Adams and Robinson: What a difference a year makes…

We’ll be launching the full set of categories for the Slugger Awards later this morning, but Chris Donnelly makes something of a pitch for two extraordinary come backs over the last year.

Gerry Adams, who this time last year was plunged into a personal and political crisis over the allegation by his niece that he’d known of her accusations of abuse against his brother and had done nothing to help. This was followed in fairly short order by a Spotlight programme that revealed Peter Robinson’s wife Iris had not only had an extra marital affair, she’d also accessed loans totalling £50,000.

Both episodes were reportedly emotionally devastating for both men. Politically, it is almost certain that Robinson paid the price in the loss of his East Belfast seat to Alliance Party candidate, Naomi Long. In his West Belfast citadel, Adams was more secure.

Yet as Chris notes, both parties have prospered throughout the year, largely by sticking to their own narrative. And in Robinson’s consolidating a party that had looked at one point like it could atomise:

Robinson had always seemed to have a strained relationship with party faithfuls, more accustomed to responding with fervour to the stirring words and spellbinding oratory of populist Paisley than the calculating coolness of his sidekick strategist.

Yet he has emerged from his wounding year with a stronger bond to party grassroots, evident in the reception afforded to the leader at DUP’s conference last month.

It has also helped that the DUP’s opposition within unionism has self-destructed. Jim Allister’s Traditional Unionist Voice has disappeared following a disastrous election, while the Ulster Unionist Party appears clueless. Things aren’t going well when the party leader needs to preface his keynote conference speech with the declaration that he is not a political dinosaur.

Factor in the First Minister’s cunning attempt to (at least rhetorically) lay claim to middle-ground pet projects like integrated schooling and you begin to get the picture of a party getting comfortable with its newly-found leg-room.

In the case of Adams, whilst no one would pretend that he is the cause of Sinn Fein’s revived fortunes in the south, his long term strategy of investing in young talent paid off supremely when Pearse Doherty walked in to the Donegal South West seat, and delivering one of the most memorable maiden speeches the Dail has seen in many years.

Ironically, given the traumas of the early part of this year both men have delivered something of a new beginning for their parties. Far from running from the ditching of Double Jobbing the DUP have used it to build up the legitimacy and effectiveness of their representation at Westminster.

And on the latest poll figures, Sinn Fein look on track to have a record number of representatives in the 31st Dail. A propitious end to what has been a very difficult year for both men.

, , , , , ,

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Bad idea methinks.
    First off the degree of “comeback” seems different (Robinson actually losing East Belfast) but there is I agree some kinda substantive point about how they are both “still here”.
    But have they actually made a comeback?
    I dont think so.
    The only people who told us that they were in trouble was some very shrill and politically motivated postings. I took the view then that Adams particuarly was not in trouble.

    Awarding these guys a “comeback” award actually re-writes History. It means that the shrill posters in January, February this year turn out to be right all along. ……they were only made wrong by these “comebacks”.
    To me the most more accurate reading is that the detractors congratulated themselves much too soon. And this comeback award merely saves a lot of face. Or tries to.

  • pippakin

    Its not a question of comebacks, partly because its too soon to know what the verdict is in either case, but more importantly no one person should be ‘the party’.

    Its odd that both partys lack talent in depth, which is why there is such a fuss about Pearse Doherty. To be fair there doesn’t seem to be much young talent in any other party either.

    All both of them are doing at the moment is a good job of acting as though nothing has happened.

  • Mick Fealty

    @fitzjameshorse1745

    I think you’re reading a little further into that than I intended. (Though I do get the point you are making). It certainly demonstrates there is a more to political capital than what’s gets said in the media (or on blogs).

    Your analysis also ignores the fact that both of those stories began with highly researched (and legalled) stories in the mass media, not with the shrill blogosphere. With two television programmes in fact: Insight on UTV and Spotlight on the Beeb. In the case of Robinson we can say that the media fire was a great deal longer, more intense and more sustained.

    Blogs generally cannot kick up a storm of those proportions on their own. Yet on the Friday of the week Spotlight showed we hit 19k unique visitors in just 24 hours.

