Even so late in the day, why don’t they tell us what their probems are?

It might help to go back to fundamentals to try to break the deadlock over parades, or at least understand it. The problem is, I don’t know what the fundamentals are. No, I don’t mean waffle about “communty confidence,” hidden agendas, fears, tactics, zero sum games, whataboutery or your favourite conspiracy theory. Just the straight up issues on the ground. You’d have thought that Sinn Fein who are so keen to have J&P powers transferred would be desperate for their electoral reps to exercise their statesmanlike discretion along the lines of the interim Ashdown report – indeed, that they would be the party demanding guarantees over parades before J&P is devolved. The DUP you might think would be resisting the remotest chance of submitting to a nationalist veto in the pure exercise of their inalienable marching rights. And with lots of grumbling admittedly, that they would grudgingly settle for the quango, the legacy of direct rule which is their second best – and sometimes first – option. Time is overdue for the governments to intervene, though they need it like a hole in the head. My slight worry is that with Jonathan Powell gone from Downing St and the change of guard in Government Buildings in Dublin, a lot of the old schmoozing skills will be absent. Why don’t they make Sinn Fein and the DUP play scenario games and swap roles to learn how to referee the competing rights? Come to think of it, it would make a great Spotlight.

  • “to exercise their statesmanlike discretion”

    Sorry, Brian, but you are referring to leaders of the political wing of a paramilitary organisation. Have you not got more apt words to use?

  • DisgustedinDERRY


    You write: “referring to leaders of the political wing of a paramilitary organisation”

    I think the latter should be referred to as a former.

    You could also say, possibly soon to resurface!!!

  • Abolutely agree Brian, this has been puzzling me from the outset when the parades issue was introduced as a confidence building measure. If we had not been told which party was supporting which position we would have assumed it was the other way round.

    On Hearts and Minds last week, Noel seemed very frustrated at not being able to get information about what stage the talks were at but kept banging away to find out what was going on.

    The obvious question to ask them, given that we all knew at that stage that parades was the main sticking point was what their own positions were. We could probably have worked out the DUP attitude (they were the only party absent) from what the UUP said.

    So if you are reading Noel or anyone else from the broadcast media, why not pop the obvious question next time you get the chance?

  • wje

    I posted this on another thread but given the title of Brian’s post above, it might be worth repeating here.

    In all of this there is a bigger picture which both SF and DUP can see. Its what is coming down the tracks later this year and in 2011. Both Labour and Tories have indicated public spending cuts of around 10% in the aftermath of the general election. That will be followed in 2011 by further public expenditure cuts.

    Those cuts will impact quite heavily here. Even though the budget will be set in Westminster, it will be the local parties and the local ministers at Stormont who will get the blame when the axe falls even further on health, education, housing, social care, job creation, etc.

    Both, if not all, the parties would be privately glad to see a suspension of Stormont for a period of 3-4 years so they can avoid that blame.

    All that’s going on now is that they’re seeking ways to get out of Stormont, while simultaneously pretending to their respective constituencies that they “really” want to stay as they try to find a way to blame the other side.

  • DiD, I think it was Gerry Adams himself who said that the organisation hadn’t gone away and IIRC Mitchel McLaughlin who agreed with the proposition put in an RTE TV programme that these republicans viewed the Army Council as the legitimate government of the island of Ireland.

  • JohnM

    Nevin wrote:

    I think it was Gerry Adams himself who said that the organisation hadn’t gone away

    …in 1995.

  • OscarTheGrouch

    Before the usual ‘how big is yours’ routine starts up – let me say that I agree with the major issue – what is it that they disagree about? What is it that is so embarrassing/secret etc that we (who elect these numpties) are not allowed to be informed about?

    Do DUP & SF understand that when elected they, because of our barking form of democracy, are as responsible for those who didn’t vote for them as much as those who did?

    I am getting extremely frustrated that I don’t have a big stick (as they do) to threaten them with – and all I want is information.

  • aquifer

    Never mind Mitchel’s religious beliefs. Until he can produce a suicide bomber, or better still, a self-immolating mystic. I am not interested.

