With a rigid focus on ideology over practical politics, is nationalism lagging in the economic race?

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 20.02.34That was the headline over Jim Gibney’s column in the Irish News yesterday. It usefully strips away all the talk of crisis and gets to the bare bones of the struggle for power and influence in Stormont.

He concludes with the line that “the DUP should be mindful […] that power sharing involves sharing power, not the delusion of unionism monopolising power.”

It’s certainly not been a great record for the battle a day administration. Leave aside the lost deal over the Maze, the party’s voluble efforts to end selective education they have achieved little more than tokenistic changes.

The current deadlock in Stormont and the endless stand offs in north Belfast stand in marked contrast with the aspirational hopes of Martin McGuinness that he would serve the interests of protestant north and west Belfast seem a long time gone.

As Alban Maguinness rather pointedly highlighted on The View last night, whatever else this joint DUP/Sinn Fein administration is, it is not the sort of partnership government that’s needed for tangible delivery of strong and popular social goods.

There’s a certain self inflicted lack of focus on the nitty gritty of government. As Richard Bruton pointed out in the Dail this week it is not always possible to dictate to companies coming in from other countries where they invest.

The decision of Stream to come back to Northern Ireland after a two year absence but to the First Minister’s East Belfast constituency rather than the dFM’s native Derry (with a £3.3m government sweetner) where the original jobs once were is as much a sign of keen international competition for FDI as any direct reproach to the SF man’s lack of local prowess.

The real reproach is that Northern Ireland remains on the FDI starting grid, spending money to get us back the very same point we were at ten or fifteen years ago rather than moving Northern Ireland up the value chain by developing higher value employment opportunities from those firms already here.

At this juncture it is customary to blame Invest NI for the shortcomings in NI development strategy, but we’ve had local control of the jobs/economy agenda for six years now. 2007 has proven an inauspicious time to start, after four and a half year delay for self inflicted negotiations over the disposal of guns.

As for the FM and the dFM, there is not just too much focus on what divides them, but Jim’s article gives the sense there is some kind of sub rosa deathmatch going on that’s not as far below the surface as both men seem to think in the press opportunities.

John Manley summed it up perfectly last week when he noted that “their behaviour [at the Stream launch] was reminiscent of shopkeepers John and Mary from the sitcom Father Ted, who are as nice as pie in the presence of the eponymous priest but tear shreds out of each other in private”.

I doubt it is as personal as that between the two men, but Sinn Fein’s rigid focus on ideology over practical politics is helping to deliver economic meat and drink to unionist east Belfast.

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  • Mc Slaggart

    I once met David Trimble and Shamus Mallon both smoking outside of a shared offical car. What was telling is one was on the Starboard and the other was on the Port side 🙂

    “What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.”
    Aristotle

  • Morpheus

    Let me get this straight. A company closes down in Derry taking 1000 wages away from 1000 families and they get “a £3.3m government sweetener” to relocate to East Belfast and from that ‘nationalism is lagging in the economic race because of a rigid focus on ideology’? The dole queue doesn’t care if you are a nationalist or a unionist let me assure you of that. An ideology doesn’t put food on the table nor clothes on children’s backs.

    Those who reside in Belfast loathe to hear it and often refer to ‘whinging’ but those who do not reside in Belfast are not getting a fair crack of the whip in Northern Ireland and are paying for the privilege. Back in 2012 Invest NI’s own figures showed that for every investor trip to the Northwest there were 11 in the Belfast area.

    What does the DUP MP for the area have to say on the subject – that’s right he toes the ‘party before people’ mantra to those in Derry: “STOP WHINGING.” Well maybe if he got off his double-jobbing ass and did something about it maybe there would be no need to whinge! How hard did he fight for his constituents on the Steam relocation eh?

    So no Mick, nationalism isn’t falling behind…the families of nationalists and unionists are

  • sherdy

    Morph, – ‘The dole queue doesn’t care if you are a nationalist or a unionist’, but the DUP minister for enterprise does.
    She has the power and the will to divert many Streams to the East Belfast UVF stronghold to butter up those who twist the DUP tail.

  • Reader

    Morpheus: Let me get this straight. A company closes down in Derry taking 1000 wages away from 1000 families and they get “a £3.3m government sweetener” to relocate to East Belfast and from that ‘nationalism is lagging in the economic race because of a rigid focus on ideology’?
    My original understanding was that call centres preferred the softer Derry accent to the harsher Belfast accent. Irrelevant now of course, as educated EU accents are preferred to both and readily available in Belfast.

