Agnew pulls the plug on a Pro-Remain Pact

The wheels have finally come off the wagon for a pact between the pro-Remain forces as the Green Party Leader, Steven Agnew has said his party will not be joining any pact with any other parties.

The North Down MLA said:

“The Green Party will not enter into a pact for the forthcoming Westminster election.

“The decision has followed discussion amongst party members and our party Executive. We also met with the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the UUP as parties who had previously take a pro-remain stance.

“The Green Party has a clear vision for a progressive society based on stability and sustainability. We cannot enter into a pact with parties and individual candidates that fall short of that.

“The SDLP’s choice of Alasdair McDonnell as a South Belfast candidate effectively put to an end any chance of an agreed candidate in that constituency. We believe that Clare Bailey is much better placed to unify the electorate.

“The Green Party could not ask voters to support Alasdair McDonnell.  Mr McDonnell doesn’t trust women, as evidenced by his position at the forefront of the SDLP anti-choice policy.

“We also met with Sinn Fein about a pro-remain pact. However, they failed to provide any indication that they would take their Westminster seats.

“It is impossible to oppose hard Brexit at every turn without taking seats in parliament.

“We did meet with the UUP but it is clear that they have abandoned their-pro remain principles”.

Steven Agnew continued:

“I requested a meeting with Alliance leader Naomi Long and she refused to engage with the Green Party on this issue. I am disappointed that Alliance chose to spurn further co-operation among pro-remain parties.

“The irony is that it was Alliance who turned this into a sectarian issue.

“My final message is to voters – we’ve been right to explore the possibility of a pro-remain pact. However it became clear that there was too much distance between the parties and too little time to bridge the gap.

“We’re committed to putting you first, to put people ahead of party politics. This means opposing Brexit, protecting our public services and opposing rampant austerity.  After the election we co-operate with any party seeking to achieve these aims.

“We will announce a strong team of Green candidates in due course”.

, , , ,

  • Devil Éire

    Barneyt: It should come as no surprise to the greens that the SDLP have a pro-life agenda. To use this against the SDLP suggests lack of foresight. Where they surprised?

    Well apparently they were also caught off guard by Sinn Féin not planning to take up their Westminster seats:

    Agnew: We also met with Sinn Féin about a pro-remain pact. However, they failed to provide any indication that they would take their Westminster seats.

    Something has frightened the Green horses, hence the furious back-pedaling, but not, I think, anything that they actually cite.

  • Barneyt

    But the uk conservatives have contributed to these pacts , as have labour with respect to uup and SDLP. I kinda distance myself from the convenient sectarian badge these manoeuvres gain. It’s fair enough giving NI unionist beliefs to secure as many believers as you can and position accordingly with your ally. Equally to further a nationalist or republican agenda or force the border poll argument I can see why those that support that aim group as they do. Coalitions do this to a large extent post election… so I don’t get excited about it

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well I’d largely agree, but given the common ground on Europe and the political flux going on, even a chat among the parties is a useful scoping (some more cynical people would say spying) exercise of what the concerns of the campaign in each other’s minds would be.

    We definitely can find a common framework to working in the Assembly on the issues around both Brexit and the hard right wing policies of the Conservative party.

    Perhaps a move to left-right politics … (perhaps with the PUP doing the unionist left, and Fianna Fáil doing the nationalist center-right) might emerge from greater interactions between these parties.

  • Barneyt

    Interesting to see who falls into the racist far right over here in NI? Please say someone other than obvious ukip

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Greens looked to try to put Clare Baily up as a unity candidate … fair play for trying. Dido the SDLP, Dido Sinn Féin. None of the three would’ve held the line.

    Perhaps Alliance and the Greens should look back on when they backed John Gilliland as a EU Parliament candidate to see that a civic community representative would be the best unifier compared with someone with explicit partisan ties.

    Perhaps nationalists need to look at that too.

