Sinn Fein stance hardening: Arlene must walk

The DUP must have hoped that the Christmas break would help relieve the pressure facing the party’s senior figures over the RHI scandal.

The latest revelations, that Arlene Foster as DETI Minister wrote to banks in early 2013 urging them to “look favourably” on approaches from businesses seeking money to install renewable technologies for the RHI scheme, has led to renewed calls for her to resign.

Sinn Fein’s move to make January 16th the Decision Day was interpreted as providing a window of opportunity for the two parties to hammer out a compromise path that could allow the Executive to remain afloat and navigate an albeit difficult route through the choppy waters ahead.

But the Sinn Fein line, publicly and privately, has only hardened in the interim, and it is now increasingly clear that the party are sticking to the position that Arlene Foster will be required to step aside for a period of time as First Minister if we are to avoid the Executive’s collapse and the triggering of a new election campaign when D-Day arrives mid-January.

The manner in which the DUP leader- and DUP Speaker- conducted affairs when the Assembly was reconvened for the no confidence motion on December 19th, coupled with the decision of DUP Communities Minister, Paul Givan, to sucker punch Sinn Fein over the Liofa Bursary Scheme  has only served to harden the republican party’s position in the face of an angry nationalist electorate which has grown weary of observing republicans playing second fiddle to the DUP at Stormont. Robin Newton’s scalp may yet be claimed in what looks likely to be a humbling beginning to 2017 for the DUP.

The republican demand for an independent inquiry conducted by a judicial figure from outside the jurisdiction is something the DUP may be able to live with, though the timeframe proposed, of a preliminary report after 4 weeks and the publication of a full report some 3 months later, does sound ambitious.

Crucially, though, that timeframe does allow for Arlene Foster to return after either 4 weeks, or 4 months, if the findings of an inquiry do not deliver a fatal blow to her political career.

The silence of DUP figures in recent times does suggest that they are conscious of the gravity of the deepening crisis. The party will be very aware of the fact that this affair is deeply damaging for the reputation of the DUP as a party. It is, quite simply, toxic for a party which prided itself on being seen to be the most competent and natural party of government in the north of Ireland.

An election in coming months, triggered by a failure to agree a way ahead with Sinn Fein in the next two and a half weeks, will be fought against the backdrop of the drip drip of more RHI-related stories that can only make things difficult for DUP candidates on the doorstep.

In her Christmas and New Year message, the DUP leader avoided referencing directly the RHI scandal that has sent her party into tailspin. Foster has been adamant that she won’t resign up to this point.

We’ll know soon enough if she has had second thoughts.

  • Brendan Heading

    Who would that be then ? It wasn’t me.

  • Granni Trixie

    The relevance is that if Arlene is so clever how come she demonstrated to the public that she is not?

  • Brendan Heading

    Jesus is weeping torrents for the people who think that when Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness put out statements warning about “grave consequences” that we shouldn’t talk about it

  • Granni Trixie

    After a year as FM and now that the BBC (note:not the DUP) has let the public know about the heating fiasco we are entitled to say to the DUP “is this the best you have”. Come to think of it, retaining a lame duck DUP leader is probably in the interest of SF. But not in the interest of NI.

  • Brendan Heading

    If someone has 50% of the FPVs then they by definition have at least 50% of the vote share.

  • Brendan Heading

    I know nothing about football, but with the best will in the world I can’t see Pengelly getting anywhere near the DUP leadership.

  • Granni Trixie

    Why do you say this – brand Arlene was meant to be a better replacement for a tarnished PR . Now she is tarnished. Can’t see that being reversed.

  • Granni Trixie

    Then how do you explain Anna Lo and the fact that when she grabbed headlines (unintentionally, I might add) by saying that she favoured a UI there was not a word of horror from Anybody in APNI (well, maybe one). I myself do not identify with unionism …or republicanism. But I do identify with Naomi Longs assertion that she did not define herself by such labels. I believe strongly that alliance does examplify cross community participation in a political party.

  • Granni Trixie

    But Alliance has also supported SF for mayor.

  • Gopher

    When your in the bunker and your acolytes are tied to you one does not resign. So far Stormont has not landed a blow on Foster or the DUP. Alot of huffing and puffing but not actual action which taken with Fosters confidence suggests something of a phoney war. 500 milliion is alot of money and alot of incompetence or fraud and the government still stands. SF could solve the problem at a drop of a hat by putting forward a motion to abrogate the POC.