  • ThomasPaine

    Yeah but what has this got to do with Gerry Adams covering up his niece being raped by his brother?

  • Charles_Gould

    “At this juncture it is customary to blame Invest NI for the shortcomings in NI development strategy, but we’ve had local control of the jobs/economy agenda for six years now..”

    Mick I think what you say in the above quote is really out of date. The FT and the Economist (which I read regularly) have been running stories on how foreign investment to NI has been much higher per capita than other UK regions; London and Scotland are the other two success stories. There has been quite a lot of investment coming in, according to the records.

  • socaire

    Be patient,Thomas! Give it a couple more posts.

  • Charles_Gould
  • Barney

    Is there no ideology involved in Unionism?

  • Mick Fealty

    I think, Barney, under the DUP its economic policy is less driven by ideology. Health, and culture, not so much.

  • ayeYerMa

    What a warped mindset many in the NI media seem to have. In very few parts of the western democratic world would one political party be expected to NOT have a “rift” with another.

    Time for democracy for NI please. Perhaps we need another Civil Rights Movement to get it?

  • Barney

    Surely adopting a tax haven policy would make an all Ireland policy. So you are probably correct, in the economic sphere Unionism doesn’t seem to have a nationalistic stance.

    In health the unionists’ nationalistic stance doesn’t make sense considering it’s an island. A cultural policy makes even less sense unless ya boo politics counts as policy.

    The SDLP and SF stated aim to end discrimination in education would probably do more for the Protestant working class than any policy I have heard from the Unionist parties.

  • Mick Fealty

    If they could produce an actionable play, I’d agree…

  • Barney

    Mick there is hope please let there be hope

  • Mick Fealty[9.01] Robbo has put the cretin Poots to wrap up the raw sewage that is the DUP base. Robbo wants women to go have to go to England for abortions so DUP can soak up the votes from the sewer. That’s the misogny that is the DUP . Hate gays, hate women, hate catholics. That’s the DUP.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, danielmoran, the way I heard it Peter Robinson simply wants women to go to England. I’m told he feels he has had bad experiences with women. Not that there is anything that would disturb poor nervous Edwina Poots! Peter, I am told however, gets a raised heartbeat in the presence of even small amounts of money.

  • Reader

    danielsmoran: Robbo wants women to go have to go to England for abortions so DUP can soak up the votes from the sewer.
    There’s a lot of competition for votes from the sewer, isn’t there?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19930422

  • Mick Fealty

    AYM,

    All political parties will have a problem getting the Stormont contraption to work in any single direction. It’s built for stability (ie, it’s very very heavy, and hard to kick over) rather than performance.

    Anyone taking it on has to have game plan, and be focused on solutions. You get the distinct impression we have problem focused administration in OFMdFM. That’s one reason Dr Haass has been brought in to administer his US Patented brand of therapy.

    But even if he gets a result, we have to internalise some lessons of our own for the longer term.

    I remember doing a mad mountain bike taster in Tollymore a couple of years ago and they give us a section that began with a very sharp incline and an equally sharp bend at the bottom which twisted around a large Scots Pine tree.

    The instructor told us all, very clearly, that the bike always goes exactly to where you are looking. He was also clear that if you look at the large Scots Pine at the bottom that is exactly where bike would take you.

    Despite us all hearing his dire warning (or perhaps because of it) I’d say six out of the seven who were brave/foolish enough to try it, you guessed it, went straight into the tree.

    Back to our ‘stuck’ politics. A lot of us say we want improvement in the economy, building for the future, but actually it’s that big ‘sectarian tree’ at the bottom of an incredibly short but incredibly sharp incline that just keeps drawing our eye.

    And there’s now a certain dark fatalism taking hold that if we are not careful enough to start focusing beyond it to the longer route again we may end up convincing ourselves that we will never get past it.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Correct me if i’m wrong but…

    Stream set up a centre in the NW to service certain clients needs, with the recession those clients cut back and no new clients were found, therefore the centre was closed.

    Stream had also bought over a Belfast based centre who’s staff subsequently won new contracts in an up-turning market and got INI funding to expand.

    I’m gonna guess that even with the funding Stream would have preferred that the work had of arrived in time to save closing the NW centre, but thats not how business works, congratulations to those in Belfast who put in the hard work this time round.

