Peter Robinson: the folly of tactics over strategy; and space hoppers

The progress towards an agreement on policing and justice has taken more twists and turns than seemed believable when the current negotiations started. Currently it seems that the DUP are locked in discussion as to whether or not they can accept the current agreement.

It is unclear exactly what the final draft will be but unless it is collapsed at the last minute it seems that the devolution of policing and justice will occur within the next few months. Where now the talk of political lifetimes?

Gregory Campbell may have tried heroically on Nolan this morning to keep up the talk of six months or six years but it sounded pretty unconvincing. However, now at the last possible moment it seems as if some in the DUP are willing to try for something better.

The problem is that as their options have narrowed their aspirations have shrunk to an extent which is almost pitiful. It seems the arguments are around the timing of any concessions on parading and possibly a few other minor gains. Compare this with the suggestion that the DUP would not be bounced into P&J devolution.

The once proud DUP, preparing humiliation after humiliation for Sinn Fein have been reduced to this.

With any DUP capitulation of course unionist confidence, something I suggested there was good reason for a few short weeks ago, is now severely dented. The DUP should not pretend that any agreement which devolves P&J in the near future will be anything other than a major humiliation for the them and a major dent to unionist confidence.

In contrast republican confidence will soar and no doubt Mick’s suggestion of a return of the unity by 2016 nonsense will recur (I wonder where you got that line Mick).

Once the DUP told us that they would not be bounced into P&J devolution. The reason why the DUP are now acting like the space hopper I greatly enjoyed as a child is, of course complex. It is maybe worth a brief look as sooner or later someone will have to begin to put together the pieces of unionist confidence and rebuild.

Irisgate has of course been a problem: it shattered the DUP’s air of invulnerability and although Robinson himself may not have been massively damaged there is the suspicion that those scandals have not fully played themselves out. Irisgate also brought low the seemingly impervious Peter Robinson, a man who always looked in control of his own fate.

Objectively he handled himself pretty well during the media storm and managed to garner significant sympathy. However, that seemingly clinical, ice cold, calculating politician was revealed as a mere mortal like the rest of us: the admittedly non charismatic but rock like mystique was smashed irrevocably.

However, Irisgate was only the final, most obvious straw, which brought the DUP low. The problems of the Swish family Robinson, the expenses scandal, the multi-jobbing and possibly most of all the family dynasties all contributed to bring down the DUP from their exalted position.

Two other factors are, I would submit, however, the most important in understanding the current DUP predicament and they are interrelated.

The first which is known to the political cognoscenti more than the general population is of course the change in the mechanism for electing the First Minister which was enacted after the St. Andrew’s Agreement. As most readers now know it was none other than Peter Robinson who acquiesced to the change which made the First Minister’s position within the gift of the largest party rather than the largest party of the largest designation (unionist or nationalist). No other decision in the whole of Peter Robinson’s long political career better demonstrates his tactical cunning or his strategic idiocy than this decision. At the time it was a master stroke: it seemed that Robinson had produced a formula to force unionists, in perpetuity, to support the major unionist party lest the First Ministership fall to Sinn Fein. Of all Robinson’s tactical manoeuvrings over the years to defeat the UUP, this was his most brilliant. Finally the DUP were insured against any realistic likelihood of a UUP comeback. It was a decision of tactical brilliance.

It also demonstrated in the starkest possible relief why Robinson’s understanding of unionism is incomplete and why he is the most strategically flawed of recent unionist leaders: even more so than Trimble.

So little had Robinson thought about the longer term strategy that he seems not to have conceived of a time when the DUP would not be likely to be able to command the majority of unionist votes. Such an idea seems not to have crossed his mind: or it did and was dismissed with the arrogant contempt of one who had come to believe his own propaganda. The DUP had negotiated the best possible deal: how could the unionist community think differently. How could any serious unionist apart from the die hard UUP types not see that the DUP had achieved all that unionism could want.

What Robinson had forgotten was that in the dark past the DUP had been the party of which did not really do tactical cunning, not for them the sharp suits, focus groups and media savvyness: it did simple old fashioned hard line unionism; a unionism which told it as it was. Although that constituency of hard line unionists had not always voted DUP (the UUP once held some of that vote) it was the bedrock of traditional unionism. The fundamentalist Protestants of North and East Antrim, the Orangemen of County Londonderry, the paranoid border Protestants of the dreary steeples. For these people the DUP had once represented the party which would not enter power sharing with those who had murdered their kith and kin, would not compromise on the basic tenet that the causers of the mayhem of the past thirty years should not have control of the levers of power. That constituency held that if the price of power was to hand similar power to the IRA’s political representatives then it was not worth the price.

Robinson’s blunder was to think that these people had either gone away or were so wedded to the DUP that they would never switch to anyone else. He seems to have thought that the magic of the DUP party name and Dr. Paisley would ensure that any deal cut by the DUP was the best possible: Carlsberg do not do political deals for unionism but if they did….

Robinson, however, had forgotten that independent streak in those Prods: once they had deserted the UUP to help Paisley found his new party; later others had defected to make the DUP the top unionist party. However, they were not completely enraptured to the DUP and its charismatic leader. That of course led on to Robinson’s next almost as fatal mistake.

When Dr. Paisley stepped down from the MEP post which he had held Robinson needed a suitable new candidate. He did not want a person whose profile would be raised too much: he did not want a potential rival to his place as the heir apparent. Hence, it was a clever wheeze (and it was assuredly Robinson’s own idea) to find a name from the DUP’s past: a man of considerable talent but to Robinson’s eyes one who would not be a threat. Does Peter remember which tie he wore when he went to see Jim Allister? does he remember the crunch of his shoes on Allister’s drive? does he remember his first words? presumably he had had a chance to rehearse them in the car.

Although Robinson did not know it at the time he had in those two decisions: the First Ministership’s election and the choice of European candidate; the beginnings of what would bring him to his current problems. Those two decisions encapsulate all that has made Peter Robinson such an effective politician and the exact reason why he is now trapped in a nightmare of his own creation. They demonstrate like a morality tale of old the difference between tactics and strategy; the difference between cunning and vision.

Even at bay, however, Robinson still has ideas: the prospect of an understanding with the UUP may be flawed by the old animosities but it does hold out some possibilities.

At the moment, however, the DUP seem to be thinking of the prospect of some sort of pact as a way of minimising the damage they are likely to suffer at the hands of the electorate. Indeed if it could by chance work out it might save a few DUP members from their P45s. However, again it is a tactic. If the DUP could forge an understanding with the UUP they might be able to do a deal and still hold enough seats after the nest Stormont elections to keep the first ministership. Again a clever tactic: again a lack of strategic vision.

When the DUP were in their pomp after the recommencement of devolution they could dismiss Sinn Fein’s threats regarding collapse of the agreement. If SF had done so the DUP reasoning was that they would come back to a practically identical set up with no major gains. That was the calculation before the European election when Robinson predicted Jim Allister gaining 20-30,000 votes. Now the idea of a tie up with the UUP seems to be to do the deal on P&J and then try to get a deal with the UUP to hold the line.

There is another possibility but that requires a strategic vision which Robinson has never held: one I advocated before Irisgate ever happened but the possibility of a UUP understanding might hold out.

Robinson could simply hold out and allow Sinn Fein to collapse the agreement. Then if he could arrange a tie up with the UUP he could go into the election. In such an election he could pose as the hard liner who both for practical and principled reasons would not bow the knee to Sinn Fein. In such a scenario it is quite possible that the united unionist party would command more seats than Sinn Fein and hence, the First Ministership. Such an assembly with Sinn Fein little further on and with a cohort of TUV MLAs might then be the spring board for further negotiations except this time with the whip hand back with the DUP and not Sinn Fein.

