Slugger TV debates is it game over for mandatory coalition?

We debate the role of mandatory coalition in our devolved institutions with our own Chris Donnelly and Statagem’s Grainne Walsh.

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  • runnymede

    It should be. NI needs to grow up.

  • mickfealty

    Some good points from Grainne. Her point about detail mattering (about 18mins) in terms of getting as good Brexit as possible for the people of NI, but I’m with Chris re SF’s determination to dodge that bullet almost at any cost.

    She also makes a good point about Brokenshire possibly being the best person to hold the frame and the need for his legacy to be re-assessed against most of the contemporary vituperative analyses. Non intervention might be what’s needed.

    Chris’s point in that bringing down a government was powerful on the part of the opposition but also self destructive. However no one foresaw the determination of the media to pursue the FM (not getting her has only intensified the desperation).

    But I would just say that being in opposition or out of opposition does not seem to make much difference to the smaller parties. From a macro pov, it may convenient for them to be inside to provide cover, but politically they just suffocate.

    There will be considerable pressure on the UU and particularly the SDLP to go back in, but then you ask yourself why did SF and the DUP agree to pass John McCallister’s Opposition bill in the first place?

  • Another balanced panel.

  • John

    Nice to see the panel, as usual pushing their own agendas and all of them Nationalist. Yawn.

  • Gaygael

    Another good panel and debate.

    I think nationalism may be reticent to move on ending power-sharing, but the right pitch re voluntary coalition with strong checks against majoritarianism can sell it.

  • Kevin Breslin

    NI has grown up but it’s became elderly and senile though.

  • Karl

    Voluntary coalition on the basis the constituency reforms are implemented would be a good compromise.

  • Jeff

    We need more balance in these panels as it’s a nationalist love in. we know you want a UI but talking to the converted won’t help your (misguided imop) ambition. You need to engage with those who are pro union we don’t bite and you may learn something

  • Aurozeno

    Personally I think you are all so out of touch with the real world and what is happening around you , I am aghast , Northern Ireland politics and the minutiae which seems to consume your very existence is gone , it has all evaporated ….. Brexit will change
    everything , Brexit has ensured that Northern and Southern Ireland and its future will be a feature on the European agenda for years …..On leaving the EU the UK will have no trade agreements with anyone in the whole wide world … It will have to negotiate from scratch every trade agreement that the EU has ever made. The UK will have to negotiate, bearing in mind that it has not had to negotiate a trade deal in over 40 years ….. It will even have to negotiate its negotiation position….. After a few years in the wonderful world of the WTO and all of the corruption and double standards that this involves, Northern Ireland and the UK will look back upon its EU membership as sunny upland time .

  • Zig70

    Mandatory coalition is the only thing that will work in our Chimera state. I’m bored of Jim Allisters forked tongued call for voluntary coalition, which is just a call to exclude SF. As soon as the numbers flip the appetite will drain. Abuse of the POC is a big part of what made Stormont unworkable.

  • Neiltoo

    Grown up! Half the people in this place don’t know they’re born.
    The amount of navel gazing that goes on is incredible.
    There’s a big world out there full of discrimination and poverty that makes N.I. look like Shangri La.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Some good points from Grainne. She’s right in particular that the nettle of Troubles legacy issues needs to be grasped. Some basic statements of goodwill from the two bigger parties, showing how they now reject their former attitudes from those years – and some action to prove it – would surely change the mood entirely and the whole basis on which the two communities move foreard together. The bigger parties still have umbilical chords to that era. Cut them, live up to their new values, and things could be really transformed.

  • Karl

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-northern-ireland-border-guy-verhofstadt-single-market-customs-union-european-parliament-a7972596.html

    Now it gets interesting.

    Its coming down to the UK walking out of talks with no transition or Theresa ditching the DUP. Strategically the DUP are stumped and their 10 MPs sitting in Westminster arent worth anything practical.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    That proposal has been aired before, it’s a non-starter. The government has already ruled that out and rightly so. Quite apart from the sovereignty issues, NI does more trade with the rest of the UK than with the Republic, so it makes no sense to put the barrier at the Irish Sea.

