Michelle O’Neill “Theresa May has prioritised her own electoral survival via the Tory/DUP pact over the interest of all of the people in the North”

Michelle O’Neill remarks at the end of the talks process today;


The British Secretary of State will today move to introduce a budget to finance public services here. This is an acknowledgement by the British Government that agreement has not been possible.

“The reason for this is the DUP opposition to a rights-based society. While some progress was made, the denial of rights would not be tolerated in Dublin and London and should not be tolerated here. We met the DUP this morning and told them this.

“Since March of this year Sinn Féin has been seeking agreement on the implementation of outstanding commitments as a basis for restoring public trust and confidence in the institutions.

“Sinn Féin were flexible, we were willing to stretch ourselves to achieve a breakthrough and we were right to do so.

“The DUP’s resistance to the implementation of previous agreements and particularly rights available everywhere else in these islands means that there is not a locally-elected Executive to take decisions.

“The British government has been complicit in this, backing the DUP’s refusal to honour the commitments previously made and blocking the delivery of equality.

“Theresa May has prioritised her own electoral survival via the Tory/DUP pact over the interest of all of the people in the North.

“This is compounded by the DUP’s refusal to accept the vote in the North to reject Brexit. The DUP are committed to the North being dragged out of the EU against the will and the interests of people here.

“Last Friday we told the British PM that direct rule is not an option.

“In the absence of the Assembly and Executive the choice for both governments is between the protection of the Good Friday Agreement or its abandonment.

“These issues aren’t going away. It is now the responsibility of the two governments to look to the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement and for a British-Irish intergovernmental conference to meet as soon as possible.

“We have sought urgent meetings with both the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister. The way forward now is for the two governments to fulfil their responsibility as co-guarantors of the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements, to honour outstanding commitments, and to deliver rights enjoyed by everyone else on these islands to people here.

“This would pave the way for the Executive to be restored.”

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

  • Paddy Reilly

    What will never happen?

    My study of Irish political history leads me to the conclusion that successful political parties are formed out of mergers, unsuccessful ones begin in splits and then just fizzle out.

    I was talking to an English friend a while ago, after the Stormont election. I said that South Belfast now had FIVE completely different MLAs, SF and SDLP and DUP and Green and Alliance.

    His question was, “What is Alliance?” He’d heard of all the others, but not Alliance. News of the peace-keeping giant has not reached England. This suggests that Alliance lacks critical substance, and like NI21, could be wiped out if it experiences a single unwise member.

    Alliance is kept going by an unusual, artificial geographical structure: the border, and an unusual, artificial political system: the over-generous representation at Stormont. Remove these and it will either have to merge with something else, or find that it is wiped out by those somethings. One thing is certain: it isn’t going to expand till it controls Northern Ireland or All Ireland.

  • Mimi Balguerie

    The difference is Germany has a culture of investment and decentralisation, whereas the UK has a culture of disinvestment, centralisation and short-term profit. Look where that has placed their industries and economies relative to each other.

    The south has a culture that values quick profit above all else, coupled with an uncanny knack for international business and a shrewd eye for future technologies. The question really boils down to whether the establishment there values an investment in the north, knowing it could take twenty years or so to turn the NI economy around.

    I’ve long thought a centre-right party in NI could not only clean up in terms of votes (esp in rural areas), but also start to turn the NI ship around into something that could turn a profit. But I think with the events of the last year, the establishment parties might have missed the boat. It’s difficult to see an opening in a market that SF have successfully cornered.

  • GavBelfast

    I’ve read through every single post on this thread before commenting. I have to say a lot of it is La-la land thinking.

    Where have the mythical maths for this mythical all-Ireland Dáil come from?

    Who says all or even most Unionists hate the Republic? There is a real need not to conflate DUP, TUV and some UUP voters with all pro-Union people – you know, other UUP voters and others who are just turned-off but are resolutely British by nationality, but in a way that includes their Irishness or at least with no aversion to it.

    Sinn Fein ARE a huge barrier to Irish unity – at least as much as political Unionism. One doesn’t have to have been directly affected by the Troubles to know what their private army did. Memories are long on this island, as we know.

