Pan-unionism revived in Castlereagh

Bizarre scenes from the Castlereagh count tonight, where the DUP and UUP have formed a council pact in response to the DUP’s loss of overall control within the council.  The BBC has broadcast a joint statement read by the DUP’s Jimmy Spratt in which the plans to form a single group under a common whip were outlined.   This comes after Alliance won six seats on council. Sledgehammer for nut, anyone???

  • Sweet Jesus, they must be paranoid. What are they expecting, rampaging Fenian hoards to storm Bradford Place in order to pull down their silly little (foreign) flags?

  • Sounds a bit like an OFMDFM pact/carve-up, Chris :L

  • Chris Donnelly

    Nevin

    erm, hate to break it to you but Sinn Fein don’t have much sway down Castlereagh way…

  • joeCanuck

    Seems like paranoia indeed. The DUP just need to be patient. When the UUP finally gives its last gasp, probably within the next 4 years, they will pick up a lot of the UUP voters. They might even pick up most of them if they keep edging towards the centre.

  • RyanAdams

    No sign of Irwin/Keenan pulling off a seat then?

  • What’s that got to do with my quip, Chris?

  • Sam Maguire

    And yet in SF and SDLP dominated councils West of the Bann they’ll continue to run d’hondt to allocate mayors and chairpersons.

    Timewarp politics.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Sinn Fein hardly would have a say in the decision making of two unionist parties in Castlereagh, Nevin.

  • Cynic2

    I doubt there was time for much reflection in the UUP on this so I suspect that, in effect, inspired by the leadership of their Party, the local UUP are voting with their feet to keep themuns out of any say in the Council.

    This is the start of the end for the UUP.

  • just sayin

    Might I suggest that some may be reading this ass about t*t? There is absolutely no way this has anything to do with nationalist parties – there ain’t enough to cause the slightest ripple in Castlereagh! Anyone recall the last council – was it 2 SDLP?

    My reading immediately was that its to keep the UUP away from APNI and others forming a grouping against the DUP. Some minor concessions to UUP and the DUPes keep complete control of council. Simples and I must say quick and decisive.

  • ayeYerMa

    SHOCK HORROR!!! The Democratic UNIONIST party forms a coalition with the Ulster UNIONIST party. You would think that parties in democracies didn’t form coalitions with others who they share a lot in common with. :/

    Jesus, we live in a region with some seriously screwed-up and distorted political commentators.

    Alliance are just whining like a spoilt child because they aren’t going to obtain their usual excessive disproportionate amount of power for the small share of the vote that they receive – perhaps they should strengthen that Lib Dem link with an official name change and merger with the party in the rest of the country (and this is from someone who often speaks favourably about Alliance).

  • al

    What have Unionists to fear from Alliance?

  • ayeYerMa

    @al – this has nothing to do with “fear”. We need to stop thinking in that this little “peace process” form of democracy is sacrosanct and move towards normalisation.

  • Comrade Stalin

    ayeYerMa:

    SHOCK HORROR!!! The Democratic UNIONIST party forms a coalition with the Ulster UNIONIST party.

    I don’t understand the need for a “coalition” in this instance. This is plain old cake carving and sectarian exclusion to avoid the problems that might be caused by having any fenians about.

    You would think that parties in democracies didn’t form coalitions with others who they share a lot in common with. :/

    Yes, like the pact the DUP made with the representative of the UDA in Newtownabbey. The South Antrim UDA barely have a ceasefire. Another pact designed with the sole intention of keeping the taigs out.

    Alliance are just whining like a spoilt child because they aren’t going to obtain their usual excessive disproportionate amount of power for the small share of the vote that they receive

    I’m not sure that there is any Alliance whining here, I’m afraid. Councillors up there have gotten used to the DUP running that place as their own personal fiefdom. The borough suffers for it.

  • al

    I agree with YerMa but it seems to me that the DUP and UUP are sticking together here for the good of the Unionist population and no one else. That’s not exactly helping normalisation is it?

  • Gopher

    Think the UUP need to expel those guys or give it up that was really small time.