    BTW, Belfast is a tiny city geographically, surely the nationalist of North West & South Belfast could apply just the same?

  • “deliver economic meat and drink to unionist east Belfast.”

    A young Bushmills woman friend of mine drives to Belfast for her course in Belfast Met and back home for a local part-time job. Is it asking too much of folks to travel a few miles across the city?

  • “In part there is a policing solution but what we’ve got here is a very very bad combination: one is bad things happening on the ground in North Belfast and in Derry but also, in addition to that, we’ve got bad politics and when you take the combination of bad politics, as highlighted with the decision on the Maze and Castlederg and so forth with the DUP and SF attacking one another and the divisive nature of the Executive, I think that that creates an atmosphere in which those who are dissidents, whether it be loyalist or republican, are able to exercise a disproportionate influence in the community and that’s one of the problems. It also creates a very bad image internationally for all of us and we’ve got to get back to the principle of partnership and working together, Catholic and Protestant, Nationalist and Unionist, to build this community anew.” .. Alban Maginness

    IIRC the UUP and SDLP struggled to work together too so it’s a bit rich to point the finger at the DUP and SF.

    He doesn’t mention the actions of the NIO’s Parades Commission even though that body’s arbitrary decisions were unlikely to increase stability.

    Perhaps Alban can explain why nationalists decided to play that particular green card – the removal of the Union flag – at that particular time or why the SDLP found it easier to support the rights of Gerry McGeough as against those of an IRA victim, Sammy Bushe. Any fool would know that the former wouldn’t enhance peace, progress and prosperity.

    Doesn’t Alban get the connection between the continuing constitutional tussle and failure of unionists and nationalists to work together for the good of all?

  • Mick Fealty

    Of course it’s a ‘bit’ rich… And the bit that’s missing is how they might make it different…

  • Comrade Stalin

    but Sinn Fein’s rigid focus on ideology over practical politics

    Mick,

    The big news item of the past year has been flag protests and marching disputes, and at the forefront of both of those has been the DUP acting in a decidedly non-practical way. Today the Health Minister is in the news because of a court judgement that overturned his own – impractical and “illogical” decision.

    And you reckon the problem is SF ?

  • Barnshee

    SF and DUP dole out British largesse

    Their ranks are hardly teeming with highly educated/experienced enterpreneurs Their economics are based on ignorance or denial All they CAN do is bicker

  • “And the bit that’s missing is how they might make it different…”

    Well, it was a short interview and Mark didn’t get around to asking that question.

    Perhaps it’s worth pointing out that SDLP vision is about working together in a Strand 2/UI context, not an NI or a UK one. The SDLP remains part of the problem, not part of the solution; it has that in common with the unionist and nationalist parties.

  • Mick Fealty

    CS,

    With a rigid focus on ideology over practical politics, is nationalism lagging in the economic race?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The DUP are unquestionably more literate with economics than SF are (which isn’t hard it must be said) but that’s not what you seem to be saying.

  • aquifer

    From the outside Robinson seems to be master of all he surveys, but he still wants to take the last few percent at the extremist margin, refusing to risk sharing power publicly.

    The trouble with this is that it plays perfectly to the SF stereotype of how Unionists behave, providing useful post-rationalisation for their previous violence and rendering Marty more respectable with each global broadcast.

    Maybe the DUP needs a leader who is better at making connections, analysing precedents, or splitting the difference while disregarding firm principle. Any ex electricians, Oxbridge types, or lawyers out there?

  • Mick Fealty

    CS,

    I am saying more than that. Flags and parades are the sectarian Scots Pine (though I think that’s being generous to the actualite). The temptation that people cannot resist running into.

    The proper root of this mess is about half way through the 97 Assembly when it probably dawned on SF that they were not going to beyond a big scrap over the devolution of P&J.

    Republicans in good standing that know, argued that that first term would be a series of mock fights each of which would be settled one by one and give each something to go back to.

    Where I think the SF analysis is right is that the DUP are not in control of their base, in the way SF has been careful to do on their side.

    But the truth is there no political party in NI (bar the wannabe PUP) who has the infrastructure and capacity to ‘manage’ a constituency the way SF does.

    So the DUP’s response has been broadly to tamp down any proposal into the most anodyne of programmes so as to cause as little upset as possible.

