SDLP: “Absolutely none of our MLAs will be putting their name to a petition of concern.”

There seems to have been a hardening the party line/whip in the last 24 hours. But even though Steven Agnew of the Greens has ruled out his support Sinn Fein have not given up hope of getting a backing for a petition of concern (they only need one more MLA to kill it)…

The Green Party’s Steven Agnew MLA said Sinn Fein approached him about it. He opposes the bill too, but also does not approve of using petitions of concern in this way, so refuses to be “the magic one” to trigger it.

Despite calling the bill “flawed”, the SDLP party line since Tuesday has been not to back the petition of concern.

Yesterday a spokesperson reiterated this and insisted no one would break ranks, saying: “Absolutely none of our MLAs will be putting their name to a petition of concern.”

Other parties including Alliance are supportive of the bill and so said they will not back the petition of concern either, and the indication yesterday was all three independent MLAs feel the same way.

,

  • Morpheus

    Taking the obvious emotive issue of victims out of the equation for a second – should we be worried that we have elected MLAs who oppose a bill yet allow it to continue in what they perceive to be a ‘flawed’ state?

  • son of sam

    Morpheus
    I think I am right in saying that Alex Attwood has been piloting a Bill through the Assembly on the reform of District Councils,which he considers to be flawed.However because the big two(Sinn Fein and the D U P) have overruled him,he is oblidged to continue guiding it through its various stages.This is “democracy ” in action!

  • iluvni

    How many of them haven’t even been ‘elected’?

  • sherdy

    The SDLP have now completely broken with the Good Friday Agreement – by backing a law they say they don’t agree with.
    How will their supporters feel that their ‘nationalist’ party have joined up with Jim Allister and his TUVF.
    After the next elections they may not have enough MLAs to make any further decisions.

  • socaire

    Ms Travers cracks a pretty mean whip!

  • News_Meister

    Let’s all cut to the core of this issue:-

    1: SPAD is a partisan Bill intended to target former prisoner members of Sinn Fein, given that Loyalist former prisoners don’t really exist in the relevant level of political life.

    2: Despite she had her day in Court against McArdle, the simple truth is that Ann Travers is seeking revenge against the political party connected with a SPAD involved in the shooting her Father and Sister.

    3: SPAD effectively creates a heirarchy of victims in that in addition to the above points it has granted a British state Judges daughter (and likely other Unionist community victims) a second bite at the revenge-cherry denied to Nationalist/Republican victims of convicted security force killers re-enlisted back into state jobs.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    Lots of bitter Sinners coming out today. The same people who only come out when the SDLP upsets them but never any other party.

    Sherdy your lazy association with Jim Allister says more about you. That no one can possibly second a bill from ‘the other side’

    Secondly, why would this in any way be bad news for the SDLP come election time? If telling victims to clear off and instead rubber stamp every Sinn Fein position then no one would be voting for them anyway.

    News_Meister, another lazy “Brit state Judges daughter” assocation. Sinn Fein, and said father, are now enforcers of British law and order and rule in Ireland are you going to cast every dead republican in the same light? Justify Mary McArdle’s actions as necessary to ensure Martin McGuinness could shake the queen’s hand?

    There is no rage like impotent, tetchy, hypocritical rage.

  • News_Meister

    @Charlie,
    I note you avoid dealing with the subject-matter of my above points and merely focus on my intentional descriptors – the latter merely highlight the who is who comparison one ought to not overlook.

    Why did the TUV fail to introduce a SPAD equivalent Bill that dealt with re-employment of state murderers of those victims referred to here at 42 minutes http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b020syfd

  • Morpheus

    “How will their supporters feel that their ‘nationalist’ party have joined up with Jim Allister and his TUVF. After the next elections they may not have enough MLAs to make any further decisions.”

    Bit of a leap there – if the SDLP lose votes then it won’t be because they sided with Jim Allister, it will be because hey weren’t strong enough to fight their corner. I think I am right in saying that they don’t oppose the bill as such but have issues with the appeals procedures and the fact that the legislation is retrospective. Regardless, they allowed a bill they believe to be ‘flawed’ to go through and now plan to abstain on the vote.

    But if they do leave the SDLP then they will likely go to SF – ain’t that a cheery thought?

  • News_Meister

    @Charlie,
    I’ve never ever voted Sinn Fein nor ever been a member of its party so your assumptions in this regard are quite misplaced.

    If I’d had my way, I’d have barred every murderer from state paid posts, and that’s the type of Bill the SDLP should have promoted as an alternative.