  • just sayin

    Comrade Stalin – could you explain where these “fenians” are exactly? Nationalist parties are tiny – no threat to anyone. A coalition with UUP (whats left!) keeps DUP in control. U know, the way labour are keeping fine gael in power? Or is that a sectarian carve up too just to keep the shinners out?

    The borough suffers for it? R u sure u know where Castlereagh is? High employment levels, incomes, lowest rates, best leisure facilities.

    Believe me – I ain’t no friend of the DUP, but they can sure run Castlereagh well!

  • jeep55

    My sincere congratulations to Tim Morrow, Carole Howard and Martin Gregg, voted in as progressive people to make a change in Castlereagh politics. I think the decisons post election show how relevant the Alliance message of delivering real change was. Clearly these people resent that. I blame the UUP more here than the DUP who could be at least be forgiven for not having yet having fully refected on there loss of overall control. The UUP are headless chickens heading for complete melt down – starting here in Belfast and surrounding areas and then spreading further unless they make serious changes. Is it any wonder that some Alliance bloggers were suggesting that Alliance 1 DUP 2 was not such a strange vote this time?

  • SK

    “SHOCK HORROR!!! The Democratic UNIONIST party forms a coalition with the Ulster UNIONIST party. You would think that parties in democracies didn’t form coalitions with others who they share a lot in common with. :/”

    In some threads ayeYerMa bemoans the tribalism that continues to cast a shadow over NI’s political landscape. On other occasions he seems all too happy with the philosophy of keeping ‘themmuns’ out.

    Perhaps he should pick an opinion and stick with it?

  • just sayin

    There ain’t no themmuns to keep out in Castlereagh!

    Jeep 55 – indeed a very good step forward for Alliance. That being said, they still are really spectators both in councils and assembly. Is this a high point or springboard?

    Can they form a base outside greater Belfast? Interesting times – think i’d rather be APNI just now than UUP.

  • ayeYerMa

    Comrade, Alliance were whining on TV earlier this evening.

    al, here’s my suggestion for how we can move to normalisation – we need to stop focusing on this “Unionist” v. “Nationalist” model of our population and its identity – in fact, scrap it. It’s a completely inaccurate model that’s a corrupted relic of our “peace process” that only applies to a winner-takes-it-all border poll and nothing else. “Unionist v. Nationalist” is only a slightly more sophisticated version of “Protestant v. Catholic” (that is after all how our border is defined). The “Unionist v. Nationalist” model only polarises our people and drives us apart instead of together – it focuses on our differences rather than what we have in common, and doesn’t represent a large section of out community that don’t really care about the border either way.

    Instead, we could have a model that builds upon what we have in common, rather than what we have that separates us. Identity in NI is a complex mix of non-mutually exclusive mixes of British (UK or British Isles), Irish (island or “nation”), and regional (Ulster or Norn Iron) identities. Most of us in NI have an overlapping mix of different levels of all 3 if we’re truly honest with ourselves – the polarised differences we have are merely about very fine and minute differences regarding history or semantics or merely to disagree with those who we see as causing unjust to us in the past! The GFA had these 3 strands and it’s time we ditched the Unionist/Nationalist model and focused on the 3-stand approach to our identities instead. Perhaps we can instead introduce checks and balances into our political system so that aspects of the 3 strands are always acknowledged, rather than the polarising and inaccurate Prod. v. Taig carve-up model.

  • andnowwhat

    Fek’n disgusted at this.

    Honestly, I’m flat as shite reading this.

    Confirmation if needed that the whole Ronan Kerr thing was a pile of ass shite by Riobinson (this is h

  • Tomas Gorman

    I agree al. UUP and Alliance could barely slip a cigarette appear between them in terms of political outlook.

  • SK

    “There ain’t no themmuns to keep out in Castlereagh!”

    Which is why the odd little pact is utterly baffling. It’s akin to circling the wagons in an empty field.

  • andnowwhat

    Fek’n disgusted at this.

    Honestly, I’m flat as shite reading this.