    Under the old parades regime those that offered the greatest threat were facilitated by the police. Bad behaviour was being rewarded and thus encouraged. Unwise, especially around here.

    We needed an independent body to ensure, by ruling on parades in advance, that people’s democratic rights to parade and to protest were not being subverted by expedient policing decisions.

    Instead a judge could give the rulings if he/she had the right law in front of her/him.

    No need for a committee, no matter how well meaning and worthy.

    Though if the DUP are just saying ‘croppies lie down’ Sinn Fein should stick it to them and call an assembly election.

  • Indeed, JohnM, and I’ve not seen a retraction since then.

  • “expedient policing decisions”

    Aquifer, are you familiar with London’s and Dublin’s roles in arriving at decisions on contentious issues? Members of the public have been told that such decisions were taken by the police. The Dick Spring 1996 briefing sheds some light on the roles mentioned.

  • JohnM

    Nevin wrote:

    Indeed, JohnM, and I’ve not seen a retraction since then.


    Surely that is what you’re after?

  • DisgustedinDERRY


    Three issues: Irish language act, Policing and justice and Parades.

    Policing and justice is piggy in the middle.

  • JohnM, I understand the Army Council and organised crime wing are still in place. We also saw President McAleese’s endorsement of the Finaghy Crossroads Group, a joint Republican-Loyalist venture.

  • DisgustedinDERRY

    Nevin you understand without evidence or substance

  • Hearts and Minds again, two experts in the studio and Noel still didnt ask them to cast some light on the parades conundrum. Perhaps next week Noel?

  • Garza

    Is there any “ignore” function on this site??

    I would seriously like the ability to ignore a few trolls on here.

  • Banjaxed

    you might also have asked Nevin to explain what the ‘Army Council’ (What Army, Nevin? No prefix?? Are you dropping your guard???) the ‘organised crime wing’ (?) and President McAleese’s endorsement of the FSG have in common. He may understand but I, sure as bejayziz, do not.

    I also think that he may have dropped the capitals from the ‘organised crime wing’ inadvertently. If he accepts that it exists surely it’s entitled to be nudged up to the shift key. Come on, Nevin. Be true to your own prejudices!

  • danielmoran

    Brian Walker. For me it’s over. Some day now, NIO and london/Dublin will catch themselves on that this is what it’s going to be like at the junction of every elecvtoral cycle here, and decide finally that direct or indirect rule here is best. That playing nursemaid every time the parties can’t move beyond their petty quarrels is that the game isn’t worth the candle.
    They tried with the centre parties [GFA] and then they tried with the extremes[SAA]. now it’s time to look reality in the face. NO MATTER HOW MANY BAND AID PLASTERS THEY APPLY HERE IN NORN IRON, THE BEST WAY IS DIRECT/INDIRECT RULE IS THE ONLY WAY.

  • Banjaxed

    It’s hard to disagree with you, DM. Two bald men fighting over a comb.

    However, although a born optimist, my cynical doppelganger keeps elbowing me towards the conclusion that the personal vanity, greed and pomposity of a sizeable amount of our local politicos will not permit this lucrative gravy train, The Stormont Express, to crash into any joint-sovereignity buffers.

  • DisgustedinDERRY


    Irish Unionist led government failed.

    British government direct rule failed.

    The Good Friday agreement failed.

    The Saint Andrews agreement failed.

    The only thing left is an end to partition.

    It will happen sooner or later, why not now.

    The Irish government, your time is now.

    Time to renegotiate the already broken Anglo Irish treaty.

    Time to let Ireland decide her own fate.

    Time for an all Ireland forum/referendum on the issue of unity.

  • Alias

    What do you expect the Irish government to do?

    In case it escaped your attention, it signed an international treaty wherein it agreed that the constitutional status of Northern Ireland would not be determined bilaterally between the sovereign states but by an act of self-determination by the people of Northern Ireland to give their consent to any proposed change to that status and by a separate act of self-determination by the people of Ireland to also give their consent to any proposed change.

