As unionist plans for consolidation, nationalism drifts towards complacency…

Reg Empey has let it be known, that my old friend and co-author of Slugger’s A Long Peace document, Trevor Ringland has made the last two in the Ulster Unionist party’s nomination to become parliamentary candidate for Peter Robinson’s East Belfast constituency… According to Gerry Moriarty:

The prospect of Mr Ringland running in East Belfast comes amid continuing moves by the UUP, the DUP and the British Tories to determine whether they can agree a realignment within unionism to prevent Sinn Féin winning enough seats in Assembly elections that would allow Martin McGuinness to take the First Minister post.

These discussions, according to well-placed sources, are also exploring whether there could be some form of pact ahead of the Westminster elections, notwithstanding the commitment by the UUP and the British Conservatives that under the umbrella of UCUNF (Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force) they will stand candidates in each of the North’s 18 constituencies.

The second stage of the nomination process was completed on Thursday evening. Given the withdrawal of the Tory candidate, Deirdre Nelson the decision now lies with Reg Empey himself. If this is an indication of his thinking, we might take Ringland as his own working choice.

It’s been my own reckoning is that Robinson’s troubles would have brought the seat within striking distance for the Ulster Unionists, although we be looking more at a three way split such as first brought Robinson to Westminster in 1979 just a few hundred votes ahead of sitting Ulster Unionist MP Bill Craig and Alliance party leader Oliver Napier. In the event of a consolidation between the two major Unionist parties, Trevor could even have a free run against one of the strongest Alliance party candidates in over a generation, Naomi Long.

You kind of get a sense from that possible scenario of the kinds of resources a unionist consolidation might free up in pushing up its own overall representation. One credible Unionist candidate in South Belfast would almost certainly take the seat from Alisdair McDonnell, and with another, Tom Elliott perhaps, running in Fermanagh South Tyrone you could not disregard the possibility of them taking one against the head in the form of Michelle Gildernew of Sinn Fein.

Even the TUV would win out of such consolidation, if the result was the moving of those who continually applied pressure on Peter Robinson not to move on policing and justice to the TUV. Not bad for a party that was little more than a blog in the last Assembly election three years ago.

Of course, that’s all speculation for now. But it gives you a sense of what is animating some individuals inside Unionism just now. The contrast with nationalism, in which all sense of competition appears to have drained from a complacent Sinn Fein which no longer fears its own electorate and the SDLP who have long since stopped looking for the political football, could hardly be greater…

  • Garza

    Calm down lads you might get a sprained wrist waving the victim card all the time.

    There are a certain amount of posters on this site who just play the blame game all day long. It really is boring.

  • Strangford Unionist


    unfortunately for the DUP Unionism can be very unforgiving very quickly see opinion polls time belfast agreement

  • Stephen Ferguson

    I think the past 400 years has shown that native Irish and immigrants from the British mainland have problems living side by side. We have peace now but does anyone really believe there won’t be inter-ethnic violence in Ireland at some point in the future? History does tend to repeat itself here.

    If you look at the ‘electoral wards by religion’ map on the Cain website (can’t seem to get a link working for it) over two thirds of the Irish/Nationalist/Republican/Catholic population could be transferred to the Republic simply by moving the border to the Belfast side of Downpatrick, Newry, South Amragh, Fermanagh, Strabane and Derry.

    As for nationalist parts of Belfast and Moyle. Offering compensation if they want to move, Irish Republic exclaves, I’m not sure…

    I do think it is the only thing a majority of unionists and nationalists could agree on and if done properly would sort the situation out once and for all.

  • Comrade Stalin

    unfortunately for the DUP Unionism can be very unforgiving very quickly see opinion polls time belfast agreement

    That’s fucking hilarious. Unionist voters consistently reward their representatives for providing utterly God-awful representation.

  • Strangford Unionist


    please explain

  • Erasmus

    The Irish republicdo not want the northern nationalists.
    That is simply not true. We pine after all of our separated northern brethren. Honest.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Strangford Unionist :

    Roy Beggs Snr. Martin Smyth. Cecil Walker. If these boys had been in Westminster any less they could have been mistaken for Sinn Feiners.

    And look at the history of how Stormont 1921-72 was run. Setting aside all the usual sectarian crap, these people (with one or two exceptions) were utterly incompetent and completely out of their depth.

    I noticed recently that the Hansard for the old Stormont parliament is online. I was browsing this the other day and noted a debate on the shortage of cement. The Finance Minister’s solution to this problem was basically to appeal to local cement merchants to remember that they were Ulstermen and they should put their country ahead of the significant profit they would earn selling it for a better price south of the border. These people were total and absolute muppets, and they were returned to government without fail every single time.

  • Erasmus

    That’s exactly what my friends in Dublin tell me. Sure they’ll have a bit of fun calling me a Brit and singing republican songs but when you ask them seriously they dislike northern nationalists as much as unionists and are more than happy with the border where it is. Why should they lose frontline nurses, firemen and policemen to pay to keep northerners in the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to.
    I have to say I get a trifle irritated on reading this sort of stuff. Either the people you are speaking to are atypicl or (more likely) they are telling you what you want to hear. I am more than prepared to fork out to keep northerners in their accustomed style.

