SDLP reminded of the real politics of #SpadBill by its own retired politicians…

So the SDLP will not now launch a petition of concern. Eight days ago, they were firmly set on taking down Jim Allister’s bill. The SDLP press office were briefing over the weekend that there would be no change.

So what happened (Alex Attwood’s TV meltdown seems not to have played a part)? Over the weekend Seamus Mallon, the party’s retired former First Minister brought some much needed perspective to the party:

Mr Mallon accused the SDLP of “putting two fingers up to the unionist community and the community at large”. He said the promotion of certain people to power in Stormont was “to negate any of the basic philosophies of the Good Friday Agreement”.

“I hope the party changes its mind and I will do my best to ensure that they do,” Mr Mallon said. “I know the mood and feeling in the community. In politics, when you are explaining, you are losing.”

That last is a reference to Ronald Reagan’s mid debate quip to Walter Mondale. And he was proven right in the end.  It indicates an over concern for process and an under concern for the feelings of the party’s own electorate.

Here’s the three point case to the SDLP for supporting Jim Allister’s bill I put together in March:

  1.  The bill is a direct response to the appointment of Mary McArdle who was convicted for her part in the brutal murder of the young Catholic teacher Mary Travers after Mass. This is an issue that more or less precisely divides the broad interests of the two Irish national parties.

  2. The airing of any such public argument would give the party an opportunity both to reconnect with the distinct interests and values of its base (civil rights, respect for victims and civil order), whilst demonstrating it retains a capacity to effect substantive change.

  3. By participating in one of the first transparently robust process of lawmaking, the party can signal its willingness to embrace controversy and deliver tough and fair-minded law in the  interest of all the people of Northern Ireland, not just those who vote for them.

As I’ve noted elsewhere the SDLP have taken wonkery to a fine art to the exclusion of politics. That’s just one difference between now and Hume’s day.

I defy any red blooded Sinn Fein activist not to be laughing secretly up their sleeves at this debacle. More troubling from a Stoop point of view, is they seem to have had no idea what was coming.

In rugby if you pull out of a tackle half way through, you stand a very good chance of doing yourself a serious injury. The SDLP are being taught a very hard existential lesson here.

In part that’s arisen from an embarrassing (and as it turns out completely unnecessary) confrontation with Ms Travers, but more tellingly, at the hands of a retired elder of the party. It’s a like a parent coming home after ten years to find the kids have run amok.

Politics is in part about offering fit solutions to real problems (that’s what policy is for guys, it’s not a virtue in and of itself), but also about telling a story that people want to be part of through the things you do, rather than the things you say.

Demonstrating that our democratic institutions can express compassion towards victims of terror is a compelling story. But it’s not a good story for you if in the end you are forced not to sit on yer hands by your visiting elderly relatives.

The kicker to the story is that the party has initially indicated it will not oppose the Spad Bill by calling for a Petition of Concern. It remains to be seen how it will vote when the bill comes back through the Assembly for the last time.

Memo to the micro processors inside the SDLP: If one independent MLA can put a whole party ‘in a difficult position’, you ain’t playing the game right…

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  • sonofstrongbow

    The reality is that Jim Allister, despite his abrasive edges, is head and shoulders above his political foes within the assembly.

    He is running the most potentially effective ‘opposition’ within Stormont. However he is hamstrung by the rules that limit his interventions.

    When he does sidestep the defensive wall of the Speaker, SF, DUP et al he finds, as in the Spads case, an open goal.

    If there were more ‘blowing’ alongside him the Stormont house of cards would do more than tremble, it would fold in a heap.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    I think this article sums up the SPAD bill for me.

    “IRiSS Expert Comments on the Special Advisors Bill Debate

    By Dr Cillian McGrattan (Swansea University) and Dr Máire Braniff (Univeristy of Ulster)

    This article originally appear in the Belfast Telegraph 28th May 2013

    As the eyes of the world start to shift towards Northern Ireland with the imminent arrival of the G8 leaders, no doubt our local and national politicians will be dusting off their stock phrases extolling the successful transition from conflict to peace. But what in concrete terms have our local legislators actually achieved? What is their vision of peace?”

    http://irissuublog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/iriss-expert-comments-on-special.html?m=1

  • tacapall

    Great link AU who can argue with the words –

    “We believe that politicians should grasp the opportunity to say to future generations that violence is not reasonable or an ethical option, and politics and democracy can be seen to work.”

    its the words below that need to be embraced by all parties.

