How are people ever going to face up to their responsibilities as elected representatives

It’s refreshing to see the Irish Times give some space to the not inconsiderable political intelligence of Stephen Collins to think about the phoney production which may be grinding its way back to a curiously inconclusive end. He points to a Seanad order of business debate in which Northern Ireland comes up. It’s a reflection of how denuded that chamber has become from Northern Irish affairs that the only non platitudinal remarks came from the former PD TD Fionna O’Malley:

Every time there is a crisis, the British and Irish Governments and the Taoiseach and Prime Minister go there to try and sort it out. How are people ever going to face up to their own responsibilities as elected representatives if this continues to happen?

She continued:

“It exposes the inherent problems in the system of governance in the North of Ireland, the D’Hondt system, in that it rewards people from the extremes and does not reward people who bring together communities and serve all of the people within their communities. While we continue to prop up a dysfunctional system, frankly it will never work and there will be crisis after crisis.”

Collins:

That is the nub of the problem. The Belfast Agreement enshrined a dysfunctional society’s sectarian divisions into governmental institutions. To be fair, there wasn’t any obvious alternative around at the time and the hope was that normal political activity would gradually evolve as the political representatives of unionism and nationalism shared power and developed some basis of trust in each other.

Instead, however, the opposite happened as suspicions grew and festered in the years after 1998. For that, Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair must take a large share of the blame. Having put an enormous amount of work into constructing the hugely complex agreement, they then proceeded to abandon the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists to appease their more extreme rivals.

Although, I think, this account exaggerates the importance of the switch in external patronage to the misfortunes of the two centre parties (they were eaten by other more internal contradictions, not least in the case of the SDLP its possibly erroneous sense of ownership of the Belfast Agreement), the addiction to it is clear enough from the way this dumb show (all picture and no sound) farce at Hillsborough played out.

As I pointed out in the Comment is Free piece yesterday, this is a piece of business OFMdFM were given extra resources to deal with. Having consumed those resources to zero effect (rent seeking behaviour par excellence), the two have drawn in Gordon Brown and the Taoiseach who has more pressing matters of national interest to attend to, after Sinn Fein insisted on externalising their domestic problems.

Judging by the lack of content in the briefings being given to the mainstream media, this has been less a matter of formal rounds of negotiation with their attendant paper trails (which at least create some cohesive sense on what has been achieved and what has not), and more in the nature of relationship management, with the main purpose of the rounds being more allowing tempers to cool rather than creating space for progress.

Collins makes this observation:

In the years after 1998, Sinn Féin perfected the art of spinning out the process time after time in order to get what it wanted, while marginalising the SDLP. It succeeded magnificently in those two objectives but the tinkering with the process became an end in itself. The party has not been nearly as successful in exercising power as it was in art of peace-processing. A byproduct of its interminable negotiating strategy was that the electorate in the Republic simply lost interest in its activities.

Another unintended consequence of its strategy has been that the DUP learned the lessons only too well and proceeded to copy the Sinn Féin tactic of putting process before real politics. Each party has got what it deserved in the other but the people who live in Northern Ireland have to put up with the consequences.

Collins, rather too darkly IHMO, concludes that cutting the whole system off might give the politicians pause for thought, and give the British and Irish governments moment to to listen to the Northern Irish people. But no democratic institution can afford to drift this far from the concerns of its people…

At some point, there may be a need to rip it up and start again…

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  • abc123

    As said in this article by David Ford in 2004, a voluntary colaition is the only way forward. The DUP/C&Us;/Alliance should be pushing this more forcefully as well as explaining it to the international community.

  • Marcionite

    The non aligned bloc should be given their own veto over legislation. Imagine what would happen, the Alliance could scupper anything unless real tangible progress was made on de-secrarianising the state in terms of living space and education. As it stands, the non alligned bloc are given no such protection.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Well in 2004 David Ford was not agnostic about the Border. So I never put much credence in what AP says last week, never mind 2004.
    Voluntary Coalition is I think ..the Jim Allister position.

    I seriously wonder if there is some kind of National Union of Journalist rule that journalists are sychophantic when talking about each other.

    “the not inconsiderable political intelligence of Stephen Collins”….a tad over the top.
    Seems that the only villains in Norn Iron are the politicians who have the good fortune to be elected by the terminally stupid….or people.

    Perhaps the franchise should be limited to Journalists.

  • Ulick

    My goodness you’d almost think Collins had been reading your blogs Mick, what a coincidence! Repeating the same thing over and over without trying to offer up any better suggestions gets a little borning after a while though.

    “As said in this article by David Ford in 2004, a voluntary colaition is the only way forward. The DUP/C&Us;/Alliance should be pushing this more forcefully as well as explaining it to the international community.”

    Surely you mean an exclude SF policy? Aye, that’ll work on so many levels.

  • John O’Connell

    Surely you mean an exclude SF policy?

    And exclude the SDLP too. Was David Forde on drugs.

