Robinson U turn shows the urgent need for mediation


They must have put up Chinese walls inside Stormont Castle since I was there last.  The sudden collapse of Peter Robinson’s position over the Maze peace centre strongly suggests that the joint leaders haven’t even managed to have  frank exchanges about the past, much less wrestled with how actually to deal with it. But the bigger problem stretches down the hill to streets below. DUP electoral dominance has been again exposed as offering no protection against unionist fragmentation and a stampede to the lowest common denominator.  In a typically subtle piece in the Sunday Times, Newton Emerson (£) argues that Peter Robinson’s cancellation of the Maze project was “ a brilliant  diversion. “ I’m not so sure. Rather than a device to forestall more loyalist rioters it arguably smacks of desperation and  risks another surrender to anarchy, similar to the long weeks of the flags.

Sinn Fein may indeed be winding up loyalists with parades such as Castlederg  as well as protecting their own flanks  against dissidents’ co-opting  the Cause. But it’s absurd to pin all the blame on Sinn Fein for goading the poor loyalists into riot.  But  Martin McGuinness’s statement that Robinson’s move was “ a mistake “ seems mild enough although a decision is needed over whether the  rest of the project will go ahead.

It should be admitted  that Sinn Fein could make life a whole lot more difficult .  To reach equality of parading they could expand their own by a factor of 15 ( Emerson’s calculation not mine). The stats are certainly interesting.  The Parades Commission reported that in the year ending March 2012:

the vast majority of contentious parades continued to be from the broad Unionist tradition, which accounted for 93%, up slightly from 2010-11. The proportion of contentious Nationalist parades fell to 6% .

When unionists think about the past particularly at commemoration time, they can’t abide Sinn Fein. When they look to the future they put up with them.  The hard task is to relegate the past to heritage and history.  Commitment to community stability requires confirmation of unionist acceptance of the republican tradition forged since 1970 which more than unionists abhor, and republican restraint in exercising it. That is a very tall order but a  familiar one. All sides should be used to it by now.

How will Robinson’s U turn affect positioning for the Haass inquiry next month?   An easing of the  struggle for territory is essential. He may privately welcome outside pressure on the loyal orders to confirm the principle of negotiation over parades. Sinn Fein may be prepared to encourage more confessions of murder in exchange for a public inquiry into Finucane. But the problem as ever will be making deals stick. Finding the line to draw over the past as a whole seems unattainable.  Like the Maze project, that should be left for another day.

Can Sinn Fein afford to acknowledge that they have already reached the high water mark of gains for  the present and Unionism, that the new order of the  State requires a new  identity, still to be forged?  The devil will be in the detail. But that essentially will be the task for Haass.

The  behaviour of the first and deputy first ministers  since last  year disabuses us from any assumption that  the parties and groups can now fly unaided.  Another conference under mediation but with all parties present is clearly  needed. At some level  the two governments will be involved even if this time their participation is not central.

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  • tacapall

    “i will go with that. But the labels of child killers, murderers, bomber, extortionists, criminals and (in a few cases but sometimes covered up) pedophiles all still apply”

    If you like Cynic I could happily link you to 100s of pages of evidence proving British establishment types and the British armed forces were and are equally involved in the same practices and you have no problem electing, defending and glorifying their activities but like always you stick your head in the sand and pretend you see nothing

  • Dixie Elliot[9.03] ‘Have they the guts to do it? I doubt it’
    Looking at private polls showing haemmoraging of support might concentrate minds at SF HQ as it has done for Robbo and the uturn on Maze seems to indicate the word from the street isn’t good for Robbo.Marty needs to switchl the life support machine at stormont off and most nationalist voters don’t want DUP in any power position.Their parties have the veto on that.

  • cynic2

    “100s of pages of evidence ”

    Link away my friend …but do make sure its ‘evidence’ or Mick may face an even bigger challenge that that posed by McIvor

  • Comrade Stalin

    Wrong, CS, I merely used it as an example to undermine your assertion that ‘the comparison doesn’t really apply’.

