“Talking up the frailty of our peace for political capital is deeply insulting, opportunist and obscenely inaccurate…”

When you’re all quite finished laughing at the mendacious cartoon stereotyping of “the oul Orange deal”, here’s a more sobering analysis of why that money is needed, Michael Hugh Walker:

The idea that our peace is so fragile diminishes the losses the generation before me suffered and disregards the investment in a terror-free existence that we as a nation have made, and continue to make, every day.

Talking up the frailty of our peace for political capital is deeply insulting, opportunist and obscenely inaccurate. So please stop it.

Stop allowing English politicians, last in Northern Ireland two decades ago, to make these grand statements with such high accord; and for the commentators, who continue to make these claims, stop using the imagery of my country on fire to politically point score against May.

I find it fascinating though that the same people who talk up Northern Ireland’s potential to break into conflict ignore our past’s very real impact on everyday lives – deprivation. That is another reason why we are different and deserve more money than the other regions.

The Troubles continues to reverberate through Northern Irish lives. In 2012, the biggest ever study in poverty in the UK was conducted.

It not only found that “levels of deprivation and financial hardship are more extensive in Northern Ireland than in the UK as a whole”, but it found that those who were affected by the Troubles are significantly more likely to suffer deprivation.

These are factors that, gracefully, nowhere else in the UK endures; it is why we are a special case; it is why this money is needed, and shouldn’t be derided.

So some of this comes down to plain old incompetence in government. But Northern Ireland frittered the good days of NHS investment whilst the IRA held on to its guns six or seven years longer than the timetable agreed in the GFA.

Such indulgences mean we’re far behind Britain in the rationalisation and modernisation of services (which is saying something) and not that much further ahead of the often ramshackle HSE in the Republic: particularly when it comes to trolley waiting times.

  • mac tire

    “Talking up the frailty of our peace for political capital is deeply insulting, opportunist and obscenely inaccurate. So please stop it.”

    Indeed. I give you Michael Fallon, Tory Secretary of State for Defence, this morning on Radio 5.

    “The money is not going to Arlene Foster; it’s not going to the DUP. It’s an investment in the whole province of Northern Ireland,.

    It’s right too, to concentrate more resources on Northern Ireland because the last thing anybody wants is a reversion to the Troubles we had for over 30 years.”

    When the ones who handed over the money are doing it…

  • mickfealty

    Or even that bugger Fealty who thinks he runs this place…

    https://twitter.com/mickfealty/status/880042834346344452

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    While I am certainly not disputing that “those who were affected by the Troubles are significantly more likely to suffer deprivation”, what is a matter of concern to me is how our political parties tend to squander our “free” money at the expense of HM Treasury while doing little to make NI stand on its own 2 feet. Will the deprived benefit or will the squeakiest wheels?

    The entitlement of the deprived is one thing and that deprivation needs addressing. The sense of entitlement as demonstrated by the not so deprived is another thing completely and there are plenty who are bipartisan in our disapproval of how that’s exploited to squeeze further funds because we misspent/overspent/didn’t impose caps/didn’t maximise financial benefit to the taxpayer … yet again.

    It’s an off the scale bank of mum and dad. But rewards can be reaped at the ballot box by maintaining deprivation levels as they are. It all depends where the subsequent resentment (vicarious or firsthand) is directed or should I say channelled?

  • mac tire

    That’s only referencing one part of Fallon’s quote – about who the money is for. I quoted that as it leads to the important, second part – ‘talking up the fragility of our peace’.
    Is it not ‘insulting, opportunist and obscenely inaccurate’? It’s a very high ranking Tory minister saying this, so surely there is something to be said about it.
    Or does this only apply to their detractors?

  • sparrow

    The Tories cared / care little about deprivation here. The likes of Fallon is now talking it up as a threat to peace only in order to justify the bribe paid out to the DUP.I sincerely doubt whether Labour are any better. So long as we’re tacked on to GB as part of the union we’ll be cap in hand to whomsoever is in residence at 10 Downing Street. Down with this sort of thing.

