For all the goodwill breaking out in Belfast, there was precious little of it in the Dáil…

Okay, so partitionism reigns in Leinster House. As Miriam Lord notes beyond a presser at the Plinth, there was only one mention of that handshake in the Dail yesterday…

…and that was only so Enda Kenny could deliver a vicious one-liner to a flat-footed Adams.

On the eve of the Brussels summit, he heaped scorn on the what he saw as the Taoiseach’s lack of negotiating ability, and accused him of supporting a federal Europe.

After a lengthy reply from Enda, Gerry dropped his guard and declared the Taoiseach was engaging in “extreme revisionism”. Howls of derision greeted that unintentional clanger.

“You’d know all about that!” snorted Minister Reilly. “Never in the IRA!” roared Minister Howlin.

Still on the subject of revisionism, Labour’s Alex White asked, “Are YOU shaking the queen’s hand?”

Which reminded Fine Gael’s Patrick O’Donovan of the man who danced with a girl who danced with the Prince of Wales.

“Shake the hand that shook the hand..,” he carolled across the Chamber.

Gerry was not amused.

Then Enda struck.

You mentioned the phrase “extreme revisionism”, he began.“Well, this is a day of particular significance in the country and, for you, extreme revisionism is something that you could be open about now, because while we differ here on all of these political issues, there is one thing that I have in common with you…”

Gerry sat forward. “Only one?” he smirked. “Only one?”

And Enda continued: “And that is, in the context of extreme revisionism, neither you nor I were ever members of the IRA or the IRA army council.”

The chamber erupted.

Jerry Buttimer burst into applause. Pat Rabbitte, he of the polished quips, looked across at the Taoiseach, mightily impressed. Perhaps even jealous.

There was no coming back from that for Gerry. All he could manage was a wan smile.

For all the goodwill breaking out in Belfast, there was precious little of it in the Dáil.

If you want to see the exchange for yourself (minus the various asides) it’s the first item on the Oireachtas Report..

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  • Mister_Joe

    Heh heh.

  • SDLP supporter

    For all his acknowledged animal cunning in matters political, Adams’s personal style is too ponderous and pompous to thrive in a no-holds-barred debating chamber.

    It’s like what Lionel Shiver said recently (5 minutes in) :
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18361703

    groups like the Provos and with similar histories can’t stand satirisation and being mocked and laughed at and their collective amour propre being undermined.

  • Evolve

    I suspect that this Punch and Judy exchange may have played better in the Dail than it did in the country, given the seriousness of the economic situation.

  • tyrone_taggart

    SDLP supporter

    “groups like the Provos”

    There is no Provos? Gerry managing a wan smile is all that he needs to do. “The chance{er] the Gardener{s}” victory is “Being There” . He is popular with the voters. Something I do not understand.

    What I do not understand is were the hell is the sdlp??? Could they not try and get Mark Durkin in to the Dáil? He is completely wasted in Westminster.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Maybe the SDLP will resurrect their plan to merge with Fianna Fáil and Mark will become an FF TD at some point in the future.

  • Clancy25

    It’s having a pop at Gerry Adams- does that count as partitionism in the Dail? It’s more like uniting Ireland!

  • Mister_Joe

    Adams was hoist on his own petard. Well deserved too, especially because of his dumb remark.

  • Mick Fealty

    One mention does.

  • SDLP supporter

    Comrade Stalin, you’re doing a bit of trolling. As you know very well, there was never an “SDLP plan” to merge with FF and you obviously don’t know too much of Mark Durkan’s political views. He was the first to point out the impossibility of reconciling SDLP support for the NHS with the FF/PD support for hospital co-location.

    Tyrone, I believe that SDLP need to re-think their Roi linkages with a view to building up an all-island cross-EU social democratic party. Hume always believed that the best SDLP policy was to keep links with all democratic nationalist parties until the northern problem was resolved. That point has been reached: the ad nauseam peace process should be at an end.

  • stewart1

    ‘As you know very well, there was never an “SDLP plan” to merge with FF and you obviously don’t know too much of Mark Durkan’s political views.’

