Update-Mr Allister-you don’t realise when you’ve got a good thing.

Dr Richard Haass was in Dublin this week briefing the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny about the progress he was making on talks here.

Responding the TUV leader, Jim Allister questioned why the Irish government were even involved in these talks. He said

How do people believe that discussions with a foreign government will help to ease Loyalist fears about their identity and sovereignty and why have the DUP and UUP agreed to such a process?

I don’t actually dislike Jim Allister. I find him to be one of the most able of our MLAs. But when I hear a person with these abilities take such a narrow view of this province and its place on the island, I literally despair. When Haass visited Kenny this week in Dublin, I did not realise that any constitutional questions were on the agenda, nor has from what I have seen, the Irish government taken a particularly controversial stance over these talks. This is what I particularly want to focus on.

For years Jim Allister has complained about the Irish government having any involvement in the affairs of Northern Ireland. Yet it seems to have escaped his attention that in power at the moment has to be one of the most disinterested Irish governments in Northern Ireland that we have had over the last twenty years. I have regularly written about the decline of North-South projects and the apparent lack of interest that the current Irish government has in this province.

All of this should be music to Allister’s ears. Instead of criticising Kenny’s approach to Northern affairs, he should be praising it. The current Irish government is a devout Unionists dream. Little interest in us combined with no new thinking in North-South relations. Mr Allister, you don’t realise when you’ve got a good thing.

Update-Lord Kilclooney jumps on the bandwagon today and gives a rather different take on the Irish governments involvement in the Good Friday Agreement negotiations.

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  • Shibboleth

    Mr Haass talks of moving on to the next phase when he returns in a fortnight – he hasn’t even met the TUV yet. It appeared as though the TUV were a reluctant afterthought and an invitation was issued late in the day as I understand it with a clash in diaries. It says a lot when one party is so treated. Yet the Irish Govt has major involvement. I would have thought Haass might have feigned more interest.

  • jagmaster

    Jim Allister playing to the Loyalist gallery. Who’d have thunk it?

  • foyle observer

    Jim Allister:

    ”why should we commemorate an event (Easter Rising) which happened in a foreign country?”

    Another member of the panel :

    ”you DO commemorate an event (Battle of the Boyne) that happened in a ‘foreign country’.

    Jim Allister:

    ”yes but the Battle of the Boyne was of European significance”.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This is entirely within Allister’s M.O. As jagmaster says, he’s playing to the gallery of unionists who don’t realize that the Irish government could be an important ally in their objective to retain the union with the UK, and in particular to discredit Sinn Féin.

  • Alone and Easy Target

    Given that Dr Haass has yet to meet with Jim Allister / TUV (and doesn’t appear to have made much attempt to) I think it is a fair comment.

    I would have thought that Dr Haass may have realised that although Allister is a lone voice, he is a voice that is increasingly being listened to and should be treated as such.

  • sherdy

    Well put. Jim Allister – all brains, no sense!

  • “I have regularly written about the decline of North-South projects and the apparent lack of interest that the current Irish government has in this province.”

    David, have you researched the involvement of Irish civil servants, based in Belfast, in day-to-day decision-making here? Can you describe the role of Irish government offices at Notting Hill on the Malone Road and in Bedford Street? Which government departments provide staff for these offices?

  • David,
    Best post I’ve yet read from you!
    It’s par for the course from Jimbo and aimed squarely at his own constituency (in a general sense).
    As a nationalist I can only wish for more of the same myopic nonsense

  • “How do people believe that discussions with a foreign government will help to ease Loyalist fears about their identity and sovereignty and why have the DUP and UUP agreed to such a process?”

    @David,

    Allister should be encouraged to think of Dublin as a semi-foreign government. But SF and the SDLP treating it as such would go a long way towards making that case.

    Ireland is to Northern Ireland like what Pakistan is to Afghanistan, with the difference that the Pashtuns are a plurality in Afghanistan and one of many ethnic groups in Pakistan.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alone,

    Haass met the small parties earlier this week. He met David McNarry, who by his own account told Haass to solve the problem by allowing flags to be erected everywhere and for the Orange Order to march whereever the hell they like. Surprised that Haass would not have met Allister – chances are that it’s Allister who is doing the boycotting.

