O’Loan loses the SDLP’s party whip….

Just in from the SDLP:

Following a meeting with party leader Margaret Ritchie this morning the party whip has been removed from Declan O’Loan MLA until a future date, to be determined by the party leader.

, ,

  • Ourselves O’Loan …

  • J Kelly

    she really enjoys being principal,

  • Artemis

    She should be principled! That is purely embarassing for her after the series of comments she has made against the subject.

    He deserves this – if he wants to he can always defect to SF! Can’t see it though, unity is one thing but defection is another!

  • Cynic

    On Nanny Whip!!!

    What will Nuala say

  • Brian Walker

    I can’t help feeling sorry for Declan O’Loan and the brutality of his putdown. He clearly struck a raw nerve. I’m still puzzled by what he was really on about. Was he advocating a more unified and respectable nationalism breaking free from the taint of terrorism and therefore better able to do business with unionism? Was it an Assembly leadership bid? A bright guy like Declan must have been looking for a different point of departure than takeover by the democratic centralists. The SDLP would have been been better advised to let him go on talking. The removal of the party whip raises the unnecessary question of whether the SDLP can stand the strain. No doubt they’re worried about being compared to the anarchic UUP.

    The SDLP I knew well of old followed the time honoured tradition of ambiguity towards nationalism from O’Connell to the early Sinn Fein, invoking it to build up popular discipline as a counterweight to established power. There seems little sense in departing from this now –unless politicians like O’Loan believe that Sinn Fein are stealing a march on the SDLP with a makeover as the new luvvies of power sharing.

    Mick’s question, what is the purpose of the SDLP may be drawn more widely to embrace all the parties in the age of power sharing and relative constitutional stability.

    Sinn Fein’s purpose to advance unity is at best millenarian, while the unionists may not have quite noticed, the union is guaranteed by the popular will and both governments, not them.

    For now though, the strategy common to all parties is to carry on like sumo wrestlers locked in a tight grip of electoral politics and waiting for that split second of weakness to send the opponent tumbling to the mat. The tiny tremors of movement we saw from the SDLP and even the UUP during the election may yet hold the secret of breakout in ways we cannot yet foretell.

    As I’ve often argued, a party that cannot retain a role in a 108 member Assembly elected by STV doesn’t deserve to exist. For the SDLP this verdict is too harsh. Their appeal, free of the taint of past violence and all too free of groupthink may be transient assets but they are not yet exhausted.

    The more idealistic vision is that the party reaching across the divide will be the one that gains the marginal advantage, – but not O Lord, it seems just yet.

  • padraig

    Why couldn’t Maggie and Deckie get drunk on Dublin Govt money and slug it out in the driveway of the Slieve Donard Hotel the way they used to in the old days?

    Whoops forgot, The Dublin money has stopped since the Shinners took the Stoops job.

  • Jean Meslier

    Whilst I believe Deckers’ stance is motivated by N. Antrim. (the days of a free run in the Glens all but over), I think we need to go back to the Labour Party conference when Maggie and Conall got stuck in to FF.
    This caused huge resentment down here in NA and SD – Warrenpoint/Rostrevor.
    There’s a volcano bubbling under the radar.
    So despite retaining the Westminster seat, Conall’s vision, for a new future, might actually just succeed in clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Being all things to all (wo)men only delays the inevitable
    FST – Orange Order Pact
    SD – nice decent unionists
    WB under Joe Hendron – UDA

    The days of SF transfering 2nd preferences in sizeable numbers to the SDLP is over.

  • The problem with NI nationalism is not that there are too many parties, but too few. Who out there is sticking up for the Catholic grammar sector, for instance? The days of big-tent Unionism and Nationalism have been undermined by the realities of political power, but there is no consensus on what should take their place. Sectional unity pacts may have an attraction, but they are fighting against the tide of increasing electoral apathy.

  • BOM

    Brian I think you hit the nail of the head about what Declan was actually trying to say. He was intending to open up the discussion for a more unified nationalism and more SDLP type nationalism. He wasnt thinking of handing it all to the Shinners!

    One respected Nationalist party can have a decent and valued voice for the nationalist community and get things done but can also reach out to the unionist community. I think that is what Declan was trying to say but unfortunately he wasnt given the opportunity to. I could be wrong on this.

