After three years of inaction and pointless wrangling from Sinn Féin and the DUP…

Over on Comment is Free I’ve a longish analysis on what’s eating away at the core of the Northern Ireland political settlement. With the two former extremes now in charge, we have talent at the top, but two parties overly focused on the needs of conflicting special interests that have led them to fetishise an issue that is of little interest to the general population one way or the other… Leaving each bound, and struggling to regain their relevance in a post conflict world…

PS, For those wondering about the imminent arrival of Hillary, she’s in Paris, not Hillsborough…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Brown and Cowen coming back to town?

  • Can’t disagree with anything in that Mick.

  • “And they have no one else to blame but themselves.”

    I blame those who put the 50%+1 tug-of-war settlement together and those who elevated the demands of the loyalist and republican paramilitaries above everything else. I’m not sure where trust comes into it other than trusting Unionists and Nationalists to play the Orange and Green cards.

  • Greenflag

    Good article . I was ‘shocked’ to read that more than 50% of DUP public representatives belong to a church that contains no more than 10-12,000 people.
    I’ll safely assume it’s the Free Presbyterian Church .

    When it comes to apportioning ‘blame’ for the current impasse we should not forget that the reason why the DUP and SF are in the spotlight is because the UUP and before that the NIUP and the SDLP all failed in their efforts to bring about an effective power sharing settlement . The present Robinson/McGuinness fracas is just a follow on of Trimble /Mallon which in itself was a follow on of the Faulkner / SDLP Sunningdale failure .

    There is of course no end to this sequence of events until there is an end to Northern Ireland as a state in it’s present format . But we all know that now don’t we . It’s just we’d rather not admit it .

    Carry on up the creek without the canoe and paddles

  • Just another of your ferry stories, Greenflag!!

  • danielmoran

    greenflag. even if there’s a breakthrough of sorts, today, it will only last till the end of the current term, and after the next due assembly election, there will have to be further talks because of the fact that SF will be entitled to the justice ministry as the present arrangement preventing this runs out next year. If Brown and Cowen aren’t complete gluttons for punishment, they will callit a day, forget about election and lose this circus down, and back to indirect rule.

  • Mrazik

    For as long as the disinterested segment of the population votes as it does, or worse, does not vote, then the wagging tails of the two extremes won’t be docked. The dogs on the street know that.

  • Greenflag

    Mrazik .

    Of course but even the ‘interested’ segment of the population may remember what it was like under the UUP/SDLP and may conclude that that was nothing to write home about either .

    It’s a mess of course but let’s not it could be a whole lot worse .

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,
    I’ll leave the ferry stories in your capable hands 😉

    As it’s Friday and the end of the ‘wurrrld ‘ is upon us once again let’s spare a thought for the generous NI Finance Minister the bould Sammy who on a recent visit to New York was moved to toss a coin into the outstreched hands of an unemployed financial services sector executive who was disguised as a dishevelled beggar .

    ‘Thank you kind sir ‘ said the beggar and then added ‘Where are you from ?’

    ‘I am Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister’ says Sammy .

    ‘Oh ‘ says the beggar and returns the coin.

    ‘I don’t take money from colleagues ‘

  • Greenflag

    danielmoran ,

    ‘If Brown and Cowen aren’t complete gluttons for punishment, they will call it a day, ‘

    There are those who might say they are both ‘gluttons for punishment’ why else would they be in the positions they are 😉 ?

    Brown probably has more to lose at this stage than Cowen if the cantankerous Assembly goes under . An Assembly collapse would be seen as one more wheel off the Labour wagon with an election and another arrow for the Tory archers .

    I suspect at this stage that messrs Robinson & McGuinness may have picked up on the public vibes for less rocking of boats and a bit more productivity . Whether they can ever rise above their sectarian limitations is the moot point particularly when the system itself both recognises and cements in the harsh political reality of constitutionally divided communities.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Well Mick it certainly would’nt hurt to lose some of the hard liners from both of these parties.

    I am biased but the Dup have not lost enough “No Hopers”

    Sinn Féin are apparently better at keeping their “No Hopers” under wraps.

    Time if we have it, in relatively peaceful times will/can do for them.

