All Party Talks Now!

The PM and Taoiseach are here and talking to the DUP and SF. Maybe they think a deal can be done between the big two. Unfortunately experience suggests that even if McGuinness and Robinson do shake on something the chances of it sticking are slim.

Time is limited and the two premiers should move straight to an all party process. It is the only mechanism which is proven to work in this region and it is the only way of keeping all shades of opinion inside the process.

  • Mark McGregor

    Thats a first. Slugger’s first direct blog from an MLA.

  • scarecrow

    On yer bike 😉 (joke hardy har har!)

  • alan56

    Conall,

    Surely if SF and DUP agree the other parties are not going to run from it?

  • Coll Ciotach

    Who cares what the minor parties say – the two main parties get to decide that is the reality, in which case a no from SF is a no

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Mark McGregor said

    “1.Thats a first. Slugger’s first direct blog from an MLA.”

    Ah but was he elected ?

  • union mack

    where would we be without the SDLP’s decisiveness in negotiations? i look forward to their electoral mandate and strong negotiating team saving the day at the last hour. thanks conall, we are indebted.

    ‘It is the only mechanism which is proven to work in this region and it is the only way of keeping all shades of opinion inside the process’

    not much danger of your shade of opinion walking away from the process, regardless of the deal that was reached. the SDLP are clinging to it for dear life, despite the talk.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Conall’s right to repeat what Alliance has been saying for several years now. It’s time that the process was widened beyond the DUP-SF axis.

    I wish Conall would hang around and comment/respond, though, instead of buggering off.

  • What is the UUP, the SDLP or the Alliance party position on the abolition of parades commission?.

    If the Alliance do not agree to the abolition of the parades commission then there is absolutely no point SF and the DUP arguing over it as there will not therefore be a Justice Minister.

    Conall, can you give us a clear view on the SDLP position?

  • Salem

    It does matter what the other parties say – the executive is made up of all four parties. Both SF and DUP are desperate to save their leaders skin neither of them can work together for the good of all the people of north.

    Its a disgrace that this farce is being continued by Sinn Fein and DUP. Even today in Parliament Buildings the talk was that the shinners are going to bring down the assembly. How many times have we heard that we are on the brink, in emergency or that talks have collapsed !

    The DUP are just as bad – Parading is a blatant attempt by the DUP to try to push SF out of the negotiations- trying to push them to a point where they cannot continue.

    The only way this situation can be resolved – (which should have started at the begining of discussion around p+j)is that all the parties should be included in the discussions.

  • Many Unionists who supported the DUP for tactical reasons must now be regretting it as the DUP have placed the Orange Order right slap bang in the middle of the road and obstructing progress to a deal – and marching is of absolutely no strategic value to Unionism.

    It is also easily manipulated by Republicans to present Unionism in the worst possible light in Northern Ireland and in the rest of the United Kingdom and it is arguably in SF’s interest to get rid of the parades commission as it present numerous opportuniites for them to do just that.

    Pish poor Negotiating.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Could the British and Irish goverments just do a Dick Dat and spare us all for once.

    How about Brown and Cowen going for a few pints and a few wee drams (like Clinton and Yeltsin) and telling the bunch of free loading fookers.

    This is the way its going to be you bunch of free loading fookers (hic…hic..hic..)

  • “I wish Conall would hang around and comment/respond, though, instead of buggering off.”

    Not too keen on allowing dissenting voices on his own blog either- almost a week later my comments are “still awaiting moderation”

  • Cletus The Slack Jawed Yokel

    I wonder what Gordon Brown agreed with the DUP for their votes on that anti-terror legislation.

    And I wonder now, can he stick to it?

  • The Impartial Observer

    With both Brown and Cowen here I doubt anyone will want to bring the Executive down right now and earn the ire of both heads of government. IMO this is looking very like the July 1999 crisis when Blair held a series of talks at Castle Buildings which got precisely nowhere, but came out the next morning and proclaimed that “the tectonic plates have shifted!” tried to sell Trimble a package of measures which unravelled in a few days because Adams made clear he had no intention of moving on decomissioning. These talks will end with a nebulous communique which will delay but not avert the final implosion.