    Pitch into this a thoroughly frustrated SF (who’s best backroom staff have all be relocated to Dublin) and the proposal to reduce the days of the year the union flag flies outside the City Hall?

    You do have to ask the question, why? And why not talk, negotiate with the DUP at City Hall?

    My working assumption has been that this was SF’s punishment for the DUPs minimalist approach to programme building in Stormont, or as Jim puts it in a slightly more warlike sense, failing to settle rift with SF.

    So when it comes to the drop, the DUP pick up the gauntlet (and utterly foolishly in my view) back protests that they have no control of, and which then pitch them against the forces of law and order and put them onside with the UVF.

    On the streets they’ve been on the back foot ever since. But, and this is why I’m less inclined than you to suggest the Maze decision was less a U than a tit for tat punishment.

    SF now complain Robinson’s done a Trimble. Quite apart from the fact that in Oct 2003 it was them doing the ‘do’ to the former leader of the UUP, Robinson is the one in the less weak position (wording chosen deliberately).

    It’s easy for me to suggest that the party should have invested in policy development, because the strategy was leave NI and go on a big adventure down south.

    The real lessons have to drawn from the failures of OFMdFM to agree a functional of work that they can sell as delivery to their voters. 2011 they both given a pass out ticket to get back in to power in roughly the proportions they were in before.

    For the DUP, there’s possibility of some small seat gains from a disintegrating UUP. I sense SF are planning on seat gains in the south rather than progress north of the border.

  • Comrade Stalin

    aquifier, it’s hard to be sure. Sometimes I get the impression that Robbo was sort of dragged reluctantly into the flegs business. But since Robbo could not shut it down without appearing to have lost control of his party he had to swing in behind it. I’m sure the “unionist forum” (remember that?) was his idea as a way of reasserting himself.

    Mick:

    Pitch into this a thoroughly frustrated SF (who’s best backroom staff have all be relocated to Dublin) and the proposal to reduce the days of the year the union flag flies outside the City Hall?

    Oh dear, we’re doing this again.

    The flegs matter goes back about ten years. The precise timing of the vote was a nationalist decision, but the legal advice given to councillors meant that it could not be put off for long.

    You do have to ask the question, why? And why not talk, negotiate with the DUP at City Hall?

    The council spent ten years working on it, Mick; Naomi Long is on record that it was on the agenda when she first became a councillor. The unionists wouldn’t budge because, quite simply, they didn’t have to. They knew that as the minority grouping on the council they could safely oppose it, for the optics, and it would fall to Alliance who they knew could not bring legal action upon themselves by voting to retain the flag policy, quite apart from the fact that Alliance had its own policy anyway.

    The DUP didn’t publish a single compromise proposal over the ten year period intended to seek heads of agreement on the flags issue. I have no idea why you would try to pretend that any negotiation or compromise here was at all possible on their part.

  • “The real reproach is that Northern Ireland remains on the FDI starting grid”

    Mick, the PM puts a more optimistic spin on FDI:

    Northern Ireland has a track record of attracting inward investment. With over 800 foreign investors, Northern Ireland is now second only to London as the top UK destination for inward investment, with almost 8,000 jobs from foreign investment in the last three years alone.

    You’ve highlighted the Stream decision but there’s been recent significant investment in other places, including Tyrone.

  • Mick Fealty

    CS,

    Quite. And thereby hangs a cautionary tale of political ineptitude, poor collegiality and short siighted leadership. Ten years to cook up a trivial detail into a mini civil war? Well played all round chaps!!

    The flegs crisis is an unnecessary elevation of the trivial to a cause of crisis, which typifies the limited vision of the OFMdFM ‘partnership’.

    Seamus Mallon speaking on Marian Finucane this morning: http://goo.gl/mqfdBY (soundfile, start at 5.41)

    “David Trimble and I when we were trying to set things up when we were called First and Deputy First Ministers, that was one of the issues that we had to deal with. And we sat down. We talked it through. And we said ‘right’, I think it was probably I who said it, ‘let’s see what happens at Westminster, then no unionist can object’.

    “It was agreed. There never was a word about it. And I must say I would have thought Belfast City Council would have, and I include all the parties, would have more important things to deal with than to be going on to that issue.

    “And going on that issue opened a can of worms in terms of the flag protests, and it is part of a hole syndrome that is going on within unionism and republicanism, and that is take every opportunity to poke your fingers in the eye of unionism or republicanism and try and get one over them.”