    “signal its willingness to embrace controversy and deliver tough and fair-minded law in the interest of all the people of Northern Ireland”

  • MrPMartin

    why should combatants have a special role? it seems its all about them. A narrow elitist cabal who think they have a god given right to rule and create unmandated murdere and mayhem in the past

    time for all ex combatants and warhorses to leave the stage

  • RyanAdams

    The gurning on twitter from Sinn Fein and it’s supporters is priceless.

    In away this is very similar episode to the 40,000 leaflets a la Genie back in the bottle. Sinn Fein brought this to the fore, and well and truly reached a new low with this one. Had they picked someone with a less serious misdemeanor the whole episode may never got to this stage.

    It’s a bit like office banter, which has to just go too far once, before the standard ‘cut it out’ email from HR lands in your inbox, then the craics over because of one stupid twit. In that sense, the whole thing is a massive Sinn Fein own goal.

  • MrPMartin

    to play devils advocate, why should ex prisoners be stopped from being advisors yet can become FM or DfM in theory, roles which have even more authority and prestige ?

    Would such a law breach rehabilitation law if such laws exist?

  • oakleaf

    Sinn Fein own goal? SDLP made a complete mess of it. They should have said unless you accept these reasonable amendment we will block the bill.

    Of course the SDLP has no backbone to see this through.

    Sinn Fein should run Mary McArdle in the next election in Mr Mallons home patch of Armagh.

  • GavBelfast

    I have to agree with the view that there is something especially sickening in all the self-congratulation that those who used to murder don’t any more. Not that they regret it, mind. Well, maybe that the conditions made ‘conflict’ ‘inevitable’.

    You know … things like randomly slitting peoples’ throats because of their religious background, or blowing to smithereens folk quietly remembering the dead of wars.

    I’m glad they stopped, I’m even prepared to countenance that some of them were naively drawn into it all.

    But: to be grateful that people who murdered stopped murdering, and to congratulate them and applaud any back-slapping for stopping it?

    NO!!! Not before, not now, not ever.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t agree with your March observation Mick, then or now. Look at what the SDLP have spent the past few years doing – the Newry and Mourne playpark thing, the endorsement of various campaigns to have dissidents released from jail; the shameful treatment of Sammy Brush. How you could argue that the SDLP need to use this matter to take the initiative over victims issues I can’t understand.

    No, what’s happened here is that the SDLP have been backed into the corner by the realpolitik of a relative of a victim appealing to them in a way that they cannot easily set to one side. They certainly misjudged this situation; knowing that the only way the bill could be stopped would be through their endorsing a Petition of Concern they should have calculated ahead of now that this would come to a head. Instead they left it up to a handful of MLAs in the Assembly group to press the issue.

    SF aren’t going to just let the SDLP get away with endorsing a bill which takes away their means to appoint whoever they want to SpAD roles. Recalling their wrath when the SDLP had the temerity to ask unionists for help in defeating Gerry Adams in West Belfast in 1992 (Sinn Féin accused the SDLP of “damaging the peace process at a crucial juncture” by daring to challenge them in an election) it can be expected that already-strained relations between the two parties will sour significantly.

    strongbow:

    [Allister] is running the most potentially effective ‘opposition’ within Stormont. However he is hamstrung by the rules that limit his interventions.

    When he does sidestep the defensive wall of the Speaker, SF, DUP et al he finds, as in the Spads case, an open goal.

    If there were more ‘blowing’ alongside him the Stormont house of cards would do more than tremble, it would fold in a heap.

    This is a bizarre comment to make. Allister spends his time in the assembly pushing buttons to see what kind of a reaction he can get. This was not some sort of deft calculation; he got lucky. It does of course put the DUP in an awkward position, but they have to deal with a reality that Allister does not, namely that the collapse of said house of cards will lead to joint authority and problems a great deal worse than SF appointing people with convictions as ministerial advisers. Would unionists be able to successfully press for these kinds of restrictions on appointees to committees or advisory boards in a direct rule setting ?

    As I have pointed out here before, a trawl through the back catalogue of the people Jim Allister defended in court in his past life as a barrister might lead to a few embarrassing situations, especially if any of his clients were later convicted of anything that impacted someone willing to speak up for Sinn Féin.

  • Gopher

    My gut reaction to this SDLP debacle is even though Seamus Mallon explained in crayon the present party still don’t “get it”. An indecisive stance in the bills future debate will dig them a few further feet into the grave. The penny will have to drop with them and they will have to defend this bill like it was the last ditch of the peace process now. Lose that debate and the damage will be terminal.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Gopher,

    Seamus Mallon is a person who said in the mid 1990s “a vote for Sinn Féin is a vote for the IRA”. This is clearly at odds with SDLP policy at the time which was to actively encourage people to vote for Sinn Féin. It would be a mistake to believe that he speaks for a significant number of SDLP members or supporters.