  • Scaramoosh

    And all because Peter Robinson couldn’t bring himself to cut a deal with a butcher’s boy …

  • Drumlins Rock

    Can I just say as an Orangeman whilst I would like to see some improvements to the current Parades Commission setup, I resent the Order being used as a political football by either side, and I think many other members feel the same.

  • union mack

    to those who keep maintaining that it matters what the smaller parties say – grow up and wise up. the way the (now) smaller parties designed the system in 1998, its the largest from each designation that holds sway. now, the SDLP and UUP might not have had the balls to take on their respective competitors back then, but the DUP and SF dont give two shiny shits what your opinion is now, neither does either government. they get a deal between the biggest two and its job done. you reap what you sow and all that…

  • union mack,

    ” they get a deal between the biggest two and its job done”

    The Alliance party have to agree to take the Justice ministry, so they have luckily, some leverage.

    Also the DUP have made it clear they will not do a deal unless the UUP agree.

    So, I’m afraid there are 2 sizeable holes in the above contention, and a good thing too.

  • Drumlin’s Rock,

    Very well said.

  • Jaggers

    I never figured Martin McGuinness for a rhetorician but his comments before the meeting with Peter Robinson today are memorable:

    “I haven’t spoken too often to the media in the course of recent weeks and that has been quite deliberate on my part because I have been busying myself in the ongoing negotiations to try and make this place work and really the only agreement that is viable or feasible is an agreement between the DUP and Sinn fein, effectively between myself as Deputy First Minister and Peter Robinson as First Minister. And all of you will know that within 3 months of the St Andrew’s Agreement that we in SF moved forward decisively for town hall meetings on the issue of policing. Took what was considered to be an historic and monumental decision to move forward on the issue of policing and we did that within three months of St Andrews, holding at the end of that process a special Ard Fheis which supported the leadership position that we should move forward wholeheartedly to ensure that these institutions worked. Three years on, three years on we are waiting for the DUP to deliver and honour their commitments that all of us were supposed to have signed up to under the terms of an agreement that was presided over by the Irish government and by the British government. Now from my perspective from the very beginning of this process and anybody that has followed my contribution to these institutions I have been at pains to make this place work, it’s been my life’s work over the course of recent times because I passionately believe in power sharing, passionately believe in the all-Ireland institutions and passionately believe in working in a positive and constructive mood with all of the people that I come in contact with. I did that with Ian Paisley. I tried to build a good relationship with Peter Robinson and I am still determined to make this place work. You know, I have said this to Peter Robinson in the course of recent times I said Peter: When you’re in a position of leadership, there’s only one way to do it .And that’s from the front. And that’s what I’ve tried to do from the very beginning of this process. And, when, when I get up in the morning and I get up every morning at 5.30am and travel to this city I want to know that when I go back to Derry many many hours later, sometimes in the early hours of the following morning that I have been part of taking decision that makes life better for people that we all represent, not just for the nationalist republican community but for our entire community. Unfortunately who only see the future through the prism of one section of the community that is not a sustainable way to move forward and I am not going to be part of that because that betrays all of those people out there who are having a difficult time, who are having a hard time and who want to see their political aspirations respected by everybody within these institutions. I respect the mandate of Peter Robinson, I respected Ian Paisley’s mandate. Isn’t it time for them to respect ours”

  • union mack

    so Alliance would collapse it, if the terms were agreed by the DUP and SF, but they didnt approve? aye right.

    the UUP would collapse it? not likely, given that they seem keen on an electoral pact with the DUP in the event of an election. what exactly would the UUP say no to, if the DUP and SF reached a deal? what would be unacceptable to the UUP that was acceptable to the DUP? seriously, have a good think. a UUP with weak leadership and regressing into unionist pact territory with the DUP? and Alliance, that most acquiescent of wet blankets. if the big two agree, it happens. a SF/DUP deal presented to the world, and then Alliance or the UUP collapse it, and seen as the baddies. ridiculous.

  • Turgon

    Conall,
    You clearly feel that al party talks are important and I would agree. On what basis should the parties be represented? Should their strength within the assembly be a mechanism for defining the weight given to their views? Should it be simply equal footing for each party?

