Despite McGuinness’ charisma SF ministers and MLAs have made a poor fist of government

Whilst the institutions are down (and they may be down for some time) rather than just assume we’re all getting back into the same car only for it to crash again another 12 months down the road it’s worth using for some honest assessments of what keeps going wrong.

Fionnuala O’Connor nails one assumption that’s gone hugely under reported, ie that good as they are at winning elections, Sinn Fein’s actual record in government has been pretty abysmal.

McGuinness made charisma and his personal transition go a long way, but close recorders of Stormont thought from the start, some unwillingly, that his ministers and MLAs for the most part made a poor fist of it. The DUP would still have stymied them even if republican ministers had been any good, some say bleakly, but good, almost without exception, they weren’t.

Someone, patience exhausted, agrees DUP blocking was routine. ‘But the Shinners wasted their chances through lack of imagination, ignorance and plain incompetence. They never put the DUP to the test.’

Their handling of Casement through ministerial office and departmental committee alike alienated many, some of them formerly devoted. Sports grounds from earlier eras in built-up areas are a problem everywhere but this was the heartland, west Belfast, and a basic issue of safety was swamped by political game-playing.

Sinn Féin sloppiness in Stormont and inattention to detail damaged the GAA; far from blameless themselves, but who seemingly had been told to leave it to the party.

Then the party’s reaction to criticism was the usual conflict-era truculence, knee jerk ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us’, although the dominant west Belfast reflex has always been to soften criticism of Sinn Féin out of wishful-thinking loyalty.

And for good measure:

The tragic speed of the McGuinness decline and death lent cover, the crashed executive extended it, the assembly election result disguised the flaws in organisation and personnel, the shallowness of the talent pool.

But the weakness is multi-layered. Which is another reason, on top of dour acceptance that the show lacks merit, for Sinn Féin’s lukewarmness about re-establishing a production in Stormont.

That Northern Ireland’s democracy can be used as a party political chattel to cover for such weaknesses in government, compounds the issue. Yesterday Fionnuala’s stablemate, Brian Feeney speculated that a SF/FF coalition would be good for northern nationalists.

Yet it’s hard to see how a political party – which collapsed under the heat of a highly limited Opposition after just seven months in Northern Ireland – is in any way shape or form ready for such senior hurling.

Indeed, in the Republic, we can expect what is in effect a prolonged boycott of power sharing in Northern Ireland to feature in the run in to the next general election as a reason they’re both unready and unfit to play the game of government.

 

  • MainlandUlsterman

    he shirked his duty not to kill or hurt people – spectacularly and for many, many years

  • MainlandUlsterman

    So our ages-old mutual ethnic squabbling has all been down to … the other lot. Are you not seeing the flaw in your logic there Ted?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    So you’re saying the IRA’s victims had it coming, is that your argument?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    let’s hope so, it’s poisonous sectarian stuff

  • Paddy Reilly

    Not at all, Nationalists, or at least Clann na Gael, were cock-a-hoop in 1923 at the thought of recovering the territory West and South of the Bann. But once you allow Unionism an input that was merely turned into a further compounded gerrymander, causing future Nationalist allergy to the concept.

  • ted hagan

    Well if James wants to call out McGuinness on ‘a life dedicated to bigotry’ I will say that McGuinness was born into a state found on bigotry and hatred and that came into being through the threat of a unionist uprising, the threat of violence, and in defiance of the democracy that unionists tell us that they hold dear. Nothing illogical in that, in fact it’s totally logical. I have never supported violence, loyalist or republican, but I know from whence it came.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Disgruntled” needs a bit of unpacking. The smaller disgruntled minority in the north were disgruntled as being rendered powerless by the demographics of partition. The “larger” potential minority after reunification would hold quite a strong political card as a coalition partner in any Dublin administration. Their disgruntled position could only then be that of not having the whip hand over the northern minority of today, which is very much the sub-text of current Unionist complaint.

    These are two quite different positions, and are not quite as comparable as you appear to believe.