  • RyanAdams

    “Sinn Fein own goal? SDLP made a complete mess of it. They should have said unless you accept these reasonable amendment we will block the bill.”

    Me thinks most of the SDLP were happy at the notion to give an ‘up yours’ to Sinn Fein, but others evidently weren’t happy – one I think was Dominic Bradley. And it would have just took one MLA to bring the bill down and split the party.

    As Mick said, it’s a class issue. There are only votes to be lost by siding with Sinn Fein on this issue. Frankly one party in the chamber justifying murder is enough.

    “Sinn Fein should run Mary McArdle in the next election in Mr Mallons home patch of Armagh.”

    True. With Mr Equal-Opportunities-No-Prod-need-apply Conor Murphy now resourced fully towards Westminster, I suppose they’ll be looking for someone with a ‘vibrant CV’ to keep the South Armagh yokels on board for the assembly elections.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Ryan,

    I thought the same about Bradley. Although I think now that the party have come out against endorsing the PoC in these circumstances, it will be very difficult for a lone MLA to challenge the whip.

  • Gopher

    CS

    I’m not the most intelligent person in the world but in the video clip SF have already started digging the SDLP’s grave for them in the debate “The SDLP know it is bad law” If the SDLP don’t decisively defend this bill they let SF speak for them. and the grave gets a few feet deeper. The SDLP need to “get it” and quick.

  • son of sam

    I am aware that the S D L P has recently advertised for a Communications Director.The events of the last week and their maladroit handling confirm the need for such a person.Whatever one might say about Connolly House,they do run a very tight ship and rarely is any deviation from the party line permitted.Seamus Mallon’s line that if you’re explaining ,you’re losing certainly rings true.One hopes that Alasdair and the party learn from this episode.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Gopher,

    The SDLP can’t decisively defend the bill. They tabled a whole bunch of amendments to it. Best they can do is batten down the hatches and get ready to take the inevitable pain.

  • Gopher

    CS

    Sorry all through this saga I’ve felt that the victim and common decency rendered any other argument meaningless. Victims and decency make the road to Damascus strategy an easy one to adopt and easier to defend. Progress and change have always spawned from chaos and I cant help but notice that the SF’s nodding dog strategy adopted by the SDLP in recent years is getting them in deeper and deeper holes

  • iluvni

    I hope the SDLP change of heart hadn’t anything to do with the Narrow water bridge deal.

  • Mick Fealty

    Iluvni,

    That’s flippant, and in any case this is not 1997…

    CS,

    I think you mistake my analysis as a prediction (as much my fault as yours I fear)… I’m not sure I agree that everything is a convergent line broadly and bindingly agreed in 1997…

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nothing to do with narrow water. The DUP knew they could squeeze the SDLP by blocking all their amendments.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick,

    Sure it isn’t. But we’re talking about the SDLP. Since the advent of Hume Adams, the SDLP has been about bringing (former) physical force republicans into the political process. Their decision not to block this bill is therefore anomalous.

  • Mick Fealty

    Anomalous with a prior commitment to do (or not do) what precisely?

  • GEF

    “Since the advent of Hume Adams, the SDLP has been about bringing (former) physical force republicans into the political process.”

    CS, but has that not already happened 13 years ago?
    “put I.R.A. arms completely and verifiably beyond use”

    http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/peace/docs/ira060500.htm&sa=U&ei=85WlUYeJJsWS0QX-94DAAw&ved=0CBsQFjAA&usg=AFQjCNFpxx9l_nYg82WSgu7mHoyNITH6yg

    It surely does not mean giving former IRA members who spent longer than 5 years in prison ( jobs for the boys & girls ) in government as advisors to government ministers.

    Unlike Gerry Kelly SF MLA who was elected by the electorate former IRA member Mary McArdle was just appointed.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick, I didn’t say there was a commitment. I’m trying to say that this is inconsistent. John Hume would not have allowed this bill to stand. His ideas (which still underpin the SDLP at the moment) are basically that we should wallpaper over the past of people involved in violence for the sake of building the peace, something which to a greater or lesser extent most of us have accepted. This is a departure from that. I think the point is relevant.

    I don’t personally have a dog in the fight, I’m leaning ever so slightly more towards supporting the bill than opposing it. Sinn Féin brought this upon themselves, arguably, although I am not sure they could have avoided it. They tell all the “volunteers” that they were fighting a just and necessary “war”; they therefore can’t turn around to those same volunteers and say sorry, we can’t appoint you to that job because your particular “contribution” to said war was a bit controversial.

