I’ll help you downsize Stormont says Paterson. But answer came there none.

So my first reaction when I saw today’s top story on Nuzhound was straightforward enough… When the Secretary of State says something like “plans to slash the number of our MLAs and create an opposition — could be included in a Bill set to go before Parliament” I think, well you have as much chance of doing that as the FM and DFM have of getting into 10 Downing Street these days…

Except it’s a wee bit cleverer than that… The message intended runs more like this, ‘I’m willing to take some waste out of your system, but you’ll maybe want to ask your own chosen local representatives why they cannot make their mind up on the matter?

Of course, the DUP say (and to be fair to them have always said) that they would favour a smaller Assembly.. In fact they once proposed doing away with the whole super structure of the Executive (albeit when there was no Executive to speak of)…

But apart from trying to twist the DEL portfolio from the smallest party in the Executive, there seems to be no collective appetite for change in OFMDFM just now… And of course with their industrial wage structure in place (and four unemployed MPs now to feed), for Sinn Fein more than most seats means useful disposable income

Mr Paterson and his successors may be waiting for some that that agreement in the real powers that be in Stormont Castle…

,

  • DC

    The average industrial wage is a mythical beast, the stuff of legends, because where are these industries in ireland even across britain to compare to nowadays, most of the money-spinning industries have moved away (apart from certain niches)?

    A more relevant comparison for SF politicians (and all else that care to join in) is the London Living Wage which weighs in at around 16-17k per year.

  • DC

    I of course encourage Owen Paterson to sign up to the wage himself, given that the running of the economy and politics in general has been ceded to international finance, the rest of it over to European powers.

  • Is Paterson positioning himself for the upcoming reshuffle in the Westminster cabinet?
    He’s already a lame duck here and his credibility is shot with his recent comments

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    The public consultation on measures which “could improve the operation of the Northern Ireland Assembly” was noted here.

  • Mister_Joe

    The present situation isn’t or shouldn’t be sustainable in the long term. The only real question is “when”. I can’t believe that the Governor would introduce any Bill to parliament without assured support from the two main (political) adversaries.

  • Framer

    Paterson needn’t waste his breath.
    We are back to repeating the fifty years of one-party rule after partition, where nothing changes, only there are now two parties in charge,
    Get involved in UK politics where, when and how you can, and forget the refossilisation at Stormont.

  • Jack2

    Its akin to asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.
    The whole thing is a gravy train and these idiot politicians are going to ride it for as long as they can.

  • OneNI

    Am I wrong to detect a hint of a threat from Owen Patterson? i.e. if you dont get on with agreeing reform you can kiss goodbye to the extra year (elections in 2015 not 2016)

    BTW DUP have gone cold on DEL as really dont want to have to re-run d’hondt

  • NOT NOW JOHN

    Can anyone explain to me why consideration is being given to extending the current Assembly term to 2016?

  • dwatch

    “Can anyone explain to me why consideration is being given to extending the current Assembly term to 2016?”

    NOT NOW JOHN, I think it extension was something to do with the Westminster and assembly boundary changes, which (no in doubt) were supposed to take place before 2016.

  • dwatch

    NOT NOW JOHN, I think the extension was something to do with the Westminster and assembly boundary changes, which (now in doubt) were supposed to take place before 2016.

  • otto

    64 is the right number

    Pro-rates well at 64 for 1.8M people up here with 166 for 4.6M people down below, is close to Wales’ plentiful 60, still exceeds the previous NI Parliament by 12 and allows pairings of the 16 new constituencies to give 8 constituencies of 8 MLA’s, so no loss of representation for the helpful little parties.

    Saves c.£5Mpa if MLA salaries and office cost reduce proportionately.

  • Better Together

    A simplistic argument about cost-savings masks a real political risk here- we ought to ask whether we are comfortable with an effective cantonisation of politics in Northern Ireland. If the Assembly was reduced to 80 seats, think of how much the smaller parties would be squeezed.

    It would potentially kill off the idea of an opposition as no such structure could be effectively cross-community and too small to be effective. By all means, we can reduce the departments but i’m not convinced the reduction of MLAs serves a great purpose and poses great risk.

  • DC

    @Better Together

    I would like to see more powers given to councils and councils kept as they are i.e. not turned into super councils and given some bland bureaucratic name like northern region 1 or something that lacks local identity and the connection and sentiment locals have with their council.

    Of course if councils could stay in the same shape and size the salaries would need to be reduced via lowering out of the hierarchies if not flattening them out and junking a lot of new public management and the OTT salaries that tend to go with that style of management.

  • DC

    @BTogether, also – you miss the point, many powers have been given away to Europe and various other commissions and the civil service is where most of the work is carried out on behalf of stormont and its MLAs; so, if powers have been given away what is the need for having 110 MLAs?

    To me it seems that once again the lawmakers and policy makers etc wont eat their own fat and take a hit in their own pockets, as proven by the recent pay increase they passively awarded themselves rather cleverly through dint of a ‘pay commission’, while of course the public has to deal with austerity. Hope they feel a sense of shame whenever they chat to the workers in stormont’s canteen, who serve them up their food, these workers draw down min wage via an outsourced company so that they are less of a drain on the public purse and that public money can be spent elsewhere. On productive public services.

  • arsetopple

    Good point DC it is a funny old world when those who work in the Stormont canteens on minimum wage have to pay for their lunch whilst 110 MLAs with no targets to meet, 3 months paid leave, generous wages etc are entitled to unlimited free food & drinks. Well free to them. They should write to their MPs, I hear IPJ has a good stash of stamps.

