Trimble on Trimble: “Adams and McGuinness were deciding that they would prefer to have Paisley and Robinson as their interlocutors…”

If you can, it’s worth listening to BBC Radio Four’s Archive on 4 extended interview with David Trimble. But it is particularly worth listening to the last ten minutes or so, in which he provides an important analysis of how he was dispatched to the boundary by some neat footwork by the Sinn Fein days before the November 2003 Assembly election was to be called.

He talks about what he had thought was a shared understanding that the IICD “had signally failed to change the public mood..” with its previously terse reports…

“Adams and McGuinness knew how important it was that this build public confidence and they deliberately decided not to… I don’t really blame John de Chastelain for creating the debacle, the debacle occurred because Adams and McGuinness wanted a debacle to occur…

Essentially what was happening in this was that Adams and McGuinness were deciding that they would prefer to have Paisley and Robinson as their interlocutors rather than Trimble and others”

It is well worth listening, if not to the whole lot, then the snippet above… [I suspect it may make for some sobering listening for people inside the DUP… since ‘Trimbling’ is appears not to be the only trick in SF’s ‘political playbook of cunning plans’]

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  • Alone and Easy Target

    DT demonstrated a bit of humility which is in stark contrast to his time at the head of the UUP.

    If you looking a more substantial and contextual look at DT Dean Godson’s biography and Frank Millar’s interview-style book are must reads.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Trimble:

    “Alex Kane quoted a Sinn Fein associate in the News Letter:

    We can always rely on unionist disarray or paranoia to help us out.”
    Sluggerotoole

  • “dispatched to the boundary by some neat footwork”

    A curious metaphor, considering that Gerry and Martin are the public faces of the Provisional Republican Movement, an organisation noted for its use of the baseball bat or something more potent to dispatch its opponents. To borrow from Joe Brolly, paramilitary dirty play, whether loyalist or republican, ‘achieved something absolutely rotten’.

    Bertie Ahern did huge damage to political confidence and, conseqentially, to David’s leadership when he rushed headlong into the release of prisoners without a quid pro quo on decommissioning yet the BBC team ignored that event. The team also ignored the 9/11 game-changer so far as US administrations were concerned.

  • Ah, poor Trimble, so hard done by. The debacle was his, of course, and was what led to his demise and his party’s collapse in support.
    When general de Chastelain made his report in 2003, if Trimble, instead of going into a huff, had said that it was disappointing that the IRA still hadn’t completed their putting of arms beyond use but that this latest act was a major step towards that end game and that, hopefully, the next report would announce the completion. Instead, he told unionists that he was a complete failure and, essentially, completely outsmarted on every occasion by those dastardly SF folks. So people accepted him at his word and looked for a party who would be a stronger match for SF and the DUP rose in power. That, in turn, led to an increase in support for SF since they were able to convince “nationalists” that the DUP would try to roll the clock back and that they, SF, would be a better protector of the “gains” realized than the SDLP would be. So here we are now. Trimble should never have got the Nobel Prize. He was always lukewarm about the GFA (BA if you prefer), and never really sold it enthusiastically. It’s so easy to blame someone else for your self-inflicted woulds. It’s known as whining.

  • Kevsterino

    In all my life, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a politician do a poorer job of selling an agreement that he made to his constituents. In speeches Mr. Trimble gave during the referendum campaign, if one didn’t know any better, he would think Mr. Trimble was campaigning for the No camp.

    It was remarkable. I think, from that point, his leadership was doomed if he dared to fulfill his responsibilities per the GFA.

  • cynic2

    It was an interesting and open interview.

    Clearly the DUPs and SF both had an interest in ousting the UUP. Once that became clear the NIO wanted to see Paisley and Gerry in the Big Tent together – so much more pleasing in the optics an another Tony Triumph. From that point on Trimble and his party were doomed. They were spat out and the circus moved on.

    From all the other parties perspective it was a great deal. SF got a biiger bogeyman, the DUPs got power, the NIO got a ‘triumph’ and Alliance (eventually) got a Minister’s post even if they still aren’t sure what its for

  • JoeBryce

    David Trimble was probably the bravest politician of his generation, albeit Martin McGuinness has been very brave too since becoming DFM. Trimble knew that every unionist leader who did what he did, from O’Neill through Faulkner to…well, after Faulkner, no one took the risk – would be destroyed by the paranoid shout of ‘Lundy.’ He risked his own life, of that one can be quite certain. I retain a huge admiration for him.

    As for his dismantling by SF, well isn’t the point that Trimble is a British unionist and Paisley an Ulster nationalist. It’s perfectly natural for nationalism to favour the latter and to act so as to secure an all-Ireland outcome, which in my opinion will turn out historically to be the consequence of the electorate shifting from UUP to DUP.

    There are personal qualities one can admire and a favourite story for me is how he conducted a housing law tutorial in prison for a republican student internee.

    As for his campaign for the GFA, no one was going to sell the Agreement to the thrawn folk by pretending that the future would be all roses and bunny rabbits. I remember one thing he said in debate with Paisley that has always stuck with me – that there were people who wrapped the Troubles round them like a security blanket. I think we all know people like that. I think one of them was on Facebook lately, to the interest of the PSNI.

    Very few men or women can look back on such a life of courage and achievement as David Trimble. There were good men in those awful decades – O’Neill, Fitzgerald, Fitt, Hume, Napier. Trimble is right up there with them.

  • gendjinn

    Trimble is a liar. One only has to listen to his Nobel prize acceptance speech to hear his scorn for the GFA and his assertions that it could not succeed.

    He knew at the time that the QM had split from the PIRA, taking arms & semtex to the dissidents. By demanding that the PIRA decommission and publish the details he could refuse to go into government by saying they had not disposed of all of their arms. This has been conclusively demonstrated by the subsequent and unending claims by Unionists that PIRA never did decommission all their weapons.

  • gendjinn

    JoeBryce,

    Trimble and to be bullied/extorted into accepting the GFA by Blair et al. He did everything he could to prevent an agreement and it was only when he was told that the alternative would be joint powersharing that he finally buckled.