    But the part I have the most trouble with is that the bill’s sponsor doesn’t give a stuff about victims, this is politics. If he was really about “the victims rather than the victim makers” he wouldn’t have chosen a career based to a significant extent upon defending people accused of serious crimes, some of those serious crimes involving those same “victim makers” (if Mary McArdle had shown up at Jim’s practice would he have defended her in court ?).

    It’s also a problematic – and very difficult for all concerned – business to get into the question of basing political decisions upon the complaints of one particular victim. I recall when justice was being devolved, Stephen Nolan asked Kate Carroll if she thought the devolution should go ahead. She said that it should – but what if she had come out against it ? Would devolving justice then have become a slap in the face to victims ?

  • Reader

    Comrade Stalin: If he was really about “the victims rather than the victim makers” he wouldn’t have chosen a career based to a significant extent upon defending people accused of serious crimes, some of those serious crimes involving those same “victim makers”
    You keep coming back to this point, and I think you are very, very wrong. The system requires that the accused should have help to present a competent defence, and there are people paid and required to do that job. Jim Allister is as innocent as Pat Finucane on that score.

  • Barnshee

    Simple answer -SPADS (all spads) are paid for by the party. Why are these propaganda posts paid for by the tax payer?

    PS 90 grand less industrial wage leaves what 50/60 grand for party coffers?

  • Curious on CS arguement. When the two nutters who attacked the young soldier in Woolwich were taken to hospital the doctors and medical profession would no doubt have been as appalled at the crimes as we all were. Many would have questioned whether these two deserved treatment, but rightly put that aside. Would you say that those professionals should not have chosen a career that would have placed them in that moral dilemma? Of course not. There are certain professions which of necessity must defend all equally and regardless of background.

    Your point deliberately muddles the morality of the issue. Ms Travers seems to have no doubt about Mr Allister’s commitment to victims. And if you believe this is just politics, perhaps you might ask why it is Ms Travers has needed to ‘resort’ to using Mr Allister rather than one of the other Parties such as Alliance?

  • “to reconnect with the distinct interests and values of its base (civil rights, respect for victims and civil order)”

    Mick, I don’t see how the politics of confrontation pursued by the likes of Hume and Paisley could have led to anything other than civil disorder and, most likely, victims; rights issues were cynically abused. The SDLP’s #1 objective is spelt out on its website: “The SDLP’s vision is a reconciled people living in a united, just and prosperous new Ireland” ie a nationalist solution to a nationalist-unionist problem. When will they ever learn?

  • Lionel Hutz

    CS hates lawyers. He prefers social workers.

    Anyway, I think the problem here is that this bill simply shouldn’t have been neccessary. Its undesirable because people should be allowed to rehabilitate but Sinn Fein have made it necessary because they have simply no concern for victims.

    This does bring about a very tricky political scenario which oddly enough I thought the SDLP had been handling quite well until the last few weeks, bearing in mind that the bill has been floating around for a long time now and the McArdle issue is a few years old now. Qualified support was the wise response.

    But they made this mistake of making ultimatums that they couldn’t follow through on. I cannot understand why Dominic Bradley and Alban Maginness boxed the party into a corner by saying they would support a PoC. Some case studies on the real outworkings of the bill must have spooked them because it came out of nowhere at a very late stage in the bill. Too late to really do anything about it.

    They ought to have simply hinted at the PoC – opened up the possibility that if certain matters are not fixed they might support the PoC. I just wonder if anyone was overseeing the party’s response to the bill.

    There hands are tied now and once again they snatched a defeat from the jaws of a small victory.

  • “Sinn Fein have made it necessary because they have simply no concern for victims.”

    That may be so, Lionel, but this and some other actions smacked of good old-fashioned cronyism. A serious issue that has yet to be addressed is the role and impact of such battle-hardened folks in our governance processes – the power-plays they might engage in.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Yeah its cronyism for sure. No doubt. Thing is these parties have an overriding duty to victims to acknowledge and address their suffering. But therein lies a value judgment. And Sinn Fein have no values – on this subject anyway.

    But make no mistake, this is an undesirable bill. A neccessary evil. You dont make statements about morality in this way if you can avpoid it

  • 241934 john brennan

    In recent times the SDLP leadership has lost sight of its moral compass, but its core voters have not. So the overall situation is that the party presently resembles a deciduous tree in autumn –shedding voters as a tree sheds leaves, with every gust of wind.

    In the Ann Travers affair some retired leaders, who instinctively knew the right direction to go, intervened and steered the Assembly group back on course. But the damage is done and many fallen leaves/voters are permanently consigned to the compost bin.