    I agree with the mocking of SF’s mumbo-jumbo “rights-based” nonsense. Usurping the Irish Language and hijacking LGBT rights as their domain are just ridiculous. Socially liberal is not a term I would use inter-changeably with SF.

    As for the Tories, the one figure they have who truly impresses is Ruth Davidson. But she would need to be an MP and cabinet minister before having a run at PM. Would Mrs May bring her to Westminster to take her job.

    I agree Labour cannot win without Scotland. Of course, they could team-up with the SNP. But Corbyn as PM? It’s a horror-show waiting to happen.

    We certainly live in interesting times, but not the land of make believe that pervades this thread (to date).

  • Georgie Best

    I wouldn’t suggest putting your body on the line for something as inconsequential as joining the Commonwealth. Joining the Commonwealth seems reasonable enough.

  • james

    That’s your question?

    What am I frightened of?


  • Granni Trixie

    What an odd analysis but hey ho, it’s yours.
    NI21 lasted but a twinkling of an eye, hardly a comparator?

  • George

    Firstly, the UK loan is €3.8 billion. The only reason Ireland hasn’t paid off the UK debt is that there is a penalty for early payment that the UK put in. Ireland could get the cash for less on the open market now but it would be a false economy as it’s a fixed rate loan. Hence pay it off in the annual installments agreed.

    The €5.5 billion IMF loan you mention, by contrast, will be paid off early (EU permitting) as there is no break clause.

    Also, the UK has a higher national debt as a percentage of GDP than Ireland now and a much higher budget deficit. And as for the GDP skew, corporate tax revenues jumped again to €7.4 billion last year.

    The UK has almost twice the amount of people living in poverty per capita, has a third of the gross national saving figure and is piling up household debt.

    It could all go south down south but I don’t see much of a silver lining with the UK at present.

  • eamoncorbett

    As a unionist there are 2 issues which should concern you, first of all Republicans now have a firm veto on the government of Northern Ireland and secondly it would appear that Westminster have little appetite for direct rule . This combination does not bode well for the future of NI politics. Even if the assembly got up and running tomorrow, the underlying problems that beset the institution will only fester as Brexit becomes a reality. Times are changing rapidly, the GFA has never been tweaked , result, everyone has a veto.
    Why would Republicans or Unionists bargain away their vetos in any review of the GFA oh and by the way the IMF loan had 750 million euro wiped off it by early repayments, all other loans are well under control and well you know that .
    To summarise the IRA may not have won the war , but they now have a measure of power over the government of NI that they are unlikely to relinquish.

  • Trasna

    Why is it reasonable if it’s inconsequential?

  • Sprite

    I have 2 thoughts about this

    1 – it’s a bit kettle/pot, Michelle, when SF are only interested in pursuing their party interests and not the needs of ordinary people. Putting road signs and being able to address courts in Irish above health and education is as bonkers as it gets

    2 – I can imagine the laughter in Whitehall when SF “told” the government that direct rule wasn’t an option – numpties

  • eamoncorbett

    As a unionist how would you deal with what is after all a veto on your political future because you must remember the GFA allows any governing party to halt any kind of legislation they don’t like and when you get 2 parties who detest each other this will be a regular occurrence. As a unionist you will blame SF , Nationalists will blame the DUP , but the problem is deeper than that , the problem is and always was the one sided constitutional set up . Republicans have rejected London rule , Unionists insist Dublin can’t have a say in internal affairs , the result , total breakdown.
    Westminster does not want direct rule , that’s pretty clear, the options are narrowing every day.

  • Sprite

    these hypothetical projections are fun but they don’t allow for FG/FF stripping some votes from SF in the north – which after UI is inevitable.

    looks like a FG/FF/DUP coalition to me (LOL)

  • Zig70

    As far as I’m aware the Irish health service scored about the UK in the most recent world rankings. As for commonwealth, not a snowballs chance. Ireland didn’t fair to well last time.

  • Sprite

    you jest of course – 300,000 votes are going to decline into insignificance? if there was a UI tomorrow FG and FF would be cosying up to Arlene trying to woo those proddy votes

  • hgreen

    Ruth Davidson? Ha ha. The Tories are bucked. A tartan Tory with a slightly different background isn’t going to change that.