    I was merely pointing to an irony that a year which started in real trouble for both men has ended in relative successes for both.

  • toker

    Mick I felt that Chris Donnellys article patted Adams as a comeback kid over an abuse scandal were there are serious questions on Adams version of events as the Tribune showed . Would it be acceptable if someone patted Sean Brady as a comeback kid because he has not resigned? Why should it be the same with Adams ?

    The Southern election hasn’t been held so is it not a bit soon to call Adams a come back kid.Maurice Hayes raises valid points which will no doubt be brought to further prominence in the election, due to the fact that they are carrying out Tory cuts in the North yet using hard left tactics of street protests in the South.

    These questions will be raised among others through SF unfriendly media in the south which will effect there election results. Other areas that will effect them negatively will be Jean McConville as well as the ridiculous proposition that a Euro sceptic party with no economic knowledge or economic experience can renegotiate a loan with the EU and IMF.One also wonders will SF talk about Irish Unity in the elections , as questions about the economic viability could effect there credibility.

    I find it strange that an SF member like Chris puts on the blinkers over the Iris gate affair. Imagine if a senior Fianna Fail member had sex with a young person after making homophobic statements who they had a close emotional relationship as well as using there position to secure a 50k loan and keeping 5k for there own expenses would SF Tds not be one of the first to criticise this and rightly so. Caoimhin o Caloain didn’t ask that Ray Burke be let of the hook after his tearful departing speech which was a cynical approach to use emotional blackmail to avoid the rigour of the law. Robinson if anything should not be commended as a comeback in a’ cutehoorish’ Fianna Fail way, there are still serious questions to be asked and answered over this abuse of power.

    A journalist should question this rather than let it pass by.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Oh I take your point fully Mr Fealty.
    But describing them as making a comeback lets those who had written Adams and Robinson off too easily.
    The stories were clearly well documented (if at times over enthusiastic to put the boot in) but the effect was minimal (Robinson lost his own seat) and negligible (Adams case).

    I recall the sequence quite well because I joined Slugger in the first few weeks of 2010. I had always prided myself in reading things well and it was slightly uncomfortable that my own reading was so out of step with the majority of Sluggerite posters.
    Of course this made me seriously doubt my own reading……in fact I had read it pretty well and those who I thought had more “Slugger experience” were the people who got it wrong……..hopelessly wrong in Adams case.
    Effectively the posts that ridicule Adams end up missing their target for among other reasons……its very very easy to ridicule Adams. Unfortunately where Adams is concerned a lot of pretty good analysts completely lose any critical facility.

    Yes Adams and Robinson survived these stories. Maybe in a “logical” world they did not deserve to……but they did.
    Increasingly Gerry Adams reminds me of Homer J Simpson confronted by his arch nemisis Frank Grimes……..Grimes mission to ridicule Homer, point up his shortcomings, stupidity and laziness is undermined by the fact that nobody actually cares.

  • The Word

    Does anyone else feel that Peter Robinson is much humbler after the scandal? I feel that gone are the shrill tones of misunderstood arrogance and superiority to be replaced by a man made humbler by the terrible reality for him that his own wife suffers from mood swings and, as is part of that illness, has risked her marriage by dangerous liaisons.

    I also don’t think that anyone can really deny that Gerry Adams has flipped over the border, possibly in some vain attempt to conquer his uncomfortable feelings about recent events.

  • Mick Fealty

    @fitzjameshorse1745

    In my own humble defence I did say Chris was ‘making a pitch’ in using the term… I’m in favour of most of the caveats launched so far…

  • latcheeco

    Mick,
    Maybe the assumption that the move to Dundalk is motivated by electoral strategy is only partly, but not entirely, correct. That not to say WB was ever unsafe, but that you may be looking at an exit with a wimper rather that Iris’s bang.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Indeed……I was actually surprised that Chris Donnelly pitched it as it seems an acknowledgement that Adams underwent a “real” reversal rather than an “anticipated” reversal.
    My point would be that Adams had a very consistent 12 months.