  • Karl

    It has been aired before – true. It hasnt been accepted overwhelmingly as a negotiating position by the european parliament before.

    It has been ruled out by the DUP. Im sure the UK govt response was a bit more nuanced.

    It makes less sense to have an open border to a non EU member which is the current UK proposal.

    This option is now firmly in play in a negotiation that doesnt appear to be panning out too well for Mr Davis. What will May do next now that the choice is this or a no transition Brexit?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    This is a slight problem for the “sea border” lobby:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4a73b717152a23da5bd24bf76c3c0fbb677d699a0ae4a60f1f29794d07f26b42.png

    Source is the NI Statistics and Research Agency. These are the latest figures I could find. https://www.nisra.gov.uk/publications/current-publication-broad-economy-sales-exports-statistics

  • Spike

    A conspiracy theorist would perhaps suspect this may have been ‘suggested’ by the British within the EU negotiations as It is the cleanest way for them to achieve their border. Suggest the worst case scenario for DUP ie. NI in Europe and out of UK, and then climb down after much hand wringing to a more satisfactory result for the DUP which is borders at the Irish Sea and special status in all but name. The DUP will look as though they have rescued NI from the jaws of a united Ireland but have had to concede an Irish Sea border which will be good enough for their supporters. But hey, that’s only the conspiracy theorist in me coming out.

  • 1729torus

    That arrangement would legitimise gerrymandering.

  • Karl

    You appear to think that NI matters in all this.

    Its trade figures wont be taken into consideration. The well being of its cititzens wont be taken into consideration. The ranting of the DUP wont be taken into consideration. NI is an incidental pawn in a much bigger game of chess.

    A relevant comparison is not what NI trade with the UK is but the UKs trade with the EU. Thats the prize here, not NIs insignificant contribution to the wealth of the UK economy.

    This isnt about what is best for NI, which makes up less than 2% of the UK economy. Its what is best for the UK, ie London and the EU.

  • Karl

    The constituency reforms are taking place across the UK, to rebalance constituencies into more standardised and representative units. NI is gerrymandered in that it takes more votes to elect nationalist MPs than unionist ones and that 45% of the population elect 63% of the MPs.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    NI is a small part of the UK, absolutely, but its significance in the Brexit negotiations is far bigger. Both Barnier and Davis have been clear that the EU-UK border is a crucial matter – indeed it was singled out as one of the specific issues on which progress is required before the EU will consider moving on to trade talks.

    So yes, they’ll be sorting it for other reasons too, not just for the sake of NI people. The question of the nature of the EU-UK border is at the heart of Brexit.

    For that reason I think it is hard to detach the NI issue from the wider Brexit negotiation. The form of single market access we end up with for example will determine what issues need to be addressed at the frontier, so trying to sort NI first does seem cart before horse. NI and the Republic’s particular needs here should be taken into account as part of an all-round deal on the form Brexit will take.

    It’s useful, rather than just thinking about NI as a special case, to think about the Republic also as a special case. The best future may involve the EU cutting the Republic some slack to be able to have a special relationship with the UK, on different terms from the rest of the EU. The Republic will have choices to make about what relationship it wants with the UK on trade and free movement and it may have to make some shifts itself to gett the ideal pivot between EU and UK.

  • David McCann

    For clarity Jeff, a UI was not discussed at all in this prog, nor were all the panelists Nationalist.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I didn’t think it was a huge issue this time, it was a really interesting chat, the bits I caught. There was no unionist though. Not a problem on a one-off basis but for balance generally, better to have more unionist voices in these programmes?

  • Spike

    The issues they are arguing about appear to be the European and Irish Border with the Uk which happens to appear at NI, rather than concerns with NI itself. It has been the Europeans who have been driving the discussion towards the border issue with the British seemingly trying to fudge it with regards to larger matters such as trade wanting preference.

