Why do we price in all manner of ugly affairs but not the possibility of change?

There seems to be a presumption that the withdrawal of the UUP was purely in response to the muder of two men and the unstated relationship to those killings to the sill existing commandstructure of the IRA.

Micheal Martin’s statement yesterday provides deeper context:

“The decision of the UUP to withdraw its minister from the Executive is deeply regrettable. It confirms Fianna Fáil’s concerns about the seriousness of the situation facing the Northern Ireland institutions. This latest development comes following a series of escalating problems. It follows the failure of parties to implement the Stormont House Agreement, very serious allegations about the sale of NAMA’s loan book in the north, the vicious murder of two people in Belfast and the confirmation by the PSNI Chief Constable that the Provisional IRA continues to maintain a command structure and that members of the PIRA may have been involved in the murder of Mr McGuigan.

“Fianna Fáil rejects Sinn Féin’s repeated slur that those who raise questions about their behaviour are motivated variously by anti-peace process sentiment, electoral consideration or assorted other negative agendas. We have been raising these issues consistently over recent years and warning of mounting problems because we believe passionately in the peace process and we are determined to hold those who threaten it to account.

“Too many people have put too much into the peace process over too long a time period to allow the Northern institutions to simply unravel. The peace process belongs to no individual parties, but to the entire nation. It is important therefore that the Taoiseach move quickly to give a statement on the situation and to confirm an urgent meeting with the British Prime Minister David Cameron.

There was talk yesterday in Dublin of this kind event being ‘priced in’ as regards Sinn Fein’s future with the voters. Past victims like the Quinn and McCartney families have been left by the wayside as a necessary price for securing the peace. But few seemed to have priced in the possibility that someone would, like Mike Nesbitt just has, refuse to continue to play along with the misleading idea that stability in society requires stablity in Stormont.

As I noted yesterday strictly speaking going into opposition should mean that people have a means of voting against someone. But it should not be apocalyptically compared with the events of October 2002 when parties left the Executive and the Assembly.

Nesbitt now has clear grounds on which to fight the next election (whenever that is going to be), and having almost crippled DRD in the last budgeting round it can roundly attack its partial treatment at the hands of both the DUP and Sinn Fein.

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  • Croiteir

    The problem with FF is that they are seen, and not without good reason, as the archetypical hurler on the ditch by most. My problem with MM (and therefor FF) comment is that it I believe that it is primarily for southern consumption in order to blacken an electoral rival, you cannot take the politics out of politics, I suppose, even if it has the potential to cause the slaughter of Irish lives on Irish streets.
    For me MM (and FF) would have more credibility if they had some skin in the game, if they are so concerned then they should get in there and get their hands dirty. They cannot criticise with credibility if they continue their partitionist policy, they cannot condemn SF, and others, while they themselves abstain from the political process. In short if they want to show us how its done get in there and do it, otherwise you are only whingers with nothing concrete to contribute.
    Wasters

  • Kevin Breslin

    Your title has nothing to do with your article in my opinion Mick.

  • chrisjones2

    From the NIO and Dublin’s point of view perhaps this is a time for a bit of austerity in Belfast. SF is the richest party but it has lots of hungry mouths. So do the DUP.

    If Stormont goes so should all the funding. All the expenses, salaries, grants, bungs etc. All cut to fund core services to the voters. All the places on quangos should go to people with the skills to perform not do what SPADs tell them, while we cut the numbers of quangos and homes for party apparatchiks. Bye by to the SpAds who can deploy their enormous talents elsewhere in society when I am sure they will attract comparable wages.

    Literally the 2 Governments should starve the parties out, mothball the building and radically cut the sizes of the departments to match their budgets

    They will all scream that if money is cut some parties will fold – the SDLP is the most vulnerable perhaps, But that is natural selection for you. The reality is that when they don’t deliver we the voters don’t need them

    A central Government SOS with say 2 ministers could do what all the rest do at hugely lower cost. Lots can be devolved to Councils. Lots can just be abolished to save money for central services. We can make progress on many social, health, environmental and economic issues that are held up for years by the pork barreling in the Executive

    They will cry that if Stormont goes we risk a resumption of violence. But that will just reinforce the rightness of this action. We might see a Province with a government that is fast responsive and effective

    Two years of no Stormont and we might come to love Direct Rule (or Joint Rule) in a way that we never did with Stormont.

    Still its sad that what started with so much commitment, optimism and hope foundered on the wreck of petty sectarian and short sighted graft

  • chrisjones2

    Calm down dear. Like you, they are free to criticize if they wish. Indeed they have a mandate to do so. You don’t.

  • Kevin Breslin

    As usual I disagree with you.

    Mick, if people want change, and you want them to change, why don’t you respect it’s their right to change things here, not your right to change them.

  • Croiteir

    What was that about? Who said that there is no right to comment? Apart, perhaps, one commentator

  • kensei

    The UUP can go into opposition; forcing the government to be the two largest parties in each block (or largest blocks with majority etc) would probably be an improvement over present arrangements. That lets Nesbitt run on opposing current policy.

    What he can’t credibly run on, is excluding SF from the Executive as long as they retain a majority of the Nationalist vote or seats. Nationalism has a veto and Unionism doesn’t get to pick who it deals with. Collapsing the Assembly is unlikely to work for Unionism over the long term, aside from the chances of creeping North Southery there is no guarantee that any newly negotiated arrangements will be any more beneficial to them.

  • chrisjones2

    Oh do read what I said and stop the faux outrage

  • Steve Larson

    The Quinns and the McCarthy families were left by the wayside because they were of no benefit to FF or FG electorally.

    Same as Maria Cahill has dropped off the face of the earth as far as FG, FF and Lab. are concerned.

