Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Ending designation offers no threat to nationalism

Mark Durkan’s weekend speech to the British and Irish Association at Oxford University, carried in full in the comment zone of a post on El Blogador, has attracted a wealth of comment across the blogs. In a section of the speech, the SDLP leader expressed his belief that the current power sharing arrangements at Stormont will be transitional and that, as confidence and normality in Northern Ireland’s politics increases, there will be an opportunity to remove ‘ugly scaffolding’ inherent in the present dispensation and progress beyond the system of designation.

Durkan’s comments chime resonantly with the views of Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey. Indeed, the conviviality of the speech to unionist perceptions of where the institutions should be headed, has undoubtedly contributed to the vehemence of Sinn Féin’s response. Martina Anderson’s statement is typical. A sneering implication that unionists cannot be trusted to participate in normal democratic politics.

Of course there is nothing radical or threatening to nationalism contained within Durkan’s remarks. Neither the SDLP, nor any unionist party which favours reforming mandatory coalition to make government more democratic or accountable, think that it is either possible or desirable to reinstate unionist majority rule. There will be mechanisms included in any altered Assembly insuring against this possibility. Weighted majorities have long been mooted as a possible solution and a post on Slugger has raised this possibility again.

The truth is that it is not unionist hegemony which Sinn Féin fears might result from removing designation and mandatory coalition, nor do the Provisionals discern any genuine threat to rights. Rather, Martina Anderson, Martin McGuinness and their ilk, are opposed to stability and normality in Northern Ireland, and the political realignments which might reflect stability and normality. In addition, removing the perpetual lock of mutual veto and mandatory coalition, introduces a degree of democracy and accountability with which an authoritarian party like Sinn Féin are profoundly uncomfortable.

If Northern Ireland is stable and normal, if nationalists and unionists are participating in politics which do not necessarily conform to a constitutional fault line enshrined in the machinery of government, then Sinn Féin’s purpose is substantially undermined. That should not prevent other participants from both nationalism and unionism, striving to deliver a system which is truly accountable and which genuinely provides better government and a better Northern Ireland, for everyone.

18 comments:

Ignited said...

It is exciting times ahead if the UUP and SDLP can get their respective acts together and take action. And again it is good to see this type of discussion now taking shape and the shift from Durkan is pivotal to making that happen.

kensei said...

This is nonsense. The DUP has amply demonstrated that they will take as much opportunity to kill as much Nationalist friendly stuff as they can possibly manage, then gloat about it. Oh, and then have the cheek to ask for magnanimity over parades for an Army that has killed people in Ireland right up to recent times. The last year has reinforced the need to maintain a veto that ensures Unionism cannot fuck Nationalism over. Sorry, no desire to rely on your good will, and I'd be stunned if this turns anything around for the SDLP. It's the death rattle of the damned. Please FF, save us from having no choice.

If some form of voluntary coalition is introduced, the following will happen: Unionist parties will gang together, get either Alliance or SDLP support, and shut out SF. Indefinitely, because to do otherwise will result in an attack from the right which will result in that party being ousted. I can't see that being Uncle Toms is healthy for the SDLP in the long run either.

There'd be only thing I'd be willing to trade my cast-iron veto for, and that is some partial transfer of sovereignty to the Republic that allowed their position to be official and act as guarantor. But that is likely to appeal to Unionism as much as losing the veto is likely to Nationalists.

Chekov said...

“This is nonsense. The DUP has amply demonstrated that they will take as much opportunity to kill as much Nationalist friendly stuff as they can possibly manage, then gloat about it.”

And SF has amply demonstrated that they will take as much opportunity ….. etc. Which is why the current arrangements are not sustainable in the long term.

“Oh, and then have the cheek to ask for magnanimity over parades for an Army that has killed people in Ireland right up to recent times.”

An army which saw many of its number killed in Ireland as it attempted to provide security in the face of a vicious and murderous campaign of terror.

“The last year has reinforced the need to maintain a veto that ensures Unionism cannot fuck Nationalism over. Sorry, no desire to rely on your good will, and I'd be stunned if this turns anything around for the SDLP.”

There is no need to rely on unionist goodwill. Any alternative system will require substantial cross community backing for legislation, just not majority backing from both communities.

“If some form of voluntary coalition is introduced, the following will happen: Unionist parties will gang together, get either Alliance or SDLP support, and shut out SF. Indefinitely, because to do otherwise will result in an attack from the right which will result in that party being ousted. I can't see that being Uncle Toms is healthy for the SDLP in the long run either.”

