Alasdair McDonnell quizzed on his party’s position on the #SpAdBill

I don’t have anything particular to note about this interview other than, it’s been a very long time since the SDLP leader gave an interview to anyone. And it shows.

There’s not a lot he can do about the bull in the china shop thing, but just by doing it and getting something of a pro victims party line out he may have helped to steady some nerves both inside and outside the chamber today.

Jude Collins thinks (and he is far from alone amongst those on the hill and off) that the most damaging line was when McDonnell said Paul Kavanagh was “well down the pecking order” of victims.

It certainly won’t appeal to SF’s base. And in no wise can this be spun post hoc as the product of a coherent internal party process. Ex prisoners, whilst often important figures in their own community, do not generally vote for the SDLP (even those who are disenchanted with SF).

But you do have to wonder whether they may have stumbled into an popular position which entails them doing the difficult (evident from the crooked path they took to this point), but perhaps, in the public mind at least, the right thing, if not by all victims of the troubles, then a significantly large majority of them.

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  • son of sam

    Jude’s last six blogs cover the Special Advisor issue and the S D L P’s handling of it.He seems to have a keen interest in the whole matter.

  • I think there is a big difference between victims who suffer and Im quite prepared to say that all are equal…unpopular though that view may be.
    What is significant is a victim who does ok out of things in the end.
    Uncompensated victims or under-compensated victims from the early years of the Troubles might be the biggest casualties.
    Its not just unionists who would find Paul Kavanaghs £90,000 salary hard to take. Theres lots of victims…including IRA families who have little to show for it all.
    And not just nationalists who find compensation payments and severance packages to ex RUC people hard to take.

    “Innocent victims” and a hierarchy of victims is not the correct language.
    If SDLP people start using language like COMPENSATED and UNCOMPENSTED victims. …that might actually connect with a lot of people.

  • sherdy

    How many foot-in-mouth comments can one party leader make and still survive in post?
    Surely the damaged doctor must be well down ‘the pecking order’ in his party’s preference for the top spot.
    I believe Paddy Power is taking bets on a leadership contest before the next general election.

  • “the most damaging line was when McDonnell said Paul Kavanagh was “well down the pecking order” of victims.”

    Someone is trying to spin what Alasdair said:

    The point is this: there’s a hierarchy here of people and there’s a small handful of people who basically are an elite within Sinn Féin and within the operations and their interests unfortunately don’t take precedence over the thousands of victims out there. … It means that Paul Kavanagh’s victimhood and Paul Kavanagh’s needs are, in our case, down the pecking order compared with the victims, the innocent victims that are out there.

    Alasdair IMO is simply levelling the playing field a bit. As I noted in that Alban Maginnis contribution, Ann Travers dared to question SF and got her nose rubbed in it by the appointment of Mary McArdle. SF has created an elite and then screams discrimination when all the SDLP is doing is giving some consideration to others.

  • megatron

    What the hell is this “SF have created an elite” nonsense?

    SF voters elected the current group knowing full well who they would appoint as Ministers / SPADs etc.

    I have no problem in people making a political point of “they shouldnt do it” but I do have a major problem in the very slippery slope of “they cant do it”.

    Also – Paul Kavanagh wasnt given this job as compensation – he earned it (just as much as I earned mine).

    This whole thing is a joke.

  • son of sam

    Can it really be true that a Sinn Fein voter in for example in Tyrone or Fermanagh would have known who the Party’s SPADs were going to be?That’s the logic of what megatron is saying above!

  • megatron

    Son of Sam,

    they know the TYPE – surely that is the important bit.

    Also if they dont like it they can vote them out at the next election – thats how democracy works.

  • “There’s not a lot he can do about the bull in the china shop thing”

    From where I’m sitting, it’s just a little bit of old-fashioned straight-talking:

    During the Irish Republic’s presidential election, it was put to Martin McGuinness by Ann Travers that his party, Sinn Féin, should do something for victims. The Sinn Féin cynical response to that was to, within a few weeks, appoint someone who had been convicted of Mary Travers’s murder as a special adviser. To people such as Ann Travers and a lot of other victims, that looked like a reward. In that context, what message did that send to all those victims and survivors? The message that I think that it sent was that, for Sinn Féin, the issue is not about a hierarchy of victims but rewarding the hierarchy of Provo perpetrators and the needs of its elite. We are not talking here about the whole swathe of 30,000 prisoners that was mentioned earlier. We are talking about an elite and its rewards for services rendered. In Sinn Féin’s books, the rule is that that elite should take priority over all the victims. I cannot agree with that, and I will not. McDonnell – Assembly – 03-June-2013

    Perhaps it was Alex Attwood who introduced ‘elite’ into the conversation:

    SDLP MLA Alex Attwood said there is now a “prisoner elite who think they have got higher entitlements than any other citizens”.

    “Prisoners were released early, got millions of pounds from Europe, and millions more will go towards prisoner groups in the next funding period,” Mr Attwood said, adding that Sinn Fein should not “convey or pretend to this House, or to those outside it, that there is somehow a global effort to discriminate against ex-prisoners”. News Letter – 21-May-2013

  • “Jude Collins thinks”

    I wonder if he has read Martin McGuinness’ tweets for the past month; he’ll not find a word of support for Paul Kavanagh or a word of apology to Ann Travers from #leaderless Sinn Féin; boys have been sent out to do men’s work.

  • cynic2

    “Also – Paul Kavanagh wasn’t given this job as compensation – he earned it (just as much as I earned mine).”

    On really? This should be interesting.

    Just how did he earn it? What advice does he specialize in? Is award of a SpAd post decided by a coherent process or just a body count like some macabre grouse shoot?

  • Poor old Alban has just been savaged on “Nolan” regarding the Pecking Order. SDLP are in real trouble on this one now