    I think suspending him from the Assembly only adds fuel to the fire. It was an over reaction. Obviously there are people out to get him when they really should have actually asked him to explain what he meant. The party could then have an opportunity to explain what he meant to the media and general public.

    This may open up this discussion and it will be interesting to see what the nationalist people think of the suggestion. If they dont want the discussion then fine but I dont think it does any harm to instigate the debate.

    The Fermanagh South Tyrone issue didnt go down too well with many within the SDLP but they had to hold their tongues. Obviously Declan got this feedback on the doorstep and I would question anyone within the SDLP to say they didnt too.

  • G O’Neill

    What a joke the SDLP have become with Margerat ‘Headmaster’ at the helm and with her cronies Conall McDevitt and Alex Attwood whispering in her ear. Interesting to see what o’loans reaction to this will be I would never have had him down as an potential ‘Jumper’ to Sinn Fein.

    Off topic i know but surley Margerat should have been at the Queens speech today – you know that Queens she swears alleigance to- what happened to I’ll be there??. If she wasn’t the I’m sure Mark and Alaister were there loving it- how any irish nationalist could sit and watch that is beyond me.

  • Greenflag

    Big mistake by Ritchie -overeaction . O’Loan has his finger on the broad nationalist pulse . Ritchie has learnt nothing from the FST result and seemingly does’nt want to either .
    SF can only benefit from the SDLP leader’s fit of pique . What’s wrong with debating ‘nationalist ‘ unity or for that matter ‘unionist ‘ unity ?

    The game will still end 0-0 whether there’s political unity on either one or both sides of the tribal spectrum .

  • bemused

    As far as I know neither Durkan, McDonnell or Ritchie were at the Queen’s speech.

    The taking of the oath is a formality that allows them to represent their constituents by voting in the Commons.

    The Queen’s speech garbage is a tradition that should disappear, hmm, maybe the Shinners should get involved…

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The answer is in the North Antrim Election Result two weeks ago.
    While probably more nationalists will vote in an STV Election than in a fast past the post contest, there is really only a maximum of about 26% nationalist votes in North Antrim.
    More than one quota and less than two. Maximising the nationalist vote is in his…..and SDLPs interest.
    He is based in Ballymena and the tradition there has been for the party to run a Moyle person and a Ballymena person, maximising their vote and getting one elected on the transfer.
    For some time O’Loan paid second fiddle to Sean Farren (Portrush area is now technically in East Derry) who was given the Glens heartland.
    With Farren retiring (and incidently he is a tragic loss to the Party who is often overlooked) O’Loan was top dog in SDLP North Antrim.
    Yet it was always a case of the Ballymena tail wagging the Moyle dog.
    Moyle is now in East Antrim and one of the Moyle councillors will prolly pick up a seat there…..Black, McCamphill or hopefully the courageous Danny O’Connor).

    So O’Loan is on the back foot and antagonising SF is not a good idea.
    Their transfers are more precious to him than say 50% of Alliance Partys 3%.
    The irony is that O’Loan is a capable politician and yet he is the most vulnerable to not being elected next year.

    Obviously seeing a second rater like Margaret Ritchie in charge must really annoy him.
    But the fact that she can shamelessly DOUBLE JOB when he and others (Marietta Farrell, Joe Byrne, Eamonn O’Neill) have difficulty getting ONE job seems the icing on that cake.
    Storm in Assembly Dining Room tea cup ……O’Loan wont get elected as an Independent nationalist. SDLP cant possibly hold North Antrim without him.
    So they need each other and their destiny is together.
    But ……..very poor leadership from Ritchie.

  • There are essentially two largely conflicting explanations for O’Loan’s behaviour and the response. One advanced by Brian Walker is that he is a decent man trying to move beyond nationalism. The other of fitzjameshorse 1745 is that he is trying to shore up his increasingly desperate position and salvage his assembly seat by joining in a bit of hard line nationalism / soft republicanism. Although there may be a degree of crossover to me the truth looks much more likely to lie with FJH.