Such a possibility is almost certainly pie in the sky: Reg Empey lacks the courage and vision to take such an opportunity imperilling as it might the Conservative tie up even more than his recent vacillation has; the suspicion between the DUP and UUP probably runs too deep. A suspicion of course intensified by Robinson’s careful, methodical destruction of the UUP over the 1990s: again tactically brilliant, strategically lamentable. In addition Robinson probably lacks the strategic vision to even begin to go down such a route.

So now Robinson is faced by a party in partial revolt: unwilling to compromise now as many will be signing their political death warrants for a year hence; yet if they do not compromise now effectively accepting an earlier date for their own political execution. Never has Robinson’s tactical brilliance been needed more than now. Never has his strategic stupidity in bringing the DUP (and unionism) to this point been better demonstrated.

  • `The DUP should not pretend that any agreement which devolves P&J in the near future will be anything other than a major humiliation for the them`…erm devolution of p&j is in the DUP manifesto..how is that humiliation? If the deal is right then do it, if it`s not right then don`t. Simple.

  • “might then be the spring board for further negotiations”

    Or then again, Turgon, London and Dublin might opt for Plan B instead. Do you have a strategy and tactics to outflank that option?

  • Scaramoosh

    Turgon

    We are facing a Unionist Paradox and you yourself know it.

    The DUP have blown it; hoisted on their own petard. There is every chance that some of them may jump ship to the TUV. What is certain is that their more extreme supporters will vote TUV.

    The TUV, much like the Real Ira exists as a repository for extremes; it subsumes and nullifies those on the edge (the purists).

    A stronger TUV, packed full of the purists, will leave the rest of the Unionists to come together in the middle ground.

  • Carsons Cat

    Kilsally,
    Turgon has been labouring under the misapprehension, touted by his leader that devolution of P&J is somehow some massive defeat.

    The issue isn’t that TUVvies would suggest this – the issue is that their reasons for objecting to it have slowly, but constantly changed over time as they’ve one by one been proven wrong.

    They’ve moved from telling us that it was inevitable that there would be a SF minister and McGuinness appointing judges (remember that anyone?) to moving to issues about the role of the Executive and rubbish suggestions about cross-border activity.

    Turgon, or should I call you Turgid, because of your long rambling ‘analysis’ – its interesting that you give us such a detailed character attack on Peter Robinson but not a single reason to back up the supposed core of your analysis – that P&J is some grand defeat for unionism and will somehow reinvigorate SF’s long-since buried plan of a UI by 2016.

    Isn’t it odd that your focus on Robinson and attempt to damage him personally resonates with the tone of Allister’s public meeting on Friday night – not for him was it policy issues he was advertising it to be about, but rather the “Robinson affair” a nice and loosely worded title which allows him the pretence that its about politics but then a neat segway into personal bile in which Allister surpasses all others.

    Perhaps the next time you’re composing some weighty tome with which you’re going to burden us then you could use some of your skills on telling us exactly what SF will supposedly gain from the devolution of P&J and how this will bring a unted Ireland a single minute closer. No military analogies or theorising please, a few hard facts…..

    Doubt we’ll get it though because isn’t it much easier just to keep raising the spectre of “Irisgate” or the “Robinson affair” as a way to damage the DUP in the minds of the electorate.

    But maybe that’s morally right so we’re all ok politically then…

  • Turgon

    Kilsally,
    Keep spinning. Once your party said that P&J would be devolved at the time of your choosing; after a political lifetime, maybe after six years.

    That you are reduce to such pathetic spin shows how narrowed the vision has become: how desperate the position; how pathetic the end.

    However, keep spinning Kilsally because with every denial of the predicament in which you find yourselves you simply slice off a few more votes to the TUV.

    Before the European elections some of the DUPers on this site suggested that I brush up my CV as I might get a job with the DUP.

    Apart from the fact that (no offence, nor too much arrogance) but I do not think you could afford to give me a job, I do feel pretending all is well while Rome burns has served your party pretty poorly for the last couple of years.

    Maybe time for some DUPers to consider their future careers.

    Nevin,
    I have consistently said that Plan B if it exists is extremely unlikely to be as bad as suggested. Firstly and most significantly for me it avoids having convicted criminals and their cheerleaders in power. Secondly the pretended Plan B must be remembered in the context of trying to scare Paisley into an agreement. An agreement which was needed to give a fig leaf to Tiny Blair’s exit from Downing street: an exit caused by the greatest British foreign policy debacle since Suez.

    Dr. Paisley may have bowed the knee and like Shylock said “Send the deed after me, And I will sign it.” That does not mean that all unionists should fear Plan B: only those who chose to raise it as a bogeyman for their own ends.

  • Mick Fealty

    I said last week they will try to stay in there until someone else calls time. Nothing has happened yet to change my mind on that.

    Each day that goes past, brings more focus on SF and the DUP to the exclusion of their respective junior partners.

    If I were Robbo, I’d be deploying the argument that they need that bit extra so they can run at Jim with at a rate of knots.

    In the meantime, Reg’s indecision should blunt his party’s competitiveness nicely.

    The DUP and SF still have what the UU and the SDLP don’t yet have: bags of nerve. Whether it will be enough to work in the end I have no idea.

    But isn’t this battle a day working its tedious wonders on our memory banks over the Mrs R affair?

  • Cynic2

    Awwwwww Turgon …. I was waiting for the punchline ….and all they need is the smack of firm leadership…step forward ……. Jim Allister

    I just watched his inspiring speech on Newsnight at the Albertbridge Orange Hall. Nice hall. The crowd of about 60 seemed to have an average age of about the same number. The sea of white hair and bald heads was striking and many of them were, as my daughter might say ‘coffin dodgers’ unlikely to ever be bothered by a United Ireland. If Gerry still promises ‘a United Ireland in our liftimes’ he’d better get a move on.

    Now Turgon you talk a lot about strategy. Before you can develop a strategy however you need vision of where you are going / what you are trying to create.

    Have the TUV got one?

    PS ‘beating themuns’ will not suffice

  • scarecrow

    As long as unionism is split who cares what caused their downfall, whether it be Robinsons lack of vision or the whole of the component parts mentioned. Divided they fall, and they can’t fall soon enough imv, it’s great theatre watching those guys twist and turn in the shinner stranglehold at the staging post.

  • “wonders on our memory banks over the Mrs R affair”

    I thought there were two affairs, not one, Mick. Robinson and Adams? I don’t suppose Peter and Gerry have colluded with the MSM to downplay their little local difficulties …

  • Carsons Cat

    Turgid
    “Once your party said that P&J would be devolved at the time of your choosing; after a political lifetime, maybe after six years”

    The old ‘political lifetime’ one is a good one to trot out when you’re in trouble. AFAIK that was said in relation to a SF Justice Minister, i.e it would be a political lifetime before it would be devolved in the circumstances of SF having a role. Given that isn’t going to be the case, despite your party’s desperate attempts to claim *cough – lie – cough* otherwise, then the political lifetime issue is just yet another red herring thrown up to distract people from the fact the TUV have shifted their position more times that its just about possible to count.

    Perhaps we should go back and read Allister’s statement on the day he resigned from the DUP about his reasons for doing so (yes its still online). Interesting just how few issues on it he ever mentions these days and how he’s shifted the arguments in a vain attempt to jump on whatever bandwagon has happened to be passing at the time.