    Likewise many were blown away because of the leaderships’ continuing support for Sinn Fein on the same-sex marriage issue. Will they ever return? Will there be any new growth in the party after the present winter of discontent is over? Only time will tell.

  • Dixie Elliott

    But aren’t the SDLP doing what the likes of Declan Kearney likes to preach to us about…

    the reaching out to Unionists – reconciliation and all that stuff they tell us needs to happen en-route to a United Ireland?

    As a matter of fact this is just an extension to the work handed out to party loyalists in the community sector only a few rungs further up the ladder.

    Most people in Republican / Nationalist areas struggling to survive in the midst of cuts pushed through by SF and the DUP couldn’t give a damn if those doing sweet FA for them loose out on their well paid government jobs.

  • socaire

    What about the examples given by the Relatives for Justice person who pointed out how well treated the few ‘rotten apples’ in the English State Forces were – well those ‘cases’ who were actually brought to court for murders here. They were welcomed back into the army and swiftly promoted. Are we not discussing the same moral point here? Or is it a case of to the victor the spoils? I always thought Doiminic Ó Brolcháin to be his own man. You can’t be right all the time.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Reader:

    You keep coming back to this point, and I think you are very, very wrong. The system requires that the accused should have help to present a competent defence

    At what point did I say otherwise ?

    , and there are people paid and required to do that job.

    And a damn good thing too.

    Jim Allister is as innocent as Pat Finucane on that score.

    When did Pat Finucane stand up in a parliamentary body and declare that his heart bled for the victims ?

    I don’t understand why people seem to have a mental block about this issue. Let me repeat it again. Jim Allister the barrister, together with everyone else at the bar, has a duty which quite rightly places him beyond reproach in terms of the clients he represents. There can be no criticism in principle of a lawyer discharging his duty to the best interests of his client. Is everyone clear about that ? Please stop accusing me of undermining the principle of adversarial justice.

    The problem comes when said lawyer becomes a politician and starts using the issue of victims and victim-makers for political purposes. If you have such a big problem with the people who committed violence in this country – and Jim (among others) is very clearly on the record about that – how on earth could you justify to yourself defending them in court ? The choice for someone who has “no truck with terrorists” is simple, choose a career other than one that places you in the position where you have to defend such people – or prepare to be accused of hypocrisy.

    The same applies to a lawyer who defends property developers and banks during the day and then turns up to join the Occupy movement.

    thedissenter :

    Your point deliberately muddles the morality of the issue. Ms Travers seems to have no doubt about Mr Allister’s commitment to victims.

    Ms Travers is the victim of a terrible crime and her voice must be heard. But she is no better qualified than I am to assess Jim Allister’s commitment to victims. As I pointed out on the other thread, what would the situation be if Allister had been Mary McArdle’s defence barrister ? Do you reckon she would feel the same way ?

    And if you believe this is just politics, perhaps you might ask why it is Ms Travers has needed to ‘resort’ to using Mr Allister rather than one of the other Parties such as Alliance?

    It’s the other way around – Jim Allister is using her. Alliance and the other parties feel a holistic approach to the past is required. Jim Allister isn’t interesting in contributing constructively to our political process and I’ve yet to see any proposals from him that propose to deal with the past.

    Lionel,

    I don’t hate lawyers at all. There are several lawyers in the assembly and I’d say they’re all who understand that for a system to work properly – whether it is the legal system, or our political system itself – there are inherent compromises that are required. I would dare to say that this is also your opinion (and a very sensible one it is too).

    I have a huge problem with a lawyer who discharges his duty under the auspices of such necessary compromise on one hand, and then later demands that the political system should be torn asunder rather than countenance any kind of compromise. It is hypocritical. I would expect that consistency requires that lawyers should see that a few sacrifices and a bit of pragmatism are necessary to keep the system running properly.

  • cynic2

    Why would she go to the Alliance Party – the new UU party – Utterly Useless

  • Mick Fealty

    CS,

    your attack on Mr Allister is purely ad hominem and a distraction from the case at hand. Is it good law? Well, it does not contravene the Convention does not make it ‘good’…

    But it IS good politics. ALLISTER alone onthehill will get kudos from this move. That’s GOOD politics of the type we need to see more of.

    Out on the streets our joint leaders have presided over yearly and now half yearly riots and protests. Dissident attack on PSNI men inside a loyalist area.

    There is a big fat leadership deficit, which both incumbents are jointly responsible for. The proper way to change that is to stop underwriting the coziness at Stormont, and start making life a little colder and a little tougher up there.

