SF MLA Paul Butler to stand down

Sinn Féin MLA for Lagan Valley, Paul Butler, has announced that he will not contest the May Assembly elections after only one term as an MLA.  He resigned from Lisburn Council last month, as the Antrim Times reported.

“I am standing down,” confirmed Mr Butler. “The Party’s position on this is that anyone who is a councillor and an MLA should only have one job.”

The BBC reports that Paul Butler has “denied he was retiring from party politics because of disappointment at not being given a chance to run in West Belfast” after the party chose Pat Sheehan to replace the party president, Gerry Adams, following his move across the border.  From the BBC report

Mr Butler said his decision is not based on what happened in West Belfast.

“I’ve been looking at this long and hard, even before Gerry Adams made this decision to move to Louth,” he said.

“It’s a difficult decision because politics has been a big part of my life.

“I started off here in Twinbrook and Poleglass/Lagmore as a councillor 14 years ago, so it is a sad day for me but at the same time I’m looking forward to the future.”

But the Irish News‘ political correspondent, Diana Rusk, reports

However, sources close to the Lagan Valley assembly member said he had felt increasingly sidelined by the party leadership in recent months and particularly following the resignation of Mr Adams.

Boundary changes to the Lagan Valley constituency made it unlikely that he would be able to retain the seat at the next election after the most nationalist part of his constituency was moved to West Belfast.

It has been suggested that Mr Butler, who lives in west Belfast, would have been an obvious choice to replace Mr Adams when he resigned to stand for election in the south.

Sources close to Mr Butler say he had hoped to be nominated for the constituency so that he could remain in elected politics.

However, his name was not put forward for nomination and the party selected former hunger striker Pat Sheehan for the seat.

Sources also said that he had felt “controlled” in Sinn Féin and unable to express his views without them first being “cleared” by the party.

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  • Michael Shilliday

    Sources also said that he had felt “controlled” in Sinn Féin and unable to express his views without them first being “cleared” by the party.

    Whoda thunk it.

  • The Word

    Clearly he isn’t on the Neo-Aristotelian Sisyphusian wing of the party or he might understand why they don’t let him speak freely in these days of the courting of the middleclass.

  • The final paragraph has a certain resonance with the recent treatment of Fr Owen O’Sullivan by another centrally controlled organisation:

    After the publication of the article, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith contacted O’Sullivan’s superiors in Rome and told them he was not allowed to write an article again without first receiving approval from the Vatican.

  • William Markfelt

    He’s a lightweight, as his PAC Chairmanship proves. No loss.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘these days of the courting of the middleclass.’

    Maskey was happy enough to court ‘the system’ at the expense of Joe Public in his tenure as PAC Chairman, ensuring that several bodies whose role have been repeatedly challenged in various matters were kept safe in case the truth leaked out.

    An establishment stooge.

  • A different Paul, WM, Paul Butler, not Paul Maskey.

  • The Word

    “the recent treatment of Fr Owen O’Sullivan by another centrally controlled organisation”

    Hardly true to say that the Vatican is like Sinn fein. Clearly, it is more like the SDLP in values. It is the hypocrisy of Sinn Fein’s position that is being marked here, that while it argues that it is horizontally focussed with everybody getting the average industrial wage, it reigns hierarchically with everything deferred to dear leader.

  • andnowwhat

    It’s a fek’n waste of good speech therapy if Butler resigns

  • The Word, it’s hardly surprising that a Catholic led organisation like SF should operate in a manner similar to that of the Vatican. The late Peter McLachlan, who worked with numerous community organisations, was very conscious of the transfer of the religious organisational mindset into the community/political arena. He sometimes provided ‘translations’ for the benefit of the confused.

  • Nunoftheabove

    By its own admission SF was fairly democratic centralist in orientation until comparatively recently, it appears that it still is although has perhaps more suss than to admit it these days; their guff about toleration of dissent etc rings very hollow indeed, certainly.

  • Cynic2

    Returned unopened

  • Cynic2

    ” By its own admission SF was fairly democratic centralist in orientation until comparatively recently”

    …… provided you agreed with the leadership …. if you didn’t there was a team for ‘political re-education’, shall we say (unless you were family)

  • The Word

    Nevin

    “a Catholic led organisation like SF”

    I don’t think you can make that case when Sinn Fein did everything they could to undermine the Church during the Troubles. Sunday Catholics at best, at worst the words fail me.

    But queue the bit about the unionists replicating the horizontal stance in their churches? The reality is that hierarchy is the norm in all political parties. It would only be hypocrital for them to argue otherwise.