  • Skibo

    How have Arlene and Jeffrey changed the DUP? If you ask me, them leaving the UUP had more to do with changing the UUP than any effect they had on the DUP.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Do you know what though Madra, time and time again in this kind of discussions I condemn all terrorism from all sides unequivocally. Yesterday I apologised on behalf of unionists (though it’s not my place really to do so, but anyway) for all the wrongs done by unionists in the 1921-72 era. And what response do I get? Just a load more abuse from Republicans and wild unsubstantiated slurs about me supporting Loyalist murders. Really, is this the tactic, just to try and throw mud at anyone who dares suggest SF has something to answer for?

    It’s unfortunately a further illustration of how bankrupt Republicanism is that its adherents behave like this, repeatedly. Never acknowledging their interlocutor is being hugely critical of his own community and instead pretending any critic of the Republican Movement must be some Loyalist ogre or thoughtless drone. It just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid.

    I do think you and the others who try these personal attacks are showing yourselves up and for your own sakes, I’d urge you to be more tolerant and show a bit more respect for the rules of Slugger, if not your fellow human beings.

  • Reader

    Enda: What a stupid answer.
    It was a stupid request – “Name me a successful partitioned state”. If it’s partitioned, it isn’t a state. That’s what “partitioned” means.
    Spanish peninsula – partitioned, but not a state; North America – partitioned but not a state. Island of Ireland – partitioned but not a state. Korea – partitioned, but not a state.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I said they’ve been given credit for changing the DUP. That may not be deserved. I will say the DUP moved away from Never three times to Never two times and a Maybe since they brought in the UUP defectors.

  • Barneyt

    MU you present a good argument to support your beliefs and I’ve seen you stand up strongly despite many hits. You seem to have a belief and you follow it. That’s great. But please… you can’t cite the IRA and not the loyalist illegal paramilitaries. On that you must see that you have to be balanced? There are also existing ties between some political and active elements of unionism, not unlike the ones you believe SF has to dismantle. You come across as turning a blind eye to loyal paramilitary deeds and if I have you right, you don’t condone those either. I see no balance

  • North Down dup

    Your right she did vote to remain, but that’s not way she will get 18000 votes if she voted leave she will still get 18000 votes

  • Reader

    Redstar: …having no problem with UDA UFF UVF amongst their members and assembly candidates…
    I assume you mean ex-members? If you mean current members, then who?

  • Skibo

    Reader Spain has a number of parties that are limited to regional areas that want greater autonomy and independence.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not sure about you but I don’t see WW2 as a strong point for Irish Republicans: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Republican_Army_%E2%80%93_Abwehr_collaboration_in_World_War_II
    We fought the Nazis; Republicans collaborated with them. I’m surprised they didn’t launch a “Justice for the Nuremberg 24” campaign – patriots victimised and framed by the brutal occupying Brits …

  • the Moor

    Indeed. Not many genuine social-liberals will mourn McDonnell’s overdue demise.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    BNP, if they have a presence these days; and Adair’s lot within the UFF were on the white power side weren’t they.

  • grumpy oul man

    What a reasonable argument, I’ll put in the file with Muslim hordes rioting in Dublin.

  • Gopher

    Well one is a pathological liar, one is dead, one is a puppet and you can actually see the strings, One shouts a lot and one is in over her head and Stephen joins that illustrious company and you forgot to mention the Idiotic and irrevelant one.

    Let’s look at this objectively, since Fresh Start supposed fresh start no one has covered themselves in any glory. The cold brutal truth is they are useless

  • Obelisk

    Yes of course I would like them to renounce the IRA and the campaign. I’m not more involved in local politics because while I support Sinn Fein for virtually everything they do now in the present and their plans for the future, I can’t agree with their vision of the past.

    Do I think the IRA campaign was wrong? Of course I do, it was a monumental waste of human life that sowed bitterness and lasting division and unending sorrow. But on the other hand, and here is where you will disagree with me, I hold the British government equally responsible in terms of moral responsibility and culpability.

    Even leaving aside all of the horror of the above, the troubles were a strategic error for Nationalism of massive proportions, easily setting back our goal of reunification by at least thirty to forty years. In hindsight we’d have been better served adopting Gandhi style resistance and allowing Unionism to destroy itself through the corrupting force of being an oppressor. But that’s hindsight.