    The plain fact remains that in the entire 22 paragraphs (by my rough count) there’s absolutely zero substance in terms of the Policing & Justice issue but just attempts to attack Robinson’s character and ability.

    That’s fine if you want to play that game – but at least have the honesty to admit what ground you want to attack. Must think up a very long analogy about TUV hypocrisy… oh wait, it only takes two words. Torrens Knight.

  • Turgon

    Carson’s Cat,
    Sorry posts crossed.

    You boys are really out to help the Dear Leader tonight.

    Remind me who said P&J devolution would be a political lifetime? Which party told everyone P&J would only be devolved at the time of the DUP’s choice?

    However, as I said to Kilsally above: keep spinning; it was exactly this sort of spin which helped provide you with the European election “victory”, I am sure a bit more of it will ensure the next election will be even more “successful.”

    Once you were going to be more humble and less arrogant and learn from your mistakes: remember that?

    Cynic2,
    I think the DUP still have a chance to have a strategy which works. However, that requires a radical vision. They need to simply hold the line. Then if SF collapse the agreement they need to put it up to the UUP that they (the UUP) need to fall in with a united party and stop Sinn Fein.

    That would be a strategy and also a tactic which might well cause the TUV considerable problems. The DUP would be seen to be facing down SF and acting out of principle. Voters might well vote down the UUUC card and isolate the TUV.

    Then returned with a majority and teh First Ministership the DUP (with UUP help) would have seen off Sinn fein and the TUV.

  • Carsons Cat

    just for info- the 22 paragraphs I refer to is in your post Turgid, not Allister’s statement but I’d still go and have a read of it too – interesting how the *ahem* emhpasis *ahem* has changed somewhat.

  • Turgon, I doubt if many Unionist politicians are aware of the present role of Dublin officials in policing issues here so you’d need to factor that into your analysis.

  • Carsons Cat

    Turgid
    Re the 11:45
    Oops – think the “political lifetime” one was dealt with. AFAIK it was Dodds who used the line and has repeated it time and time again that it relates to an SF role – something which wont happen.

    Now, any chance of dealing with some substance?

  • Turgon

    Carsons Cat,
    Remind me who was that convicted paedophile the DUP recently let back into the party and made a party official? Oh yes here it is: Brian Hutchinson.

  • Kevsterino

    The edgy purists must be delighted by the on again off again nature of this last pow wow.

    Makes it all seem superficial and banal, whether to have self government, but only with silly walks and bilingual street signs.

  • scarecrow

    Relations within unionism are worse than between unionism and Sinn Fein, how amusing….!

  • Carsons Cat

    Turgon,
    Is TUV policy officially now that two wrongs make a right?

    Any chance of the issues? No, thought not.

    No chance of telling us exactly how P&J devolution would weaken the union and advance some mythical SF project.

    The simple fact is that SF lied to their supporters in 06 and said they’d get it devolved (on a basis which was just fantasy). Now they’re keen to get it devolved on just about any basis (cos the bogtrotters won’t have a clue about the nitty gritty). Yet somehow simply because of that unionism will be fundamentally undermined.

    And you have the cheek to accuse Robinson of having no strategy or ability?

    Allister is an opportunist who will attempt to use any issue from water charging to justice powers to claim that its all some massive provo plot which only he can see of course. Its probably no surprise that on top of it he’s none to keen on any idea of unionist unity – he wasn’t mad on the idea in the 80’s either.

  • joeCanuck

    Maybe, just maybe, we can leave the whataboutery out of the argument.

  • georgieleigh

    Carson’s Cat has it right.

    So P&J might get devolved, as originally planned.

    So bloody what? Does this mean that all lawyers mutate into leprechauns overnight.

    Turgon, you write well but you need to tone down the hyperbole over this:
    “DUP capitulation”, “major humiliation”,”rock like mystique was smashed irrevocably”,”trapped in a nightmare of his own creation”

    Calm down FFS.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Either way TUV will do well out of this.
    Even if most of the 15 alleged DUP dissenters can be persuaded to stay in the Party, theres bound to be a few who will jump.

    At random, I take David Simpson who is prolly very vulnerable to the UUP in May.
    He will lose votes to the UUP AND TUV (even Davey Calvert!!!).
    But the TUV wont take that seat…..but if the sitting MP defected….his name recognition AND TUV should see him hold off UUP….especially if Moutray jumps with him.

    So David Simpson….JUMP!!!

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Carsons Cat said

    ” (cos the bogtrotters won’t have a clue about the nitty gritty). ”

    Unionist enlightenment strikes again.

  • Carsons Cat

    Panic
    Just to be clear – I draw a very clear distinction between some of the “hardmen” in SF’s background to even the SF electorate, never mind the wider nationalist community.

  • scarecrow

    No chance of telling us exactly how P&J devolution would weaken the union and advance some mythical SF project.

    Didn’t you hear Jimbo on radio ulster? It brings control of the police and judicary on to the island of Ireland,says he, which I agree. For nationalists thats something, a little disengagement of the British state. It may not bring about a UI by 2016 but as Adams says it’s a staging post. Allister is our friend..!!

  • Framer

    If SF want devolution of P&J then unionists should be sure it is not in their interest.

  • aquifer

    “That does not mean that all unionists should fear Plan B”

    Rule by a UK government who do not give a damn and an Irish government who do is de facto joint authority.

    I am not at all clear why security powers returning to Stormont should be a disaster for Unionism.

    If SF don’t take sugar in their tea do unionists demand two lumps?

    Headless chickens running around with sashes on are still only good for the pot.

    Real unionists will be voting Alliance next time.

    Voting for any other flavour of loyalist alphabet soup is clearly dereliction of duty or subversion.

  • cut the bull

    Smash Sinn Fein/IRA, Smash Sinn Fein.Smash, smash ,smash, with mash get smash does any body want any roast tatties n neeps.

    Peter’s sending Nelson to get the dinner.

    Are Gregory and Nigel still with us?

    Where’s Geoffrey? Surely he’s still with us cos he has no where left to go.

  • wild turkey

    Turgon

    staying away from the local issues, but from your previous posts, i believe you have an interest in military history.

    the point you make about tactical brilliance and and an abysmal understanding of the strategic implications is historically documented. the fundamental issues are best addressed in the Illiad and the Odyssey.

    I thought you may like to consider this. link below

    ‘In short, the picture of modern German military effectiveness is one of battlefield brilliance mixed with myopic vision at the strategic level. That combination ensured that German defeat would do maximum damage not only to the Reich’s neighbors, but also to the German people themselves. At the Battle of the Marne in September 1914 and again at the Battle of Moscow , early in each of the world wars–Germany had already reached the point where defeat was inevitable. Yet, tragically, the tactical competence of German military forces ensured each conflict would last another four years at terrible cost to all involved.’

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Germany's+fatal+blunders:+teutonic+military+history+of+the+20th…-a0212032910

  • Turgon

    wild turkey,
    I do not know if it is the specific book but I saw one on this subject advertised recently. If you know it please send me a link as it looks well worth the read (when I am not about my leaders business) 😉

  • Turgon – I really don`t care about timeframes. If the structures are right then like the manifesto says, go for a deal. If the deal is a pile of pap then don`t do a deal. Simple. If the deal is right then there is no point prevaricating…it`s erm common sense.

    However I would say that I would like to see some sort of weighted majority voting system introduced to Assembly / Executive structures as has always been my stance, if as it seems these talks have gone way beyond p&j to include the Irish Language.