    Naturally Sinn Fein and the DUP took that to a different plane.

  • Rory Carr

    I hardly think that the demotion of those who are at odds with the party line is unique to Sinn Féin. Such control is practised by all party leaderships (whose line will naturally be the one dominant within a party – that’s how come they lead). There is hardly a week that goes by in Westminster political life for example, when the media are not speculating on the stuttering career of this or that member of the cabinet who has fallen foul of the leadership either because of attitude, incompetence or overkeen ambition.

    If the reason is perceived incompetence then the hapless one is at pains to spin how in fact it was his principled stand on this issue or the other which placed him in disfavour with the leadership. This leak on his clash with the leadership will invariably be provided to a friendly journalist from “a source within his constituency” or some similar confection.

    In this case it seems simply a case of a politician’s seeking to outreach his grasp. A period of reflection is a wise course to choose.

  • The Word, Presbyterians and Episcopalians have very different structures, Episcopalian being very similar to Catholic ie centrist. Presbyterians change their chairman every year and the chairman has very little authority. There was probably quite a good reason for calling them Dissenters; not only did they disagree with the other two, they disagreed with one another.

    On the SF front, will Philip McGuigan ever make it back to the Assembly? He seemed to fall foul of SF HQ.

  • Seamus Clarke

    So Paul is talking for himself but because some weather/political reporter quotes “sources” then Paul is a liar and doesn’t know what he’s saying and the word of a “source” is gospel?

  • Cynic2

    “the word of a “source” is gospel?”

    Well, its more reliable than the drivel that drools out of SF, especially when there’s a body to be buried – metaphorically of course!!

  • Eglise en bois

    Maybe Butler too could join the other dissappointed unselected candidates and join the Alliance Party

  • Dec

    “Well, its more reliable than the drivel that drools out of SF, especially when there’s a body to be buried – metaphorically of course!!”

    So quotes from anonymous SF sources are far more reliable than quotes from named SF sources? You’re obviously highly intelligent.

  • joeCanuck

    ..it reigns hierarchically with everything deferred to dear leader.

    You confuse me with that pronouncement, The Word. I presume you are referring to the Catholic Church, what with the infallibility of yer man!

  • Seamus Clarke

    “Maybe Butler too could join the other dissappointed unselected candidates and join the Alliance Party”

    Alliance – No Irish need apply.

  • The Word

    Joe

    A lot of things will fail to be clear to you when you have your agenda. I refer you back to the original comment where there is no confusion.

    “It is the hypocrisy of Sinn Fein’s position that is being marked here, that while it argues that it is horizontally focussed with everybody getting the average industrial wage, it reigns hierarchically with everything deferred to dear leader.”

    How my opponents are suddenly all confused. An organisational fault, no doubt.

  • The Word, I don’t think the average industrial wage would have featured. The unattributed quote at the end of the thread highlights the top down structure of SF. I’ve already indicated how such a hierarchial, even autocratic, approach can be expected from a Catholic-led organisation. That was why I linked the case of Butler to that of O’Sullivan.

  • The Word

    Nevin

    “I don’t think the average industrial wage would have featured”

    Why ever not? This is Sinn Fein and everybody gets the payoff. Haven’t you heard about the big robberies and Irish America.

    “a hierarchial, even autocratic, approach”

    Never heard of a gun being pointed at anyone’s head for speaking out of turn in the Catholic Church.

    BTW, get an argument Nevin and stop recycling half-truths.

  • The Word, why are you introducing material that is unrelated to the top down decision making structures of the Catholic Church and SF?

  • Mark McGregor

    Spent more than a few happy hours back in the day working with or ‘for’ Paul. Surprised SF didn’t find a role for him given the service he gave in Lagan Valley when it was a proper tough job to take on.

    Best of luck to him.

  • The Word

    Gawd, you’re all cunning , Nevin.

    I might be doing that because I support the SDLP.

  • The Word

    “a few happy hours ”

    He seems a charmless little man to many, I think.

  • Mark McGregor

    I suppose more interestingly for us nerds – where does this all leave Jim Gibney. He’s a real name in republicanism and he was working as Paul’s Advisor (unless he has moved on since I did).

    If ‘Butch’ is going and the LV seat is gone, does the Gib have to apply for something else? (and yes, bizarrely they did make a veteran like that apply for his job with Butler). I thought it wrong at the time given the imbeciles they were just handing roles to.

  • Mark McGregor

    The Word,

    I found him amongst the most genuinely considerate and hardworking during my time in SF.

    Though he never seemed to find a way to put across his private personality in public life.