    So on every level I can’t see a single positive thing about the IRA campaign.

    But on the other hand, the Republican base that forms the core of Sinn Fein would aggressively disagree with me. For them the volunteers are old soldiers who faithfully served their country in a dark time. They will never, ever be convinced that their family members were engaged in something that should never have happened.

    The price for facing the past for Sinn Fein, for any attempt to paint those volunteers as the sole bad guys, is immense internal political disruption and I am not sure if you have noticed, but Sinn Fein prioritizes the cohesion of the movement above everything else.

    And while you may damn me for my own choice in recognising this reality, I agree with them. While I would love them to take stand, I know the price of doing so alone would be much too high in terms of the future.

    You want Sinn Fein to face up to it’s past? It has to be an agreed context where EVERYTHING is out in the open, not just the past of the IRA but the Loyalists as well and most definitely the British. That is the safest and most cathartic way of dealing with it.

    Instead we are going to go with Plan B. That’s the one where all sides blame the other for no progress on legacy issues until everyone affected by the troubles has passed way.

  • Gavin Smithson

    Ha. v good. Good question

  • Gavin Smithson

    No it’s a serious question
    What is her party’s stance on publicly burning tyres and their emission of noxious fumes?

    I’m a loyalist by the way and I think bonfires and most working class activity is puerile. I pray for a middle class Protestant benign dictatorship but that’s just me

  • grumpy oul man

    Imagine the fury of Unionist if, The deputy leader of the SDLP in the 80s invaded at night in the company off a mob of IRA men, then 20years later he became leader of the SDLP .
    But unionists seemed not to have any issue at all when Peter done it and even less concerned when they made him leader of unionisms.
    The hypocrisy is obvious to all apart from unionists and they wonder why the rest of the world regards them with comtempt.

  • grumpy oul man

    Yes it is, because unionisn has no moral high ground,
    Keeping themmuns without power was behind the discrimation of the old NI, Gustys reason for killing,for Bombay street and the attacks on civil rights marchs, THE UWC strike, Drumcree, Twaddle and the flags thing.
    So yep it is immoral.

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh dear the NAZI canard again, since more nationlists (many of them Republicans) fought​ against the Nazis than the stay at home and strike a lot Unionist sort of outwieghs the British flirtation of a few senior members.
    Of course you are aware of unionisn has more than flirted with fascism,
    You do know where that charming little Unionist ditty ,the Billy Boys is all about, not only a fascist past but proud of it, still singing the oul songs.

  • grumpy oul man

    “ideally we would have the same parties as on the mainland”
    Do you honestly think the French or German political parties would be interested, I doubt it and none of the ones on the other island would be interested either.

  • mac tire

    Poor, poor reply. I’ll not reply in kind because that will get us nowhere, MU.

  • grumpy oul man

    Uk doesn’t have a mainland it part of a Island group just 21 miles from the world’s largest landmass, that the mainland.

  • grumpy oul man

    Didn’t unionisms elect two leaders with history that closely links them to terrorists.

  • Mach1965

    I whole heartedly agree, they’re going to reep what they’ve sown.

  • grumpy oul man

    Sexist home, explain that!
    And how many times have we heard Unionist bring up the relatives of a Republican politican.

  • grumpy oul man

    Wow, what a load of nonsense.

  • Hugh Davison

    He had the beret but not the balls. Ouch.

  • Reader

    Skibo: Reader Spain has a number of parties that are limited to regional areas that want greater autonomy and independence.
    And is it inevitable that e.g. Catalonia would be a failure? And Portugal used to be a part of Spain, but got its independence. The North American colonies were potentially a state, but partitioned after the war of Independence (sound familiar?)

  • Alan N/Ards

    “You do know where that charming little Unionist ditty ,the Billy Boys is all about, not only a fascist past but proud of it, still singing the oul songs.”