    No you didn’t. You simply referred to Athboy, in the now extremely tedious way that you do in response to almost every single damn thread that appears on this sight.

    I’m sure before long you’ll be tying the disappearance of Lord Lucan and the faked moon landings back to that ill-fated Gerry Adams speech and of course the accompanying Dick Spring Briefing.

    We’ve also had the unedifying example of President McAleese endorsing the joint paramilitary venture, the Finaghy Crossroads Group. It’s unlikely she would have done so without the authority of the Irish government. BTW, it was a member of the SDLP who drew my attention to this issue, not a member of the APNI.

    Nevin, do you even remember the point that you were replying to ?

    As a reminder, you said :

    “As I see it, unionists have no more desire to share power with SF, the political wing of a paramilitary organisation, than do the likes of FF and FG and for much the same reasons.”

    In other words you think unionists don’t like sharing power with paramilitaries, and you don’t think FF or FG do either. A fair enough opinion.

    I pointed out that unionists have no problem with paramilitaries depending on their allegiences – also a matter of opinion but I have reasons for believing this which I illustrated with links; and that FF and FG would have no problem sharing power with Sinn Féin if this became the only path to government. Exactly what the hell does Athboy, McAleese and all this other rubbish you trot out got to do with any of that ?

    When hypocrisy is highlighted some folks seem keen to throw in the whataboutery allegation …

    Every time there is a discussion about anything you’re “whatabout Athboy” and “whatabout the Dick Spring briefing”. How can someone fail to point out the whataboutery that you’re constantly polluting this site with ?

    Perhaps you could get a job as a Doctor Who scriptwriter so at least you can write something where the main character gets to jump into the TARDIS to investigate why every single event in the known universe seems to converge on the Gerry Adams speech at Athboy – and why the riddle must be solved before creation implodes …

  • tacapall

    Cynic obviously you convientely ignored the Jimmy Saville inquiry or even the Elm guest house revelations why you even ignored the truth about British politicians and their involvement in child abuse – Here a list for you and Im sure even Mick cannot censor what the courts have already dealt with – The list of British politicians charged with pedophile activities is so long its almost impossible to put them all on one page.–sex-offenders.html

    Regarding the murderous activities of the British armed forces maybe you could open your eyes to the truth about what goes on around the world –

    This is how to deal with armed forces’ brutality

    A ruling on Iraqi deaths in British custody offers the chance for a brand new approach to troops’ behaviour abroad

    “The list of unlawful killings is endless. And there are hundreds of Iraqis’ cases before British courts in which allegations are made of egregious acts of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

    These terrible acts have occupied the attention of the courts for the last decade. A high court judgment in late May gives the UK a golden opportunity to make reparation and lead the world in imposing the rule of law wherever its state agents act abroad. This judgment involves more than 1,000 Iraqi cases of unlawful killings and acts of torture. It establishes that whenever UK personnel abroad have authority and control over others – and commit what might be acts of unlawful killing and torture – there must be an “inquisitorial process” in public into each case. There must also be public scrutiny of the systemic issues arising from these cases”

  • ayeYerMa

    Well it seems that given the amount of hysterics going on here between our Republican extremist chums that they have been well and truly rattled.
    Not only upset that their murderous acts which have plagued us for the entire last century have been well and truly neutered by the brave and honourable men of the RUC, B-specials and British Army; they are now in a state of shock that the endless lies and mendacious propaganda that they have told to themselves over the years (to the extent that they have told them to each other so many times that some of the useful idiots here even believe them!) are unravelling fast and being exposed for what they were, with circle-jerking to each other on here day in and out in the alternate reality on this site seemingly to be all they have left!