    I am interested in how a conclusion will be reached and how you envisage the negotiations progressing and it is rare to have such an exalted viewpoint as that of an MLA.

  • alan56

    Thought Martin looked a bit unsettled in that presser this morning. He almost seemed like he was having to take a hard line, but against his will?

  • Marcionite

    Drumlins Rock

    I’ve never spoken to an Orangeman. I have some questions for you

    why are you an Orangeman?

    what do you see as the Orders mission in NI?

    I understand the Order exists in the Republic yet why is the Tricolour absent from your parades? You fly flags of the countries of your foreign members eg Canada, Gambia

    why is marching so important?

    What steps is the order taking to bridge the divide? Are the Order involved in cross community education or endevoyrs?

    Btw, I apply the same question to Hibernians

    I know u may mention civil liberties but in a divided society, would anyone agree that at this stage in our country’s development, that such mono-religious organisations are a luxury we just cannot societally afford?

    I’d call all on groups to declare a 5 year moratorium on marching

    NI needs to detox

  • union mack,

    why do you think the DUP stated they would get UUP approval before agreeing a deal?

    I would suggest that they are terrified of the UUP doing onto them as they did onto the UUP.

  • Coll Ciotach

    This OO card played by the unionists may be a very poor move by them – the nationalists party should makje “laancing the orange boil” a priority now, as Peter would say now they have raised it they can hardly complain. Collapse the lot. There will be fresh elections. Before the resitting of the assembly have a precondition that the OO parades issue be settled once and for all – of course you make this an election issue. This forces unionism into a corner and puts the OO square in the middle of the headlights.

    Insist on the removal of special status for the OO to be removed, (no more public holiday and no more special funding for Orange Fest sectarianism), make paraading dependant on the wishes of the populations they intrude upon and if you do not get that then no assembly.

    another nail in the coffin of the Orange statelet and a spectacular own goal by the Unionists.

    O Happy Day

  • Stephen Ferguson

    I’d call all on groups to declare a 5 year moratorium on marching

    NI needs to detox

    Posted by Marcionite on Jan 25, 2010 @ 09:10 PM

    What about the 99.9% of parades which are warmly welcomed within the area they take place?

    Ban them all because of 5 or 6 hotspots around the country?

    Hardly going to fix the problem…

  • Coll Ciotach

    No – just allow the people who are affected ban them – at least that way we know if they are warmly welcomed or not – surely you agree to that if it would only affect 0.1% of the parades?

  • Comrade Stalin

    MU,

    I doubt that either retaining or abolishing the Parades Commission will be make or break for Alliance, it depends on what the alternative is. Ordinarily, everything should be on the table, but I don’t think it’s appropriate that it has been brought up at these talks at all, especially given that the public haven’t even seen the Ashdown report yet and there has been no opportunity for consultation.

    so Alliance would collapse it, if the terms were agreed by the DUP and SF, but they didnt approve? aye right.

    Alliance have made very clear that there are parameters surrounding their co-operation with any request to participate as justice minister. The minister will have to be a full member of the executive, will have to have a free hand to implement the reforms required in this country without partisan interference, and there is also a requirement for enhanced commitment to the shared future strategy.

    The worst thing Alliance could do, both for itself and more importantly for the country, would be to agree to a role as a puppet minister controlled by OFMDFM. The party would be destroyed if it became nothing other than the glue helping a DUP-SF deal to stick. There should be no illusion over the fact that if the DUP and SF do the deal, all the lights will be turned on Alliance and the party will come under immense pressure to accept any deal. It will be a real test of the party’s leadership. I think they are up to it and will stand firm.

    But this is why I think all party talks (any registered political party which has councillors should be invited along, so that would include the TUV – doubt they would turn up, though) have been appropriate for some time, so that all of the parties have the opportunity to contribute and endorse a deal that they had a hand in.

  • The DUP needs to keep Sammy Wilson tethered to something immovable inside the gates of Stormont and away from the cameras and let Arlene do the talking, just spotted him on News 24, incoherent and dishevelled.