  • CS,
    A meeting was scheduled, Allister backed out

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Jim Allister:

    ”why should we commemorate an event (Easter Rising) which happened in a foreign country?”

    Really Jim?
    I thought 1916 Dublin was in the UK.
    Silly moi.

  • Zig70

    A nicely weighted slight on Enda. Will he get it?

  • “But when I hear a person with these abilities take such a narrow view of this province and its place on the island, I literally despair.”

    Why despair, David? Jim’s a unionist, you’re a nationalist AFAIK of the FF school; Jim takes a narrow view and so do you; Jim takes a dig at his unionist opponents, FF takes a dig at its nationalist opponents; that’s politics – and it’s easy to be a critic when you’re in opposition.

  • “When Haass visited Kenny this week in Dublin, I did not realise that any constitutional questions were on the agenda” .. DMcC

    David, the little local difficulties are a consequence of the constitutional question. Have you looked at the Haass/O’Sullivan website?

    The Panel has an independent chair, Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and vice chair, Meghan L. O’Sullivan. They have agreed to both convene the representatives of the NI executive and meet with members of civil society as part of a new effort to tackle sectarianism, racism, and other forms of intolerance.

    Independence really relates to the ability of the two US reps to act independently of the Executive reps as illustrated by the H/O’S meetings in London and Dublin as well as with ‘members of civil society’. If Executive reps are not sitting in on these exchanges then they are dependent to a considerable degree on H/O’S input/spin.

    The website banner through it’s choice of font size creates the impression that this is the website of the Panel whereas a more careful reading identifies it as the H/O’S website; perhaps the failure to mention meetings in London and Dublin is an administrative oversight.

    Government bodies in receipt of public funds are expected to follow the terms of a Model Publication Scheme ie make available agendas, minutes and officers reports. The H/O’S site contains zilch material of this nature. Perhaps ‘members of civil society’ as well as the big beasts in London and Dublin should make copies of their submissions available to individual Executive reps; the Executive reps should certainly solicit same though this would be a poor substitute for a round table presence.

  • Sherdy[10.09] Lord Looney[John Taylor was whingeing on about this too and seems to have forgotten that the British [in the shape of Thatcher]ceded rights of interest to the Republic in the Anglo Irish Agreeement 13 years before the GFA and these rights remain so he could have kept quiet about that one.Jeffrey Donaldson defended the right of the Taoseach to be consulted using the bizarre logic that he’s waiting for them to apologise for not being able to seal the border, when his own government in London couldn’t seal it.
    Like taylor, Jeffrey should have refrained from comment so as not to look a fool.

  • cynic2

    I think Allister is right but for the wrong reasons. To be a success the local parties need to reach an internal agreement> SF in particular run to the British Government or Dublin asa negotiating ploy in these types of talks. Their ass should be kicked home and they should be told to get on with it. So should the Unionists if they try it

  • Comrade Stalin

    cynic2,

    I think these talks are going to end in failure. That’s why none of the party leaders are present at it, and SF and the DUP in particular have sent only middle-ranking figures – the leadership of those parties want to make sure they’ve nothing to do with the outcome. It’s probably also why Allister is staying out, so that he can say “I told you so”.

  • carl marks

    What’s new, this is just a rerun of how unionists reacted to both the Mitchell and De Chastelain,
    First try to control the agenda by attempting to dictate who the players are and what will be discussed,
    For example when the Flegs thing comes up the obviously related subjects of territorial marking, the DUP/UUP leaflet, Kick the pope bands, Bonfire s, and the respect that unionism in general show for the other sides flag and symbols will be irrelevant according to unionists.
    Parades will get the same treatment (enter Athboy conspiracy stage right) the bogus line will be pushed that there was never a problem with OO parades until the shinners got involved ignoring the violent history of OO parades.
    The claim that the right to march (for Unionists) is somehow part of human rights legislation and supersedes all other rights will be made, strange that with all those lawyers and such like who are unionist politicians nobody has brought this case to court!
    Then when this tactic fails as it has done in the past a whispering campaign will be launched against Haass.
    Of course be prepared for a large dose of enraged mopery when surprise, surprise they don’t get their way.