    I’ll leave you lads at it since you have no intention to engage in anything constructive or approaching reality regarding a positive future for the benefit of peaceful law-abiding citizens (the glorification of your murderers comes first to you). It would indeed be better to let you keep thinking Ab Ghobsmacht is remotely in touch with non-naive Unionism or Walker are representative of wider opinion of anyone other than inner circle other-planet “progressive” BBC cronies (yes, this is the same bleeding-heart Walker who was so in touch with public opinion a few weeks ago that he was up in hysterics that the IRA weren’t being appeased once more with “Ann’s Law” and couldn’t believe that people in the real world were now more concerned with right and wrong than upsetting the feelings of Bomber Kelly and Butcher McGuinness).

  • ayeYerMa

    On “innocence” it really is a legal concept. Innocent until proven guilty. Any proven involvement of an INDIVIDUAL with a proscribed terrorist organisation then not innocent. The army was the legal defence force so innocent unless proven rogue individual.

    (and as far as I’m aware the UDA was not proscribed in its first year so involvement would be innocent until involvement after it were proscribed).

  • cynic2


    Thank you for the link to that breathy site. Yes, a lot of English and Welsh Councillors have been arrested for child pornography and a much smaller bunch have been arrested for pedophilia.

    I note that some of the other ‘crimes’ quoted include running sex parties for consenting adults and that in other cases there is only a reference to ‘arrested’ or ‘allegations that’ – usually a sign that there was not enough evidence to prosecute

    You might do better to focus on Saville and ask why he was able to get away with it for so ;long.

    Given the thousands and thousands of Councillors in England and Wales over the period in question these numbers are small beer but I am delighted to see so many being caught as it suggest that there is an openness to challenge them and a commitment to investigate and lock them up now.

    You quote the Elim Guest House Saga. Yes – those premises were used by gay men for sex parties. I think that may still be illegal in the UK – I am not sure. There were allegations in the Tabloids that various politicians and celebrities attended (mostly those who are safely dead and cannot sue) but I cannot ind a single case of anyone prominent being charged.

    You might also ask why so few politicians in Ireland have been similarly discomforted. We know what was going on in the church for the last 40 years – why assume it stopped there?

    As for the British Army in Iraq – again lots of allegations , Many being investigated. Many soldiers arrested investigated and charged. Unlike many other states we do set high standards and where there is evidence try and hold them to account. It hasn’t always been like that – Bloody Sunday being one of the grossest examples – but it is better now.

    Again you might also usefully ask why there have been proportionately few cases in Afghanistan despite the same or higher intensity of operations there and almost a ‘hot war’. Strangely the Afghans dint seen to attract the same sort of interest form the plethora of ‘representative’ and ‘interest’ groups that hover around the middle east nor do they have teh same degree of backing and weapons supplied by Iran

    But I remain unsure of how all this advances your point. In NI the Shinners have had a torrid time with various exposures of the activities of members of PIRA and SF – but its not even the acts themselves I was challenging (bad as they are) it was the innate Republican culture of cover up, continuing abuse and assisting criminals to escape justice. He may be a pedophile but sure hes OUR pedophile and not one of themuns

  • cynic2

    Come on guys challenge me.

    I see Robbos statement as simple pre Haass meanouverings

  • FDM

    cynic2 20 August 2013 at 7:21 am

    Come on guys challenge me.

    I see Robbos statement as simple pre Haass meanouverings


    Haass is here to broker some deals on this and that.

    The DUP and the UUP [the original deal architects who took to campaigning against it] enter these negotiations now having broken a very significant deal that up until a few weeks ago was carved in stone with both parties and the entire OFMDFM behind it.

    I don’t see the logic of showing that your word means nothing as a canny manouevre just before entering into a very significant set of negotiations.

    Can’t Sinn Fein now say to Haass that the DUPs word isn’t worth salt and refuse to agree to anything in the circumstances? Or indeed can they by demonstrating the DUPs very recent bad faith that they require enormous and iron-tight guarantees that the DUP will honour their agreements in the future?

    Peter and co. enter the negotiations seriously weakened.

    The Haass process is doomed in the circumtances.

    I am not the only one to hold these opinions. Alex Kane for one thinks Haass is dead in the water now directly due to the DUPs actions.

    Your DUP Maze bargaining chip will prove to be a big wooden board hung around their necks upon which is painted “PERFIDY”.