  • Kit_Carruthers

    NOT NOW JOHN – extending the current mandate prevents a clash between Westminster & Assembly elections. I think having them both at the same time would be a bit undemocratic, to be honest. It serves a valid long-term purpose.

  • sbelfastunionist

    NOT NOW JOHN – Kit is absolutely right and it is perhaps useful to see this in the context of the other devolved administrations. Scotland and Wales have had their terms extended in order to avoid a clash with the Westminster elections, not just this time but to put them on a different cycle to avoid continual clashes. The difference is that the Scots and Welsh were approached by the Government and made the decision prior to the May 2011 poll. In the case of Scotland, a cross party motion was passed in the Parliament. I don’t recall anything at the time about the NIO formally approaching the parties or the Assembly so this could be another example of the NIO under Paterson being slow off the mark and lacking a deftness of touch in relation to NI politics.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I don’t get the Sinn Féin bashing about their use of public money to fund the party. What party doesn’t use expenses to fund themselves. As we speak certain UK ministers have manipulated their departments to fund their outside interests at the expense of the independent distribution of income. One such thing is the funding of a Nanotechnology centre in Manchester by a Sensor Technology mogul, this comes on the back of severe cuts elsewhere in the Science budget in areas such as Organic Chemistry, Nuclear Physics and Environmental Biology.

    Many people compare the rise of Sinn Féin to the Nazis, but remember it was the Nazis banning the Communists that gave them their power. Denying people a choice for no other reason than the majority don’t like it, is the slippery slope to allowing other extremists to gain power on the back of the agitprop against them.

    Also Owen Patterson is basically a passenger in the Cabinet, he may as well be another minister without portfolio the way Mandleson was.

  • Comrade Stalin

    OneNI:

    BTW DUP have gone cold on DEL as really dont want to have to re-run d’hondt

    I was about to rebut this until I found out that you are absolutely right, interestingly. OFMDFM can change the number of the departments at any time (Northern Ireland Act sec 17) but they have to essentially dissolve and re-appoint the executive. Interesting.

    Regarding the rest of the debate, what really disappoints me is the way people are focussing on the details of how the assembly works, and trying to talk about ways to reduce the cost of it. It seems more to me that we should be investigating – hell, let’s call it a public enquiry – why our MLAs can’t bring any legislation to the floor. For example, there was the example of the Lennox dog campaign the other week which shows a clear need for a debate on breed-specific legislation. Why isn’t anybody proposing to bring a bill forward amending the current Dangerous Dogs legislation so that this can be properly discussed ?

    My theory for this is that our politicians are collectively too damn lazy when it comes to assembly work. As an electorate, we have created a monster; we elect public representatives because they get drains unblocked and roads fixed and wave whatever flags we want them to. We don’t elect legislators and this is becoming painfully obvious.

  • DC

    That’s an interesting point that Comrade raises; probably what needs to be discussed is subordinate legislation and not just new legislation as in creating ‘Acts’ – i am thinking statutory instruments – are these never discussed? Are they just rubber stamped and processed via the NI civil service and offered up on paper to the relevant minister to sign off on?

    I imagine the ‘dangerous dogs act’ wouldn’t need new legislation or a bill as such (unless the current piece was totally flawed) but perhaps instead a tweak of what is already in place, perhaps using a statutory instrument or something, should these tweaks not merit a debate at the assembly, and of course not just the ones that happen to make the media like Lennox the dog.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DC,

    Statutory Instruments (Statutory Rules in NI) are secondary legislation ie where ministers/departments can create laws without having to go through the whole primary legislation thing. AFAIK they don’t need royal assent. These are powers which are delegated to departments by specific primary legislation.

    If you want to amend primary legislation, such as the Dangerous Dogs Act, you need more primary legislation to do so.

  • DC

    I don’t think that is the case Comrade, however I am not sure, just guessing.

    But here is an example of Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness signing off and transferring powers together via an SI:

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisr/2011/44/made

    It does say Affirmed by resolution of the Assembly but was there a big debate, are these things always debated at length?

    I imagine not all SIs are, and at times the sneaky little silent tweaks in legislation can be the most pernicious.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DC,

    But here is an example of Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness signing off and transferring powers together via an SI:

    As it says right on the top, that is secondary legislation which is created using powers on the Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 which is (for practical purposes) primary legislation.

    It does say Affirmed by resolution of the Assembly but was there a big debate, are these things always debated at length?

    A few statements were made and the assembly assented. See hansard. The matter wasn’t especially controversial.

    I imagine not all SIs are, and at times the sneaky little silent tweaks in legislation can be the most pernicious.

    I think it’s misleading to talk about SIs being “tweaks in legislation”. SIs can’t be used to adjust primary legislation beyond the provision made for those SIs within the legislation.

  • DC

    Which is why Dangerous Dogs as an example wouldn’t need primary legislation as the issue of dangerous dogs is already there in statute, what you are doing is adjusting what type of dogs and breeds which i imagine wouldn’t need the main act revised as it would fit into the provisions already in place.

    But i don’t know enough to get into the technicalities although i am sure statutory rules or SIs have been used to do some rather naughty things in terms of little debate and having a big impact somewhere in some walk of life.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DC, that does sound reasonable and it would be nice if that was the case, but my own opinion of that particular case is that the whole notion of specific breeds being dangerous needs to be taken out of the law altogether.