  • Granni Trixie

    And your point is?

  • Granni Trixie

    I honestly don’t get this. Can you explain?

  • Granni Trixie

    I absolutely agree.

  • Granni Trixie

    Progress would benefit. By this I mean that if the precident is set that
    a political leader can do the country the damage with which Arlene is associated then we are setting the bar so low that there is little to which to aspire. For our future we have to do better than this,

  • 05OCT68

    Remember if you vote Mike you get Colm. He is wedded to Nesbitt since the UUP conference. The people of Derry will punish him if the UUP/DUP make a pact to steal a nationalist seat, the likely pact to keep SF out of a seat, political enemies of the SDLP I know, but he’ll be punished for stupidly trusting the UUP to rise above orange and green politics.

  • J D

    This did get kinda silly alright. Happy new year!

  • Gingray

    We are not talking about me – you are happy to call for a nationalist to stand aside, but when its a Unionist under attack you change the tune.

    Preferential treatment on sectarian grounds.

  • Gingray

    ‘In addition, SF refused to back the assembly motion which would have censured Foster.’

    It does – you imply, quite strongly, that by not backing the motion censure did not happen.

    Put simply – would Foster have been censured if SF had backed the motion? Yes or no answer, no caveats required

  • Gingray

    Brendan stop being a douche – you put me in mind of the over sensitive eejits from round Belfast Castle 🙂

    YOU brought Alliance into the conversation with a factually incorrect statement. Not my fault you get petulant when corrected.

    “Nothing new here, Alliance has been drawing support from the unionist
    community (as well as the rest of the community) since the early 1970s.”

  • Gingray

    GT
    Alliance have and have had a lot of good, hard working people involved, and it has a fantastic selling point.

    However it has failed in its effort to become a proper cross community party – they do not pick up votes in strongly catholic/nationalist areas, and in terms of elected officials they are nowhere near in line with Northern Irelands demographics.

    In regards Anna Lo – not so sure it was that unintentional – she was running for the EU and wanted votes in nationalist areas. Making her view on the constitutional topic was not likely to cost her votes, but it may have got her some (turns out it didnt, again, mostly because Alliance only really does well east of the bann in areas with overwhelming protestant populations).

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “Increasing Cantonisation” Not a bad idea ! Just may help us all avoid the final conflict !

  • Granni Trixie

    For the record, Anna Lo s remarks about a UI were not said strategically and she was surprised at all the fuss.
    She was just callmg it as it is for her. That’s what she’s like.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes, AG, of course this is rather more than simply Arlene as an individual, she is essentially acting as the public face of the DUP itself. She is personifying in her leadership style those encoded default tropes of the DUP and this is something which any successor will of necessity find themselves in turn repeating in future contexts. Her “Arlene says NO!” to any personal responsibility on this issue is simply an aspect of the party’s own necessary “branding” to appeal to their regular customers.

    Still, it needs to be addressed……..

  • Croiteir

    Don’t have to be

  • Gingray

    GT

    I have no idea whether she said them strategically, and I have a lot of time for someone I helped get elected, but jeepers, ya don’t need to be cynical to think it was very coincidental that Lo would declare her true feelings just before an NI wide election.

    Alliance ain’t stupid – they know the vote they get east of the bann ain’t going to move by much, but tapping disillusioned nationalist and republican voters in a broad election with a candidate who conveniently declared for a UI is clever.

    It didn’t work, largely because there is no real constituency for alliance within nationalism.

    Has any other senior alliance politician declared for Ireland so to speak?

  • Nevin

    Chill, Anthony. Arlene’s RHI assertion – “I look forward to those who have made untruthful allegations and lies being exposed in the new year” – is more likely to be tested by the likes of Sam McBride than by SF HQ and acolyte bluster.

  • Granni Trixie

    All I was doing was sharing what I know from discussing the reporting with Anna Lo. You are entitled to accept or not. As regards your final question the answer is that I simply don’t know. May I also add that in my own household of Alliance supporters one of us would tend to favour a UI and one not. However after Brexit election we got Irish passports so maybe we are now on same page,who knows.

    People outside the party sometimes do try to pin down where The party and its reps stands on UI. Internally it just isn’t a talking point plus the party does not put resources into campaigning for a UI. I guess it goes back to the analysis of the party originally in the context of the troubles which was that structural and cultural change needed to happen within NI. I do feel sure however that in the years to come the topic is likely to get more of an airing. Likely we would have to find a way to continue to accommodate a spectrum of positions.