    Before the GFA and the British Irish Agreement, it was possible for the Irish and British governments to exercise their respective sovereign prerogative but the Shinners changed that situation, so you can thank them for being stuck with the Union Jack until the British wake up one fine morning and decide that they’re actually Irish.

    While you’re waiting for that to happen, you still have the little matter of organising your political affairs in your mutual interest…

  • DisgustedinDERRY

    Alais my friend, the Good Friday agreement has failed making it nil and void. I also believe it is the fault of the SDLP and not the Shinners.

  • Alias

    Oh, I see. Where in the treaty does it say that Mr DisgustedinDerry has a veto over the process?

  • Pete Baker

    So, Sinn Féin are going to walk away from their “indigenous” deal at St Andrews, let no-one interfere with that, declaring that [local] politics doesn’t work?

    When the reality is that they can’t operate within those restrictions.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    Time to let Ireland decide her own fate.

    Time for an all Ireland forum/referendum on the issue of unity.

    Posted by DisgustedinDERRY on Jan 22, 2010 @ 12:45 AM

    As a tester why don’t we transfer Strabane to the Republic for a year and then have that all Ireland referendum after the 12 months?

    Would be interesting to see what the people of the South think of a United Ireland once they realise how much it would cost them to pay for it.

  • DisgustedinDERRY

    Stephen Ferguson


    Racist comment! Tis not the fault of Strabane that discrimination is rife in the 21st century.

    Good plantation name that, I bet where you live the gritters go by every hour on the hour!!!

  • Stephen Ferguson

    Well it doesn’t have to be Strabane. Take any Unionist/Nationalist town or city which relies on British government benefits and it would have the same effect.

    The folks from the Republic will support a United Ireland until they realise how much it will cost them to keep us afloat. Then you’ll find a much cooler attitude.

    What about a six county referendum instead?

    Oh, apologies for the name – you can call me Steaphain Og if it’s more comfortable for you… 😉

  • wje

    # 20 Time to let Ireland decide her own fate.

    Time for an all Ireland forum/referendum on the issue of unity.

    Posted by DisgustedinDERRY on Jan 22, 2010 @ 12:45 AM

    You unfortunately miss the point. In 1998, two referenda were held – one north and one south. I and others argued then that there should have been a third – in Britain to find out if the ordinary British people wanted their government and forces to remain in Ireland or leave. I think we all know what THAT outcome of a third referendum would have been. I also still believe that until such a referendum is held in Britain, unionism of all shades will not accept political reality.

  • tacapall

    Under the old parades regime those that offered the greatest threat were facilitated by the police. Bad behaviour was being rewarded and thus encouraged. Unwise, especially around here.

    We needed an independent body to ensure, by ruling on parades in advance, that people’s democratic rights to parade and to protest were not being subverted by expedient policing decisions.

    Instead a judge could give the rulings if he/she had the right law in front of her/him.
    Posted by aquifer on Jan 21, 2010 @ 10:44 PM

    Please explain Aquifer why should the Nationalist community allow sectarian, anti catholic mobs, lead by loyalist terrorist named bands, straggled by beer swilled louts who all claim to be going to a religious ceromony pass through their areas while they are forcibly under house arrest in their own homes by the law of the land.

  • aquifer

    The law has been changed and can be again, to balance the right to demonstrate against the rights of other citizens. That’s self determination.

    I would not propose a right to intimidate householders be given any legal status.

    A right to demonstrate is useful, and had obtained one man one vote and other key reforms despite the best efforts of paisleyite thugs.

    Sinn Fein’s efforts to implement sectarian apartheid in their negotiations around a ‘shared future’ (!!) makes me doubt whether they are serious politicians, or where ever true republicans. I detest the DUP, but it may not be their fault that there is no agreement yet around policing and justice.

    I would rather wait for the right agreement.

    If you could transfer national powers over policing faster than selling a big company, that would be the surprise.

  • I’m tired of hearing that the people of the ROI will be less cool to a UI when they realise the cost. Why should they have to pay for it?