    Excellent article by Stephen Collins. Until SF and the DUP get back to basics rather than trying to be the judge of their tradition being superior than the other, we’re not going to get progress.

    IMHO there is nothing superior about either tradition on the level that these people work, though as a Nationalist, I believe that stability will be found in the longer term through accomodating British unionists in an all Ireland scenario.

  • Greenflag

    Fiona O’Malley gets it right almost;)

    ‘While we continue to prop up a dysfunctional system, frankly it will never work and there will be crisis after crisis.’

    But was it any different under Trimble/Mallon. I seem to recall a lot of late night meetings with British and Irish PM’s being airlifted in to hold hands etc etc.

    Mick is partially right when he states

    ‘At some point, there may be a need to rip it up and start again…’

    But it’s not the GFA that needs ripping up. It’s the very State of Northern Ireland in it’s present format . It can never work . Not as a normal or even as an abnormal democracy as we can see from current and past events .

  • abc123

    Ulick – “Surely you mean an exclude SF policy?”

    It may mean that SF are excluded or included depending on the coalition. That’s democracy in action. Something SF will have to get used to going forward. I accept that it must be difficult for convicted terrorists like Conor Murphy and Gerry Kelly to accept this change. Trimble said back in 2000 that SF would require “house training in democracy”. And they still have a long way to go.

  • John O’Connell

    The unionists can get rid of mandatory coalition power sharing very easily.

    Just agree to a united Ireland. Why should a minority of Nationalists be abused by unionists in a system that excludes them.

    It is better that this place is dysfunctional than that it functions well as a cold place for prejudice against Catholics.

  • iluvni

    …as a Nationalist, I believe that stability will be found in the longer term through accomodating British unionists in an all Ireland scenario.

    Posted by John O’Connell on Jan 30, 2010 @ 02:44 PM

    Very good of you to accommodate us. Now, how long is longer?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Fitzjameshorse:

    Well in 2004 David Ford was not agnostic about the Border. So I never put much credence in what AP says last week, never mind 2004.

    What’s wrong with being agnostic about the border ? People like you are the whole problem with this country. Everything that really matters in people’s lives comes secondary to the issue of the border – even though it has supposedly already been settled. To me that’s pretty much the definition of a bigot.

    abc123

    The DUP/C&Us;/Alliance should be pushing this more forcefully as well as explaining it to the international community.

    Therein lies the problem – you want to do everything to make this actually happen, except talk it over with nationalists.

    The problem with voluntary coalition is that when unionists talk about it, most people who aren’t unionists think that they mean a coalition which excludes Sinn Fein. I don’t think that has to be the case (especially if the SDLP decided to make including Sinn Fein a precondition for it’s own participation in power within voluntary coalition). But frankly it’s very easy to see how they arrive at that conclusion, especially given that proponents like Jim Allister make it clear that they will never share power with SF.

    Unfortunately we are stuck with enforced coalition until the time comes when nationalists can be confident that they won’t be systematically excluded from power. Given the way that unionists are still behaving in certain places, such as Newtownabbey Council for example (where the opportunity to elect the borough’s first Catholic Mayor was allegedly – shall we say – “passed over”), I don’t see that time coming at any point in the near future.

    How can voluntary coalition be delivered ? By unionists demonstrating that they are prepared to give some ground to nationalist political aspirations while defending their own without the British Government putting a gun to their heads to make them do it.

    How do we address the problem of our politicians not being able to make decisions ? I’m not sure. One idea that just popped into my head is to have some kind of initiative system, a bit like the one they have in California, and combine it with majority weighting and some kind of written constitution to guarantee that fundamental rights cannot be undermined by proposition votes. Add to that a mechanism whereby the referendum is forced whenever the Executive cannot agree a policy, providing the Executive with an opportunity to avoid a referendum by coming up with some kind of agreement.

    An example of an issue that could be settled this way would be the matter of academic selection. There’s no reason for opinion for or against academic selection to be split along sectarian lines, but the tribal voting patterns make it hard to identify where public opinion really lies.

  • John O’Connell

    iluvni

    Longer is whenever it happens. If we can house train you in New Testament values rather than your present adherence to Old Testament values that could be sooner than you think. By OT values I mean primarily superiority and divine ordination of your presence in Ireland which many seem to hold dear to.

  • Greenflag

    comrade stalin ,

    Nice try in 10 above .Seems to me you are making something that’s already a bag of convoluted complexities even more convoluted .

    There is no ‘public opinion’ in NI there are tribal opinions . You might think that people would vote in their own best interest . Well they would if the tom toms were’nt beating in the tribal jungle . And that’s the bridge which can’t be crossed .

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Comrade Stalin….for all my many faults, I dont think I have contributed much to the problems of Norn Iron.
    As for Ford being agnostic on the issue of the Border..I actually welcome that. My point which you appear to have missed is that Ford is not exactly a credible source for consistency.