  • woodkerne

    See PS above. Further, since you ask, In response to your direct question: incompetent, yes, clearly, as the misconception and mishandling the ‘cash for ash’ fiasco shows. The charge of corruption is as yet unproven. On the eveidence of observing Ms Foster’s stridency, the narrow analytic range of policy positions espoused on behalf of her party, and the boringly predictable subaltern mindset informing these, she is at root intellectually limited by a rigidified political ideology ill-suited to the complexities of governance in the modern world.

  • grumpy oul man

    I have wondered about that.
    Which will be more important to the UUP , keeping themmuns out or giving the unionist electorate a choice.
    Mike himself might want to take on the DUP in North or East Belfast or Fermanagh but The UUP has its share of backwoodsmen who would rather see a unionist ( regardless of competance in office) than one of themmuns.

  • grumpy oul man

    She has cost the people of NI £480 million pounds thrpugh incompetance ( being generous here) and you think its just a fit of jealousy among nationlists.
    Seems the normal rules of politics dont spply to some unionists.
    Shouting Themmuns is all that is needed not good leadership.
    Not a lot changes.
    But i do thonk you should get some sort of award for being the first to shout themmuns.

  • grumpy oul man

    I see a strong element of self interest for everybody in NI to get rid of a first minister who at very least has proved herself to be both very incompetent and so disrespectful f the electorate that she will try to keep the truth away from them.
    If your only defence of her is to shout themmuns it shows your level of respect for the electorate and good goverment.

  • grumpy oul man

    AG i agree that both Gerry and Arlene benifit from the Themmuns factor but i disagree that we should not at least try to make them answerable for their cock_ups as polticians in the rest of the world are made answerable.

  • grumpy oul man

    You were adsed on another thread to comdemn the loyalists aand the polticians who worked with them during the murderous UWC period but you never replied.
    Which would lead people to doubt your sincerity about opposing all terrorists.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Hamilton is the only show in town. My fear is that he is seen as too moderate by his own party. As the DUP “decline” they’ll reach for extremists. It’s their MO.

  • grumpy oul man

    No SF incompetence pupt SF in the spotlight. Arlenes incompetence may well give the voters a chance to vote on both of them.
    SF will suffer the most as unionists ( see Jollraj) as a example will be more inclined to vote along secterian lines and ignore the obvious failling of the people they vote for in order to keep themmuns out.

  • grumpy oul man

    Cant find the word heatsavers. What i do see in her statement is a lot of disguised guff about themmuns and lundys but no reference to RHI.

  • grumpy oul man

    And she has family history on her side. Didnt daddy bring in guns for paisleys UR.

  • grumpy oul man

    Hpw do you explain the complete ba%×s up without at least one of the above.

  • grumpy oul man

    Please shows us where the republicians have come even close to this level of recklessness with our money.

  • Nevin

    What you see or don’t see is of little consequence, gom.

  • Brendan Heading

    YOU brought Alliance into the conversation with a factually incorrect statement.

    My statement isn’t factually incorrect – Alliance draws support from across the community. The topic is about the fact that a centre ground has existed in NI politics and that the emergence of the Green Party is a continuation of what has already been happening, not some kind of new trend. This addresses the comment that was made in the thread about the supposed weakness of the DUP position, and as such it is pertinent to the topic we are dealing with here.

    You are trying to drag the topic away to the usual boring Alliance bashing by seizing on something you imagined I said. Looking through the thread you haven’t made a single relevant contribution to the subject.

  • Brendan Heading

    Has any other senior alliance politician declared for Ireland so to speak?

    No senior Alliance politician has declared for the UK union and Alliance does not advocate a pro-union position – yet strangely this does not stop you from categorizing the party as unionist. Your double standards are plain for all to see.

  • Brendan Heading

    It does – you imply, quite strongly, that by not backing the motion censure did not happen.

    No I didn’t.

  • Gingray

    Granni
    I fully accept what you are saying, but you can understand where I am coming from, and the vast majority of people at the time, when they viewed it as a cynical ploy, regardless of Lo’s beliefs.

    Alliance, at its time, was a fantastic party, and it did look like it was going to break through, but that has not really happened, and for better or worse, many people perceive them as a soft unionist party on the nationalist side (and on the hardline unionist side they are viewed as appeasing terrorism).

    At this stage I cannot see the party shaking itself out of being strong only in the east of NI.