  • sparrow

    You asked me a question and I responded to it. In my response, I challenged your argument. Implicit in this challenge is an invitation to you to come back with a follow up point. This is called debating. Twice now you’ve ducked the challenge. You’re doing a good impression of a man who’s just discovered a gaping hole in his own argument.

  • NotNowJohnny

    No one has suggested that putting road signs in Irish is more important than health and education. That is something you have made up.

  • james

    My follow up point? Hmm…. you seem to be acknowledging the fact that the Brexit vote was indeed a UK-wide vote – but that you wish each UK region had voted independently of each other (an obviously unworkable idea).

    My response.

    Uhm…ok – but that isn’t how the referendum was run, nor would it have been practical to do so.

    Not sure what other momentus intellectual conudrums you wish to throw at me, but this one has pretty much already been dealt with.

  • Paddy Reilly

    That presupposes that FG and FF are in a desperate fight to the death to keep each other out of office. In fact they seem to be co-operating fairly well at the moment. It is SF they are down on. SF isn’t much of a rival, so the DUP’s piddling contribution doesn’t seem particularly important to me. 19 votes in a Dáil of 218 deputies is not really that important.

  • aquifer

    Economic emigration and willing participation in the expansion of the English speaking empire cannot be called genocide.

  • aquifer

    We don’t see the SF proposal so cannot judge how outrageous it is or it not.

    But I think SF are demanding more that the DUP can give, on purpose.

    Two BREXITs. An EU agreed Brexit with the EU insisting on no hard border, voted through in a UK parliament with a Tory party beholden to the London financial sector and a Labour Party committed to a United Ireland by consent. Customs Union in all but name, and maybe just for NI, but the Brexit vote was about immigration so OK.
    Customs and passport border moved to Scotland, DUP claim seamless border victory and smile tightly. Sammy shuffles and looks at the ground.

    Hard BREXIT border back, considerable chaos including financial, SF win out.

    SF are betting on not owning Brexit, and why would they not?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    The sad thing about such statements from the Puppet is that the Cult out there believe such garbage !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Repeating yellow press headlines is no real substitute for actually looking at the nature of an economy carefully, OM!

  • Philip Murphy

    Thanks to Thatcher and the ability of the UK service sector she “created” to sell directly into a market of 500 million. Everything she strove towards only works in a single market. The UK can’t sell financial services to itself. It needs to export them to create wealth for UK plc.

  • Jeff

    But Gary I’m happy with NI within the UK I believe it’s in everyone’s best economic interest. So the onus is on those who wish to break it up to come up with a compelling economic argument, seek out the facts and figures and present the case for a UI. That would be fair not only on NO residents but those in the republic. Will it be done? Can’t see it, as it will look dreadful in the context of a UI and Sinn Fein haven’t the will or the abity to do it

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “White Unionist Man”?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed! John Redmond was on record as stating that the northern dissenters were an essential component in the maintenance of that liberal secularist policy which marked the old IPPs vision of a constitutionalist Ireland.

  • It would be nice to know exactly what the rights objected to are. That way we could judge the situation without second guessing.

  • the keep

    Clearly it is if it wasn’t we would have Stormont up and running again.

  • sparrow

    I agree. The DUP obviously think it’s more important to keep the Irish language off road signs than deal with health and education. Good man for picking up on that.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Put it this way. In Stormont APNI has some sort of role. Theoretically, as the current Assembly has never met, you would have nearly 40 Nationalists on one side and nearly 40 Unionists on t’other glaring at each other, with 8 Alliance members at the back as a sort of referee. Were it not for the POC fix, Alliance would be in the position of kingmakers, nothing would happen unless they agreed to it.

    At Westminster, Alliance currently has no role, having lost its only seat. When it still had that seat, it aligned itself with the Liberal party. While slightly more important than “Rainbow George” or “Jesus and his cross”, APNI is still so small that educated members of the English public can be unaware of its existence.

    In the European Parliament APNI has no representation, but it is part of the Liberal International:


    This aligns it with the German Free Democrats (O.K.) but in Ireland with the Fianna Fáil party. I don’t see APNI as the Northern equivalent of Fianna Fáil and I’m pretty sure APNI voters don’t either.

