How new is the Foster offer?

There has been some debate doing the rounds about how new the proposal from the DUP Leader was last night about a parallel process. 

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill argued this morning that such an offer is not new from the DUP and had been proposed before.

On the core of the proposal, she is actually right as the lead negotiator for the party Edwin Poots proposed in June the following

Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday evening, Edwin Poots, the DUP’s senior negotiator, said that, if Thursday’s deadline isn’t met, “we could have a parallel process”.

He went on to suggest: “We can get Stormont back up and running on Thursday again and continue to engage in these matters”.

This approach was echoed by his colleague Simon Hamilton just a few weeks ago

What appears to be new in Foster’s remarks is the setting of a deadline and the Executive ceasing to exist if no agreement is found. However, the core of the proposal has been doing the rounds in DUP circles from late June 2017.

This is all a bit academic now since it has been rejected outright by both the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

 

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  • Nevin

    FG is very definitely a nationalist party. If you look at the Fitzgerald and Bruton administrations the first played a key role in the formulation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the second helped facilitate the Athboy conspiracy in the mid-90s.

  • Hugh Davison

    I agree about Garret, but he was an exception. As for the Athboy conspiracy, whatever that is, I can find nothing informative about it on Google.

  • Sub

    That is because it is a figment of Nevins imagination

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Don’t underestimate going into government with SF which, though having a democratic mandate, still answers to the IRA Army Council. Given what they did to us (and still justify), this is huge – we swallowed that.
    We swallowed prisoner releases. We have also swallowed, though never agreed, the de facto non-pursuance of SF-IRA terrorists. We had to watch while SF did a secret deal with the government on IRA OTRs, for example.
    We have also swallowed various types of IRA activity, for which the rules require SF to be thrown out of government if connected. They have been, yet unionist parties have gone back into government with them.
    It’s unfortunate so many of the things I mention are to do with terrorism – but that comes with the territory of having SF represent nationalism I guess.

    The bigger changes are subtler and I’m not putting them out there as political concessions, just changing society which unionists accept, rightly, without a lot of complaint. For example, in politics, Unionism has long worked the North-South aspects of the GFA constructively. Foster and Varadkar apparently got on very well as opposite numbers on tourism. And in wider society, we see a strong nationalist domination of the arts, which is accepted and little fuss made. Unionists largely take part in the Ireland rugby set-up without complaint, despite not having our flag or anthem used.

    I could get into a whole list of things that have gone in a nationalist direction but it would be boring and verge on MOPEry. Suffice to say, unionists don’t exactly see the development of N Ireland over the past 25 years as one-way traffic in their direction. Quite the opposite. But most of the changes are widely accepted. I don’t sense a lot of desire to return to the 50s out there.

  • Hugh Davison

    Ah, so.

  • Hugh Davison

    Very eloquent post, but strong on “alas, poor us”. Can you give a percentage of the Northern Ireland population that was directly affected by the events of the “Troubles” period?
    You say: “We” had to swallow this and that. Who is “we”? I understand you don’t live in Northern Ireland. Is that correct? I will assume that “we” is the Protestant, Unionist (I won’t add Loyalist, I know there’s a respectability problem there) element of the population of Northern Ireland. You don’t think the rest of the population suffered too?
    You say Nationalists dominate the arts, as if you gave them permission. Maybe there are other reasons why Nationalists dominate the arts. You say you can give a “whole list of things that have gone in a Nationalist direction”, but you give no examples.
    Your post comes across to me as a more erudite but factually as empty as the noises emanating from East Belfast: “Themmuns is gettin’ everything”.
    You say there is no desire to return to the 50s. I suggest that many in your community have never left the 50s.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you asked for a list and I gave you one. I even went out of my way to say I didn’t want to get into that way of thinking because it becomes MOPEry. You simultaneously criticise the listing of examples and ask for more examples. Forgive me if I find that hard to respond constructively to.

  • Skibo

    Not raising any objection to an act going through legislation is surely a sign, if not in support, at least not an objection.
    SF opposed Brexit and are firmly in the remain camp for the North.
    The issue of a UK referendum was the problem for Sinn Fein. They oppose British legislating anywhere in Ireland so I can understand their resistance to dictate to English people what the rest of the UK should do in relation to the EU.

  • PeterBrown

    So SF support passed at Westminster then?