  • The only parties that are currently against the agreed policies of both governments are the TUV and the DUP, if there is to be voluntary coaliton it should comprise the UUP, SF, SDLP and Alliance.

    If the Unionist electorate are faced with the stark choice of joining a pro-agreement coalition or taking up opposition then there is only one way they will vote.

    Unionism needs to move out from under the shadow of the Orange Order banner and embrace the new order.

  • Gael gan Náire

    “It might also give the governments time to listen to the views of the ordinary people of the North.”

    This ridiculous idea infects both the voluntary blogatariat and the paid opinionater. The idea that politicans in the North are somewhat appointed by a committee from the planet zog.

    Politicans here are elected and they reflect those views.

    If they fail to take account of those views they will not be re-elected.

    Pretending that political representation is unrelated to the views of ‘ordinary people’ is quite unrealistic.

  • Gael gan Nire,

    Yes I agree that politicans reflect the general population and this is distorted by those that are inteviewed during periods of political turmoil who are all sweetness, light and reasonableness and do indeed give the impression that although perhaps not from a different planet that they come from a completely different country.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Fitzjameshorse,

    I’ll leave it for other people to decide whether that was a rowback or not.

    Greenflag,

    Just floating ideas. That certainly beats your idea of getting your magic pen out and liberally deploying it across a map.

  • Peter Fyfe

    Gael gan Nire

    You hit the nail on th head, it is the people of Northern Ireland that voted these two parties into power. As a result of this, we have a diabolical adminsration which really has turned into a battle a day, just what the punt promised. Its a pity that is all we have got, some of us longed for some agreement. I suppose we had agreement on the four victims commisioners, maybe its not all bad. Whose fault is this though? I have to agree with you that it is the voters. I am sure there will be effective politicians in both parties who do deserve their votes but it is quite clear people in NI do not support the center at the minute. Some blame the governments for bringing the DUP and SF in to line and ‘acceptable’. But it was the people that accepted their policies and argumentative, un-productive style of politics. Sadly going by the most recent Euro elections, where much of the lost DUP vote emigrated to the TUV, the trend appears to continue. To offer democracy and local government to a people they must be grown up enough and mature enough to handle it. Once again Northern Ireland has failed in this basic task and should taxpayers money be used to keep these children in jobs?

  • Marlaghman

    To have voluntary coalition between any of the parties, they need to agree a policy that they ALL can agree on.

    Maybe its me but if one side wants a United Ireland and will do what they can to achieve this, and the other wants to remain as part of GB, and who will do everything they can to achieve this, there must be some way or someone who can square this circle.

    CONSENT this must be the only way, and maybe if we did not have the murder campain by pira/sf over the past 40 years who knows where we would be today

  • Gael gan Náire

    All,

    This is just a pet hate of mine.

    The other is that ‘there is no-one to vote for’, even though we have a huge selection of parties here.

  • Peter Fyfe

    Marlaghman

    When a countries borders are manufactured to secure a majority for one of the two political traditions, what are the chances of achieving consent on cross community issues? This state encourages sectarianism by its very make up. If a protestant state had not been created for the protestant people, who knows where we all could be today? Of course the answer to that does not matter as it would not change anything today.

  • Scaramoosh

    The point is well made. The contrived crisis has achieved its aim; to paper over the Adams and Robinson Family problems. However, it has also served to highlight the incontrovertible impotence of the status quo that pertains in political life.

    The converted may well be happy as their respective sides seemingly tough it out, but, more and more, the general population is seeing these people for the fools that they are.

    It is the quest for community confidence that is contrived, and it is the inability of the DUP to cast away the poisoned chalice that is the orange order, that is ensuring that there is no progress.

    What will come out of this, will be the realisation that both the DUP and Sinn Fein are prepared to put their own political interests (salaries) ahead of the good of the broader society.

    No one with any sense, honestly believes that the devolution of P&J is going to actually make things better, vis a vis the stand off that exists between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

    It is the TUV and the Republican Dissidents that are calling the shots.

  • tacapall

    CONSENT this must be the only way, and maybe if we did not have the murder campain by pira/sf over the past 40 years who knows where we would be today
    Posted by Marlaghman on Jan 30, 2010 @ 04:05 PM

    We would all still be stuck in, The land of the Lost, indeed from your last paragraph you still are. To try and blame one side is simply being economical with the truth. Do you forget why it all started in the first place, do you forget the injustices that one side of the community had to endure from the Government of the day, the torch bearers of democracy. The circle does indeed need to be squared, but having a selective memory, will not move us forward, it will surely keep this going for another generation.

  • I for one am embarrassed that the British and Irish government have to come running periodically to stop the sky falling down. Our political system has become accustomed to have them on the other end of the phone when things go pear shaped and the helicopters land shortly afterwards.

    There is an element of this which is like a child crying or playing out until they get what they want.

    On the Assembly itself – Sure our system is unusual and does have sectarian elements to it (although the PUP among others advocated weighted majority etc to remove some of those) – these are necessary evils that make those who need it feel secure – sad but true – the appointment of the Justice Minister will be another.