  • tacapall

    “I note that some of the other ‘crimes’ quoted include running sex parties for consenting adults and that in other cases there is only a reference to ‘arrested’ or ‘allegations that’ – usually a sign that there was not enough evidence to prosecute”

    Why dont you just post up the occasions where all those consenting adults were arrested for, well in your eyes normal behaviour. Anyone else with an ounce of empathy for the victims of those perverts would be shocked at the enormous amount of British politicians involved in child abuse but like always you try and brush the elephant under the carpet and hope no-one see’s the hump of hypocrisy.

    Re Elm St guest house Im afraid once again your wrong you obviously never bothered to read up on how British intelligence used children in their blackmail attempts against various politicians and those in the public spotlight who might be useful, you know like members of the Royal family staff, other members of MI5 ad like, why if you had of even looked closely you would have found yourself a golden nugget connecting a certain Sinn Fein person and the fish that got away in Columbia.

    ” but its not even the acts themselves I was challenging (bad as they are) it was the innate Republican culture of cover up, continuing abuse and assisting criminals to escape justice.

    Unlike yourself Cynic I have no time nor would I support those who would take a life, sacrifice a life or use violence in any form to achieve their ends. Maybe your forgetting whats happening at the minute between Carál Ní Chuilín, Matt Baggott and Thresa Villers take the beam out of your own eye brother before you point out the plank in others.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    ” It would indeed be better to let you keep thinking Ab Ghobsmacht is remotely in touch with non-naive Unionism”

    Non-naive Unionism?

    Well, perhaps you would for once be so kind as to divulge what exactly this is, what it is doing, where it is to be found and what its plan is? Oh, and what’s taking it so long?

    I know you don’t like my ‘brand’ of Unionism.

    Truth is I don’t much care for what I believe yours to be is either.

    I think it’s broken.

    And that you have no plan to fix it.

    Other than to keep plodding along with the same old same old despite the ever growing list of Unionist failures and ‘defeats’ from flegs, to banned marches to the ever enveloping shadow of unfavourable demographics.

    The poor state of the Republic’s economy is a temporary boon.

    We can use this time to resculpt Northern Ireland and try to make it appealing (sacrifices will be needed, fleggy flavoured sacrifices) or just wait till it’s back on its feet again and squander a reprieve.

    When pressed hard enough you either duck or shy away to another thread.

    If I recall correctly myself, Red Lion and Peter O’Hanrahanarahanarhanan(?) asked you several questions on another thread about where exactly my 10 points fall down (or questions to that effect).

    Still no answer.

    Yet here you criticise me again.

    It’s an easy won argument AYM, all you have to do is explain why my way is flawed (without inventing pedantic scenarios e.g. “Hows an new flag for Northern Ireland going to convert the likes of James McLean?!!!”) and then explain what exactly unionism is doing right.

    I fail to see how a country without its own flag, annual violence, a leech-like dependency on another and half a population that is not keen on its very existence is a success.

    To me, it sets alarm bells ringing.

    Alarm bells that you are oblivious to (or attribute to others).

    Who’s really detached from reality AYM?

    I see a storm coming and all you can do is make an umbrella from a Belfast Newsletter letters page.

  • FDM[8.27]
    ‘Can’t Sinn Fein now say to Haass the DUP’s word isn’t worth salt and refuse to agree to anything in the circumstances?’
    Precisely and the ‘safe pair of hands’ Robbo used to be called, has not only in the Haass talks scenario, made a very big rod for the party’s back in that the SDLP and SF can now keep the DUP out of Stormont indefinitely even after Robbo’s dumped, because they will have the numbers stacked up. Robbo will not be their leader much longer but any other DUP leader will face the same charge by backing him on this letterbomb from america. Alistair Cooke would be very unimpressed.

  • odd_number

    Google ‘the day today-Peter O’Hanra-hanraham’. Bomb dogs, having to ingest helium. Comedy gold.

  • Shows the urgent need for medication, more like, lol