  • Skibo

    How can they support a bill in a house where they refuse to stand?
    DUP sit in Westminster. They actually have the ear of the governing party till the next election.

  • PeterBrown

    They refuse to sit not stand – and if the DUP support something by not opposing it why dues that not apply to SF if they are prepared to stand they should be prepared to sit! And at that time there was no Confidence & Supply Agreement of course….

  • Skibo

    Peter a ply on words, sit/stand what ever! Sinn Fein are an abstentionist party. They stand for election on that basis. Anyone who criticises them for standing on a policy and then condemn them for following through on the policy when elected are in cloud cuckoo land.
    They do not accept the right of a British parliament legislating for a part of Ireland.
    The DUP stand for election, got elected and went and sat in the house. The legislation went through while they were elected representatives. They could have objected. They did not.

  • PeterBrown

    Anyone who criticises them for standing on a policy and then condemn them for following through on the policy when elected are in cloud cuckoo land.

    Remind me again what the DUP policy is on ILA?

    Sinn Fein could have objected to other matters – like the DUP apparently they chose not to and in the DUP’s case they did not do so because as pointed out at the start of this thread they were not obliged to introduce ILA the Labour government at Westminster was

  • Hugh Davison

    Your list:
    1. DUP, a party associated with gangsters and drug-pushers, shares power wit SF, a party once associated with terrorism. Well, what a concession.
    2. Nationalists do better in the Arts. Is that actually a ‘by-your-leave’ from your community, or are there other reasons?
    3. Rugby. Wow!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    what’s your point though?

  • Skibo

    Peter you are going round in circles. Yes, when the SAA was legislated, it was for Westminster to enact an Irish Language Act but when the Assembly formed they automatically took on responsibility for the culture arts and leisure and so, the Irish Language Act. As such the obligation was passed on through legislation.
    As for party policy after legislation being passed, it is Sinn Fein policy to work for a United Ireland. Legislation was passed for devolved powers to the assembly. They worked the assembly while they thought the DUP would do the same. It has been shown after ten years that the DUP have no intention of allowing any progress in issues that were compromised on to achieve agreement, where it differs from their policy.

  • PeterBrown

    when the Assembly formed they automatically took on responsibility for the culture arts and leisure and so, the Irish Language Act. As such the obligation was passed on through legislation.
    Rubbish – politically and constitutionally that is nonsense. The Assembly is not under any obligation to implement any Westminster government commitments and indeed has the power to change Westminster legislation in devolved areas. . Not even SF are claiming what you are claiming as explicitly as that so you are spinning even faster than John O Dowd and let’s face it he is currently spinning pretty fast!
    As for party policy why did SF suddenly have an epiphany about the DUP – there was no trigger from the DUP it came from their grassroots. Liofa was simply tit for tat for the previous SF minister cutting Ulster Scots cultural funding (more extensively than the Liofa cuts!) but no one is collapsing anything over that. Let’s not pretend it was external factors which triggered this is was SF leaving their grass roots behind…

  • Skibo

    Legislation is legislation. Had the DUP any sense, they could have put in an Irish Language Act and curtailed it to such an extent that it meant very little but they decided that any sop to Nationalism would have been too much for their supporters to swallow and have always been looking over their shoulder at Jim Allister. When are they going to realise that Jim is a voice crying in the wilderness unless the rump of Sammy, Dodds, Campbell and Poots up and join him. Could have mentioned Jim Wells but think he is now a spent force.
    You are correct in the fact that Sinn Fein are listening to their grass roots and that is one obvious reason why SF cannot reenter Stormont without tangible evidence that the DUP are prepared to accept the Nationalist mandate as equal to that of the Unionist mandate.
    The cuts imposed on funding while SF was minister of CA&L were across the board. I think you refer to the cuts in grants to the marching bands rather than the Ulster Scots.
    The funding to community halls was blatantly directed to the Loyal Orders.
    The issue of the cutting of Liofa grants pointed out the lack of protection for the Irish speaking minority in the hands of a DUP minister and showed the necessity of legislation.
    It was the same with equal rights in employment as regards religious breakdown. The law was passed for many years but ignored until legislation with teeth enforced the rights.