  • aquifer

    Tories, the representatives of big capital and private privilege, trying to downsize democracy. Just is case the MLAs try some redistribution or expansion of the public realm?

    Comrade Stalin calls it correctly: ‘we should be investigating …. why our MLAs can’t bring any legislation to the floor.’

    Maybe the parish pump and flag waving skillsets of former local councillors does not stretch to writing laws, and we should be paying the parties directly to recruit people who can actually draft policy and legislation.

  • Zig70

    Maybe they aren’t bringing legislation because they realised that they’ve made a dog’s dinner out of previous acts/orders. We should maybe wait until they develop the skills or the electorate realise that that is the function of the MLA’s and start electing more appropriate politicians. I know it is the basis of government but it baffles me why we allow people without any skills in the area to make laws. Should be a law against it.

  • Reader

    aquifer: Just is case the MLAs try some redistribution or expansion of the public realm?
    I would have thought that fewer MLAs would find it easier, not harder, to reach a decision. But, since our 13 member executive is almost totally inert, maybe 80 or 90 MLAs would still achieve nothing.

  • Comrade Stalin

    aquifier:

    Maybe the parish pump and flag waving skillsets of former local councillors does not stretch to writing laws, and we should be paying the parties directly to recruit people who can actually draft policy and legislation.

    In fact that’s exactly what I think the problem is. The other problem is that the public are too poorly informed to see it.

    Zig:
    Maybe they aren’t bringing legislation because they realised that they’ve made a dog’s dinner out of previous acts/orders.

    It’s hard to say that given that our MLAs have passed so little legislation in the past six or seven years that it’s impossible to seriously assess the quality of it. But given a choice I’d much rather our MLAs passed a few bits of bad legislation rather than nothing at all.

    Then we could have a debate in public, especially at election time, about who passed the legislation, and who is best placed to repair the damage.

    We should maybe wait until they develop the skills or the electorate realise that that is the function of the MLA’s and start electing more appropriate politicians.

    Yes, and I think this is something that we all need to talk about more.

    I know it is the basis of government but it baffles me why we allow people without any skills in the area to make laws. Should be a law against it.

    Stormont has an entire staff of people who are there to make laws. Obviously given the absence of laws emerging, they spend most of their time doing nothing.

  • tacapall

    “It’s hard to say that given that our MLAs have passed so little legislation in the past six or seven years that it’s impossible to seriously assess the quality of it. But given a choice I’d much rather our MLAs passed a few bits of bad legislation rather than nothing at all”

    Whats really the point of trying when, unless it suits the British Government, Owen Paterson will overrule it.

  • Reader

    tacapall: Whats really the point of trying when, unless it suits the British Government, Owen Paterson will overrule it.
    Some matters are devolved, others are not. If the SoS has overruled the Executive on a devolved matter the lawyers should get involved.

  • tacapall

    “Some matters are devolved, others are not. If the SoS has overruled the Executive on a devolved matter the lawyers should get involved”

    Maybe they could ask Justice Treacy.

  • Reader

    tacapall: Maybe they could ask Justice Treacy.
    That’s nothing to do with Executive decision making or Assembly legislation.
    I take it you are referring to the SoS overruling Justice Treacy’s decision to release parolee Corey while the SoS was preparing an appeal to overturn the release? That’s the same sort of power the Home Secretary has in England, yet the home secretary doesn’t have Cameron and Clegg paralysed in the same way that Robinson and McGuinness seem to be. There must be something else…
    I reckon I know what it is – with money so tight, the FM and DFM can’t find anything in common that is New & Cheap & Popular. So they do nothing.
    Stormont will be back in session in a couple of weeks – did you miss them?

  • tacapall

    Reader regardless of what you believe the Executive can or cannot do regarding legislation the truth of the matter is unless it suits the British governments interests either Owen Paterson or the British government can overrule the Executive in fact they can just shut down the Executive if they wish so there’s no point in pretending we have real democracy in this part of Ireland.

    As regards that decision making and why none is ever passed, both the Unionist and the British government hold the same view, any legislation that is in the interests of Nationalism is bad for them so the status quo remains and no I never missed them, what could they possibly do in my interests.

  • Reader

    tacapall: As regards that decision making and why none is ever passed, both the Unionist and the British government hold the same view, any legislation that is in the interests of Nationalism is bad for them so the status quo remains and no I never missed them, what could they possibly do in my interests.
    Actually, if it is a zero sum game – and I don’t actually believe it is – then there is no need to worry about the SoS because the internal structures of the Assembly, (designation and mandatory power sharing), protect both sides equally. The challenge for either side has been to offer a perceived net benefit to both sides. They have neglected the tough option of good, imaginative and efficient government, and so neither party has come up with anything since the money tree died.
    I would say they were a crashing disappointment, except that I never expected any better from SF/DUP

  • Comrade Stalin

    tacapall,

    You’re talking nonsense, I’m afraid. Patterson can’t arbitrarily overturn legislation that is within the competence of the NI Assembly except by an Act of Parliament, and that seems unlikely – note the radical reforms introduced in Scotland which the UK government have not acted to stop.

  • tacapall

    Comrade this is not Scotland and whatever you believe the Assembly could legislate for, it would never bring Nationalism any further in their aspirations for a UI nor could they pass any legislation that would not be in the interests of Britain.