    The point is that the overwhelming majority of unionists will probably feel much the same as me, no not just TUVists. The simple reality is that the overwhelming majority of unionists, even liberal ones regard Sinn Fein as beyond the pale: as sectarian murderers and their cheerleaders. Now whether or not that view is shared by nationalists is not point. The point at stake is that several SDLP seats rely to be held (classically South Belfast’s Westminster seat) on unionists not uniting to oust McDonnell. The other SDLP Westminster seats may not require unionists but to make them comfortably safe do need unionists lending their votes to the SDLP.

    Hence, Ritchie had to slap down O’Loan to protect the SDLP even if she did not want to. By doing so she has salvaged respect amongst unionists. O’Loan has painted himself (to unionists) as an ethno nationalist bigot who wants to unite with the party of murderers and cheerleaders. It is probably not as simple as that but Ritchie knows that is how it will be seen and hence, her response.

    In reality there is a marked history of SDLP members who need unionist votes being nice and moderate and others who do not need or cannot get unionist votes being little different from SF (though I accept they do not support murder). As an example compare the likes of John Dallat (very green, Kilrea / Garvagh area) to the Triangle based Sean Farren (apparently much more liberal).

    As it is Ritchie has probably done the minimum necessary to protect the SDLP’s tolerability amongst unionists. I suspect she now secretly hopes O’Laon will be dumped by the electorate as this episode will no doubt be recycled as needed by unionists.

    As to O’Loan the only bit I agree with Brian Walker on is that he seems bright. He decided as a rearguard action to play the bright green card: it may fail him but I guess he thinks it is worth a try. As I said clever man: maybe lacking in principles but when one’s assembly seat is in jeopardy let us be honest who cares if you annoy a few Prods (or your leader).

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    turgon……i would not have described O’Loans action as “desperate”….rather a logical step. Without consulting a spread sheet I think the North Antrim figures are SF-IRA 13%, SDLP 9%…..which is a combined total of 22% but Id reckon this understates nationalists who wouldnt have bothered in an obvious “first past the post election”.
    About 50% of the APs 3% are in play …..so we are probably talking a maximum nationalist/republican vote of 26% or slightly more next year.
    Unlikely to be enough to win a second seat but not actuallya “desperate situation”.
    The 5th and 6th sats are unlikely to have a quota anyway.
    As Ive argued elsewhere nationalists/republicans dont see too much difference between SDLP & SF (although actual members are often hostile to each other).
    Clearly in FST when the chips were down very few had a real problem voting SF.
    And as Ive argued elsewhere ….the place where nationalists/republicans are now has been arrived at by Politics and Violence. Thats just a simple fact.
    I think there is a sense in unionist minds that their respectable Catholic neighbours are closet unionists, AP voters or at worst SDLP voters. They find it hard to grasp that their neighbours in Fermanagh are SF voters.
    Im not sure that unionist voters or unionist parties are so very different.
    No doubt its interesting to speculate how our very real friends and colleagues from the “other” side vote. But Ive never been disappointed to discover that a Protestant friiend has voted DUP or even for your TUV. Ive never considered them beyond the Pale or children of a lesser God for so doing.

  • Peter Fyfe

    Turgon,

    In FST, the unionist population were not even put off enough by Sinn Fein to go out and vote. It won’t make a slightest difference to their ability to attract votes in Foyle or South Down. How did SB go by the way? At least he is not supporting a terrorists right to beat up women. Now that would be a party that shouldn’t be touched with a bargepole. Sinn Fein have received the most votes in the last two elections, seems to me people are not as put of by them as you suggest or secretly hope for. It’s so nice of of you to accept SDLP members don’t support murder, they might be more at home in warmongering British parliament if they did.

  • fitzjameshorse1745,
    A fair point. However, I observe that nationalists / republicans in FST usually claim not to vote or if they do to vote SDLP. I cannot think of a single one who has told me they vote SF. It is not just myself: most unionists I know down here are told by all their nationalist / republican friends and work colleagues that they do not vote.

    Now to be fair Prods often say the same thing but in reality I can think of less than half a dozen people who have ever told me they vote SF and contrary to popular belief I do meet and talk to many nationalists / republicans about politics.

    I think the simple fact is that nationalists vote Sinn Fein and often / usually do not feel that in doing so they support terrorism. However, most unionists regard voting SF as voting for the IRA and sectarian murder. They tend to regard it as the same as voting PUP. Most nationalists / republicans seem to know this and although they disagree they do not admit to voting SF.

