Mallon: “Peace is something which shouldn’t be bargained with, it shouldn’t be used as a political weapon…”

Lots of controversy (graceless valedictory, or just misunderstood) over Seamus Mallon’s interview by Will Crawley. Most of it over the trout slight against his former leader, John Hume. But given the time and space, it was probably Crawley at his best as interviewer.

It often falls to old men who no longer hold temporal responsibility to reflect and say the things those still spinning the many plates all democrats are expected to accomplish with grace simply cannot. Mallon is more than a handful and a bit of a wily old trout himself.

What emerges is an outline of a nationalism that’s been little heard of since Mallon’s exit from politics, although to his credit he refused to follow through on the invitation to further criticise Hume’s successors for the party’s apparent and tragic loss of political content.

For my money it was a southern commentator Dan O’Brien in the Sunday Independent who seized on one of the more significant passages early on in the Crawley interview…

He described the term ‘peace process’ as a misnomer. “Peace is something which shouldn’t be bargained with, it shouldn’t be used as a political weapon,” he said. He preferred the term “political process”.

O’Brien continues…

If violence has been fully replaced by political means, then the peace process is over. Negotiating among political parties is called politics. It is past time the media stopped doing Sinn Fein’s bidding by continuing to use the term.

Mallon then went on to make a point that is very rarely made but needs to be made a lot more often. “Peace is not just an absence of war,” he said, “but is an attitude of mind, a disposition towards benevolence, confidence and justice.” Because “a mandate has been given to the biggest bullies on both sides”, those attitudes and dispositions are sorely lacking in the politics of Northern Ireland.

The point about disposition is deliberately drawn from the great Dutch philosopher Spinoza (and recharged many times through subsequent history). It is a great deal more critical to the securing of long term peace than many commentators appear to suppose.

Despite winning political power (and looking pretty secure in it for the time being) it is the disposition of the current two party establishment that Mallon is targeting here. O’Brien again:

The collapse of the centre and the carve-up of power between the DUP and Sinn Fein have resulted in a Balkanisation process, whereby the dominant parties use power to bolster their own support bases. There is little consideration for society as a whole.

“Is the present executive showing any benevolence, except to their own supporters and those who vote for them?” Mallon asked rhetorically last week.

And with Balkanisation comes other abuses. “A black economy is being created in every constituency in Northern Ireland,” Mallon noted, hinting at the pervasive, mafia-style criminality that the many paramilitaries continue to engage in.

Nor is there much evidence that executive power being exercised by the North’s parties has improved the quality of governance. There is even less sign that sharing power has brought the communities closer together at a grassroots level.

Where people live and go to school is determined more than ever by their nationalist/unionist background, and there are now more “peace walls” dividing the North’s cities than 20 years ago.

No one can really argue that things have not improved in the absence of war. But Mallon argues that in continuing to be defined by the failure of the Provisional’s long campaign Nationalism misses clear opportunities provided by the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

As I noted back in December 2012 in the teeth of the futile and needless flag dispute the middle ground remains the only place for deal making…

…if the middle is the weakest point for an actor in any political drama to adopt it is also the fulcrum around which any political deal must derive. Thus the peace settlement was riven around the dealings of the moderate SDLP and UUP.

Building the strength of those who currently occupy the middle actually misses the point. What’s required is the emergence substantive political actors who are committed not to being in the middle, but who are capable of acting decisively through the middle.

In short we need inveterate deal makers who can do deals that stick and who are obsessed with more than covering up for the failures and misadventures of the past, but are instead committed to enlarging the shadow of the future.

Otherwise we remain stuck as exquisitely caught in the two statues in Derry at the end of the Craigavon bridge always seeming to touch but never quite having the courage to consummate the deal.

It remains to be seen if the new leadership (favoured by Mallon in the last leadership contest) can plot a new direction which is capable of drawing resonance with northern nationalist voters who are presently in the process of quietly walking off the electoral pitch.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think we were all supposed to own the peace process, the problem is when people disown the peace process, and I would include yourself among these people with the infamous and embarrassing “Peace Process TM” remarks

    People disowning the peace process has caused it more damage in my view than anti-Agreement dissidents from both camps, Twaddel flag protesters, republican bandsmen and gangsters, DUP-SF carve ups and governance, media cynicism, TUV-UKIP demagogues, Stephen Nolan, contentious marches and flag decisions, segregated education and peace walls, neglected victims and economic plight put together.

    Inertia from civic society will never make politicians more active for change. When society stops fighting for the cause of co-operation, then politics becomes weaker organically. There is no praise available in our society to those who do nothing but complain. There’s no delusion that they are shifting society’s attitudes one iota. It is simply intolerance probably even a disownership of the person’s own need for peace.