  • danielmoran

    Panic…. msg 11. A case of How Now, Brown Cow[en] eh!? I heard on the TUV news at six, there was talk of extending the arrangement which worked till now in Derry, but this is not applicable anywhere else, for some glaringly obvious reasons, [which I’ll go into if pressed further]
    So if the Govts think this will get the DUP off the hook they’ve deliberately impaled themselves on for the purpose of stalling] are missing the point about what the DUP are bringing marching into this for.
    The DUP are not looking to get the parades commission abolished to be replaced with another restrictive and binding arrangement, they want NO replacement for PC so they can march where and when they want. Peter Robinson will be held to blame if Drumcree rabble is brought on to the streets again. He should be reminded of the three young brothers who were victims of the original Drumcree debacle.

  • John O’Connell

    The Orange Order, with its persistent empty paranoid delusions about the nature of the threat to their domain here in the North, has no place in the talks about the future of policing and justice in the North.

    This organization that promotes shallow Old Testament values is in reality an opponent of the new North, which has been born of New Testament hope and forgiveness. As an opponent of the new North it is trying to bring down the power-sharing Assembly.

    This sinister sectarian organization prefers to see the victory of its shallow values rather than the future secured for all the people of the North.

    The end of the Orange Order is needed for the future of the North to be secured and that can be achieved by its dissolving through a lack of relevance or, after the collapse of power-sharing, by in all likelihood its own provocation of a Rwandan or Bosnian situation.

    The one thing that is certain is that there is no future for the Old Testament values of supremacy and divine ordination of their people that they march to assert. These Troubles have proven that supremacy lies with the true egalitarians in the SDLP and that divine ordination can only be given to those who embrace the love of mankind in the New Testament.

    I urge every unionist to redouble their efforts to embrace the egalitarian love of mankind and reject those who believe that their supremacist hatred is necessary to protect them.

  • Comrade Stalin

    daniel:

    He should be reminded of the three young brothers who were victims of the original Drumcree debacle.

    I think both sides of the marching dispute could do with backing off. What harm will be caused by that bunch of tired old wankers walking down the Garvaghy Road ? I’m sure must be a compromise that could be reached, like restricting it to local band members and banning all beer swilling tattooed scumbags.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    No – just allow the people who are affected ban them – at least that way we know if they are warmly welcomed or not – surely you agree to that if it would only affect 0.1% of the parades?

    Posted by Coll Ciotach on Jan 25, 2010 @ 09:27 PM

    I’m no fan of the OO and would not like parades celebrating something I disagreed with coming through the area I live in. But, I’d prefer the OO leadership to enter the 21st century with the rest of us, meet with the various residents groups and tried to negotiate a way round each local dispute.

    My maternal family come from the Ormeau area and my grandmother used to tell me about the years when the catholic residents of the Lower Ormeau would come to the end of their streets to wave at the people they knew in the bands and lodges as the parade went past.

    Of course that was before Sinn Fein and the IRA told them that was wrong and that they should be offended.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Stephen,

    Sorry, but it’s complete rubbish to say that the Orange Order were respected. There were riots over Orange marches long, long before Drumcree. SF did stoke the fire, but they didn’t start it.

    I have a vague recollection when I was 5 or 6 seeing a band stopping outside St Patricks on Clifton Street to bang the lambeg especially loudly. While I don’t agree that there should be blanket bands on marches in certain areas or whatever, you can’t do shit like that and expect people to be nice.

  • Marcionite

    The KKK were part of the traditions of the southern States. It’s also disingenuous to say only 6 marches cause offence but on the TV, I see hordes of bigots cheering the bands on. Don’t say they’re not, they are not out waving union jacks celebrating religious freedom.

    It’s a naked celebration if anti Irishness and anti Catholicism. Compare and contrast with St Patricks Day parades , a multi cultural carnival which does not end in fields where middle aged men pontificate against Britain.