    Even after that he never had the courage to stand up to his own party and hid behind the decommissioning demands to avoid going into Stormont.

  • And his dancing down the Garvaghy road with Paisley? Where does that fit in?
    Mind you, I think that Trimble was perhaps one of the earliest unionists who came to realize what many “unionists” still don’t understand. Demographics will mean the end of the union in the not too distant future unless a sufficient number of “Catholics” feel content that they are truly equal citizens and will vote to maintain the status quo.
    I think that that understanding drove some of the political maturing of the man.

  • JoeBryce

    If you read his little monograph ‘To Raise up a new Northern Ireland’ you see – well, I think you see – a generous pluralist vision. I think the vision was genuine enough.

  • Kevsterino

    It is difficult to weigh each factor that contributed to the erosion and collapse of the UUP. There were dozens of little things, too. Remember the posters that said “Decent People Vote Ulster Unionist”?

    Poor Ulster now has the fewest number of decent people in her history.

  • gendjinn

    JoeBryce,

    do you have a link?

  • JoeBryce

    Sorry, it was a hard copy book – I bought it in 2000, I have it here somewhere.

  • JoeBryce

    Thanks, Nevin.

  • @Mr_Joe,

    “And his dancing down the Garvaghy road with Paisley? Where does that fit in?”

    Apparently you didn’t listen to the interview as Trimble says that on that day he never went down the Garvaghy Road with Paisley. The famous photo was taken outside a Portadown Orange lodge. He explained that he was trying to prevent Paisley from getting all the credit–something that I believe he also stated to Millar in his book. The performance won him the leadership of the UUP. Without which there would have been no GFA as John Taylor probably would have been the leader.

    @gend jinn,

    In deeply-divided societies like Northern Ireland it is usually not the most reasonable or accommodating leaders who make historic accommodations as they cannot carry their tribe or people with them. In South Africa it was F.W. de Klerk from a very conservative Afrikaner background, both religiously and politically, who made the deal with Nelson Mandela. In Israel it was Yitzhak Rabin, and not Shimon Peres or one of those on the left of the Labor Party, who made the deal with Arafat and carried Israel into the Oslo accords. In antebellum America it was not one of the leaders of the Free Soil Party or the abolitionist Liberty Party who was elected president, made war on the Confederacy and abolished slavery but an Old Whig who was one of the last Whig politicians to join the Republican Party in 1856 just as it was collapsing. If Trimble had worked harder to “sell” the GFA to the unionist community it would have failed completely. It was not in him to suddenly start lying about his past like Martin McGuinness or Gerry Adams or Ian Paisley.

  • “We, the people of Northern Ireland, of all religious persuasions and of none, of all allegiances and none, have a common task and a common ambition, to construct in Northern Ireland a civil society that will consign coercion of any sort to the scrap heap of history.” … DT in “To Raise Up a New Northern Ireland”

    This is a denial of the nationalist aspiration viz.an island state.

  • Greenflag

    In retro or so we’re told the British PM , the American George Mitchell and the Irish Taoiseach all twisted Trimble’s arm to persuade him to accept the GFA . The fact that later he was not seen as overly enthusiastic about selling it could explain it’s 50% acceptance by the Unionist community whereas 90% of nationalists /republicans voted for it .Trimble could’nt be seen to be too enthusiastic or too unenthusiastic and as in all situations like this he fell between both stools as it were .

    The consignment of ‘coercion’ to the scrap heap of history has of course been achieved by the provision within the GFA that there will be no constitutional change in NI’s position without the consent of a majority of the population of Northern Ireland .

    Brave man yes -brave politician -indubitably . Cunning political survivor a la Paisley or Ahern -certainly not . BUt his contribution to keeping the lid on the NI political sewer should not be underestimated or forgotten or poo poohed .

    SF given the referendum result figured out quite quickly that sooner or later they would have to deal with the Paisley bandwagon so they opted for sooner rather than later.

  • JoeBryce

    No it’s not. It’s asking nationalism to become civic: a challenge that by and large it seems to be taking up. Rather better than unionism is, judging by #flegs. I cannot see how anyone can take exception to those words.

  • FDM

    @JoeBryce

    “I cannot see how anyone can take exception to those words.”

    Is that by a cognitive process interrupting your optic nerve or just really bad eyesight?

    You should consider the Irish nationalist view of the political structures we have at the minute as an analogy to the temporary seating at Solitude for the Champions League game against Celtic. It is the best we could do at the time, but longer term we want to completely revamp our stadium with permanent structures that the club are happy with.

    They are a temporary workaround prefab structure to serve a transitionary purpose. No more. Unionists sold their electorate the GFA as a terminus. Nationalists see it merely as a stop along the way on the journey.

    We are absolutely interested in making best use of the temporary seating whilst they fit our aims, in the short term.

    If the PUL community think we can be sold this sub-standard facility on a longer term basis then they are in for a shock. That shock which we see the effusions of daily on our streets from a rudderless, paranoid and increasingly violently demented community. If you are looking for someone to blame for that can I provide you with a list of people to talk to: Anyone from the UUP, DUP, TUV, PUP and of course the guy in the mirror.

    Are we there yet?

  • JoeBryce

    But are the words Nevin cites inconsistent with that perspective?

    Surely what the GFA does is to create a level playing field in which we can all debate and decide how we wish to order our constitutional arrangements. And if you want me to agree that the supporters of #flegs aren’t doing a clever job of persuading anyone of their perspective, I am happy to do so!

    Look at the words Nevin cites. The aspiration is to a civic society without coercion. Whether that is in the UK or an agreed Ireland is for people to debate, discuss, and agree. I have no difficulty at all with that. Do you?

    You know, sometimes I think some nationalists live in a state of cold shivering terror that one day your neighbours might turn round and say, “You know what, I think there’s something in what you say.” I think there’s something in what you say. I quite like the idea of an agreed Ireland, and #flegs has done a lot to make me think that way. I think that disagreeing with that quotation from Trimble is disagreeing for disagreement’s sake.