  • cynic2

    What’s new, this is just a rerun of how Republicans reacted to both the every negotiation since GFA

    First try to control the agenda by attempting to dictate who the players are and what will be discussed,The major on ‘equality’ and ‘human rights’ but only for those they approve of. No unionists need apply.

    Then we will have Teddy thrown in the corner with dire predictions on the rise of the dissers and how they cannot hold the militants and ‘need a gesture’ when, after all, (take out onion, none did more for peace than them.

    Of course be prepared for a large dose of enraged mopery when surprise, surprise they don’t get their way.

  • Cynic2,
    Acually confidence is the new hallmark of nationalists.The Mopery market appears to be encamped in Twadell

  • Rory Carr

    But, Cynic2, on equality and human rights it is not a question of “no unionists need apply”, rather these are areas which annoy the hell out of unionism as they see equality with their neighbours and a judicial application of human rights as meaning that they somehow lose out.

    Mind you, I understand their sense of loss – lives lived in such darkness and misery that had only one night and one day of hate-filled drunkenness each year to alleviate their spiritual squalor probably needed something, however false, that told them that they were superior to someone, that they were the people. Strange though, that considering Catholics as scum and vermin as they do, how they take such pride in declaring their superiority. Poor, sad people.

    May God pity them. I know that I do.

  • Charles_Gould

    “Mind you, I understand their sense of loss – lives lived in such darkness and misery that had only one night and one day of hate-filled drunkenness each year to alleviate their spiritual squalor probably needed something, however false, that told them that they were superior to someone, that they were the people. Strange though, that considering Catholics as scum and vermin as they do, how they take such pride in declaring their superiority. Poor, sad people.”

    Who are you talking about?

  • Comrade Stalin

    cynic2,

    I’ve no idea where you get the idea that nationalists are trying to dictate the agenda for Haass.

    Republicans did not dictate the agenda at the GFA. During the negotiations they were substantially on the periphery. They, along with the loyalists, made prisoner releases a precondition but apart from that the GFA has very little of their influence in it. As I keep pointing out, the GFA is little more than a restatement of British government policy since the early 1970s. Seamus Mallon said it best – Sunningdale for slow learners (and some of the slow learners were in his own party).

  • Charles_Gould

    CS: do you think Hass will provide a document like Patten that could prove influential?

  • Charles_Gould

    I will one day remember how to spell Haass,

  • carl marks

    cynic2

    Take a look at history, unionists have been dragged into every round of negotiation, have opposed every single outcome and more often than not went ape after every one. Who staged the ulster Workers Strike, how did the news about Patton go down, all good with the Parades Commission set up then, remember those not Happy with the SDLP in the DFM slot and decided to put a stop to that, went well that one.
    But you give me examples of those times that nationalists have went into talks and afterwards moped about what was agreed (here’s a thought maybe they are better at making deals).
    Unionists want rid of the parades commission and the fleg back, in their hearts they know that if the PC goes it will be at best replaced by something similar and the Fleg is not going back up 365.
    So they enter Haass half-hearted the leaders keep their distance and wait for a collapse of the process the best they can hope for is to maintain the status quo.
    However this has a price, the governments (Irish, British, and American not to mention the EU) will be watching and will take note as to who didn’t play ball, so the best unionists can expect from Haass is a PR disaster.
    But this all could have been avoided, stopping the Jigs outside Chapels and cutting out the sectarian tunes would have helped, not burning tricolours on bonfires maybe would have helped Nationalists to be more welcoming but it’s hard to change the habits of generations.
    Again the Unionists leaders proudly march their people down another Cul de Sac

  • drmisery

    moderate unionism- endangered species or oxymoron?

    Haas should tell the truth, not some sort of bleached compromise.

    Carson is dead… and so is craig and so is Chichester and so is king billy. Perhaps, is there anyone in NI21 with a set of stones

  • Reader

    carl marks: But you give me examples of those times that nationalists have went into talks and afterwards moped about what was agreed (here’s a thought maybe they are better at making deals).
    Well, two examples come to mind – SF seemed upset that the GFA didn’t include an amnesty for On The Runs, and tried to pretend that it had; and SF (again) resented the St Andrew’s outcome that a cross community consensus was needed to push ministerial decisions involving change through the system – e.g. under the GFA, Martin McGuinness abolished the 11+ in one day with a stroke of the pen. Under StA, his ministerial successors have utterly failed to abolish academic selection.
    Besides the moaning, those examples – and the Irish Language Act – suggest that the sharp suits of Sinn Fein weren’t quite clever enough to get the deals they thought they had achieved.