    You can tell a lot about a dog by the fleas that follow it

  • danielmoran

    Comrade Stalin msg 8 I’m inclined to agree that both sides should back off, but you’ll recall this was done in 1996, in an agreewment only for the residents to be subjected to the sight of Paisley and Trimble doing a jig down the street in Portadown, so the residents got topugh the next year. If only they were all tired old men, but if the OO were depending only on them, they could be moribund in a few short years. It’s the young thugs who they have decided they need to keep the aggro going.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    I’m just telling you what my family witnessed every year in the Lower Ormeau district. I can’t comment on anywhere else. I will say though that I believe 100% that the loyal orders should meet with the representatives of the communities that don’t agree with their parade and where there is no solution forthcoming find a different way to get to where they are going.

    Have any of you nationalists/republicans every witnessed a parade in east Belfast, Bangor, Carrickfergus where it is warmly recieved and viewed as a family day out?

    I’ve hosted a number of nationalist friends on the 1st of July in the past and took a catholic girlfriend to see the Twelfth 2 years in a row to show her it’s not actually how it’s portrayed in her community. She enjoyed it as much as I enjoy going into Belfast every St Paddys Day.

    You can be offended by anything if you put your mind to it.

  • percy

    john I like your OT/NT comparison vis-a-vis OO

  • Comrade Stalin

    Marcionite,

    It’s a naked celebration if anti Irishness and anti Catholicism. Compare and contrast with St Patricks Day parades , a multi cultural carnival which does not end in fields where middle aged men pontificate against Britain.

    What a load of old wank. Instead groups of people riot in the city centre. If you go to the USA you can enjoy the spectacle around 11PM outside the Irish bars of Americans dressed in leprechaun hats puking up green Budwieser and yelling “Erin go Bragh”. It does have to be said, though, the St Paddy’s day crowds don’t have quite the sticking power of the Orangemen.

    Daniel,

    1996 is a long time ago. Time to let bygones be bygones. Securing a solution requires that people make the leap. The Garvaghy Rd Residents position that there can be no march, ever, is not any more helpful than the OO refusal to discuss the matter with residents.

    There are no “young thugs” in the OO, they’re all oldies. The membership size of the organization today is about one third of what it was 15 years ago. They’re not going to be around as a force of any size for much longer.

    Stephen

    I’m just telling you what my family witnessed every year in the Lower Ormeau district. I can’t comment on anywhere else.

    I know that there were plenty of times when Catholics came out to see the parades, but I don’t think that should be interpreted as the only opinion among Catholics worth considering. Having a “fuck the pope” band march down your street isn’t pleasant, and quite arguably it is not intended to be.

    I’ve witnessed Orange parades and yes, I can appreciate a lot of aspects about them. To me it really is a live and let live thing. The OO are an anachronism to me, but I don’t care how or when they march as long as it is legal and dignified. Not my business outside of that.

    I’ve hosted a number of nationalist friends on the 1st of July in the past and took a catholic girlfriend to see the Twelfth 2 years in a row to show her it’s not actually how it’s portrayed in her community.

    I do love being patronized by this “my Catholic friends like the OO” bullshit.

    There are a couple of very simple things to understand. Most people aren’t in the Orange Order and can’t be bothered with it. People in normal Western countries don’t join organizations like that. Why do we do it here ?

    Why is it that people like Billy Wright and Johnny Adair felt the need to lend their support at Drumcree ? Why did the organization apparently regard it a victory given that the only reason the march went ahead in 1996 was whenever the crowd wheeled a tractor pulling a tanker in and spread rumours that it contained petrol which was to be sprayed on army lines ? Why did people put on Orange collarettes (I remember Roy Beggs in particular) and illegally block roads in protest ?

    I’m well aware that many of these protestors are not Orangemen. But what does this all tell us about how the role of the Orange Order is perceived within the communities they come from ?

    She enjoyed it as much as I enjoy going into Belfast every St Paddys Day.

    Aye your arse.

  • Turgon

    Comrade stalin,
    “I have a vague recollection when I was 5 or 6 seeing a band stopping outside St Patricks on Clifton Street to bang the lambeg especially loudly.”

    Just on a point of fact: bands do not play Lambeg drums. They are much bigger than the bass drum (what I suspect you mean) and are played either singly or in pairs occasionally with a single flute but not with a whole band. They would be too loud and too difficult to carry to work in a band.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon, I’m happy to stand corrected, but do you mean to say that the Lambeg isn’t used on the 12th ? That’s definitely news to me.