  • Johno

    Margaret is just doing what all STOOPS do…anything to please the Prods.

  • Johno,
    Well that is one interpretation of SDLP policy. However, as a way of trying to persuade unionists to tolerate or even welcome a united Ireland it does beat murdering them. It may never work but strangely it does not get their opposition up the way killing them does.

  • I presume that O’Loan basically meant either Fianna Fáil or a return to the old Nationalist Party here. I imagine the former is more likely.

  • Peter Fyfe,
    I take it you are not seriously trying to suggest that unionists vote for SF? That sort of cheerleading I though beneath you: then again I am probably wrong; you seldom disappoint in pathetic bigotry. I challenge you to find anywhere where I support terrorism or violence. I wish the same could be said about you: you usually just run away from any such question.

    I note that many nationalists and republicans seem to vote SF an yet claim not to support murder. I note the statement but I am highly unconvinced by it. That is a position which the vast majority of unionists hold to.

    As to the issue of Torrens Knight to which you allude. I regard him as an terrorist murderer and just because one very foolish member of the TUV supported his release that does not mean that he is in anything other than a minority of one.

    Since you have challenged me on that issue and I have answered it I challenge you to condemn the IRA as a pack of sectarian murderers.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Naked nationalist sectarian bigotry seems to be the order of the day on Slugger right now.

  • Munsterview

    good, sane, realistic, analysis fjh. Now if we could only have the same thing from the other side.

    As for turgon, as they say down this neck of the woods, God help him, you can only pray for him!

  • Turgon and FJH:

    You’ve made a very important point, and one that is often overlooked – unionists find it impossible to understand how anyone could vote for Sinn Féin in good conscience. The troubles are still perceived in terms of good versus evil. Sinn Féin aren’t merely wrong, or misguided, or even stupid. Moral absolutism is not confined to the pulpit, and the gulf of incomprehension is still as wide as ever.

  • Oracle

    Ritchie Must Go….. before half the party goes it’s own way … well a new way with FF

  • Alias

    Well, you know, both governments told them they should vote for the Shinners in order to keep them on the straight and narrow, and the Stoops were their chief sponsors in the agenda of injecting them into the political system so this all rings very hollow from the Stoops.

    I agree with Turgon, but I gave up lecturing the catholic tribe about the morality of their voting choices because as long as they see it as being in their own selfish interests to vote for them then that’s all they care about. They’re not going to repent and come back to the path of righteousness (not when that is the likes of the Stoops), and there is nothing that can be done about it.

    The majority have spoken, and while the minority have every right to try to change it, they should at least have a faint hope of doing so or go do something more productive than howling in a hurricane.

  • Co. Down man

    The SDLP do not exist in Rostrevor, they have 3 members left and the branch had to merge with Burren, you are absolutely right about there being resentment over her decision with FF, include Ballyholand and Mayobridge SDLP as well.

  • “Moyle is now in East Antrim”

    Part of Moyle is now in East Antrim; the bulk of it remains in North Antrim.

    Sean Farren was based in Portstewart which has been in Co Londonderry for manys a year.

    There was a bit of excitement in MoyleDC on Monday night; it involved a little bit of inter-nationalist ‘badgering’. I’m surprised the MSM hasn’t shown greater interest in the police investigation into the alleged activities of one of its councillors. Perhaps the ‘peace process’ must be kept on the rails at all costs.

  • daisy

    SF’s share of the vote increased after the IRA ceasefires which would indicate that nationalist voting patterns aren’t quite as simplistic as you would paint them, Turgon.

  • Brian Walker

    I’ve learned a lot from the tactical discussion but surely it’s important to see the wood for the trees. In the general election, the SDLP kept to the principle of contesting seats and won the gamble. They need to build now on the image of not being a zero sum party. I don’t see why they should be slammed for contesting FST when they and their voters knew they couldn’t take the seat under FPTP. They stood on the principle. What it means for them under STV I leave to the many experts but I don’t see why it should necessarily damage them.