    There is always going to be forces disrupting people’s sense of peace, there is no society in the world without anxiety, despair, hopelessness, injustice, winging, immaturity, depression, psychosis and mania etc. unless people use their own agency to create peace, partnership, hope and opportunity of course we’re going to be left cursing the darkness not praising the light. Unless we try to understand other people’s pain rather than wallowing in our own, these cycles don’t end.

    When people see there is no real counter force, no sense of tolerance, no respect for diversity, of course we go to a situation where people think the only path to real peace is for everyone they hate to be dead and how many of these people would feel the temptation to commit suicide?

    Thankfully there are a lot of people fighting for peace, it is the political weapon against political warfare, political self-harm, political isolation.

  • Nevin

    Mallon interview transcript. The old trout seemed to relish the Crawley fishing technique and could easily have broken the rod, had he been so minded!

  • chrisjones2

    I am pro peace but regularly use “Peace Process TM” and am proud to do so.

    What started out as high ideals morphed into a Tony Blair Valedictory Bun Fight where concession after concession was given away for the sake of Tony’s ‘legacy’

    This means that both communities were repeatedly lied to about what was being done. We were sold a pig in a poke and have only come to realise this after almost 15 years. Along the way some of the players have grown fat on international lectures and consultancy as they all claim their 5 minutes of fame.

    Meanwhile the rest of us are left with a political system that is dysfunctional and hamstrung, with burgeoning organised crime, regular (if now more occasional) murders with guns that smuggled in after decommissioning, a public demand for justice but copper fastened arrangements to make sure its never delivered, one party whose strategy is still set by shadowy army figures linked to organised crime, a pork barrel system that doles out public money wholesale to political associates and ex- paramilitaries while patients lie on trolleys in hospital for want of funds, widespread public corruption, an Executive that cannot or will not deal the challenges that confront all of us and a bloated Assembly that has agreed to reduce its numbers – but now for another 6 years as there are still too many mouths yet to be fed.

    The ‘process’ has become a self sustaining monster slowly eating itself from its own tail.

    I am afraid I do not ‘disown’ it – I want peace but I despise this process

  • Thomas Barber

    Republican bandsmen ?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Basically anything that can piss any other person in this community off, you could throw in Irish flags, Irish language, Ulster Scots, FAI team getting received in Belfast etc. etc. etc.

  • Greenflag 2

    “Meanwhile the rest of us are left with a political system that is dysfunctional ”

    NI as a state was always dysfunctional and could’nt be otherwise . Its just that today it’s even more so because earlier dysfunctionalities were ignored or were officially ‘unknown ‘ knowns .

    Get used to it – Its the nature of the beast – It will end when NI no longer exists . Its as good as it can get until the curtain is brought down on a political shambles . In the meantime be happy that even with it’s dysfunctionality as a normal democracy – it could be much worse . It was .

  • Kevin Breslin

    From my opinion the people who do engage in the Peace Process TM talk are among the most futile in trying to achieve a better peace in our society. No one in the PSNI talks like that, No one in the integrated sector talks like that, no one working on cross community partnerships talks like that, no one offering real reform and standing for election talks like that, effective victims groups do not talk like that.

    Cynicism is giving up, Cynicism is surrender, Cynicism is the greatest force is conserving the status quo because it requires no effort to change a single thing.

    No one has ever been encouraged to have the confidence to change the world for the better by the motivation of pleasing the cynical.

    We have loads of third sector organisations that tackle health issues, that help get people off welfare, that advocate for proper justice. We have loads of statutory bodies people can be involved in such as the policing boards to marginalize the influence of gangsters and paramilitaries. Peace Process TM cynical types have complete ingratitude to those working hard to make things a better place, they offer no encouragement. Rather than encourage parties who oppose Sinn Féin and the DUP to get a stronger mandate, they would prefer a selective process and a system based on disenfranchising large groups of people they disagree with. How can discrimination encourage peace?

    Peace Process TM doesn’t exist, Lazy cynicism does and Lazy cynics offer no improvement from the status quo, they don’t even offer productive criticism in my opinion.

    Whatever flaws the peace process does have being cynical redresses none of them.

  • murdockp

    I agree, my analogy is the assembly and civil service (they are as one in my book) is like a cancerous tumour, it does not matter how much you cut it back, it will continue to grow back to the size it was before and eventually kill the patient.

    That is what is happening now.

  • hugh mccloy

    We dont want to go back to the old days, the empty threat threw out by DUP & SF when they dont get their way.