    SDLP-Fianna Fail merger possible: Durkan

    http://www.derryjournal.com/news/local/sdlp_fianna_fail_merger_possible_durkan_1_2115265

  • “Then Enda struck.”

    It sounded a bit like one Enda had prepared earlier but was extremely effective nonetheless. He feinted with the left and clobbered him with right 🙂

  • tyrone_taggart

    SDLP supporter
    “Tyrone, I believe that SDLP need to re-think their Roi linkages with a view to building up an all-island cross-EU social democratic party.”

    “re-think” They do not have the time for such pondering s. “The boy stood on the burning deck: Whence all but he had fled” died!

    Political parties die and currently I do not know what the sdlp is for? After the GFA no one needs two “Northern Ireland” nationalist parties. Competing with the DUP on that ground is not working for sdlp.

    To quote a Billy:

    “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.”

  • SDLP supporter

    You will get no argument from me that the SDLP has been suboptimally led strategically since before JH stood down. The clue is in the name: ‘Social Democratic and Labour’. Mooting a linkage with Fianna Fail would not only have been a political hospital pass of the worst order, it would have been a logical nonsense. FF’s sister party in the North is Alliance, as they are both members of the European Liberals. The future is Europe and building up an island-wide social democratic party as part of a similar EU-wide entity.

  • stewart1

    Is the current leader of the SDLP not part of the Fianna Fail faction within the party?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7007732.stm

  • michael-mcivor

    Stewart1

    ” Is the current leader of the SDLP not part of the Fianna Fail faction ”

    Anyone know who the current leader of the SDLP is-

  • SDLP supporter:

    The idea that FF is some kind of “Liberal” party is laughable. The only reason they are in the ELDR grouping in the EP is because it was the biggest one not already occupied by another Irish party. FF would be closer to the EPP centre of political gravity, but FG got there first.

    FF were originally members of the now-defunct Gaullist EFN group, whose main national parties (RPR and Forza Italia) no longer exist, and their personnel are now mostly in EPP parties. With the demise of the PDs, a space opened up in the ELDR and FF took advantage.

  • BIGK

    Anyone know who the current leader of the SDLP is-

    Who cares?

  • SDLP supporter:

    If you want a proper Labour party in NI, then Irish Labour and UK Labour should jointly sponsor one. There are plenty of willing activists on the ground crying out for support.

    On the other hand, if you want a Labour party for Catholics, go right ahead and set up an all-Ireland one. But don’t expect many membership applications from the Shankill or Ballymacarret.

  • Mister_Joe

    Andrew,

    We did have a Northern Ireland Labour Party here which operated for over 60 years. Unfortunately, with the polarization caused by the PIRA it dwindled away and ceased to exist in 1987 (actually merged with a few other smaller parties to form a united labour/liberal movement which was unsuccessful).
    It would be interesting to try again.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mister_Joe

    “the polarization caused by the PIRA”

    1969 the PIRA started and you think they caused the “polarization”?

  • SDLP supporter

    Andrew Gallagher

    I am intensely relaxed about the prospect of any British Labour sponsored party fighting elections here. I’m confident Irish Labour would not join in any venture. As someone who has been taking an active part in elections for decades, starting with NILP, it is naive in the extreme to think that it is possible to put a functioning election machine on the ground in NI remotedly controlled from London or Dublin.

    As for the ‘Catholic’ thing, I look round my branch in Belfast and, of those I know personally, I see relatively few, ethnic or otherwise. Then again, I’ve rarely seen a Catholic priest at an SDLP function. never heard a sectarian remark or been aware of a religious test for membership, which you apparently favour.

    In the Assembly it was the SDLP which tabled the motion on child sexual abuse, including clerical abuse, which no other party had the guts to do.

    The question for me is, given the disgusting economic policies of New Labour, cosying up to scumbag bankers and the like, and the war mongering of Blair, etc. would I want to have anything to do with them? The British Labour Party is hardly the gold standard for social democratic policies.