    The Europeans are very much interested in what happens to their fluent English speaking member state. The British interest focus’ firmly on England (London specifically) and to a lesser extent Scotland and Wales. NI is a drag net rather than a serious contributor

    The Europeans have been dragging the border issue out which can only suggest that the British have no idea what to do with the border OR they are planning a massive betrayal of the DUP by pitching the Irish Sea Border option at as late a date as possible when it suits. We have been well over a year with this border issue and no serious options proffered therefore the most logical and easiest one ie the Irish Sea Border looks like the one that will be pitched in much to the angst of the DUP. How they spin that news remains to be seen.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    As I say, I think the UK feels it’s hard to sort the border until we know the overall EU-UK trading relationship. The UK is asking for as much access to the single market as possible, while retaining the right to negotiate third party trade deals and end free movement of people. The EU is resisting full access on that basis but we don’t know what kind of halfway house we’ll get.

    Even without the N Ireland factor, there would still be the big ROI-UK trade and free movement of people issues to resolve. The idea of a sea border solves very little and creates some new bigger problems than the ones we’re trying to solve.

  • 1729torus

    At the risk of being accused of moving the goalposts or engaging in cheap sniping, you’re saying that NI is more parochial and less plugged into global trade than RoI.

  • Spike

    Does it though? it produces a natural physical border, the only way in and out is airports and ports (of which there are few) and, due to the funnelling effect, they become easier tangible custom and trade points, where checking of passports and goods are more easily done and is only an extension of what we see currently when trying to pass through these places.
    The financial details of trade eg tariffs, paperwork etc can be done elsewhere.
    It is certainly more manageable than manning a border with multiple crossing roads (277nr?) and an easily traversed natural physical border.
    Whether palatable to some or not, the sea border appears the only manageable solution. If it is a land border there is a large potential for the Island to become Entry route Nr 2 to the UK after Calais. Population movement control was seemingly a key Brexiteer referendum point.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The border is where it is, it is an agreed border. Borders can be inconvenient. But the only alternative to ours being where it is are for the UK to ditch Brexit (I wish, but the people spoke), or for the Republic to give up its independence and rejoin the UK, or for NI to vote to join the ROI. None of those are going to happen, let’s face it. And all of those would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The border can surely be managed. Switzerland and Norway manage it and the EU has long borders with Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, with Serbia, Albania, Turkey etc. It is not beyond the wit of humankind to sort our one. We just need to move towards an answer to the UK’s future relationship with the EU, then as we get there we can work through how that plays out with the Irish.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    That’s not what I was saying. I was saying the rest of the UK is a much, much bigger market for NI than the ROI is. Fixating on the land border with the Republic can make us lose sight of where NI trade actually goes. It goes predominantly east. Putting up new barriers there makes no sense.

  • Sub

    The border can surely be managed. Switzerland and Norway manage it.

    Poor comparison Norway is a member of the EEA and both Norway and Switzerland allow the free movement of goods and people something which the Brits are determined to end. After all Brexit was all about stopping johnny foreigner and taking back control. That means a border of some sort. The EU are quite right to take the position it has in relation to the Border it is Britians problem they want to leave. The Brits will not sacrifice the future of their economy to placate the DUP.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    There is no single model to follow, but there are some interesting other borders to learn from: https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/is-the-norway-sweden-border-a-model-for-uk-ireland/

    I think the border arrangements we’re looking at will be even more frictionless. Customs for major importers and exporters can be dealt with electronically and checks done away from the border itself. Small scale local business movements of goods cross-border can be exempted. Officials can focus just on larger scale operations and let everyday transactions go.