  • Thomas Barber

    Its not only Sinn Fein and the DUP who threaten when they dont get their way Hugh –

    “The leader of the Progressive Unionist Party has warned that a joint
    reception for the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland football
    teams could lead to massive loyalist protests outside Belfast City Hall”

    All because one Irishman wouldn’t wear a British Poppy commemorating those same British soldiers who murdered 14 innocent Irish citizens in the City he was born in.

  • Thomas Barber

    ” is like a cancerous tumour, it does not matter how much you cut it back, it will continue to grow back to the size it was before and eventually kill the patient”

    Thats not really true though is it ?

  • chrisjones2

    Yes it is

  • chrisjones2

    “It will end when NI no longer exists ”

    Damn ….so we are stuck with it for say another 3 generations at least then …but wait…..after the Labour wipe out and the chance of 20 years of Tory rule the economics may change things

  • hugh mccloy

    Whataboutery , PUP are immaterial in the administration of the assembly & executvie

  • murdockp

    it is happening now, example, £33m to lay off teachers, the soundbite being “Cheaper young graduates “being recruited instead. The reality will be graduates also need careers, promotions and payrises and there will be new graduates recruited.

    Result today, the assembly can demonstrate savings and reductions in the education budget. But in reality in five years time the numbers will be back up to what they were in the profession and the savings lost through increased pay and higher staffing levels.

    It is the same in all parts of the civil service and well including stormont.

    In ten years time we will be told that the new super councils launched to much fanfare last year are too big and out of touch and that we need smaller councils that will again create more civil service jobs where they are needed.

    There is nothing that can be done, Northern Ireland is ungovernable.

  • Thomas Barber

    Oh im not disagreeing with what you say above Murdockp its just your analogy bit.

  • Thomas Barber

    Thats a little ambiguous Chris, could you clarify ?

  • chrisjones2

    ” such as the policing boards to marginalize the influence of gangsters and paramilitaries ”


  • Robin Keogh

    Brilliant Kev

  • Jollyraj

    Yes, there would be no problems at all with dragging more than a million unionists, and recent immigrants, plus a fair few nominal ‘nationalists’ out of a UK they want to be a part of. Hmm…can’t really see that solving any problems at all, possibly make them worse, just wirh a different backdrop.

  • chrisjones2

    It is true.The whole enterprise is founded on clientism and pork barrel politics with the paramilitaries and friends of politicians on both sides getting the pork

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Thomas, Maybe the PSNI should advise Belfast City Council how they are going to segregate 5000 NI fans and 5000 ROI Fans who will turn up with their colours and flags for this SDLP proposed joint reception at Belfast City Hall ?

  • eamoncorbett

    Things change , people change, nothing remains the same , there has been wholesale change in NI in the past twenty years , and it is likely that more is on the way . Some people assume that because a certain set of cicumstances pertains at a given period in time that this will be the norm going forward , these people are deluding themselves. Nothing stands still , neither politics nor people so when one speaks about what future generations will do or think i have to laugh because no one can say or predict how society will react to change , i certainly would’nt try.

  • Neil

    10,000 fans to show up? I doubt it myself. More like 0 ROI fans and a Saturday afternoon fleg protest, making a total of about 20. The flegger wing regularly threaten thousands on the streets, however they usually overestimate their number significantly.

    I suspect the average NI fan wouldn’t bother turning out for such a protest, just as the average Unionist isn’t stood outside City Hall of a Saturday afternoon with a Union flag. I would bet on no ROI fans turning up as it would be highly unusual to have fans congregating outside a civic reception. Maybe if they won Euro 2016 there would be some fans.

  • Thomas Barber

    “Oh im not disagreeing with what you say above Murdockp its just your analogy bit”

    You kind of jumped in Chris so your just repeating Murdocks answer which wasn’t what I asked him.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    OK Neil Numbers not my point but lets go with your figures of 20 each on both sides turn up. Trouble starts between both groups ! Yeah you can just read the news headlines. NI and ROI fans clash in running battles in Belfast City Centre before and after a joint function held for both teams at Belfast City Hall. What an embarrassment and way to send the two teams off to France !

  • barnshee

    .” No one in the PSNI talks like that, No one in the integrated sector talks like that, no one working on cross community partnerships talks like that, no one offering real reform and standing for election talks like that, effective victims groups do not talk like that.”

    In short no one sucking frantically at the tax payer teat

  • Thomas Barber

    Republican bandsmen are labeled as disowning the peace process along with basically anything that can piss any other person in this community off, you could throw in Irish flags, Irish language, Ulster Scots, FAI team getting received in Belfast etc. etc. etc and not a mention of the Orange Order who’s very existence is based on ensuring permanent division in Ireland.