  • michael-mcivor

    ” was that Adams and McGuinness were deciding that they would prefer to have Paisley and Robinson as their interlocutors rather than Trimble and others ”

    Others-such is Trimbles hatred for his former party he cant even name one of them who would have stood at his side –

    Trimble signed up with the GFA because he never expected Sinn Fein to take their seats at Stormont-he thought or was told that Sinn Fein only wanted the Prisoners out-the barracks removed along with the armed brit army-he got that much of a shock when Sinn Fein took their seats that he walked/ran out of the Assembly three times-the rest as they say is history-

  • FDM

    @JoeBryce

    “to construct IN NORTHERN IRELAND”.

    There is a nice ring fenced six county perimeter.

    Not interested.

  • JoeBryce

    FDM, the 6 counties are not going to go away. There will always be devolution, it’s just it might in years to come be from Dublin instead of London. The 6 might, in such an agreed Ireland, become 9, if the other 3 so agree; an Ulster nationalist pipedream perhaps. But what is more concrete is the fact that the only way there can be progress is if society, whether you call it the north, the black north, the wee six, our wee country, Norn Irn, or whatever, works. Which it does now, a hell of a lot better than it did, because all sectors are involved in running it. And Trimble, which is how this conversation began, has an awful lot to do with that; and I think we should all be grateful to him for it.

  • Mc Slaggart

    “JoeBryce (profile) 6 August 2013 at 8:19 pm
    FDM, the 6 counties are not going to go away.”

    Thank god for that…teddy needs his head.

    I would like you to explain what areas are better run on an Northern Ireland basis rather than an all Island basis?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I would be cautious about overcooking the Trimble thing too much. I remember the man wagging his fingers at RUC officers and having talks with Billy Wright at Drumcree while Wright’s gang were actively targeting and murdering people. This was at a time when the UUP would not talk to Sinn Féin – Trimble himself famously tore his microphone off and stormed out of a lunchtime TV show when they brought Martin McGuinness into a live studio interview via video link. Trimble was not a nice man and wasn’t afraid to wallow in shit to advance his political career.

    I do respect people who step up to the plate when the time comes, and DT did this best he could, but he did not do out out of some sort of choice. Tony Blair had a massive majority and told the Ulster Unionists that hook or by crook there would either be a deal or there would be joint authority. The Ulster Unionists backed the agreement under duress and their lacklustre campaigning for it (as noted by Kevsterino above) reflected this.

    The UUP were a victim not of Sinn Féin, but of the Humeism which had been largely adopted as policy by the British and Irish governments. The John Hume doctrine was/is that you cannot have a peace process without the extremes, namely Sinn Féin. Initially, the British government traded one extreme at the expense of another (the DUP walked out of the process as soon as SF walked in) but later they, together with SF, extended the Hume doctrine to the point where they realized that the process as they conceived it could not continue without the DUP. It’s an open secret that Robinson and other senior DUP figures knew in the late 1990s that there had to be talks and that SF would have to be included.

  • Greenflag

    ‘There will always be devolution,’

    Why ? Its not gospel ;)? Theres no devolution in Hull or Scunthorpe or Bristol . Perhaps some day the people of Northern Ireland might come around to the view that guess what this local Assembly just doesn’t work the way it was supposed to and costs a lot of money for very little output ( albeit the same might/could be said for the Dail /Westminster/USA Congress at this time –
    Sod the lot of them lets just have one Parliament Dublin or London . Arch conservatives like Enoch Powell and Jim Molyneux were of the mindset that NI would be better governed as part of a larger unit given it’s internal fractiousness – The only way to transcend local ‘ball and chain manacles ‘ sectarianism is become part of a political entity where ‘sectarianism ‘ simply doesn’t pay electoral dividends . Sectarianism will probably always play a role even if muted under a devolved NI Assembly so perhaps getting rid of it (the Assembly ) is the answer ?

    Just a random thought as I read again the requirement for somebody name of Haas from another continent being required to act as go between for more ‘talks ‘ between the coalition mandatory partners ??

    Weeping Jesus etc etc 🙁

  • FDM

    JoeBryce 6 August 2013 at 8:19 pm

    “FDM, the 6 counties are not going to go away.”

    Certainly not, I am very attached to each and every one.

    “There will always be devolution”.

    Wishful thinking. No basis to reach that conclusion. Form is a better predictor than hope. So good luck with that.

    “the only way there can be progress is if …our wee country… works”

    Wishful thinking. No basis to reach that conclusion. Form is a better predictor than hope. So good luck with that.

    The PUL community had 50+ unfettered years, without the need for any approval from people like me, to make our twee wee country work for everyone. They failed utterly to do that. They built a supremacist sectarian prison for the minority. Since they were in TOTAL control, held all the POWER you can’t really point the finger at nationalists for the place being a disaster. If you think for one minute I am going to trust my future and the future of my progeny to the same backward thinking, unreformed, coat-trailers who delivered that, then you have another thing coming. Unionists post that period had a chance to share power 40 years ago. They refused remember and a plague on both our houses because of it.

    You are all out of chances and you aren’t in a position to ask for trust. The GFA said 50% +1 vote. Happy to tread water whilst we build the basis for that outcome.

    Civility and democracy by all means, but you need to get used to the idea that the only relevance to the future majority in the six counties of the six, is that they are six of the thirty-two. You aren’t in a position to ask for any better deal.

  • Comrade Stalin

    GF,

    I always thought that UUP policy under Molyneaux was a return to traditional majority-rule Stormont, not closer integration to the UK (as argued latterly by Robert McCartney and his UKUP).

    Full UK integration was never really a thing for ulster unionism. This is why I’m saying that unionism isn’t really about being British. During the flag protests Peter Robinson himself argued that devolution was necessary to prevent the British government from imposing unpalatable policies from the UK mainland unto NI. These guys do not want to be governed by the British political mainstream, and frankly they never have.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FDM,

    I’m afraid the census and polls suggest that you’re not quite right. The future majority of nationalist voters in NI is unlikely to vote NI out of the UK for quite some time.