  • Coll Ciotach

    The train was bound to hit the buffers at some stage – unionism has to learn that they cannot force nearly half the population of the makey up statelet to participate in their own demise

  • Brian Walker


    I’m a Road Runner fan myself but I don’t want to quibble… A splendid CIF analysis which gives a corrective to pinning all blame on the DUP. It again prompts the profound question: in such a coalition, is is fair or unfair for leading parties to expect their manifestoes to be implemented more or less as a given; or are manifestoes merely a wish list that has to be negotiated through from scratch? Poltical reality suggests a solution somewhere in the middle. Whatever view is taken of Sinn Fein forcing a crisis, I can’t help feeling they’ve real grounds for complaint against the DUP. I’m not convinced that SF don’t have the better argument just now, PR and spin not withstanding (note the wary double negative).

    While May 2008 was only the governments’ wish date for J&P, the (embarrassed?) refusal of the DUP to engage seriously on their genuine problems is regrettable to put it mildly. Touching on your main theme, bottling them up in secret for so long doesn’t seem to have helped. Issues like the Irish language act may be fringe but they’re also totemic and the refusal to engage here comes over to me as contemptuous. Not that they’ll do it, but it would send out a powerful message to the Stormont parties to get it together if Westminster cut across the deadlock onm the language and legislated as requested, even though it’s a natural for devolution. But with fresh hopes rising, let’s hope the local parties get there on their own.

    Incidentally, where is a Single Equality Act and more powers for the NI Equality Commission? Rights issues seem to infuriate unionists, who don’t realise they can benefit them too, when the boot is on the other foot. Why is it that unionists lose their cool while republicans keep theirs?

  • “NI Equality Commission”

    Brian, all this mithering about rights and equality and you can’t even point out that the Equality Commission is a shining example of, er, inequality!!

  • ardmaj55

    Brian Walker. You asked why is the DUP is so set against rights bill, even though knowing well it would help DUP voters also.
    I think the answer is in the question. The DUP haven’t and never have the interests of their own voters, as anything close to a priority, their rightwing instincts are to give least rights to ordinary working people and most for their property developing donors, [they seem to have been coming out of the woodwork recently].
    They may be in for a nasty tumble at the hands of those very base voters whose support they have taken for granted.

  • danielmoran

    Greenflag msg 10.
    I think it’s really Robbo who has been brought down to earth with a bumb, after the hostile reaction from the public rather than MartyMcG, who seems to want to knuckle down to the work at Stormont.
    Well at least now, Peter Robinson has an idea from the street reaction what level of community confidence there is out there, even if it’s not to his liking. Gregory will be choking on his frosties if rumours about a deal today are accurate.

  • John Joe

    On a few posters are claiming that Browne and Cowen are both en route.

  • wild turkey

    Brian, all this mithering about rights and equality and you can’t even point out that the Equality Commission is a shining example of, er, inequality!!

    Hi Nevin, here’s an elegant FoI question

    ‘Since its inception, how many complaints have been lodged against the equality commission at Fair Employment Tribunals and/or Industrial Tribunal?

    Admittedly, it requires some refinement and follow-up questions on costs; financial, staff and commissioner time; and outcomes, etc.

    but you get the picture?

  • OscarTheGrouch

    Surely the difference in DUP-SF govt vs the SDLP-UUP govt was that they dont have extremists painting simple black and white (green and orange) scenarios of the threat of what will happen if the ‘other side’ get in.

    They’ve just failed to be able to behave like demmocratic politicians.

  • ardmaj55

    coll ciotach
    Watching on the UTV news, from the attitude of Poots and Robbo, its surely obvious tonight even to the most blinkered of Dupes, [and we’re talking seriously blinkered here]that actual talks are now well over, and Robbo is clearly into damage limitation here to avoid the blame, but the tactic is now so barefaced that it’s nauseating. He’s clearly now putting the DUP far ahead of the interests of even unioinism. This man is politically pure poison now and to look at his irresponsible behaviour today, he knows the game is up.

  • Here’s the site you’re looking for, Wild Turkey. Go for it!!

  • ardmaj55

    On the morning after it was agreed by both main parties that a deal was almost in the bag, maybe it’s hopeful from a nats viewpoint, that on the ‘politics show’ today wee Sammy felt he had get in a jibe at o’dowd, over threats to walk out and having to stay. this could be the beginning of the DUP preparation of their voters for the parades issue to be parked for now, and the Parades Commission to stay in place.