Secret talks on Unionist Unity hosted by the Orange Order, before Hatfield…

Hmmm, according to Hearts and Minds tonight… Reg Empey and Peter Robinson met at Schomberg House in Castlereagh met in December… Westminster elections were top of the list… but, surprise surprise, that little problem arising from St Andrews of Sinn Fein being the top party in the Assembly and having of right the First Minister’s job… Smart stuff, except for the fact that it drives a horse and cart through spirit of the St Andrews Agreement in a way that most of the nonsense around the devolution of Policing and Justice does not… Alex Maskey looked bemused at the idea of Danny Kennedy and Sammy Wilson being nice to each other… (Remember Sammy’s party was keeping Danny’s out of everything important just fortnight ago, before the PR wind changed…) Alex went on to allude to the ongoing political influence of the Orange Order in politics…

Footnote: According to one of Slugger’s political contacts, it was the IRA’s turn to have their say in the ongoing negotiations at Hillsborough this afternoon…

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Unionists circling the wagons.

    Public viewing of their dirty linen led the cowboys to wail

    “Beware the Injuns”

  • VI Lurgan

    Mick

    ‘Thine enemy of my enemy is my friend’.

    A little surprised that Reg thought this was a good idea given pasting that DUP has given UUP over last few years. Still it would be interesting to see if Jim Allister is prepared to make an electoral pact with DUP refusal to support TUV candidate in recent Craigavon co-option saga?

  • ‘According to one of Slugger’s political contacts, it was the IRA’s turn to have their say in the ongoing negotiations at Hillsborough this afternoon…’

    Who was that? David Vance???

  • Mick Fealty

    Oh no. Completely wrong 1967.

  • Alias

    I seem to recall the Deputy First Minister assuring the people of Northern Ireland that they had fully disbanded.

    I also recall others saying (that might have been me) that that wasn’t possible since they had hundreds of millions in investments as the proceeds of organised crime that needed to be managed on behalf of the godfathers.

  • Pete Baker

    “Smart stuff, except for the fact that it drives a horse and cart through spirit of the St Andrews Agreement in a way that most of the nonsense around the devolution of Policing and Justice does not…”

    It does?

  • heamaisbharney

    “since they had hundreds of millions in investments as the proceeds of organised crime that needed to be managed on behalf of the godfathers.” alias

    I’ve been wondering who was looking after the loot too.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, let me clarify.

    SF were obliged to work with the DUP to build confidence BEFORE devolution, which (contrary to the predominant media opinion) they clearly defaulted on. But it was implicit in the SAA that the largest party gets to have the FM post.

    If the meeting was early December, it appears to be from before people knew about the post Christmas meltdown, this appears to be a manoeuvre to avoid an embarrassing situation that was agreed upon.

    That’s poor form… not on a par with SF’s poor form, but poor form none the less…

  • Garza

    Why does Sir Reg remind me of Mr. Bean???

  • Presumably leaked (or as the BBC would have it “The BBC has learned”) in order to bolster the DUPs negotiating hand.

    Unionism seems set fair on a course of ‘Ourselves Alone’, sailing off over the horizon leaving potential allies behind with the BBC reporting unattributed Tory dismay at Unionist/Orange Order get together.

    This has probably been the worst couple of months for Unionism since David Trimble was shafted by the British government over decommisioning.

  • Mick,

    “If the meeting was early December, it appears to be from before people knew about the post Christmas meltdown, this appears to be a manoeuvre to avoid an embarrassing situation that was agreed upon.”

    If pre Iris furore, did Peter tell Reg that there was a big number 2 about to land on the DUP? If not was Reg not suspicious of the DUP’s keeness for an arrangment.

    And does anybody believe that a meeting organised by the Orange Order did not discuss the political parties commitment to securing improved governance of parades?

  • Kevsterino

    The problem the Orange Order has with the Parades Commission is the existence of the Parades Commission.

    Is the above statement the truth?

  • [i]Oh no. Completely wrong 1967[/i]

    What I was getting at was that it seemed incredulous, and therefore TUV might have claimed.

  • *therefore something TUV might have claimed.

  • Mick Fealty

    1967,

    How would the TUV know if they weren’t invited?

  • Mick,

    My point was that a lot of people believe the PIRA to have corporatively ceased to exist so the idea of them taking part in negotiations is unbelievable and the sort of tinfoil hat stuff of Jim Allister or David Vance’s overactive imagination. I wasn’t literally asking if that was your source.