    But it is not the system which concerns me but rather the personnel. The Assembly and how it functions could obviously be improved and should be- with those crutches being removed as they become redundant. My concern is that the parties and personnel of those parties seem to have real difficulty in sharing power no matter the system. Not only are they very different and disagree (obviously) but they also dont seem to understand each other which is very necessary to govern together.

    If these issues of P&J and parades are solved and the parties manage to create the deal themselves then they can begin to address those issues including finally realising how each other tick.

  • OscarTheGrouch

    Economy, world and European politics will eventually move Ireland along a path towards some form of reasonable governance.

    I suspect we will just have to put up with the crisis loving extremists and ineffectual moderates and an electorate who will follow them until they slowly become irrelevant, and hopefully start dying.

    The falacy is to believe that the peace process was caused by our politcians rather then just being carried along with it.

  • joeCanuck

    they also don’t seem to understand each other

    Stewart,
    Part of the reason for that is that they are both good at talking but neither listens.

  • OscarTheGrouch

    Oh yeah, and when the population (including many of the posters here) stop thinking that blurry, often misunderstrood, often inaccurate images of history are relevant to our future.

  • Greenflag

    ‘comrade stalin ,

    ‘that certainly beats your idea of getting your magic pen out and liberally deploying it across a map.

    You are entitled to your opinion but I believe a fair repartition of NI would be a ‘fair’ solution given the inability of either of the main political camps be they the present shower of so called extremists or the previous shower of so called moderates to square the circle re power sharing and all that it entails .

    Power sharing in the context of the current NI state format is an eternal scab that can never heal but will be peeled back to reveal the underlying sore during every ‘crisis ‘

    The sooner it ends the better imo.

  • @joeCanuck

    Yes they do not understand each other and the bit I left out was – they have no desire or ability to change that and no they dont listen and cannot read each other.

    I think that we have a political class that was forged in conflict and behaving otherwise does not come easily too them. I think we need new politicians and new leaders before our politics will truly grow up – they are already light years behind most of the community.

    Some of them will be able to change, many will not – as voters we just have to make sure that over time we replace those who cannot with those with a skill set more suited to a new country, new world and new politics – hopefully that includes more women, young people and ethic minorities!

    At the minute we get the politicians we deserve given how we choose to cast our vote – I just hope that sooner rather than later we get the politicians we need and want.

  • Gael gan Nire

    “This is just a pet hate of mine.”

    …and talking of pet hates what about the endless children and parents metaphors.

    and another pet hate is the suggestion that the current porblems are just down to disagreements betwen SF and the DUP even though it is quite clear that the UUP is opportunistically keeping their powder dry until the see what direction the political wind is blowing.

    If the Tories are as good as their word they should be pressurising the UUP into taking a more responsible position, but with an election looming this is obvioulsy a step too far for the Cameron.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ulick,

    SF are currently in the too big to ignore category.

  • JoeCanuck,

    “they also don’t seem to understand each other”

    That is another nonsense, they understand each other only too well, this is a crucial power game being played for very high political stakes and with political careers resting on the outcome.

    The reason there is no deal is because the DUP understand exactly that SF need Police and Justice as it is their declared bottom line. The DUP were committed to smashing SF and frustrating SFs requirements and avoiding devolution of Police is their weapon of choice to achieve this.

  • joeCanuck

    MU,

    I didn’t say that; Stewart Finn did. However, I do think that neither really listens to what the other has to say.

  • Henry94

    Truly voluntary coalition would mean a unionist government. That would not e acceptable to anybody else. So the second choice of the VC brigade would be the SDLP acting as Uncle Tom nationalists until they lost all their votes by which time the sulking would resume and the institutions would be back in crisis.

    The choices are the institutions as agreed or effective Joint Authority. The second option if introduced should be for a decade at least. The current crop of political representatives would have blown their chance.

    Just remember that Item number one on the Joint Authority agenda would be making sure support for dissident republicans stayed low.

  • DerTer

    tacapall
    How on earth can you interpret Marlaghman’s thought that we might have been better off if there hadn’t been an IRA/SF campaign of violence as trying “to blame one side”? The SDLP were always vigorously opposed to that campaign; what “side” was it on? There are also many conscientious republicans and nationalists outside the ranks of any party who from the very beginning saw killing people as not only morally wrong, but also totally counterproductive in political terms; what “side” were they on? Then there’s your ‘whataboutery’: there were things seriously wrong in Northern Ireland, perpetrated by Unionists with a guaranteed hold on power; could I ask you to be specific and say which of the Unionist abuses of power justified shooting anybody? What you are doing, of course, is what SF have been doing for the last fifteen years or so: conflating the wholly peaceful and legitimately-pursued civil rights movement with the violence of the IRA, and hoping people will forget that IRA violence was not being deployed to achieve a better life for people in Northern Ireland, but was effectively declared to be to force unionists into a united Ireland against their will.

