Peter Robinson tells Belfast Telegraph he’ll outlast “those windbag commentators” who predict his demise (updated with UTV’s interview)

Peter Robinson’s postcard from his holiday to the Belfast Telegraph is carried on page 29 of this morning’s paper.

Beltel front page 9 sep 2013Breaking his silence since issuing the eleven page U-turn clarification letter on 15 August, the First Minister’s latest intervention signals that the summer is over and the parties are at last back to school. (You can read the full text on the Belfast Telegraph website.)

In spite of all the challenges that have been faced at home, we have proved that we can successfully sell Northern Ireland to investors across the world … That is a demonstration of what can be gained when politicians work together for the benefit of everyone in the place we all call home. While there is much to be proud of, these last few months have also demonstrated the challenges that lie ahead. We have come a long way, but there is still a considerable way to go.

The media and political class are scolded.

For the Press, it is the tendency to insist on absolutes. To a section of the media, our Executive cannot face a challenge, or have to deal with a difficult situation; for them, the Executive must be in crisis, facing disaster, or plunging into the abyss. However, the reality is that there is space between harmony and extinction.

For a section of the political class, such difficulties are opportunities to exploit, regardless of the impact on wider society and the political process of which they are part.

Implicitly referring to the change of DUP approach to the Maze Peace and Reconciliation Centre, Peter Robinson writes:

Let’s just say applying a sensible condition is not a U-turn …

He adds:

… and I’m not quitting. I’ll be working on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland when many of those who predict my political demise, including those windbag commentators, have left the stage.

“Windbag commentators” aside, he may want to extend that to include members of his own party, officials within the corridors of OFMdFM, and more …

Reflecting on the events of the summer:

While some of the events of recent months have been deeply depressing, we have, thankfully, so far avoided any loss of life and, in spite of much media hype, the political institutions remain secure.

He says this “is a significant achievement” but “a ‘cold peace’ where people share the land, but little else, is not the way forward.

There are some on the loyalist side who have no strategy, just shibboleths and an ability to identify where wrongs, or difficulties, lie, but with no concept of how, in a deeply divided society, to right those wrongs, or overcome the difficulties.

There are those on the republican side who think continuing the conflict, or revelling and grotesquely celebrating terrorist crimes from past conflicts, will further their partisan goals.

Briefly returning to the NI top team’s trip to New York this week, Peter Robinson writes::

This week, in New York, we will meet companies which would not have even considered Northern Ireland as a location a decade ago. Yet now we have succeeded in bringing proportionately more jobs and investment into Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK. [Ed – what about Ireland?]

In the remainder of this Assembly term, the First Minister highlights:

  • completing the reorganisation of local government and the Review of Public Administration;
  • competing the reform of the bureaucratic education structures;
  • modernising out health service and making it fit for future demands;
  • doing all in our power to ensure that the [UK] Government agrees to devolve the powers to reduce Corporation Tax
  • finalising welfare reform in a manner that removes the Coalition’s sharp edges.

There’s an element of self-deprecating humour when he remarks:

I keep my ear to the ground. I know there are some in the Press who consider me abrasive and obstinate. My political opponents (and even some of my own colleagues) find me confrontational and inflexible. Perhaps they are right. Other are much less complimentary.

On completing “the process we are engaged in”:

I am convinced that, within the unionist community, there is a desire for peace and stability and I judge that the nationalist people share this outlook. I will not be pushed or played into allowing the process to be anything other than balanced and fair … A peaceful future can only be built on mutual respect, tolerance and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law and the democratic process. No section of our community can be excluded from that shared future.

He finishes:

The new Assembly term offers the opportunity to find ways of solving problems, rather than apportioning blame. If others also choose to take that path, then my party will not be found wanting in the months and years ahead.

The tone and content is that of the First Minister rather than the DUP leader. He’s in charge and in control. Not a single explicit reference to the Haass talks. No mention of the Unionist Forum. Nor the reform of NI Housing Executive, social housing and the procurement problems with contractors.