  • The Word, I hope the SDLP isn’t so desperate that it needs that sort of support. I appreciate that things haven’t been so good for the party since the Catholic Church, through the auspices of the Redemptorists, did that little deal with SF ie the Stepping Stones strategy. The Hume name appeared on the label but the Redemptorists were in the tin.

  • The Word

    MmcG

    Often the way with little men.

    “Butch” – He kept that well hidden. It could have been useful at that public court.

    Nevin

    Keep the lies coming. One day you might even believe them yourself. Those Redemptorists, you sure have to watch them. Shuks, I nearly fell for their conspiracy myself. But then I woke up and smelt the coffee.

  • The Word, the details of the Stepping Stones proposals can be found in Moloney’s A Secret History of the IRA. According to Moloney, Reid’s proposals were based on secret discussions between the Reid Group, SF, British representatives and Charles Haughey. John Hume later provided useful cover for Haughey. Martin Mansergh also played a key role on behalf of Haughey.

  • The Word

    “According to Moloney, Reid’s proposals were based on secret discussions between the Reid Group, SF, British representatives and Charles Haughey. ”

    Nevin, you have to ask the question: who’s feeding Moloney this bull?

    What would their motives be, if as you suggest, they suddenly all had a Road to Damascus conversion to
    the ways of John Hume?

    Did something happen in the mid eighties that threatened the very secrecy of their common endeavours? Did they suddenly panic maybe, on this road you say they took to use Hume?

    The collapse of Adams’ position honoured Hume quite well, and maybe one day they look for the reason for that change of heart. Maybe they’ll look to me.

  • The Word, there was no Road to Damascus conversion – unless you attribute the armalite and ballot box strategy to Hume.

    One significant shift in the mid-80s was the Anglo-Irish Agreement involving Fitzgerald rather than Haughey. The Hume 3-strand analysis continued on into the 1990s but Hume and the SDLP went into decline as the three governments proceeded to appease the PRM.

    Hume’s health deteriorated and he meandered off into the ‘post-nationalist’ world. He was to have given a talk on ‘Justice and Peace in the New World Order’ at a prominent Jesuit gathering in California in 2000 but didn’t appear.

    As I’ve pointed out previously the Hume analysis didn’t include the Unionist aspiration; it was a barrier to political progress. My modified version of this analysis is very close to what those named above signed up to in 1998, including the SDLP.

  • The Word

    I think you’re confused, Nevin, as an outsider in the ways of Catholicism.

    You say everybody took the Hume road, but this was because a few scoundrels wanted to use Hume. Does that not sound stupid to you?

    They either honoured Hume or they pursued their own path. They chose the Hume way.

    “the three governments proceeded to appease the PRM”

    Actually everybody deferred to the SDLP until the resurgence of the Provos post 2000 after their groundbreaking repentance that voters saw as quite genuine.

    Are you telling me that you’re a Jesuit? I know some confused Jesuits too.

    “post-nationalist” – Of course the SDLP has always been a post nationalist party to its eternal credit. People kill for nations. Non-violence is of the universalist religion. It’ll not be long till we’re all talking this language of peace. The nation state has proven itself redundant in the financial crises of recent years. But leave Hume out of this now. You have me to deal with here.

    “the Hume analysis didn’t include the Unionist aspiration”

    Is “sufficient” a word you’re looking for here? The statement is erroneous otherwise.

    Nevin, you have to ask the question: who’s feeding Moloney this bull? I ask this again.

    You know that it’s really just a smokescreen for things that happened in those days that found the conspirators you allude to on the wrong side of their own theology.

  • The Word, the Hume way was abandoned, even by the SDLP, during the proceedings that produced the 1998 Agreement.

    The PRM is following the political and organised crime paths at present; in the TUAS document it reserves the right to go back to armed struggle. TUAS and the Road to Damascus conversion are very different entities.

    Hume’s ‘conversion’ appears to have been a gradual one, moving from the confrontational street politics of the late 60s that he, as an historian, should have known would set the mobs at each others’ throats to the role of constitutional Irish nationalist and on to this: “We’re living in a post-nationalist world of interdependent people”.

    In relation to the final sentence of Pete’s thread Hume has also been portrayed as an autocrat, controlling the SDLP in the style of a Catholic bishop.

    I’m an outsider but my close encounters with a wide cross-section of Catholics in the university, community and political realms during the course of almost fifty years has given me quite a few insights.

  • The Word

    “the Hume way was abandoned, ”

    How come everybody else thinks it wasn’t? Have you a detail you want to share, or is this delusion?

