Friday, January 22, 2010

There can be no preconditions

Blog January 21st 10

Apparently the DUP were sitting up at Stormont Castle on Thursday waiting for the Shinners to come and talk to them. Strange. This Blog had told Peter Robinson late the evening before that that phase of our discussions was over. I told him there would be a Sinn Féin national officer board meeting on Thursday and a report from Martin McGuinness on the negotiations would be discussed.

The failure of the DUP thus far to come up to the plate during the current round of negotiations shouldn’t come as any great surprise.

The DUP are looking over their shoulder at Jim Allister and then there are the ‘secret’ talks between the UUs and the DUP and talk of electoral pacts. That’s their own business and nothing to get too excited about. Except to note they told us they couldn’t do any business on the Sabbath – the very day they were busy on unionist unity business.

But lest we forget the DUP was born out of the anti civil rights politics of the late 60s and the firebrand unionism of the 19th and early 20th centuries that is rooted in sectarianism and a belief that Catholics are the problem – and the enemy. Hence the desire by some unionists, best exemplified by the Traditional Unionist Voice, not to have a Catholic about the place.

For this brand of unionism every compromise is a defeat; every conversation with a Shinner is weakness; every concession must be the last.

For these unionists and even others less hardline shaking hands or passing the time of day is too much. You wouldn’t believe the number of times this Blog has been alone in a lift at Parliament Buildings only for unionists to refuse to enter. Many a time this Blog has been tempted to stay in the lift as it goes up and down several times just to see what would happen!

Even their slightly less straight-jacketed colleagues think that just talking to a Shinner is a concession we should be really pleased and excited to receive.

Now let me be clear. Not every DUP’er behaves like this. In private many of them are relaxed and friendly. Maybe not great company in a pub but cordial nonetheless, pardon the pun.

The fact is that people are shaped by the political conditions in which they live. Underlying the politics of unionism is the affect of centuries of colonialism and of partition and a determination to maintain their status as top dog. They know the game is up. But it’s not over. So delay, delay, delay is the game plan.

This means that so far no unionist leader has acknowledged the role of the orange state and of unionism in creating the conditions for conflict. For them it’s everyone else’s fault, but especially the republicans!

Partition gave unionists a little Orange State. The glue that held it together was the Orange Order and other ‘loyal institutions’.

Even today most unionist politicians are in one or other of the loyal orders and those that aren’t listen attentively to what the Orange wants. And what is that in 2010?

They want the scrapping of the Parades Commission and progress on the ground – in other words marches through Catholic areas.

It’s sad that even now sectarianism and triumphalism still has such a huge grip on a large section of the unionist psyche. The orange card, played so often in the past to get their own way, is being played again as the DUP try to get the Orange Order what the Orange Order wants.

Sorry folks - it doesn’t work like that anymore. Those days are gone. The orange state is gone. The remnants remain and its legacy of institutionalised bigotry will take a long time to eradicate but change has taken place and the clock is not for going backwards.

The power sharing institutions have demonstrated their capacity to work, make local government more accountable and accessible and change peoples lives for the better.

But no one should underestimate the determination of unionism, allied to the political system – the so-called permanent government - which is still mainly unionist at its most senior levels – to prevaricate and stall and delay. To oppose change.

So, where are we now? There has been no product thus far as a result of the negotiations.

The Ard Chomahirle meets tomorrow and will hear a report on all this. The time has long passed for the transfer of powers on policing and justice. There can be no preconditions to that. Not on the Parades Commission; not on marches; not on equality and partnership government.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said Blogger!These people are complete sectarian and think they can continue the status quo. Arlene Foster today has cut back funds from cross-border bodies as we speak, this is blatant disregard for the all-island institutions. Its time republicans stood our ground and fight for what is right!

John said...

Good post Gerry.

Fully supportive of everything you say.

If DUP agreement to P&J means orange men marching up and down the Garvaghy Road, in Rasharkin, in the Ardoyne, or any other places where their presence is nothing but deliberate provocation and "rubbing themums' noses in it" then it isn't worth signing up for.

Colin said...