    The SDLP has lost my vote for their mishandling of this affair… though who the hell I vote for now is beyond me at the moment.

  • You’d think that when SF is in a hole, one of its minor luminaries would stop digging …

  • son of sam

    News_Meister
    Do you feel that you need to post the same comment on different blogs(Your post at 8 34pm refers).

  • Lionel Hutz

    I think that Daithi McKay’s interventions have made this easier from the Sinn Fein. It makes it about “political prisoners” vs victims even if he thinks it makes it about “political prisoners” vs unionists.

    The thing about this bill is that it isn’t creating an exception for SPADs, its removing an exception, making the appointment of SPADs the same as any other senior civil servant.

    The thing is that the is a gap in logic in saying that someone who could be a Minister, cant be the subject of a political appointment of that same Minister. Thats the reason why this exception was put in place.

    But there are some of these prisoners who cannot be suitable for such a significant government post. Its not about their past, its about their present. If Mary McArdle had been convicted with the other murderers then there may not be the same issue. If she could express regret, even a qualified one referring to the context or whatever, for the attack on all the Travers family rather than this partial and dishonest excuse, then she could be allowed to take this position. But the biggest issues between her and her victims cannot be addressed because of this omerta. Her public life is defined by this code, and that code is incompatible with such a high profile post.

    I dont think there are simple lines to be drawn in who could and who couldn’t be a SPAD. It requires a value judgment, common sense and a bit of compassion. Sinn Fein, who would have to make these judgments most often, displayed none of those things and they cannot be allowed to make the same mistake again.

    So the discretion has to be legislated out of existence. That cant happen again.

  • socaire

    Still have a niggling feeling that victims from the leafy suburbs rate a bit higher on the victim scale. How does she think my relations feel about an element of their taxes being used to succour murderers in the State Forces who murdered their loved ones.Like a good footballer, Ms Travers, as a good media person, is not qualified to pontificate on much else. Her grief and loss is no greater than any other’s.

  • Granni Trixie

    I heard Ms Travers say on the radio yesterday that Mary McArdle did not reply to a letter containing questions about the crime sent to her by the HET. A living out of OMERTÀ?
    And so much for SFcalls for a T&R style commission.

  • Mick Fealty

    SF officially do not co-operate with the HET, and never have…

  • “I think that Daithi McKay’s interventions have made this easier from the Sinn Fein”

    Lionel, I view this SF intervention as a very crude exercise in mud-slinging. Also, there’s not a single drop of compassion for Ann Travers; indeed the ‘no one has the right to say that they speak for all victims’ is an attempted very nasty smear. A journalist had asked Ann for her reaction to the SF appointment and the rest flowed from that.

    These SF claims about inclusivity and discrimination are laughable but, no doubt, another luminary will just keep on digging.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well all know Grim Jim’s motivations for the bill but be that as it may, if this non-perfect bill is what it takes to make parties pay lip service to their commitments to reconciliation by banning them from hiring what are effectively walking ‘two fingered salutes’ then so be it.

    SF were stupid enough to place their ‘right’ over ‘doing right’ in the first place.

    Were some of the other parties foolish enough to hire someone with the aura of somebody like Lt Col Derek Wilford (for example) then SF probably would have angrily produced a list of reasons as to why ” even though it’s legal you can’t do that, it’s insensitive and insulting!”.

    And right they would be.

    Until now; it would be a list that they would now have to eat.

    Just because they have the right to do it doesn’t oblige them to do so. Especially when it undermines their efforts to ‘reach out’ to the community that they are supposedly determined to kiss and make up with.
    It merely highlights their priorities.

    Yes, I’m sure there is a barrel load of hypocrisies regarding the other side of the fence, there always is but SF could have used their brains or sense of empathy but they didn’t.

  • thethoughtfulone

    “1: SPAD is a partisan Bill intended to target former prisoner members of Sinn Fein, given that Loyalist former prisoners don’t really exist in the relevant level of political life.”

    That’s not a very smart point to bring up, the fact that it applies only to Sinn Fein at present says more about Sinn Fein than the bill!

  • Granni Trixie

    I really object to to the sectarianising of victims and their families or even prisoners as currently illustrated. I mean this expression about “two fingers to the unionist community” and talk about “each side of the fence” having to be appeased is not how many see prisoners or victims I am sure. I objected to the appointment of Mary McArdle as an act of insensitivity which offends many not just The
    unionist community and because it demonstrates a lack of will to consider other people’s feelings.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Granni Trixie

    For once, I kept that one short.

    I didn’t think that I’d have to add various disclaimers.