Peter Robinson’s comment piece obviously lacks the challenge of an interview. [It also uses more commas per sentence that even I can squeeze in.] The BBC’s Mark Devenport is back in his old stamping ground of New York this week. OFMdFM normally complain that overseas trips aren’t fully reported back home, with the emphasis on hotel expenses rather than investment opportunities. Perhaps the First Minister and deputy First Minister will grant him an interview while they’re there?

UpdatePeter Robinson gave UTV’s Tracey Magee an interview in New York today.

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  • iluvni

    Why on Earth would he get off the gravy train?

  • boondock

    Who would replace him? There is no stand out candidate the best/safe bets are ex UUP and for that very reason wont have a chance, despite his behaviour of late at least Dodds would be capable but there is a question mark over his health leaving the colourful (but surely not a serious candidate) Wilson or worse someone from the right/religous/nut wing of the DUP

  • boondock – Slugger’s looked at some of the possible successors as has journal.ie … it’s been a subject of considerable conversation within the DUP and departmental corridors as well as sites like this!

  • “The media and political class are scolded”

    Alan, he does refer to a section of each category, not to all of them.

    Peter and Martin are both as tough as old boots so the latter’s riposte will be interesting.

    “lacks the challenge of an interview”

    Where would you get a competent and non-partisan interviewer?

  • runepig

    the right/religous/nut wing of the DUP

    Does that mean there’s a section of the DUP who aren’t right wing religious nuts? Who’d have thunk it!

  • FDM

    So Peter Robinson’s love affair with the guy in the mirror is to continue. Quelle surprise.

    Let me ask you this, what is Peter Robinson’s motivation to stay in office?

    He doesn’t need the money.
    On a human level, who would take the hassle associated with the job?
    Peter also knows he is fighting a battle that was lost two generations ago. He cannot win, all he can do is reduce breadth and depth of defeat. What can he achieve except a string of Pyrrhric victories, if even that? Worse than that he faces a sequence of serial humiliating defeats and reverses, which he becomes the poster-boy of.
    He is forced to work with people he despises, it comes with the job.
    He heads a party wherein exist many people who disagree with his leadership direction and have forced him to change policy accordingly.

    My own personal opinion is that this is all to do with two main elements: POWER and POSITION.

    It is the self esteem / personal recognition level of Maslow’s hierarchy.

    Peter is refusing to walk away from the position which he believes renders him powerful. This ticks HIS self-esteem and personal recognition box. He may also believe that if he walks away prematurely that he will see his legacy as being diminished by what might be seen as a failing end to his career.

    Maybe he has made the determination that even this Lear-esque position is better than any other roles he can move on to post the FIRST MINISTERS job.

    Oh and damn you commentators, how dare you challenge Peter’s power, position and self-image? Who are you?

  • Morpheus

    If the OO don’t get exactly what they want out of the Haass talks then I would envisage a hasty demand for a change of leadership in the DUP – what’s the point having someone in the hot seat who can’t ensure that they can do what they want where they want when they want?

  • Alan in Belfast….’I will not be pushed….’ Is Robinson turning into Number Six?[the prisoner]
    ‘I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered’ Sounds like paranoia setting in. [even further]?

  • Awaywithya

    ‘those windbag commentators’, so statesmanlike LOL

    DUP arrogance is really on another level, it never ceases to amaze.

    The media sharks seem to have an eye on him and once they lock in on a victim the end is inevitable.

    While their beady eyes are locked on Robinson little fish like Karen McKevitt are getting away with not declaring use of public money. McDevitt resigned over less.
    see LuvSummer comments

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2013/09/04/conall-mcdevitt-leaves-a-huge-void-for-the-sdlp-to-fill/comment-page-1/#comments

    Timescale of the Robinson media attack, I have no idea. But, I do know this, it will be messy.

  • Jack2

    At least McDevitt showed a little honour and fell on his sword when financial irregularities were apparent. Robbo has no honour, he’s a 60yr old man that has come to the end of the road. Whats left?
    His family? Sure, if he wants to stir another mans porridge.
    Hobbies? Golf club wont have him.
    Business? He has little acumen for 2013, will only be a figurehead.

    He’s doing the only thing he knows and doubling down.