  • John Ó Néill

    I’m not so convinced about the security of Gerry Adam’s position at the end of this year. Not so much in an election in Louth (polls suggest he is in with a good chance), but largely because of the extent of the political risk he has taken. There is a caretaker feel to the team put in place around Belfast as focus has shifted to challenges in the Republic which maybe suggests that this is in response to events rather than as an arm of prepared strategy. It will doubtless be well talked up, but the SDLP currently would love to be, but aren’t, posing a major threat to SFs core vote.
    But the overall SF performance in the election in the Republic will either see the end of his leadership or secure it in the short term. Ironically, I think it will be his last political hurrah, either way. With a bounce in the polls, expectations are higher and strategically, there is no way SF can take itself seriously if it does not perform well and take at least 12 seats. If it doesn’t, I can’t see how even those close to him wouldn’t see the need for a change at the top. If SF does well, takes 10-12+% of fpv and returns as many as 15 TDs, I’d still imagine future gains would be dependent upon promoting new, younger voices and I still think he’ll have to retire sooner rather than later (and is more likely to off the back of a success rather than failure).

    As to Peter Robinson – I thought he’d be political toast by the end of this as all the hinted transgressions that were around last Xmas have largely evaporated, or alternately, as being quietly nutured away from the public glare ready to pounce at some point. The absence of a ballsy challenger within the DUP has kept him safe, but whether that will last if something else comes out is unclear (after losing EB, what would it take for a putsch).

    Either way, for the northern Executive, a whole 12 months without chaos would do no-one any harm as, economically, there are still shark fins in the water. The UK has residual problems with lending that may yet come back with a sting (and no eurozone to co-opt its sovereignty in a bank debt swap). It might be a good idea not to be in-fighting if that turns to disaster like the Republic (and a good sign of political maturity).

  • Alias

    “…the ridiculous proposition that a Euro sceptic party with no economic knowledge or economic experience can renegotiate a loan with the EU and IMF.” – Toker

    Actually, it is a “ridiculous proposition” to think that rabid europhiles would put the national interest before the EU’s interest. Even The Economist, that most europhile of journals, is openly additting that the Irish dropped their pants and took it up the backside for the EU:

    “Ireland has stood by its banks to the benefit of the wider European banking system. Its reward has been “rescue” loans at an interest rate that makes it hard to fix its finances. The next Irish government may look at Iceland and decide to play hardball with Europe.”

  • Chris Donnelly

    In fairness to myself, I wasn’t making a pitch for any comeback award for Adams and Robinson in the piece. Fitz has it about right in the sense that, ultimately, the cacophony of noise created by the post-devolution era’s first GUBU moment proved to be electorally misleading.

    What 2010 proved was that most people in both communities were primarily interested with ensuring that devolution won out, with Sinn Fein and the DUP benefitting from their bulwark status against dissident republicans on one hand and dissenting unionism in the other. It also helped that both parties continue to be faced with politically malfunctioning opponents in the SDLP and UUP.

    Legitimate questions were dodged by Adams and Robinson. Time might see that change, but I doubt it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Not entirely Chris. I don’t believe nothing happened as a result of that crisis. And much as it was a talking point in the comments zone, I am not sure many at the blogging end of Slugger got round to extrapolating anything much in terms of electoral fallout from the Adams crisis.

    My most notable memory was Pete’s documenting of the strange fact that he took some three weeks to get his story straight re his estranged brother. It all seemed to get parked then and has played very little part of political life ever since.

    By contrast, Robinson faced a real political crisis. He was ultimately successful in keeping his party together, but he personally played a price (losing a Westminster seat his party had previously announced would be the only one they would not be giving up).

    I agree with @The Word, it does seem to have changed him, not least because he can probably never play that ‘no surrender’ persona in public and convince people he meant it ever again.

    The fact that he and his party went through such a chastening process (and in the process dumping the issue of P&J, which had largely precipitated Jim Allister’s leaving the party in the first place) appears to have allowed them as a whole party to move on substantially.