    I’m sure some unionists have sung that song and still do, but many unionists do not (myself included). I usually attend a St. Patrick’s night event ( where everyone is more than likely unionist) and you would be shocked to hear that these unionists will be to singing songs like: If your Irish come into the parlour – Galway bay etc. The Billy Boys is most definitely not on the song list. Mind you it is a Scottish song.

  • grumpy oul man

    If your wife thinks using the word Daddy makes a statement sexist, then she is a very weird feminist indeed the type that gives feminism a bad name,My two very liberated and very independent daughters call me Daddy.
    Admit it the Sexist crack, that was just a kneejerk reaction to somebody daring to criticize Unionist.

  • grumpy oul man

    He resorts to the rude thing when cornered.
    Get cornered a lot does MU.

  • Reader

    grumpy oul man: But unionists seemed not to have any issue at all when Peter done it and even less concerned when they made him leader of unionisms.
    It was a border protest modelled on dozens of nationalist border protests, and much less violent than many. Nationalists are predicting more and worse to come, because of Brexit. So nationalist objections to one loyalist border protest seem rather precious.

  • Hugh Davison

    When I was growing up, Great Britain was ‘the mainland’. The continent was permanently cut off by fog. It’s an argument about semantics and colloquialisms of little value tbh.

  • grumpy oul man

    As Madra said, could we see some evidence of those apologies please, only I most certainly never heard them.

  • Hugh Davison

    Pro-life lobby?

  • grumpy oul man

    I think we can also include all those who attended Rally’s that had terrorists openly on the platforms and where stewarded by terrorists.
    When you where attending the AIA protest did you not notice those godfather’s on the platform ant their army giving directions.

  • Patrick Mac

    2016 – 2017: the year the left worldwide began its long, slow inevitable death.

  • james

    “The dissidents never left that point. For them, creating and perpetuating crisis is an end in itself.”

    Sinn Fein never left it either – though they did stop justifying using arms to create crises – and some of their members actually personally stopped using arms (though to my knowledge all or most of the current crop of Sinn Feiners don’t ferl that it was wrong to kill people in the past – just they do now feel it would be wrong to do so in the future?).

  • Granni Trixie

    How did you know? I thought it was a secret.

  • Hugh Davison

    james,
    I don’t think many UK MPs feel that it was wrong to kill people in the past whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Northern Ireland. Nor is there any indication that they are likely to change their minds in the future.

  • Granni Trixie

    He’s in a minority?

  • Fear Éireannach

    Yes, I’m sure the DUP will advance Agnew’s pro choice agenda.

  • Granni Trixie

    Alliance or Naomi Long are not even referred in your link so it’s manipulative to somehow try make a connection. There is none.

  • Granni Trixie

    Even if UUP run in SB and split the vote?

  • aquifer

    “just because someone is anti abortion doesn’t mean they don’t #trustwomen” Of course it means they do not trust women to decide what is best.

  • Granni Trixie

    That would require agreement between UUP and DUP election ..and trust by the UUP that DUP would keep their agreement come next Assembly election. I think all further bets are off between these two.

  • hgreen

    Oops yes you are right. Just noticed my typo.

  • Ryan A

    Unionists in Lagan Valley balanced all over the show. Hundred votes in either direction in an earlier count would have knocked Pat out. A better management of Givan / Hale would have knocked Pat out. Trevor Lunn not polling as well potentially could have even knocked Pat out given the UUP12 AP3 SDLP 4 preference pattern which was predominant from Palmer’s transfer.

  • Deeman

    Korea seems like a lovely place with good steady peace loving governance.

  • Gaygael

    Not supportive of a minimum human rights standard on abortion is a real difficulty I have about alliance.

  • grumpy oul man

    Well I suppose that as true as any other claim you have made.
    I’m personally quite amused at the Donald,
    He is showing how uniformed the extreme right such as yourself really are.
    It took the Japanese prime minister to get him to understand Korea was complicated, not understand the situation but at least he now’s understands it’s complicated.
    And giving his son in law all those jobs, plus the daughter getting a office in the white house.
    The man is showing the world how unattached the extreme right is,
    Us trendy lefties are having a ball.