    We are slowly moving into a new era when the old traditions are gradually weakening to create outcomes we can’t yet foretell. I take it SFs’ successes today depend as much on them being an effective grass roots party as on tradition. Perhaps one day voters will judge parties by their effectiveness in government.

    Surely what is clear is that the SDLP have emphasised their distinctiveness. The route for them surely is to show effectiveness in government ae well as grassroots and help break the deadlock and inertia that prevails. In an Assembly which is not overendowed with executive talent O’Loan has the ability to play a part in that.

  • Brian Walker,
    For once I agree with some of what you say (do not worry I have no intention of being nice to you).

    The problem is that O’Loan had to be slapped down to preserve any credibility the SDLP had with unionists. He may be talented, he may be clever but his actions are those of someone who will be seen by unionists as if not a cheerleader himself then at least as an apologist for cheerleaders.

    Alternatively he is pragmatically trying to save his seat and in the process willing to pretend to be an apologist for the cheerleaders.

    So he is either unacceptable to unionists as a closet SFer or he is unacceptable as a man devoid of principle. Either way that toxin had to be purged from the SDLP if they were to keep any credibility. Indeed I think Ritchie probably did the minimum she could have done. If she leaves him in the cold until after the summer recess and does not give him back his committee posts until after the next election she will probably have done enough but that is the order of sanction she will have to take.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Turgon,
    There is a song called “Whatever You Say….Say Nothin'” (Colm Sands). Youve probably heard it.
    What people say in offices and factories or say to their mates is no reflection on Reality. Have you ever seen an accurate Belfast Telegraph poll?
    Youre absolutely right. Most unionists DO regard voting SF-IRA as voting for IRA and sectarian murder. You will note that I often describe “SF” as “SF-IRA” as I am under no illusions. Nor do I think anyone else should be under any illusion.
    Although of course in voting for SF-IRA many CATHOLICS dont actually think they are endorsing “sectarian murder”. Rightly (in their obvious view) or Wrongly (in your and many unionist views) they see it as endorsing a “just War”.
    Now one of us …or both of us ….may not like it but its a fact.
    The language in offices, factories, university tutorial rooms up and down the six counties does not reflect this.
    “Oh I dont vote”
    “Oh I hate politics”
    “Oh I vote Alliance”
    Youve heard it all. Ive heard it all. Thats not how it is.
    Take at random…….the staff in the DHSS office in Omagh……or the Dept of Agriculture at Dundonald House….
    the staff at a Further Education College in Newry or Coleraine. Or a Care Home in Bangor or Enniskillen.
    By nature holding a few O Levels, A levels or a degree.
    No scientific way of saying how they vote……but on balance they are more likely to vote than an “underclass” who are unemployed.
    And no reason to think that they are voting differently to the “tribe” as a whole.

    My late father had a theory that the only really apolitical people in Norn Iron are the men who race pigeons. Seemingly thats the only group who never talk politics. Exaggeration of course but in our social lives we encounter those from the other “side” and become friends with them. And bearing in mind the “whatever you say say nothin rule”, my observation that MANY of the people I come accross who ingratiate themselves by saying “I dont vote” or “I vote Alliance” are lying thru their teeth.
    Its harmless enough.
    And a good game to try and work out how they REALLY vote.
    To some extent we need the illusion that the “other side” is harmless………but every so often REALITY kicks in.
    Most notably when Bobby Sands was elected in FST (and an aftershock with Gildernew three weeks ago).
    The Protestants in FST were shocked to the core.
    By way of balance I should point out that many Catholics in and around Garvaghy Road and beyond were shocked to the core to see their friendly Protestant colleagues standing at Drumcree with their brethren from Belfast and Tyrone or whatever.

  • Munsterview

    re turgon

    O’Lonan is a politician that got elected, that counts for something in most other areas in Ireland and in all other European democracies that also counts for something.

    It is also customary for politicians who put themselves up for election, who have failed to get elected, to reflect on their position. When that politician is also a party leader who has failed to get a single member of his party or himself elected then even more reflection and examination of policies and tactics are surely called for.

    It takes a very particular disconnect from real politics indeed, for such a leader not alone to still conduct ‘ business as usual ‘ in the face electorate rejection but to lecture the politicians on all sides of the political spectrum who were elected and who had their policies and tactics endorsed by the electorate as to how they should conduct their various political affairs.