  • Henry94

    DerTer

    IRA violence was not being deployed to achieve a better life for people in Northern Ireland, but was effectively declared to be to force unionists into a united Ireland against their will.

    That’s not a very effective argument against force for people who were forced in to the NI state against their will in the first place. The NI state is itself an act of violence against nationalists. A violent opposition to it is always going to be seen as legitimate to a large extent.

    The argument is about its effectiveness and at the end of the IRA campaign it was clear that neither the imposition of Britishness on nationalists not the removal of the British could be achieved by violence. The agreement was about living with stalemate.

  • Sorry: still trying to cope with “curiously inconclusive”, “Seanad Éireann”, “responsibilities” and “elected representatives” (Fiona — sic — is one of the Taoiseach’s Eleven, if I recall correctly) all in the same breath.

    The other barrier to full appreciation of this gem of wit and wisdom is the ambivalence of that word “denuded” in the third sentence of the headline piece. It’s obviously a typo, but what worries me is the Freudian basis for it: “deluded”? “divorced?”, “deprived” or merely Fiona in the raw buff?

    Considering the family (Dad Dessie; greatuncle Donagh; cousin Tim), is the gene pool running a trifle shallow?

  • JoeCanuck,

    “I didn’t say that; Stewart Finn did”. Pedant.

    Whats to listen to other than than for signs of weakness in the other side and political developments outside of the gates, everyone on Slugger knows the issues back to front and upside down.

    Henry94,

    “Truly voluntary coalition would mean a unionist government”

    Why is that? If the DUP dont want to be part of a coalition of the willing (no Iris inference intended) there are currently enough assembly seats for the other parties to form a voluntary coalition and if the UUP or SF dont like that then they can opt for opposition and let the SDLP, the Alliance and the PUP run the show as a minority government.

  • tacapall

    DerTer that is like asking Nelson Mandela why the ANC created a military wing and started an armed struggle. We all know why and so do you. The history of the world did not begin in 1969 you know it was long before that. What country in the world who has suffered from colonialism, fought against it and done so without sheading blood. Indeed what was the First and Second World Wars for then, did they sort that out by pacifiable means, are they doing that now in Iraq or afghanistan.

  • Henry94

    MU

    Why wouldn’t the DUP want to be involved? They would be all for it. So would the UUP and TUV. There would be no problem with those negotiations (possibly hosted by the Orange Order)

    That would be a majority and voluntary government right there and it can never be allowed to happen. So voluntary coalition is dead. There can only be some form of enforced coalition which is what we have.

  • lamhdearg

    joint responsibility
    lets have this if stormont falls,everyone gets to declare themselves as british or irish, you pay your tax if your working to your choice of gov and they pay your benifits if your not, also the south pays for maintained schools britain for state ones the south pays half the cost of health and the police ect ect ect, what was that sound was it the brians lenihan and cowan fainting.

  • Henry94,

    If both governments state that their ‘plan’ for resolution to current impasse will be the basis for getting over the current bump and that those parties who accept it will enter voluntary coalition and those who dont will not, the DUP could sign up or huff and puff and go off to the wilderness for a few years with the TUV for company. There would be 3 Unionist parties still involved, UUP, PUP and Alliance and the 2 Nationalist ones.

  • aquifer

    The requirement in Northern Ireland is that there should be incentives within the system of government formation for co-operation between representatives of two communities that does not exclude any significant political party.

    A system of something for everyone as of right, but more by agreement. D’hondt fails in the second requirement.

    D’Hondt is a crude electoral system based on numeric strength that can be run when parties hate eachothers’ guts, and it has no penalties for any failure to co-operate. e.g. It gives no advantage to parties who have agreed a cross-community executive of particular ministers. When it is run D’Hondt can result in a variety of outcomes that have nothing to do with the suitability of ministers. With the parties nominating ministers, MLAs do not get a chance to vote in a cross-community fashion for the ‘best person for the job’.

    The horse designed by a committee is a camel.

    But we live in a wet climate.

  • LabourNIman

    Voluntary coalition is my choice (SDLP/PUP/All would do well to work together) but sadly not possible until SF lose the ‘we are the victims’ attitude.

    But term limits are. Think bout it, we can’t vote out a useless MLA like Ian Mccrea or Conor Murphy so why not limit their time in the assembly?

    With a two or three term limit it will make these fools actually work to make sure they get some good out of it and will also ensure there is fresh blood and hopefully fresh thinking.

  • @Moderate Unionist

    “I didn’t say that; Stewart Finn did”

    “Whats to listen to other than than for signs of weakness in the other side and political developments outside of the gates, everyone on Slugger knows the issues back to front and upside down.”

    I agreed that they didnt listen to each other – my point was that they didnt understand each other – yes the DUP know that Sinn Fein need P&J but I wasnt just talking about Hillsborough talks – I dont think the DUP can read Republicans, what they want, why and what their constituency needs are and how Sinn Fein need or want to respond to that – same goes for Sinn Fein reading of DUP.