  • Shibboleth

    “Innocent Victims United (IVU), which claims to represent about 11,000 innocent victims, most of whom suffered at the hands of republicans, said that for two months it had been attempting to meet Richard Haass.

    The group said that it had been attempting to meet the US diplomat but had repeatedly been told that a meeting would not be possible until at least the end of November — just weeks before the end of the talks process.”

    Seems very strange to meet interest groups after talks in earnest have begun unless you don’t feel they will have much to say that will impact the talks.

  • carl marks

    The examples you give are really quite trivial, the mayhem of the flegs is the more typical tool of unionism , once when it was the majority it filled the streets with the bully boys of the UVF/UDA whenever any sort of change was proposed and like a school child threw a tantrum (see Camp Twat=flegs= Drumcree=UWC=holy cross=ulster say no) now the problem is that you can only hold back the 21st century for so long, and when those you have treated like second class citizens become the majority and are ever more confident then of course its upsetting.
    But unionists seem doomed to repeat the same mistakes,
    But of course I could be wrong perhaps you could tell us what Unionism will obtain from Haass, will they make a deal, what they have to trade.
    Is unionism capable of making the break from the criminal gangs it runs with, can it pull the Bigots with flutes into line, is an agreement on loyalist using flags as territorial markers on the cards?
    So with nothing to give unionists have nothing to gain, as I said the best they can hope for is no change, which for them will mean failure (fleg still down and PC still running) nationalists on the other hand are under no pressure worst scenario no change (fleg still down and PC still running) frustration has not made us set up a camp Twat.

  • Reader

    carl marks: The examples you give are really quite trivial, the mayhem of the flegs is the more typical tool of unionism ,
    Well, I sort of agree with you about the essential triviality of the On The Runs and the Irish Language Act issues; but I would disagree with you about the flags (also trivial) or about the entire shape of the education system (a really major issue)
    Surely the real distinction is that SF, unlike the Fleggers, has the sense not to jump up and down drawing attention to the fact that they have been outsmarted and rolled over?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Charles,

    No, I think it’ll be more like the truth and reconciliation commission document. There will be a brief period of controversy and then it’ll be shelved.

  • Greenflag

    @David McCann ,

    “But when I hear a person ( Allister of the TUV ) with these abilities take such a narrow view of this province and its place on the island, I literally despair”

    Why despair? .Being narrow minded is such an integral part of being a TUV unionist – their only remaining line of defence against the inevitable that most observers take Allister’s comment for granted .Some might equivocate and state he’s merely playing to the flaggers gallery .

    But there have always been Jim Allisters in NI since 1920. .They have been known by different names but the same narrow mind set remains in the rut it dug itself into a century ago . Some eventually see light but most are trapped behind minds as dark and dismal as a rainy Sunday in Ballymena .

    Haass will come again and go again and it will make not a jot of difference to the Allisters and many others of Northern Ireland . Allister is from Mars or some other planet where political realities can be ignored as long as Westminster provides the soup bowl .

    I would’nt despair or even laugh at the man’s political idiocy . I take it for granted . He is Mr TUV and anybody out there who doesn’t know what Traditional Unionism and it’s Voice stands for need not worry . It’s going nowhere .

  • Charles_Gould

    CS: thanks for your view – interesting. I guess it depends how much David Cameron wants to push it. He is keener than DUP that the shared future agenda be moved forward. That said, DUP do have some power over him in the Westminster arithmetic, you you probably are correct.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I guess it depends how much David Cameron wants to push it.

    David Cameron isn’t the problem. We’ve voted for a bunch of politicians who will not agree on these matters.

    He is keener than DUP that the shared future agenda be moved forward.

    I don’t think Cameron could care much less about NI and what happens here at the moment.

    That said, DUP do have some power over him in the Westminster arithmetic,

    The arithmetic does not grant the DUP significant leverage that I can see.