  • grumpy oul man

    But it does display a certain little englishness, and from a man who can be so pedantic.

  • grumpy oul man

    So it’s ok to invade villages with a gang of secterian killers.
    I think you just proved my point for me.

  • grumpy oul man

    True Alan, but many Unionist sing it and it is a link to the fascist past of a big branch of unionisn,
    My point was that MU often refers to Republican link to Fascism but seem to be unaware of Unionist links.
    I don’t think I ever said(nor would I mean to) that all Unionist would sing secterian of fascist linked songs but many do and many others walk behind bands that do play them.

  • Gopher

    Unionism had to do one thing in this election, demonstrate it can put the actual union before all the petty bickering and idiotic positions as the electorate expect. So far I have been unimpressed. Having seen the tangle the Lib Dems got themselves in Jim Wells could not wait to inform the world that the economy, the union and the most important election in years is not as important as stopping Peter marrying Paul. Foster does not seem to understand the idea that interviews in papers are not negotiations but an extention of a defective ego and poor Robin seems more than a little lost. Its hardly Carson and Craig reincarnated.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Better management?

    What about Free Will and Choice.

    There may be a reason why Jenny Palmer’s transfers did not go back to the DUP, largely because of what the DUP did to poor Jenny Palmer.

    Getting transfers from Lunn and Palmer voters had to be earned, the DUP did not earn them, the SDLP did.

  • Granni Trixie

    In some ways I agree with your analysis …except for a fundamental difference: for you the election is about demonstrating that “the union” is important whereas to me it’s about capturing some degree of power over the content of the Brexit proposals for a deal. Or at least to be in the sphere where you can exercise influence. Sounds like generally you see the union, and maintaining it, as above all other considerations when you vote. I have different values.

  • Ryan A

    Well aware of it Mal. I doubt you’d have taken the Greens anywhere near those talks.

  • Ryan A

    I can tell you from being on the ground in LV. Pulling that off was a fluke. It won’t happen again. And I have NO desire whatsoever to see another DUP seat return.

  • Patrick Mac

    You could head down to sunny Venezuela if you like to party.
    It looks like a whole heap of fun.

  • Gopher

    This is where I disagree with your analysis, diluting the union will weaken control over the deal we can achieve, the broader the coalition that supports May the better chance of isolating the extremes. The only control we will get is by how much we support the clear winner which will be May. Billigerence which is all our local parties have to offer will get us nowhere and we have seen throughout the last year we have too many parties pulling in too many different directions to be effectual. In this election the union is the only sound vote and the rest of the UK are all arriving at that conclusion to get us through brexit

  • Skibo

    Kevin they moved to the DUP because of the Never never never message. If big Ian had not wanted power, they would still be outside the assembly throwing snow balls.

  • Skibo

    Reader your memory of the incident must be different to mine. As for the border protests, from what I see in information about them, they seem to be setting up old style border posts. Hardly the same as to what peter did or the threats from the likes of the third force taking over villages and marching men through in military procession then waving gun permits is hardly the sign of peaceful aims.

  • Jimmy

    Claire Hanna has a weeks old baby. Declan Boyle and Kate Mullan are suspended. They don’t have much choice *unfortunately*. As McDonnell may say he represents the 70% of South Belfast who voted remain, but he really doesn’t represent what is northern Ireland’s most vibrant university constituency. South Belfast deserves better

  • Fear Éireannach

    No Irish need apply?

  • Fear Éireannach

    This does not reflect well on either the Alliance Party or the Greens, these too are “Sinn Fein” parties.

  • Kevin Breslin

    And if Foster and Donaldson wanted to have the earlier DUP of Paisley they would’ve have joined the DUP of Paisley in the first place.

    Foster and Donaldson helped the DUP get a large section of the UUP vote … you certainly cannot deny that.

    Why am I being devil’s advocate for the DUP again?

    Sssh.

  • Jordy

    Takes a different caliber of man to pull the trigger or push the detonate button.