  • Tiny

    1. A deal with the UUP will split the Ulster Unionists, Empey knows this so any deal is unlikely, if not impractible in any case.
    2. Bringing the parades issue into the mix may well backfire on the DUP if the voters fear it will bring violence back on the streets, how many unionists really care if the orangemen get to walk down the Garvaghy Road.
    3. Where is Jeffrey Donaldson, has he done a Jim Figerty?

  • Marcionite

    why had not a single DUP MLA defected to the TUV by now ? Why have defections been confined to grassroots and councillors?
    If independance of Protestant spirit is anything to go by, then there must be a lot of bitten tongues on the DUP benches all these years but why? That characteristic maybe common in amongst career politicians in national parties of power such as Labour/Torie but surely not the populist DUP?

    Wouldn’t Willie McCrea not be a more secure MLA had he called Paisley a Lundy ( an epithet one doesn’t hear anymore since Paisley started wearing the Lundy hat himself). I
    wouldn’t imagine being against sharing power with SF being a vote loser for such big beasts.

    But why didn’t they? Fear of Plan B? Since when did the Fear seep into the DUP though? One has to admit that it has but what happened to the party and people of Ulster Resistance , the party of Workers strikes , the party hyperbolic protest against the littote paper dragons of Sunningdale and the Anglo Irish agreement

    It has become axiomatic that every time Unionism comes to the table, it’s dealt a weaker hand. I think the DUP are realising this but like the chronic alcoholic who has given up the booze one day before liver failure, it will be a little late to hold up the dried fingernails of it’s enemies and pretending they’re scalps to (what were?) its voters.

    SFs ultimate goal is the proof of the state’s ungovernability. The logical outcome of this will be perpetual semi colonial direct rule or repartition which despite enlarging republican territory would have the pyrric effect of losing Antrim, East Derry and North Down/ Armagh forever

    The idea of unity by 2016 is risible and unacheivable unless 50% of Protestants switch sides. But SF are impossible to act as persuaders due to the IRA’s sectarian murder campaign. For SF persuading for Irish unity is like a rapist persuading his victim to go on a low cholestoral diet; maybe decent honourable advice but who’s going listen to the perpetrators if trauma?

  • Carsons Cat

    Turgon,
    So no sign of even a single reason why P&J is a bad thing?

    Give Jim a call in the morning – there’ll be another reason along by then.

  • “If SF want devolution of P&J then unionists should be sure it is not in their interest. ”

    Why? Sinn Fein wanted water charges deferred. Does that mean Unionist should pay for their water as not paying for it will lead to a United Ireland? Of course we have to be careful and examine the situation carefully but devolution of p&j of itself is no threat to the Union whatsoever. The old Stormont had such powers. It all depends on the details and the structures and the operation of any such devolution.

  • Turgon

    Kilsally,
    If the DUP would go all out for weighted majorities and a proper opposition I think they would capture a new strategic vision. they might well force the UUP on board in an election.

    SF will never accept this in the current system and they have a veto. Hence, the need to collapse the agreement and have a new one. If SF can be induced to do this over P&J fair enough.

    If Robinson had the vision to do this he would have my support (not that it is worth much). Anyhow to bed: goodnight all.

  • I can`t see Jim Allister winning any Westminster seats, any DUP losses will go to UUP and the DUP (Paisley) will probably pick up the Nationalist vote just to keep Allister out! I can agree with alot of what Jim Allister says, i just don`t think he has a viable way of getting what he wants. Robinsons gradual reform from within seems to me a better option

  • Carsons Cat

    Kilsally,
    Apparently the dogma of “if themmuns be for it then I be agin it” would sum up TUV policy on, well, just about any issue.

    Structures etc don’t appear to matter – they’ve been pronounced as treachery before any final agreement has been published. Simple pre-emptive opposition allows for an argument unclouded by the facts but it doesn’t actually come back to anything other than the mantra that if SF want it then it must be intrinsically bad.

    That to me sums up just about the worst tendency of unionism – a belief that somehow people like Barry McElduff are actually chess grandmasters and can think 43 political moves ahead. We’re told however that Allister has all the answers – and this from a man who now rejects the very manifesto which brought him back from his hissy-fit inspired electoral holiday.

    His reason for rejecting that manifesto – he didn’t write it therefore he can’t be held accountable. Wonder does Robinson make that strategic blunder then Turgon?

  • Turgon,

    convinicing analysis as usual, it is indeed very difficult to see how the DUP can avoid either the ‘humiliation’ of granting SF what they so clearly want and what the DUP so clealry said they couldnt have or them taking some harsh love from the Unionist population in an Assembly election.

    You have however neglected to mention how apparent DUP negotiation gains as in the case of the absence of a dealine in the STA has counted for very little when tested against the British governments desire to see the ‘Peace Process’ completed. You cant blame Robinison for that but you can blame him and the DUP for not seeing it coming as per David Trimble and decomissioning.

    If a deal is done and as you predict ‘republican confidence will soar’ it will not be down to any strategic or tactical brilliance from SF but rather becuase they simply relied on what has been clear since the signing of the GFA – the British governemnt is intent on sticking to the deal they cut with the Provos and which undepins the current political process.

    Unionist anger should not be directed against each other but rather acrosss the Irish Sea.

  • Mick Fealty

    MU,

    I have my hot water bottle ready for the off, but before I go, I’d be interested in your more extended thoughts on what this ‘deal’ was precisely:

    “…they simply relied on what has been clear since the signing of the GFA – the British governemnt is intent on sticking to the deal they cut with the Provos and which undepins the current political process.”

    Night all…

  • barryfrombelfast

    On ‘devolution’ of P&J, has anyone checked the NIO website (NIO Departmental Report 2009)?

    £1.16B in 09-10 and, at most, £60M on other CJ.

    Doesn’t make Gordie’s £1B package seem so attractive?

    Actually, except for TUPE transfer of civil servants, what difference does a NI Min of Justice make?

    Most aspects of CJ insulated from political control. What a fuss over nought!

  • percy

    MU
    Its funny how SF are more “british” than unionists in the true sense of the word “british”.
    SF/Brit Gov’t are speaking the same language.
    and no-one likes a sour-puss, esp when we know that’s just a game.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Kilsally,
    Theres no chance of any nationalist giving even a low preference to a DUP person. It just wont happen.
    Tactically SF needs three unionist parties and needs to build up TUV as a credible unionist party.
    It brings Plan B closer.

  • legaleagle

    There have been various posts on the ‘folly’ of allowing the nominated person of the largest party to be FM.

    Someone, in another post, even asked for a legal opinion, on the 2006 and 2007 Acts.

    And so (at no expense) …

    On the legal point, the 2007 Act is a ‘red herring’ as it only defers the dates set in the 2006 Act.

    Sections 16A and C of the 2006 Act are as strange a concoction as I have come across in nearly 40 years of observing NI constitutional law. As stated in earlier posts, section 16A(4) & (5) state:-
“(4) The nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly to be the First Minister.

    (5) The nominating officer of the largest political party of the second largest political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly to be the deputy First Minister.”

    If that was to be varied, you would expect the variation to be found in the same collection of sub-sections but …
    Section 16A(12) does state:-
“(12) This section shall be construed in accordance with, and is subject to, section 16C.”