    Ground zero of the debate is not the constitution, but the cultural environment within NI. For unionists to maximise their position in this debate they need to build allegiances with soft nationalists. Reading William Humphrey’s comments today it sounds like unionism would still prefer to cut off its nose to spite its face.

  • “Ground zero of the debate is not the constitution … For unionists to maximise their position in this debate they need to build allegiances with soft nationalists.”

    CS, nationalists, by definition, seek the end of NI’s membership of the UK, followed by the formation of an island state. Just look at the priorities of the SDLP, a soft nationalist party. Here #1: “The SDLP’s vision is a reconciled people living in a united, just and prosperous new Ireland.” On the other hand, muscular nationalism isn’t too concerned about the niceties.

  • Kevsterino

    Comrade Stalin, after all these years I’ve concluded that Unionism is by its nature, permanently disabled from making any kind of alliance with ‘soft nationalists’ or specifically, non-unionists (read Alliance Party). Just reminded of this when the UUP and DUP ambush over the flag at BCC.

    Any change is regarded as surrender. Any compromise regarded as treachery.

    I have hoped that the people were ahead of their politicians, but that was 15 years ago.

    Trying to predict the future is nearly impossible, but issues of eroding ‘Britishness’ will plague Northern Ireland for many years to come.

  • Kevsterino, unionists and nationalists, for differing historical reasons, have opposing constitutional aspirations. Pan-unionist and pan-nationalist groupings come to the fore when the heat is on.

  • FDM

    Comrade Stalin 6 August 2013 at 9:15 pm

    “I’m afraid the census and polls suggest that you’re not quite right. The future majority of nationalist voters in NI is unlikely to vote NI out of the UK for quite some time.”

    “For unionists to maximise their position in this debate they need to build allegiances with soft nationalists.”
    ——————————-
    That just reads like really tired rhetoric. By “Soft nationalism” I presume you mean the SDLP who have been taking an electoral battering for 20+ years? A lot of future in that…. Groans.

    Unionism and Loyalism of all shades are doing the best they can to polarize politics here, dragging us back to their “glorious” past. Real Catholic vote catchers all the crap in East Belfast/Twadell/EveryOneOfthe4000ParadesEveryFeckinYear.

    Oh I suppose these same Catholics are all going to vote Alliance and NI21 instead? Tell me this, in both those parties who is the lead politician from a Irish Catholic background? Basil, David, Naomi, Michael? Who?

    Is it not true that both Alliance and NI21 were founded by unionist politicians? Can you show me ANY ELECTION results where you can prove and say “there Catholics are VOTING unionist or pro-union”? Can you do that?

    The polls are shifting sand but tick-tock goes the demographic clock.

    Regrettable that people of the union could not bring themselves from 1922 to this day to treat the people who share this place with them with an equal respect. It was their place. They had all the power to do anything they wanted to do with the place and 50 years to do it. They had the freedom of choice to do what they willed.

    Thankfully I know we will show the proper equanimity at the wheel that they never did.

    I think Alliance and/or NI21 are going to need a rather fresher injection of thought than that tired stuff you offered.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    Nationalism by its definition does not really care about the uk. It is not anti-Uk but does not think in terms of “Northern Ireland”. “Northern Ireland” nationalists do NOT live in “cultural environment within NI”. It also should be noted that even the OO do not live within a cultural environment within NI.

    What people need to address is what things are better done with a Northern Ireland approach. To ” to build allegiances with soft nationalists.” I would be intrested in what are those things you think could be address in such an allegiance?

  • aquifer

    “Trimble is a liar. One only has to listen to his Nobel prize acceptance speech to hear his scorn for the GFA and his assertions that it could not succeed.”

    What I heard in that speech was an academic praise piece for Edmund Burke I think, an earlier Irish conservative. Just because somebody is not silly enough to swallow a sugar coated irish separatism pill as prescribed by doctor Hume does not make them a liar. Trimble extolled the value of a pragmatic and perhaps pessimistic view of human nature, and the importance of abiding by law and agreements, which given his foul treatment by Paisley and the Provos, was fairly spot on.

    The Paisleyites were a characature of bigoted protestantism resolutely estranged from the british political mainstream, with limited actual political staying power, and thus the Provos preferred partners.

    With smart boys like Trimble about, Unionism still had a chance. Was he the last?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin,

    A small proportion of people who vote SDLP (and even SF) will not vote NI out of the UK in a referendum. Stands to reason; why swap a known quantity for an unknown one ? Why swap a political settlement where you hold the balance of power, for one where you don’t ?

    FDM,

    The SDLP account for a solid one-third of the nationalist vote and are likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future, so they certainly shouldn’t be ruled out of any equation (tempting as it is). But it doesn’t matter what the party is. A Sinn Féin voter, middle class, working for the public sector, is going to hesitate in that referendum polling booth before he ticks the box that could well result in him losing his job. Suddenly an “Ireland of Equals” might look like a bad idea.

    The rest of your contribution misses my point completely and descended into some sort of rant. I’m not saying that nationalist voters will cease voting for nationalist parties. Just that the evidence suggests that a proportion of nationalist voters will not vote for a UI. What part of that are you having trouble with ?

    Kevsterino,

    I agree that unionism is substantially too stupid to see that, basically, it needs to make some small compromises to secure its interests in the wider sphere. Flags are an example; rather than seizing the opportunity to expose nationalism over designated days by calling for this compromise to be adopted as a matter of regional policy, unionists would rather fight a battle that has already been lost.

    I’m just pointing out that unionism needs to start changing this. I wouldn’t bet money that it will.

  • Comrade Stalin

    McSlaggart,

    When I say building allegiances I mean small details. Sorting out a solution on marching would be one example. Agreeing to compromises on certain things, such as the Irish language, might be another. Supporting local power sharing arrangements on councils might be yet another. These are little details that cost unionists almost nothing but would reassure nationalists that they don’t need to vote Sinn Féin to force unionists to pay attention.

    If unionists pursued a more conciliatory approach, their position would be safer. To use the example I frequently refer to; if Nigel Dodds talked sense about parades in North Belfast he might not push SDLP voters into the arms of Gerry Kelly. It’s not about making people vote DUP; it’s about making them feel less inclined to support the more extreme nationalist vision.