  • Steve Larson

    Every time in the last 50 years that Unionism has pushed back against themuns having a say it has ended up with themuns having more of a say.

    This will not change and is just part of that process. Ultimately this will book end a chapter where Unionism concedes more ground and has to share.

  • Granni Trixie

    Good to see that allegations about the sale of Nama are included in the escalating situation. I highlight this because many peoples vision of the Ni they want to live in not only is one without Mafia style behaviours but one without (alleged) corruption.

  • It’s always difficult to listen to the thoughts of Fianna Fáil’s Micheal Martin on northern politics as genuine, without being aware of the ever-present underlying motive to his words in countering a southern political rival.

  • Steve Larson

    If Stormont goes then there will be massive cuts to its infrastructure but the Depts will be kept, their heads should be replaced with Civil Servants from Dublin and London.

    Let the Civil servants take care of all devolved issues while the 2 Govts can split the decision making on all else.

  • Steve Larson

    Micheal Martin is the most apolitical person in politics on this Island. He is a Departmental manager rather than a decision maker and he is happy with that. So are FF.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Quinns, The McCarthys and Maria Cahill are not asking questions of FG, FF and Labour … they are asking questions of Sinn Féin.

  • Steve Larson

    The article said they were left at the side in the interests of peace.

    They were left aside because there was no % in dealing with those people as far as FG/FF or Lab. were concerned.

  • Croiteir

    I would accept that as a critique – he is a steady hand and he did, and it was masterly done all credit to him, keep FF together after they crashed and burned at the ballot box. But I do not think he has that daring and panache to lead the warriors into the breach of northern politics that the GFA achieved for FF. Bertie would, he is a gambler and a damn good one at weighing up the odds too.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The reason Southern Politicians are reserved in their criticism of Sinn Féin isn’t the abandonment of these parties for the sake of peace, it’s because the police police, prosecutors prosecute, the judges judge and politicians can only politik.

    Basically It’s a matter for the courts. Politicans can’t make the guilty more guilty or the innocent more innocent, all they can do is make themselves more guilty.

    Journalism to me, always seems to offer one solution to everyone … Get really, really Angry. Getting angry for the sake of getting angry doesn’t work.

    I suppose the example of Willy O’Dea outright accusing Maurice Quinlivan’s brother of running a brothel is the sort of “stick it to Sinn Féin” mentality they would want to see the Southern Parties go at, and anything less is being too nice for the sake of the peace.

    All Willy O’Dea achieved was to become a joke, and the electorate seem his actions as a farce. O’Dea even lost votes to the Sinn Féin rival.

    So the dogma of nice guys finish last in politics doesn’t always apply.

    Asking politicians to interfere with the independence of the police or the courts, or making false accusations

  • Steve Larson

    An awful lot of people in FF will under no circumstances agree to participate in Northern Politics.

    It would be great if they did but knowing what I know of FF I remain very skeptical it will happen. Unless the lads in FF in the North just do it and let HQ shove it.

  • Croiteir

    No outrage here – it takes more than that – just making an observation that to increase FF credibility they need to grab a caman and get on the field, why would that have annoyed you so?

  • Croiteir

    No bureaucracy likes change – it causes all sorts of problems. I suppose their HQ will oppose it. And if so it will not happen unless there is an overwhelming need.

  • Croiteir

    So let me actually pretend that FF and MM are serious about this and not electioneering. He rightly points out that the crises, as is the case in most instances of unionist crises and fury, is contrived and entirely hypocritical. Let us take in all continuing violence. And this includes not only the violence of republicans of whichever flavour or party but loyalist and their paymasters the British. Let us look at the continuing protection of murderers who the British colluded with in Dublin and Monaghan, the FRU and such. Perhaps that needs to be taken into the mix or is this to be another hypocritical bash the paddies crises?

  • Steve Larson

    For many in FF it is also ideological not just about bureaucracy. For many it is about splitting power and making things unpredictable but the first group would be the largest.

  • Gingray

    Good post Mick! I think Mike has played this well tho provided there is an election soon.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Change happens, Life floods in and Entropy increases … Being bored of stagnation doesn’t stop the world turning until politics becomes more charismatic and dynamic.

    To me there is a reality deficit between people wanting change and people refusing to be the change they want to see. No passion, no struggle, no effort. They get the world they deserve, and possibly the world they subconsciously want.

    We’re selfish and lazy and to be honest really don’t want change.

  • Nevin

    Is Sinn Féin the Most Oppressed Party Ever? Gerry Adams has responded to Micheál Martin’s intervention:

    Micheál Martin has also sought to use these killings for party political purposes. He was the minister for foreign affairs when the then minister for justice, Dermot Ahern said that the IRA was gone and not coming back.

    In 2010, when Sinn Féin successfully negotiated the transfer of policing and justice with the two governments he was part of process. He never raised the matter with me once. But now we are on the cusp of an election and Micheál Martin is in electioneering mode.

    His outrageous claim that the IRA funds and provides political intelligence for Sinn Féin while exercising community control is despicable. Last year, the people of Ireland in free votes in the European and local government elections gave Sinn Féin the largest vote of any party on this island.

    In more general terms, he asserted:

    There is no basis for the charges made against Sinn Féin by our political opponents and if this descends into a political crisis it is a direct result of their stupidity and party political opportunism.

    He made no comment about the presence of alleged IRA personnel in the Markets following Davison’s murder, people who ‘would have the ear of the likes of Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams’.

  • Nevin

    “The peace process belongs to no individual parties, but to the entire nation.”

    Perhaps Micheál needs a reminder that there are three strands to the 1998 Agreement, not just Strand 2, the one of most interest to nationalists.