I think it is pathetic that the issue of the parades commission is halting progress. As a member of the protestant community I consider parades(of all types) to be the biggest pain in the neck, they are pointless and stop people getting on with their lives. As a 50 year old I have not been to one in at least 40 years and have no desire to ever attend one.We need this issue sorted out and it makes perfect sense to say that if local people do not want a parade to through their area then the PC should ban it and that is the end of it. The orangemen in Portadown should act like adults and go back the way they came, how difficult is this?

Malachi O'Doherty said...

Do you really want an election right now, Gerry?
Did you not really miss your moment when Robinson first brought parades into the negotiations for policing and justice? Wasn't that the time to tell him to get stuffed? Instead, you have been talking about it as if it is an idea with some merit he can be met half way on.
Now you have to gamble: in an election you might suffer a loss of support over the continual coverage of your management of complaints to Sinn Fein about child abuse.
Or you might strike now while the SDLP has no leader and top the poll.
But how can you shirk an election now and not look like you've marched to the top of the hill only to march down again?

Fascinating times.

amanfromMars said...

Thanks for the info, Gerry.

Seems like some of the antics in Stormont wouldn't be out of place in the Downshire Hospital lock-up wards.

Linda Coleman said...

Unbelievable that the DUP was waiting for Sinn Féin on Thursday. They seriously need to get Twitter accounts, or at least read their own newspapers to keep up with what's going on.

Some day, Gerry, you should do a blog post from the lift at the Parliament Buildings and tell us what happens. With a laptop, cell phone & camera, you could work there for hours!

Kath said...

Do you really want an election right now, Gerry?

I think now would be a very good time to have an election, theres to be elections to Westminister anyhow, and no one to replace Gerry Adams in west Belfast, so why wouldn't he want one.Or SF for that matter, they've as much to fear or lose or gain as the DUP. The problem is after the elections, then what? Will it be back to talks and more talks or will elections break the deadlock and allow for policing and justice to be devolved? I doubt it, infact since its such a central SF demand its doubtful these powers will come in the life time of the present assembly.

Take them on in an election by all means, but then what? Same old same old....meanwhile nothing done on bread and butter issues.

Mr Reality said...

Just a quick word to Malachi. Gerry was right in listening to every word that Robinson had to say. There is no harm in exploring every avenue in the quest for justice and peace.
The problem with your analysis Malachi is that you take the willingness to go the last mile as a sign of weakness. Time you woke up and smelt the roses. If the executive collapses Malachi it won't be for the want of trying, on the part of Sinn Fein, to keep it afloat.
The DUP know in their sectarian hearts that the game is up. The old days are gone for ever and the two governments should have put the boot into the DUP long ago, but instead held back in the mistaken belief that they would eventually honour the commitments made under the agreements.
You don't have to worry about the Sinn Fein vote holding up in an election Malachi.
In spite of all the rubbish being spouted by half-baked so-called journalists, I have no doubt the Shinners will perform magnificently. Bring on the election, it can't come soon enough.

Damian O'Loan said...

"The fact is that people are shaped by the political conditions in which they live. Underlying the politics of unionism is the affect of centuries of colonialism and of partition and a determination to maintain their status as top dog."

Yes, but they're also the product of the armed campaigns, those they opposed and those they opposed less. That is an important psychological factor in unionist willingness to compromise. A serious SF approach to a Truth Commission would be helpful - unfortunately, your record suggests you want something based on the Brazilian model.

"This means that so far no unionist leader has acknowledged the role of the orange state and of unionism in creating the conditions for conflict. For them it’s everyone else’s fault, but especially the republicans!"

You've never made a serious attempt at divorcing the "conditions for conflict" and the conflict. You might have more success if you gave that a try.

"The power sharing institutions have demonstrated their capacity to work, make local government more accountable and accessible and change peoples lives for the better."

You're miles off the public mood. You could have said that despite the obstacles and the global crisis, there is more potential in the agreements than any other arrangement. That it would be a tragic shame to waste that potential. Instead you chose this line, and nobody'll buy it.

You've also wasted 21 months hiding behind a non-enforcable deadline to cover a mistake.

You could have spent 21 months saying that republicans believed in the May '07 deadline - that is fact. That Peter Robinson and the DUP have a responsibility to those very republicans, as accepted in Robinson's first speech as First Minister.