  • Comrade Stalin

    To explain this further, imagine two scenarios –

    (a) unionists negotiate and agree a deal with nationalists involving the display of Irish language signs on certain public buildings in council areas.

    (b) unionists resist all compromise on Irish language signs. Nationalists later become a majority and impose their own policy on Irish language signs.

    The first involves some up-front pain for unionists, but is at least a negotiated deal into which they are allowed to insert some of their own ideas and restrictions. The deal has a better chance of sticking as nationalists would then run the risk of being seen to be welching on the deal if they subsequently attempt to change it. Most people prefer politicians who are up for fair play and keeping their word.

    The second avoids up front pain but results, later down the road, in nationalists not being constrained by a cross-party deal and not having to negotiate with unionists.

    In the next few decades, every single sensitive situation in Northern Ireland is going to look like the above. Marching, flags, language, symbols, the works. Unionists can either propose compromise on their terms, or be forced to accept something worse.

  • FDM

    @CS

    “But it doesn’t matter what the party is. A Sinn Féin voter, middle class, working for the public sector, is going to hesitate in that referendum polling booth before he ticks the box that could well result in him losing his job. Suddenly an “Ireland of Equals” might look like a bad idea.”
    ————————————–

    CS if you think Irelands future is about holding a begging bowl out to Essex builders and London City swindlers from now until the end of time then you really sell short the people of this place. Is that what you are offering us, that we should be collectively shamed as beggars? Is that what pro-union means, each and every one of us is entitled to a begging bowl with our own names inscribed thereupon? As someone who has always worked his ass off I’m not much for begging. So CS you and the rest of those nice people who want to make me a beggar know where you can hide my begging bowl for me. Non merci, pas pour moi.

    Far from a rant I asked you to offer me evidence of the base for Alliance and/or NI21 in Catholic voters. Can you evidence a significant Catholic voter base? I also asked you the straightforward question of pointing to an election result, ANY election result in recent history where you unequivocally have Catholic voters, who back up your point of view, i.e. voting for the union or pro-union candidate. Now that is not a rant. Just rather pesky questions. Can you evidence a VOTE in recent history which supports your premise?

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “reassure nationalists that they don’t need to vote Sinn Féin ”

    When it comes to marches its sf who supports the OO/Bands ability to march. Their is not nationalist party who is not more supportive of parading that their voters. If you think sf position is extreme on the issue of flags and marching then you are out of touch on the mood of the Nationalist people.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “unionists negotiate and agree a deal with nationalists involving the display of Irish language signs on certain public buildings in council areas.”

    Why the hell does not Alliance do this in Belfast?

  • BluesJazz

    FDM
    Planet Reality check.

    We are a beggar economy. Without the mainland subsidy we would be worse off than Albania.
    The Republic is also a beggar economy, to the IMF and ECB.
    Without the bailout ‘Ireland’ would/will be a third world country.

    Northern Ireland’s ‘economy’ is based on tens of thousands of civil service ‘non-jobs’. People who get paid high salaries for doing frig all. Many (45%plus) are from a so called ‘catholic’ background. i.e. SF/SDLP voters.
    Turkeys do not vote for Xmas.

    Ireland’s future (NI and the Republic) is totally dependent on handouts.
    I appreciate you may not like this state of affairs, but that’s the way the cookie has crumbled.

    Very few people under 60 are actually ‘catholic’ or ‘protestant’ as in believing the sky pixie stuff.
    So as long as we all accept our status as beggars, we still get to watch Manchester United v Liverpool and Glastonbury and X Factor and… I could go on.

  • FDM

    BluesJazz 7 August 2013 at 12:12 am

    We are a beggar economy.
    ———————————–

    You are beggar. You have admitted to just that.

    I am not. Don’t foist your beggar moral compass on the rest of us.

    Ireland has a future and begging for scraps from the masters table doesn’t really cut it for me.

    You offer us nothing but shame, i.e. you offer us less than nothing.

  • “Stands to reason; why swap a known quantity for an unknown one ?”

    CS, unionist and nationalist reasons for their respective opposing stances are most probably based on historical experience; I should imagine that any sign of conciliation by one party would be perceived as a sign of weakness by the opposing party.

    The present constitutional arrangement IMO does not lend itself to acts of reciprocal reconciliation and, as far as I can see, you offer no reciprocal deals.

    Misunderstanding Ulster is David’s own analysis of political developments and is therefore likely to be more insightful than this BBC production, subject as it is to editorial prejudice.

  • Gopher

    Have people not voted with their feet on the Republic’s future and left? Is the Republic future not paying back Germany?

  • BluesJazz

    FDM
    That’s a high horse you ride.
    Unfortunately when horses take a bad fall, they’re put out of their misery. Not an applicable solution to nation states, so far, in the era we live in.
    At least in what we call ‘the west’. Where the sick children of Europe are allowed to borrow even more than they can possibly pay back, kicking the can down the road in shorter kicks.
    I’m just acknowledging reality. Your philosophy, while admirable, is delusional.

    PS There is no such thing as” less than nothing “

  • Comrade Stalin

    FDM:

    Jesus, take a valium or something or the veins will pop out of your head.

    CS if you think Irelands future is about holding a begging bowl out to Essex builders and London City swindlers from now until the end of time then you really sell short the people of this place. Is that what you are offering us, that we should be collectively shamed as beggars?

    Just pointing out the reality. People – human beings – will generally go with certainty rather than uncertainty, especially if they have kids to think about. I’m sorry that this isn’t compatible with the romantic ideal of a free Ireland.

    I don’t, as it happens, think that it is compelling to argue any constitutional case on the back of whether or not it has the biggest windfall attached. But nobody has to make that kind of case, people will see it for themselves. They mightn’t admit it outside of the anonymity afforded by the secret ballot.

    Is that what pro-union means, each and every one of us is entitled to a begging bowl with our own names inscribed thereupon?

    I’m not really making a pro-union argument. These nationalists who I expect will vote for the status quo could hardly be described as pro-union or unionist. They’d be merely picking the least worst option.