    Would it be entirely wrong-headed to suggest that Unionist electorates have much less compunction in punishing their politicians than Nationalist ones?

  • pippakin

    Surely talk of comebacks is a bit premature.

    Robinson faces Assembly elections soon, that will be his biggest test. He appears to have won his party over but the electorate, deeply conservative, may not agree.

    Adams case depends to a great extent on the evidence and result of a trial. Since there is no date for the trial yet (as far as I know) he may win in Louth. But, if the trial goes badly for him the ensuing tsunami might damage his position in the less enamoured south.

  • John Ó Néill

    Pippakin – Liam Adams’ will be on trial on charges of sexually abusing his own daughter, I’m sure, much to the disappointment of a lot of people who cannot see past their intense dislike of his brother and will be treating it as if he is the one in the dock, Gerry Adams probably won’t feature in the trial as he hasn’t been charged with anything. There will be those who will need to write a parallel fiction narrative of the court case to comfort themselves, as they are going to find Liam Adams’ trial a bit confusing since the court will have to deal with the facts about Liam Adams, not the innuendo about his brother (that is the electorate’s prerogative).
    People have to start unwinding fiction and reality a bit better. Yesterday Brian’s reference to everyone’s thinking being deeply conditioned had the hollow ring of truth to it.

  • pippakin

    John O’Neill

    If Liam Adams pleads not guilty as he has said he will then there will be a full trial. As far as I know that trial would be public and would include all the evidence.

    The main reason the case is off the radar is because undue publicity would almost certainly be said to influence the trial.

    I really don’t want to see the subject debated again but nor do I think it right to assume it has completely ‘gone away’.

    Robinson too has ongoing problems. All I’m saying is that to describe either of them as having ‘comeback’ is a bit premature.

  • John Ó Néill

    Pippakin – I’m not challenging any of the facts of the case, but my point is that it is Liam not Gerry Adams on trial.

    I don’t think any party indulges in public leadership debates if they can. But has no-one wondered why Gerry Adams is standing in Louth (of all places) where there was an obvious candidate (Sharkey) and were he is most exposed? Arguably, he should have chosen somewhere like Wexford where they probably need a parachute candidate and trading at 10-12% nationally should make the last seat winnable. I think he has to win Louth to stay on (and has been given it on purpose).

  • PaddyReilly

    In Ireland, brother is not a particularly close relationship. Families are traditionally large, and brothers quite often on opposing sides: one thinks of the Behans, the Brackens, of the brothers in Donegal, one of whom stayed a priest, the other who became a minister:-

    Crá ort, a shagairt Uí Domhnaill
    Nach dona go deo mar a d’imigh tú
    Léigh tú an tAifreann Dé Domhnaigh
    Is bhí tú maidin Dé Luain i do mhinistéir

    Thréig tú Peadar is Pól
    Agus thréig tú Eoin is an bunadh sin
    Thréig tú an Mhaighdean is a glór
    Is nach dona go deo mar a d’imigh tú

    Attacking Gerry Adams through his brother is thus the most absurd of attempts, and obviously never lost him a single vote. But the episode has taught SF a certain degree of humility with regard to the Catholic Church: it is very difficult to balance the rights of innocent children, with the rights of people who have been accused but never convicted. Also familial incest is difficult to deal with ethically. You cannot easily punish the perpetrator without punishing the victim.

    With Peter Robinson well, the effect of his troubles was to cause a great deal of amusement in Nationalist circles and possibly elsewhere, but their political influence was circumscribed. Whether this caused his loss of Westminster seat is hard to tell: there had been boundary changes. His Stormont seat is unaffected, as is his party leadership.

  • pippakin

    John O’Neill

    If Liam Adams pleads not guilty all sorts of evidence will come out. It could lead to investigations into the then RUC, and GA will almost certainly find himself being asked to explain in much greater detail than he has so far.

    I have wondered why Louth. but not why the move south. GAs ambition for decades has been unification and if he can gain a seat here in an election where minority, untarnished, partys should do well he will have given Ireland’s only cross border party power in both Stormont and the Dail. Its not beyond the realm of possibility that SF could from part of the next southern government. An enticing idea.