    So, without further ado:

    As I often highlight, to the point of tedium, X amount of the controversy in NI is based on perception.

    You’re rational and can think rationally about victims.

    Many people in Planet Newsletter cannot. The appointment of McArdle is seen exclusively as an act of gloating and agitation.
    End of.

    Nearly everything here that is contentious brings out whatabouteries as a reflex action.

    If some one is seen to be doing X then why aren’t they do Y, “what a hypocrite”.

    Your way of looking at it is much better. I wish many others would too.

    Incidentally, I didn’t say “two fingered salute to the unionist community”. Of course I included them in the bracket of those that are having their noses rubbed in the dirt but I didn’t refer to them exclusively.

    Maybe you weren’t referring to me in particular.

    Either way, ‘the fence’ is always in the background.

  • Granni Trixie

    I believe it was Seamus Mallon who last week introduced the ” two fingers to the unionist community” into public discourse and others ran with it. Sectarian morality, see?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    ah…..

    gotcha.

  • tacapall

    “3: SPAD effectively creates a heirarchy of victims in that in addition to the above points it has granted a British state Judges daughter (and likely other Unionist community victims) a second bite at the revenge-cherry denied to Nationalist/Republican victims of convicted security force killers re-enlisted back into state jobs”

    “November 2003- Tony Blair described the retention in the British army of the convicted murderers of Peter as an “internal employment matter”

    http://elblogador.blogspot.co.uk/2006/03/peter-mcbride-case-clear-out-scum.html

    Mary Mc Ardles role in the murder of Ann Travers sister was removing the weapons, not the person who pulled the trigger yet she served more years in prison than those British soldiers who murdered Peter McBride, and Lee Clegg who murdered Karen Reilly and Martin Peake, added together, yet this bill conveniently allows those British soldiers, those that actually pulled the trigger to be appointed to the same advisory role that is being denied to Mary Mc Ardle.

    .

  • cynic2

    “Absolutely none of our MLAs will be putting their name to a petition of concern.”

    Really ….let’s see

  • Alone and Easy Target

    All the hypothetical situations being put forward are laughable. No party, other than Sinn Fein, have appointed or want to appoint such inappropriate individuals to this highly paid civil service equivalent position.

  • cynic2

    Is it just me but doesnt Paul Kavanagh’s whinge fest today sound more and more like the ramblings of a 1960s unionist defending the indefensible?

    About defending people being employed on jobs apparently for who they are and what Lodge they were a member of?

    About the abandonment for the fight for equality in employment for decisions made by Ministers behind closed doors on sectarian and political lines not ability?

    And he even has the cheek to say “We ended up in this state because of discrimination and excluding people” – without even understanding the irony of how he was appointed and how many potentially good candidates were excluded – perhaps because they hadn’t managed to rack up a high enough body count?

    He then goes on to extol what I can only assume is SFs new / real VIctims Policy “to say you are taking your lead from Anne Travers or any of the other victims, well, I don’t understand how now passing bad legislation will help victims,”

    So he doesn’t even see how appointing multiple murderers to well paid senior posts with no competition and no transparency sticks in the throats of the relatives of those they killed and the wider community.

    Given this apparent lack of self insight and awareness, leaving aside the legislation, I have to ask what useful advice he can really give Marty. Even more interestingly, was that article cleared by the usually anal SF Press Office or are some people in the Party above even that?

  • son of sam

    cynic2
    No ,it’s not just you.No doubt this is just the beginning of a whinge-fest from Mr Kavanagh and his acolytes .One wonders what the job description is for a Spad like himself and what insights he can convey to Martin.Maybe he’ll be able to spend more quality time with his wife in Brussels! On the other hand he might look forward to devoting more time to the Board of Governers at Lumen Christi College in Derry.This was a nomination made by his party colleague John O’Dowd.Where else would you get a convicted murderer being appointed to the Board of Governers?One suspects that like the appointment of M/s Mc Ardle,it was no accident given the opposition of the Principal of that school to the Education Minister’s policies.

  • tomthumbuk

    I heard Paul Kavanagh talking on the radio.
    If he is the best they can get for £90k p.a. then there’s hope for us all. (Well there isn’t actually ‘cos I’m not an “ex” terrorist).
    Why don’t they do away with these positions and save us all a lot of money that could be spent on public services?
    These are obviously jobs for the boys and when you think that one of them had to resign for internet sexual impropriety,it makes you wonder on what basis they are selected.
    There is an obvious need for a proper selection process, one that is open, transparent and available to everyone, including non criminals.