  • Mach1965

    Well this I can agree with you on, unless parameters are agreed it’s near on impossible to properly quantify. I never made any analysis, just suggested a starting point and gave a few examples.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Numbers are not the only issue here, but the treatment of minorities will always qualify the right of any “majority” to govern. It has been clear that the minority in NI were not regarded as of “equal value” in how they were governed, and the expected oversight of their rights by Westminster after 1920 was not forthcoming.

    Simply evaluating this on the numbers issue must dismiss the most important factor in how any administration can justify its claim to be a custodian of the rule of law, how even handedly it treats those who are otherwise powerless against the majority. In this the Free State out performed NI during the defining first decade of their existence, where the perceptions of later generations were established.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    John, really? “with a record of wholesale coercion of Protestants”

    Certainly not my south Dublin cousins, or other protestant family members who did not feel they had experienced “coercion” by their governments after 1922? If only the north could offer a similar record………..

  • john millar

    “certainly not my south Dublin cousins, or other protestant family members who did not feel they had experienced “coercion” by their governments after 1922? If only the north could offer a similar record”

    Population of Dublin 1920 17-20% Protestant
    Population of Dublin 1960 % Protestant ?
    Population of Dublin 200) % Protestant ?……

    http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/past/protestants_1861_1991.html

    Take the old coach road from Derry to Galway via Strabane and Donegal stop and identify the protestant churches (if you can find them ) that are now libraries resturants etc.
    Where have they gone.

    1920 -1960 Population of ROI fell by some 150,000
    Population of NI rose by some 150,000.
    !920-1960 (and repeated ) mass exodus of population to emigration largely England.
    “If only the north could offer a similar record”

  • john millar
  • mac tire

    Those say absolutely nothing about today’s Ireland. Go look at the census, the spectacular fall in Mass attendance or even just look at the laws that exist that are against Catholic teaching, for God’s sake.

    There was no “wholesale coercion of Protestants”; the Protestant decline was for many, varying reasons. The Peter Harte school of thought has since been thoroughly debunked.

    Your religious argument is so last century, John. No-one hardly cares about it any more.

  • john millar

    “So last century”
    My family has had direct effect from “so last century”
    Repeats
    “Ne temere” is alive and well in today`s Ireland

    “Debunked” -I don`t think so

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Year-Disappearances-Political-Killings-1920-1921/dp/0717147487

  • john millar

    “Agree with much of what you say except for educational attainment as for various reasons someone could have few formal qualifications yet be highly intelligent and capable.”

    Since oh say 1947 ( the education act etc in Ni) It is relatively hard to sit through 13/14 years of schooling and (then 3/4 post school ? and remain bereft of qualifications. It takes special levels of disinterest, poor behaviour, and associated lack of other attributes -before we get to the much debated IQ measures- to reach this position.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Just wondering about total deaths in that period. I tried on Google, a search engine popularised by Stephen Kelly, but numbers were not offering themselves up. I don’t think there were many though. Point being, if IRA onslaught from 1970 on was supposed to be some kind of “return of serve”, it does seem to have been wildly out of proportion to the wrong suffered. Kind of like having a dodgy penalty given against you and reacting by disembowelling the offending player.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    and you’re apparently comfortable making excuses for it

  • MainlandUlsterman

    yes, never allow unionists a say …

    Really, you’re saying nationalism has been for repartition? I hadn’t noticed that I must say

  • Mach1965

    A fascinating analogy and for the record, I don’t condone any form of violence.

    I just thought it would be interesting to see would the figures show a mmore balanced view. The reason I pointed out the Mc Mahon and the Arnon St. Incidents was because that had been quite a violent period leaving 185 Protestant and 267 catholic dead.

    As I said earlier without parameters we can’t really come to a viable conclusion. Let’s just pray that all atrocities from whatever corner can never be allowed to happen again.

  • mac tire

    Political killings? What has that to do with religion?