  • Thomas Barber

    Whataboutery ! Are you serious, maybe you should re-read what the topic of discussion is about and remember all the various parties involved in bringing about the peace process which included the PUP.

  • Neil

    It’s far from ideal, but then again at what point do we get to the stage where everyone around these parts can handle the idea of other people having different identities. No one is protesting about the NI squad coming to Dublin – it would be idiotic to do so. Again the problem seems to be coming from the same area.

    How do we handle this problem, bearing in mind that it’s the same problem, consistently coming from a section within Loyalism? Should we just do what they want to pacify them? Every time they see an identity that offends them (non heterosexual WASP) we should just fold in response to the threats?

    Or should we lance the boil by having a vote and then doing what the representatives elected by the populace decide, which has the additional bonus over and above tackling intolerance of being a perfectly normal, democratic approach to issues?

  • Thomas Barber

    But thats not what the PUP were complaining about, its because one member of the ROI team refuses to wear a British emblem remembering those British forces who died in the various wars and conflicts that Britain was involved in including here in this part of Ireland.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Negotiating and bargaining are the standard practice in any normal political process. It happens between parties and within parties.

    The difference in Northern Ireland is the recent history of violence and the suspicion held by both sides that ‘themuns’ haven’t gone away.

    Benevolence and compromise shown by any party from either side is regarded as weakness by their more extreme supporters.

    The extremists are no doubt in the minority but are the ones that are dictating the process. It’s the tail wagging the dog effect.

    You don’t have peace, you have stalemate, which I suppose is better than the alternative.

    At least that is the way it looks from an outsiders viewpoint, I stand to be corrected.

  • barnshee

    All because one Irishman wouldn’t wear a British Poppy commemorating those same British soldiers murdered by the citizens of his city

  • Kevin Breslin

    Oh blah blah blah. The third sector gets next to nothing from the taxpayer but is expected to do all the heavy lifting. The cynics are demanding social engineering like a “little girl princess” who want the world (i.e. Northern Ireland) to revolve around them, and they basically reap the very little that they sew. People do their day job, get paid and get public services from that, that doesn’t change the necessary scope for making a difference in the world outside the day job.
    Our public sector providers aren’t unpaid volunteers, big woop, our society kinda wants our kids educated and our streets policed, they want doctors in our hospitals, who require financing for it. If you think you are so self-sufficient that don’t want to receive public services by all means self-medicate, self-educate, build your own roads … if not you are simply a baby sucking the teat of the labour of the state. A little girl princess who is angry that other people are getting attention from these services.
    There’s plenty of scope for people to volunteer in activities to improve community relations and to engage with people who are providing opportunity.
    If people want to be unhappy about the situation they can be, but don’t pretend that being cynical means doing heavy lifting to change things. It’s giving up. If you want to say that cynics aren’t sucking the teat, why are there no such things as a professional cynic?
    Inertia, complaining and crying like a little girl princess is not going to develop peace in this society. The mentality that self-flagellates itself around “Peace Process TM” pretty much sums up all three of those traits for me.

  • Greenflag 2

    Afraid so perhaps even longer with any luck . Another 5 years of Cameron will be good for NI . Just open a sex shop business -donate lots of money to the Tory’s and they might even give you an MBE 😉

  • Kevin Breslin

    Policing board has helped PSNI recruitment and intelligence accusation.

  • Anglo-Irish

    My family fought in the British Forces in both world wars.

    They fought for freedom, which includes the freedom to wear a poppy or not, whichever is your personal preference.

    The wearing of the poppy has become politicised and has diminished the meaning in my view.

    At one time you wore one if you felt that it was the right thing to do, now many people wear them because they think it’s expected and they will be regarded as ‘out of line’ if they don’t.

    It’s got to the stage where it takes a certain amount of moral courage to refuse to wear one.

    A preposterous state of affairs brought about by sheep like behaviour and the love of self righteous indignation.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’m no oncologist, but if you want to describe Northern Ireland as a cancer patient, you have to realise that a cancer can start anywhere and on multiple sites. Putting the blame for all ills in our society on Stormont is unrealistic. Choosing the Assembly was the popular decision on how to self-govern, as much as people want to advocate their own alternative they don’t have the mandate or the political consensus needed to provide one.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Maybe that whole develop the private sector thing could be tried? Our abnormality came from needing to survive a long period of Troubles and Direct Rule, neither of which really helped our entrepreneurial spirit.

  • Thomas Barber

    Whatever way you want to rearrange one persons words to suit your narrative its still not mandatory to wear a Poppy its up to the individual but especially not because some multiple murderer who also masquerades as a leader of a political party feels its his right to demand we all do.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Pleased to see that reality is finally beginning to dawn.