  • Erasmus

    Somewhat more reliable that newspaper polls done on the cheap was the 1995 referendum on removing the constitutional claim to NI. All those nationalists in the Republic voted 94% to 6% to drop the claim.

    So dream on that it was just a fluke / a bad day / the wrong kind of nationalists voted
    There was more to the GFA than dropping the claim. I voted for it – yet I would consider myself pro-UI.

  • Alias

    You didn’t vote for the GFA if you voted in Ireland: you voted for the British Irish Agreement. Shame if you read the wrong document, but there you go…

  • Alias:

    If you want to be nitpicking, you voted on the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1998.

  • Alias

    And which document does the 19th Amendment endorse? Here’s a clue: it isn’t the GFA.

    We voted for the British Irish Agreement which is a wholly separate document to the GFA.

    Indeed, how could it be otherwise when two separate acts of self-determination in two separate sovereign jurisdictions were involved?

    Voters in Ireland had no right of veto over the GFA and rightfully so since it is a foreign jurisdiction and it is not for Irish people to vote on the internal affairs of British people.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Simpleton alert! Alias doesn’t realise he/she lives among hundreds of thousands of Irish people in the north of Ireland.

  • Alias

    And you obviously don’t even know what a sovereign jurisdiction means. I’ll help you out with some remedial learning here:

    I live in a sovereign jurisdiction called Ireland, so I do not “live among” those who live in the separate sovereign jurisdiction of Northern Ireland, in the same way that French who live in France do not “live among” the Italians who live in Italy.

    The political parties with Her Majesty’s sovereign jurisdiction of Northern Ireland negotiated an indigenous deal called the GFA on behalf of the British citizens of that part of the United Kingdom called the GFA, whereas the citizens of Ireland had no role in that negotiation because, rather obviously, it is a deal that is indigenous to that separate sovereign jurisdiction. Contrary to the bogus presentation on this thread, nobody in Ireland voted for the GFA. We voted for the British Irish Agreement which is a treaty negotiated between two sovereign governments, and not by any of the parties in Northern Ireland.

    Are you beginning to grasp how reality works now or is the strain causing your wee brain to break out in a rash?

  • Alias

    Incidentally, there is only one reason why the British Irish Agreement was included in the 19th Amendment, and it has absolutely nothing to do with any token or otherwise endorsement by the Irish people of the indigenous GFA deal between the political parties in the separate sovereign jurisdiction of Northern Ireland.

    The reason is simply because the Irish government cannot derogate sovereignty under the Irish constitution without the consent of the people in a referendum. Because the Irish government wished to grant the United Kingdom sovereignty over institutions of the Irish state via that treaty, that required the consent of the people.

    That indigenous GFA deal did not involve the citizens of Ireland, was not negotiated by them, and did not require their approval. If the Irish constitution did not require that approval for the proposed derogation of sovereignty then the only change that the Irish people would have been required to consent to via referendum was the removal of Ireland’s claim to ownership of Her Majesty’s territory of Northern Ireland.

  • Republic of Connaught

    “Her majesty’s territory of Northern Ireland”!! What a sad joker. Clearly you’re not born and bred in the 26 counties, my unionist comedian; if indeed you actually live here at all.

    And the Irish government on behalf of the Southern electorate along with the British government were a fundamental part of creating the GFA for the Irish & British people living in the six counties. No sane person denies it.
    If the Southern electorate rejected the removal of articles 2 and 3 the Unionists wouldn’t have signed the GFA. So how you claim we had no influence over it is ridiculous.

    But don’t let the reality disturb your utopian Orange bubble in “her majesty’s territory of NI!”. Alias the Southerner.

  • This repartition nonesense has to stop. As a nationalist it’s like asking Santa for a bike and waking up on Christmas morn and finding a bike at the foot of the bed… with no wheels(!).

    There’s no great love in ROI for Northerners of either stripe mainly because it’s been akin to listening to two elderly relatives kick the sh*t out of each other in the attic for thirty years and who are still bickering despite the best efforts to calm them down.

    The goal of UI is embedded in the DNA of most Irish people in the ROI. They don’t want it achieved through violence hence their deep-seated dislike of SF and its terrorist history (don’t confuse that with a dislike of a UI). The goal of a UI has always been there for Southerners and will always be there until it is achieved. It may go up and down as a priority but it will never ever disappear. Ever. End of.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alias, formerly known as Dave, I thought we’d sorted out this silly nitpicking before.

    Text of the British-Irish Agreement

    “The two Governments affirm their solemn commitment to support, and where appropriate implement, the provisions of the Multi-Party Agreement. ”

    So yes, people didn’t support the GFA directly, but supported the Agreement which affirmed the government to support the GFA.

    You’re welcome to explain the practical, as opposed to theoretical, differences between voting for this and voting for the GFA directly if you wish.

  • BryanS

    N Exile
    You have got it absolutely right.
    The romantic sentimental dream will always be there but the last thing the people of the Irish Republic want in their midst is a pair of bitter bigoted idiots. Both squabling lots.
    When will your northern nationalists understand this obvious reality.
    Having said all that I am equally certain that the English have no love for the unionists in N Ireland either.