  • PeterBrown

    I’m not sure what legislation is legislation means but it’s not what you seem to think it is – SF dropped the ball on a Westminster ILA and it’s not the Assembly / DUP’s job to pick it up. Your DUP ILA could be reversed fur decommissioning / support for policing and justice etc but apparently only unionists have commitments under GFA / SAA.

    The previous DCAL cuts were just as focussed on single identity funds as the DUP cuts and are equivalent but generated less outrage
    but more hypocrisy. Do as SF say (even when they are lying about breaches of previous agreements) not as we ourselves did….

  • Skibo

    Peter you are talking in circles. The legislation was passed in Westminster for an Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland. The Assembly took over the powers and as such should enact the legislation. If not for the legislation, the Assembly cannot stand.
    This is the one reason why direct rule cannot just be reintroduced at the whim of the SOS. The SAA does not allow it. Further legislation would have to be approved within Westminster to allow the SOS to take over the devolved powers.
    How could an ILA be traded for decommissioning? Decommissioning happened and was verified. How could an ILA be traded for support for policing and Justice? The powers have already been devolved. Needless to say had it been left to Unionism it still would not be so. DUP were against it and that was one of the bargaining chips at the previous negotiations. It has still to be included in the de Hondt process but all in good time.
    You are bending the truth on the previous cuts. The budget for CA&L was drastically cut and cuts were imposed on all areas. I remember much outrage at the reduction in support for the Ulster Orchestra.
    There was no such problem this time and the Minister was able to find substantially more funds when the grants for marching bands was vastly over subscribed. In the end there was so much furore over the cuts to the grants for the Gaelteacht that the Minister surprisingly found funds where there was none before.

  • PeterBrown

    Skibo

    As a lawyer let me spell this out for you in layman’s terms

    In international agreements as in standard contracts if a signatory agrees to do something then fails to do it other signatories do not become responsible for fulfilling that broken promise unless the agreement says they do even in the event that they take over the role of the defaulting signatory and devolution does not make the DUP responsible for the Irish Language Act which is why no one except Sinn Fein are saying they are in breach of previous agreements (its because they aren’t). Stormont and Westminster are not 2 sides of the same coin (otherwise why be abstentionist about one and not the other) and are not obligated to implement if the other defaults.

    My policing and decommissioning was the failure to honour commitments being reversed by the way not an exchnage…

    I am not bending the truth on the previous cuts – you are – please confirm the dates of the general DCAL cuts and the specific cuts to marching bands (I think you will find they did not happen at the same time – and what percentage cut was applied to Liofa during the SF austerity years?

  • Skibo

    While I am not from the Bar, I question your hypothesis on a legal agreement not being binding on a third party.
    The issue is that Westminster devolved the power on Stormont via the SAA and part of that was for Culture Arts and Leisure. Westminster had already passed the annex to the SAA that included the Irish Language Act so I see no reason to doubt my analysis that the process of enacting the ILA was also imposed on Stormont with the devolved powers.

    If you are as accurate as your analogy on the policing and Justice or decommissioning, both of which were fulfilled, please do not condemn me in questioning your ability to rationally analyse legal documents.
    As for me supplying facts to rebut your comment on the cuts, I suggest you do some digging of your own and supply your own facts to back up your claim.

  • PeterBrown

    For the final time – the British government committed itself to enact ILA in the absence of devolution at the relevant time by an act of parliament at Westminster and this was presumably supposed to happen before the resumption of devolution – if you can find the enacting of an ILA in the statutory instrument resuming devolution please post a link (you won’t because it isn’t there) or alternatively please find a credible source (anyone other than SF) who believe the DUP are in breach of any agreement they have signed – you are quite simply wrong and without support on this.

    PS I am asking you to back up your comment not rebut mine

  • Skibo

    Peter within the legislation to reinstate devolution you will find the description of the Irish Language Act legislated by the British Government.
    As far as I am concerned, the SAA is a definitive document. Did the DUP sign up to it?
    If they did not, why did they appoint a FM, a process which is legislated for within the SAA and differs from that of the GFA?
    Did any party actually sign up to the GFA or the SAA?
    Is their signature required or can the operating of the SAA in appointing the FM and further Ministers be taken as a tacit acceptance of the legislation.
    You make a claim without evidentiary support. I rebut it with the proof of the actions of your party.

  • PeterBrown

    “Peter within the legislation to reinstate devolution you will find the description of the Irish Language Act legislated by the British Government.”