    He has shown political courage in the past and however cautious he is, he is also an opportunist. As you say he may not have been given much choice as to constituency but the idea is good and has great potential.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Would it be entirely wrong-headed to suggest that Unionist electorates have much less compunction in punishing their politicians than Nationalist ones?

    Mick
    Don’t really see how that’s the case, to be honest. The East Belfast seat proved the exception for the DUP in a pre-election period dominated by an expenses scandal and other salacious rumours implicating many more party members than Robinson, and EB had all the elements of a perfect storm to it- split unionist vote, tactical nationalist voting, fantastic Alliance candidate with local credibility to attract the disgruntled and disaffected within mainstream unionism and loyalism.

    I’m never comfortable with the ‘blame the electorate’ narrative. The SDLP could have made inroads on Adams in the same election, evidenced by the fact that West Belfast returned the lowest turnout of any northern constituency- a startling enough development. But converting those into SDLP votes would have entailed not just changing the party’s messenger in the constituency, but also the message.

    It’s a similar story for the UUP vis a vis DUP, and the drip drip of defections and resignations from the former is making the twilight of 2010 much better than the dawn of the year for Robinson.

  • Mark

    It is an enticing idea . Why not give them a chance ? It’s a four year term . If Sinn Fein prove to be out of their league then vote them back out . If they do get in , it will be part of a coalition . They won’t have free reign . One thing people cannot deny is their desire . It’s a vocation for them and they cannot do any worse than what’s gone before . The south needs a drastic rethink .

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Theres a thinly disguised but obviously unspoken belief in Norn Iron that Catholics are less moral than Protestants. Of course its politically incorrect to even think that but did not “Uncle Andy” hit on something similar in the “Hole in the Wall Gang” episode where he thought that a Catholic solicitor might have fewer ethics in persuing his dodgy compensation claim.
    Is there any evidence to justify such apparent prejudice.
    Certainly the misconceptions that Protestants have about Catholics going to Confession is only matched by Catholic suspicion of Protestants being re-born as they contemplate a lengthy jail sentence.

    Is the social bandit….the rapparee, the cute hoor politician more accepted in Catholic society. Why does nobody get worked up about Jean McConville death, Slab Murphys business portfolio, the Northern Bank……despite the best efforts of some to bring it to our attention at every opportunity.
    I have consistently pointed out that none of these things has any electoral impact at all.
    But can this lead people to thinking Catholics are children of a lesser God? Is the outworking of this a belief by some in their own moral superiority.
    Are they………actually……right?
    Or are they delusional? There is of course nothing new in thinking that Catholics…and Irish Catholics are socially/morally inferior. So for many bigots its simply a case of back to the future.

  • Mark

    Fitz ,

    That’s a question that needs to be answered . Are people willing to change their views ? The us and them mindset has to go away . It’s up to the political / church figures to lead the way . They have a responsibility to show example . For too long they perpetuated these beliefs on both sides . It suited them . Up until about 2 weeks ago , I thought every prodestant tom , dick and harry was in the OO . The poster Gerryluvscastro informed me that only 5% were memebers . I would never have known that and no one on ” my side ” was ever go to tell me .

  • pippakin

    Mark

    Perhaps you are learning. It is after all quite possible that some protestants are quietly voting nationalist. Its certain that some of them moved away from the DUP at the general election, and they did not move to the UUP or TUV they voted Alliance.

    Political come backs are rare but they do happen.

  • Mark

    Pippakin ,

    Who’s bed will you be in on the next thread ?

  • pippakin

    Mark

    You really don’t get it do you? I’m a republican, a socialist and a pacifist. I find some of SFs past hard to accept but everyone has to move forward. In order to do that SF must leave their past behind.

    In answer to your question I’m what Fox News calls a ‘swing’ voter…within the bounds of socialism of course.

  • Mark

    Pippakin ,

    Yeah and your attention seeking has lost it’s entertainment value . I’ll leave it at that , we are not past the watershed yet and I don’t know if the moderation team have clocked in .