  • Granni Trixie

    Educational theory highlights ‘the link between home and school’ in outcomes for children – a child from an unsupportive home life is more likely to fail.
    What can I say but that I exemplified this myself – I achieved v few formal qualifications. I don’t think this was through disinterest in learning or intelligence or bad behaviour but that I was preoccupied with dealing with a v difficult home life (and then children’s home). True, as a mature student I made up for this but that was in the day when third level was free and I got a grant.

    I also think that the experience I describe was a resource for when I became a teacher myself.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Cumann na nGaedheal.

  • Zack E. Nolan 2

    Zorin001, that is a well beaten drum, but not a great one – IRA apologist Chris Donolly put up an article a few months ago which demonstrated that how many more Roman Catholic boys need school meals that Protestant boys, so the cohort sizes are radically different.

    That small proportion of the population that are working class Protestant boys needs support, they are far behind, but they are Dwarfed by the numbers of Roman Catholics being failed by Nationalism.

  • Zack E. Nolan 2

    DOUG Troll Obvious is obvious?

    Good contribution buddy

  • MainlandUlsterman

    yes there’s lots of great material now on the early 20s Troubles – some social geographers (whose names escape me) did some very in depth but accessible work on what happened where and to whom. Linked in to wider events on the island at that time too, so there were retaliations in Belfast for stuff that was happening in Cork etc, all quite interesting. But after that period, 1923 until the Troubles, I haven’t seen stats or much analysis of patterns of murders until the Border Campaign and Troubles. I don’t think there was a lot.

  • Paddy Reilly

    You wouldn’t have. You weren’t born.

    The treaty brigade were for it in the first half of the 1920s. Of course what you call “allowing the Unionists a say” only meant allowing the Nationalists no say.

    The principle has been established that 50% plus is a Unionist Majority. 20% – 50% Unionist is a near Unionist majority. Less than 20% Unionist is a Nationalist majority. Any area with a Unionist majority or ‘near Unionist majority’ passes under Unionist control.

    Since 1925 the Nationalist faction has realised that re-partition is a sure-fire way of getting burnt. Unionism is about domination, not equality. Nationalists have developed a profound allergy to anything of the sort. The question is, whether participation in this so-called ‘power-sharing’ is moving into the same category.

  • DOUG

    Thanks Guy.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Unionism is no more about domination than nationalism is. Both are just expressions of different national allegiances. To suggest one has greater moral weight than the other is simply sectarian.

  • Dónall

    Sorry Mick, I might have over reacted. I do like your website. But I thought that some of the anti-Catholic and anti-nationalist rhetoric from some of the commentators was unacceptable.

  • Hugh Davison
  • mickfealty

    I give such people a very short leash these days when I see it, not for the measure of offence, but the mere breach of the civility rule. Glad you’re sticking around.

  • Hugh Davison

    Is that a ‘sectarian’ argument?

  • Hugh Davison

    All our families had direct effect from ‘so last century’ It’s so last century (nineteenth century). Are you still living there? So sad.

  • Hugh Davison

    I looked up your links. So MOPE. The reasons for the Protestant exodus from southern Ireland are well documented and mostly had nothing to do with persecution. Those that stayed resigned themselves to no longer being part of the Empire, and in general did pretty well, as my many southern Protestant friends will testify. You should get out and travel about a bit more.

  • Hugh Davison

    You already know what the answer is, right? So you go looking for the evidence to justify it. Counting churches along the road? Pathetic.

  • Hugh Davison

    And the soldier who shot the 12-year-old?

  • Hugh Davison

    Actually, this is sad. If we don’t have journalists on the ground to ‘speak truth to power’ we are in a very bad place.

  • james

    I’d be interested to see a link for that – see if I can work out how whatever happened in that case cancels out McGuinness long membership of an ISIS-style organization dedicated to murdering innocent people…..

  • Hugh Davison

    Google is your friend, for this and for other death stats. I am not your bitch.