    I can understand Iris making a mistake, loosing her head and having a fling; that is human and forgivable. However to for someone to face such an electorate rejection and still have what would in normal circumstances be described as the monumental arrogance to motor on regardless, is something else.

    I ( up to this point anyway) do think that this disconnect is coming from arrogance and I hope that I an correct on that assumption!

    Will some of reasonable views from the ‘other side’ up there please inform me as to where this disconnect from reality is coming from. Viewed objectively from this remove, the mind simply boggles!

  • aquifer

    O’Loan got slapped down by the girl, and deserved it. Maggie will probably survive FF standing better than SF would.

  • medillen

    Please compare and contrast these two incidents are the party reaction to them and how the press dealt with it:

    Tearoisa Ferris wrote an article in the party newspaper which criticised the direction of the party and suggested change. The press ( and many on this site) immediately jump on this issue as an example of the party imploding and the beginning of a crisis. Sinn Fein took the criticism constructively and is working on concerns raised by Tearoisa, and others, who continues to be an active party representative.

    Declan O Loan put forward a press release which does not criticise his party but does suggest a change of direction. He is forced to withdraw it within 2 hours and then he is summarily suspended from the party for an indefinite period within 24 hours by the party leader and while the press has commented on it talk of implosion are quite muted.

    Which party appears more like a dictatorship.

  • Munsterview

    Medillen

    You aint just smelling the coffee are you, lets do this by numbers then, o’k

    First question;
    who owns and publishes the An Phobalacht newspaper ? A……. The Republican Movement

    Second Question
    who appoints the editor of An Phobalacht newspaper? A……. The Republican Movement

    Third Question
    who decides the content of the newspaper? A….. The editor keeping in mind Republican policy

    Fourth Question
    who commissioned the article in question from Tearois? A… cannot answer that one

    Fifth Question
    why was the article commissioned ? A….. because on the heel of a disastrous election a lightning rod was needed to ground the discontent and set a safe agenda for the debate. That included giving Gerry’s beard a few pulls…… ooh the very thought of it, how cheeky and daring of her !

    Sixth Question
    why commission such an article from Tearois ? A…….. Because she is bright as a button and sharp as nails. She could be relied on to be the brief public face of unease and discontent in the media without dropping Sinn Fein further in ‘the brown stuff’. The fact that she was young, articulate, good personality and a bloody good looker into the bargain did not hurt either!

    Seventh question
    did it work? You bet it did. Instead of old ( and not particularly good looking) greyheads of my generation fronting for Sinn Fein, this attractive Tralee Rose did.

    The public got to see not the Old Folks that got it wrong, they got to see a bright, fresh face of Sinn Fein, a brave lass not afraid to speak her mind etc.

    All politics are local; she did Kerry proud, carried the SF ball without dropping it and did her own electoral chances no harm at all for the next election when she will either run for her father’s seat or in South Kerry.

    As for debate and democracy…… well old habits die hard and I have said enough.

    As to the storm in a tea cup that is the O’Loan affair: as quoted above in the words of the late Senator Tipp. O’Neill,….” all politics are local…..”.

    If he was to keep his seat on the numbers given in some of the analysis in these posts, he needed to reach outside the usual SDLP block, he did and also probably did enough to get votes from those dazzled by optics to gain more from the Catholic / Nationalist side than he would loose from Unionists how ever small or big the U.

    The few kicks in the pants from Turgon helped no end too ! There was a time when Big Ian was the best thing that Republicans and Nationalists had going for them during his Kick The Pope Days, all is not lost, I have great hopes of Turgon from what I have read. He is coming along nicely. If he is this way after loosing guess what he would like if he won something?

    As for O’Loan’s Party Leader and despite appearing sexist for saying so, she would not have lasted long enough in her position to change her knickers had she not done what she did.

    She will get far more praise than blame for it ! Who says women cannot cut it in politics ? These two fine ladies certainly did and have played a blinder!