    We need two big parties sharing power and those parties need to understand each other – yes from a selfish point of view they should be able to read when they can get a gain from them, when they can attack them but equally they need to be able to see when the other needs their help or when they need to lean on each other.

    It is a coalition – mandatory – sort of but they still need each other as well as being opponents. My point is that they lack the skills to fully understand each other, to predict and rationalise the actions of the other.

  • “exaggerates the importance of the switch in external patronage”

    The damage was done by Ahern prior to the switch when the prison doors were opened prematurely and without a quid pro quo on decommissioning. This played right into the hands of the extremists and stampeded Blair into a reciprocal response.

  • Stewart Finn

    “Voluntary coalition is my choice (SDLP/PUP/All would do well to work together) but sadly not possible until SF lose the ‘we are the victims’ attitude. ”

    Parties should not be excluded on the spurious grounds that someone does not like their attitude but rather if they accept the reasonable terms laid down by the 2 governments. If SF dont like those terms, or the DUP dont like them then they are out.

  • Marlaghman

    The circle does indeed need to be squared, but having a selective memory, will not move us forward, it will surely keep this going for another generation.

    Posted by tacapall on Jan 30, 2010 @ 04:26 PM

    Suppose my beard is grey enough for me to have a selective memory having spent my entire life having to live through this s**** and for what, for the RM to sit in a British Parliment and rule with British laws.

    Take a step back and have a look at where we are and the price that has been paid to get the RM here.

    I agree that thing were in the past were dire, but you tell me what was the difference between a working class prod and working class Roman Catholic in Londonderry in 1969, and if you know you would have to agree NOTHING. Both lived in poverty.

    But then can anyone remember what the fables were when Ireland was last united.
    Its a we piece of dirt in the north west of europe that thinks it has a problem and untill we open our eyes and see that the problems that we manufacture for ourselves are nothing to get excited about compared to the real problems in other parts of the world.

    Now then can you tell me how better of the British/Northern Irish in Northern Ireland would be if we did go into an all Ireland, for no mater what side you come from this is what it will boil down to and the aspiration is what it says on the tin an aspiration.
    As for one that travels in and enjoys the republic “for holidays” I do not believe that if the truth be told, that if it ever came about the we island would unite it would clear of most of the RM as they would move over to GB and leave the we sod to all them great republicans to hunger.

    Check out the state of the home land down south and ask yourself is it the pound or euro you or your family would prefer.(with no border and no Newry/Strabane/Londonderry it would be the boat over to GB). NOT AS HANDY me thinks

  • tacapall

    Marlaghman comparing a few working class protestants equal circumstances to the majority of the Catholic population is not a good anology. Their social conditions may have been similar but in reality they had more rights, freedom and jobs than their catholic neighbours. Like yourself I agree that the taking of life is wrong, but the past has happened and there’s nothing we can do about it except learn. I would like to move on, but some people refuse to let go of it, indeed want it enshrined in law giving them the right to celebrate victory over the other side every year. In a divided society of almost equal proportions, this will not heal wounds and bring us equal partnership and a shared future.

  • DerTer

    tacapall
    Bit late getting back; but not the South African analogy again! Let’s get rid of that once and for all – a forlorn hope I suppose. You were the one who contrasted the violent campaign of the IRA (on one side)with the ostensibly wicked machinations of the Unionists (on the other), so I’m dealing with this on your terms.
    I am an unashamed admirer of Nelson Mandela and his close associates. The ANC, justifiably, created Umkhonto we Sizwe because (apart from working to have international pressure brought to bear on the South African government) there was no other available way but armed struggle to free the black South African people from oppression. Unlike in NI, peaceful protest in SA brought more oppression rather than any change – and we need to be reminded that every single one of the civil rights demands in NI had been met by the early 70s. We also need to be reminded that it was international action in the end that brought the new South Africa into being. And it as well to say too that MK’s campaign of violence was a model of restraint as compared to that of the PIRA.
    So what about South Africa? The ANC was banned as a political party before the armed campaign by MK began, and apartheid affected almost every aspect of the lives of ordinary black people. Just off the top of my head, and not an exhaustive list:
    • the pass laws only applied to blacks – and so-called coloureds (there were 59 people killed and 180 or so wounded at the anti-pass demonstration at Sharpeville – which actually spurred the creation of MK))
    • their houses and land contiguous to white areas were seized, and those expelled (and many others) were exiled to housing of a very poor standard in rural sub-towns like Soweto
    • segregation applied in all public places, including transport, cinemas, theatres etc
    • black people had no votes and thus no democratic access or voice whatever
    • their wages were usually around one third of those paid to whites (in the limited range of jobs they were permitted to do)
    • there was grossly and ludicrously underfunded separate education provision for blacks
    • indeed, the great majority of blacks suffered from inferior public services of every kind
    • and they endured serious poverty and deprivation, as measured by every index that could possibly be applied – life expectancy, incidence of disease, educational attainment etc, etc.
    Against this background, therefore, I must ask you once again to be specific as to which of the Unionist abuses of power in Northern Ireland justified killing (murdering?) anyone.