  • james

    You brought it up…

  • Paddy Reilly

    I don’t do moral weight judgements. I base my approval or lack of on the workability of the entity proposed. Northern Ireland was fatally flawed from the start because a) its borders were not geographical or traditional, being plucked out of thin air for the benefit of a particular faction and b) the number of its citizens who approved of its existence was too low in comparison to those who did not.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    So at what point did you change your mind and accept Northern Ireland’s legitimacy – before Sinn Fein, after Sinn Fein or like Republican dissidents, not at all? If the latter, the Good Friday Agreement therefore no longer applies in your eyes, which former IRA leader should be first to be arrested, Adams or Kelly?

  • Paddy Reilly

    Well as I have already stated, moral weight is not my thing, If a house is built on ground that is likely to subside, I disapprove of it, on planning grounds, not moral ones.

    The GFA procured a certain abatement of hostilities for which one should be thankful, but a generation has now passed and it’s time for for a new one, otherwise we are being ruled by the dead. Also there needs to be more emphasis on allowing the public to vote on issues, rather than be presented with a fudge and obliged to accept the lot.

  • john millar

    “Political killings? What has that to do with religion?”

    What had membership of being a member of the YMCA in common with “political killings”?

    And protestant orphan children burned out in Galway was “political”?
    ( IRA turned up to kill a few of the older ones and were only dissuaded when a warship turned up and threatened
    to blow the arse out of Galway

  • Hugh Davison

    Stephen brought it up.

  • john millar

    “Political killings? What has that to do with religion?”

    Why was membership of the YMCA a political act ?
    Why was being an orphan (in possession of the Protestant religion without due care and attention) a political act ?

    https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/anti-treaty-ira-burn-protestant-orphanages-to-the-ground-in-galway-1.707681

    “He said that this particular outrage was one of the very worst of the many hundreds that had been sent to him within the past two months. His information was that last month some Sinn Féiners called at the orphanage, and demanded deliverance of six boys, who were, in the language of Sinn Féin, to be “done in”. By a subterfuge they were got out of the country by the matron.”

    ” because the boys were being taught loyalty to England, and the orphanage had sent many of the boys into the great war. The whole place was then burnt to the ground, and 33 boys and 25 girls were left absolutely stranded. Fortunately the founder’s daughter was in England at the time, and through her interposition the Admiralty send a destroyer round to Galway to take away the staff and children.”

  • john millar

    “You obviously for instance never were in for an interview where the first question was what school did you go to (goodbye). ”

    You more obviously have a limited experience of Job applications

    Education is a matter of record– prior to interview there is no need for any interviewer to enquire.

  • john millar

    “PROTESTANT COUNTRY FOR A PROTESTANT PEOPLE) Have left us so polarized that it is fifty percent to the DUP and fifty percent to Sinn Feinn well bloody done.”

    Check you chronology -the above is in RESPONSE to De Valera
    Catholic Ireland bit
    http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/de-valera-and-the-churchs-special-position-218651.html

  • john millar

    “i went to the wrong school and had to leave or go on the dole for life in them days”

    ?? ?I understand attendance was free at the school of ones choice ?

    I further understand that the Roman Catholic community preferred to avoid the state system and had its own (state funded) system
    How then could you attend the “wrong ” school ?

  • mac tire

    An accusation by Carson? And this amounts to “wholesale coercion”?

    Here’s another view: Irish Times journalist Lionel Fleming, son of the Anglican Rector of Timoleague, West Cork, noted in an editorial:

    “We have… no patience with the attempts that are being made to suggest that the loyalists who remained in the Free State are being treated unfairly, or that any discrimination is being made against them.”

    Another:

    In 1924, Unionist John Henry Bernard, TCD Provost (1919-27) and former Anglican Archbishop of Dublin (1915-19), whose family was from Co. Kerry, declared,

    ‘During the melancholy years 1920–1923, there have, indeed, been outbursts of violence directed at loyalist minorities, but for the most part it has been qua loyalist and not qua Protestant that the members of the Church of Ireland have suffered.’