  • Spike

    I get your point with this but Immigration and ‘foreigners’ coming in has always been at the heart of the Brexit camp. The oft flouted adage of ‘not all Leave voters are racist, but all racists are Leave voters’ seemed to be a well used phrase at the time. How can these frictionless borders stop people movement? What incentive is there for Europe to stop people migration to the UK? Will Calais simply change post code? The Uk, like America, is a destination point that Norway, Sweden, Switzerland etc isn’t.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I am a Remainer and want us back in. But surely the EU is a voluntary club of nations? I don’t see how one nation leaving it should be treated by the EU as an insult or attack. The EU is used to co-existing with nations that are not in it and trying to forge the best relationship they can. The UK is now going to be one of those. So Brexit shouldn’t be seen as Britain’s “problem” from that point of view, it’s a new way of working that Britain had the right to choose and has chosen, and which both it and the EU need to now make adjustments for.

    It is like a divorce. When one person wants to leave the marriage, it may not seem fair or nice but it is completely their right to choose to do that. It doesn’t mean they have to sort out all of the fall-out alone. The other party has a duty too to act reasonably and manage the situation for themselves and particularly for the kids in a sensible and constructive way. This isn’t a divorce where one person has been shagging someone else, this is one of those where the couple have just drifted apart and one decides it wants to move on.

    The vitriol aimed at Britain just for the fact of leaving is misplaced. I think leaving is the wrong decision, but it is a perfectly valid choice to make and seeking to ‘punish’ Britain for it is not justified or right. I worry the EU is approaching this in the wrong spirit at times, much as I also don’t like how the Tories have been handling things for us.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think ID cards would help, but I don’t think the Tories will go there. Regardless, I think immigration will be dealt with not so much at the point of entry (though that will be there as now), but through more bureaucracy for employers and through denying access to the benefits system. I think that’s really how you get numbers down, not so much relying on border checks. We let tourists in all the time in their millions and will continue to, I would guess. Only if you’re working, studying or claiming benefits are you going to try and stay. If systems are put in place to prevent people doing that without authorisation, you deal with the bulk of the issues. Easier said than done of course!

  • Jeff

    Were any unionist tho David? That’s my point

  • Sub

    This post is nonsensical . Britain has chosen to leave the EU but still wants all the benefits of being in the club. The EU far from punishing Britain or aiming vitriol at them[dont know where you have got this idea from] has stated repeatedly that what Britain wants is not possible. As for sorting out the fallout and acting reasonably, the EU s only obligation is to its remaining members. It has made the Irish border question and that of the financial commitments Britain has already agreed as items which must be resolved before any future trade deals can be discussed. So the ball is very much in Britain’s court and so far they are clueless as to how to address this. You claim you are worried that the EU is approaching this in the wrong way ,what would you have the EU do differently? Remember its Britain that made this mess its up to them to solve it

  • David McCann

    We are not looking to do a constant Unionist v Nationalist set up, if that’s what you’re looking for then there are plenty of other progs who can give you the usual dog fight.

  • David McCann

    if we were debating something relevant to it then we would make sure. So when we did the DUP deal show, we made sure we had Nelson on as a panelist for example.

    We asked Chris D, because he’s from this parish and we like to have where we can, have at least one Slugger contributor on the panel and Grainne works across the parties in NI.

    As I noted above, I don’t want a shouting match or a pissing contest to be honest. Others do that on a daily basis, we get 30 mins a month, I don’t want to waste it making sure people are not shouting at each other endlessly.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    fair enough.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    that’s exactly what I’m saying is the wrong attitude. Britain is entitled to leave and the Lisbon Treaty provides for members leaving. It shouldn’t have to be a mess. A self-confident EU would happily agree the trading relationship Britain is asking for. But it’s worried about the UK getting trade benefits without buying into the political side of the EU. It’s as if they are worried if other members can see they can have a close economic and trading relationship without political union, they’ll all want to do it.

    I am as excoriating as anyone about the shambles of the Tory Brexit, don’t get me wrong – but it doesn’t make the EU suddenly paragons of virtue or devoid of cynicism. Those pushing for closer union do not want those outside their tent to prosper, lest it burst the bubble of closer union being the only possible future. That is pretty crap too, to be honest.