  • GEF

    Mick,

    One of the two Chairmen at the meeting was OO Grand Secretary Drew Nelson. He is one of the leading lights in the TUV.

    Orange Order convened ‘unionist unity’ talks
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8486354.stm

  • Munsterview

    I will be first to admit that in relation to current Sinn Fein inside politics and tactics I, like a lot of older Republican activists, am very much a ‘hurler on the ditch’ these days, but it do give a clearer view of the playing pitch!

    While I do know something of the Six County Nationalist communities and their concerns, I am never the less taken aback at the fact that the majority of commentators are focussed on the minuteness of the puppets details and I have yet to see a searing dissection of the activities of the puppet masters and their intent in all of this.

    They have not gone away you know, the MI.5, the MI.6, the MI.17 and a halves or whatever. We have had ninety or more days of claim, counter claim, Iris R. outed, Gerry outed etc. While almost everyone cannot see the wood for the trees, a fragmenting Unionism is suddenly whisked off to a palatial great house surroundings in England to provide a united front against for once a reasonably coherent and progressing Irish Nationalism. And it now transpires, only after a preliminary OO with the main players in Unionism to remind all of what the real reason deere of the Six County statelet is.

    Any sign of anyone on the Nationalist side waking up and smelling the coffee………. the coffee that the Unionists are already drinking that is ! Any real analysis coming anytime soon?

  • Kevsterino

    Mick, what was Sinn Fein obliged to do to build unionist confidence that they failed to do? Does addressing dissidents as traitors count? I’m not sure I understand what they signed up to do to inspire unionist confidence.

  • padraig

    If Democracy worked the Orange Order would organise a meeting in Schomberg House to fix things….

  • JohnM

    Oh come on Mick. Seriously, what did SF default on?

    Time and time again unionism has changed the goal posts. SF have jumped every time. Martin has made a supreme effort to work for everyone as opposed to the DUP who are only interested in the orange half of the community.

    Your bias is absolutely ridiculous. And do you care to substantiate your “IRA” claim?

  • Mick Fealty

    GEF: if you put Drew Nelson and TUV into Google, the first entry you get is your assertion. You blowing smoke? If so, desist!

  • Mick Fealty

    John,

    I’ll have a piece up on the Guardian later that goes into the detail. But two things: one, lying about the timeline as deadline undermined confidence rather than built it; and, two, contrary to what is being said they did try to tackle the parades commission, but buckled when they could not sell it to their own support.

    The party also cites the agreed budget as another reason why the DUP is dragging their feet. But who negotiated the budget with Brown? It wasn’t SF.

    So let me turn your question around and ask you what did SF do other than try to spin May 08 into a deadline that they had nothing to do for?

  • Unionist politicians in thrall to an organisation of dwindling numbers. Secular, pan-UK unionism undermined by little-Ulsterism. A cultural cause which is commonly perceived as unpopular and unreasonable undermining rational political arguments. Orangeism. Unionism’s Achilles Heal.

  • Macanna

    Mick, That was a very poor effort at not answering johns question. Poor effort.

  • alf

    John asks you to clear up your comment on SF defaulting and you reply with 2 points

    – timeline ?
    – tackling parades commission ?

    Good to see you can just write anything without detail or sustenance

  • alf

    Also its quite handy in this part of the world to have un-named “political contacts” when you are pursuing an agenda !

    According to one of Slugger’s political contacts, it was the IRA’s turn to have their say in the ongoing negotiations at Hillsborough this afternoon…

    I reckon your contact is pulling your leg, having printed it you clearly dont…

    or are we talking IRA/SF

  • Kensei

    Mick

    So let me turn your question around and ask you what did SF do other than try to spin May 08 into a deadline that they had nothing to do for?

    Did you miss the supporting the police? And coming out an very publicly criticising the dissidents? I seem to recall MMG getting an award from somewhere……

    In fact, they did a shitload more for Unionist confidence than the DUP, which is probably why MMG gets at least a tiny bit fo respect form taht quarter.

    SF made it abundantly clear that they couldn’t live with no P&J devolution. People are now complaining it’s come to the logical conclusion fo that.

    If the timeline was totally meaningless, Mick, why have it in the document? You set expectations. What is its purpose? Answers on a postcard please.

  • Kensei

    Pete

    It does?

    Yes. Anything else?