Your inability to admit to mistakes, on top of your disdain for those on the ground, looks like being your downfall. I hope your successor learns from your mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Id sat the DUP are running scared, the bible thumping has led them to a very tricky stance, P&J or election, id say election scares the s&*£ clean out of them and rightly so, who wants their government to be riddled with a load of Iris's, dont do as i do do as i say brigade!!. things are better in NI since 1998, maybe time the UUP regain the upper hand and once and for all get devolution up and running, the electorate expects it. well said gerry.

Anonymous said...

Well said Colin. Couldn't agree more, to hang such an issue on parades is a nonsense. Do the deal and lets get on with a nice normal life. All this lurching from crisis to crisis is making me sick!!

Paul Doran said...

Damian

Local Government is a farce, it is decided mainly by a unelected Manager.Just like in the 26.who manage these Councils.

We are sick , sore and tired of the whole effin lot,Truth Commissions, Enquiries, Money for Lawyers.Stop the payment to all double jobbers, the Whole North is a farce.A sectarian state, Failed, Failed , failed

culberto said...

Well written, sir.

There can be no doubt that the Unionists are glacial in their decision making, one can only hope that there exists a common ground upon which they feel comfortable. And, what is more important, one that is beneficial for the people of Northern Ireland.

I also wonder when you will tire of scoring points from the lift anecdote?

Damian O'Loan said...

If I could correct my May '08 deadline mistake..

Paul Doran,

I didn't mention local government. If the North is a farce, how do you propose convincing people to move beyond it?

Michael Morgan disibility activist said...

GOOD POST GERRY.

BRING ON AN ELECTION !.
WE ARE ALL SICK OF DUP POSTURING , NO MORE MR NICE GUY OR TIME WASTING WITH THESE NEANDERTHALS .

IT'S TIME FOR THE SDLP TO GET REAL WITH AN ELECTORAL PACT OR THEY WILL DISAPPEAR FOREVER .

SO LETS SEE THE REAL UUUP WHEN /IF THEY JOIN WITH DUP TO SAVE THE BIGOTS SKINS .

DEMOCRATS HOW ARE YE !
BRIAN /BIFF1 .

Kate said...

Critical times call for decisive action..Pity DUP don't see it that way.
Full support for Sinn Fein !
No parades in Catholic areas...been through all that before.
May God guide you Gerry, and the Party Sinn Fein, that has brought us to where we are today. Let that strong political voice, worked so hard for ...ring out loud and strong.

Ta ar la anois

Kate

Fiachra said...

The DUP are now courting the right of the unionist community because theres an election coming up - if they look soft they'll lose out to the TUV; which from everyones perspective would only be worse.

Digging their heals in for a while longer makes for good political capital.

Would be wonderful if all the games disappeared from northern politics, but we're years away from seeing that - not at least until theres a new political force; one civic minded rather than sectarian, polemic or constitutional.

Timothy Dougherty said...

Your on the right Gerry,
Institutionalised bigotry, as the Pharaoh set his star ,this as unapproachable within life.The neutral opponent holds little in the nerveless hand , but perplexites of allowance .People in the absurdity of mind look to the sky and not into the samesness, not the monastic sameness ,but the institutional momentous one.The Rain comes and is gone a momentary discomfiture ,nothing like the pause that the doctrine of conditions people call home .The Moldy Doctrine. Enjoy the ride in the lift Gerry.

Malachi O'Doherty said...

Mr Reality, you would earn your nickname if you acknowledged the reality that the climate is less conducive to an election now than it was in October or November when Gerry was not being scrutinised for his management of complaints against alleged child rapists in
the Republican Movement.
Indeed, had he gone for an election then, the Representation of the People Act would probably have prevented the documentary about his brother Liam being shown.
You can be as confident as you like but Sinn Fein has only managed to expand by impressing people beyond the core base. These are the people who may not be as easily assuaged by fulsome expressions of confidence with little substance to them.
Or I might be wrong.
In any event, Sinn Fein must go for an election now and stage it as a confrontational one, putting the DUP in the frame - as Gerry's blog suggests it will - for to impress the electorate at the due time, next year, with so little to show of key demands being met, would be a lot harder.

iain said...

What exactly does Sinn fein think it can improve in policing and justice with powers devolved?
Serious question to Mr Adams.

Spell it out and convince me.

Brian said...

Excellent blog post, Gerry, your best so far.