    Do listen to the whole thing. There is no point trying to figure out which of the DUP and SF is the trigger here. Their joint record of escalating conflict around the trivial rather than setting shared goals and aiming for them together speaks for itself.

    I’ve heard others slag off Mallon and Trimble as a failed relationship. But consider what they managed to achieve (with active antagonism from both the DUP and Sinn Fein) in the relatively short and traumatic time they held office together with the shoddy record of an administration now in its seventh year (with the proactive cooperation of most other parties in the Assembly).

    More on the Mallon interview later…

  • Robbo makes the mistake of seeing Norn Iron as part of the UK nation. It’s nothing more than a part of the administrative unit called the UK. Get it into your heads. NI is a tolerated part of the the administrative entity called the UK. It can never be part of the nation that is Great Britain. It will always be part of Ireland. You are sponging off England.
    Have you no self-respect? You’re clinging onto a political entity which doesn’t want you. How pathetic are YOU?

  • Mick Fealty

    I think you mean “we” Dan. Seriously, Mallon is good on that too. He says the SDLP must own republicanism and shape it to its own values.

  • Morpheus

    Demographically when Mallon and Trimble were ‘setting things up’ Belfast was very different so it would’ve been very much lower down the list of priorities. Political unionism did not change with the times (quelle surprise) and panicked when this was actually happening in plain sight, under their very noses, so they unleashed a beast which they could not control.

    I honestly don’t see the problem with the changing of the flag flying policy – Belfast City is Hall is supposed to represent the people of Belfast so I don’t see the problem with the people of Belfast, through their elected representatives, demanding either equality or neutrality, a cornerstone of the GFA.

    I think that this will be one of the outcomes of the Haass talks – all the local councils should vote for what they think their flag flying policy should be. Some will vote neutrality, some will vote designated days and some will vote for it to fly 365 days a year. Democracy in action.

  • “More on the Mallon interview later…”

    Thanks for the link, Mick. I look forward to reading your interpretation in a future thread.

  • Mick Fealty

    If you are at a loose end Nev, a decent transcript would be very useful… 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    Morph,

    There is NOTHING wrong with changing the flag policy, it is HOW you change it. Only a ship of fools would think that was ten years work well rewarded.

    I like Mairtin, and think a lot of his gut instincts are spot on. But sadly the Mayor of Belfast is not the same sort of executive office as the Mayor of New York.

    It’s not only titular, he’s just the chair of the committee which means he can only be as good as the worst of his own corporate assembly.

    You blame demographics. I’d like to hear you unpack that one?

    What I see is a lot of adolescent excitement about turning the city green rather than looking to provide a republican leadership that’s trusted across the community.

    In my view, you are sacrificing a long term game for a short/medium term gain by needlessly inflicting war time conditions on a largely peaceful polity.

  • Morpheus

    HOW would you suggest changing it Mick? Talk about it for ten years? Equality Assessment? Vote? Oh yeah, that was all done.

    I don’t ‘blame’ demographics for anything – they simple show that times are changing and we need to move with them. Neutrality is a perfectly reasonable objective – there is nothing wrong with Belfast City Hall reflecting its history since the Bronze Age rather than the last 100 years of Unionism.

    I have no issue with the Union Flag – as far as I am aware very few do – but I, like many others, do have an issue with how it has been abused and misused for decades. I do not ‘grrrr’ every time I see it on Manchester City Hall but I do cringe when I drive through the likes of New Buildings which is is like some sort of loyalist caricature which has my very British wife reaching for the locks. She had no issues driving through her hometown which was equally decked with flags at the Olympics and grew up in an environment when they got out the Union Flag bunting on every occasion possible, royal wedding, christening whatever. But here it has completely different connotation – chalk and cheese, blank and white, night and day.

    It is this abuse of the Union Flag which has switched so many from it and why in an evolving society it is one of those contentious issues which needs to be managed and neutrality is a way of managing it. It shouldn’t be contentious, it’s the flag of the UK but we are where we are in Northern Ireland.

    I don’t see it as a sacrifice of any long-term aims, I think you are overplaying the significance. I genuinely see the changing of the policy as nothing more than a simple house-keeping exercise which political unionism used to secure seats/salaries/pensions.