  • grumpy oul man

    O have no idea what you are on about, have you checked whatever you are saying against a real newspaper.
    Remember your Muslim mob rioting in Dublin, turned to be a Facebook fight between local youths.
    You do tend to believe any oul crap produced by those crazy websites your always quoting

  • grumpy oul man

    It is a unionist trend.

  • Jim M

    Oh come on…there are plenty of anti abortion women and men who do ‘trust women’, but they find abortion repulsive and (wrongly in my view) think that criminalisation works. The whole point of the slogan, as seen here, is to smear any anti abortion man as a misogynistic creep. Now while it’s possible this may apply to McDonnell (I don’t know), it seems like pretty immature politics. Agnew could just have said ‘our positions on abortion are completely incompatible’ (or similar) and left it at that.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    If Swann had the balls he would tell Foster we are running Nesbitt in South Belfast on the UUP Ticket the DUP are pulling out of South Belfast and the UUP will pull out of East Belfast for a clear run for Gavin ! Publically announce it ! and see who the Unionist Electorate blames if the DUP try to F up the chance of returning 3 Unionist Belfast MPs ? Sometimes the DUP are too greedy for their own good when it should not be about party 1st but country and Union 1st ?

  • Granni Trixie

    Let me clarify – I meant a minority on Slugger.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not sure I follow

  • Granni Trixie

    But what was wrong with Alliance stating at an early stage that they were not going into any pact? Other parties knew that and have made their own independent decisions.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Obelisk, thanks for a thoughtful post – we can agree to differ but that is appreciated.

  • Enda

    Yeah, I’ve noticed. Strange fellow.

  • Enda

    It does, and least we fail to recognise the wonderful atmosphere at the border of India/Pakistan – such a pleasant place, but nowhere beats tranquility quite like the Middle East. Drawing lines through that place has really helped people to get along.

    Partitioned nations in the 21st century – a real example for the rest of the world to follow :-/

  • Enda

    Former countries that were partitioned. Do you require spoon feeding for your meals?

  • Gaygael

    Horrible Sectarainisation of the whole discussion by Alliance yesterday in this mean spirited press release calling it a ‘Nationalist Pact’ and saying Greens are ‘tainted by chasing a nationalist pact’.

    Gone down like a lead balloon on social media with very alliance minded supporters.
    This and the Castlereagh two incident. A creeping nastiness in the party? Statement follows.

    In response to the collapse of the proposed nationalist pact in South Belfast, an Alliance spokesperson said:

    “The Green Party have belatedly recognised their own naivety in even considering pacts, and have become more desperate in doing in the past few days.

    “To think Alasdair McDonnell, a socially conservative incumbent SDLP MP, would step aside in South Belfast or Sinn Fein would renounce their long-standing and counterproductive abstentionist policy was never realistic.

    “The Green Party is now tainted from chasing a nationalist pact and their seeming desire to turn several constituencies into a sectarian headcount.

    “Alliance has been clear from the outset in our rejection of pacts as a matter of principle and we have not been interested in giving any mixed message on that point from having any meetings on the matter.

    “We remain happy to talk to any party on matters of common cause around policy matters, including on how we can avoid a hard Brexit and secure a special deal for Northern Ireland.”

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I would go further than the statement of “A creeping nastiness in the party” From my knowledge and dealings with that party back from the mid 70s there has always been that nastiness streak, but the most disturbing aspect that I have always found about the Alliance Party is the “Condescending Arrogance” of them towards people from different backgrounds to themselves ! In other words “We know whats best for you little people ! ” Totalitarianism masquerading as a Middle/Centre Ground Political Party ! You only have to read some of their posters on this forum to get the drift ! They can fool some of the people but not all of us !

  • Reader

    Skibo: As for the border protests, from what I see in information about them, they seem to be setting up old style border posts.
    You’re mixing up several different things. During the troubles, SF mounted numerous protests objecting to border security, and these protests sometimes became violent.
    You have recalled symbolic protests against hypothetical border posts in recent months. However, if you read back through Slugger comments since the Brexit vote, you will see numerous predictions about violence against actual customs posts and their occupants. (When I point out that the border posts will actually be created by the EU on the Irish side of the border, and probably manned by Irish citizens, the ‘predictions’ are not repeated. Interesting.)