    Quite a leap from ” Never ” and ” No Surrender ” to ‘ say another three generations ‘.

    As for the length of time, I would guess at least half of your estimate and even less if Scotland ever finds the balls to vote for independence.

    As for 20 years of Tory rule if they keep on like this then the country won’t last 20 years.

    The facts are simple, Britain doesn’t want NI but Ireland will ( whatever the understandable reservations ) take back a part of the country which should never have been partitioned.

    NI is incapable of standing on it’s own feet so it’s endgame.

    Way to go yet but the process has begun.

  • mickfealty

    Not sure I understand precisely what you mean Kevin. What exactly do you mean by Peace Process? And who is that is supposed to be signed up to it?

    It’s one of those hyphenated portmanteau words that means anything thing you want it to. This, so far as I see, is the core Mallon’s legitimate objection to its use. That and the implication that Spinoza’s notion of the disposition towards peace is something that cannot be negotiated in or out of existence.

    On a sidebar I understand fairly clearly what I mean when I use the Peace Process™ signal. In this case I mean it to stand for the commodification of peace as a tradable item.

    Something which is my book far more deserving of the term infamy.

  • hugh mccloy

    its pure whataboutery, if pup ceased to be tomorrow nothing would change politically in this country

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think the term is insulting and cynical Mick to the people who have worked hard to get a peace process and the grassroots work that has brought about a societal change. You yourself have tried to commodify Peace Process™ as some sort of “product” but it is deeply entrenched with a Clickbait profit motive in of and of itself.

    How are you exactly any different from the people you claim are making money off the “Peace Process™”? How much money have you made from the advertising revenue generated by articles on “Peace Process™” articles and how much from normal stuff that does fall under the peace process or other normal politics? How often do you allow it to be the hand that feeds you?

    You are an integral part of the “Peace Process™” industry you claim to despise! You are its marketing body, if not a means of its production. How would this site continue without there even being a fantasy of a “Peace Process™” to sustain it?

  • Thomas Barber

    Individually the same goes for the DUP and Sinn Fein or the UUP and SDLP or whoever. But the reality is the unionist parties at Stormont will not act against the interests of the PUP if you believe the PUP are immaterial in the administration of the assembly & executvie they nonetheless still have a major influence on matters relating to the assemble.

    BY the way Hugh I imagined you would have had a blog dealing with the HNHS carnage and cattle market system over the last few days happening to our A+E services. I was in the A+E dept at Royal yesterday and it was a disgrace.

  • mickfealty

    All of that just to avoid a very simple question?

  • Skibo

    Chris, You are pro peace process as long as it does not have a green agenda. As far as I can see you believe that the peace process has cemented NIs position within the UK.
    I however believe that it gives equal status to the belief of a reunited Ireland.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I have said the people who have worked hard to get a peace process and the grassroots work that has brought about a societal change, such as an end to our culture of violence, such as tolerance to communities and other cultures, such as advocating co-operation.
    I’m repeating myself, as I have said that over and over again. The people who are hands on trying to help themselves and other people make peace, they are the peace process.
    Perhaps you are revolted by such optimism because functional politics, tolerance, better relations and more integration are bad for the commentariat business over here. Don’t pretend it’s Adams and Robinson, McGuinness and Foster that’s the problem, it’s the real peacemakers that you seem to fear the most hence the cynical Peace Process TM remarks.
    If you had to cut revenue from Peace Process TM articles away from the website, how close would you be to closing up shop and claiming the dole?

  • Skibo

    Cannot be any worse than what we have now. We have tried Stormont one party rule, didn’t work. We tried direct rule, it didn’t work. We have power sharing at the moment and alot of people maintain it doesn’t work. I guess next we will have a federal Ireland with two parliaments before we finally end up with a reunited Ireland.

  • Skibo

    I think there is more chance of the councils being reorganised again, more on County level and be reduced again down to say seven.
    On your issue on teachers, is the increases in wages the same as before or have they been reduced?

  • mickfealty

    As a gentle reminder, I merely asked: “what exactly do you mean by Peace Process?” (Sans ™). But you seem at pains to avoid answering, even though it was at the heart of a very dubious assertion that we are all supposed to own this thing you seem so reluctant to define.

    Which is odd, because the scepticism on the matter of the Peace Process is not mine alone. Mallon (whose words are the actual subject of this thread) is at pains to point out some of the gapping absences in the current discourse:

    …what worries me most is that the two major parties don’t seem in their hearts to believe in the whole thesis of the Good Friday Agreement. And that thesis is a very simple one: Is to create within The North of Ireland a system whereby people can be at peace with themselves, with one another, where they can have a decent quality of life, where we can pursue economic development, where we don’t have people relying on the dole, where we are able to create the type of indigenous jobs that small areas can do if they’re helped to do it. That’s not happening.