    The argument about the economy could quite easily swing the other way. The RoI’s economy is recovering quickly, it appears to be structurally better adapted to weather the recession that has been going on, and it’s not impossible to foresee a time when unionists will look enviously to the south as they did during the Celtic Tiger years. You can bet your bottom dollar that nationalists will then begin to use an economic case.

    (in fact Sinn Féin are currently using an economic case. They’ve attempted to argue, somewhat without credibility, that Northern Ireland receives less in government spending than it yields in tax revenue.)

    As someone who has always worked his ass off I’m not much for begging.

    I’m not one for begging either. But the biggest chunk of the workforce in NI is either in the public sector or working under contract to the public sector. Those workers are therefore all being sustained by the exchequer block grant and each and those workers will be at risk if Ireland is reunified. Again, Sinn Féin have been arguing that the border causes unnecessary duplication which implies that they expect a reunified economy to lead to cuts.

    So CS you and the rest of those nice people who want to make me a beggar know where you can hide my begging bowl for me. Non merci, pas pour moi.

    There’s a 2:1 chance that you’re already a “beggar” to use your term for someone who benefits directly or indirectly from the British block grant.

    Far from a rant I asked you to offer me evidence of the base for Alliance and/or NI21 in Catholic voters.

    I don’t have any such evidence. But you’re still ranting, because I wasn’t talking about Alliance or NI21. Haven’t mentioned either of them so far today.

    Can you evidence a significant Catholic voter base?

    No.

    I also asked you the straightforward question of pointing to an election result, ANY election result in recent history where you unequivocally have Catholic voters, who back up your point of view, i.e. voting for the union or pro-union candidate.

    But I didn’t make an argument about voting for pro-union candidates. Why are you asking me questions about things I didn’t say ?

    Now that is not a rant. Just rather pesky questions. Can you evidence a VOTE in recent history which supports your premise?

    I have no evidence with which to answer the irrelevant questions you inexplicably sought to put to me. Is there anything else I can clarify for you ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    McSlaggart:

    When it comes to marches its sf who supports the OO/Bands ability to march. Their is not nationalist party who is not more supportive of parading that their voters. If you think sf position is extreme on the issue of flags and marching then you are out of touch on the mood of the Nationalist people.

    I’m not saying that SF are extreme on marching, I’m saying that they are extreme in general. That is part of the reason why 1/3rd of nationalists still vote for the SDLP.

    [signs in Irish]

    Why the hell does not Alliance do this in Belfast?

    Erecting signs in Irish isn’t an Alliance policy. But the party will have to take a position if/when nationalists eventually decide to force the issue, unless the unionists start constructively negotiating.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FDM, since you’re likely to miss the point with all this, let me put it another way. Are you suggesting that there isn’t a single nationalist who can think of any downsides to breaking the link with the UK ?

  • @CS,

    “I always thought that UUP policy under Molyneaux was a return to traditional majority-rule Stormont, not closer integration to the UK (as argued latterly by Robert McCartney and his UKUP).”

    Molyneaux served for 16 years as leader of the UUP by not taking firm policy decisions and standing for much besides the union and opposition to paramilitary violence. Under him the UUP had an integrationist wing and a devolutionist wing. He was fine until Blair pressured him into peace talks and then he retired rather than face up to the task of making decisions.

    @Nevin,

    As the SDLP weakens its voters will be faced with the choice of whom to vote for. Would you rather have them vote for the Shinners or for Alliance and NI21? I’m guessing by your approach that you would rather that they became Shinners. I know that this is what FDM is hoping for.

  • tmitch57, I think the 2016 Assembly election will be a ‘beauty contest’ between Peter and Martin, thanks to the ramifications of the St Andrews Act – should they be contestants. I’d expect the UUP and the SDLP to both suffer as a consequence and that voter turn-out will continue to fall. I also expect the build-up to the 2016 Easter commemorations to drive unionists and nationalists further apart.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “I’m saying that they are extreme in general. ”

    ?

    What policy’s do they have that make you make such a claim?

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    Alliance party may not have a written polity but than just means the “policy is unwritten”.

    “Alliance’s tribal jibe was a slur on Irish language”


    “This week’s attack was in response to Conor Murphy’s proposal to give communities the option to erect Irish signage in their towns and villages if they requested it (at no cost to DRD). There are of course already town place name signs in parts of North Antrim such as Ballycastle and Cushendall which are in both Irish and English. This has not led to a “tribal ghettoising carve up of the area” as the Alliance’s Judith Cochrane ludicrously alleged. Is the Alliance Party seriously suggesting that GAA clubs, schools and other groups who have a sign in the Irish language outside their premises or on a road side are involved in “tribal ghettoising”?”
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/letters/alliances-tribal-jibe-was-a-slur-on-irish-language-28581613.html

  • Gopher

    Not that I’m fan of the Alliance party but I think that concern is so self evident I think I will defend them. That is NOT an attack on the Irish language it is attack against undemocratic forces the same type that would but union flags on every lampost in a town or village or paint the kerb stones. Nobody has a problem with Irish language signs on a GAA club or shop frontage that is a personal choice.

  • Mc Slaggart

    ” it is attack against undemocratic forces”

    In parts of Tyrone their is areas with a very high understanding and use of Irish. You do need to explain how them putting up signs in Irish would be part of a “undemocratic forces”.

  • FDM

    @CS/Gopher/BlueJazz

    Basically you are saying that all we have to do to secure a united Ireland is fix the economy or alternatively and being cynical here sell that we have fixed the economy.

    400 years plus of a connection to England and the only thing you can sell me to secure the link is to say to the English “I love you, you pay my rent”. That really is a union worth keeping and cherishing.

    You are forgetting that the Republic stood outside of an (the) EU structure for 50 years before joining. It survived that and neutrality during the war years. EU membership has transformed the country from an agriculturally orientated nation to one that is a technologically advanced 1st world western state. There are many cash rich countries that would kill for Irelands infrastructure and physical locality in the world.