The DUP are running scared and were aiming for damage limitation by trying to get the bigots walking down the Garvaghy Road. No chance!

Babeuf said...

There's no doubt Sinn Fein have some issues to address, and I'm only too sure they are aware of this.

I think Gerry's analysis is spot on, on the fact Unionist's still refuse to admit their own sins of the past with regard pre-1972 Stormont, and comes from a position of frustration, of one of not want of trying. With regard Damian, considering the 'struggle' it is understandable how some issues have to be dodged, underplayed and so forth, one cannot gave away weakness, but at the same time must move the 'process' forward. Nationalists have given much ground, and now at this stage are making no gains for their own rights in terms of language rights etc. It is a battle of power, that is politics.

There are two reasons I see support for the agreement:

1. It cannot succeed without constant movement on equality and constitutional issues - and only in one, democratic, direction.

2. The complexity of the national issue. Some elements would like to maintain in effect that 1 million protestants should/could just be pushed out, in effect, genocide. The only way is a democratic, inclusive process.

By forcing an election at this stage, where no 'democratic' progress is possible, I am pretty sure even those disenfranchised with Sinn Fein's present strategy will rally round to support the 'democratic' struggle and gave Sinn Fein a mandate. It is also clear that there is no room for re-negotiation.

One area for criticism, I would agree with Mr Reality, is socio-economic concerns. The few on the left do feel betrayed by Sinn Fein on this at the moment. If a clear strategy, even of SNP social democratic quality, within the strait jacket of Stormont would be welcomed with open arms and be popular. I realise, the struggle for the implementation of the agreement has dominated and there is an issue with regard the 'balance of forces', but as Connolly established, "The cause of Labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of Labour."

Anonymous said...

bring the government down. recent events looks like the dup are close to developers, practicality will bring it back up again. as soon as you pocket p & j go after finance. to many arguments are burshed aside in stormount for real politic. get these powers.

agree with malachy a bit though. the unionists are stalling for the conservatives to get in to power in britian. the windows very thight. might have been better doing it months ago.

Anonymous said...

By its own admission, Sinn Fein elevated tensions surrounding marches. The fact that the DUP are using this as an issue of 'community confidence' is giving the Sinn Fein leadership a 'get out of jail free card' at a time when it suits them to deflect from other issues that are currently surrounding the party.Speak to a large percentage of the Protestant community and you will find there is a lack of confidence in the charade going on at Stormont.

When the wee boy playing in the park goes home and takes his ball with him he spoils the fun for everyone and this is exactly what Sinn Fein are doing. Behaving like spoilt kids. Maybe the fact that the DUP aren't prepared to roll over and give in to every whim is starting to irritate those on the opposite side of the house.
As Sinn Fein continue to preach, there must be equality across the board and beleive it or not this should include Unionists. Failure to reach an agreement with Unionism might just be seen by Sinn Fein supporters as the straw that breaks the camels back, at a time when the leadership is under its greatest pressure yet to deliver to these same supporters both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland, where its poistion has remained stagnant.

Mark said...

Brilliant post Gerry

There can be no negotiations regarding the Parades Commission - the DUP need to realise that the Nationalist community will not be subjected to sectarian parades through their own areas.

If the DUP continue to refuse then we should pull the plug.

They are the people who will lose out in an election. Not us.

Anonymous said...

Gerry you had a big heart when you sought for the truth for my wifes family.I applaud you,but since i knew ypu as 17 18 yr olds you are a socialist.So i am not surprised you are a people person,good luck in your private life,and good luck in life

Malachi O'Doherty said...

Actually, the only reason SF has to go for an election is to preserve its dignity in the face of Unionist refusal.
A purely practical response, which did not concern itself with dignity and pride, would be to swallow hard, accept that the devolution of Policing and Justice is not going to be granted in confrontation and simply wait it out. Refuse to concede on parades and let the DUP be seen as the party holding everything up. In time, when the DUP has to devolve Policing and Justice, even if in months or a year from now, they will be the ones in the humble position.
Or the break might even come in weeks from now when Robinson has to be replaced.
The gamble is you lose the whole house.

Peter said...

When you see how much it matters to these people to walk, march or parade where they are not wanted, and ask yourself WHY?, then you realise why we cannot go back there. This is at the essence of the problems here.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Gerry.