  • Sub

    A self-confident EU would happily agree the trading relationship Britain is asking for.

    What Britain is asking for is to have its cake and eat it. The EU has repeatedly told them that there is no way that they can have a better deal outside than in. Why is this so hard to understand. Britain is the one who wants to leave, the EU is under no obligation to cut a deal which undermines the principal of the single market. Rules are rules and they are not going to be bent for the Brexiteers.

  • John

    For once you weren’t talking about a UI David. It’s about all you have to talk about.

  • Sub

    Listening is int compulsory

  • Firbolg

    At some point the Tories, having strung the DUP along with the promise of mouths stuffed with gold, may just make the calculation that they can call their bluff. The interests of the UK or more accurately, Tory party unity, will not be sacrificed to accomdate the DUP. A customs border in the Irish sea, is a small sacrifice to make for the good of the UK as a whole. Dodds and company only have to look accross the chamber to see who might be caling the shots in the future (if the polls are right).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Not just cutting the chords to recent history, but the recognition that the 1912 recourse to arms to resist the constitutionalism of an earlier period lies at the root of this encoded habit of violent polarisation locally. A start would perhaps the recognition that we are effectively one community with political differences, not somehow “two”, an encoding from this mendacious era if ever I saw one!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You are forgetting that the majority of people here actually voted to remain in the EU! The DUP ” back to the trees” version of sovereignty is not what the majority here voted for, but it would not be the first time that a “leave us alone” minority got their own way against a democratic majority in Ireland…..

  • Neiltoo

    You seem to be a little confused. Those of us that want to leave the EU want nothing to do with the single market. It is some of those that haven’t accepted that we voted to leave that are trying to hang on to whatever they can…. single market, customs union, whatever.

    ……and as for ‘rules are rules and they are not going to be bent’ …are you serious? The EU bend it’s own rules all the time when it suits it, from accommodating the Italian banks to the French blocking free movement of capital and the Germans blocking free trade in services, the examples are numerous.

    MainlandUlsterman was spot on when he said “leaving……..is a perfectly valid choice to make and seeking to ‘punish’ Britain for it is not justified or right. ” Such ‘punishment’ speaks volumes about the insecurity of the Eurocrats.

    The EU is practically trying to annex a sovereign part of UK territory by insisting N.I. stay in the single market and that will not wash, even with the bulk of remainers.

  • Sub

    seeking to ‘punish’ Britain for it is not justified or right. ” Such ‘punishment’ speaks volumes about the insecurity of the Eurocrats.

    Oh get over yourself. No one is trying to punish the Brit’s for leaving they are simply pointing out that you can’t have your cake and eat it. Britain wants to continue to have access to the single market whilst keeping Johnny foreigner out, which is what Brexit was all about. It ain’t going to happen. Any new trading arrangements will not be entertained until the Irish border and the divorce bill is settled. The ball is in Britain’s court and it’s future economic well being is at stake, all but the thickest of brexiters know this.

  • Neiltoo

    So I’m ‘thick’ because I don’t agree with you? I also read that as saying I’m racist because I voted for Brexit so I’ll just leave this there then.

  • Sub

    I neither called you thick or racist. Brexit was about keeping johnny foreigner out and blaming immigrants for all Britain’s ills. There are countless front page spreads in the xenophobic Mail and Express to illustrate the point as well as the infamous poster that Farage stood in front of. If Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal then serious economic harm will follow. As for the thickest of Brexiters I had in mind those who were on the debate from Wakefield on Channel four News yesterday denying what is right in front of them king Kanute like.

  • mickfealty

    Far be it from me to suggest that social media (aka large scale, big data driven, content marketing matrices) exists only to toy with people’s own clear sense of what’s actually in their own interests, but here’s some evidence that it’s not all as linear as you seem to suggest…

    https://twitter.com/GoodwinMJ/status/913838809627930624

  • Neiltoo

    You characterised Brexit supporters as thick and racist, then when challenged by one one of them your reply is: “Oh, I didn’t mean you!”