    But section 16C is entitled ‘supplementary’. It nevertheless does state, in section (6):-
“If at any time the party which is the largest political party of the largest political designation is not the largest political party–
(a) any nomination to be made at that time under section 16A(4) or 16B(4) shall instead be made by the nominating officer of the largest political party; and
(b) any nomination to be made at that time under section 16A(5) or 16B(5) shall instead be made by the nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation.”
    This is after somewhat mundane provisions on “nominating officers” etc.

    The 1998 Act has been declared to be a ‘constitutional Act’ by what is now the Supreme Court. There is nothing more ‘constitutional’ than the election of a First Minister but a fundamental constitutional rule is effectively reversed by a supplementary provision in amongst otherwise mundane provisions.

    No wonder our ‘political masters’ in the NIO haven’t made much of a go at composing a Bill of Rights …

  • PaddyReilly

    The logical outcome of this will be perpetual semi colonial direct rule or repartition which despite enlarging republican territory would have the pyrric effect of losing Antrim, East Derry and North Down/ Armagh forever

    There are 5 constituencies which lie wholly in what was County Antrim. At the last election they sent members to Stormont as follows:

    North Antrim: 4 U, 2 N
    South Antrim 3 U, 1 A, 2 N
    East Antrim 5 U, 1 A
    North Belfast 3 U, 3 N
    West Belfast 6 N

    Total = 15 U, 2 A, 13 N.

    But at the next Stormont Election boundary changes may cause there to be an extra Nationalist member for East Antrim, giving 14 U, 2 A, 14 N.

    There are parts of two other constituencies also in County Antrim, but as far as I can make out they are equally balanced as well.

    It follows then that in County Antrim Nationalists and Unionists are more or less equally balanced.

    Therefore, there is no possibility of excluding County Antrim from a reunification enjoyed by other counties. I think you will find that that even the UK parliament believes it has better things to do with its budget than maintain a bunch of largely useless Unionists in power for all time by ever more outrageous acts of gerrymander against the wishes of an obvious geographical majority.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    There is no possibility of repartition.
    But to go along with that theory…..there are nationalists representations in 14 of 18 constituencies……and 17 of the 18 have unionist representation.
    Repartition would be a logistical nightmare.
    While County Antrim IS evenly balanced a repartition WOULD include the county in the “UK” …Belfast would more likely be an open city as 12 of the 24 seats are nationalist 10 unionist and 2 Alliance.
    But a ridiculous notion.
    Frankly Norn Iron is NOT the balkans. While we have lived thru horrific times, I have a firm belief in the essential decency of the vast majority of people here. I am indebted by too many acts of kindness shown to me and mine by people of all persuasions. This far outweighs and harm that was ever done to me.
    And I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who cannot say the same thing.

    Rpartition would deny the right of any unionist/loyalist/protestant in historic towns like say Omagh to be as British as they want to be…….and deny the right of any nationalist/republican/catholic in say Ballymena from being as Irish as they want to be.

    We are essentially too decent to contemplate that.

  • Wabbits

    Christ on a bike !! Repartition ! Nationalists voting for the DUP to keep the TUV out ! Have some of you lot been at the solvents and plant food tonight ?

    There will never be repartition. And no self respecting Nationalist would ever vote for the DUP, even if it was to keep Beelzebub out. One’s as bad as the other in Nationalist eyes.

  • That’s a well written, interesting analysis, Turgon.

    I understand your frustration at Peter Robinson’s strategy from you TUV point of view but I have to say, as a nationalist, I think Peter Robinson has served unionism well. P&J is more symbolic than anything but, by giving SF what they want at this time (if he does), he will have kept them on board and earned some credit from them which he can cash in at a later date when he needs to.

    More importantly for Unionists, he will have sated the nationalist appetite for political progress in the short to medium term at least (i.e. keep them happy with continued reciprocal political engagement which will lessen their hunger for a fast-track road to a UI). This is a win-win for Unionists of whatever stripe.

    While hardline Unionists will never come round to giving SF anything (and I can sympathise with why that is), I think the general public want politicians delivering bread and butter issues, not an interminable discussion over largely symbolic issues. I have a feeling that the next elections may hold some surprises in this regard.

    I think history will judge Peter Robinson as someone who played a vital part in keeping stability in NI at a critical time and, in doing so, helped maintain the union for longer than many may have thought possible. He looked beyond the immediate advantages to Unionism in saying no to SF demands and realised that in the long run, Unionism could be better served, and strengthened, by delivering a stable political environment to all of NI’s citizens.

  • [quote][i]Or then again, Turgon, London and Dublin might opt for Plan B instead. Do you have a strategy and tactics to outflank that option? ….. Posted by Nevin on Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:25 PM[/i][/quote]

    Err….. given the disastrous, dire straits state of the nations under the pathetic stewardships and pseudo-leaderships in London and Dublin, what on earth makes you think a Plan B on paper, conjured up from them is worth anything more than the value offered by a good firelighter for kindling a blaze and burning flames.

    It should not go unnoticed, that there has been no one in the world of big politics, who has stepped up to the plate in the arena, to offer a solution which will have all in agreement with levers and facilities to kick starting a new nation into life, with local administration of its own systems. Is that because they have no solution and are enslaved and intimidated to serve and/or are addicted and helplessly dependent upon current archaic and anarchic institutions/bully boy clubs within subversive secretive orders/cloistered franchises/Ignoble and Ineffectual Domains in Virtual Dominion?

    It is interesting to consider that the first sensible act of any Viable and Competent and Community Confidence Building Police and Justice Executive would be to charge the Stormont Assembly members with Political Fraud and Misappropriation and Misuse of Public Funds.

    Surely it is easier to resolve legacy difficulties and entrenched petty arrogant and ignorant religious and political power plays, by starting with a clean sheet of paper and not allowing any old systems of particular and peculiar advantage from anywhere to be party to a new way of doing things. In other words……. CREATE SOMETHING/ANYTHING COMPLETELY NEW AND UNIQUE AND WHICH WORKS TO THE MUTUAL ADVANTAGE OF ALL.

    Or is that too difficult for yous to do yourselves, if you could even decide amongst yourselves, that that would be a perfect plan with no hassle from the Past involved in the Planning and Execution of the Future. And you’d be as well asking anyone who would want any part of the divisive and destructive Past included in the Future, what their agenda is, and why they are against constructive imaginative change which has no legacy problems introduced.

    You are hereby advised/informed that the above is QuITe Simple and not Difficult at All for Others with Others to do, with IT and AI for yous, with yous ……[url=http://tinyurl.com/yfncu5r]Virtually Real Partnering Solutions InCorporateD[/url]

    And InCorporateD may be somewhat New to you, utilising as it does “an object-oriented, imperative, multi-paradigm system programming language” …. http://www.digitalmars.com/d/ The beauty of it though, is that you do not need to know the in and outs of it, to benefit from it and its use, for they are selflessly provided to You and All, by those who are au fait with the its ins and the outs and are Majoring and Pioneering in IT and Semantic Web dDevelopments.

    Oh, and try as I might, take away the negativity spun into whatever Jim Allister says about everything and everybody and there always seems to remain no substance at all to the body of anything he says …… which has Cynic2 on Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:37 PM also exposing his lack of vision ….
    [quote][i]Now Turgon you talk a lot about strategy. Before you can develop a strategy however you need vision of where you are going / what you are trying to create.