  • @FDM,

    “On a human level, who would take the hassle associated with the job?
    Peter also knows he is fighting a battle that was lost two generations ago. He cannot win, all he can do is reduce breadth and depth of defeat. What can he achieve except a string of Pyrrhric victories, if even that?”

    Maybe he doesn’t know this. Maybe he’s just not as smart as you are. You would have made a good Communist with your faith in the inevitable victory.

  • Jack2[3.35]Robbo would be a masochist to cling on as leader during what will be, for the next decade, a series of reverses for unionism generally. Starting with the coming elections of which a rubicon will be crossed if and when nationalist get the two Belfast council seats they need to render alliance balance of power status, void. A law of diminishing returns which he, his party and political unionism can do nothing to reverse.

  • Charles_Gould

    “windbag commentators”

    That’s you, Kane!

  • sherdy

    Was this copied from one of Grimm’s fairy tales?
    Surely he cannot be so out of touch with reality.
    Had he kept his ear to the news from NI rather than to the ground he would never have appended his name to such a bucket of unadulterated sh1t.
    And this from our supposed first minister – God help us.

  • Charles_Gould

    He does make a worthwhile point regarding FDI in NI.

    According to the Economist Newspaper, NI and Scotland have been doing well recently in terms of inward investment from foreign companies.

  • Charles_Gould

    …..Alex Kane predicted that Peter Robinson would resign very soon. It’s another incorrect prediction from Kane.

  • FDM

    tmitch57 9 September 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Maybe he doesn’t know this. Maybe he’s just not as smart as you are. You would have made a good Communist with your faith in the inevitable victory.
    ————————

    Unionism had 50+ years of unfettered TOTAL control of the region to make a paradise of the place for all who resided here. Now they didn’t do that did they.

    When the “Untermensch of Ulster” got fed up with being such and had the audacity to voice it, Unionists went through a whole myriad of emotions ranging from incredulous rage all the way to incredulous rage. A state they have been in ever since. You have to admire consistency.

    Hence since 1972 they have put impediment, after roadblock, followed by impasse to prevent any political change occurring which empowered the then minority underclass in our society.

    An enlightened mind would have looked at the demographic change and said “hang on a minute, there will come a time when that minority community are going to become the majority people in this region!” Shock, incredulous rage, followed you would hope with a point of quiet reflection when the penny dropped and one of them said… “What about if we try and recruit a large percentage of that group and hence keep our twee-wee-country in the bosom of the UK?”

    Bar one very self-serving conference speech by Peter Robinson this has not occurred since 1922 and its now 2013. Now call me stupid but one [I doubt he meant it] conference speech doesn’t outweigh 50+ years of oppression followed by 40 years of political nihilism from Unionism, wherein they have changed not a jot. All of the mainstream unionist parties are currently hand in glove with extreme violent unionism/loyalism. Turning a blind eye to on street violence, refusing to support the police and making positive efforts to actually up the tension in the region. They are still marching people up to the top of the hill, who then wreck the place.

    For goodness sake today we have the police force protecting babies in their schools from brave loyalist paramilitaries. What is the agenda in Stormont from Unionists? Prince George. At least he won’t need protecting from the psycho’s who would attack kids who walked into school today in full uniformed ringlets and ribbons, armed with crayons.

    The point is I agree with the “Unicorn” in principle. I believe had the project been undertaken early enough that it would have been possible to convert a sizeable percentage of self-serving, financially motivated, Catholics toward Unionism. They would most definitely have been loyal to the crown and taken a crown in their hands as payment for that loyalty.

    However I think that boat sailed in the 70s never to return. The chance was destroyed back then because Unionists then and since have refused point blank to share power with Catholics. It is those who are in their 60s, 70s and 80s that failed to grasp the nettle and make the change necessary. The latter politics just continued down the same tracks in the road, to nowhere. There was a small chink of light in 98′ and beyond for Unionism to build a future for itself which didn’t include all the ugly warts of its past. What did it do? It said “no Unicorn baby you have to love me warts and all”. All those warts of flegs, anthems, army butchery, collusion, state control of paramilitaries, Orange Order parades, Queens, crowns etc…

    What did the Unicorns say? They said “not if you were the last political ideology on planet Earth honey!”