    All this while ignoring the points I was making.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You are simplifying the situation Neiltoo! The majority in NI voted to remain. And the ” sovereignty” of NI is linked to what any majority present or future wishes, not invoiably to Britain.

    The wish of a very small majority over the water to exit the EU seriously challenges significant liminalities which are particular to here, and which the Belfast Agreement was crafted to recognise. In a situation where even the wish to exit as expressed in the vote was not the landslide that your position would only be justified by, these political sensibilities demand a rather more nuanced approach than the” you lost, get over it” approach, especially here. As May’s sleep walker approach continues to bog down in what looks very like an unthoughtout set of demands for many contrary things, sooner or later the fact that only the EU negotiators appear to have a coherent set of positions will become clearer. Let us hope the tottering Belfast Agreement holds out long enough.

  • mickfealty

    It’s not that easy to get new folks to appear in front of camera for such a sustained and intense period. David is doing his best to shuffle folks so it doesn’t get stuck or stale. I’m sure he’d welcome new suggestions.

  • Sub

    You characterised Brexit supporters as thick and racist,

    Er no i did not. I suggest you read my post again. I did not call anyone racist, what I did state was that the driving force behind Brexit was immigration {keeping Johnny foreigner out, or as that delightful man in Carrikfergus expressed to his MP Get the ethnics out]. That fact is undeniable. AS for Brexit supporters being thick, no not all Brexit supporters are thick but there is a minority of Brexit supporters who are quite happy to express their ignorance and stupidity in relation the the consequences of what Brexit will means on news items and radio talk shows. I hope this clarifies my position somewhat

  • Jeff

    It’s infinitely more nuanced than NI voted to remain. It was clearly and democratically an all UK vote and I can speak for my social circle who unanimously voted remain that they would also unanimously be against a border across the Irish Sea

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Jeff, I’d fully agree that it is nuanced, but probably disagree as to what this means in practice. The “all UK” vote trope is not beyond either question nor is rejecting an all UK vote here not without precedent. The six northern counties of Ireland opposed the “all U.K. of Great Britain and Ireland” vote for the Third Home Rule Bill in 1912, and we would not have been part of any all U.K. vote today but for that. “All UK” is a convention, not some moral absolute, and in this context may seriously damage our economic health.

    The dire reality is that the exit vote has starkly left us all with the choice of following Britain’s self destructive attachment to the sort of “Westphalian” sovereignty which had become something of an anachronism today, and with it the descent into national poverty which such a miscalculation must ensure, or of restoring the security the bigger EU model offers by Irish reunification. Ireland is on track to Reach sixth place in global competitiveness in the world less than a decade from now. As Britain boasts 9 out of 10 of the poorest regions in Northern Europe already (we, NI, are distinguished as one of these) you can follow where all this leads. The “border in the Irish Sea” model is a likely blessing in this context! But, as I’ve said elsewhere, partition and the poverty it quickly engendered after the great economic Boom of the Edwardian period here shows just how poor Unionists are at calculating their own best interests. Let us hope wiser councils prevail today…..

  • I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think you find that sinn Fein mp’s do in general have more votes than Dup mp’s. This is not to do with some inherent gerrymandering, but to do with the DUP winning in more closely contested seats, and sinn Fein rumping home in nationalist areas (generalisation, I know) The last assembly election fought on 18 constituencies required fewer votes to elect a nationalist than to elect a unionist. The westminster election returned 11 unionist and 7 nationalists mp’s, but it was bad luck not to get a nationalist in South Belfast and North Belfast which would have made 9 each. I therefore think the current set up is pretty representative.

  • I don’t think that’s possible. Can a sovereign country put up an internal border within its own border?

  • Gaygael

    Do you mean the boundary review?
    It has been effectively killed off.