    Confirmation if needed that the whole Ronan Kerr thing was a pile of ass shite by Riobinson (this is his kingdom after all) as suspected. Ronan was a sign of the future? My hairy arse.

    The bully boy tactics of unionists towards the AP go way back and are well known.

    Are they afraid of moderates?

  • ayeYerMa

    SK, and if we’re honest with ourselves divisive stereotypes and upbringings have left most, if not all of us, with elements of tribalism or another. No one’s pretending to be holier-than-thou here. We all have it – that doesn’t mean it’s desirable in an ideal world.

    On another thread I chose to speak strongly against support for violence and subjugation – if you chose to interpret that as “keeping themmuns out” then that’s your problem of paranoia and not mine.

  • al

    YerMa how do you “scrap it”? Solve that and you’ll get politics working.

  • SK

    “On another thread I chose to speak strongly against support for violence and subjugation – if you chose to interpret that as “keeping themmuns out” then that’s your problem of paranoia and not mine.”

    On another thread you decried the “Unionist versus Nationalist” model of politics. You dismissed the tendency to organise along tribal lines as outdated and counter-productive. Very admirable.

    A day later and here you are defending an arbitrary, tribal pact between the UUP and DUP in Castlereagh.

    How does that work?

  • ayeYerMa

    andnowwhat, the whole Ronan Kerr thing was DISGUSTING from all angles. Neither McGuinness or Robinson should be using it. Kerr’s brother would also have been best to keep out of the whole Tom Elliot thing as well (entitled to his opinion of course, but knowing how the politicians are using the Kerrs he should have known better)

    The fact that you choose to use Ronan Kerr for political purposes to complain about a standard democratic model of coalition in a council is also DISGUSTING. Are you going to bring it up every time you don’t like that your party of choice did not form a democratic majority for an area?

  • ayeYerMa

    SK, it’s called moving to NORMALISATION and more normal systems of governance. What we have here isn’t normal nor sustainable.

  • andnowwhat

    Yerma. I used Robinson’s bastrardisation of Ronan Kerr’s death to make the point, not Ronan himself.

    I hope people get the message of what this means. It’s a piss in the sea but the real DUP is there for all to see

  • ayeYerMa

    al, I think we could look at alternative “3-strand” models (with perhaps weighted majorities as well) like this when the review of the Belfast/St. Andrews agreements are due.

    I know that I’m probably being non-pragmatic in wanting to rush to normalisation, but the more I see of the current system, the more apparent becomes the instability and polarisation.

  • SK

    “SK, it’s called moving to NORMALISATION and more normal systems of governance. What we have here isn’t normal nor sustainable.”

    If you feel that tribal politics is wrong, then how can you defend a tribal link-up such as this?

    Do you even see the contradiction?

  • al

    YerMa you still can’t offer an explanation as to how we move to this NORMALISATION. We do need to progress and focus on serious issues such as the economy but this isn’t just a switch you can flick off. Them Vs Us is still alive and won’t fade away for some years yet. The fact Alliance have done well this time round is hopefully a sign that we are progressing.

    I’m not saying the big issue of Nationalist/Unionist isn’t important. I’m saying that this is an issue hundreds of years old and not relevant to 21st Century politics. Ireland will be sorted eventually but for the meantime we need to focus on more pressing issues.

  • ayeYerMa

    @andnowwhat – I think it’s probably best if we don’t bring up the name of Ronan Kerr at all in any thread, unless we’re on a thread directly discussing his circumstance, or a thread discussing a politician using it in the first place. Robinson was shameless in using his name at election-time full stop – different actions (interpreted subjectively or objectively as positive or negative actions) make no difference to that.

  • andnowwhat

    @SK

    Like separatesix, Yerma is a troll. I’d save your band with and ignore him.

    The Castlereagh link up is so significant because of what it means to unionists.

    We know it’s reputation in all kinds of ways, politically and in business, and this is nothing less than would be expected.

    Does Robinson call the shots here? Of course he does.

  • SK

    “The Castlereagh link up is so significant because of what it means to unionists.”