    “reserves the right to go back to armed struggle”

    Evil never admits wrong? Goes with the unionists and the British. So what’s new?

    “Hume’s ‘conversion’ appears to have been a gradual one”

    Sean Farren’s recent book, The SDLP, argues otherwise.

    “controlling the SDLP in the style of a Catholic bishop”

    Exactly as it should be.

    Care to admit any insider connections to your Catholic tally?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Has Paul Butler gone the Hume way by any chance?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin:

    The Word, it’s hardly surprising that a Catholic led organisation like SF should operate in a manner similar to that of the Vatican.

    Jesus man. I’ve not heard such a nakedly sectarian comment on Slugger for quite some time.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The Word,

    We’ve been through all this bullshit before, at some length, before you ran away. The “Hume Way” as you call it was joint authority. This was expressly rejected under the GFA. John Hume had little or nothing to do with the present political process beyond providing necessary political cover to the IRA.

  • CS, you’ve jumped into the middle of a conversation and got the wrong end of the stick. My reference was to the shared top down decision making structures of each; it has nothing to do with people being burned at the stake or being used as human bombs. In the Presbyterian Church, power resides more at the level of the local congregation.

  • The Word

    I sense a team effort in this. A superficial argument to disguise a common cause.

    Is that it, Comrade/Nevin?

    How negative they are about the great peacemaker, John Hume!

    Everybody seems to have got it wrong but them. Hume failed, they say, on his way to near sainthood. Hardly convincing, except to two agent provocateurs.

    Comrade, the only ones who run away are you boyos every time you’re asked to back your delusions about Hume and the SDLP. Nevin’s gone aground this time. Cue you.

  • I’ve never met John Hume, The Word, but Sean Farren is someone I’ve known for many years. I first met him through Corrymeela. One of our more recent meetings was on the day the previous Stormont Executive fell. I was trying to eavesdrop on their conversation when Sean shouted across the room for me to join himself, Reg Empey and Tom Parlon.

    It’s self-evident that Hume’s role changed; he moved away from the confrontational street politics that set the mobs at each other’s throats. Sadly, it was too late; the damage had been done.

    Here’s a lovely quote from the late Sr Soubouris, a Loreto teaching nun in Coleraine (1973, I think):

    “Thank you for directing to us young people of such unselfishness and reliability. Each in his own way made a valuable contribution to the holiday. I personally learned a tremendous amount from their unselfishness. I only wish more people in our divided communities could experience how easy it is to love and live together once .the will to do so is there.”

    I prefer real quotes to information provided by ‘sources close to’. Who knows whether the sources are friendly or hostile?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The Word, yes, we’re all in it together with Ed Maloney to kick dirt over John Hume by, er, pointing out the facts.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin, describing SF as being run by the Vatican because of the religious beliefs of some (not all, I might add) of its members is nakedly sectarian. The DUP is an equally controlling and top-down organization. So are other parties. It’s a stupid comparison in any case.

  • The Word, agent provocateur sounds like a good phrase for one of Hume’s activities in the late 60s: provoke a fight and hope that someone else gets the blame. Thanks for the ammo.

  • “SF as being run by the Vatican”

    Now that’s what I call really stupid, CS, attempting to attach a comment that bears no relation to what I said. Tut, tut 😉

    I don’t know much about Robinson’s religious background but Paisley’s Free Presbyterian style had all the hallmarks of a top down style; it certainly bore little relation to Presbyterian more bottom-up governance structures.

  • Just a small point: it’s Moloney not Maloney – for all googlers out there.

  • Mark McGregor

    Nevin,

    I suppose keeping on topic for once in your life is a big ask?

    This fuckwittery, when the topic is something else is anything other than fuckwittery – how?

  • The Word

    “Sadly, it was too late; the damage had been done.”

    Sadly wouldn’t be my word, Nevin.

    Comrade, not all the facts are in his books, by no means. That would be a very revealing tract, if so.

    “provoke a fight and hope that someone else gets the blame”

    Seems alright to me. But good men can seem naive sometimes, especially by those cynical boyos who want to take the blame.

  • Mark, it’s called a conversation and it evolved out of a reflection on the unattributed comment at the end of the thread. ‘Keeping on topic’ in the circumstances smacks of censorship/control-freakry. I can empathise with Paul Butler if those indeed are his views on SF HQ ‘control’.

  • The Word, in relation to your earlier query I delved into the archives. As there are some ‘sensitive souls’ reading this thread I’ll not elaborate. 🙂

  • The Word

    Noted, Nevin.