  • pippakin

    Mark

    This thread was about Adams and Robinson you changed it. I merely attempted to dismiss you with some humour and no sign of any of the contempt I have for little sheep.

  • Mark

    Pippakin ,

    I think you’ll find that Fox News would refer to you as a ” Spoiled Ballot “

  • pippakin

    Mark

    LOL

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris,

    I’d really not intended it as a ‘blame the electorate’ meme. Both SF and the DUP are now enjoying the fruits of an incumbency that took both a long time to lay the ground for, but which eventually fell in fairly short order into their laps.

    Of course, I take your point, East and West Belfast are very different political landscapes. East is unionist and retains an opposition, West is Nationalist and has none to speak of.

    Maybe the underlying difficulty came from the fact that “Agreement” politics had less time to bed in with a DUP that had barely reconciled its various parts to the new regime and therefore the ‘Opposition’ (in the form of Pro Agreement Naomi Long) actually had something to trade off?

  • Chris Donnelly

    That would make some sense, Mick, and also explain why Robinson has been plotting the widening of his electoral appeal since- hence the integrated school pitch alongside the reception of a former UVF prisoner from the constituency into the party.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Mark: ‘Up until about 2 weeks ago , I thought every prodestant tom , dick and harry was in the OO . The poster Gerryluvscastro informed me that only 5% were memebers . I would never have known that and no one on ” my side ” was ever go to tell me.’

    Glad to be of service Mark, but can’t help thinking that some (on both sides) have a vested interest in demonisation of ‘themmuns’, and while a huge amount of this can be laid at the door of segregated education, there is a general unwillingness to investigate even the basics.
    A quick Google of ‘orange order membership in Ireland’ reveals it to be currently around 35k, against a census figure of approx 850k NI protestants. The maths isn’t difficult but changing mindsets is.

    The republican movement has repeatedly and deliberately misrepresented the average unionist and in fairness unionism has done little to dispel the myths.

    The provo mantra of ‘brits out’ is today inadvertently exposed by the dissidents for the nonsense it was — NI in 2010 has virtually no brits present and certainly none that affect the general population — the term was considered more acceptable than ‘unionists out’, for the uncomfortable truth for SF is that their problem in ‘the north’ is not the british, but those who wish to retain their british identity.

    Likewise the spectre of orangeism, very much a minority sport for NI protestants, is invoked by republicans anxious to demonise the other side.

    There’s no denying that the DUP have strong OO links, just as SF remain associated with the provos — the fact that the electorate vote for both in large numbers has less to do with said links and more to do with their perception as winners in terms of nationality.
    Hence Adams & Robinson’s ‘revivals of fortune’ despite some fairly devestating revelations. In NI the importance of soverignty trumps political scandal any day and despite the East Belfast upset, I doubt many would bet against Robinson retaking the seat next time out.

    What will be fascinating is how the southern electorate perform in the polling station when faced with a choice between those who have proven disastrous and those who have proven ruthless.

  • PaddyReilly

    The poster Gerryluvscastro informed me that only 5% were members . I would never have known that and no one on ”my side ” was ever go to tell me.’

    As you were. Gerry’s use of statistics is deceptive. The mobile vulgus which constitutes an Orange Parade consists of three parts: the 5% of members in their white gloves, a large number of bands who follow them, who are not technically ‘members’ and can therefore misbehave as they wish, allowing the OO to escape responsibility; and even more people cheering them on.

    for SF is that their problem in ‘the north’ is not the british, but those who wish to retain their british identity.

    The presence of significant numbers of persons with overseas identities is not a problem for Ireland, which is after all in the EU. If Unionists were actually British, there would be no problem. When they say they want to be British, they mean they want to be in charge, top dog, first choice for housing and employment, etc etc. Genuine British people have more interesting things to do than the culture of annual pushing and shoving to the accompaniment of tuneless bands which is all that goes on in the benighted parts of Ireland.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Tedious Paddy. Firstly as I pointed out in my original post, even assuming that as many protestants turn out regularly to support OO parades (as opposed to just pausing to watch while shopping etc) as are actual members, we’re still looking at 90% of NI protestants with no interest in the OO whatsoever. Sorry to disappoint.