I believe the time is right for the nationalist / republican electorate, and indeed all those who cherish equality, to send a powerful message to the neanderthals within unionism that the back of the bus days are over, gone, and never coming back because we wont allow them to.
Unionism needs to accept the realities of todays world.
I would be concerned however where their obsession with selfish personal and party interests could lead the whole lot of us.
They are certainly not listening to their base voters within loyalism who in recent times have displayed more political and social maturity than their political masters in working on a daily basis with republicans to solve issues that affect working class communities. One need only look at how the loyalist communities in East Belfast have been treated with contempt by their political representatives in relation to Titanic quarter to realise that they care little for their sustainability.
Loyalism is waking up to the realities of their future, their political leaders sadly lag light years behind them. Bring on an Assembly election and let us deliver a fatal blow!

Anonymous said...

All-party talks are probably the way forward in the short-term. The more moderate unionists will be less willing to throw the executive away at the behest of the Orange order. Also if the DUP are determined to dig their heels in it will be more difficult for them to stall if all the other parties are blaming them. If its just the Shinners blaming the DUP the unionist voters won't buy it.

If you go for an election now the DUP will put the blame on Sinn Fein and then the unionist parties will come back looking for a wholesale renegotiation of the workings of the executive - not just P&J - to 'resolve all the outstanding issues once and for all'.

Anonymous said...

As a Protestant who grew up in Co. Antrim, and who now lives in Scotland, I despair at the DUP and the TUV with their imperialistic and Calvinist bigotry masquerading as politics. My wife is from the Republic, she's a filthy Catholic from the bog, I'm a filthy British Prod, I shout 'no surrender' and she throws holy water over me. Then we have a laugh and turn to what's really important - have we enough for the mortagage, are the kids being fed right, are our jobs secure, and just how stupid does Gordon Brown and Tony Blair really think we are?! Billy Connolly made the point that the desire to be a politician should automatically exclude anyone from becoming one. He must have had the DUP in mind.

Walter Ellis said...

I'm sorry. I forgot to preface my previous remarks with "Brilliant job, Gerry!" Sinn Fein remains a Stalinist organisation, in which criticism from the outside is either restricted or banned. I am reminded of a party meeting I gatecrashed years ago. I had never attended such a bleak and terrifying political occasion. The speakers told the membership what to think and made it clear that opposition was unacceptable. How much has really changed?

Anonymous said...

Well said Gerry A. That's what people want to hear.

The republican community are behind you and Sinn Fein.

Don't let others get at you. We can all see what they are at with their politically motivated attacks.

The days of Orange marches on Garvaghy Road and second class citizenship are over, and it is great to hear you say it so strongly.

Anonymous said...

Even a non-Catholic Brit in UK as myself supports what you say Gerry.
SF has been unbelievably patient; it has gone the extra mile. But what can you do with such a lack of good will or intelligence as shown by the DUP ?

The DUP looks backward. NI needs leadership into the future that its people deserve, all its people not just the benighted bigots. Martin McGuinness has vision.

These Marches are a pathetic demonstration of insecurity and provocation in a modern age. In mainland UK they would all be banned, I believe.

Good Luck NI. You deserve better than this.

Gloria

Anonymous said...

Gerry
Could you dispell the rumours that republican activists from Belfast have been seen in the Garvaghy area leading to the belief that they were there to "soften" the news that these Orange dinosaurs will be marching with the support and blessing of SF.If true I for one a lifelong supporter of SF will never ever have anything to do with the party again,and will do all in my power to prevent this return to a sectarian state run by the Orange order.We need to know the truth!

mikeymo said...

Real politics is about helping people to live a better life! The DUP and other Unionists same to want a wealthier life for themselves! They hold such hatred in their hearts and call themselves Christians! The days of the republican eating humble pie are over and if republicans played the Catholic card it may encourage them to have more kids! The majority rule as our Unionists friends always pointed out when they treated Irish people worse than slaves!

mike boskey said...

The most offensive thing about Unionism is not the idea of Union with the UK but rather the sectarianism that accompanies it. If it weren't for the glorified KKK marchs of the Orange Order, voting unionist would just be another political choice like voting for fine gael or labour.

Jack said...