  • Perhaps someone has or has access to an mp3 to text converter that can handle a south Armagh accent 🙂

  • Barnshee

    “It can never be part of the nation that is Great Britain. It will always be part of Ireland. .”

    Their is no ” nation that is Great Britain”. There are citizens of the United Kingdom who are ( by choice) ethnically available for subdivision— English Welsh Scottish Irish?/northern Irish, Paskistani Indian etc etc

    “You are sponging off England”

    1- 25% of taxation is paid by LONDON thus the rest of the UK is “sponging” off London

    2 –A glimpse at where NI money is spent would suggest that “sponging” charge might be difficult to lay on all sections of the NI community.

    http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/final_budget_2011___8211__15.pdf

    The republic of Ireland has “sponged” enthusiastically from a (British funded) Europe for decades

  • Mick Fealty

    Morph,

    Well, the stock answer is that if I was starting it wouldn’t be from here. But in short, cut Mairtin loose to do a local deal with the leader of the DUP in BCC.

  • Morpheus

    Spell it out, what sort of deal would you propose? Neutrality obviously isn’t acceptable, equality obviously isn’t acceptable – what is?

    SF/SDLP changed their neutrality proposal and instead voted for a policy which brings BCH into line with Stormont and the rest of the UK. Belfast is still respected as a capital city within the UK, it is neutral for the rest of the year and it was all done after consultation, debate in the chamber and a democratic vote – what is wrong with that?

  • Mick Fealty

    Morph,

    See my ref to Mallon’s account of how he and Tirmble sorted the same problem at Stormont. Now look at how the ‘leadership’ of DUP/SF created a heims of arriving at the same solution.

    There is no need for an impact assessment or ten years of debate, if you are prepared act in lockstep with one another.

    As Sean O’Rourke said in relation to another matter on RTE this morning, ‘it’s easier to keep out of trouble than to get out of trouble’. How would Sean Quinn had stayed out of trouble is easier to answer than than how he can get out of it now.

    The glib answer would be: “Shut up, pay your dues, and start again.” The ‘battle a day’ route has created mayhem on some of the streets of Belfast and lost SF the only project its leadership group cared about.

    If you want me to offer you an answer to that, other than people should consider what they might do to change the outcome of the next election, well your guess is as good as mine!!

  • Mick Fealty

    What we have here is the stinking carcass of an albatross…

  • Morpheus

    If the issue is with how we got to the end result and not the end result itself then I agree with you, SF/SDLP ripped the arse out of any talk of neutrality when in the same week (I mean c’mon, ffs) they voted to keep the name of the play-park in Newry instead of opting to give it a neutral name. That for me was a MAHOOSIVE own goal by the nationalist parties and I hope they get punished for it at the polls. But for me the decision in Belfast City Hall was the right decision made for the right reasons. If there is no equality then there should be neutrality – it sounds boring but of the kids can share the toys then take it off them.

    As for acting in lockstep then you do realize that you are talking about acting in lockstep with a party which has a ‘No Surrender’ and ‘Not an inch’ siege mentality? Have a look at what happened in Limavady recently – a ‘unity’ bridge to enhance safety and create a shared space for pupils of 2 schools and a nationalist councillor suggests that a unionist councillor should second the motion to “illustrate council unity” and what happens? They refuse. How’s that for acting in lockstep?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-foyle-west-24456297

  • Barney

    I was taking a walk thinking about that Newry play park thing, I passed Ireton street and a few steps later at the start of Cromwell Road I realised how inappropriate it was.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick,

    Quite. And thereby hangs a cautionary tale of political ineptitude, poor collegiality and short siighted leadership. Ten years to cook up a trivial detail into a mini civil war? Well played all round chaps!!

    It wasn’t a joint enterprise. The blame for all of that seems to be to lie firmly with the unionists who put mobs on the streets and blocked roads over a policy that they happily supported in five or six other councils around the country, all of them with a unionist majority. It will be a long time before I forgive them for the intimidation and attacks they brought down on Alliancers, some of whom I know very well, and even longer, I suspect, before they are able to persuade me to begin transferring any votes to them.

    The flegs crisis is an unnecessary elevation of the trivial to a cause of crisis, which typifies the limited vision of the OFMdFM ‘partnership’.

    I’m not one to defend OFMDFM or their record, but the only roadblocking and crisis building I’ve seen going on lately has been coming from unionism.

