“Still, there are words for the sort of reception meted out, and the most polite are ‘low’ and ‘key’.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… or, rather, as far away from the ranch as you can reasonably get…  For the benefit of those concerned about accountability and the democratic process…  Liam Clarke has some points to make about Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, and the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness’ recent, separate, trips to the US.

In that situation, how much priority would you give when tapped on the arm and told that the Northern Ireland Executive couldn’t sort out welfare and you owe them one? In Washington they might recall that this place has gone pear-shaped before. Special envoy Gary Hart was treated to ribald abuse and asked what he knew about anything.

After that, an investment conference to celebrate our latest “breakthrough” in the Stormont House Agreement had to be cancelled. US officials had helped Norman Houston, of the Northern Ireland Bureau to promote our coming fall in corporation tax. As soon as they got the message across, they were told that the “game-changer” economic measure might not happen.

It could well strike President Obama that there are better, more appreciative and more rewarding places in the world to try to influence than this place. This is his final period as President and he can’t afford to waste time. Neither can Joe Biden nor John Kerry.

All concerned should, perhaps, be grateful that the belatedly forthright Obama was otherwise engaged…

But, in fairness to the NI Secretary of State, whose visit we are told “[had] been planned for some time”, it does, at least, have the benefit of being government-to-government contact.  Unlike Mr McGuinness’ sudden visit.  Despite the BBC reporting…

During his trip, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister has met representatives from the US State Department and influential Irish Americans, asking them to lobby the British government to give more financial support to Stormont.

As Liam Clarke more accurately notes

The most depressing thing about Mr McGuinness’s trip, in particular, is that it represents a search for leverage over his opponents rather than a search for agreement. Rather than reaching a deal with the DUP and the British Government, which is what is required, Sinn Fein dispatched him at party expense to try and drum up support in America.


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  • Mister_Joe

    Apparently McGuinness got to meet a fairly low level functionary. That seems to be the USA ever so polite way of saying F.O.

  • james

    Perhaps that is where they rank him. Or maybe it is all part of a general coldening towards terrorist alumni.

  • barnshee

    “Them brits won`t give us any more money- them orangies want to share out the money sorta equally –Any chance you cud twist an arm –anybody?”

  • Nevin

    “whose visit we are told “[had] been planned for some time”” .. “Ms Villiers said her visit was not influenced by Mr McGuinness’s visit, which she only learned about “a few days ago.”

    On the other hand: “Given the political deadlock it would be helpful to bring forward that visit [from November] and we fixed on July,” she said” Irish Times

    Political spin/panic? It looks to me like a hasty counter attack by the SoS.

    “the benefit of being government-to-government contact”

    Or to, perhaps, put it more accurately, the uninspiring duo each met the Friends of Ireland [no friends of unionists] Caucus and Drew O’Brien, special representative for global partnerships at the State Department, as well as some other functionaries of the Obama administration. Would video-calls not have sufficed for such low level interaction?

  • Roger

    He is the deputy leader of a weak regional government.

    His region is smaller than Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and his government has far less powers. I’d say he ranks well below Minister-President Erwin Sellering but probably above Vice Governor Fortunato C. Peña of Camarines Sur.

  • Redstar2014

    Lol- when ever did ” them orangies ” as you crudely put it -EVER share out ANYTHING equally???

  • USA

    Frankly, McG is out here making the voice of his electorate heard. He is not even just shaking hands, SF have developed personal relationships and are talking to an influential Irish-American lobby about US policy within the framework of the GFA.

    These are US law makers, their influence on US policy should not be underestimated. They sit on powerful committes. This is probably another indication that SF are at the end of their tether with the dysfunctional “House on the Hill.”
    There is a bunch of spin going on in this article and subjective commentary in the post. But the spin has not crossed the Atlantic, McG and TV the British SOS did cross the “pond”. They both know why they are here. This does not bode well for progress in Belfast, the British and SF are preparing for the end-game. Whereas DUP have been so arrogant to everyone they no longer have anyone who would even entertain them.
    Even the Tories were just leading the DUP by the nose prior to the recent British election. How is that “relationship” now? Shame Nesbitt did not have the sense to put clear blue water between himself and the DUP supported “flegers”. Equally sad that NI21 imploded in such a ludicrous fashion. NI21 had the policies to move Unionism forward while the UUP had a core vote but crap policy and embarrasing leadership (Tom Elliot and Nesbitt).
    SF seem to be sick of waiting for the PUL community to put forward credible partners in govt.
    What happens next? Joint authority. It will be called “Direct Rule” to keep the PUL community on board, but it will be de facto joint authority. Look forward to 5 years that will include gay marriage rights, bedroom tax, an Irish Language Act etc. All the things that the two govt’s have already brought into their own respective jurisdictions (Scots and Welsh language in Britain – Gaelic in the Republic).
    SF will benefit over the initial 3 years of Joint Authority as most of the changes will be in line with current SF policy. The DUP will have little to show for their behavior since the GFA. The Anti gay, anti Irish Language, pro flegger positions have won them few friends in Belfast, and none abroad.

  • Reader

    USA: SF will benefit over the initial 3 years of Joint Authority as most of the changes will be in line with current SF policy
    And secretly they wanted welfare reform all along? Cameron will quietly punish SF. Speaking as a liberal, I hope he can spare a boot for the DUP as well.

  • Gingray

    Great to see both halves of our intrepid attack sf duo have got in on this. Not much of a story. If you like sinn fein this is great. If you don’t, pathetic snide remarks ahoy.

    Minister from small region meets low level yank. Pleases base. Makes opponents get knickers in twist. Nothing changes for most.

    Predictable. If it was the dup would anyone be copying and pasting about it on Slugger?

  • USA

    No SF don’t “secretly want welfare reform”, they are clearly set against public expenditure cuts that target those on low income. Some of this is undoubtedly driven by fundamental and sincerely held political perspectives and values, while there is also an sharp awareness of where their core vote comes from.
    SF are not against “cuts” just for the sake of it, I am sure they would argue cuts can be made in other budget areas that do not effect the most vulnerable in society. For example, military, foreign aid, transport, culture media and sport, marine management etc…..

    If things fall apart at the assembly it looks like the Tories will indeed push ahead with welfare reform / cuts; SF will exit stage left rather than be associated with the cuts. This obviously serves as a defensive move by SF to avoid FF, FG and Labour attacks over “cuts” prior to a May 2016 election in the Republic. But it will also leave FG + Labour carrying the “welfare cuts” can along side their Tory partners as they assume joint responsibility for the North. I’m sure this is something FG could do without just before an election, but this can probably be mitigated. The Tories have already won their election so they are probably less concerned about the political consequences of pushing through the cuts.

  • barnshee

    Who got more than their share of

    Education expenditure
    Health Expenditure
    Family Credit
    A bit of “equality” all round might help