  • Karl

    To lay the blame on the IRA for their procrastination on decommissioning would appear to be opportunistic scape goating when even now rationalising A&Es across NI and consolidating services has proved so controversial that many independents have stood and some won on local hospital platforms.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    The point is that we have had a tolerance of putting important things on the long finger. IF the IRA can procrastinate for so long on decommissioning then what else are we expected to wait a seemingly interminable time for? Our tolerance for indecision, procrastination and non movement might be wearing thin by now. I hope that delivery on promises might be the new order,

  • Lex.Butler

    Worth reading the entire article. 100000 kids living below the poverty line is a staggering statistic and heartbreaking as it means it is almost impossible to escape your roots the way we could. Whatever ones views, the money is needed.

  • Zeno3

    The frailty of the Peace Process?

    What do you think is going to happen?

  • mac tire

    Ask Michael Fallon – he seems to think the money is required to prevent a “reversion” to the conflict. Not sure why but he thinks this but he might answer if you ask.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    I wonder how the direct rule ministers will spend i t.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Maybe “the IRA held on to its guns six or seven years longer than the timetable agreed in the GFA.” because the DUP were in close fraternisation with the UDA, UDF, etc.

  • mickfealty

    At the direction of DUP MPs if SF doesn’t intervene by resuming office at Stormont.

  • Barneyt

    Just a thought. Sf could propose an end to power sharing and perhaps the start of coalition government? It would be broad and they and others might squeak over the line. That’s one way to appropriate the funds ( and they would have to target working class east Belfast with expediency). It would resonate nicely down below. Is there a case for this? It seems to me that sf are caught between addressing social issues and cementing the NI state into some level of permanency. The unionist have to address matters that gave a wider cultural significance and have a healing effect. They won’t I fear not without unreasonable horse trading. I see direct rule as a preferred choice for the DUP despite what they say. Then they have all the pie.

  • Barneyt

    Are we saying that we cannot find an equal or greater collection in gb that are more deprived than us collectively over here? If we’re looking a pockets here and there then I’m sure you can examine many areas in the north and south west of England that are in bad shape. That’s how England will view it and they’ll readily dismiss their role played here.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Will not happen,the Iinternational agreement must be upheld, Mrs May has made
    enough of a fool of herself already disgracing herself at home without doing
    it in the eyes of the world. Mr Corybn will be watching her closely now.

  • murdockp

    I cannot agree based on the evidence to hand. It does worry me that a culture of handouts and dependence is taking hold in NI, the 210,000 recipients of DLA I find disturbing. That is one in five of the working population.

    The debate I would like to kick of is how really impoverished parts of NI have responded with out government intervention to go to where the work is. I am not saying for one second that this is the answer, but some communities have had to do this to survive and this culture has been passed down through the generations.

    Firstly, we deserve not a penny more than the rest of the UK. In my opinion the economic plight of the miners in Newcastle or Yorkshire and wales is comparable to here NI just go and visit the likes of Merthyr Tydfil in wales if you want to see a town with its soul ripped out as a result of Thatcherism. The mine closures were these peoples troubles with out the bombs and bullets of course.

    Back to NI, I would like to take you to some of the villages of Tyrone and Down and talk to the older generation who didn’t even have shoes when they were growing up and certainly no government handouts. Now many of these places look wealthy due to the repatriated cash from sons and daughters who have had no choice but work away from home to provide for their families..

    To this day the people from these places go to where the work is, I am one of them. from construction through to manual labour they travel. Just look at our airports at Christmas for all the evidence one needs. Is it right? no but we do it to keep a roof over our heads.

    I regularly see plasterers and bricklayers at the airports all the time on their way home from the likes of London, Manchester as I go to do my work.

    Travel down to these villages tomorrow at 6.00 in the morning and observe the workers getting into mini buses to go work in Belfast and Dublin to undertake the days work that is not in the inhabitants of the very cities they go to work in.

    The debate I think needs to be had is why some of our people are willing to travel to where the work is but others expect the work to come to them.

    Why is it that our people are so unwilling to undertake certain jobs, that an immigrant population has had to be imported to undertake these jobs locals are unwilling to undertake?

    The only consistent legacy of the troubles I see more and more is we think the world owes us a living and the more and more we think we deserve handouts. At some point it has to stop.

  • Fick Mealty

    mac tire

    Saw that comment from Fallon and thought this article would feature it more.

    Quote from the original post

    “Stop allowing English politicians, last in Northern Ireland two decades
    ago, to make these grand statements with such high accord; and for the
    commentators, who continue to make these claims, stop using the imagery
    of my country on fire to politically point score against May.”