    I noted your reference to Mallon and Trimble. These two could barely keep an executive on the road and Mallon at one point resigned (before un-resigning) in disgust over the way that Trimble responded to one of the earlier abortive forays into delivering decommissioning.

    They may think that some of us have short memories, and going by some of what you are saying they may be right, but I remember those early powersharing days. I have a lot of respect for both men, Mallon in particular, but I have nothing but contempt for this sort of backseat driving from people who are now safely out of harms way.

  • BluesJazz

    “but the only roadblocking and crisis building I’ve seen going on lately has been coming from unionism.”

    Obviously you weren’t on the M1 this morning.

  • derrydave

    Amazing how the decision from Sinn Fein and the SDLP to vote for the flying of the Union Flag over Belfast City Hall still elicits such a reaction.

    Let’s all whisper so as not to wake up the Unionist monster in our midst – sure if the monster wakes up and creates havoc then it’ll be our fault for provoking it !

    In ‘normal societies’ this type of thing (neutrality vs equality) may not be top of the agenda, but in the NI of today it is important, very important in fact. The next step will of course be the removal of the Union Flag completely (will happen a number of years from now, but will surely happen). The acceptance of neutraility will happen only when those who so vociferosly oppose it are faced down (a process which has already begun and which is accepted by the vast majority of Unionists I would say – given the very small numbers involved in any protests).

    As to the main thrust of the thread, no is the answer. Nationalsim does not lag behind economically due to any rigid focus on ideology. The example provided of Stream does not bear even the slightest scrutiny – as outlined by someone above Stream closed their offices in Derry due to the economic downturn meaning they lost a number of major contracts – the decision to open an office in Belfast is unrelated and linked to an acquisition they have made recently.

    In broader terms, Belfast and it’s surrounding areas will always benefit to a much greater degree from inward investment than areas east of the Bann, for exactly the same reason that Dublin does in the south, and that London does in England. The truth is that Nationalism lags behind Unionism economically mainly due to the geographical spread of the respective populations.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Morpheus and Mick

    I’m sure y’all have heard me bandy this about before, but hows about the ‘3 flag’ option for city hall?

    It ticks all the ‘equality’ boxes and gives each baby its rattle.

    The only downside is that it gives ‘themuns’ what they want too, which, in NI politics is even worse than not getting what you want…

  • Mick, while you give Peter and Martin a good kicking, you miss out on Seamus Mallon’s point:

    And I must say I would have thought Belfast City Council would have, and I include all the parties, would have more important things to deal with than to be going on to that issue.

    To outsiders, it might seem strange that when nationalists poked unionists in the eye, the unionists slapped the others – Alliance. Unsurprisingly, Alliance apologists, especially the male ones, main gripe is against the unionists.

    Meanwhile, the folks down at the NIO and their offshoot, the Parades Commission, are probably trying to figure out the least worst option as they attempt to manage the various manifestations of the unionist-nationalist tug-of-war on the constitutional question.

    Over at the Irish ’embassy’ – Bedford Street and/or Notting Hill – civil servants were too busy dealing with folks ‘who are throwing things’ to persuade three of our ministries – 2 SF and 1 DUP – to seek collectively a solution to the fate of the delightful little Causeway School Museum. The museum is a shared resource for all sectors of our disparate and desperate education system as well as some schools in Donegal.

  • Morpheus

    AG: “I’m sure y’all have heard me bandy this about before, but hows about the ’3 flag’ option for city hall?”

    If the options were put to the people of Belfast and they voted for it I would be perfectly happy with a bin-liner up there AG.

    My first preference is for Northern Ireland to get its own flag and anthem in the same way that Scotland, England and Wales do. I want something we can all get behind because I think it will unite us

    (BTW, I don’t think equality needs the quotation marks)

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “My first preference is for Northern Ireland to get its own flag and anthem in the same way that Scotland, England and Wales do”

    I hear ya loud and clear on that one.

  • Comrade Stalin

    BluesJazz,

    I’m aware of the M1 and other similar incidents. The people behind it are roundly condemned. They are not lauded as peaceful protestors and they are not characterized as disenfranchised people who lack a voice. They’re wankers and need to be locked up.

    Nevin,

    And I must say I would have thought Belfast City Council would have, and I include all the parties, would have more important things to deal with than to be going on to that issue.

    Perhaps Seamus is under a few misconceptions about the extremely limited powers that councils have.