    Exactly.

    There is no master plan at work here; just simple, knee-jerk, tribalism.

  • ayeYerMa

    al, I agree with you that the normal issues are important – that is kind of my point too. I think you’re also falling for one of the consequences of the “peace process” and that is perhaps excessive paranoia around boiling everything down to “nationalism” and “unionism”. It’s indeed a natural reaction to have paranoia in our circumstances, but in stepping towards normality we also have to gradually reduce the paranoia. Obviously we can’t make a massive step-change as I would want in an ideal world.

    A first step to doing this IMO is simply to recognise when such “peace process paranoia” exists and to simply simply change mindsets by highlighting how things are done in a normal society, and for us to be a little more open minded to how things are normally done elsewhere (as I’ve been highlighting on this thread). I think we need to gradually change our minds towards thinking in a more normalised way before we can change any systems. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m sure no one of us individuals does…

    Also, agree that Alliance’s increasing influence is also positive (and often speak in their favour), but it’s also good to recognise when Alliance are also acting as a normal self-interested party, and to recognise the democratic norms that apply to such smaller parties. Ideally, I’d like us all to move entirely to “other” parties as well, but recognise that “tribally designated” parties are currently in the majority and need to still exist but to be reformed from within their “own communities” so that their paranoia-factor becomes reduced (I think we’re seeing the start of this too).

  • ayeYerMa

    @andnowwhat – so anyone that doesn’t conform to what you think Slugger “An Phoblacht” O’Toole’s norms should be, especially within a Chris “the bastion of unionist outreach and non provocative headlines” Donnelly article is a “troll”. good one.

  • SK

    ayeYerMa,

    For what it’s worth I wouldn’t consider you a troll.

    Your thought process is quite disjointed though.

  • al

    I still think you’re being a bit idealistic YerMa with regards to the tribal mindesets of the majority in NI. As you can see I live in Leeds and the culture and mindsight is so different here. I don’t take sides nor am I religious but if I’m asked here “what I am” the areas I was brought up and educated dictates that I’m a prod.

    That is perhaps a part of normalisation we may never achieve.

    As for your general views I do agree with you in principle.

  • ayeYerMa

    SK – your main problem is that you are choosing to see the Castlereagh link-up in a paranoid way. That is understandable. However, we need to start to think outside the “peace process” box.

    Alliance are in power in almost every eastern unionist dominated council in NI. The DUP have shared power with Alliance repeatedly. What’s wrong with Alliance going into opposition for a change? You know, normal governmental systems have things called “oppositions” and “workable majorities”!!!!!!

    Please also remember that there is virtually no difference in policy between the UUP and DUP. As said by JoeCanuck, the UUP is likely to disappear into oblivion anyway, with all UUP seats going to the DUP or a merged party. Though I’m not sure we’ll have to wait- co-operation like this is most likely a start to this process.

  • The Raven

    “…with all UUP seats going to the DUP or a merged party…”

    …which is a crying shame, but the place needs two distinct parties on this “side of the house”. Certainly if that is the way things go, I would expect, *if the sales pitch is right*, that this much-mentioned 150,000 “unionist” or more correctly “unionist-minded” crowd of voters that has stopped turning out is just going to end up with the Alliance.

    As I have said before, I for one just wouldn’t vote for any party tainted by the Robinson/Paisley/insert-other-family-name-here brand. Doesn’t leave many other places to go, even for a “green unionist” like me.

    But then according to some, the end may not be as close as you think…

  • ayeYerMa

    al, Indeed al I am being idealistic, but it’s to challenge the viewpoints of the rest on this forum who are in constant outrage if we do not merely think in terms of the holy set-in-stone rules of division and The Process TM.

    Another thought – when it comes to politics people are always tribal throughout the world e.g. in England people tribally vote Labour or Conservative, but in general day-to-day life people don’t simply think of themselves as “Labour” or “Conservative” (nor for that matter do Labour designate themselves as “the workers party” and Conservatives as “the business party”). We aren’t going to get rid of tribal politics, ever. The problem discussing this here on this site is that everyone is a bit of a political obsessive! I believe that as long as violence is strongly condemned as the #1 principle above all others, then I think that normalised day-to-day relations amongst the population are almost guaranteed to improve, and we can gradually move away from seeing political tribalism as a significant problem, as hopefully the political tribes then can no longer be interpreted as corresponding to our identity.