  • YelloSmurf

    They wouldn’t be the only ones for whom it is a mere formality. British republicans on the left take the oath even though they do not support the monarchy because they want to be in the house to represent their constituents. A number of labour politicians have famously taken the oath with their fingers crossed. This year I heard a Plaid member begin,
    “As a committed republican, and under protest, I swear…”

  • Charminator

    I think what we’re seeing in the O’Loan affair is the beginning of a big shift in Northern politics. Moyle Cllr. Black in the Irish News bluntly said that with FF’s semi-arrival on the Northern scene (‘will they, won’t they contest elections’) further Nationalist fragmentation must be avoided. Frankly, she’s hit the nail on the head. You’d have to wonder how Ms. Ritchie felt about reading it though. One can imagine Black will have an appointment in the headmistress’ office.

    I’ve argued on this site recently that the game is up for the SDLP and a radical rethink is required (http://sluggerotoole.com/2010/05/13/rumours-of-rebellion-follow-ritchies-reshuffle/). O’Loan’s comments are prescient of that rethink. Ritchie’s bought herself time, at best. But should she walk away from next year’s Assembly elections with less seats than she went into it with (though is even stagnation an achievement — instead read lowering expectations), I think her ‘headmistress’ style will come back to haunt her big time. I think she’ll be dumped and the party’ll get in bed with either Labour or the Soliders of Destiny within a year of it. Expect a titanic struggle between the trendy urban uber-liberals (McDevitt) and the rural constitutional Republicans that probably don’t care too much for the champagne socialist wing (McGlone).

    Ritchie was so tough on O’Loan’s comments because the SDLP simply CANNOT survive the deep analysis which a study of O’Loan’s statement would bring. SF, Labour, FF are all on this island for the long-haul. The SDLP are not – and increasing numbers of their own members accept it. The party’s been on life support for the past decade, depending invariably on Southern parties’ goodwill (eg, Ritchie’s invite to the White House, courtesy of the Taoiseach, the airbrushed photo aside…) and Unionist tactical voting. A bit of luck helps too, with SF running some notoriously unpopular candidates, like Ruane in S Down.

    The sooner either Labour or FF have the balls to pull the plug on the life-support machine and throw those SDLPers that are inclined a life-jacket instead, the better. Moderate Republicanism/Nationalism is being destroyed by the continued presence of a party which simply cannot win back the masses. It’s sad, because their history and principles are solid in many ways. But that’s politics. And in Irish politics particularly, they’re hardly the first party and they certainly won’t be the last, with a limited shelf-lift. The dustbin of Irish politics is littered with all shades from the IPP to Clann na Poblachta to the Irish Farmers Party to the PDs!

  • Munsterview

    Medillen

    Since you aint smelling the coffee, lets do this by numbers o’k

    First question;
    who owns and publishes the An Phobalacht newspaper ? A……. The Republican Movement

    Second Question
    who appoints the editor of An Phobalacht newspaper? A……. The Republican Movement

    Third Question
    who decides the content of the newspaper? A….. The editor keeping in mind Republican policy

    Fourth Question
    who commissioned the article in question from Tearois? A… cannot answer that one

    Fifth Question
    why was the article commissioned ? A….. because on the heel of a disastrous election a lightning rod was needed to ground the discontent and set a safe agenda for the debate. That included giving Gerry’s beard a few pulls…… ooh the very thought of it, how cheeky and daring of her !

    Sixth Question
    why commission such an article from Tearois ? A…….. Because she is bright as a button and sharp as nails. She could be relied on to be the brief public face of unease and discontent in the media without dropping Sinn Fein further in ‘the brown stuff’. The fact that she was young, articulate, good personality and a bloody good looker into the bargain did not hurt either!

    Seventh question
    did it work? You bet it did. Instead of old ( and not particularly good looking) greyheads of my generation fronting for Sinn Fein, this attractive Tralee Rose did.

    The public got to see not the Old Folks that got it wrong, they got to see a bright, fresh face of Sinn Fein, a brave lass not afraid to speak her mind etc.

    All politics are local; she did Kerry proud, carried the SF ball without dropping it and did her own electoral chances no harm at all for the next election when she will either run for her father’s seat or in South Kerry.

    As for debate and democracy…… well old habits die hard and I have said enough.

    As to the storm in a tea cup that is the O’Loan affair: in the words of the late Senator Tipp. O’Neill,….” all politics are local…..”.