  • Peter Fyfe

    Marlaghman

    So the south will go hungry when Britian leaves the six counties? I know they are going through a bad patch but catch yourself on. Does the pound really look that much better than the Euro? Did that 0.1% growth do the trick? Is everything fine now? Or are you attacking the euro because the south are part of the eurozone? Starting to think its the latter which would be quite sad and ignorant indeed.

  • DerTer

    tacapall

    “Marlaghman comparing a few working class protestants equal circumstances to the majority of the Catholic population is not a good anology. Their social conditions may have been similar but in reality they had more rights, freedom and jobs than their catholic neighbours.”
    I missed your last post before I sent my own at No25, so I must come back again. The proportion of Catholics suffering deprivation – broadly defined – in Northern Ireland was certainly significantly higher than that of Protestants, especially in Belfast. However, far from it being “a few working class Protestants”, there were, overall, in numerical terms, more deprived Protestants than Catholics. I keep on asking you questions I know, but here’s another one: what exactly were the “more rights” and “freedom” that working class Protestants enjoyed over their Catholic neighbours?

  • Marlaghman

    Marlaghman comparing a few working class protestants equal circumstances to the majority of the Catholic population is not a good anology. Their social conditions may have been similar but in reality they had more rights, freedom and jobs than their catholic neighbours

    Posted by tacapall on Jan 30, 2010 @ 08:15 PM

    Now we have look at the pass lets look at the future.
    We are all equal now, although some will not admit to this.

    There seams to be alot of movement on both sides tonight and an agrement is a step closer but we will be back here again unless you have the parties all together and agreeing to work for all the people in Northern Ireland and trusting each other is at the fore.

    We need to get real and chase the Churches from our schools, I believe the seventh day was set aside for this, unite our education through the state,(our MLA’s that is what they get paid for) unless they want to pay for it in full by themselves.

    This is the first step the Education Minister should be doing, instead of dividing the community, this is the only way to learn our children that we are all the same no mater what church you are born to attend.(we are kept devided by them from birth)

    It will be a slow process, but then we in this island still find it hard to move on from 400/500 whatever years ago.

    The past is the past let it stay there, learn from it but do not stay there, as the path that has been traveled by some was wrong and with the will of us all we can make Northern Ireland a better place till 50+1% says different. (a bad way to leave any part of a country as there will always be them who think they can Bomb/Bullet people in a direction they do not want to go)

    Then we are into another senario and prase the Lord I will have departed this hell hole for a better place

  • Peter Fyfe

    DerTer

    I certainly acknowledge the difference between SA and NI. The magnitude of the discrimination is not comparable. Tacapall was responding to a comment earlier blaming the PIRA/SF for everything. He is highlighting how stupid this line of arguement is. The violence was a reaction whether you view it as disproportionate or not. Would you be comforted much by civil rights reforms being granted in the early 70’s if you had lost a family or friend during bloody sunday or the falls curfew? Sorry but peaceful protest was at times met with further opression. Do you honestly believe unionists reformed themselves or could it not be contributed to outside pressure?

  • tacapall

    DerTer whatever you think about the anology about SA, theres not much difference in attitude the mindset of afrikaners and modern DUP unionists,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soweto_uprising

    The 1,500 heavily armed police officers deployed to Soweto on June 17 carried weapons including automatic rifles, stun guns, and carbines.[4] They drove around in armoured vehicles with helicopters monitoring the area from the sky. The South African Army was also order on standby as a tactical measure to show military force. Crowd control methods used by South African police at the time included mainly dispersement techniques, and many of the officers shot indiscriminately, killing many people.

    Tell me how much different is this to Bloody Sunday

    • their houses and land contiguous to white areas were seized, and those expelled (and many others) were exiled to housing of a very poor standard in rural sub-towns like Soweto

    The house had been allocated by Dungannon Rural District Council to a 19 year-old unmarried Protestant woman, Emily Beattie, who was the secretary of a local Unionist politician. Emily Beattie was given the house ahead of older married Catholic families with children. The protesters were evicted by officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), one of whom was Emily Beattie’s brother.

    black people had no votes and thus no democratic access or voice whatever

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday

    It wants the introduction of one man-one vote, rather than one vote per household, which was also seen as discriminatory against Catholic homes with multiple occupancy and an an end to gerrymandering electoral boundaries which in Nationalist areas like Londonderry has led to the return of Unionist-led authorities.

    Yeah whatever DerTer, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you wont fool all of the people all of the time.

  • alf
  • alf

    Sure we was all in the same boat

  • GEF

    tacapall, do you honestly believe that only ‘Catholic homes with multiple occupancy’ existed and no Prods lived in homes with multiple occupancy?