  • ForkHandles

    “– why our MLAs can’t bring any legislation to the floor. For example, there was the example of the Lennox dog campaign the other week which shows a clear need for a debate on breed-specific legislation. Why isn’t anybody proposing to bring a bill forward amending the current Dangerous Dogs legislation so that this can be properly discussed ? ”

    MLA’s minds don’t work in the same way as normal people’s minds. If they did think about this case, they would firstly be trying to figure out if it was a protestant dog or a catholic dog.
    As far as identifying a deficiency in current legislation and drafting new legislation to cope with real world problems goes, that would require brain power. MLAs do not have brain power.

  • Comrade Stalin

    tacapall, well yes, that is because the Assembly doesn’t have the power to legislate on constitutional issues. The Assembly would not be able to even debate such a bill in the first place because the Speaker would have to rule it outside of competence.

    There are a lot of things the Assembly cannot legislate for. But that is not what you said – you said that Patterson could or would overturn any legislation the assembly passed. That’s wrong.

    Your contribution here is a neat example of what I was talking about. The public, including your good self, are not very well informed on how the Assembly works and what its limitations are. I don’t know how we can expect to have a functioning democracy if the public are not aware of what is possible.

    ForkHandles

    MLA’s minds don’t work in the same way as normal people’s minds.

    I know you were being flippant, but this is true, and worse than you think.

    For example Peter Robinson put out a statement saying how terrible it all was and how he impressed his view on the Belfast City Council that it should reconsider its decision.

    What Peter did not do was use his power as DUP leader to get one of his assembly colleagues to introduce legislation on the floor of the assembly. I’m curious about exactly why that is. Is it because Peter thinks that legislating is too much of a pain in the ass ? Or is it because he thinks he can get away with abusing the public’s ignorance over what the assembly’s powers are, pretending that he does not have the power to help when in reality he does ?

    When I looked at the Lennox campaign website I noted a number of factual inaccuracies, such as here where it says :

    The USPCA said the law in Northern Ireland could be changed simply and rather quickly by an order in Council

    Apparently even the USPCA do not know that since devolution was restored in 2006 laws in this area are made by the Assembly, and not by Order-In-Council. The Lennox campaign website also claims that numerous politicians “supported” the campaign. How many of those politicians actually attempted to bring forward legislation that would support the campaign in a material fashion ?

    For the record, the courts found that Lennox was a dangerous dog and had to be put down, so I am not a supporter of the campaign. However, I think there is a case for reforming the legislation, and the case is a neat microcosm of how politics in this country really works – the public are poorly informed, and the politicians abuse the public’s trust by offering platitudes while doing nothing.

  • tacapall

    “Your contribution here is a neat example of what I was talking about. The public, including your good self, are not very well informed on how the Assembly works and what its limitations are. I don’t know how we can expect to have a functioning democracy if the public are not aware of what is possible.”

    Comrade im a Republican so what the assembly can and cannot actually do is important to me. The assembly was supposed to be a place where Nationalism could pursue their aspirations as equally as Unionism could hold the status quo. Unlike Scotland and Wales the British secretary of state Own Paterson regularly interferes in matters relating to the internal judgements of this state and the reality is the assembly cannot further the interests of Nationalism without the permission of the British government.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The assembly was supposed to be a place where Nationalism could pursue their aspirations as equally as Unionism could hold the status quo.

    Nothing resembling this appears anywhere in the text of the GFA. Someone has sold you a pup.

    Unlike Scotland and Wales the British secretary of state Own Paterson regularly interferes in matters relating to the internal judgements of this state

    You don’t class the British government’s active campaigning against Scottish independence as “interference” then ?

    reality is the assembly cannot further the interests of Nationalism without the permission of the British government.

    The assembly is not and never was designed to “further the interests” of either nationalism or unionism. It’s there to allow local politicians to legislate over regional issues.

  • Reader

    tacapall: Unlike Scotland and Wales the British secretary of state Own Paterson regularly interferes in matters relating to the internal judgements of this state and the reality is the assembly cannot further the interests of Nationalism without the permission of the British government.
    Are there any examples of the SoS interfering with any decisions of the executive or the legislature? Let alone enough to constitute “regularly interferes”?
    The obstacle to your aspirations is, as usual, themmuns. The assembly had a mutual veto built in from the very start. The idea was that the parties should do deals or suffer deadlock. You can’t blame Paterson for SF’s failure to offer a tempting deal or for the DUP’s refusal to accept a bad deal – still blaming the mainland Brits is *so* 20th Century.

  • ForkHandles

    yep CS, unfortunately the type of people we have as MLAs are the type of middle manager that does nothing and just sits on whatever system they have inherited. I have seen this type of person many times in the companies i have worked in. they make alot of noise but do nothing. its a real pity. if only we had people that tried to do something positive with whatever scope of power and responsibility they had.

  • tacapall

    “Nothing resembling this appears anywhere in the text of the GFA. Someone has sold you a pup.”

    Indeed Comrade, I suppose that’s what the problem is to a lot of people.

    I have no interests nor has the majority of people here what happens in Scotland regarding their affairs and if I can remember right I dont believe the GFA was ever advertised or promoted as an internal settlement where politicians in government could only function with as much power as a district council.

  • Reader

    tacapall: …I dont believe the GFA was ever advertised or promoted as an internal settlement where politicians in government could only function with as much power as a district council.
    They have much, much more power than that if they could agree to use it.
    Key word in the above sentence is “agree”

  • Comrade Stalin

    tacapall,

    You’ve reminded me of the other problems, which are the ignorance of some people. Nobody ever suggested the Assembly was some sort of talking shop where people could talk about how great a united Ireland would be. I’m at a loss for words at how someone could even believe a stupid idea like that. And of course the problem where you care far more about debating the ins and outs of constitutional change than you care about whether or not the country is run.