    Why can’t the folk in NI, the North, Wee Country, develop a little bit of self-respect and stop expecting other people to subsidize them? Instead of wasting time bickering over parades, NI’s politicians should be out getting inward investment into the province and making full use of grants available from the EC etc.

    London or Dublin don’t “owe” the people of NI a living just as they don’t “owe” people in Hull, Galway, Glasgow a living. People in NI should show a little bit of initative and vote in politicians who show a grasp of real politics, not the parochial time-wasting we have currently going on regarding parades. It’s unbelievable that after ten years of relative peace and prosperity that this nonesense is eating up so much valuable political time.

  • Cynic2

    The problem Brian is that they are playing game theory but are stuck on Game 1,1 – Zero Sum Politics

  • Banjaxed, the SF we’re discussing is the political wing of the Provisional Republican Movement and I’ve not seen a name given to the PRM’s organised crime wing. I’ve not seen the names of the six republicans on FCG (see above) but I think it’s most unlikely that they would be dissidents. The AC manages all parts of the PRM. You’ll find details of the PRM’s organised crime activities in the NIAC reports.

  • danielmoran

    Banjaxed 19.
    Someone posted above that the pols on either ide would never let the loaded gravy train out of their grasp so they will find a way,after much grandstanding to ensure theiraccustomed life carry on as before. I noted though that SF brought up as an example of bad faith on the DUP side that they and UUP were involved last sunday in trying to hatch out a way of avoiding SF as top of poll. it’s difficult to argue with that, so i agree with you. the failures go back a long way before GFA.

  • Daniel, we’ve been given a different spin on that encounter. Apparently Owen Patterson is to meet Martin McGuinness to discuss the stability of the institutions here as a follow-on from last Sunday’s meeting. I’ve heard no mention of meetings with the SDLP and Alliance.

  • Banjaxed

    Nevin, I’m not surprised that you continually refer me to the NIAC reports for they are as full of broad-brush assertions as you are, eg, there is a ‘general acceptance’ that X is guilty of Y, etc, etc. It is a partisan committee which takes allegations and assertions from various other vested interests and hypes them up to give them a semblance of credibility to justify its existence.

    If the ‘organised crime wing’ is as powerful as you suggest, how come the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is reduced to chasing tax fiddlers and benefits cheats? Its previous manifestation, the Criminal Assets Agency (?), was costing many, many times over what it recouped. It was eventually disbanded as an expensive joke.

    Now, either we have the most sophisticated criminal master-minds in the world, which I doubt, or the cops are as thick as champ, which I also dou.. – well, I’m not sure. (Joking, Nevin, just joking!)

    Nonetheless, global assertions, in my old fashioned opinion, are not hard evidence and neither are your cheap jibes.

  • Ulick

    Are the DUP really going to go to the electorate over half a dozen Orange parades? Have they forgotten the Quinn children? Wipeout…

  • On Hearts and Minds last night, although studiously avoiding any consideration of parades, they did mention that SF had now thrown the ILA back into the negotiation mix.

    Based on the unpleasant stuff which is rising by the day and now visible on the media surface things are not looking good, but the fundamentals for a deal remain positive in that all the Stormont parties (possible exception of the UUP) want a deal and however understandably reluctant the DUP are at having to move according to SF’s version of the STA rather than the STA itself, the DUP certainly dont want an early assembly election.

  • Banjaxed, all state agencies have to operate within political constraints laid down by London operating in consort with Dublin.

    If it’s expedient to turn a blind eye to the output of the oil wells in South Armagh they’ll do so; if they wish to apply a little pressure to the political process they’ll ignore the PRM squeals about good Republicans.

    In other words, the paramilitary godfathers can be as thick as champ just so long as they don’t hinder the flow of the so called peace process. Some of the republican ones appear to miss the intellectual support of senior British and Irish civil servants and others who helped draw the bloody conflict mainly to a close.

    As for your old fashioned opinion – well, I’ll resist a cheap jibe 🙂

  • Mr. J.


    I agree heartily with your sentiments but I’m not sure how realistic they are.