  • Croiteir

    A person from the outer reaches of socialism will not be a unifying character.

    So the fig leaves have fallen, the SDLP are now in a lose-lose situation. If FF now come north they are toast. Bet they now wish they did not spurn them with Ritchie and her “Not on my watch” outburst.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Barney, I’ve consistently stated Loyalist paramilitarism is/was no better and I’ve gone way out of my way to condemn terrorists from my own community in unequivocal terms. Usually without any reciprocation from others on here (with some honourable exceptions – Obelisk most recently).

    I do give more attention to the issue of the IRA legacy because its political party is now voted for in such numbers and its representatives are now the dominant voice of nationalism in N Ireland. They use that voice to tell a distorted narrative of the Troubles which excuses them and demonises the security forces. Not only is it wildly inaccurate but it has a pernicious influence on NI society, creating discord where there needn’t be any.

    Loyalism is under-debated on here. I think it’s largely because, this site being peopled mainly by nationalists, of the role Loyalism has in the Irish Republican narrative. That is, it tends to be elided as it doesn’t actually fit comfortably with the Republican story. That is, this concept of the IRA waging a “war” on behalf of Ireland against the British invader, in which the main protagonists are the IRA and the British state, fighting each other with equal if mutually disputed status. It is a fantasy of course, one of self-aggrandisement by a group of terrorists with a limited support base and no mandate to kill, trying to justify themselves in a specious assay on international law principles by claiming “army” status.

    Loyalists don’t fit this self-image Republican terrorists seek to create and so Republicans don’t like to acknowledge them. They are the real mirror image of Republicanism – clannish, extremely brutal, deeply sectarian, gangs that use murder to try to bludgeon the other community into submission to their will.

    The place Republicans have found for Loyalist terrorism, which does work with their narrative, is this idea that Loyalists were simply tools of the UK government. This enables Republicans to cite Loyalist crimes as somehow the work of the UK government (the more worthy adversary and ultimate target, whose moral authority the IRA has to attack for the IRA’s own campaign to be justified).

    Hence the campaign to characterise as much as possible of the UK police and intelligence services work inside Loyalist groups as “collusion”. It has very little to do with getting to the truth or wrestling with the moral dilemmas of agent-running in anti-terrorist intelligence work, and quite a lot about telling a story about Loyalism and about the government’s anti-terrorism work that fits with the Republican determination to justify IRA violence.

    If one understands Loyalism at all, listens to Loyalists or reads the work of people like Prof Steve Bruce or Peter Shirlow who have access to them and have analysed them, or read the Da Silva report, it’s clear how wide of the mark in reality this Republican story of Loyalism is. The truth Republicans don’t want people to know about Loyalists is that they had agency – a lot of it. Their sense of Britishness is real, free-standing and not down to taking the King’s shilling. They were created, driven and peopled by working class Protestants, not by some puppet master in Whitehall. They were motivated in many cases by raw sectarianism but also by hatred of the IRA, a desire for revenge against the IRA and the nationalist community more widely which it blamed for the IRA, and a desire to defend their own communities from attack. The reality of Loyalist actions though, despite the supposed rationale, was nothing short of barbarous. They were horrific organisations who did untold damage to thousands of innocent people and their families. They were the people who made the wrong choices and they deserve all the stick they now get for that. Unionists who show them “sneaking regard” or who vote for anyone justifying Loyalist murders are a disgrace to unionism.

    There is a lot to say about Loyalism but really looking through a collusion lens, as Republicans insist on these days, means misunderstanding entirely the forces behind Loyalism and the real lessons to be learnt from the horrors of what Loyalists did. That’s not to avoid that there were some awful examples of actual collusion, as Da Silva set out. And the state has been right to condemn what was done in those cases and apologise for it. But it’s actually only a relatively small piece of the Loyalist terror picture and of the Troubles overall, being magnified for political and sectarian reasons.