    I see this morning that the sleeping dog has awoken and we’re going to get legislation that makes it illegal to pay for sex, under the guise of anti-trafficking provisions. But sure you don’t give a shit about that, you want your fiddledy-dee talking shop where people can speak English interspersed with the odd “a chara” and talk about a 32-county state while the Wolfe Tones blare out of a PA in the background somewhere. Maybe when the DUP try to make it illegal to jerk off you’ll come to your senses.

  • tacapall

    “They have much, much more power than that if they could agree to use it. Key word in the above sentence is “agree”

    Exactly reader agree, but then I like a lot of others thought that membership of the Union was voluntary. I dont think anyone thought that if the majority of the politicians who supposedly speak and make decisions on our behalf in Stormont were to agree on a border poll the a British Secretary of State could refuse it citing public support rather than elected representatives as the deciding factor. The British government was supposed to be an independent arbitrator Its a pity they didn’t follow the same rule before they invaded Iraq.

    “But sure you don’t give a shit about that, you want your fiddledy-dee talking shop where people can speak English interspersed with the odd “a chara” and talk about a 32-county state while the Wolfe Tones blare out of a PA in the background somewhere. Maybe when the DUP try to make it illegal to jerk off you’ll come to your senses.”

    Comrade whats wrong with Irish people speaking their native tongue in their own country, this state might be ruled by Britain but its still Ireland and whats wrong with laying the groundwork and ensuring legislation is in place for a UI if and when a majority of people here want it.

    The stereotyping of Irish people or anyone who disagrees with with the present setup at Stormont or indeed the Union as wankers is typical Unionist thinking masquerading as Alliance party members.

  • Reader

    tacapall: I dont think anyone thought that if the majority of the politicians who supposedly speak and make decisions on our behalf in Stormont were to agree on a border poll the a British Secretary of State could refuse it citing public support rather than elected representatives as the deciding factor.
    While you considered whether to vote for the GFA, how did you interpret the following text: “… the Secretary of State shall exercise the power under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.”

  • tacapall

    “the Secretary of State shall exercise the power under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.”

    Thats the point Im making Reader, its up to the SOS rather than the majority of the elected politicians that we elect to speak and act on our behalf.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Comrade whats wrong with Irish people speaking their native tongue in their own country,

    Nothing.

    this state might be ruled by Britain but its still Ireland and whats wrong with laying the groundwork and ensuring legislation is in place for a UI if and when a majority of people here want it.

    Nothing at all. Who said there was anything wrong with it ? Nobody.

    The stereotyping of Irish people or anyone who disagrees with with the present setup at Stormont or indeed the Union as wankers is typical Unionist thinking masquerading as Alliance party members.

    Please take a good look at what you argued. You suggested that the assembly should be a place where Irish nationalist aspirations are supposed to be expressed, or some such other nonsense. Can’t you see what complete rubbish that is ? It’s not the “expression nationalist aspirations” part which is rubbish, it’s the idea that there should be a place where people are paid to talk about them all day is something that is even vaguely sensible.

    Thats the point Im making Reader, its up to the SOS rather than the majority of the elected politicians that we elect to speak and act on our behalf.

    You’re complaining about something that was agreed in 1998. Isn’t it a bit late to try to fix it now ?

  • tacapall

    Comrade as an Irish republican who doesn’t even recognise the legitimacy of this state nor the right of the British Government to even have a say in matters relating to the island of Ireland so of course I believe nationalists should be able to proactively engage with other members of its own government and other political parties to pursue a United Ireland. That’s why the likes of Sinn Fein and the SDLP were voted into office they both claim to be seeking a United Ireland. Whats the point of voting at all if our elected representatives are not allowed to even talk about it in a supposedly democratic government that was a compromise between both traditions the answer to all our suffering and prayers, to people like me the what the assembly is for. Maybe you believe the last 40 odd years of conflict was just about giving nationalist politicians a ticket into the big house up on the hill to play a role implementing British policy maybe you believe Irish nationalists should just do as their told and be good guests in the masters house or maybe your just a unionist.

    “You’re complaining about something that was agreed in 1998. Isn’t it a bit late to try to fix it now”

    Really ! So what was the St Andrews Agreement and the Hillsbrough Agreement all about.

  • Barnshee

    Try a scheme along the following lines:-

    MLA`s “keep” part of any savings arising from reductions in numbers say, cut number of MLA by 30%— MLA`s get pay rise of 10-15%? Structure the constituencies to keep the same (relative ) proportions across the sectarian divide and hey presto

  • Reader

    tacapall: …so of course I believe nationalists should be able to proactively engage with other members of its own government and other political parties to pursue a United Ireland.
    What’s stopping them? The Assembly has been closed for the last two months, SF and the SDLP could have had the main chamber for that time. While the assembly is in session, either party could propose motions and start debates. If they feel that would be embarassingly futile, they could always talk among themselves in the bars and dining rooms. and I’m sure the Dail would hold seminars, forums, and committees for the look of the thing.
    So I’m not clear what you are proposing that wouldn’t be equally pointless.

  • Comrade Stalin

    tacapall,

    Nationalists can talk to each other about pursuing a united Ireland anytime they want. Why do you want to do it within the assembly ? Exactly how will the cause in any way be enhanced by discussing it there ?