    I don’t need a crystal ball to see the future. It is already here. Peter did forsee the same terminal illness, hence his speech, he just couldn’t make the rest of his people see. They wanted to continue with their mono-religion sect orientated politics. Well you reap what you sow.

    Peter is for staying, so he says, so there will be no major change in the direction of the DUP and their lesser followers in the UUP. They will continue their drive to the right of politics and will never return from it. The mob will eventually turn on them.

    Pete is for staying but he could always U-turn and renege on that decision. He and the DUP can certainly be trusted enough to do that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FDM,

    He doesn’t need the money.

    Household income chez Robinson would have fallen quite significantly following the events of late 2009/early 2010.

    Two Westminster salaries (albeit reduced under the double jobbing salary restrictions) and one assembly salary were lost within a period of a few months. Along with the loss of whatever expenses were involved; office staff would have had to have been let go. Given some of the reports in the press I imagine that there were medical costs which had to be met during this period.

  • ayeYerMa

    You really have to laugh at the pathetic nature of that history-rewriting MOPE-fest there from FDM. Those poor “oppressed” nationalists, not only did they never engage in obstructionist-abstentionist policies, apparently they never engaged in treason, none supported terrorism. Our neighbours to the south that Nationalists obsess over were oh-so-model examples of perfect non-belligerant behaviour. Unionists should just have waved the white flag and submitted to their subjugation by Dublin and the IRA and their sympathisers and everything would apparently have been hunky dory!

    If anything, the fact FDM and so many unrepresentative posters here act (and much of it is an act, though one that has become so ingrained that many now don’t have to) as if such nonsense is reasonable to post is an indication of the over-generous and overly-restrained nature of Unionism over the years. Unionists have compromised more than ever would be expected in any other part of the world (largely due to the centre of Unionist power being in London), and no matter how much further this one-direction compromise continues, it will never be enough for these Republican propagandists. Unlucky for such Republicans, actual stats indicate such vocal Republicans unlikely to ever break 20%, having to rely on substituting the word “Republican” with other descriptors to try and make such points. Dream on here all you want lads, for the more you talk to yourselves and believe your own spin, the more reality leaves you behind!

  • FDM

    ayeYerMa 9 September 2013 at 9:40 pm

    “apparently they never engaged in treason”

    Do they not have to take an oath and break to commit treason? I never swore an oath to any royal in my lifetime. Neither, as Seamus Heaney wrote, was a glass every raised to a Queen in my home.

    “the over-generous and overly-restrained nature of Unionism over the years”.

    Thank you masser. [tugs forelock] I be gettin’ back to my coal scuttle now…

    “Dream on here all you want lads, for the more you talk to yourselves and believe your own spin, the more reality leaves you behind”

    If you are feeling so completely unassailable then why in the last year have we seen the effusion of violence on the street, uncorked by the two mainstream Unionist parties? If Unionists/Loyalists were feeling totally secure then what is the gig with threatening kids in pigtails at school with murder?

  • Morpheus

    “Unionists have compromised more than ever would be expected in any other part of the world “

    Could you elaborate on that little nugget? Do you see equality as something which needs to be kindly bestowed upon those who live here as some sort of compromise?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Unionists have compromised more than ever would be expected in any other part of the world

    What other parts of the world are you comparing with ? I’m struggling to think of any other regions that sustained an extended period of one-party government and then a period of sectarian low-level civil war.

    I would say South Africa, but the whites in the end had to concede to a significantly more than unionists.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Could you elaborate on that little nugget?

    Not likely. AYM is the metaphorical cocker spaniel whose owner refuses to use a pooper scooper.

  • FDM[9.52] Unionism is defined by insecurity. They know
    [privately], the game has been up for some time and we’re
    now dealing with the thrashings and grinding of teeth as they see the citadel of Belfast ebbing away from them. This is the Endgame. Of the decade of anniversaries, there’s on in 2018 that isn’t a centenary but on the 5th October that year, will see the half-century of the start of the troubles, that dare not speak it’s name in unionism as they can’t afford to abide the truth that it was in 1968 that the ‘troubles’ began. And their fellow travellers at Ormeaus Avenue and Road don’t want to hear of it either.