    No I won’t – there is no reference to the ILA in the 2006 Act only to a strategy which is very different (and dealt with separately in SAA itself) so let’s keep this discussion factual and accurate please.

    SAA was signed up to by the DUP and in that document the Westminster government was obliged to produce an ILA presumably prior to devolution in 2007 – if it failed to do so that does not mean it became the responsibility of the DUP to plug that gap. They have fully implemented their obligations under SAA unless you can point to a commitment by the DUP that remains unfulfilled.

    The DUP is not my party and you have rebutted nothing becuase your statement is to be kind (like the SF references to not implementing previous agreements) at best mistaken and at worst dishonest.

    In case you need help finding the legislation you claim contains a descriptn of the ILA here it is https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/53/contents

  • Skibo

    Peter, It has been difficult to find it within the Government papers but please see attached the annex
    https://www.dfa.ie/media/dfa/alldfawebsitemedia/ourrolesandpolicies/northernireland/st-andrews-agreement.pdf
    If the Government introduce the Irish Language Act, with the DUP block it in the Executive as they did previously when Caral tried to get it discussed?
    Further to that please see a line from a research paper from the House of Commons library:
    “This Bill does not provide for equivalent provisions. The Government has made a commitment to consulting on what form legislation might take.
    After the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland, responsibility for this matter would be transferred to the Assembly.”
    While the responsibility of the ILA was transferred to the Assembly, this did not stop the previous condition placed on the Assembly in relation to both the Irish Language and Ulster Scots.
    “However, clause 15 of the Bill would place a duty on the incoming Executive Committee to adopt a strategy relating to the enhancement and protection of the development of the Irish language and also to adopt a strategy relating to the enhancement and development of the Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture.”
    The fact of cancelling grants to children to attend the Gaelteacht was hardly a sign of enhancing and protecting and went totally against the SAA.
    http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/RP06-56/RP06-56.pdf

  • PeterBrown

    The ILA should have been passed by Blair at Westminster prior to the restoration of devolution and as soon as that didn’t happen it was back to square one for the ILA. SF are getting a taste of their own medicine having colluded with Blair to hang Trimbles UUP and the SDLP out to dry. The DUP could not have locked it at Westminster if Tony had kept his word.

    Once he failed to do that it became part of the cultural war in the Assembly which lets not forget is not one sided – Caral was cutting Ulster Scots grants before the DUP was cutting Liofa (which is not just for children by the way so please stop peddling that propaganda). Without wishing to turn this into even more of a Fawlty Towers sketch than it already is the DUP didn’t start this….

  • Skibo

    I know the DUP didn’t start the Irish Language Act but they should have and we would not be in this situation now.
    As for going back to square one, they did not do that with the Victims commissioner and a commissioner was appointed.
    The fact that the British Government did not follow through with the ILA does not allow the Assembly from accepting their responsibility in following through with the legislation in full.
    It seems that the DUP are loyal to the legislation they accept and ignore those bits they dislike. This is the very reason why power should be restricted until they accept acceptance of the SAA in full.

  • PeterBrown

    Lots of people (not just the DUP) should have done lots of things at different times to prevent us being in this situation now and we did got back and start again over decommissioning (more than once) and it turns out decommissioning wasn’t complete anyway….
    The fact that Blair didn’t keep his promises does mean that the assembly has no obligation to do so (are you suggesting the Assembly should deliver a hard Brexit or anything else if Westminster fails to do so?) and the DUP keep their promises and not someone esle’s and who can criticise them for that?

  • Skibo

    I agree, decommissioning was not completed. Neither the UVF nor the UDA decommissioned but SF never made that a red line to their involvement of devolution.
    Your analysis of the issue of devolution to that of the ILA is far fetched. Only certain aspects of governance was devolved and the right to determine international trading rights was not part of the agreement.
    Culture Arts and Leisure was devolved and was the responsibility of the Assembly to follow through on the SAA.