  • Turgon

    Comrade Stalin,
    It is used but rarely in the main march (the distance to walk with the drum is too long). Some of the larger 12ths may use a Lambeg on a lorry: I do not know. In South Londonderry a few Lambegs (usually two together) appear between the morning and evening parades and walk (slowly) about for a while.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I stand corrected. I thought the lambeg was the biggest drum in the band, but looking at the picture on the Wiki it’s a lot bigger than I thought. Shows you what I know 🙂

  • Stephen Ferguson

    Comrade,

    If you’re free on July 12th you’re more than welcome to join me on Belfast’s Lisburn Road amongst hundreds of families enjoying seeing other members of their community they might not have seen for a few years and enjoying the traditional music of Ulster. We can even get some ice cream and a burger if you wish. That’s the true side of parades but unfortunately if you don’t witness it you only have news reports to go on.

    I’m being sincere with that offer by the way.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Comrade Stalin – you are having a Billy Joel moment at 10

  • Comrade Stalin

    Stephen,

    Like the vast majority of people in the UK and Ireland, I have no desire to participate in the 12th and there’s nothing you could say to persuade me otherwise. You’ve more chance of persuading Willie McCrea to go to an Iron Maiden gig.

    Like I said, to me it’s live and let live – I am know loads of people enjoy the 12th, I would never want to stop that, provided it is done in a dignified and legal manner. there are people who whinge about the shops being shut, but that doesn’t really bother me, I’m happy to have the day off and I think the days when the whole country shut down for a week will soon be a distant memory.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Just out of curiosity what percentage of NIs roads are not welcoming of OO parades.

    It must be hard to keep a straight face for all concerned when Unionist politicians come in to negotiate about OO parades on the grounds of Culture and Tradition.

    These same politicians then throw up every obstacle to the Irish language.

    If I was a mediater in this situation I would thank both sides for giving me one hell of a good laugh.

  • Comrade Stalin

    These same politicians then throw up every obstacle to the Irish language.

    The point being that most people don’t give a shit about either.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    The point being that most people don’t give a shit about either.

    Now your making it even funnier !

  • Stephen Ferguson

    Comrade,

    The offer’s still open if you change your mind between now and then.

    The point I’m trying to make is that I could choose to be offended when I go into Belfast city centre on St Patricks Day and get surrounded by scores of youths in Celtic shirts, waving tricolours and singing IRA songs. I don’t though. I laugh it off and carry on with my day. I look past the negative aspects of the event to enjoy the positive ones.

    Again, it’s easy to be offended if you want to be.

  • danielmoran

    Comrade stalin, I noticed the stance of the GR residents had hardened after the OO made a decision to call their bluff and seem to have succeeded, to the point that even SF hasn’t got the control there, they used to.
    If as you say the demographic in OO is getting older, i’m more inclined to let them march again there. That, of course is easy for me to say here in Derry.

  • tacapall

    and enjoying the traditional music of Ulster.

    Posted by Stephen Ferguson on Jan 25, 2010 @ 11:13 PM

    Stephen its hardly the traditional music of Ulster you’ve only been here a few hundred years or did the Planters bring music with them too.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Comrade stalin, I noticed the stance of the GR residents had hardened after the OO made a decision to call their bluff and seem to have succeeded, to the point that even SF hasn’t got the control there, they used to.

    That doesn’t change anything I’ve said. If people harden their viewpoints we won’t get anywhere. Right now, people are being asked to face the people who tried (and succeeded) to kill their friends and family across a table – and they’re doing it. Putting up with a march which has a bad history is asking somewhat less, and I think it’s quite reasonable that that march has conditions imposed. If people back off just a wee bit, the problem will go away by itself.

    tacapall:

    Stephen its hardly the traditional music of Ulster you’ve only been here a few hundred years or did the Planters bring music with them too.

    Parts of my family have only been here three generations. This bloodline stuff is total bullshit. If you want to debate about genes and who is pure and who isn’t, I’m sure there’s a local neo-nazi movement you can join.