  • Am Ghobschmacked[11.03]
    Travers was quoted in one of today’s papers she expects unionist politicians to acknowledge the collusion with Loyalists by the State, but she’ll surely be disapponited as there are no votes to trawl for out of that so Jim will remain silent on that.

  • son of sam

    According to the North West edition of the Belfast Telegraph,the three Derry S D L P ML As are being put under severe pressure to join Sinn Fein in vetoing Jim Allister’s Bill.Presumably these phone calls are spontaneous expressions of concern from Republicans.They don’t do intimidation any more, do they!Could Connolly House be involved?

  • Comrade Stalin

    tacapall:

    Mary Mc Ardles role in the murder of Ann Travers sister was removing the weapons, not the person who pulled the trigger

    If I understand Jim’s bill correctly, the proposed commission which will make determinations on whether or not a SpAD can be employed can account for any contrition on the part of the person in question. In this case, McArdle could simply give the name of the person who fired the shots.

  • cynic2

    What do you mean by Collusion? Thats the key. In the Corry definition you can collude before the act or afterwards eg in failing to pass on information or evidence.or just being negligent in investigating the murder. The SF acolytes use this looseness of language to imply active planning and participation in the murders when often there is no evidence at all of that. None of that means its not bad but there are degrees and as a Unionist my view is simple – if the Police or Army or Officials committed crimes investigate them and prosecute. Why would we not?

    Indeed, if we apply the Corry definition rigorously then let’s also look at the Smithwick enquiry. There is evidence there of much worse. That Irish Ministers at the very highest level colluded to obstruct investigations into the murder of scores of police and soldiers in NI, arranged the destruction of evidence and failed to pass information and evidence to the RUC or British Authorities.

    There is evidence that some Irish Police – a very small number among a large force it should be said – passed information to the IRA. Personally I would have been surprised if they hadn’t and if PIRA hadn’t had agents in the Garda as opposed to crooked cops just selling information for money. Given what they did in the North is logical that they must have

    So given the evidence, If the RUC and Army in NI colluded, were the Irish Government State Sponsors of Terror. The standard is simple – did they

    “repeatedly provide support for acts of international terrorism.”

    Will Smithwick dare report the truth? An where does any of this take us?

  • cynic2

    “Presumably these phone calls are spontaneous expressions of concern from Republicans”

    Are PIRA and the Shinners joining the 21st century commiunciatsion revolutiion and moving away from teh car on fire on the driveway and teh brick through teh window?

  • Dixie Elliott

    South Armagh wins Border Poll

    Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy declared victory in the recent border poll held in South Armagh.

    As members of Ogra SF set about painting phone and post boxes green He said, “this overwhelming victory meant he was now forced to pay his Property Tax in line with other Sinn Fein TDs”

    Slab Murphy said he is demanding a recount as the removal of the border from around his farm could cost his business millions.

    Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald got their photograph taken together before Gerry jetted off to tell the Irish Diaspora around the world the good news at 500 dollar a plate dinners.

    Martin McGuinness was unavailable for comment as he was in South Africa offering Nelson Mandela the job as his political adviser.

  • tacapall

    “If I understand Jim’s bill correctly, the proposed commission which will make determinations on whether or not a SpAD can be employed can account for any contrition on the part of the person in question. In this case, McArdle could simply give the name of the person who fired the shots”

    What if surprise surprise Mary McArdle did not know who pulled the trigger, remember her role was to get rid of the guns, but if memory serves me right, wouldn’t RUC special branch already know that information seeing as the person who pulled the trigger was an RUC agent. Wasn’t it Mr Travers himself who alleged Special branch knew his family were to be attacked, the HET’s recent revelation that the family were to be attacked a week earlier but for whatever reason the IRA called it off then came back a week later and carried out the attack, scary admissions that if Tom Travers was correct would open the door to allegations RUC special branch allowed the Travers family to be attacked.

    The state obviously knows more about this case than Mary McArdle,

    Comrade why can the only three security force members convicted for murder technically be chosen as SpADs by any politically party but Mary Mc Ardle and Paul Kavanagh cant, is it because they are Irish ?

    .

  • “In this case, McArdle could simply give the name of the person who fired the shots.”

    Comrade Stalin, surely that would depend upon the information she was privy to. I recall a former police officer’s account of the arrest of a suspect when Special Branch withheld details of the operation to the very last minute so that no-one could slip out to give the suspect sufficient advance warning to effect an escape. It’s quite possible that minor figures in a paramilitary operation would be briefed individually in order to protect its security. For example, the driver of a vehicle containing illicit fuel might be told to take the vehicle from D to E and would not know the rest of its itinerary.