    ‘When they say they want to be British, they mean they want to be in charge, top dog, first choice for housing and employment, etc etc’

    It’s really quite depressing to see this primary school level of stereo-typing on display. Considering the millions of pounds and manhours thrown at our little ‘situation’ over the years, we still have this kind of archaic demonisation thrown around as if it was just as relevant today as 1965.

    Regular commenter Mark was genuinely surprised to discover that the vast majority of protestants aren’t OO members. Now PR informs us that wanting to be a UK citizen in 2010 equals wanting to be in charge, despite the fact that unionism ceased to be in charge a mere 38 years ago and with the exception of the TUV has no wish to turn back the clock.

    As evidenced by the recent and pathetic dissident republican list of excuses to use armed force (MI6 have a building, some soldiers are in barracks and there are a few contentious orange marches), the RM has run out of reasons to demonise unionists and are instead engaging with them in a UK assembly whilst acknowledging the principle of consent.

    It looks like what we actually need are a few basic fact sheets about both sides to dispel a few myths.

  • 241934 john brennan

    An extract from a letter in today’s Indo:
    Sir:I wonder how the family of the late Jean McConville will feel at Christmas?
    AndGerry Adams? Salaried and settled into respectability, does he give them a thought? Or does he dismiss their grief as “counter productive” (his term for the murder of two off-duty soldiers)? Many of us send our thougts to the MCconvilles in their sadness. Their grief hasn’t gone away you know!

  • andnowwhat

    Much as I abhore the dissys, I think there is a hiroric validation of them in that there could possibly be a justification for a physical act that expresses dissatisfaction with the NI state.

    Fair enough, save for the violence.

    Why not give them a wee button that interupts Corry or Eastenders at exciting bits. They could possibly insert a scene from Fair City instead.

    British culture supressed and dissatisfaction expressed. Job done and no pain

  • PaddyReilly

    we’re still looking at 90% of NI protestants with no interest in the OO whatsoever

    Apparently there are lies, damned lies, statistics, and there are myth dispelling facts about the Orange Order. I wonder how you arrive at this 90% figure?

    First of all, a certain clarification. There is the Orange Order, the Independent Orange Order, the Apprentice Boys and the Royal Blacks. In certain cases the Freemasons can fulfil the same role, that of a sectarian organisation which excludes Catholics. Denying that you have any interest in the OO when you are a connected with the other outfits is disingenuous. The ruling by Lord Kingarth, that the phrase “sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist” was fair comment on the OO, could, I feel, be equally applied to them. And the bands that follow them.

    My estimate is that only 10-20% of NI’s Protestants, mostly in the East of the Province, have reservations about the Orange Order (and similar organisations) and that they consequently vote for Alliance, the Greens or Lady Hermon.

    All other NI Protestants, when not members of “sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist” organisations themselves, are ordinarily voting for someone who is. Only three of the UUP’s Westminster MPs (Enoch Powell, Ken Maginnis and Sylvia Hermon) have not been members of the Orange Order, and Ken Maginnis was in the Apprentice Boys. To some extent a genuine uniform trumps a joke one, so Brigadier Powell’s and Sir John Hermon’s credentials are beyond question.

    35,000 is quite a large number even in a population of 850,000, because the larger figure includes women and children. The number of male adult Protestants who have never participated in some sort of sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist display is, in my no doubt biased opinion, probably less than those who have.

    Nevertheless, we hope for change. I mean, I was in the Boy Scouts for at least 2 years, but I don’t think that makes me complicit in the treacherous murder of Chief Uwini of the Matabele. I feel sorry for Adam Ingram MP who attended 3 parades as a teenager and was pilloried for it in later life. We are not necessarily now who we were when we were young.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    OK Paddy a few more of those statistics you don’t like:

    The Independent Orange Order has less than 2000 members.
    The Apprentice Boys have less than 10k, with considerable OO overlap.
    The Royal Black membership is drawn exclusively from the OO.