    Have the TUV got one? [/i][/quote]

    [quote]That’s a well written, interesting analysis, Turgon ……. Posted by N.Exile on Feb 02, 2010 @ 05:45 AM [/quote] … Seconded, N.Exile. It was a darned good deep read, well expressed and quite beautifully written too, and thus I can’t this time agree with georgieleigh who posted on Feb 01, 2010 @ 11:56 PM ….. [quote][i]Turgon, you write well but you need to tone down the hyperbole over this:
    “DUP capitulation”, “major humiliation”,“rock like mystique was smashed irrevocably”,“trapped in a nightmare of his own creation”

    Calm down FFS. [/i][/quote]

    Hyperbole are what is surely expected of rhetoric and oratory to elevate discussion and debate from the pits of despair that offer only the mendacious pedestrian and politically mundane.

    RIP … David Ervine, a True Progressive.

  • Munsterview

    As I cannot use those U and K letters adjoined (since yesterday I am under observation by our pc brigade ) let me begin by saying that over recent years I have been a frequent visitor to weekend seminars in that large island , east of Ireland. These seminars are addressed by authors such a Henry Lincon, Lynn Picket, Andrew Sinclair et al. on subjects as diverse as Roslyn Church, the Holy Grail and Jack the Ripper etc.

    The audience is usually 20% international visitors and the remainder is very much middle and upper England, mostly liberally minded but politically diverse, New Labour, Old Guard Labour, Fabians, Liberals, Conservatives and whatever-you-are-having-yourself old boy! (or gal)

    In the main harmless but given the odd ex ( ?) spook whistle blower giving a lecture revealing all, not surprisingly there are occasionally curious people in cars who are so obsessively interested in architecture that they spend the weekends examining our building through binoculars!

    To avoid any cause of problems for the organizers with these guys, from the outset I gave them details of my background and republican politics and that I wished it to be openly known.

    That caused a bit of a flap to begin with but led to a lot of new friends. It also led to a situation where continually I have to listen to the indignation and views of individuals and groups of these English people regarding the mess of the ‘Northern Irish Situation’ meal break after meal break, seminar after seminar.

    No matter how often I go people will keep coming up to discuss what is happening( or why it is not happening) and to apologize for continuing British Involvement in Northern Ireland. And as for what it is all costing……… well let nobody say that the English people are not passionate about monetary aspect of politics that impact them.

    When I read speculation regard re-partition, giving two counties to the South etc. this begs the question, how many of you of a Unionist view, be it a big U or small u go regularly to England, and discuss politics with the socia/economic, politically literate people, the segment of society that is especially concerned with real issues and motivated to vote? If so there is little evidence of it here so far.

    Turgon, Marcionite and others of you with similar views, do you have any idea what this segment of English Society now thinks of the Irish ? Sorry let me rephrase that, we in Southern Ireland to them are The Irish where their children have oh such lovely enjoyable weekends in Dublin etc……… you all in the six counties, National and Unionist alike are…… The Bloody Irish!

    I am not one bit surprised that Gordon Brown dropped everything and came to Stormount ( or whatever is the current P.C. label for the place is) to sulk around for days, once the whole show seemed about to go belly up!. Or that he hijacked our unfortunate Taoiseach so suddenly and unexpectedly across from London with him that the poor man did not have even a spare underpants when he arrived. Now while Brian and his antics may have left the rest of us down here without a shirt on our backs, that was still no way to treat the poor man !.

    Labour have their finger on the public pulse in England, especially concerned Middle England that will actually turn out to vote and whose collective votes will be decisive in determining the next U…(.oops, nearly did it again! ) Government in the neighboring big island to the east of us. If the various shades of Unionism/Loyalism are indifferent to the concerns of this specific voting group, the back room labour number crunchers and pollsters are most certainly not. The same applies to the other party back-rooms boys and gals.

    The Current Conservative Leaders at best are concerned to make up possible numbers post next election while at worst the spooks through them are attempting to justify their big new building and big budgets to the English establishment. However once the gloves are off for an election and once real money and real budgets are discussed, Cameron too must be mindful of the monetary concerns of this middle England group.

    I mean no disrespect as I have been often enough in Northern Ireland to know that in the old days a dispute about the painted color of two kerb stones on a street corner could lead to a weekend or more of inter communal rioting. At least the debate is now elevated to discussing possibilities what to do with two counties.

    As to content however, well I see more reality in Ativar last weekend! And as to ‘ Ties To The Union ‘ and what it means to ‘ Middle England ‘ , if my personal experience is anything to go by it only involves waiting until the latter are holding the balance of power in Parliament, it do not matter whether inside of the Conservatives or Labour parties. The Six Counties will then be offered for sale to any credible grouping of Irish Nationalists for a cost that will change left over from a Euro!

  • Cynic2

    Turgon

    You ignored my final point. ‘Beating themuns’ isn’t a strategy. In your post and responses there is no vision of what you want to create other than a situation where a Unionist party, to use the vernacular that you are perhaps too coy to use, simply has its electoral boot on the neck of the fenians.

    Where, pray, does that take you? I am sure it will give some of those those huddled around the Lodge table a warm inner glow but what does it add to our collective futures? Where does it take us?

    And in what perveretd universe do you thisnk that:

    1

  • Cynic2

    You ignored my final point. ‘Beating themuns’ isn’t a strategy. In your post and responses there is no vision of what you want to create other than a situation where a Unionist party, to use the vernacular that you are perhaps too coy to use, simply has its electoral boot on the neck of the fenians.

    Where, pray, does that take you? I am sure it will give some of those those huddled around the Lodge table a warm inner glow but what does it add to our collective futures? Where does it take us?

    And in what perverted universe do you think that:

    1 The British and Irish Governments will put up with it

    2 The majority of Catholics will put up with it

    3 The vast majority of Unionists want it

    Look at Allisters meeting at the Albertbridge Road last week. Most of the audience were well over 60. Time is passing you by while most of the rest of us Unionists want to put the past behind us and develop a shared future with those who share thsi small corner of the UK and Ireland.

  • Alias

    I think MU has it about right, It’s very important to the British state that its citizens fully endorse its police service, and they’re not going to let selfish party political get in the way of that.

    MI6’s vision for NI (before MI5 took over the handling of their agents within the Provos in 1974) was that there should be a confederated Ireland within NATO. This policy was supported by another player, the US. A Confederate Ireland existed for a brief period between 1641 and 1649, and that is essentially the embryonic model within the British Irish Agreement.

    In contrast, MI5’s vision was directly related to its mandate to defend the constitutional integrity of the UK, and to promote British national, economic and strategic interests. Its purpose was very simple: to get those who rejected British rule to accept its legitimacy and to assist in its administration.

    That was also the policy of the British government, particularly of Margaret Thatcher “The minority should be led to support or at least acquiesce in the constitutional framework of the state in which they live.” (Thatcher, 1993, p.384)

    The problem for unionists is that they can’t be sure of which part of the British state is in control of the policy. There were conflicting agendas between the Security Services in the past (see how many of MI6’s touts were exposed and killed when MI5 took over), and between those security services and the government.

    Their latent fear is that devolution of P&J is simply part of a hidden agenda of integrating it with P&J in Ireland thereby enabling unity through harmonisation rather than simply bringing it under the control of local politicians. In that regard they think it best that P&J stays with London.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon:

    “That does not mean that all unionists should fear Plan B”

    I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t all unionists start campaigning for a united Ireland ? This way, you’d be lined up together with all the other parties in the Dail in permanently excluding SF from government, and nobody would call you bigots for it. Isn’t that the logical conclusion of your “anything is better than SF in government” thing ?

    SF will never accept this in the current system and they have a veto. Hence, the need to collapse the agreement and have a new one. If SF can be induced to do this over P&J fair enough.