  • 6crealist

    Like his party leaders, Comrade have a real problem with pluralism. Ford proves it on a daily basis. St Anna Lo angrily dismissed dissenting voices during her pro-abortion crusade a few months ago.

    You just don’t get it Comrade: a lawyer is a strict positivist, and separates the law from morality.

    As for that embarrassing “back catalogue” that you continually allude to: don’t be shy…

  • Ruarai

    CS, sorry but your attack on Jim Al alleged hypocrisy won’t stand.

    When Jim Al defends people in court he’s not defending their actions as a moral advocate, he’s defending the integrity of the legal system by ensuring his clients – and by extension all accused -have a fair trail. The value of a fair trail to society should superceed all private moral or political preferences.

    Jim Al’s professional commitment to the legal system is just that – a commitment to the legal system, not an alignment with those who fall under its scrutiny. Every time Jim Al defends an alleged criminal he’s defending you too CS; he’s defending your rights, as a citizen, by helping to protect the rights of all citizens.

    Alban Maginneas has defended Martin McGuinness in court – that’s quite different from defending Martin McG in the court of public opinion…where he’s spent a lifetime opposing him.

    David Trimble went to tutor Republican prisoners during the conflict despite having a trenchant political opposition to their activities. In the case of each of these three men it’s integrity rather than hypocrisy explains their actions: they’re defending their professions, not the the specific morality of their clients or students.

  • CiaranM

    Mike, who were/are the victims of terror? And who were/are the perpetrators? Your piece seems to suggest you are in receipt of such information. Do you believe we can deduce such answers by thumbing through statistics on deaths/injuries committed by ‘illegal’ organisations throughout ‘the troubles?’

  • weidm7

    This is about re-writing history. It’s about lumping in all IRA actions as evil and letting state forces off the hook. Such is the hysteria to re-write history and paint the IRA as lunatic random murderers (which a lot of the commenters here, not just loyalist, mistakenly believe), that the SDLP have got caught up in it. They should’ve blocked this bill unless there were measures to stop RUC/British Army men with blood on their hands from taking positions either in politics or in the PSNI. Oh of course, there’s none of that since no one was ever convicted of British Army or RUC murders. Anything relating to former combattants should be on all sides or none, that’s why the SDLP should block this motion and the Alliance should vote against.

  • Mick Fealty

    By that logic weidm, isn’t it easy to accuse anyone who agitates on any issue relating to the past of trying to re-write history?

  • cynic2

    It’s about lumping in all IRA actions as evil

    Can you show us a terrorist act that wasn’t? The whole campaign killed just under 3000 people and reduced their own community to almost abject poverty in areas like West belfast

    ” paint the IRA as lunatic random murderers ”

    There was nothing lunatic or random about it.

    They had a clear goal and pursued it by murdering people that is wrong and evil.

    It was not random,. They focused on protestants / unionoists, the security forces and those Roman Catholics deemed to be too British or who got in the way of their Business Activities or annoyed their commanders.

    So it wasnt random. It was mainly racist

    So not evil random. Just evil racist murderers. Will that do?

  • Comrade Stalin

    6crealist,

    I don’t think you know what the word “pluralist” means.

    Ruarai:

    When Jim Al defends people in court he’s not defending their actions as a moral advocate,

    Jesus Ruarai, I spent a long and detailed post addressing the very straw man you are throwing up here AGAIN. I did not say at any time that Jim was a moral advocate for his clients.

    While you’re here, since your view is that a lawyer defends the system and all that, answer me this. Would a lawyer prosecute his own family members ? Would Jim Allister have represented Mary McArdle in court ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick, I don’t think this is ad hominem. This is politics. Discussing (alleged) hypocrisy and the motivations of people bringing forward controversial legislation is important.

    I am not quite sure about what a great law this is. Our political system is built entirely around the idea that people who committed serious crimes are going to have important jobs and their victims are having to deal with that reality. We are being told that the McArdle case is special because she is unelected; that sounds like a technicality to me. As for Jim and his kudos, I’m sure it’ll help the TUV get their one MLA re-elected in a few years’ time.

  • mac tire

    cynic2

    “It was not random,. They focused on protestants / unionoists, the security forces and those Roman Catholics deemed to be too British or who got in the way of their Business Activities or annoyed their commanders.

    So it wasnt random. It was mainly racist.”

    How you get racism out of that is beyond me. But I’m sure you like to believe it anyway.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    This is another eye opening thread were the PUP community can see laid bare the angst in the RN community and there aversion to real victims, and who is full of that word that has cropped up “hypocrisy”.

  • cynic2

    “How you get racism out of that is beyond me.”