    The original point made was that 5% of NI protestants were in the OO — the actual figure (35k from 850k) is 4.1% — if you wish to factor in the above, we’re hovering somewhere between 5 and 6%, with membership of all the loyal orders steadily falling.

    ”The number of male adult Protestants who have never participated in some sort of sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist display is, in my no doubt biased opinion, probably less than those who have.”

    Interesting logic at work here, which quite clearly doesn’t approach anything factual. I’ll agree with your ‘biased opinion’ comment.

    ”Only three of the UUP’s Westminster MPs (Enoch Powell, Ken Maginnis and Sylvia Hermon) have not been members of the Orange Order”
    ”consequently vote for Alliance, the Greens or Lady Hermon.”

    Again more interesting logic. Despite an appealing modesty on the behalf of the SF leader, it’s generally accepted that he was a leading member of PIRA, and that many elected members of SF were also members of that organisation. The provos, unlike the OO, had a policy of deliberate murder on a large scale.
    Despite this fact, 172k people voted SF at the Westminsters. Would it be entirely fair to say that they were all retrospectively endorsing a murder campaign? Or might it be fairer to say that they vote SF for other reasons, such as their stance on a politically achievable UI, their championing of the Irish language or their solid constituency work?

    Likewise the fact that UUP MPs have in the past largely been OO members is rather less important to their voters than the maintenance of the union, political representation at Stormont & Westminster and again constituency work.

    The thrust of your argument is a desperate attempt to maintain some myth that all unionists are orangies which is very far from the truth.

    It really is very depressing how difficult it is for the RM to acknowledge the average unionist mindset. Or maybe that’s the whole point.

  • Brian

    We will be united in 10 years. No problem

  • 241934 john brennan

    Brian, can you define the”we” in we will be be united. The 6 with the 26? The people north and south? The people within the North? SF and DUP? Why wait 10 years? What happened to the promised 2016 unity?

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Perhaps Brian is favouring the ROI joining the UK. But I suspect he’s thinking more of a unity in poverty, insularity and record-breaking emigration.

  • PaddyReilly

    The thrust of your argument is a desperate attempt to maintain some myth that all unionists are orangies which is very far from the truth

    Not what I said at all, is it? I distinctly remember that when N. was at Queen’s, and some student Orangemen moved into his shared house, he moved out. But then I knew him through his cousins, who were Catholics, so he wasn’t quite true blue. M. too I suspect never took part in such silliness, but then he went and married a Catholic.

    So an Orangeman is like a Unionist who has had all his inoculations. Like the Carmelite scapular which, they say, will protect you from the shnares of the devil, the sash is designed to keep you on the strait and narrow. A bit like the Jonas brothers’ chastity rings, except that only chastity vis-à-vis Catholics is guaranteed, and only a refusal to marry is signified.

    6% of the population is, you think, not a lot. But that is 6% of the total population, so we can multiply it by four to get the percentage of the adult male population. About a quarter, then. Seems a reasonable degree of penetration.

    My impression is that it gets higher, the more rural you get, the further West you get, and the more working class you get.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Yet again we’re getting into the realms of those pesky statistics:

    At the last census, 27% of the NI population were under 18. That leaves 73% adults, 36% male. Going back to the 6% loyal order figure, that’s one in six adult males, still very much a minority. In other words 83% of protestant adult males are not members of the loyal orders.

    ”My impression is that it gets higher, the more rural you get, the further West you get, and the more working class you get.”

    Impressions are fine. My impression is that the majority of protestants I’ve known through school, work and socially have no interest whatsoever in the OO. They regard themselves as UK citizens and don’t feel the need to march along a road banging a drum to prove it. And the statistics would suggest that my impression, though anecdotal, is correct.

    My personal opinion is that all marches should be held in a neutral venue such as the Mary Peters Track or Nutts Corner airfield, thus saving on confrontation, policing and traffic disruption. But certain people on both sides have a vested interest in keeping the pot boiling and misinformation is just one element.