    It appears that this article only focuses on those who are against May (and this the Tories or DUP).

    Not a mention is made of Secretary of State for Defence (the guy who runs the armed forces) using the frailty of our peace for political capital. Perhaps the DUP told him something in negotiations?

  • mac tire

    Remarkable actually.

  • Damien Mullan

    “we as a nation”. That’s the point at which I departed from Mr Walker’s analysis. It’s a country, a state, but it’s no nation. A country or state within which there exists two nations, plural not singular is this Northern Ireland of ours.

  • Starviking

    SF are/were much closer to the IRA than the DUP ever were to the UDA, UVF, etc.

    Now if you were talking about the PUP or the UDP, that would be much more accurate – but then that would spoil your comparison, as the PUP and UDP were small players in politics.

  • aquifer

    IRA delay in decommissioning beat the UUP and begat the DUP, no?

  • Reader

    You won’t get a sensible answer out of him. It’s a cover story for the benefit of the Scots and Welsh, and it won’t bear scrutiny.

  • Reader

    Damien Mullan: A country or state within which there exists two nations, plural not singular is this Northern Ireland of ours.
    So there are two nations in Northern Ireland? Therefore there must be at least two nations in Ireland 32.
    Well, I’m glad that’s settled.

  • David Bond

    No offence but aren’t you missing the point entirely? Nobody is begrudging the fact NI needs more funding, just like many other deprived areas in the UK deserves more funding. And yes maybe NI deserves more than most, maybe it’s been let down more than most – but the point is that it is a crooked deal. The Tories haven’t suddenly developed a sense of goodwill, they do not care one jot about the people in NI (or anybody else in the UK other than themselves), and they would have paid off The Devil himself just to cling on to power. People in the UK aren’t angry that money is going to NI; they are angry that the Tories have bribed their way into power

  • David Bond

    @mickfealty:disqus No offence but aren’t you missing the point? Nobody is begrudging the fact NI needs more funding, just like many other deprived areas in the UK deserves more funding. And yes maybe NI deserves more than most, maybe it’s been let down more than most – but the point is that it is a crooked deal. The Tories haven’t suddenly developed a sense of goodwill, they do not care one jot about the people in NI (or anybody else in the UK other than themselves), and they would have paid off The Devil himself just to cling on to power. People in the UK aren’t angry that money is going to NI; they are angry that the Tories have bribed their way into power

  • Skibo

    I thought if Stormont goes into mothballs, the SOS takes the reigns and the Irish government,while not acting with joint authority will have sway with the SOS in an advisory position.
    The DUP should be sitting in with the Tories in their (coalition) committee resolving how to vote in the next time that the Tories want to reinforce austerity and the SOS apparently will be nowhere to be seen.
    Now if the DUP will have no sway with the British Government in devolved matters, why should they have any sway with the SOS if Stormont goes into mothballs?
    It all rests in how much you trust the statement that the British Government will work impartially.
    If impartial with Stormont up, then it automatically means they will be impartial with Stormont down or is the impartiality of the British Government just another fact of the DUP stating one thing and acting another.

  • Skibo

    It is easy to look at the DLA figures and say that parts of the community are living on government handouts but what has to be remembered is that we are a low wage economy.
    It was stated on the radio this morning that the private wages lag between 30 and 40% behind those of the public sector. There are areas where unemployment is still rife. Now, while I will accept when a family goes through a couple of generations of living on the social it becomes the norm, the issue that the wages available sometimes do not make ends meet, people will look for ways to make their income up. The fraudulent claims are at a minimum compared to the amount of benefits that go unclaimed.
    The fact that claims for DLA and benefits are higher in Nationalist areas is to an extent an example of the more efficient way that Sinn Fein represents the people.
    This would be the same party that Unionists say are not working.
    Something doesn’t add up.

  • Damien Mullan

    There likely is two nations within the 26 counties, within the 6 counties, and thus within the island of Ireland as a whole. That this has be mollified in the 26 counties over the course of the past 100 years, is due more to the passage of time than any rapprochement or reckoning with the Irish nation state by those who once felt alienation. Was not the flying of the Union Flag over Trinity College on V-E an outward and visible expression of this? Was the movement of unionist populations after the Treaty an indication of this? Is not the utterly futile and pointless exercise in ‘road-mapping’ by nationalist/republicans for unionism/unionists within a United Ireland scenario an indication of this?