    He tackles the matter more directly fairly early into the interview:

    I think and have thought for some time that the term ‘peace process’ itself is something of a misnomer. Peace is something which shouldn’t be bargained with, that shouldn’t be used as a political weapon, or shouldn’t be used in a political process. It had to be used, I accept that, to ensure that the peace we have was established. But, there’s a political process as well. And you know, political well-being and being able to have a decent standard of life and a deeper quality of life – that is part of the creation of peace. Peace, not just as an absence of war but as, I think it was Spinoza who put it, an attitude of mind – a disposition towards benevolence, confidence and justice.

    And this is the key point I think where he clarifies some of the more cryptic statements he’d made before:

    …there were things that could have been done and the one very fundamental one is that two sovereign governments, the Irish government and the British government, have a sovereign right to protect the people in their jurisdictions. A sovereign duty! And with that would go the sovereign right to take illegal arms. Yet decommissioning was made a political point and a bargaining point by Sinn Féin and they did it very, very cleverly because it kept the governments running to their door and better still for them – running to the government’s’ doors. And it kept them way beyond the time that it should have taken. I believe it could have been done before because as a sovereign government when and how can you expect that the holding of illegal arms, which had killed people, how can you come to terms with the fact that holding illegal arms and getting rid of those illegal arms is a voluntary act? [my emphasis]

  • Skibo

    Sorry to burst your bubble Anglo but the poppy has always been a political emblem. You don’t see the rest of the allies wearing it or the axis. If it was a symbol to recognise the appalling loss of life in two world wars, the loss of a generation of men and women on all sides, now that would be an emblem worth wearing.

  • Skibo

    Mick, I think big Seamus might not be the best reference to quote. His interview was only given to break the ice on the release of past papers showing both he and Eddie McGrady undermined John Humes position to the members of the NIO during the talks.

    Any wonder the SDLP went down hill after Hume stepped back.

  • mickfealty

    Do you honestly believe that Skibo?

    I must say I don’t believe Seamus works to those imperatives any more. There’s certainly no evidence I can see of that sort of short term focus in any of his replies to Crawley.

    Indeed, it has all the hallmarks of someone who has had plenty of time off the pitch to hone and sharpen his own critique of the long term trajectory of the post GFA era…

    Take this passage in particular, where he makes a fairly careful comparison between the British and the US going to war in Iraq and the Provisionals’ long war strategy (and longer term consequences for the reputation of Irish Republicanism)…

    If you have wars without proper planning – what happened in Iraq – not on the same scale, but when it was bombed the governments, the British government and the Americans, had no idea what they were going to do. Here you had an organisation and it had one objective over thirty-odd years and that was: Brits Out! And every year you would see on the gable walls of houses: 1973 – The Year of Victory. Next year you’re driving somewhere else and you’d see: 1974 – The Year of Victory. Their objective failed. And I think it did more than that. What is has done is it has tarnished the very name of Republicanism in such a way that Republicanism, as a valid political position, has been distorted by them.

  • Skibo

    I remember Seamus Mallon’s time ad deputy to David Trimble and perhaps he is now looking through rose coloured glasses, thinking he had done a much better job as David’s bag man but as i remember it he was very critical of David’s attitude to anything green tinted.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’ve answered the question, you won’t read it, but I will do it again. The peace process is the collective energy we have in this society to help bring about peace and the benefits of peace.
    You seem to avoid answering my accusations that if it wasn’t for “Peace Process TM” you would be destitute. You need Sinn Féin, the DUP, the British Government and anyone else to be carrying out criminal activities, you need the Mallons and Alex Kane’s telling their wows about what was lost rather than hearing or promoting those who want to positively advocate what can be gained.
    Heavens forbid that Sinn Féin and the DUP are not linked to anything criminal and the old guards linked to Provoism and Paisleyism go away and you’re left not being able to talk about a “corporate” peace process. I think then this site could be in trouble.

  • mickfealty

    I don’t disagree with that. But I think you’d be short changing us if you’re trying to suggest that that’s all there is to it. He makes the very reasonable point that whilst he and Trimble were facing serial crises that were going on SF was simply tripping in and out of Number talking and negotiating on their own behalf. So far so much historical split milk in a way.