    Boy oh boy, Turgon, I think you’ve struck gold! Yes, all we need to do is get SF and the SDLP around the talks table to write a new agreement, and they will drop their silly insistence on mandatory coalition, and rightfully kneel before their Unionist overlords. Couldn’t we all have saved a lot of time if we’d simply asked you first ?

    ‘republican confidence will soar’

    Is the principal objective to stop republicans from having any fun irrespective of the fact that, like a broken clock, they might be right twice a day ? That’s stupid. In any case, all you need to do is point out that they jettisoned all their principles, were militarily defeated, and forced to participate in a settlement that enshrines what they used to call the “illegal unionist veto”.

    Carson’s Cat:

    Is TUV policy officially now that two wrongs make a right?

    Yes, it is. I’ve been told apparently it’s not a problem for the TUV to have members who want Torrens Knight released, because after all, Naomi Long was once nice to Dawn Purvis. I’ve never got a straight answer to the question as to why someone who thinks that loyalists should be unconditionally released from jail would make the TUV, a party supposedly opposed to all such concessions, their party of choice.

    The TUV membership form does ask the prospective member to sign a declaration that they support the aims/principles/etc of TUV … why would a party leader not want to enforce this declaration ? Questions, questions ..

    Marcionite:

    why had not a single DUP MLA defected to the TUV by now ? Why have defections been confined to grassroots and councillors?

    I’d honestly like to believe that it’s their commitment to doing the right thing. In reality, it’s probably more because they feel at the moment that being in the DUP gives them a better chance of holding on to their seat (and income).

  • Cynic2

    Turgon

    If you want an example of what we really need to sort out, on my doormat today dropped a little form from the NI Human Rights Consortium with a postcard helpfully addressed for me to fill in writing to them demanding a new Bill of Rights for NI. So I looked them up. They are supported by over 140 NGOs in NI – Yep that’s right. Every interest group under the sun with the vast majority funded by the state in one way or another and all wanting more legislation to protect their little sectional interests – then if course then they will need more money to help enforce it.

    This is what we really need to sort out. Layer after layer of bureaucracy and publicly funded jobs that drain the real economy

  • Flip

    Good article. This reminds me of an article written by Matthew Parris in the Times called “Gordon Brown: the terrible vacuum”.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article3731645.ece

    It comes to a very similar conclusion about Brown as a man who is good on tactics but has no idea where he is going

  • Alias

    He is good with strategy too, but it’s just that Turgon is obfuscating the DUP’s best interests with the best interests of the Unionist people, and not recognising that the former will always have precedence over the latter. In short, political parties exist to serve the interests of the members of those political parties first and foremost, with all other considerations – such as the national or unionist interest – being secondary.

  • ardmaj55

    Turgon. [5] Excellent analysis of Robinson’s inability to lead. Forget Kilsally who hears and believes what wants to and disregards the rest, as Paul Simon said in ‘The Boxer’
    As you pointed out, Robinson thought the change from biggest grouping to biggest party was a great wheeze, effectively he was blackmailling his own voters. why did he think that was politically astute? it has come back now to bite him and is potentially politically fatal for him.
    Great political brain, my ankle.

  • Flip

    Agreed, but I am not sure the motivation to get into power and hold onto it, no matter what, and with no outcome to speak of as a result of being in power, can be described as anything other than a survival strategy (or siege mentality). Have we not moved on from this?

  • Framer

    “the vast majority [of NGOs] funded by the state in one way or another”:

    Actually almost all are funded by Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies. He employs more people here than Bombardier.

    Policy for the ‘voluntary’ sector is his prerogative.

    Wait till he asks for payback!

  • Marcionite

    Fitzjameshorse: tell me exactly how would Britishness be denied to unionists living in Omagh in a United Ireland? Have you never heard of the successful joyous Rossnowlagh Orange march? tell me, would your partaking of Morris dancing be curtailed by the Dail? What is British culture? Tell me your folk songs, your mythology. Loyalty to the crown is not a culture but a political expression. Utter hogwash.

  • Mick,

    “I have my hot water bottle ready for the off, but before I go, I’d be interested in your more extended thoughts on what this ‘deal’ was precisely:”

    Sorry couldnt stick the pace and it was late, so much excitement, just had to get some sleep to recharge in readiness for the next 2 weeks of cliffhangers and deadlines with the DUP taking advantage of the poor weather to get their revenge on the media by keeping them out in the cold night after night for the very unfair portrayal of them as fundametalist drumlin-billies.

    But returing to your question.. I meant no more than the GFA is the SF/IRA bottom line and the transfer of Police and Justice is, to use everyones least favourite piece of Ulstereze political jargon “the last piece of the jigsaw”. They may be on their own from now on if the DUP have the good sense to cut a deal and will not be able to call on the British government further but instead have to rely on Unionists to tear each other apart.

    They are unlikely to be disappointed.

  • Alias

    It’s hardly the Shinners “bottom line” since their input in the pre-written and predetermined FTA negotiations was negligible. They’re just being good boys and girls and doing as they are told. All the more fun for their tribe if the endorsement of Her Majesty’s security services is presented as a victory for that tribe rather than a victory for said security services. 😉

  • Alias

    FTA = GFA

  • fin

    “how would Britishness be denied to unionists living in Omagh in a United Ireland? Have you never heard of the successful joyous Rossnowlagh Orange march?”
    Marcionite, Britishness? there is nothing British about the OO Parade (and it is a parade not a march) in Rossnowlagh, its attended by my neighbours and ex-schoolfriends, and I can assure you they are as Irish as anyone else in Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Ballintra, Donegal Town etc.
    Its their culture, their tradition but none of them (or indeed any OO members or Protestants in the 26 counties of Ireland) have ever been British, the British tag is relatively new and exists only among a section of the Protestant community in the 6 counties.

  • Alias,

    You dont honestly think that SF/IRA turned up at the table and said “ok chaps lets have a frank and open discussion”?

    The deal was done long before that, and every statement from the Prime minister, the Irish government, the SOS, the Tories and more latterly the PSNI chiefs have reflected the SF/IRA bottom line.

  • tacapall

    Turgon, just what did bring The British Gov, Irish Gov, Unionists, Nationalists, Loyalism, Republicanism to the negotiating table – Compromise. I as a Republican can never see a United Ireland coming out of the GFA or even leading to one in the far future. That was the compromise. The agenda being pushed now by Nationalism is about equality. One section of society cannot just be ignored as some Unionists would like to think. It sounds bizzare to Nationalists and Republicans when some sections of Unionism talk about “Terrorists in Government” ie Sinn Fein, but seems like they have amnesia when it comes to Unionist and Loyalist terrorism. The DUP having set up Ulster Resistance, most of whom are at the negotiating table today, who along with the UDA and UVF brought tons of weaponry into the country from South Africa, this is fact. The UUP had no problem standing shoulder to shoulder with both the UDA and the UVF during the GFA negotiations, even tossing about the possibility of a link up with the PUP, who are the political wing of the UVF. Now we also have the connection of the TUV with Torrens Knight the serial killer, what utter hypocrisy, another Unionist party with moral blinkers on, who’s mantra is, Traditional Unionist Values, what does that mean to Nationalists but more of the same of people like Basil Brooke, James Craig, Dawson Bates and a young Ian Paisley. young people do not fall for that fallacy, go into the nightclub scene on a Saturday night in Belfast and see for yourself, they do not care for that rhetoric. Im afraid Turgon, Unionism is going to go the same path as the Dodo bird with that mindset. If a United Ireland were to come about it would be because of people like you and your party.