I live in the 26 counties and sadly there are few politicians to carry our Green Flag or represent the voice of Republicism. Gerry, hold the banner high and proud. Do not falter in your step, do not be distracted. Unionists should know that the 'Taigs' will never lie down again in subjugation.

David Harkin said...

Lets face it there's not going to be any agreement on P&J this side of the election. To continue negotiating is futile. Unionist need to look as if they're giving it to SF in order to capture votes from those groups who have given their votes before to the DUP and now the TUV. The current round of so called negotion talks has only been stalling tactics and behind the seens the plot has been hatched to capute WM seats from SF & SDLP. With the withdrawal of Tory/unionist candidates I wonder does David Cameron know his party has been sucked in and is engaged in sectarian politics here?

Randomer said...

Lets face it there's not going to be any agreement on P&J this side of the election. To continue negotiating is futile. Unionist need to look as if they're giving it to SF in order to capture votes from those groups who have given their votes before to the DUP and now the TUV. The current round of so called negotion talks has only been stalling tactics and behind the seens the plot has been hatched to capute WM seats from SF & SDLP. With the withdrawal of Tory/unionist candidates I wonder does David Cameron know his party is now been sucked in and is engaged in sectarian politics here?

Steven said...

I'm a protestant from Scotland and never really understood why one's religion should determine the party you vote for. I have swung from left to right through my 2 decades of being eligible to vote. This doesn't seem to be the way of things in NI and despite hearing of the troubles all my life on the news, I decided to dig a little deeper to understand why.

I read your blog, all your blogs actually, as part of my research. And despite an ingrained right footed bias, I cannot find a single issue that I disagree on. I think you represent progress and modernisation - the unionists seem to represent the past and revel in ideology or old triumphs.

But one thing sticks out - why can't politics in NI be more about political ideologies, independence or union, economies, etc. And less about (when viewed from only a little distance) slightly different branches of the christian church.

I wish you all the best in bringing Ulster whatever progress and peace it's people desire.

Micheal said...

You have summised the situation with acuracy and expertise.

Very well done Gerry.

I wish the OO would lighten up a bit and see the good in sharing the island, and opening up to the catholic people.

It is my fervant prayer tonight, Gerry, for reconcilliation between Green and Orange. Between Republican and uninest. Between Catholic, protestant and dissenter both. And may God forgive us all for all of our sins, so that Ireland may receive the greatest gift of all for the people; saoirse.

You've secured the dignity of Eireann for all eternity. God bless you and thank you, my happiness is complete.

gct2236 said...

As a Scotsman with strong ties to County Tyrone and Donegal, I find it incomprehensible that no suitable solution to sectarianism has been possible in over 400 years of unrest. My father was a Scottish Protestant with some Catholic Irish ancestry and my mother was a dyed in the wool Irish Catholic. The two of them blossomed despite any perceived religious differences, and I pride myself in my Irish roots. I am more Irish than Scottish, but sometimes I find it difficult to be proud of my Irish ancestry because of all the religious undertones? There is no doubt that the English committed terrible atrocities during the planting of Scots and English farmers into "Ulster". However, they did the same thing with the Scottish Highland Clearances. We Scots do not forgive the English for their actions, but that's the end of the matter. Hitler committed terrible atrocities against Judaism during the Second World War, yet Israel is now at peace with Germany. We've all experienced Orange marches battering hell out of their bass drums whilst passing the local Chapel. Why is that mentality allowed to continue? I have bother remebering what happened in 1960, never mind 1690.

Cheers

Michael McGonagle

Anonymous said...

Hi.

I was born in Scotland with strong family ties to County Tyrone and Donegal. I consider myself to be more Irish than Scottish. I cannot understand that there has been no solution to sectarianism in over 400 years of unrest. The Jews appear to have no axe to grind these days with the Germans, despite the obvious atrocities committed against them in relatively recent times. We've all woken up in the wee small hours with Orange bands trying to demolish the local chapel with their bass drums. Why? This is 2010. The way forward is surely for Ireland to become united and unified. The mistakes made by Britain should be acknowledged and a suitable date arranged for a handover.