  • `One of the two Chairmen at the meeting was OO Grand Secretary Drew Nelson. He is one of the leading lights in the TUV.` – you sure about that? Wasn`t so long ago Rev Steven Dickinson, linked to TUV , set up Orange Reformation to get Nelson and Saulters removed as they dared to have Ulster-Scots festivals surrounding the Twelfth…..
    To clarify, reading the OR website I have no objections to whats on the website, but I disagree with Rev Dickinson opinion and direction.

  • BryanS

    What part of Mick’s answer was not accurate?

  • If members of the PRM’s Army Council in addition to Adams and McGuinness were at the 1998 Agreement talks were they also at those held in St Andrews? It’s unlikely that Adams and McGuinness would sign up without the cover of their AC colleagues.

  • Short of hearing that Jackie McDonald has been invited up to join in with the craic, I’m not sure how much worse this can get.

  • JohnM

    OK Mick, I still haven’t had an answer about the Army Council.

    Here are some “confidence-building” measures I can think of:

    1) If people insist on linking SF & the IRA, I will start with IRA completing decommissioning – 26 September 2005 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4283444.stm

    2) SF vote to support policing – 28 January 2007 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6308175.stm

    3) IMC report states the Army Council is no longer functional – 3 September 2008 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7596017.stm

    4) Martin McGuinness calls dissident republicans “traitors to Ireland” – 10 March 2009 http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0310/breaking33.htm

    What have they got in return? Fuck all.

  • Skintown Lad

    JohnM – why should they get anything in return for those things? They are all things people are MEANT to do. It’s like claiming credit for not beating your wife.

  • tacapall

    This whole O.O. talks in early Dec is smokescreen, to cover the Tory Party when they were caught with their pants down at Hatfield House plotting with the DUP and UUP at a sensitive time in the negotiations, highly embarrassing for the Tory party to accused of sectarianism and gerrymandering.
    An understanding has been reached and promises have been made. As for the “IRA’s turn to have their say”
    distraction is the name of the game.

    Unionism now has the ball with a bit of tactical backtracking and holding, but interception is guaranteed, they’re playing to close to their own nets and theres an eternity to go.

  • JohnM

    Skintown Lad – I agree that they were necessary measures and support each and every one of them.

    However, the unionism story has been one of constantly moving the goal posts.

    Firstly, it was: “we won’t serve in government until the IRA disarm.” Then it became “we won’t serve with them in government until SF accept the police.” Then it was “we won’t serve with them in government while the army council exists.”

    Now there is nothing more for SF to do, the mentality seems to be, “well they’re Fenians so if we have to serve in government with them we will be damned sure not to cooperate in any way whatsoever.”

    Unionists have done NOTHING to improve relations withh their nationalist/republican neighbours. A move that would inspire huge “confidence” from republicans would be if unionists voluntarily agreed not to march their sectarian bands through catholic areas with the direct intention of stoking up tensions.

    But that wouldn’t be compatible with the “croppy lie down” mentality, would it?

  • Rory Carr

    That’s poor form… not on a par with SF’s poor form, but poor form none the less…

    Ah, yes, but then, Mick, given that you would generally consider a pimple on the arse of Republicansim to be more disfiguring than a second nose on the face of Unionism we may feel entitled to recall the delightful Mandy Rice-Davis and respond, “He would say that, wouldn’t he?”.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Reg empey must be the worst leader the UUP have ever had. They really need to get rid of him and that other clampet McNarry. I won’t be voting for any of the unionist parties if they keep up this nonsense about parades and the orange order. It’s a shame there is not a N.I. labour party which unionists can vote for. They would certainly get my vote.

    Can anyone tell me why the dup didn’t try to end the horrendus 50/50 recruiting policy at these negotiations instead of this nonsense about parading?

  • Reader

    JohnM :we won’t serve with them in government while the army council exists.
    Unionists made the demand that the IRA should disband in 2002, though I reckon it was probably implied long before then. It was a perfectly reasonable criterion for the PRM to meet before being accepted as a constitutionalist movement.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    2.Good to see Mervyn Jess reporting fearlessly from inside “Schomberg House” the OO HQ in East Belfast.
    Drawing attention to a cabinet of books on Orange history, it might have slipped his mind that one might have been written by ….Mervyn Jess.

    What next Mervyn?
    A report from the Freemasons Lodge in Arthur Square?
    Actually Mervyn has already done that too.

    How does this reporter get such access?
    Answers on a postcard to……BBC Newsroom.