  • It was more likely that the “troubles” started in 64 with the Paisley incited Divis Street riots.

  • “Of the decade of anniversaries, there’s on in 2018 that isn’t a centenary but on the 5th October that year, will see the half-century of the start of the troubles, that dare not speak it’s name in unionism as they can’t afford to abide the truth that it was in 1968 that the ‘troubles’ began.”

    @danielsmoran,

    Tim Pat Coogan seems to think that The Troubles started in 1966 with the murder of a Catholic barman and a land lady by Gusty Spence and his brand new UVF. Or is 2016 already taken up with the centennial of the Easter Rising.

  • ayeYerMa

    FDM, no-one remotely in touch with Unionist/Loyalist feeling out there remotely believes such a threat to be anything but a hoax.

  • Gopher

    Again speaking objectively I dont think the DUP and Peter have peaked, he is one election away from the destruction of the UUP and 50 plus assembly seats. He has the nuclear option to call an election before 2016 and see who runs scared and with the unilateral petition of concern he has the double edged sword of stalemate in his hands.

    I think his legacy will be a single major unionist party and an elevation of the first ministers office through sheer weight of MLA’s to make the deputy office look insignificant.

  • ayeYerMa

    “If you are feeling so completely unassailable then why in the last year have we seen the effusion of violence on the street”

    Long-term Unionism is in a strong position, but will be weakened by further compromise in a situation where Unionism has already compromised too far.

    The Union in itself, however, is also not the be-all-and-end-all and there are genuine P/U/L grievances, — standing up and making them heard (protest has overwhelmingly been peaceful) is a sign of strength, not weakness, despite the face that some C/N/Rs (along with much of the media) seem to act as if only they have a right to protest (just look at the C/N/R self-gratifying hate sites which we keep seeing posted to mock them). The short-term can continue as it is, but if you want realistic medium-long-term peace and stability, free from social unrest on the streets, then they can’t be ignored. Anyway, to elaborate:

    P/U/L people in the past 40 years have heard nothing but endless MOPEry from those hijacking American terms such as “civil rights” for their own purposes. For all the moaning of “Unionist privilege” that we hear about, people alive today have seen little of it. Yet after all such endless C/N/R moaning, propaganda, and media coverage, people alive today are now reflecting on how they have seen things, and it has all been in one direction, so much so that a new “civil rights” campaign is far from unwarranted. Off the top of my head:

    -the predominant nature of Protestant ethnic cleansing which has occurred in the past 40 years

    -the statutory forms of discrimination that we have in place now dwarfs any past claims (many of the claims of the past now exposed by the availability of statistics), given the denial of basic denial of democratic norms in Stormont today. A system which locally shuns all manner of democratic decision making — something that is seen as a “right” in most Western-parts of the world.

    – the statutory discrimination in employment to police, and numerous quangos under the guise of this devious word “equality” (the definition of “equality” can be changed to suit e.g. ‘I think Republicans and Loyalists should be “equal” in Ireland, therefore, let’s make 16 counties under loyal British rule and make the other 16 a Republic’ is similar to the SF/IRA definition)

    – Nationalist ministers on record as engaging in discrimination in employment, and engaging in nepotism in housing and expenses.

    – A disrespect by the British government concerning the rule of law, especially when concerning Republicans, where a blind eye is being turned time and again to mass criminality (£26 million anyone?) and the glorification of proscribed terrorist organisations by those in power. The result not only being a lack of justice, but effectively British support for the rewriting of history for the sake of the “process”

    – Nationalist disrespect for agreements signed, including disrespect for agreed sovereignty and continued glorification of terrorism by those in power, unrepentant and unapologetic for their slaughter.

    CS: ” I’m struggling to think of any other regions that sustained an extended period of one-party government and then a period of sectarian low-level civil war.

    I would say South Africa, but the whites in the end had to concede to a significantly more than unionists.”