    To say that we can’t make the best of that and stand and trade with our partner countries in the EU and trading nations in the rest of the world on our own two feet is just plain dumb.

    Sure we are in the hole at the minute but we will dig ourselves out. That type of economic crisis has to happen to every nation so that they collectively learn not to repeat it. It happened to the US in 1929 [still young then] with the crash, from which they recovered and went on to dominate world trade for going on 60+ years.

    All you are selling is fear messages. It is the same in the Scottish Independence debate. Fear, fear, fear.

    I will borrow a phrase of yours to remind you of yourselves.

    “Fortuna Audaces Iuvat” – Fortune favours the brave…

    It says so on the Linfield Football Club Badge.

    What happened to this frontier spirit that the PUL community were supposed to have, US presidents???

    All spent now? All gone?

    “Alms for a leper. Alms for a leper.”

  • Neil

    Poll’s currently support you CS, but you know yourself that doesn’t mean much for the future. The NILT survey (which as we know underrecords Republican support consistently) also uncovered a drop of 9% in people wanting to remain in the UK over a 3 year period (72% – 63%). Plot that trajectory, and if possible factor in Unionism’s recent efforts to convince those ‘soft Nationalists’ that the Union is the place for them. Mike Nesbitt’s been dreadful but the DUP have really done excellent work over the past few months – for Nationalism.

    I look forward to the election and barring events expect the DUP to take a beating. Marty for FM? Yes, why not. Look at where we are now from where we were 10 and 20 years ago, and picture what the future could be like. If you can go from not being ‘allowed’ into government regardless of your mandate, to FM in a power sharing arrangement with a growing Nationalist population, a shrinking Unionist one and a referendum on the horizon I’d say the future looks rosy.

  • Neil

    With no word of condemnation as to injuries sustained by Mr O’Muilleoir and nine police officers, Mr Humphrey, who’s also an MLA, referred to the incident as “entirely preventable” and the visit as “highly inappropriate”.

    And in a field somewhere another Northern Irish unicorn dies.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/dup-we-warned-lord-mayor-he-would-not-be-welcome-at-park-29480670.html

  • Greenflag

    @ Comrade Stalin,

    from Wiki

    Molyneaux was generally regarded as a member of the integrationist tendency within Ulster Unionism (favouring direct rule from Westminster with some extension of local government powers, as opposed to the devolutionist preference for a revived Northern Ireland parliament or assembly). This preference was widely attributed to the influence of Enoch Powell. Critics within his party saw Molyneux as a do-nothing leader, unduly deferential towards the Conservative Party (leading him to be taken by surprise by the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement and overshadowed by Ian Paisley). Molyneaux’s defenders would argue that his primary concern was party unity, that the UUP was so divided that only a minimalist policy could hold it together, and that the correctness of this perception was shown by the party’s disintegration under David Trimble.

    Furthermore

    “Molyneaux was publicly critical of his successor as leader, David Trimble, and fiercely opposed the Good Friday Agreement. In 2003 Molyneaux supported half the Ulster Unionist MPs – David Burnside, Jeffrey Donaldson and Martin Smyth – when they resigned the party whip in protest against the leadership of Trimble and the continuing support for the Agreement. ”

    Molyneaux probably could’nt see how Northern Ireland could govern itself without the ‘majority ‘ rule system . His political logic followed Enoch Powell’s . Powell firmly believed you could have a United Ireland or a United Kingdom but you could’nt have both . Power sharing was seen by Molyneaux & Powell as ‘absurd ‘ and turned whatever concept both had of ‘democracy ‘ as they understood it on it’s head .

    In the longer term all I’m stating is that Molyneaux and Powell may be proved ‘correct ‘ Their ‘stance ‘ however ultimately led to the replacement of the Unionist Party by the DUP which can be seen as a more ” nationalist ” Ulster /NI construct than anything remotely resembling British mainline political parties at Westminster .

    Trimble fell between not just two stools but several .While Mick’s link above points out the SF ‘cunning plan ‘ aspect it can be stated safely enough that it was his party members -including former leader Molyneaux among others who ‘shafted ‘ Trimble from within the Unionist dare I suggest ‘mafiosi ‘ of the time ?

  • Zig70

    Is it because unionists have so little understanding of nationalist thinking that when they butt heads and lose, they call it cunning rather than see it as tripping over their own ignorance? Which only serves to raise the political capital of the people they hate. Odd politics. Arguably, Trimble and the UUP inflicted a lot of damage on the SDLP by not giving any space to nationalism, moderate or otherwise, post gfa and gifted SF their current top table status.

  • Comrade Stalin

    tmitch,

    Not sure about that version of history. Molyneaux resigned as leader some time before Blair was elected PM in 1997. At the time I recall many of us believing that John Taylor would take over. Then we all noted that Trimble’s antics at Drumcree were the real precursor to him throwing his hat in the ring for the leadership. Trimble was at the time very much a hawk.

    Fun fact – Molyneaux’s leadership was challenged by then 21-year-old Lee Reynolds, now a DUP councillor who occasionally contributes here on Slugger.

    McSlaggart:

    [Sinn Féin]

    What policy’s do they have that make you make such a claim?

    Er, the whole armed struggle thing ?

    FDM:

    I am not trying to dispense advice on how best to campaign for a united Ireland. Just pointing out that changing the status quo is always difficult in any circumstances, and this is particularly true when there’s economic uncertainty in the background. The Scottish independence referendum will be a straightforward example of this principle at work.

    I personally do not have a problem with a united Ireland, it’s not impossible that I might vote that way on referendum day, although I won’t make up my mind until then. No sense worrying about something that is not likely to happen for a few decades.

    I certainly think that for unionists to argue that the union is the best way to proceed on the basis that the Brits are in a better position to fork out for our public sector largesse is misguided at best. If I were a unionist, I’d campaigning not for British as Finchley, but for British like Finchley; a modern, progressive, tolerant part of the world open to all cultures and celebrating diversity. I’d be trying to remind the rest of the UK of the benefits of keeping NI close, rather than having us be a millstone around the neck of the exchequer. But hey.