    So what could APNI do in a United Ireland? I calculate that reunification would immediately reduce its representation from 8 to 5, when the Stormont cushion was removed. It would have to look for some other party which stood for something similar to align itself or even merge with or risk being totally irrelevant and disappearing.

    What are the choices? I thought the 3 Social Democrat TDs sounded similar. So will it be SDLP, UUP, Labour, or Fine Gael?

    Your preferences have more relevance than my conjectures.

  • Granni Trixie

    None in Ni appeal to me personally and I don’t know much about the south. So the answer is don’t know. If we had normal politics here I don’t think APNI (a hybrid) would exist.

    And a point of information – Naomi Long did not take the Liberal whip when in Westminster.

  • the keep

    Cant wait to see SF explaining to people that they delivered Direct rule great job lads hopefully the people who vote for SF get what they deserve on the back of Direct Rule.

  • Granni Trixie

    I assume he is referring to the discrimination case won by a Protestant against NI Water.

  • Granni Trixie

    I’m sure you’re right but how on earth is sitting on your hands for nearly a year the way to tackle things? SF have been totally irresponsible.

  • Jeff

    Yes they have, an ILA is a red line hospitals, care, education eye is not.

  • Jeff

    How’d that work out the last time we voted?

    They lost!

  • Paddy Reilly

    I know. That’s why I said “it aligned itself ” rather than “took the Liberal whip”.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Have the high wages (that you have in Dublin) reached the rest of the country yet?
    How does Donegal compare with Dublin?

  • Karl

    I thought Mick had shared with us that the reason no agreement was reached was that the DUP had looked for changes to ensure Stormont couldnt be brought down again so easily.

    “Over the past week, Sinn Féin was, according to those with knowledge of the talks, ready to deal but was not met with equal enthusiasm from Arlene Foster and the DUP, which is understood to be looking for commitments that the Executive and Assembly cannot be easily collapsed.”

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Ireland is the place to be, the international workforce is proof of this. Why the Unionists don’t want to be part of this is either because they are not aware of what is happening down there or SF has driven them to dislike all that is Irish with such vitriol they are incapable of acting rationally.”

    Either that or unionists belong to a different country …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    with high wages come high prices – I ended up with a massive credit card debt after living for 6 months there.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I had to survive there on my UK wage, during my secondment to Dublin, and it was crippling financially.

    Dublin is a massive conurbation of around 2 million people and a national capital. I love this thing of comparing it to Belfast, finding Dublin more cosmopolitan and concluding that Irish nationalism offers a better future than NI staying in the UK. It’s a complete non-sequitur. Dublin is a fantastic city, but it’s not the model for Belfast, they are very different places; and nor is Irish unity going to somehow make Belfast into a northern Dublin. We would be a provincial city (I say ‘we’, humour me, it will always be my home city) of around half a million, whether we are in the UK or Irish Republic. We are not a metropolis or a national capital and we’re never going to be. Criticising us for that is kind of mad.

    A comedian said once that Irish nationalism in Belfast operates under a Donegal illusion – an unacknowledged belief that post-unity Belfast will be a lot more like Donegal. Perhaps there is a Dublin illusion too. Reality is, it will still be Belfast. Really people need to stop wishing the place away and start embracing it, warts and all.

  • NewerSouthernMan

    Thank you murdockp!

  • The Saint

    The Redmond route was never given a chance as unionist subversion helped reactionary republican subversion.

  • The Saint

    well if ni is ok with isims.

    I thought she had a lovely pair of ?@$s

  • Sharpie

    What you do on tour stays on tour!

  • Sharpie

    SF really don’t care about the imposition of direct rule. It plays directly into their hands. Can’t everyone see that?

  • Gary Thompson

    Please tead Alex Kanes recent article


  • Tochais Siorai

    Poverty is the major causal factor for people having large families.

  • Ryan A

    And you consider Theresa May won?

  • Tochais Siorai


  • Tochais Siorai

    Lower than Dublin but a lot higher than Derry.