    If he was to keep his seat on the numbers given in some of the analysis in these posts, he needed to reach outside the usual SDLP block, he did and also probably did enough to get votes from those dazzled by optics to gain more from the Catholic / Nationalist side than he would loose from Unionists how ever small or big the U.

    The few kicks in the pants from Turgon helped no end too ! There was a time when Big Ian was the best thing that Republicans and Nationalists had going for them during his Kick The Pope Days, all is not lost, I have great hopes of Turgon from what I have read. He is coming along nicely. If he is this way after loosing guess what he would like if he won something?

    As for O’Loan’s Party Leader and despite appearing sexist for saying so, she would not have lasted long enough in her position to change her knickers had she not done what she did.

    She will get far more praise than blame for it ! Who says women cannot cut it in politics ? These two fine ladies certainly did and have played a blinder!

  • Munsterview

    YS

    A different situation applies; these MP’s are in dispute with the form of government and political structures in their country, but aside from this they fully accept that they are citizens of that country.

    Irish Republicans have never accepted England or any manifestation of it such as the British Empire or the Kingdom off Great Britain and Northern Ireland has any right to occupy and rule the Six Counties no more than it had the other Twenty-Six that in total made up the Irish Nation before the Twenty Six created conditions that forced the Brits to quit.

    Wolf Tone and his Proud Ulster Presbyterian followers defined this when he said that it was his intent to………. “break the connection with England, the never failing source of all our ills.”

    He united Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter around that vision and our current generations of Republicans are true to the aims of these fine Ulster Protestant Presbyterians as we are to their Southern Anglican Protestant associates like John and Henry Shears of Cork, The Authors brothers of Limerick Russell and Lord Edward Fitzerald etc.

    This fine generation of Protestants were slaughtered in their thousands fighting alongside their Catholic associates rebels. Tens of thousands more had their property destroyed and their lives threatened to the extent that they had to flee to the Continent and to America for sanctuary, and as it says in the constitution of the Republic that inspired them, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    Irish Republicans derive their tradition and stand by the legacy of these true Protestant Patriots; others sadly derive their traditions from those that opposed those noble sentiments and who slaughtered the proposers of these views in those dark days as they did in more recent times.

    The I.R.B took a decision in the mid 19th, century to take all local Government and Parliamentary seats, the local to build up grassroots democracy and Nationalist control, the Parliament seats to obstruct the workings of the central government, to get what benefit they could for ireland and to advance the claims of Irish Independence until such time as they could withdraw and set up a home Parliament.

    They did exactly this, in the 1918 election Sinn Fein asked the electorate to give them a mandate withdraw from Westminster and set up a home assembly. Twenty-Eight Irish counties gave Sinn Fein that mandate, Four did not. Sinn Fein carried out the will of the electorate and set up Dail Eireann.

    England and those living on the Island of Ireland, opposed to the democratically expressed will of the vast majority of the electorate on the Island of Ireland suppressed the will of the majority and dismantled the institutions of the Republic as established by the freely expressed will of the Irish People.

    Republicans are now working towards implementing that past and current mandate ‘to break the connection’, to enter into Parliament of the oppressor is to refasten rather than loosen and unfasten these ties. There is no middle ground.

    In the recent election these two choices were clearly put to the Nationalist /Catholic Electorate simple terms, SDLP were for taking their seats as Mp’s., Sinn Fein were pledged not to take their seats.

    To the nearest thousand, 110,000 ( less 30) voters backed the SDLP, …. 172,000 (less 48) backed the Sinn Fein stand. In short for every two votes the SDLP got to go in Sinn Fein got three to stay out.

    Could their mandate be any clearer ? Anyone advocating Sinn Fein taking their seats is in fact demanding that they ignore the will of their voters and betray their electorate’s intentions.

    That segment of the political market is already very well catered for North, South and across the water without any need of Sinn Fein’s participation on that same broken promises trail.

  • Munsterview

    Regrets for double post, paste board problems, AM posting only came up with later post

  • YelloSmurf

    Munster,

    I’ve studied the United Irishmen. I think that that’s a bit of a side issue since I was just giving some examples of how people have got round taking the oath in the past in the same way that the SDLP have to.

  • Bobby

    SDLP do exist in Rostrevor, there was no merger with Burren!