    I will borrow a phrase of yours to remind you of yourselves.

    It says so on the Linfield Football Club Badge.

    I think you should stop making assumptions about the religious and community backgrounds of people you’re debating with. It’s a bit sectarian.

    Neil:

    Poll’s currently support you CS, but you know yourself that doesn’t mean much for the future.

    I don’t really have a dog in the fight. If there’s a referendum campaign I doubt I’d get involved in it. I don’t have a big problem with a united Ireland.

    If the vote goes for reunification, I think there will be difficult times but also opportunities to forge a new state and put right all the stuff that was done wrong. I think that could be quite exciting, looked at in a certain way.

    The NILT survey (which as we know underrecords Republican support consistently) also uncovered a drop of 9% in people wanting to remain in the UK over a 3 year period (72% – 63%). Plot that trajectory, and if possible factor in Unionism’s recent efforts to convince those ‘soft Nationalists’ that the Union is the place for them. Mike Nesbitt’s been dreadful but the DUP have really done excellent work over the past few months – for Nationalism.

    Not debating the numbers or the stats, but I am not sure that Unionism’s recent antics are damaging the union. They are certainly damaging unionism in that they are sowing the seeds for a Northern Ireland that looks very, very like the nationalist vision of an Irish republic except with the border in place – an Irish cultural state. That’s not a good thing for unionists. Just as unionists have their own vision of Britishness which is alien to most other British people, I think a lot of nationalists have a conception of Irishness and Irish culture which is foreign or over-the-top to most other Irish people.

    I think some nationalists will stay firmly nationalist but they might calculate that they’re better off in a mini-Ireland within the UK rather than being part of a larger whole.

    I look forward to the election and barring events expect the DUP to take a beating.

    I agree with you, I think the DUP have miscalculated and the UUP have missed what was a golden opportunity to take a shot at them. Nesbitt’s trajectory leading towards an electoral pact in 2015 has had the effect of de-fanging the UUP and making them less effective at coming out against the UUP over, for example, Red Sky.

    Marty for FM? Yes, why not.

    I have a great deal of respect for Martin McGuinness and I think he’d be a fine First Minister. I would say that there are a few loyalists who would say the same thing if you got them drunk enough.

    Look at where we are now from where we were 10 and 20 years ago, and picture what the future could be like. If you can go from not being ‘allowed’ into government regardless of your mandate, to FM in a power sharing arrangement with a growing Nationalist population, a shrinking Unionist one and a referendum on the horizon I’d say the future looks rosy.

    I would add to that by pointing out that nationalist faith in the police and courts has never been stronger. We now have Sinn Féin politicians praising the police and condemning attacks on “our police officers”. This is one of the most remarkable shifts.

    I agree, the future looks strong and confident for nationalists (although I think that it is a mistake for nationalists to pursue a referendum that could go against them – why not keep everyone guessing ?). This strength and confidence is currently being built within the union. It has the effect, in my view, of blunting the argument that nationalists cannot have equality and fairness until the union is removed. Many nationalists may be quite happy with what they’ve got now.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Zig70,

    Indeed you could argue that. Back then the big blocker was decommissioning. By raising the profile of decommissioning unionism gave Sinn Féin the keys to the process.

    Unionism is doing the same thing today by raising the profile of the Parades Commission, and loudly and publicly insisting on it’s abolition. The only effect this has is to raise the price for its abolition in any negotiations.

  • @CS,

    “Not sure about that version of history. Molyneaux resigned as leader some time before Blair was elected PM in 1997. At the time I recall many of us believing that John Taylor would take over.”

    You’re right, I should have said Major as he was prime minister when Molyneaux quit in 1995. But Molyneaux quit because he didn’t want to preside over a divided party during a peace process–he had seen what the 1974 Sunningdale government did to the UUP. Without Drumcree, Taylor would have been elected leader as Maginnis was too weak in support to oppose him successfully. So this would have left the man who wouldn’t “touch the agreement with a 40-foot barge pole” in charge of the UUP. So go back to my reply to gim genn (?). Maginnis and the Alliance leaders would never have been able to sell an agreement to the unionist electorate.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I agree that Molyneaux got off side before he had to actually do anything other than be blown along by the tide.

    Ken Maginnis was the guy the UUP sent whenever they wanted to appear constructive, but firm in facing SF in public. Most famously, IIRC, was the Larry King interview he did with Gerry Adams.

    Ken’s been acting very strangely lately. He’s currently in a court case where he is accused of being the instigator of a road rage assault. Representing himself in court a few weeks back, he claimed that the whole thing was being done on the orders of the Justice Minister.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “I’m saying that they are extreme in general. ”

    Your reason:

    “Er, the whole armed struggle thing ?”

    Sorry but that was in the past? I was never a “Republican” but I never met one who was anymore extreme than those who was in the “British army”.

    Northern Ireland is founded on a particular principle

    ‘Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right.’

    23 February 1886: Lord Randolph Churchill

  • aquifer

    I was going to say that the UU have the misfortune of having Orange Disorder attached like a ball and chain, but on reflection it is more like being chained to a deranged elephant. Do the OO ever canvass for the UU, or do they just engender permanent revolution for SF?

    All Alliance has to do is line up some middle aged guys in suits and go hard on supporting the police and the UU are redundant. AP could probably have public talks with Dublin ministers and gain votes, perhaps at the Airport that more and more of us fly out of.

    I am not an Alliance supporter and might begrudge them their late success, but they could balance budgets create jobs and get buses to run on time.

  • FDM

    @CS

    “I will borrow a phrase of yours to remind you of yourselves.

    It says so on the Linfield Football Club Badge.

    I think you should stop making assumptions about the religious and community backgrounds of people you’re debating with. It’s a bit sectarian.”
    ——————————–

    I know you don’t come from a protestant background CS., you having described your background previously. St. Mals was it not? You have tried this kind of cheap shot before. My comment heading included @BlueJazz who most certainly does have this background.

    If you are going to call someone a bigot then be honest enough to say it straight.

    Answer the points CS. Leave the cheap shots for the pugknockers, because they don’t hurt me.