  • ardmaj55

    Tiny [6] I thought i spotted wee jeffrey on the TV monitor at the stormont chamber [from one of the evening news, but it’s surely dawned on the DUP that he’s getting itchy feet again. If you remember Jim Figgerty of the fig rolls ads, you must have been a fan of the late 60s fantasy series ‘The Champions’, because on Wdenesday nights in ’68 the only time they showed that advert, from memory. Couldn’t stand that programme.

  • riverlagan

    Interesting use of words from Turgon, and indeed, Jim Allister(On the Nolan show), describing Gregory Campbells’ resolution, as both heroic and manly.

    It would not be surprising to see Gregory in TUV colours before the Westminster elections.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    One of the better aspects of our divided society is that there is very little pressure to be anything other than what we want to be.
    I recall my first job when new entrants about 10 in number were required to sign a little piece of paper confirming our loyalty to “the Queen, her heirs and successors”.
    Roughly half the people in the room took this oath involving GOD, while the other half turned it over to “affirm”.
    The alternative was to go home.
    Of course removing the oath of allegiance… this was one of the first reforms that unionists rejected…I dont think any are seriously considering bringing it back.
    We have moved from a dominant culture to shared cultures.
    In most towns and villages people choose to live in a British or Irish environment. Untoyched by the other lot except at the water cooler at work.
    Even the Peace Wall (God help us!!!) is not really about stopping bullets and petrol bombs its about fully expressing ourselves without having sight of the other lot.

    Quite frankly…..its how we like it. We can and do live with it.
    Much to the chagrin of the NIO, much to the chagrin of the Great and Good in Journalism and the other newest elite in the Blogosphere……..we LIKE THAT WAY OF LIFE.

    Re-partition and re-patriation turns its back on our version of multi-culturalism ……it re-instates the EXCLUSIVE primacy of Britishness in Ballymena and of Irishness in Coalisland.
    It is a council of despair.
    And….more important not even a starter.

  • Munsterview

    FitzamesHorse Feb 02, 2010 @ 03:39 PM

    A few things to chew over in there ! Those behind The Celtic Revival in the last quarter of the 19th, century were to begin with in the main Anglo Irish. When the Poet W.B. Yeats was starting fame and fortune in the England, his father send him a long letter as to why he should return home and make his contribution from Ireland. While he gives many reasons for this he ended with a moral imperative……..” besides it is the right thing to do….”

    That Irish Cultural revival caught the imagination and the english speaking world, W.B., Lady Gregory, Singe, Bishop Graves, grandfather of Robert…… the list is endless and it is these people created a cultural pride that all from Antrim to Wexford and Kerry to Derry could be part of. Without the work they did in giving people pride and confidence in their own arts, crafts and abilities.

    Without the work of these fine Protestant Irish Patriots later Independence (limited as it was) would not have been possible. The selection of Douglas Hyde C of I. as our first President of the 26 county Republic reflected this respect, esteem and debt.

    The Two Northern Communities need not live in cultural ghettos, protestants/ planter stock/ stroke whatever have a cultural heritage second to none in Europe. Another such cultural revival in this second decade of the twenty first century could do what the first one did for the Spirit Of The Nation in the last quarter of the 19th.

    Our current President , her self and some of her immediate family innocent victims of the troubles who had every reason for bitterness instead reached out, among others to the very segment of Loyalist society that caused her family trauma.

    We should not forget but we can forgive and build an inclusive and dare I say it, prosperous society on this Island. The Celtic Tiger proved that we had the imagination and genius to do it for the few, now let us do it for the many and all !

  • FitzjamesHorse

    My admiration for an tUachtáran knows no limits.
    It is however 2010 not 1910.
    To some extent an Irish cultural revival….U2 (and that waste of space Bono), Liam Neeson, Sinead O’Connor, the revival of the language in the North, resurgent Gaelic games, the Irish sports successes since say 1990 can all point to a similar revival.
    And yes many of those people were involved in 1916.indirectly or directly.

    There however the comparison falls down. When Michael Flatley and the chorus line from “Riverdance” high step their way into the GPO in Belfast in 2016..I will be very impressed.

  • Munsterview

    Not possibly the best examples U2 is a major international rock act that while started in Ireland, could be equally well be based in Tim Buck Too and still have the same global reach. In fact I think they are currently officially based in Holland for tax purposes.

    Likewise, Riverdance; the setting is Irish but there is little uniquely Irish about the drum and other rhythms that underline the show, these are part of universal culture hence its international appeal also. Incidently full praise to both for what they have achieved, I am not knocking that.

    What of say ‘ Hang All The Harpers’ ( hi Marie ) something like that play was uniquely Irish, could run in any community in this island and have resonance and be seen outside the country as distinctly Irish.

    One of the unintended side effects of the border was that it also cut off northern protestants/loyalists from their own southern cultural roots. Look up the pre Act Of Union speeches made by some planter Irish Peers and Commons that favored Irish Independence, their language against the Crown was far more intemperate than Gaelic stock of that time or McGuiness would use to-day

    The point that I was making is that Northern Protestants/Loyalists seeking cultural or other identity do not have to re-invent the wheel, it is already here if dormant. What a voyage discovery awaits and what energies it could release for both communities North, South, East and West.

    The post famine clericalism / Catholicism foisted on this country has now failed and is discredited for all time. And rightly so, good bloody riddance to most of it, it had little to do with the wonderful heritage of inate spirituality in this island.

    Reading these exchanges in slugger, it would seem that there are few certainties left to the Unionist peoples of whatever persuasions either, be it politics or religion. Who would have thought that a Prod first lady would have given us our first political sex scandal in Ireland of the 21st, cen. even if it was a bit of a damp squib at the end of the day ( well for the rest of us anyway, whatever of the participants) Yep there is hope for Ireland yet!

    All the materials for a new identity identity and ethos exist in this island only to be recovered and reevaluated. In Munster in the All For Ireland Movement, pre the First World War, Known I.R.B. men and Loyalists worked side by side and had over ten M.P. elected.

    Among their leaders was my distant cousin Captain D.D.Sheehan M.P. and incidently another was Cannon P. Sheehan the author, who totally opposed what what was coming out of Manooth.

    If most Southerners lump all Protestants together without appreciation of the diversity of beliefs, then most Unionists looking South make the same mistake when looking at the supposed Roman Catholic monolith. There are quite a few surprises for all of us in the journey ahead.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Munsterview…..my previous post was not to be taken very seriously.

  • Munsterview

    Point taken ! However there are serious issues involved worth taking a look at. Maybe if this process is bedded down then we can use the next six weeks before the next major crisis stalls everything again to make a start!

  • Ulidian

    PaddyReilly

    You need to learn to count, or get an atlas. County Antrim takes in parts of East Londonderry, Upper Bann, Lagan Valley, South Belfast & East Belfast, though I’m not absolutely sure about the last one – some people claim the Lagan is the county boundary. I’m pretty sure that the extra bits aren’t “balanced”. As for the five constituencies you mention:

    1) Any Unionist loss in East Antrim will be balanced by a Nationalist loss in North Antrim.
    2) I can’t see why you’d tally the number of MLAs – quotas vary & the vagaries of STV come into play. In that election Unionists polled 52.69% of the first preference vote, Nationalists 38.84% & others 8.47%.

  • ardmaj55

    Framer [25] Unionist politicians are in a bit of a bind on this, because it makes the ‘mainland’ that bit further cut off, but having P&J under their control means power, even though it’s diluted by being shared with SF and not like the period up til 1972.