    One more:

    On 11th May, 1922, the representative Protestant Convention that packed out Dublin’s large Mansion House, declared:

    ‘That we place on record that, until the recent tragedies in the County Cork [the 26-29 April killings], hostility to Protestants by
    reason of their religion has been almost, if not wholly, unknown in the Twenty-six counties in which Protestants are in a minority.’

    Was there violence against Protestants? Yes. Was it sectarian? I’m sure incidents were. Was it “wholesale coercion of Protestants”? Protestants in the 26 counties at that time were saying something completely different to what you are trying to sell now.

    No point linking you to further reading on this; you have already made up your mind with this revisionist “wholesale coercion of Protestants” claptrap.

  • john millar

    “No point linking you to further reading on this; you have already made up your mind with this revisionist “wholesale coercion of Protestants” claptrap.”
    Hmm where are they then– the descendants of all those protestants. (hint I know lots– and none are in the ROI despite having relatives all across Ireland prior to 1920)

  • Paddy Reilly

    correct

  • mac tire

    John, the reasons for the decline in Protestants have been well documented by historians and commentators. “Wholesale coercion” was certainly not one of them.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    A lot of what you are pointing to is the very direct outcome of the Unionist recourse to arms in order to resist a perfectly innocuous Third Home Rule bill in 1912. This created a climate of violence which erupted in the north during the summer of 1920 into violent expulsions of tens of thousands of Catholics ( many ex- service men) from their places of work. This was followed by a “loyalist” murder campaign in the north which set the tone for the war of independence in the south where northern atrocity “authorised” reprisal (utterly wrong heatedly to my thinking) in the south. People such as my cousins were either apolitical or Protestant Liberal Home Rulers, and did not contribute to either side of the violence of the War of Independence. Such people found no problem with the Free State.

    “If only the north” refers to the open curtailment of Catholic rights in the north, something in which the northern statelet directly involved itself. No such curtailment of minority rights was attempted by either the Free State or by the successor Republic.

    You interestingly mention the recycling of Protestant places of worship, something which you can even see in modern Belfast!!! It is perhaps important to look at the actual history in some detail rather than drawing conclusions from a caracature of what went on.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you want a renegotiation so that nationalism gets more? Guess what, unionists wanted more too. What we have is the only compromise possible.

  • Paddy Reilly

    No, I don’t want a negotiation at all. How about a vote, a series of plebiscites to establish what the people want?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    We had those in 1998 and there’s no evidence of a significant change in public opinion since then. Referenda are needed maybe once in a generation but are not the answer to every dispute every year. We all have representative democracy to do our politics and let’s save referenda for when there’s a genuine appetite for one among the wider public. Just ask the Scots – they are not keen for 2014 to herald a cycle of referenda till the separatists win (and then it stops, of course). They still have referendum fatigue 3 years on. Even SNP voters do.

  • Paddy Reilly

    I see. There is no evidence of a significant change in public opinion, and we mean to keep it that way, by suppressing all possible referenda.

    There is no desire for referenda in Northern Ireland, which is proven by the fact that they don’t want one in Scotland, though the fact if you examine seems to be more of an assertion than a fact.

    But certes man, what about the EU referendum? NI voted ‘remain’. Does this mean ‘we would prefer to remain but will tag along and leave if GB insists on leaving’, or does it mean ‘we want to remain above all things and would rather join the Irish Republic than leave the EU’?

    I think we need reliable data from the public to clarify this.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Polls show v little support for a referendum.

    I am a Remainer, we lost, it was a national UK vote and not a region by region vote.

    There is ample evidence from surveys post-Brexit-vote that views on the Union have been little affected. The questions you pose have been answered – people want to stay in the UK in spite of Brexit.

  • Paddy Reilly

    By whom have these questions been answered? The polls, I suppose. You seem to think the whole country can be run by opinion polls, commissioned by people who have an interest in the outcome.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    really? Yes and 9/11 was an inside job … 😉

  • Paddy Reilly

    Yes, it’s not like an advanced country like the US would have measures in force to stop terrorists flying planes at the Pentagon….

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I was joking but, um … wow