    PIRA and SFs basic philosophy is that they are Irish and therefore a different race from british and those who settled in ireland in the past centuries but especially the 17th and 18th century. Thats why the continually vilify ‘The Brits’ and talk about the ‘occupied 6 counties’ when the occupants they really mean are the Prods

    They therefore define their enemy as a different racial group whom they want out of Ireland because they (rightful inheritors of the celtic tradition – que fiddle music) have superior rights to the land and want the foreigners who stole it out.

    (That is all nonsense – we are all closely related as to be indistinguishable but sure when did that ever get in the way of a prejudice)

    OED defines racism as

    ” the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races:”

    PIRA And SFs philosophy is therefore inherently racist – plain and simple. But they absolutely hate that being exposed just as old Southern racists in the US should desperate reasons to exclude or discriminate against blacks on so many grounds – it ain’t the colour of his skin its the way he speaks / he’s not a real American/ he has poor education etc – it damages their self image as defender of the underdogs

    The Prod extremists are just the same in mirror image.

    ‘Racism is as racism does’ as Forest Gump might say

  • DC

    Let me just say that Comrade is right not to like lawyers and to slur as and when he can, he has my full support on that one!

    Next up – Mick is deluded if he thinks the SDLP are a force for ‘good’ politics on the basis that they have done so many ‘bad’ things in the past if ‘bad’ is to be viewed as taking sides with SF. Be it from standing aside for Bobby Sands to right down more recently to Belfast City Hall and in trying to totally remove the union flag (a bigoted thing to do in a shared city), to play parks, to the guy Brush, to the guy Colm Eastwood who carried the coffin of a former derry republican – shots were fired over the coffin – etc etc.

  • Neil

    Dude it can’t be racism, you’ve just explained that yourself. What you’re effectively saying is they tried to be racist but they can’t be. And I don’t think so, I’m of the same race as every other white Christian going, be they from Broughshane, Belfast or New York (though I’m not nor have I been in SF or the IRA).

  • cynic2

    Neil

    Equating race just with colour is fundamentally wrong. For example, Serbs and Croats are ethnically very similar but see themselves as different ethnic groups defined by (supposed) race and religion. Just look at SFs propaganda – the Brits occupy Ireland which is ‘their’ country as opposed to that of its unionist citizens as well. So who do you think ‘they’ are? What defines them from the rest?

    Its sheer utter racism dressed up as ‘mere’ sectarianism

  • Submariner

    Cynic2 cobblers you are mixing up race with nationality.

  • cynic2

    No its not. Stop pretending its not racial and trying to put a glass on the underlying factors.

    Again, look at the OED Definition

    “a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group:”

    Each side here sees themuns as different – allegedly because of their different backgrounds. Why do the loony fringe unionists go for Ulster Scots – the we are different from themuns line. Why do some Nationalists use the Irish Language in the same way? Wasnt the very formation of the GAA even geared to preserving ‘Irish’ games and holding or recreating national identity ie racial identity.

    Now there is nothing intrinsically wrong in any of that per se. It is as you say a matter of identity (whether self deluding or not) What is wrong is when a group starts o sue that as a means of promoting difference and justifying attacks and murder. It was a racist war and 50 years ago many on all sides would have been happy to agree that. But mores have changed racism is seen as bad so we dress it up in more acceptable language.

    And a final point – lets suppose you are right. What difference does it make if any of it was done ‘merely’ on grounds of religion of supposed national identity? Murder is murder.

  • cynic2

    By the way apologies that I had drifted far off topic there but I tend to do that when confronted with the sheer leaderless incompetence and mendacity of the Stoops. They are so predictable and boring

    Still it was great to see the Leader squinting in the lights at that Press Conference like a startled rabbit who could see the stoat and surrounded by a phalanx of sad middle aged men in ill fitting suits. It looked like some Pioneer meeting where they had all been forced to attend by their wives

    As we say in Belfast ‘If they had brains they would be dangerous’.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Personally I see this as the SDLP being weak. They have shown that they have not thought it through. Not good. In fact – very bad

  • mac tire

    Cynic2 – I see myself as an Irish Republican (no need for the ‘fiddle music’ – you must hear that in your head also) and I’m a member of a ‘race’. It’s called the human race.

  • cynic2

    Mac Tire

    I am glad you feel that way. I share your point on the human race but sadly many of our cohabitants of the planet do not.

    In law wilful blindness to issues of race is not a defence.

  • cynic2

    Mac Tire

    ” fiddle music” its satirical dear boy!!! For the prods it might be the skirl of the pipes of the beat of the Lambegs. We all have these little racial tics.