  • tacapall

    Comrade just how is Sinn Fein going to achieve Irish Unity, the nationalist electorate who voted for them know they will not sit at Westminster so where else do you think we expect them to politically pursue it.

    Reader this is not 1968 anymore.

  • Reader

    tacapall: Reader this is not 1968 anymore.
    Even back in 1968 you never needed permission to talk about a United Ireland. Go for it, fill your boots, I wouldn’t try to stop you even if I could. It may not be the best use of session time in an already pathetically inefficient *legislative* Assembly, but by all means start debates, propose motions, whatever. All of that is available now.
    So please articulate what you actually still want, and I’ll give you a bit of feedback on whether you can expect any help from unionists. Then you can tell me whether nationalists will assist in the development of the unionist programme.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Comrade just how is Sinn Fein going to achieve Irish Unity, the nationalist electorate who voted for them know they will not sit at Westminster so where else do you think we expect them to politically pursue it.

    I don’t know. You tell me. You’re the one who wants it.

    And you have not answered my question. Nationalists can talk about their ideas for reunifying Ireland all they want, at any time or place. They could hire out a big hall and have a big discussion about it. So why exactly does the discussion/debate need to be anything to do with the assembly ?

  • Reader

    tacapall: Comrade just how is Sinn Fein going to achieve Irish Unity
    In general terms there is exactly one answer. They need to move the Northern Ireland electorate to a position where a majority of the turnout would vote for a United Ireland instead of for the status quo.
    Their GFA hope (Plan “C”) that demographic change would deliver a UI majority faded. Their plans to solidify the nationalist community into a rock solid nationalist voting block over the marching issue foundered over the unpopularity of the whole issue. Attempts to fragment the unionist electorate with a bit of outreach failed ludicrously as SF were unable to refrain from playing to their own gallery. The Celtic Tiger failed to buy off opposition, and is no longer in a position to do so. Their hopes to ease the electorate into a UI mindset with cross border bodies failed, as the cross border bodies are technocratic, and look a lot like the EU. SF efforts to get a reputation as good and trustworthy ministers are collapsing into embarrassment all around.
    However, just because SF needs a plan “I” doesn’t mean that it is anybody else’s job to provide it to them. And if they see your hopes to move barstool nationalism into the Assembly as their plan “I”, then it would be safe to say that they have given up, and are just going through the motions.

  • tacapall

    ” So why exactly does the discussion/debate need to be anything to do with the assembly ”

    Simply because that’s what they were voted into the assembly for Comrade or are you suggesting the GFA, SAA, and HA were just all about letting nationalists share the burden of administering British rule in Ireland. Why should they have to hire a big hall, is the assembly not the place where politics and the future of this state should be debated. Is the assembly not the place where republicans were supposed to pursue their aspirations through peaceful means if your saying its not then im afraid nationalism has been sold a pup.

    Reader plan C wherever you got that from hasn’t happened yet and as for the marching issue unionism is keeping that pot boiling nicely for dissident republicanism especially with bands like the Young Conway Volunteers being supported by the likes of McCausland and Dodds. There are no good and trustworthy politicians especially here in this part of Ireland and indeed Britain they are all an embarrassment.

  • Reader

    tacapall: Reader plan C wherever you got that from hasn’t happened yet and as for the marching issue unionism is keeping that pot boiling nicely for dissident republicanism especially with bands like the Young Conway Volunteers being supported by the likes of McCausland and Dodds.
    Plan A – Armalite
    Plan B – Armalite and Ballot Box
    I said before the marching season this year that each was less tense than the year before, and you would need a desperately short memory to disagree.

  • tacapall,

    are you suggesting the GFA, SAA, and HA were just all about letting nationalists share the burden of administering British rule in Ireland

    They were about letting nationalists share the burden of administering Northern Irish rule in Northern Ireland. The sovereignty of NI lies with the people of NI – only they have the right to change its constitutional status. You seem to view any British connection, no matter how voluntary, as some sort of black spot which taints everything it touches.

  • tacapall

    Plan A – Armalite
    Plan B – Armalite and Ballot Box

    Reader was that not how Unionism built this state in the first place.

    I have no problem with orange marches however some people do and they have every right to object as those who wish to march and yes I would agree with you the marching season is getting less tense maybe because the Orange Order are not allowed to march past places like Garvaghy Road and the Ormeau Road.

    “They were about letting nationalists share the burden of administering Northern Irish rule in Northern Ireland.”

    Is that not an electoral right rather than unionists or the british “allowing” nationalists in government.

    “The sovereignty of NI lies with the people of NI – only they have the right to change its constitutional status.”

    Andrew I totally agree with you that its up to the people of this part of Ireland to decide on constitutional change I have never said otherwise and I do view any interference from Britain as tainting Irish people with their blood lust for profit and yes it does taint everything it touches, Palestine, India, Pakistan Africa, the Middle east do I need to go on.

  • Barnshee

    “They were about letting nationalists share the burden of administering Northern Irish rule in Northern Ireland.”

    Perfidious Albion has shafted SF. SF now also “share” responsibility for NI. Increasingly as the economic situation deteriorates they will also pick up their share of the blame.

    How long will economic/fiscal illiteracy amongst its supporters continue to shelter them?

  • Reader

    tacapall: Reader was that not how Unionism built this state in the first place.
    You seemed to want me to fill in the list of failed Provisional movement plans, so I did. At least I didn’t include a list of Free-State, Nationalist Party and SDLP plans. That would begin to look like a catalogue of endless failure, and we would be running out of letters.