    What lifts it out of the plain territory of of sour grapes is his optimistic tone towards the end, and an important (and in my book truthful) observation that Unionism is changing:

    …one of the successful things in the Good Friday Agreement was the constitutional change in relation to Articles Two and Three of the Irish Constitution. That was crucially important because it gave, for the first time, the Unionist community a sense of stability – assurances in an internationally binding agreement by a sovereign government that they will not be forced anywhere by violence. Now, I think the Unionist community are beginning to realise just how good the Good Friday Agreement has been for them. Now that is something which has been of enormous benefit and actually in many ways you can see it in the step of some of the Unionist politicians. Now they have the confidence to go ahead and do things – they walk differently at times – now if they all get to work together with the other parties – we can go places. The constitutional element of it, in my view, will be a form of federalism. You talk about federalism as if they were all the same type of things. American federalism isn’t the same as Swiss federalism and …

    WC: …And Britain’s becoming increasingly federal, isn’t it?

    SM: …It is becoming very federal and you can see change there which would effect change here as well. But the important thing is that realisation: that never again are people on the Nationalist side of the community in Ireland going to take up guns to force anybody, the Unionist people, into something that constitutionally they can’t live with.

    I actually toyed with the idea of end quoting the last two lines of the first verse of Raglan Road (his final muscial choice), but dismissed it as perhaps too corny, and certainlly too distracting from the serious politics of his responses.

    But I suspect they offer some clue as to what he and Hume were up to at that time…

    I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way,
    And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.

  • mickfealty

    That’s an answer is it? I can tell you one thing. You would not take nebulous guff like that from me as a serviceable answer on any subject. And rightly so.

    Orwell’s recommendations (NB v) at the bottom of his essay on “Politics and the English Language” from 1946: are always well worth revisiting.

    Now, Mallon’s interview?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sorry, but if you are suggesting destabilising the system is a major vote winner for Sinn Fein, why are they not winning votes off it now?
    People may vote for Sinn Féin on an agitate the unionist basis, but times have shifted and it takes a lot more that simply mudslinging at political opponents to stay in power.
    The people vote and they have the power.

  • mickfealty

    Are you talking to Seamus, or me now?

  • Skibo

    I didn’t like the way he implied that the carve-up of power between SF and DUP had resulted in a balkanisation and as a result given rise to the black market suggesting both parties are linked to this black market.
    I would assume the capability of the black market is more a symptom of present policing and not down to politics.
    Suggesting that the two largest parties are only interested in their own people suggests they are no longer interested in growth and prepared just to consolidate their position. That does not seem logical.
    Tell me how does getting rid of the eleven plus deter education of protestant children. This is the one simple example where the PUP did share politics with SF.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Peace Process TM is an Orwellian phrase, it has Doubletalk written all over it, it is from your own personal Ministry of Peace against peacemakers. You are happy to lump those who are at the coal face of peace-making and community activism in with corrupt politicians. You are either so cynical that peace is bad for your financial self-preservation, or so deluded to think that bastardising the phrase “peace process” is somehow working to achieve a peace-making difference.

  • mickfealty

    Good night Kevin.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You, the obvious accusation being that manufacturing political crisis brings Sinn Féin success. Regardless of that success and the will of the people, any accusation that playing the peace process game is given Sinn Féin the vital electoral capital of votes is evidentially untrue. They don’t need that type of politics in the Republic and would much rather have the Republic’s normality transferred to the North.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’ll take it all back if you can prove that you have ever praised anyone’s efforts in trying to help community relations on this site in its entire history.

    I believe you have more contempt for the people who are working to bring down the peace walls and to promote shared/integrated education than you have for those politicians you accuse of profiting from peace.

  • Kevin Breslin

    We were Balkanised under direct rule and even before the Troubles occurred. “Northern” Sinn Féin are in minor decline, the DUP vote is at a volatile peak. These parties are probably not going to consolidate their mandate as high with the electorate. How hard they have to work to consolidate their lead really depends on people making an effort to provide alternatives on the ground rather than being cynical do nothing nit pickers.

  • mickfealty

    I think you are mixing a few things up there Skibo. On the first see Paul Grice’s theory of conversational implicature ( I think you’re seeing a broader implication to that specific accusation that’s not necessarily meant or intended by the speaker.

    And on the last, I’m not entirely sure which bit you are referring to?

    He did point to Martin leaving the education system “hanging in mid-air by his actions when he was the Minister of Education”. But he was also careful to add that “I agree with doing away with the eleven plus – I agree with selection at eleven is not a viable position”.

    And there was this…

    …nobody knows now what the policy is. What is the government’s policy? What is the policy of the CCMS? Do they have a policy? And I know the community I live in the only policy can see or have seen over the years was this (inaudible) attempt to close everything small and to bottle people into larger schools.