  • PeterBrown

    SF never made it a red line because neither the loyalist paramilitaries were in government at that time but SF string Trimble’s UUP along with Blair’s help and are now getting a taste of their own medicine…

    Brexit is an analogy too far but lower tuition fees and welfare reform demonstrate that devolution does not require the implementing of Westminster proposals – the simple fact is the DUP are not legally politically or even morally obligated to support an ILA and no amount of spin can change that

  • Skibo

    Peter if the DUP had ever bought into the equality issue and parity of esteem, they would have already introduced the ILA. It is there for all to see that the DUP will stand against anything they visualise as greening of the NI society.
    They do not look on us a equals. Their actions speak far louder than any words.
    But let the DUP keep it up. While they continue to refuse to acknowledge the position of Irish culture within the Northern society, so Nationalism and fundamentally the youth will not buy into their part of this society.

  • PeterBrown

    What has ILA to do with equality and parity of esteem? It is a cultural weapon in relation to a language which has less speakers than there are members of the loyal orders who let’s face it were and are shown even less respect and parity of esteem by republicans? Let those who are without sin cast the first equlality stone…

  • Skibo

    Peter, a strange analogy, the treatment of the native language and the right of a supposedly religious organisation to direct the political will of Northern Ireland. That same religious organisation organises nigh on 3000 parades which go unopposed.
    I defend the right of the OO to parade but with that right comes responsibilities which they feel they should not be held accountable to.

  • PeterBrown

    The language movement is one directing the political will of Northern Ireland – and I;m referring to the political cultural and financial support for the two cultural movements not the right to march per se (though I’d be interested to know the difference between having the right ton refuse marches down your road but not to have the sign at the end not include a language native or otherwise which a member of a terrorist organisation described as “Every word of Irish spoken is like another bullet being fired in the struggle for Irish freedom”

  • Skibo

    At some stage I am sure you will have to join us all in the 21st century and leave your 1900’s language behind you.
    I would put that under the right to go about your every day business. Why do you think the right of the OO to march down a road is greater than the right of the residents not to?

  • PeterBrown

    I didn’t – why have you the right to prevent people marching down your road but not to prevent others naming it in a language championed by those prepared to use violence against you?

  • Skibo

    Peter, people who live in the area have a right to come and go also. They are not stopped from driving on the road or walking on the footpath but they want to prevent others from doing so while thy walk down the road in military procession in recognition of wars from a different century.
    Anyway the vast vast majority go uncontested and in the west are carried out in Nationalist areas.
    As for the naming of a road, it is already named, it is merely accepting that it can be displayed in the native language of the country. It doesn’t stop anyone or interfere with their rights, merely recognises the rights of a section of the community to have Irish on the sign also.
    Where has English been replaced by Irish?
    As for it being the language of those prepared to use violence against you, what about the violence perpetrated by England over centuries and the battles over our forefathers celebrated on a regular basis?

  • PeterBrown

    I am not disputing that – I am merely pointing out that the residents of those and other stereets also should not have a language imposed on them which has terrorist overtones – as one ILA activist put it many of them will only have seen and heard Irish form republicans in the form of TAL as it is now abbreviated on social media. Neither of us can have it both ways…

  • Skibo

    As far as I am aware, all IRA statements were given in English. Are you proposing removing English from the signs?
    As for Tiocafidh ar la, what is threatening from “our day will come”?

  • PeterBrown

    Let’s not pretend that there is not a chill factor for unionists about the Irish language because it has been hijacked (assuming it was against the speakers will) by republicans

  • Skibo

    You cannot hijack a language unless you prevent others from using it. SF is not doing that. The language is open to all to speak. Elements within Unionist are using the Irish Language to set down a marker. In doing so they are saying we are British, we are not Irish yet when the go to France they will try some words in French and do not feel threatened. when the go to Spain or Portugal they do not feel threatened by the languages there.
    They refuse to take ownership of the native language of the country and in doing so are politicising it.

  • PeterBrown

    Erm you can hijack it for political purposes by politicising it and they use those lnaguages in those countires because it is the language in everyday use whereas Irish cannot claim that. Unionists never owned the language and since 1922 it has been used as a weapon against them initially in RoI and now here hence why they want little (virtually nothing in fact) to do with it.

  • Skibo

    Peter go back into the past and see why the Irish language is not used in Ireland to any great extent and you will find out who politicised the languages. What is happening now is a movement to protect the language of the island of Ireland.
    I cannot help the perceptions of Unionism or do anything about it unless you just want the Irish language to die off. Perhaps Unionism is just a little bit to sensitive and think that anything that is done to protect Irishness, undermines Britishness. Is Britishness so insecure that it cannot cope with a shared future with Irishness?