  • Gingray

    Simple question Brendan – did I mention Alliance first, or did you?

  • Gingray

    I dont actually think they are unionist at all, but I do think they are perceived that way by many nationalists, and is not something that is likely to change any time soon.

    You should read what I say before you launch into default defending Alliance 🙂

    Simple facts are that Alliance has not made any real break through in the nationalist community and they do well in the most unionist of constituencies.

  • Gingray

    Brendan, you should be a politician, amazing skills at avoiding answering the question.

    Shall we try again?

    You claimed that:

    ‘In addition, SF refused to back the assembly motion which would have censured Foster.’

    Can you answer this:

    “Would Foster have been censured if SF had backed the motion?”

    Yes or no answer, no caveats required, keep it simple.

  • grumpy oul man

    Except that if it isnt there it makes you look a bit strange.

  • mac tire

    In fairness, Gingray, I read a piece a few months ago in The Irish News with Anna Lo, where she says that she still thinks a UI is in the best interests of the island. I believe it is a genuinely held conviction.

  • grumpy oul man

    Hard to say really. they do not have to cancel each other out.
    However unfortunately i dont think she is stupid.
    Which leaves at least one of the ther two.
    But as i say it can be both not just one.

  • Gingray

    mac tire
    I have found her to be an honest and trustworthy politician, so I have no doubt if she says it, she means it.

    But I remain deeply cynical about her views initially coming to light weeks before the EU election, and her surprise that they would cause a fuss in Northern Ireland.

  • J D

    Really?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Maybe I am a political animal after all! Ohhhh I feel so dirty…

  • Tarlas

    Absolutely agree. The recent blog http://sluggerotoole.com/2016/12/23/soapbox-arlene-foster-was-never-a-suitable-first-minister/ by Steven Agnew, flags up other concerns.

  • Granni Trixie

    Yes, that is a very informative piece by Stephen.

  • Tarlas

    I do not think Jonathan Bell is a lone wolf that refused to be the DUP sacrificial Lamb. He will have support within the party

  • Granni Trixie

    I wonder does “too moderate” on the DUP spectrum mean “not sectarian enough” to lead the DUP?

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Unfortunately correct GT. The DUP don’t do moderate.

  • grumpy oul man

    And bet its not the fun dirty.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’m just being a sneaky political dog Granni – the decent thing to do is to seek a leader beyond reproach, politically (I believe) it’s a bad move, the DUP will eat itself some day and this has accelerated the process.

  • Croiteir

    Yep – really

  • Jollyraj

    “Please shows us where the republicians have come even close to this level of recklessness with our money.”

    Well….there was a thirty-odd year campaign by militant Irish Republicans to cripple NI financially and scare off as much foreign investment as possible. Hard to put a figure on how much that campaign cost all those living in NI. Billions maybe?

  • Gopher

    The thing about five hundred million is it is easily divisible into significant portions and if one were to approach our current situation as a sixth century student should we would also note that the entire project was worth over 1.2 Billion. Not all that 1.2 Billion are woodchippings. We have contracts, boilers, logistics and the servicing both financial and mechcanical which means there was an even more significant pot to share around. Now as we accept the 500 million part of the scheme was incompetent and possibly fraudulent one does not have to be Tacitus to suggest that the balance of that scheme, some 700 million might have endured a simmilair dereliction of civic duty. It has been noted there are beneficiaries of the 500 million portion that are undeserving, it would be incredulous to me to learn that there was a competence and honesty present in the 700 million portion that was so strikingly absent in the 500 mllion one. So to answer your question I imagine Jonathan is very much isolated

  • grumpy oul man

    Off course that excuses the whole RHI thing.
    I wonder how much unionist violence cost over the last 50 years but of course you pay no attention to the effects of unionist violence.
    Do you remember when i pointed out your tendency to knee jerk everytime somebody criticises a unionist.
    I believe i called it a Pavlovian responce, this is one of those occassions.
    Your community (as i have pointed out before) will suffer from a reduction in available infastructure as much as mine will however the wellbeing of your community is unimportant to you as long no one is allowed to say anything wrong about a unionist and of course never miss a chance to bring up things that happened 20 years ago.
    Tis a pity that you think so little of the future wellbeing of your community you will not have unionists criticised no matter the harm they do.
    Your secterisn shines like a bright star you should be proud pf it.

