, an awful lot of garbage has appeared, alleging all sorts of things. Nobody has, as yet, been charged. Lets wait, shall we? Then you can smear all you want – but not until they are found guilty.

    So far, I’ve hesitated to comment on any of these allegations as the evidence is scarce enough on the ground. Also, there are risks of prejudicing any future trial. But blanket condemnations of an entire electorate smacks of pure sectaeianism.

    Wise up.

  • Banjaxed, I vote mainly across the UUP-SDLP spectrum and I proposed the shared sovereignty et al option.

    The evidence of paramilitary involvement in organised crime has been published in Northern Ireland Affairs committee reports.

    If you want a fascinating story about a bathroom suite in the piggery that the BBC investigated but didn’t broadcast you’ll find it on NALIL blog.

  • Coll, your duck is a strange bird. It doesn’t seem to mind the buckshot so long as it is of loyalist or republican provenance – and the baseball bats have blue flashing lights.

  • Daniel, it seems that intransigent Unionists and Nationalists are prepared to let this place go down the tubes and the electorate are right behind them.

  • Banjaxed

    Nevin, I’m in an impossible situation where I cannot back up or refute anything of what you allege. They remain what they are – ‘allegations’. Neither do I wish to defend the indefensible. If they turn out to be true, so be it. Let due process follow. I do not hold a brief for SF but I do, as I said, condemn blanket smears.

    I can say, however, in relation to your NIAC reports, you can have ’em. I prefer to use Andrex.

    As far as I can see they are just another set of allegations. With the makeup of that particular c’ttee, it’s really hard to take their objectivity seriously.

  • Banjaxed, NIAC takes its evidence from quite a wide range of sources including groups like the Maranatha Community. This community has experience of loyalist and republican paramilitary activities, especially in matters such as community control and exclusion.

  • danielmoran

    It is depressing, Nevin. I’m in agreement with that. I think it was David Dunseith who, [on Talkback until recently] predicted that it will takes up to two generations into the future to get rid of the sectarian mindset here. I used to post on the message board there until just before Christmas, [and before that, as ardmaj. Just owning up there if anyone from TB message board reading this.]

  • Coll Ciotach

    Tastes fine to me

  • danielmoran

    If Robinson really is widening the circle of those parties getting into the loop for the benefit of said parties, and not trying to find a way of delaying the P&J transfer until after the westminster poll, he may come unstuck at the weekend, if gerry adams decides he’s stalling, because although PR and Marty might have a closer understanding than they did, this is certainly not so between PR and gerry adams.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin:

    Banjaxed, I vote mainly across the UUP-SDLP spectrum

    You mean, you voted to endorse the Vanguard/UWC/Drumcree party ?