  • mac tire

    Thanks for your replies, Cynic2. I know “fiddle music” was satirical. But, you know, stereotypes and all that.

    Sorry for remaining off topic but I still disagree with your insistence on the use of “race”. I simply don’t believe in people being different races.

    OED may well give a definition of the word but that does not mean it exists. Race and it’s ideas are hotly contested. It really is akin to me arguing that since the word goblin exists that they must in real life.

    In my view those who believe in Christ are Christians. Those who believe in races are racist.

  • Dixie Elliott

    The first killings and bombings were carried out by Unionist/Loyalists in the 60s.

    When Nationalists took to the streets in peaceful protest for Civil Rights they were met by violence from Unionists/Loyalists/RUC/ B.Specials….Remember Burntollet Bridge and Duke Street.

    Loyalist killer gangs were supported not only by the British but by leading Unionists over the years….Fact.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Dixie: yes we know how it started, but nearly all of us ended up as legitimate targets for IRA murder gangs – from catholic postmen to protestant female census workers.
    But at least Gerry Adams recently said on RTE that he agreed that the deliberate killing of one human being by another human being is murder. The next step will be to admit that the killing of Garda Gerry McCabe is not just regrettable – but was also murder?

    Just a short step from agreeing with Pope John Paul – “never call murder by any name other than murder”?

  • Dixie Elliott

    And John the Loyalists and Brits did nothing….

    Work us a break would you.

  • BluesJazz

    The IRA/INLA were Roman Catholic kilers.
    The UDA/UVF were Protestant killers.
    It was a religious sectarian civil war.

    Piggy in the middle were the Army (religious breakdown???- Are the Gurkhas Protestant?)

    The Army held the line between 2 bunches of religious fanatics until the (British) government was able to buy off or threaten the leaders of the sectarian murderfest to what we have now.

    What we have now is what Terence O’Neill wanted.

    Though the vast sum of English taxpayers largesse was probably not foreseen by the good Captain. But that money is what glues the ‘settlement’.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    cynic2

    “No its not. Stop pretending its not racial and trying to put a glass on the underlying factors.

    Again, look at the OED Definition

    “a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group:”

    I have to jump in on this one:

    Lets look at the two ‘races’ pre-GAA formation:

    Same culture: Both groups played/play much the same folk music including pipes and fiddles. Playing shinty wasn’t unheard of either (e.g One of Dunloy Cuchulainn’s founders).

    Same history: Nearly every protestant in NI has some sort of Celtic heritage. Even without that they’ve shared a lot of history together these past 4 centuries alone. Cuchullain and the red hand is used by both groups.

    Language: Again, nearly everyone has some sort of lineage that could be traced back to gaelic speakers. Even 100 years ago the 1/5th of the Protestants on the Shankill could understand Gaelic.
    In the first wave of settlers more than 1/2 of the Presbyterians were thought to be Gaels.

    Do the Catholics of Ballycastle and the Glens not speak some sort of ‘Ulster-Scots’?

    Also, have a look to see how many surnames are shared by the parties representing the different ‘races’: Kennedy, McGuinness/Magennis, Smith, Campbell, Agnew, Kane, McDonnell/McDonald, McCarthy to name but a few.

    This racial thing is a none starter.
    It’s a superimposed cultural demarcation with people looking for excuses to be different to ‘themuns’.

  • BluesJazz

    Am Ghobsmacht

    You forgot to mention they all support Manchester United.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Good point BJ

    “What he said…”

  • mac tire

    BluesJazz
    “It was a religious sectarian civil war.”

    Since you have not interviewed the combatants to know this, it is merely an opinion – and a misguided, lazy one at that. Maybe you and your ilk might educate yourself on that one some day.

    I think you would find most combatants didn’t even think or care about the middle eastern fairy tales some on here seem obsessed with.

    “Piggy in the middle were the Army”

    Tell that to their victims. Oh yeah, I forgot, those victims don’t count these days.

  • Barnshee

    “Piggy in the middle were the Army”

    “Tell that to their victims. Oh yeah, I forgot, those victims don’t count these days”

    Piggy in the middle they certainly were in 1968 Flax mill Paras pointing their guns very ahem pointedly at the prods — cups of tea on the Falls-similar scenes in Derry

    A presumption of prod= bad, Catholic =good

  • Reader

    mac tire: In my view those who believe in Christ are Christians. Those who believe in races are racist.
    It’s not a word game, this is serious. It’s the belief that people should be treated differently because of their race that would mean someone was a racist. Whether ‘race’ actually exists depends just as much on the definition of the word as it does on scientific knowledge as to whether any such definition is meaningful.