  • Mister_Joe

    tyrone_taggart,

    They exacerbated the polarization. Many people who were willing to engage with and work with “them other ones” moved away from that because of the PIRA and “Loyalist” campaigns of murder..

  • SDLP supporter,

    I didn’t accuse the SDLP of sectarianism. And I was using the word “Catholic” in the lazy way that most people do, as an ethnic tag rather than a religious one. (I could have used more accurate terminology, but the controversy would have overshadowed my point).

    I mean to say, the SDLP is perceived as a party of catholics, for catholics. Much the same way as the police lacked catholic support while they lacked senior catholics, the SDLP are not trusted by protestants while they lack high-profile protestants. They can have the most perfect manifesto and do all the good works that they want but if they don’t appear to be representative of all walks of society then they can’t expect support from all walks of society. In fact, political parties on both sides may well need a Patten recruitment policy and a rebranding, just like the RUC did.

    It is not fair, but it is politics.

    For the record, I’m no fan of New Labour either.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mister_Joe

    You started with “the polarization caused by the PIRA” and now its “They exacerbated the polarization….and “Loyalist” campaigns .

    At least now you think the Unionists had something to do with it. Do you think putting people is specific wards to make sure nationalists did not get a majority may have anything to do with the polarization?

    BTW: Northern Ireland Labour had a competitor party the “Republican Labour Party” did you forget about them?

  • Taoiseach

    And yet Kenny and co will all turn up and deliver addresses lauding Michael Collins, Patrick Pearse etc because, you know, killing people between 1916 and 1922 was somehow morally different.

  • Taoiseach,

    The distance of history is not always an asset to objectivity.

  • SDLP supporter

    Andrew Gallagher
    I acknowledge that you do not accuse the SDLP of sectarianism. However, I don’t agree with your RUC/PSNI analogy. The problem with the RUC wasn’t that it didn’t have senior Catholics in its ranks. In the seventies and eighties the RUC had a Catholic Chief Constable (Sir Jamie Flanagan) and in Derry it had a very senior officer (Frank Lagan) who, from what I have heard from people who worked with him, was a thoroughly decent man. I knew nothing about Flanagan but have met his son a few times and he seemed very reasonable.

    The problem with the RUC was, as Patten identified, it had allowed itself to be used as a quasi-paramilitary police force by the Stormont unionist government and, for various reasons, was not representative of the society it policed, not least of which was that the Provos, supported by Sinn Fein, killed several hundred of them.

    You say there are Protestants who won’t trust the SDLP while it doesn’t have Protestants in leadership positions. I consider that to be a sectarian attitude, which I would never pander to, and I’m sure they felt the same about the SDLP when it had people like Ivan Cooper, as high profile as you could get, Claude Wilton and John Turnly associated with it.

    You say that parties ‘must be representative of all walks of society’. I disagree: I would be very leery of voting for a party which had, for example, City bankers in it. Looking down South, Fianna Fail were a ‘catch all’ party representative of all walks of society (“the men of property and the men of no property”) which had far more CDE social class voters supporting it than Irish Labour. And look how Fianna Fail ended up, a corrupt mess, albeit with decent people in it!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Comrade Stalin, you’re doing a bit of trolling.

    You’ve got me there.

    He was the first to point out the impossibility of reconciling SDLP support for the NHS with the FF/PD support for hospital co-location.

    Durkan is, of course, right but he and you apparently have not taken this point to its logical conclusion. The reunification of Ireland (the SDLP’s #1 policy as shown on its website) will almost certainly lead to the abandonment of the NHS.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “lead to the abandonment of the NHS”

    Which HNS? Scottish, English( we are not selling for profit just some reforms) or the cross border hospitals of Northern Ireland?

  • Mister_Joe

    Everyone should remember not to feed trolls.

  • son of sam

    Andrew Gallagher suggests that the S D. L P are not trusted by Protestants because they have no high profile Protestants in the party.Perhaps he could point out the high profile Protestants in Sinn Fein as apparently a sizeable number of them seem quite relaxed about sharing power with S F.Of course there is the Rev David Latimer who thinks that Martin is one of the “greatest statesmen of our time”.He ,along with Fr Michael Canny were special guests at the shaking of hands the other day

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mister_Joe

    “Everyone should remember not to feed trolls”

    Any chance you would clarify who and what you are addressing by this comment?