    Anyway, enough la-la dreaming for now – to sleep to do it for real!

  • ayeYerMa

    The Raven, indeed I agree too that it’s a shame that the single-brand Unionist party seems to be emerging, but I don’t think much can be done to stop it. It looked for a while like the UU-Conservative thing could have made a difference, but then the UUs just seemed to disjointed to commit to it.

    Perhaps though it may be good in the long run in allowing new parties to occupy the vacated space.

  • ForkHandles

    When I read ‘Pan-unionism ‘ I immediately thought about a nice big Ulster fry 🙂 Maybe its time for me to go to the canteen for my breakfast….

  • Zachariah Tiffins Foot

    An Irish Republican hacks through MOPE Forest, crosses the Second-Class Citizen Sea and climbs Paranoia Hill to look through his spyglass to sweep the land for any signs of rampaging Themuns doing down defenceless croppies.

    As befits all good fairytales if there’s nothing to see just make it up as you go along. And they all lived unhappily ever after. The End.

  • Cynic2

    Themuns in Castlereagh are middle class and live in better areas like the Ormeau Road and Carryduff. Some of them may even be infiltrating Castlereagh itself. Being middle class they vote Alliance.

    However, as every God fearing Prod knows, this is just a cunning plot directed from Rome and aiming to undermine the work of God Fearin Councils like Castlereagh. Where would we be if the DUP could not exercise absolute control over every aspect of Council business and suppress any dissent or nasty questions like “why are we letting this cafe to this man?”

    If we allow this to continue next thing they will start sending their daughters to seduce young Protestant men and then bring the children up in a faith where their souls will be damned for eternity. So there’s a huge amount to play for here.

    On the other hand, it could just be the start of a move by the DUP to destabilise and take the UUP out from underneath Tom Elliott. One wonders will he actually notice as it didn’t happen in Fermanagh?

  • “Sinn Fein hardly would have a say in the decision making of two unionist parties in Castlereagh, Nevin.”

    Chris, there aren’t two Unionist parties in the OFMDFM! I referred to pacts/carve-ups, a point you appear determined to ignore 😉

    Alliance council candidate Sara Duncan said she was sad but not surprised by the pact.

    “I do think it’s sad when Peter Robinson talks about a shared future that he’s unable to share with the six Alliance (councillors) who’ve just been elected and has to have a pact with unionists just because he has lost overall control of the council. And when I say he, I mean he”.source UTV

  • Announcing the pact with the UUP’s Michael Henderson on Monday night, the DUP’s Jimmy Spratt said the two parties had a “long history of working together” in Castlereagh.

    “Plans were laid prior to the recent election for a more formalised arrangement to cement this relationship”, he said

    Wouldn’t it have been a bit more respectful of the electorate (UUP voters in particular) and the, y’know, the democratic process, to have actually pointed this fact out before the election?

  • The final results from Castlereagh>

    DUP: 11
    Alliance: 6
    SDLP: 2
    UUP: 3
    Green: 1

    Again, why the need for any kind of pact, fear of an AP/SDLP/Greens coup?
    Together they only had 9 out of 23 seats.

  • oneill, it’s probably fair to say that, so far as the electorate is concerned, democracy lasts for those brief moments in time that they spend in the polling station. They are seldom party to the open deals, side deals, shenanigans and corruption that we’ve come to expect.

  • Zachariah Tiffins Foot

    A Game of Moans. Book the Second. Where Bhoy Croppie overhears Lord Planter’s son at table proclaim his dislike of ‘greens’. Where Bhoy Croppie gallops to Baron Garoid and beseeches for a Spell of ConsideringHisPosition from the Wizard Martin. Where Baron Garoid promises to gather 2016 gold, white and green pieces to redeem the Sundered-Land.