  • eireanne3

    he did indeed,selling shipyard blueprints in exchange. But daddy’s now a verger (or something similar) in St Anne’s Cathedral, meeting and greeting visitors

    https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/ruthless-dup/

  • Croiteir

    As opposed to a hundred year campaign to wreck the industrial base by tagging it onto a south east England economic cycle?

  • Fear Éireannach

    Indeed the Unionists have reduced NI from 40%+ of Ireland’s production in 1922 to half that level today.

  • Jollyraj

    Unionists have done that? How?

  • Croiteir

    They were in power

  • Fear Éireannach

    Brexit requires a whole reboot of the GFA and SF’s performance will be judged on this and not on woodchip boilers.

  • Jollyraj

    I see. and the last 18 years….?

  • Croiteir

    They were powering chicken farms

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You’d certainly have my vote, AG……………

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I remember being told by members of the old NI Communist youth to “Vote Tory, it will bring the whole mess crashing down sooner rather than supporting reformismn….”

  • grumpy oul man

    So unionists only answer for the last 18 years and not for thier sins before that (but for some reason not RHI) wheras republician are judged on what happened 20 years ago.
    I auppose taking your very relaxed attitude to unionist violence we should not be surprised with your selective view of history.

  • Nevin

    gom, you seem to be struggling with an acknowledgement of what is there.

  • grumpy oul man

    If you could just show us what you mean Nevin. It seems im not the only one who cant see it.

  • Nevin

    gom, won’t could be more apt than can’t.

  • grumpy oul man

    So you cant actally point us towards the bit you refer to and somehow thats my fault.
    How very DUP of you.

  • grumpy oul man

    Could i just correct you there. It was not shipyard blueprints he sold.
    This loyal hero sold militarily secrets to a foriegn power.
    Isnt it a wonder that those who shout so loudly about thier loyality to the crown are so willing to sell secrets to the crowns competitors or buy guns from its enemys.
    With loyal subjects like that rebels must seem like a breath of fresh air to the crown.

  • Nevin

    What’s the DUP [or any party] got to do with it? The detail is in plain sight; it’s not hidden; it’s in that paragraph which I quoted.

  • grumpy oul man

    So still cant point it out.
    Aw well think that sorts this one out.

  • Nevin

    Thank goodness for that, gom!

  • eireanne3

    you are quite correct. Andrew Boyd, Belfast economist, author and political commentator reported that as early as December 1989 ” the BBC ‘s panorama programme exposed a conspiracy to exchange classified missile technology and blueprints stolen from the belfast aircraft factory for south african guns.”

  • Jollyraj

    The Declan rule applies here.

  • grumpy oul man

    which is what?

  • grumpy oul man

    Nevin, i admire your ability to produce no evidence and still claim to have proved something.

  • Jollyraj

    It essentially says that when someone so grotesquely misrepresents what you’ve said that they must either be ‘a bit light’ intellectually, or simply a time-wasting troll, then there’s no real point in answering.

  • grumpy oul man

    Got ya, no actual condemnation of unionist terrorists (even admission that they done anything wrong) or the leaders of unionism who worked so closely with them and what happened over 20 years ago is more important than what happening now!
    and i do understand why you chose not to answer since being honest destroys your argument and you already feel a little silly when the obvious sectarian content of your posts is pointed out to you.

  • Jollyraj

    Again, Declan rule applies.

  • grumpy oul man

    Got it, i do love when you mope,
    of course if you thought about your post before hitting the post button we could cut down on this.
    Ill just put you down as a closet supporter of unionist terrorists then shall i.
    reasonable since you don’t seem to be able to reply.

  • Zorin001

    To be fair with Brexit that may hold more truth now than it did at the time

  • Jollyraj

    Bye bye.

  • grumpy oul man

    Indeed bye bye.
    Tis a pity you seem unwilling to defend your posts but you know your own business best.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The exit from Europe has just turned up the gas under the pot, it was always going to boil dry at some point, but now we have fewer decades to wait!

  • Fear Éireannach

    Unionists have created the partition that has lead to NI being an economic basket case and have supported Brexit in the hope of wrecking the economy to the extent that any sort of equal relationship with the rest of Ireland is impossible.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Really she’s at least deputy leader of the next generation of the DUP.
    I’d be like ruling say Chris Lyttle out of taking over after Naomi Long, age are on their side.

  • cj

    I hope she goes shes urterly incompetent. Yet so are most politicians in northern ireland. Hope one day NI can get out of this orange / green mentality.