  • tacapall

    Barnshee supporting Sinn Fein and believing in a United Ireland are two different things I really couldn’t give a fiddlers about economic/fiscal policy are you really so illiterate not to know that Britain is up to its neck in debt just like Ireland. The difference being Ireland is paying that debt off while Britain is attempting to fix that problem by invading and robbing other nations of its natural resources.

  • Barnshee

    “Britain is up to its neck in debt just like Ireland. The difference being Ireland is paying that debt off while Britain is attempting to fix that problem by invading and robbing other nations of its natural resources.”

    Er no the UK is doing what it always has done -allowed Sterling to depreciate -( a facility not available to the Eurobound ROI)

    This is a crafty strategy whereby gullible foreigners buy UK assets after converting their currency to Sterling. On any subsequent sale and reconversion to their own currency the presto a loss. The UK has managed this smoke and mirrors fudge for generations. (the ROI used to be part of the same scam)
    http://www.tutor2u.net/blog/index.php/economics/comments/as-macro-sterling-and-the-uk-economy

    I am unaware of any current invasions/robberies??

  • Comrade Stalin

    Simply because that’s what they were voted into the assembly for Comrade or are you suggesting the GFA, SAA, and HA were just all about letting nationalists share the burden of administering British rule in Ireland.

    I’m not “suggesting” it, I am pointing out that it is the reality which is written in the text of the Agreement and endorsed in the referendum. I mean, when you turned on the news and saw them appointing ministers, giving executive orders and (occasionally) passing bills didn’t it cross your mind that they had a purpose beyond a talking shop on the constitution ?

    You’re talking like a guy who woke up one day and found out that there really is no such thing as Santa. Are you really that disconnected from the real world ?

    Why should they have to hire a big hall, is the assembly not the place where politics and the future of this state should be debated.

    What would be the point in that ?

    Is the assembly not the place where republicans were supposed to pursue their aspirations through peaceful means if your saying its not then im afraid nationalism has been sold a pup.

    I think you have sold yourself a pup. At no time was there an intention that the Assembly would be a place to debate things that we’ve been debating among each other for decades. What would be the point ? Why set up an assembly to do something we can do just fine without one ?

    I really couldn’t give a fiddlers about economic/fiscal policy

    That much is certain. Do you have a job ? I’m genuinely interested to know, because I’m at a complete loss to understand how someone who has to get up and go into work every morning feels so secure about their position that they think that the best use of politicians’ time is to debate constitutional change that is generations away at least. What sort of reality do you live in where you are apparently unaffected by the state of the economy and the clouds gathering overhead ?

  • tacapall

    Fair enough Comrade you believe what you believe and I’ll do likewise. I never said they had to just debate about Irish unity and where exactly does it say in the GFA that administering British rule was the only thing that could happen at the assembly.

    Please dont lecture me about the economy Comrade its corrupt politicians who are to blame for allowing corrupt bankers to have a free hand to do what they liked Im not a financier but as far as I know those same bankers are not too worried nor are they affected by the economy either and their still giving themselves a big bonus every year with the hard earned taxpayers money given to them by the same corrupt politicians who lecture the rest of us about tightening the purse strings. To be honest I really couldn’t care how much it costs the British government subsidising this part of Ireland the more the better as far as Im concerned its just a pity those who would use violence in their pursuit of a UI didn’t see that and made the British government pay through the nose for its presence in Ireland.

  • ForkHandles

    Tacapall, You are entirely right to voice your opinions on Ireland and Britain and the UK and so on. Your point of view, which is the republican point of view that is upset about events from the past few hundred years, is entirely valid as we live in a democracy where people can voice whatever views they like. But why are you so angry about things that happened generations ago? Are people today responsible for things that other people did? This is a crucial point, if you say no then your entire grievance attitude to ‘Britain’, which must mean the people that live there, would fall down. If you say yes then that would obviously be absurd. Please give a yes or no.

    The problem is that we have heard all the talk about ‘Britain did such and such’ and “Unionism did such and such’ many times before on slugger, but these terms do not link to anything in the real world. For ‘Unionism’ I assume you mean people who prefer to be part of the UK. I prefer to be part of the UK. Are you saying that I am responsible for some actions that happened in the 1910s 20s or something? As Unionism is not an actual physical thing, what exactly are you referring to and in particular who?

    The problem is that the republican grievance talk is always about some entity that doesn’t match anything in the real world. It’s always about being angry about some vague wrong that happened to some vague group of people in the distant past. If you could say who did what to who, then we could start to discuss it and we could see what your link to these people and events is etc.

    To be honest I find this type of discussion completely ridiculous, but its interesting to engage in discussion with people across NI. Could you give us more info on yourself? Roughly what age are you and where are you living in NI? I am around 40 and originally from Belfast. I picture yourself as a 50-70 year old and living in a rural part of mid Ulster, I think you go to your local pub where people have the same opinion as yourself. I think you may even have a beard!