  • HASSMAN

    There are probably many people who agree with what Tom says however it is unfortunate that he made these live on tv. It is safe to say this will probably eventually force him to leave the leadership of the UUP. But people have to respect the opinions of the older generation. I my self do not remember much of the troubles as i was too young. It must be hard to work with people who have been involved in the murders of loved ones and I am sure people are angry with how big sinn fein has become. However the Northern Ireland today is better than the one in the past and we need to keep going forward or we will get no where

  • I dont think its necessarily the case that older people who remember the Troubles are less forgiving.
    Certainly as a 17 year old in 1969 and a 45 year old at Good Friday 1998, I have no problem in moving on.
    Unfortunately UUP and SDLP have had difficulty in doing the same.
    UUP are hankering after some vague never never land circa 1965 when Ian Paisley was regarded as peripheral and indeed republicanism was marginalised.Likewise SDLP 19 seats in a 78 Assembly in 1973 and 14 in a 108 seat Assembly today) hanker after the days of SF abstentionism.
    In the 1970s abtentionism never really affected the SDLP vote (except possibly in Mid Ulster & West Belfast …different boundaries of course) as the abstentionist element was balanced by disgust at violence.
    Nobody can condone the use of THAT word of course but perhaps Tom Elliott was unwise to say what others think. And frankly there are UUP people who would use that word about other Parties closer to home.
    Likewise all the other partisans.

  • oneill, it’s probably fair to say that, so far as the electorate is concerned, democracy lasts for those brief moments in time that they spend in the polling station

    I don’t know Nevin, with the low turnout figures, if that’s still the case. You need to be a relatively keen voter, even in NI, these days to be voting in a “mere” council election.

    Also, the DUPes are no longer (nominally) a majority in Castlereagh for a reason, Alliance have had a good-very good election there for other reasons. Manipulating who governs castlereagh for the next few years won’t remove the reasons, it will probably have quite the opposite effect.

  • RedTurtle

    @fitzjameshorse1745

    I don’t think it’s a matter of forgiveness. Sinn Fein have no right to demand forgiveness and in fact forgiveness for their past actions is essentially impossible, for the simple reason that they have never accepted that those actions were wrong.

    How could anyone forgive someone who murdered their family member, or burgled their house, or any sort of crime, even vandalising a phone box, if the person concerned does not accept that what they did was wrong and in the same circumstances in the future may deem it appropriate to do it all over again.

    Tolerance would be a much more appropriate word than forgiveness.

  • Cynic2

    “why the need for any kind of pact?”

    because collectively they could outvote the DUP on appointing Committee Chairs etc and we couldn’t have that.

    Also, are Committee Chairs awarded extra pay in Castlereagh?

  • Cynic2

    “Wouldn’t it have been a bit more respectful of the electorate ……….., to have actually pointed this fact out before the election?”

    What has it got to do with them. The sheep voted as they were told. Let that be an end of it

  • Cynic2

    Interestingly the UUP’s website is as up to date as the Leader’s opinions.

    It appears that the party hasn’t noticed yet that he has been elected and the last entry on the ‘live Twitter feed’ is 3 days ago – more Twatter than Twitter for the UUP.

    Strangely too there is no mention of Scumgate or the UUP’s disaster in Belfast Council. Perhaps the news hasn’t reached Fermanagh yet or they are all too busy with the farms

  • Pia_Lugum

    It would look to me as if the Castlereagh UUP are operating outside of the main party. I cannot imagine that the party executive were consulted on this matter. The newly elected UUP councillors in Castlereagh have obviously no strategy, no UU party cohesion and no personal pride when they ran so quickly to the covering wing of the DUP.
    I wonder will Tom Elliot have them carpeted soon or will the UUP meltdown continue.

  • Joe Bloggs

    UUP should really consider a merger with the DUP while they still have a chance to strike a deal.

    Probably the worst managed party in the British Isles.

  • Aontachtach

    It is deals like this that will drive many moderate Unionists into voting for the Alliance parrty. These people need to grow up.