    Gerrymandering was only applied to local council elections.
    and was and still is used in many other countries like the USA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering

  • Driftwood

    Help may come from elsewhere:

    Gotta love those accents…

  • DerTer

    tacapall

    Why not stop cutting and pasting bits out of Wikipedia and sloganising and answer my questions: (1) What particular abuse of power by Unionists justified the killing of anybody? (2) What precisely were the “more rights” and “freedom” that working class Protestants enjoyed over their Catholic neighbours?
    Thanks

  • tacapall

    DerTer my original post was in reply to the post by Marlaghman. Bringing it to a dispute between working class protestants and catholics was a diversion by you.

    The conflict of the last 40 years did not just start in 1969, its origins were passed down to us through generations of culture and oppression, the six counties are the last pieces of ground stolen from Ireland by British invaders and gerrymandered to ensure the planter class an acendency if you like into government and power. The twenty six counties being given back to its rightful owners after centuries of conflict. When the civil rights movement started, it was about equality for all in the allocation of housing, equal oportunities in jobs, one man one vote, the right to peaceful protest. It was not about a United Ireland, Unionists could have easily give those demands without loss of face or constitutional status. Instead, Civil Rights marchers were beaten, attacked, intimidated and jailed. Policemen were seen throughout the world clubbing demonstrators to the ground in Derry on October 5, 1968. Nothing was going to change while Stormont remained under Unionist control. The last 40 years were about changing that status. On the Unionist side it was about resisting any change, keeping the status quo at all costs. Peaceful protests were met with oppression and brutality and that was always going to be reciprocated. To blame one side is to deny that Irish historical events are fact.

  • Reader

    tacapall: Policemen were seen throughout the world clubbing demonstrators to the ground in Derry on October 5, 1968. Nothing was going to change while Stormont remained under Unionist control.
    You are ignoring the reforms of late 1968 – ‘while Stormont remained under Unionist control.’

  • DerTer

    tacapall
    You are still refusing to answer my absolutely simple questions. But let’s give it a go again. Bloody Sunday (and we might pause on the anniversary today to remember those who were killed) was of course comparable to Sharpeville, except as regards scale. But since the IRA had started to kill people long before that civil rights march, that really doesn’t advance your re-active violence case very much. Sharpeville, by contrast, happened before the ANC turned to armed struggle.
    Just to focus on Derry; according to the Cain listings, in the 4 months leading up to Bloody Sunday, 7 members of the British Army and 3 members of the RUC were shot dead by Derry-based IRA volunteers (both P & O) – indeed the policemen were shot just 3 days before Bloody Sunday. I remind you that in response to criticism of the IRA’s campaign of violence, you originally contrasted the violence of the IRA (on one side) with Unionist behaviour (on the other side). I still need to know exactly which one, or more, of the acknowledged abuses of power by the Unionists (or indeed the British) justified these killings. And you still haven’t told us what extra rights and freedoms that Protestants enjoyed more than Catholics – by the way, it was Marlaghman who said that many Protestants were in the same boat as Catholics, and it was you who dismissed that accurate statement out of hand.

  • DerTer

    PS Apologies to everyone else for drifting off thread so much!

  • tacapall

    DerTer, some poor protestants were in the same boat as Catholics, the majority were not. As for the difference between Catholics and Protestants I will leave that to the then Prime Minister.

    The basic fear of the Protestants in Northern Ireland is that they will be outbred by the Roman Catholics. It is as simple as that.

    It is frightfully hard to explain to a Protestant that if you give Roman Catholics a good job they will live like Protestants, because they will see neighbours with cars and TV sets. They will refuse to have eighteen children, but if the Roman Catholic is jobless and lives in a most ghastly hovel he will rear eighteen children on National Assistance.

    It is impossible to explain this to a militant Protestant because he is so keen to deny civil rights to his Roman Catholic neighbours. He cannot understand in fact, that if you treat Roman Catholics with due consideration and kindness they will live like Protestants in spite of the authoritarian nature of their church.

    Lord O’Neill Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

    For the record,

    Gusty Spence became involved in the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), in Belfast in 1965. A year later in October 1966 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a young Catholic barman

  • Comrade Stalin

    PS Apologies to everyone else for drifting off thread so much!

    Don’t apologize, it keeps stuff true to life. Just when everyone wants to talk constructively about how to sort stuff out, some twat comes along and starts blethering about stuff that happened before he was born and that he had no interaction with except to hear it from someone else or read about it in a book.

  • tacapall

    Comrade Stalin unlike yourself, I was around in the 60s and I and my family and my neighbours and friends have suffered in this conflict through Loyalism and the British Crown. When you look back at where and when it all started why begin in the middle, why not go to the start. No one side has a monolopy on the suffering or the high moral ground, that is what got us to the situation we are in today. Unionism has to recognise their part in all of this. If its good enough for the Australians to recognise their mistake and apoligise to the aborigines, then the Irish people deserve no different.