  • carl marks

    And that is it, the shinners have more sense than fight battles that they can’t win, Unionism seem to go out of its way to start battles it can’t win. The pattern is set tell the mob that if we lose this one it’s all over, win d them up with a bit of flag waving, tell a couple of scary stories about what the evil taigs will do to them if they lose this one and then when the whole thing goes tits up wash your hands and let the cannon fodder take the fallout.

    Reader
    True both on the runs and the Fleg are trivial but look at how the two sides reacted when these trivial things happened, SF does a bit of whinging but has a propaganda victory among its own people (look brits kill Irish they go free, Irish kill brits go on the run), Loyalists go one a 9 month rampage and unionist politicians line up to support them.
    Now Reader you tell me who is playing politics and who is just playing.

  • Charles_Gould

    “David Cameron isn’t the problem. We’ve voted for a bunch of politicians who will not agree on these matters.”

    DC is the Prime Minister of course, so he can make a big difference. I do get the sense that he is persuaded that the shared future agenda is important, and needs to be taken forward.

  • I think Jim Allisters parents were both foreigners who migrated to Northern Ireland from Monaghan .

  • Taoiseach

    “Disinterested”?

    Surely you mean “uninterested”, David.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Charles,

    You’re suggesting that the Prime Minister should impose a solution. That kind of negates the point of devolution.

  • thethoughtfulone

    “Jim Allister – all brains, no sense!”

    Well at least he has one of them,

    ………………..most involved in running the country have neither!

  • sherdy

    TTO, – That may be, but what does it say for those who voted the dopes in?

  • thethoughtfulone

    Exactly, it truly fills me with despair when I see what’s happening to the wee place.

  • Greenflag

    ” it truly fills me with despair when I see what’s happening to the wee place.”

    It could be worse .It could be Wales .According to a survey NI is the happiest of all the UK regions .Oddly enough I tried to find a link to the BBC report on the survey but it appears to have disappeared . Perhaps the result was seen as politically incorrect ? Weird anyway .

  • Charles_Gould

    CS

    “You’re suggesting that the Prime Minister should impose a solution. That kind of negates the point of devolution.”

    Not necessarily. It could complement devolution. And I don’t necessarily mean “impose” a solution – but the PM undoubtedly has powers in NI despite devolution, powers that come from the fact we are part of the UK.

    Think about devolution in the 1921-72 period and ask whether the Prime Minister needed to adopt such a hands-off approach and whether it was desirable. There were then (and are now) things that the parties in NI just find it very hard to do – especially things that need a wider and non-partisan view.

    The PM is the PM of NI as well as GB. Its within his job to use the levers at his disposal to do what is good for NI as well as the whole UK. He has a moral duty brought by his office to do so.

  • Charles_Gould

    We are in this together – Dublin, Belfast, London.

  • Bangordub[10.32] Jim is following the bigot vote as he knows that for him and the TUV, votes are like gold dust. Noticed the in answerring the point about the Battle of the Boyne, he passed over that two facts that at the time of both the Boyne and Easter Rising were not in a foreign country when the relevant events occurred, but then he knows his voters are too blinded by hate to think that through.

  • Bangordub[3.39] With the rules about the zero sum game, the confidence of nationalists about the future explains precisely all the fury of the flag protests and fury at not getting through ardoyne. The know the future’s not orange.

  • Greenflag

    Charles Gould ,

    ‘He has a moral duty brought by his office to do so.’

    Full marks for the obvious but using the word ‘moral ‘ in the context of a leading politician in the Conservative Party dealing with any issue in Ireland (North or South ) is akin to asking the late Oliver Cromwell to not slaughter the women and children of Wexford and Drogheda during his 17th extermination campaign ,

    Mr Cameron’s duty at this stage is to ensure that his party is returned to Government at the next election and as of now thats not looking good . His interest in NI will extend as far as he deems it likely that in extremis he might have to do a deal with DUP MP’s to hold on to power.

    If thats what you mean by ‘moral duty ‘ then I guess you’re right .

    Mr Cameron will be much more concerned about the health and welfare of the City of London and it’s financial sector and it’s continuing ability to gouge wherever it can from developing and developed nations the capital on which Mr Cameron’s Conservatives and Britain’s ruling class depend to keep them in the style to which they have become accustomed . North or west of Potters Bar is for to coin an NIism “themmuns “