    I wonder will this deal happen at Ards Borough Council. The DUP got eleven of the 23 seats. One short of the overall majority. I really hope that the 6 UUp – 4 Alliance – 1 SDLP and the one Ind can come together to keep the DUP out of power. This all depends on the UUP having a bit of backbone for once.

  • Comrade Stalin

    al, here’s my suggestion for how we can move to normalisation – we need to stop focusing on this “Unionist” v. “Nationalist” model of our population and its identity – in fact, scrap it.

    This DUP/UUP pact reinforces it, it does not scrap it.

    The fundamental fact is that when unionist make pacts, it means they have no intention of even pretending that there are minority interests to account for. There are SDLP, Green and Alliance councillors there who comprise a substantial minority within the borough. Their systematic exclusion from playing an active role in the council is a bad thing.

    I agree with oneill’s take on this.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Just Sayin’

    Comrade Stalin – could you explain where these “fenians” are exactly? Nationalist parties are tiny – no threat to anyone.

    Yes, and yet a token gesture to vote for an SDLP Chair or Mayor is apparently out of the question. I can’t think of a better way for the DUP, or indeed UUP, to show that they have set aside the baggage of the past.

    Peter Robinson invoked the name of a murdered police officer when he talked about working to build a shared future. It seems cynical, and slightly disturbing, for the DUP to then move so decisively against sharing in the way they have just done.

    A coalition with UUP (whats left!) keeps DUP in control. U know, the way labour are keeping fine gael in power? Or is that a sectarian carve up too just to keep the shinners out?

    Tell you what, how about Alliance forms a pact with the SDLP and SF in Belfast and excludes unionists from all the council positions, flies the tricolour and erects signs in Irish everywhere ? Would that be a fair comparison with the Fine Gael/Labour coalition ? The ratios aren’t too far off.

    The borough suffers for it? R u sure u know where Castlereagh is?

    Yes, it’s in a suburb of Belfast where the residents have easy and quick access to services provided by the Belfast council.

    High employment levels

    Councils have almost no impact on the economic policies that influence employment levels.

    incomes

    Councils have no impact on incomes either.

    lowest rates

    Yeah, that’s because the area is subsidized by the Belfast ratepayers. That is why, for example, residents outside Belfast have to pay a substantial fee to bury someone in a Belfast graveyard – because the council won’t meet the costs through the rates.

    best leisure facilities.

    How on earth do you measure a thing like that ?

    Believe me – I ain’t no friend of the DUP, but they can sure run Castlereagh well!

    I doubt you are comparing them with a serious point of reference. It’s very easy to run a council on the edge of a city where your residents can leech off the facilities that are a few minutes’ drive way.

  • just sayin

    “are Committee Chairs awarded extra pay in Castlereagh” – yes. And in every other council.

    I doubt there was any fear of APNI involved or anything about committee chairs. Was talking with someone who knows the place better than I do – he says its reflection of political relationships on the council. UUP and DUP cllrs get on well and there ain’t much between them. DUP are more interested in keeping control of rates setting than the niceties of who chairs a cttee – which has no real power at all.

    Bearing in mind all parties say they are for a government and opposition in principle (some not that convincingly) why should this be a problem. Power sharing is a great thing – I supported it for 30 years. But its a means – its not the end. What Castlereagh appears to have is a ……………….. coalition!!

  • Mike the First

    Wierd stuff.

    Glad I voted Green in the Castlereagh Council election (as an ex-UUP voter who went for Alliance in the Assembly election)….

  • Comrade Stalin

    he says its reflection of political relationships on the council. UUP and DUP cllrs get on well and there ain’t much between them.

    So why formalize a pact then ?

    DUP are more interested in keeping control of rates setting than the niceties of who chairs a cttee – which has no real power at all.

    Why does that require a pact ?

    But its a means – its not the end. What Castlereagh appears to have is a ……………….. coalition!!

    With this kind of nonsense going on how on earth are SF ever going to be persuaded to drop d’Hondt ? Unionists need to show that when they are handed power they wield it responsibly and equitably. They have never done that in castlereagh, and this is all more of the same.