  • Mister_Joe

    Any chance you would clarify who and what you are addressing by this comment?

    No problem, taggart – those who feed trolls.

  • Comrade Stalin

    tyrone,

    The health service in Northern Ireland reflects the NHS in England and Wales, ie state-operated health insurance, medical surgeries, hospitals and prescription drugs. The system in the RoI is nothing even vaguely like it, and to suggest that it would survive through reunification would be fanciful at best.

    I am not aware of any “cross border hospitals”. Any hospital in Northern Ireland will treat a patient from the RoI or anywhere else, and as non-NI residents will send them a bill for the services rendered.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “The health service in Northern Ireland reflects the NHS in England and Wales”

    Are getting more Tory reforms and at the of that process who knows what it will be like. I know every time I hear a Tory say that it will be organised by the doctors I shudder.

    “cross border hospitals”

    The “West” major hospitals are going to be in towns at the border?

  • Roy Walsh

    I would be the least ‘pro-Enda’ person in Ireland but, driving through Dublin I heard the exchange on the radio and almost drove into a squad car I laughed so much.

  • SDLP supporter,

    The problem with the RUC wasn’t that it didn’t have senior Catholics in its ranks.

    In that case, why was the 50/50 recruitment policy necessary? You may not believe it was a problem, but plenty of other people obviously did.

    You say there are Protestants who won’t trust the SDLP while it doesn’t have Protestants in leadership positions. I consider that to be a sectarian attitude

    If an organisation has a suspiciously small proportion of gays/blacks/women/Protestants in it then it raises questions. But more importantly, it makes stupid errors that it wouldn’t have made had gays/blacks/women/Protestants been fully involved in its decision-making processes.

    I’m not accusing the SDLP of sectarianism. I’m accusing the SDLP of incompetence. If you don’t have Protestant members then you as an organisation cannot truly understand Protestants, and if you don’t understand them then you can’t represent them. You can represent your perception of Protestants but you’ll never know if your perception is accurate. They’ll never believe that your perception is accurate. And they’ll be right because you because you’ll keep screwing up and won’t even notice that you’re doing it.

    You say that parties ‘must be representative of all walks of society’. I disagree: I would be very leery of voting for a party which had, for example, City bankers in it.

    One is not born a City banker in the same way that one is born gay, or black, or female, or “a member of the Protestant community”.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “If you don’t have Protestant members then you as an organisation cannot truly understand Protestants, and if you don’t understand them then you can’t represent them.”

    To start with the sdlp did have Protestant members. More interestingly are you saying there is some sort of Protestant group think? If you do what example could you give us that a nationalist does/would not understand?

  • tyrone_taggart

    SDLP supporter

    I have been trying to think of a way that I could suggest the SDLP move forward. I dont think that formal likes to other parties at the moment would be the best thing as the party is so weak.

    I think they should be come the party of Ulster! Propose that the NI assembly becomes in time an assembly for all of Ulster (it is one of there plans?). The should run people for TD for some seats in Ulster and get the informal backing of Irish Labour.

  • TT,

    One only has to look through the archives of Slugger… 😉 I was thinking more along the lines of “worldview”, though there is groupthink in every group (which should always be challenged).

    But off the top of my head: Every time an SDLP leader says “North of Ireland” instead of “Northern Ireland” he marks himself out as Other in the eyes of every Prod in the land. Or what about the backbench reaction to Ritchie’s poppy? They obviously can’t see themselves the way Protestants do or they wouldn’t make such flat-footed errors.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “They obviously can’t see themselves the way Protestants do”

    I think going for Ulster is a “new” spin on “North of Ireland”. They cannot pretend to be that which they are not.

  • TT,

    Exactly. They have to become something that they currently are not, not just pretend. At the moment it looks more like they are retreating to old certainties. That’s not how elections are won.