  • tacapall

    Forkhandles both sides carried out terrible crimes that cannot be justified but our past has a bearing on who we are and where we fit into the fabric of the society we live in today. Its a bit like being born with privilege while the rest are born with the burden of paying for it and being associated with the human cost of keeping it that way. We can go back thousands of years not only in Ireland but around the world at what cost in human lives has it cost in Britains quest for wealth, for privilege and for superiority. and imposing its way of life on other cultures. The callousness and barbaric practices used in that quest is something I cannot forget as even today things have not changed they still do the same thing and murder just as many people and all for the same reasons. Britain has done many wrongs in Ireland even the Queen accepted that fact and apoligised to the people of Ireland, those wrongs cannot be undone especially partition that is now down to all the people of this part of Ireland to change if they wish. I understand and accept any citizens right to their British identity if thats what they wish, I have no problems with that being expressed in whatever fashion but I and a majority of nationalists believe we are Irish citizens and are entitled to the same level of equality be that culturally and politically. Every citizen should be born with the same right to achieve the highest office religion should not be a bar nor birthright a privilege that is not the society we have today.

    Im from the Falls Road I’ve had a few family members killed by both loyalists and the RUC, its irrelevant what age I am, I dont have a beard and I only socialise in mixed religion bars or clubs.Im not blind and im not religious and am a pacifist.

  • The Lodger

    “The difference being Ireland is paying that debt off while Britain is attempting to fix that problem by invading and robbing other nations of its natural resources.”

    tapacall,

    You sound like someone who fell asleep in the mid nineteenth century and woke up discovering that he had the ability to switch on a computer and type on it. Are you seriously suggesting that Britain is Afghanistan in order to rob that country of its resources? You seriously think that Britain’s economy is being improved by its presence in Afghanistan?

    Can you expand on your, frankly, mentalist statement please?

  • The Lodger

    “We can go back thousands of years not only in Ireland but around the world at what cost in human lives has it cost in Britains quest for wealth, for privilege and for superiority. and imposing its way of life on other cultures. The callousness and barbaric practices used in that quest is something I cannot forget as even today things have not changed they still do the same thing and murder just as many people and all for the same reasons.”

    tapacall,

    Do you have the same sort of mental hang ups about the Italians (You may have heard of the Roman Empire)? I wonder if you are aware of the huge part that Irish people had in building and maintaining the British empire by the way. At its height the majority of soldiers in the British army came from Ireland, as did a huge chunk of its navy. Then we have all those Irish bureaucrats, adventurers, entrepreneurs etc (Rorke’s Drfit anyone?). If you want to direct your energies towards hating the British because of their empire then you also need to spend a little bit of time hating the Irish.

  • ForkHandles

    Hi tacapall, I appreciate your response. But people arent responsible for other peoples actions. Anyways, all the best, and let us know if decide to grow a beard!

  • tacapall

    Thanks Forkhandles but you are responsible for propping up a system that are and were responsible. All the best to you too and I’ll grow a beard when you become King or Queen of the British empire.

  • lamhdearg2

    “Britains quest for wealth, for privilege and for superiority.”
    taca, this is true. however we all (the british isles) benefited from this and all the peoples of the british isles engaged in it, thats why you live in a home with running water, Hot and cold? electric light, and dont live in a mud hut, and cook over an open fire.

  • tacapall

    “Britains quest for wealth, for privilege and for superiority.
    taca, this is true. however we all (the british isles) benefited from this and all the peoples of the british isles engaged in it, thats why you live in a home with running water, Hot and cold? electric light, and dont live in a mud hut, and cook over an open fire.”

    Strangely enough lots of countries around the world live in similar conditions but have never invaded other countries and robbed them of their resources. The ones that dont have those luxuries are the ones who were invaded and exploited the most by countries like Britain.

  • Barnshee

    “Strangely enough lots of countries around the world live in similar conditions”but have never invaded other countries”

    Perhaps you could identify these paragons who have never invaded other countries and apparently live in such relative splendor. I am unable to easily identify them.

  • Comrade Stalin

    tacapall,

    Sorry to get all personal here but you are on a completely different planet. For people to have some sort of productive discourse they have to have at least some common frame of reference.

  • The Lodger

    I posted this yesterday complete with links to each subject, but it didn’t make it through presumably because of the number of links. Please feel free to google each subject if you have any doubts about what I have posted.

    tapacall,

    Since we have decided to ignore the massive part the Irish people played in the creation and running of the British empire perhaps we should concentrate on some of the Irish who decided to try their luck elsewhere? America for instance where arriving Irish immigrants were so angry at being told they were being drafted into the US army (American Civil War) that they embarked on what became known as the ‘draft riots’.

    During these riots they attacked the black population of New York, who they blamed for their predicament, and managed to burn down a black children’s orphanage. A man who called for help in saving the children was severely beaten for his trouble. The mob then proceeded to chase down and murder balck people by hanging and in some cases burning them.

    Patrick Butler, a sixteen year old Irish man dragged one of the murdered black men through the streets by his genitals. A small taste of 1641 for the black people of nineteenth century New York courtesy of the newly arrived Irish.

    One would imagine that the Black American civil rights activists of the late sixties must have been aware of all this and perhaps raised an eyebrow when they discovered that Irish republicans were attempting to jump on their bandwagon back in the ‘auld country’.

    However you are mostly concerned with the evils of empire building, so it would perhaps be more appropriate for us to dwell on the Irish who made up such a large part of the US cavalry which devastated the Native American tribes.

    That little bit of empire building would often involve the cavalry charging through villages of women and children merrily killing them all whilst the regimental band played a jaunty Irish tune (Garryowen) in the background.

    Then of course we had the Irish who sided with the white supremacist Boers during the Anglo Boer war at the end of the nineteenth century. One of the leaders of this much derided outfit went on to take part in the 1916 Rising.

    So when you talk of invading other countries please do not try to pretend that the Irish were not there in the vanguard.