  • just sayin

    Comrade Stalin

    “Yes, and yet a token gesture to vote for an SDLP Chair or Mayor is apparently out of the question. I can’t think of a better way for the DUP, or indeed UUP, to show that they have set aside the baggage of the past.

    Peter Robinson invoked the name of a murdered police officer when he talked about working to build a shared future. It seems cynical, and slightly disturbing, for the DUP to then move so decisively against sharing in the way they have just done”.

    So DUP have 11 seats – need 12 for majority and their choice is UUP, SDLP, AP and Greens. Leave sectarianism to a side for a second – on mere politics, you choose the best fit.

    I hope they do vote for an SDLP mayor during this term- I have met both people involved and they would do it well. A gesture is all it would be though.

    On the Ronan Kerr reference – I just hope Robinson was sincere in that. If not he’s a disgrace

    “Tell you what, how about Alliance forms a pact with the SDLP and SF in Belfast and excludes unionists from all the council positions, flies the tricolour and erects signs in Irish everywhere ? Would that be a fair comparison with the Fine Gael/Labour coalition ? The ratios aren’t too far off”.

    To be frank I have no issue with that. SDLP and SF are varying shades of left of centre. AP wouldn’t be too far from a Lib Dem coalition with Labour – plenty of examples of that in councils in GB – yeah, works for me.

    “Yes, it’s in a suburb of Belfast where the residents have easy and quick access to services provided by the Belfast council”.

    Which must be why Belfast leisure services are consequently disproportionately well used ….. not. I suspect you may find more Belfast residents in the Ice Bowl and Robinson Centre (eek, hurts to refer to that name – why name it after him?).

    “Councils have almost no impact on the economic policies that influence employment levels”.

    You might want to try that one on Belfast and the 90 odd people in their Development Department. Councils have had a permissive power on economic development for 20+ years.

    “Councils have no impact on incomes either”.

    See above – and as a ‘taxing’ authority, yes they do.

    “Yeah, that’s because the area is subsidized by the Belfast ratepayers. That is why, for example, residents outside Belfast have to pay a substantial fee to bury someone in a Belfast graveyard – because the council won’t meet the costs through the rates”.

    Wrong way round mate if you follow your logic. If every man jack in Castlereagh is using Belfast leisure facilities, they are subsidising Belfast.

    “How on earth do you measure a thing like that ?”

    Try visiting – or just have a look at usage figures. People do vote with their feet.

    “I doubt you are comparing them with a serious point of reference. It’s very easy to run a council on the edge of a city where your residents can leech off the facilities that are a few minutes’ drive way”

    Why does it not then work for Newtownabbey, Lisburn etc. Belfast have the best rates base in NI and all the service advantages of a dense population – yet still their rates are way above most councils.

  • just sayin

    “So why formalize a pact then ?”

    My guess is that it ties them in somewhat. DUP worry appears to be (generally) some realignment between AP and UUP – to be frank it their only threat at present.

    “Why does that require a pact ?”

    Ties them in.

    “With this kind of nonsense going on how on earth are SF ever going to be persuaded to drop d’Hondt ? Unionists need to show that when they are handed power they wield it responsibly and equitably. They have never done that in castlereagh, and this is all more of the same”

    The underpinning problem here is that we are coming used to the only definition of positive politics being that everyone is the government. We do need some form of opposition – though not in the way that the prat Allister sees it. Again, leaving sectarian head counts to the side, who would be the more natural allies? In a voluntary coalition why on earth (e.g.) would SF seek a pact with anyone other than SDLP? The only reason would be for “cross community” reasons. APNI have had it right on this for a while – the mechanisms to ensure governance people could buy into risks entrenching the sectarianism its trying to address. Personally I would welcome more voluntary coalitions that make political rather than cross community sense. A sign of progress? Example – SF and SDLP in Down?

    I live in Down and would trust them not to abuse their positions in any sectarian way – I probably wouldn’t have 20 years ago.