Anonymous said...

the deeper problem is to persuade the Unionists that they are Irish. And that will take some persuasion on the Republican side as well. They need to feel warmly welcome in their own country (Ireland) instead of hanging on to a meaningless tie with the UK. Anyway Ireland has excellent ties to the UK. The Unionist intransigence on the "confidence" issue is simply another manifestation of their fear of being Irish.

Brian said...

Sinn fein would be better off if they ignored the stormont establishment completely. It will only slow down the process of a united Ireland.

Thoreau said...

I have enormous respect for both the DUP and Sinn Fein to be in power sharing together. I support a DUP-SF coalition as it were because you need the "extreme" parties in power to stop them undermining the moderate parties from the sidelines.

I just hope one day we can move beyond sectarian politics and the parties in stormont campaign on domestic issues.

The constitutional issue can only be decided via a referendum.

RE: first post - I would be careful before suggesting cuts are sectarian - they are likely to have more to do with the massive budget defecit.

Linda Coleman said...

Good comments all 'round. As an American, I'm constantly puzzled by the pro-British side who don't want to have a part in governing the place where they live. Their voices are drowned out in the British Parliament, as they compete with all the diverse counties of England for attention. I can't imagine why any politician would rather go all the way over there and vote on issues affecting every place from Cornwall to Northumberland when they could stay home and directly manage the place where they live.

Years back, other activists and I had a heated email exchange with Roy Beggs, when he demanded to know why Americans were involved in the Good Friday Agreement "after all we did for you," he wrote, invoking George Washington, of all people, and listing all the Scots-Irish-American U.S. Presidents. (I sent him an email thanking him for helping us get our own country and explaining that we're just trying to return the favor). :)

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be great if 'civil and religious liberty for all' did what it said on the tin? I think DUP must be short for HOLDUP...

Anonymous said...

The greatest achievement of English colonialism was not militarily or politically; but psychologically. One need only look at the subservience of Unionists to the English boot after all these years to see that.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is waiting about while pety stormont debates cause no progress but further division.
Mr Robinson wont be in charge for too long anyway, this whole Iris thing will surely force his resignation. Sinn Fein could find its moment in light of this.

However, in regards to the talks I dont understand why Sinn Fein don't play hardball and say no to all parades demands. We are in the 21st Century and still we have Ku Klux Klan-like parades through their oppositions communities while the residents are stripped of all freedom and restricted to the confines of their homes by police and army.
This leads me to ask why Sinn Fein are not pushing to make Orange Parades illegal. Surely such an organisation is deemed sectarian and provocative under E.U legislation and only proves to be a burden on the road to peace.
On that note I would also like to ask what Sinn Fein are going to do in regards to these ILLEGAL stop and search operations in nationalist areas and what Gerry's response is to Baggot's statement, in which he clearly defies the European law and sets the unionist police force back into the sectarian frame of which it is renowned for.

Could I also ask Gerry is he pushing for a revision of the DUP's stance on the Irish Language Act and what makes these talks different to those at St.Andrews from which Sinn Fein seemed to emerge with nothing.

Randomer said...

The political posturing going on can only help the DUP fudge their responsibilities under the St AA. In this election year it will be political suicide for the already wounded DUP to be reaching agreement with SF. In fact Unionism has never been in such a disorganised state SF should pull the plug and move to a quick election and put the DUP out of their misery. The vast majority of people in NI want Stormont to work unfortunately the right wing in the DUP don't and Peter R has failed to show the leadership necessary to move this process forward. Randomer.

Ryan said...

It's about living together in peace and harmony, why not just let them march wherever and have it over with, it takes the Catholic community to react.

keenan923 said...

RE: Jesus

The Catholic Church has continually let doemn nationals in General and Republicans in particular over the course of the troubles, i have no faith anymore!

Nappertandy said...

; 0 )

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said there Gerry. Thr Dup orange order, are living in a fantsy world if they actually believe that we would allow them to march through our areas. I was there last year in Rasharkin when 41 loyalist bands, supported by the RUC/psni to ensure that this march got going ahead, and its not going to happen again this year!

Anonymous said...

Gerry... Where ever you try to take this it comes back to the same thing. To fully understand why the other team thinks like this is very very simple. Its trust..... yes trust but you and your ''comrades'' track record's do not warrent that from the other side. Nice and easy, nothing more than that. Paint the picture whatever colour you want.. Trust Gerry Trust.

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