  • NotNowJohnny

    This is nothing more than unionist rhetoric. It’s a rehashed version of the argument that was used against an ILA previously when unionists claimed that the money for an ILA would be better spent on health. The fact that the DUP could easily have increased the £1bn deal by 1% to cover the costs of an ILA and therefore have no detrimental impact on the executive’s budget or the spending level for health conveniently ignored.

    I’d be interested to know if you think blocking an ILA containing only very limited provisions is more important to unionists than health and education and if not, then why do they continue to prevent an executive being formed that would deal with health and education issues on the basis of opposition to even a very limited ILA?

  • NotNowJohnny

    You may have noticed that there are road signs in Irish already up. So I don’t follow your argument here.

  • Old Mortality

    In the 1960s?

  • Old Mortality

    And as for the GDP skew, corporate tax revenues jumped again to €7.4 billion last year.
    Allowing for the fact that corporation tax is usually paid in arrears, that would suggest multinationals are making or parking higher profits in Ireland

  • Old Mortality

    Are you being serious? SF haven’t cornered the centre-right vote which is lamentably small to begin with. This, after all is the party which impotently wept and gnashed its teeth over welfare reform.

    It’s that tired old cliche, I’m afraid. (public sector) Turkeys don’t vote for (small-state) Christmas.

  • Old Mortality

    I’ll forgive you suspecting that you don’t really understand. But where is your recommended reading list of great Irish literature?

  • Reader

    eamoncorbett: …first of all Republicans now have a firm veto on the government of Northern Ireland.
    So, using the current situation as an example, do the Republicans disapprove of anything enough to veto it?

  • Reader

    Georgie Best: That presumes that the survival of the government is of benefit to the UK, which is a very doubtful proposition.
    Well, every governing party always thinks that the survival of the government is in the national interest, whereas every opposition party always thinks that the fall of the government is in the national interest.
    So, while your point is valid, it isn’t really new or exciting.

  • Georgie Best

    I promise to try harder to make exciting points in the future.

  • eamoncorbett

    With Republicans , it’s a long game ,they’ll probably go back into government until Brexit then collapse the whole thing again . They realise they can’t persuade for a UI so they will try the veto route instead . In order to play this game you need willing partners , could you ask for anything better than the DUP.

  • Mimi Balguerie

    I meant I don’t see any way in for FF/FG after SF successfully cornered the nationalist vote over the Irish language. I’d honestly thought SF had hit a ceiling, but they managed to find a formula for growth out of somewhere. I also think there would have been enough of an opening for FF or FG to strike out in NI before January 2017. That opening is no longer there, as the charge of sitting by and hurling from the ditch sticks too readily now.

    SFs support in rural NI is completely unnatural given their socialist leanings, but a combination of bona fide republican credentials and standing up for Gaelic culture has led a swathe of rural dwellers and small business owners to vote against their economic (and to some extent social) interests.

  • james

    I think the right that is being demanded, and objected to, is the right for Irish speakers to be understood by everyone they happen to speak to.

    Other than that, I’m not sure.

  • Georgie Best

    I’d say that is fake news.

  • Devil Éire

    …I doubt JRM would get to be PM he is RC…

    I agree, but doesn’t this make the UK are very sectarian country?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    OM, while I always reply at length, I’d be unwilling to stretch the patience of Mick and others to start describing just how solid a manufacturing base Ireland actually has. The information is out there, one has only to look at the regeneration of cities such as Galway, Cork and Limerick to see it in practice. I would expect it to be the pattern here in Belfast and Derry also when, after reunification, the geriatric indifference of Westminster is replaced by the driving energy of a country which will be the sixth largest ecomomy in the world in a few years. Such economic growth necessitates a solid manufacturing base and only a high level of sheer ignorance of the nature of the Irish economy would be repeating mendacious sound bites and headlines seriously. I imagine you are well able to actually read up on all of this at, say, the McClay or on the internet to a sufficient degree to discover how your comments show only embarrassing superficiality.