    What did I miss?

  • mickfealty

    Take what back? You haven’t said anything, other than informing me of what you think I think. As well as being spectacularly boring it’s also man playing. Pure and simple.

  • Anglo-Irish

    The poppy as a sign of remembrance was in fact invented by an American woman Moina Michael who was in New York at the time.

    It was inspired by a poem written by a Canadian military doctor.

    It was originally adopted by the American Legion and a French woman Ms E Guerin introduced it into France.

    The British Legion didn’t adopt the poppy until 1921.

    I’m old enough to remember when it wasn’t in any way controversial, just a way to remember the many who died and show some respect and support for the needy.

    Making it a political statement is a fairly recent thing and the fact that the British army disgraced itself in Northern Ireland ( the words of my father a WW2 veteran ) has made it particularly divisive in NI.

    It has now become ridiculous with people appearing on TV in early October showing their ‘patriotism’ by wearing it no matter what clothes they are wearing.

    Pinning a poppy to a shirt is taking it to nonsensical lengths.

  • Jollyraj

    A reunited Ireland? Hmmm…forgive me but I really cannot see how a solution in which everybody gets what almost nobody wants could possibly work.

  • Kevin Breslin

    To be honest I’m bored with you. You are the personification of Peace Process TM. That’s not man playing, that’s just the game you want to play. Peace Process TM may actually be your own personal demon. You’ve played the man on hard working peace makers for too long, I’ve lost the little bit of respect I have for you now.

  • mickfealty


  • Carlos Fleming

    ” It takes a lot more that simply mudslinging at political opponents to stay in power”

    I disagree.
    Look at Gerry Kelly he gets elected on the ” I shot a guy ” mandate every election without much effort.
    Look at the Curry my yogurt incident.
    I’ve seen Alrene Foster make Mcguinness squirm in stormont and I think that’s the only reason she’s leader.
    It’s not the same everywhere but the green versus blue nonsense is a major vote winner in Northern Ireland.
    Just my personal

  • Kevin Breslin

    If Gerry and Gregory making fools of themselves is destabilizing to the very fabric of the community then we have to ask serious questions. It’s not going to lead to full out warfare if Gerry rides a Land Rover or Gregory mocks a language to a captive DUP audience who’ve heard the joke before.

    I’m fairly certain Sinn Féin voters aren’t happy with Gerry Kelly is doing nothing in the here and now, so I dispute his mandate comes from shooting someone. It comes from 13,000 or so people making a choice by free will.

    If anyone thinks politics can be reduced to a few bottom lines and a slagging contest they can stand for election and see how easy it is to beat these politicos at their own game.

  • Zig70

    How did Seamus Mallon get so far in politics with such a black and white stand point. Decommissioning was a unionist trope for ira defeat. It was nonsense, they could rearm at anytime. Surely he saw that? Big jumps, lines in the sand and grumpy old men going nowhere.

  • barnshee

    You ignore my point __people other than the residents of NI via the invention _ensure that the sick are healed education is provided and the roads are maintained this has to stop.

  • Carlos Fleming

    But im not talking about full out warfare im talking about elections. Do you think that Gregory was seriously testing the waters to see if he could make it as comedian or do you think he made a bigoted jab at the other side because he knows that’s what his voters want to see. People vote for gerry kelly out of their free will ( I’m not disputing that) I’m just saying that had it not been for terrorist/”freedom fighter” background his electorale madate wouldn’t be half as strong, hence the green verses blue does win votes.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Whatever Gerry Kelly has done in life, its his association with a political party he has become senior in that has made people vote for him, likewise with Gregory and both these parties go door to door chasing votes. There are plenty of militants who’ve killed people who don’t get in. There are also Sinn Féin members such as Michelle Gildernew, Mary Lou McDonald and Pearce Doherty who had no IRA past connection who were elected on very strong mandates, stronger than even Gerry’s.

  • Skibo

    Sometimes we are that blind to the solution that we just don’t want to see. Time will break down barriers and the next generation will not have the negativity that their parents and grand parents have to a reunited Ireland.

  • Jollyraj

    Nobody knows what the future holds, but the continued existence and activities of SF make your prediction less, not more, likely to ever come to pass.

  • Skibo

    Jolly like I have already said the future generations will not have the same negativity and as SF is a socialist party and we all know most students start off as socialists all is good.

  • Jollyraj

    Would vision of a reunited country be as a Socialist state? Can’t see the Americans being too keen on that.

  • Skibo

    Capitalist America, probably not but what about you? I myself would consider myself a socialist. Socialism is the future but not sure the human race is actually ready for true socialism.