    Whites in South Africa were operating minority rule with denial of citizenship to all non-whites (though I’m not surprised that you like to take Gerry Adams’ position of making laughable equivalences). In Northern Ireland British citizenship was available to all; the single party maintained the little amount of power available locally due to being elected there; its stance against terrorism and insurgency endorsed time and again by the electorate due to the IRA threat since before the first government even sat, combined with hostile jingoism of a neighbouring enemy state who wanted to have its cake and eat it too, as well as vocal abstentionist local C/N/Rs doing all they could to undermine the government. If these latter three factors had not been present there is no way single party rule would ever have naturally continued, especially if the number of competing Unionist parties that have existed over the years are anything to go by.

    PS: I do apologise CS, for not having the time to sift through your tedious posts, endlessly clicking my browser’s refresh button waiting for such further pearls of wisdom to flow from your anus. Unfortunately for me, tonight insomnia/boredom has kicked in on my behalf and sadly I have succumbed here and on another thread.

  • Gopher[6.20]
    ‘he has the nuclear option to call an election before 2016’
    A certain Bogsider has a veto over such an option, surely?. One M.McG.

  • Neil

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/debateni/blogs/alex-kane-the-windbag-shoots-back-at-first-minister-peter-robinson-29565407.html

    Well worth a read. Given Peter’s immense political nous can he resist the urge to take Alex to task in the manner of the most cantankerous, grumpy old man possible?

  • tmitch57[2.56]Coogan is saying that the first in a series of incidents [the 1966 Spence case], is the start of troubles simply because no other such event happened before it. However that incident wouldn’t inevitably mean the troubles would go on, while the civil rights march that brought NI to exposure of it’s political bankruptcy, and Paisley’s attempt to sabotage the CR movement, DID make the troubles ‘start’.

  • Gopher

    @Daniel

    Nope only the DUP have unilaterally enough MLA’S to block a motion of dissolution so SF would have to secure SDLP or another parties backing to block such a motion.

    When the Haass talks fail I expect a motion of dissolution to be tabled a short time afterwards.

  • Gopher[3.06] I agree it IS only a question of when the talks fail, especially as it’s not in interest of either big two to have a resolution before elections. What Kelly said on 1,30 newsline about reneging looks bad for Stormont future unless he’s prepared for the logical outworking of the failed maze deal.

  • Comrade Stalin

    PS: I do apologise CS, for not having the time to sift through your tedious posts,

    AYM, you’re another one of the “why do you come here?” crowd. You show up, post your bigoted rantings which are laced with plenty of repetitive sectarian bile, and then disappear off. You don’t attempt to engage with anyone or discover anything about what other people might think about something. What exactly do you hope to gain by sharing your opinions in such a one-way fashion ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    A dissolution of the assembly is pretty unlikely at this point. The only way that is going to happen is if one of the parties walks out of the executive.

    Robinson seems to be in a mood to fight any attempt to kick him out of the party leadership and is asserting that he will lead his party through to the next elections.

  • Charles_Gould

    I am somewhat more optimistic than some.

    Hass talks will not “fail” though they may be only partially successful. The parties will not want to present their efforts as having led to outright failure.

    I also dispute whether “it’s not in interest of either big two to have a resolution before elections.”

    I would argue that voters do like to see resolutions and deals, as long as the deals are seen as reasonable and fair.

  • Comrade,
    I do, at least, enjoy your posts. Why the yellow card?

  • Comrade Stalin

    For letting myself be drawn into fruitless arguments with idiots.

  • Gopher

    “Partially successful” cannot be taken to the electorate in 2016 by the DUP. Nope Haass is pretty much doomed. There is no party to take the bullet for SF on any “deal” such as has occurred before it will be SF’s own child and without a comprehensive “deal” the DUP won’t play so effectively stalemate is built in before the talks.

  • shipbuilder

    Ultimately it is ego and desire for power that drives most politicians, something that I believe is routinely underestimated when appraising their motivations.
    With some comments, such as those on integrated education, Peter Robinson has shown some realism regarding (what I believe is) the inevitable future of Northern Ireland, however ultimately he knows that it is the politics of division that has delivered decades long careers to most public representatives in this part of the world and so for the time being and until we as an electorate decide to stop shooting ourselves in the foot and damaging our own and our families’ futures, will be first choice.