    Mind you, if you are seriously wishing to study seventeenth and eighteenth century poetry and prose in Irish (“ great Irish literature”) and I have misunderstood your response, I can offer a short starter reading list.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    OM, have you ever spoken to anyone on long term unemployment? Or seen how they try and manage as the normal trappings of life become unaffordable and drop away?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    John, due to “ our glorious former OM Thatcher”, who incidentally pointed to Tony Blair as “ her greatest achievement” ghe UK boasts nine of the ten poorest regions of Northern Europe, with only Poland boasting the tenth. Any serious examination of the genuine condition of our ecomomy is hardly going to encourage any intelligent person to do other than follow John Redwood in recommending investment in the EU rather than on their own leaky and under supported economic vessel.

    Unlike those others trapped over the water we here have the option still of joining a driving high pay economy through reunification. Let us hope that all those DUP members who have taken out Irish passports follow the logic through and join Fine Gael soon. I hear from my Dublin Anglo-Irish cousins that they have noticed strangers with Armani suits and Northern accents hanging about near Mount Street Upper as they make their way back home to Monkstown after a day on the centre of Dublin.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Either that or Inionistd belong to s different country”…..

    Or possibly that they have not examined the matter deeply enough and continue to imagine they wish to belong to a different country. Still, I’m glad that the aging last dichers may have the eminently sane safeguard from the Belfast Agreement with a respect for their continuing British identity. Let us hope that this is not somehow left out of the rewriting (and necessary subsequent endorsement vote) of the Belfast Agreement’s terms which the briefing document for MEPs has clearly shown will be necessitated in order to bring the Agreement into conformity with any exit. The firm negative position the DUP and exiters in the cabinet such as Gove have maintained about the Agreement means that the renegotiation May hit snags.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    no they actually do belong to a different country – unless you disagree with the GFA, which states their ‘birthright’ to so identify is accepted.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    In which case it’s a liminal country with a dual, almost schizophrenic, dentity, as it is also my “birthright” to be identified as Irish. Surely you are not going to begin to suggest that, living where I was born, in a country whose history my ancestors in part created, that I am to be considered as a foreigner?

    The Agreement is very much a “post modern” political document and any attempt to insist on a some political exclusivity of meaning is going to do damage to its intent and, even more importantly, its practical usefulness. It helps understanding this intent to backread some of the material which went into it, such as Brendan O’Leary’s work on liminal power and usefully Dick Kearney’s still thought provoking “Post-nationalist Ireland.”

  • MainlandUlsterman

    it guarantees acceptance of your Irish identity too. That isn’t schizophrenic, that is modern, liberal and pluralist. NI is a region in which there are two broad national groups, much like a lot of other border regions around Europe. I don’t think that’s unhealthy, I think that’s fairly normal.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    We are apparently on the same page there, MU, I’m glad to note. But seriously, the exit does pose significant problems:


    The saner, less partisan people here have been clear on this for some time, as Lady Hermon’s moving pleas for special status yesterday in the Commons eloquently reminds us.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    what did she say exactly? I couldn’t find anything online on that on a quick look.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I heard her on the radio, and she was pointing out the mendacious silliness of the “no deal” policy, almost teary about the closing up of that openness which has developed on the Island since the Agreement. As you’ve found, not a lot of coverage, probably because its too worryingly true.

    “Lady Sylvia Hermon has made a pointed intervention on Northern Ireland.

    She says a “no deal” Brexit would be catastrophic for Northern Ireland and could put border officials, police, and citizens in danger by forcing a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.”


    As you can imagine I’d genuinely value the debate on theses issues here actually being conducted by those with the sincerity and moral weight of Lady Hermon. Without a Norway style deal we are going to find that unless there is some alternative stand alone “Dalriada” deal for NI, we are not going to see the sort of open borders which hard Unionist fantasy is bizarrely painting as a possibility, but which no-one sensible credits. The group of people I know in the UUP (That’s a giveaway, I should balance it by mentioning “the people I know in SF” too) are all pretty much on the “Norway solution” page for the whole UK. But the more open minded are still looking at Brendan O’Leary’s document and listening to the EU position with none of the bellicose exitism of the DUP. We are living through nightmare for anyone who is thinking with their heads rather than through their ideologies, and even the John Redwood gaffe about taking your money out of Britain is not denting the utterly unfounded optimism who think the exit will be other than a serious economic meltdown.

  • james

    And you’d say it in English.