    As I’m sure you’re aware, the decades of violence here have made the North almost entirely reliant on public sector work, and a UI would either remove most of these jobs, or cost Dublin a fortune.

    I agree that our politicians should be courting outside investment to end this depressing reliance on government money, and maybe with a UI we would be able to elect proper politicians? I dunno.

    As for voting in politicians that have a grasp of real politics instead of simple tribal warfare, please, show me these politicians and I will vote!

  • alf

    could you elaborate on SF’s version pls ?

  • danielmoran

    Nevin. Msg 10. I’must have been just leaving the house and missed that item. That’s interesting [as UTV’s Ken Reid slips into practically every one of his ‘two ways’ with presenter about five times] I read this in the protestant telegraph [posing as a neutral paper]that the DUP could stand aside in the two westminster seats to let the UUP take them back for unionists in exchange for the UUP supporting DUP on P&J. I’m a bit confused as to why the DUP need support on that from UUP, since they’ve managed to delay it by themselves so far, so that’s odd, unless the DUP are actually intending to go along with SF demand and agrre to P&J now. Today will be instructive on all this.

  • Driftwood

    Mr J
    You mentioned ‘public sector work’

    I assume you mean ‘public sector jobs’

    There is no correlation between the 2. At least as far as the NICS is concerned.

    Of course there will be a ‘deal’. Several thousand highly paid Civil Service non-jobs depend on it.

  • Mr. J.


    I like your style.

  • CongalClaen

    Hi wje,

    “You unfortunately miss the point…”

    There was of course the last all British Isles vote in 1918. That was won by the Conservative and Unionist Party. Was that the “wrong” result?

  • danielmoran

    Listening to Danny Kennedy on nolan show this morning [22/01] Unionists voters who know that the FM and DFM are identical posts, must be feeling insulted by this desperation of the two parties to prevent marty being in the top spot. Nolan asked the obvious question which left DK stuttering to explain himself[‘So it’s ok to be in office with Marty in DFM post?’] DK didn’t even attempt to answer that.
    Do these parties think it’s the way to combat unionist voter apathy by insulting their potential voters intelligence? or are they just not too bright themselves?

  • Mr. J.


    A lot of people out there erroneously believe that the post of dFM is inferior to that of the FM. I’ve encountered that belief time and time again. Some people are positively shocked when they find out the two posts are on a level footing, especially Unionists.

    I can only assume that many Unionist politicians are only too happy to keep their voters labouring under that assumption.

    Surely if a joint operation between the UUP and the DUP was spun as a ‘Keep Sinn Fein Out of the Big Seat’, it might increase votes for both of those parties, with non-voters and otherwise TUV voters turning out to stop Sinn Fein from ‘taking over’.

    Such is the political cynicism in ‘our wee country’.

  • OscarTheGrouch

    Three issues: Irish language act, Policing and justice and Parades.

    Policing and justice is piggy in the middle.
    Posted by DisgustedinDERRY on Jan 21, 2010 @ 11:00 PM

    Thanks for that, I thought they were arguing over who’s mammy made the best pack lunches.

    Let me clarify, when do we get the permission to know who is arguing for what…. in detail. I suspect the level of negotiations isn’t so complex it will be above me, (I have had the dubious pleasure of bumping into a number of these characters – hardly likely to win University Challenge, or the Weakest Link for all that!)

    If the DUP and SF are bun fighting over parades and ILA (God help us on both – culture? do they know this is NI – we wouldn’t recognise culture in the yoghurt section of Tesco’s) – let us know – it will certainly help us form an opinion on the mentality of our ‘government’.

  • OscarTheGrouch

    Well it appears they have run out of buns – lots of information as rattles fly at speed out of prams! Hopefully we’ll get to see the wonderful progress made by these Political geniuses.

  • DisgustedinDERRY


    A recent survey taken on the Shankill road, to see how British the people there were, they were asked to give a quote by Churchill,

    Over half those asked said ‘OH YES’

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    If an Orange man can dance like the men/women in Riverdance whilst singing an old Gaelic song he should be allowed to march where ever.

    Throw in a few pints and some uisce beatha and you would have a party.