    Loyalist terror has been an Ulster Protestant problem, just as the Republican terror was an Irish Catholic one. Each of us needs to get our own house in order and owes it to the other community to do so. For my part I’ve said I think anyone with a violent Troubles past should gracefully step back from political careers. They have a role in community work, helping keep younger generations away from the paths they took and showing that life is better doing more constructive things. But I think their presence in wider NI politics has been really too toxic on balance and has only made bitterness and division worse, especially where they are still honouring past atrocities and attempting to whitewash what they did.

    Hence a particular regard to SF.

  • Nevin

    ‘Condescending arrogance’ reminds me of the attitude of some teachers in a school in Sandy Row, Belfast during the course of a mid-week trip to Corrymeela. “What morals would these children have if it wasn’t for us?”, says them – before heading off to the pub, leaving the children in the care of the volunteer staff.

  • Gaygael

    4,247 people gave a first preference to ‘the outer reaches of socialism’ and 6,797 by the end of the count before any distribution of UUP transfers of 5,255, likely to be at least 20% of that. Shall we add another 1,000.

    That’s not shy of nearly 8,000 people giving preference to the ‘outer reaches of socialism’ in South Belfast.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Like you say Nevin maybe them children and their parents have better morals than those who claim to be their teachers ? #blyfield

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Blythe School ! Remember one thing though ? Them kids are and always will be the bonfire children ! of yesteryear todayyear and futureyear ! And know one ever went to talk to them to ask for their opinion ?

  • grumpy oul man

    Yep it seems to be a constant.

  • Skibo

    Why do you think that the UK will not want border posts? Who will keep illegal immigrants out? Who will check for smuggling?

  • Barneyt

    It has to been constituency based no matter what. If the SDLP and sf stand little chance then they should back out and endorse the greens. Perhaps you could argue that sf should work to shoe in as many SDLP as they can on the basis they can’t voice their opinion on-premise

  • Kevin Breslin

    Unfortunately it should ideally be constituency based, but you look at Fermanagh-South Tyrone and it comes down to having a notch in either the Nationalist or Unionist belt, and nothing to do with representing the people. Fair enough people voting Bobby Sands may’ve wanted to make some other statements that are equally diversionary these days, but what really would a Sinn Féin or DUP MP say about both sides of FST, what are they doing to bring in jobs, investment or save a hospital.

    Why does it matter to the constituency if they are inside or outside except a constitutional aspiration that still polarizes the other side.

    It’s not as if voting Sinn Féin boosts links with the border countries any better than if it didn’t happen or that voting for a Unionist unity candidate boost links with GB any better than if it didn’t happen.

  • Reader

    Skibo: Why do you think that the UK will not want border posts? Who will keep illegal immigrants out? Who will check for smuggling?
    Border posts are used to collect tarrifs. Since the UK won’t put tarrifs on imports, the UK will have no need for border posts. Supposing a protectionist government does so in the future, it still wouldn’t be worth building border posts to protect 2% of the home market.
    The CTA will keep illegal immigrants out, as it has done for decades. EU citizens who want to enter the UK will move freely. Citizens of the EU26 will be very limited in their right to work, claim healthcare, education and benefits – but that’s a paper border.
    Smuggling is happening right NOW because of different subsidies, tax rates and fuel duties on either side of the border. Border posts would be the least effective way of dealing with that in the modern world – supposing that anyone ever makes a serious effort to stop it. Since it is likely to be EU subsidies that are exploited, the EU will have to decide what to do about it.

  • Reader

    Enda: Former countries that were partitioned. Do you require spoon feeding for your meals?
    So we come back to Portugal then. And South Korea as well. And Singapore.

  • Skibo

    Border posts are there to regulate trade and ensure it is all legal. If the UK does not get a deal and has to go down the road of WTO then there will be tariffs to collect.
    The CTA will not keep out illegal immigrants. If so there would not be any requirements for any border posts at all. A lock only keeps out an honest man.
    In GB there are issues with illegal immigrants working in areas for cash. That will go through the roof in the event of the UK not opening the borders to allow labour in.