The key point is that nationalist participation would be needed. SF’s interest in a veto is not for nationalism per se or indeed to protect anyone’s ‘rights’. It is merely to protect its own interests.

“There'd be only thing I'd be willing to trade my cast-iron veto for, and that is some partial transfer of sovereignty to the Republic that allowed their position to be official and act as guarantor. But that is likely to appeal to Unionism as much as losing the veto is likely to Nationalists.”

And it’s welcome that Durkan is moving away from the lowest common denominator that you and the party you support represent.

kensei said...

And SF has amply demonstrated that they will take as much opportunity ….. etc. Which is why the current arrangements are not sustainable in the long term.

Actually, they haven't. For example, they could have opposed joining the Commonwealth group and extracted a price for it, but they didn't. They've also weathered a fair bit of humiliation to try and get the institutions bedded down, but with no give from the DUP there was only one way to go.


“Oh, and then have the cheek to ask for magnanimity over parades for an Army that has killed people in Ireland right up to recent times.”

An army which saw many of its number killed in Ireland as it attempted to provide security in the face of a vicious and murderous campaign of terror.

Ah, all right, that excuses all fo it then.

There is no need to rely on unionist goodwill. Any alternative system will require substantial cross community backing for legislation, just not majority backing from both communities.

I have a cast iron guarantee. No desire to give it up for unspecified assurances that the DUP will piss on, and more or less certainly an unchanging coalition.

The price of the settlement was: nothing happens here without our say so. No trust, at all. Come back in 20 years if you've actually tried to build it.

The key point is that nationalist participation would be needed. SF’s interest in a veto is not for nationalism per se or indeed to protect anyone’s ‘rights’. It is merely to protect its own interests.

Oh sure, part of it is that. They are after all, a political party. Picking the tiny bit of Nationalism you might, possibly, be able to tolerate to push you over 60 or 65% majority is not the same as "nationalist participation".

And it’s welcome that Durkan is moving away from the lowest common denominator that you and the party you support represent.

"Lowest Common denominator?". Fundamental principles. The problem with what the SDLP negotiated, it was taking the eye off sovereignty. It is the ultimate guarantor.

You are still seeking to exclude and demonise. You radiate hate. And that's why I'll cling tightly on that veto, and I'd guess you are more likely to have to deal with Adams and MMG than Mark Durkan.

Chekov said...

“Actually, they haven't. For example, they could have opposed joining the Commonwealth group and extracted a price for it, but they didn't. They've also weathered a fair bit of humiliation to try and get the institutions bedded down, but with no give from the DUP there was only one way to go.”

I’m not in the business of defending the DUP. The fact remains that the carve-up results in an endless face off between the two parties.

“Ah, all right, that excuses all fo it then.”

There is nothing to excuse. The parade’s purpose is to acknowledge the bravery of young men and women from this part of the world whose lives have been put in danger.

“The price of the settlement was: nothing happens here without our say so. No trust, at all. Come back in 20 years if you've actually tried to build it.”

And it is increasingly obvious that the settlement will not work in perpetuity. A government needs to have the ability to govern or else it had better not exist at all. The key is to build safeguards which require significant cross community support and move to voluntary coalition.

“Oh sure, part of it is that. They are after all, a political party. Picking the tiny bit of Nationalism you might, possibly, be able to tolerate to push you over 60 or 65% majority is not the same as "nationalist participation".”

It would be a significant part of nationalism, not in any respect a ‘tiny bit’. That is clearly nationalist participation.

“You are still seeking to exclude and demonise. You radiate hate. And that's why I'll cling tightly on that veto, and I'd guess you are more likely to have to deal with Adams and MMG than Mark Durkan.”

Demonisation is not required for a movement which tried to murder its way to its goals. That movement has demonised itself.

kensei said...

Chekov

I’m not in the business of defending the DUP. The fact remains that the carve-up results in an endless face off between the two parties.

No, it is currently a face off betweent he two major parties. Whether it continuesot be so in the future remains to be seen.

There is nothing to excuse.

That is a somewhat sweeping statement about the British Army in Ireland. I'll not even bother with the obvious.

And it is increasingly obvious that the settlement will not work in perpetuity. A government needs to have the ability to govern or else it had better not exist at all. The key is to build safeguards which require significant cross community support and move to voluntary coalition.

No, the key is for people to compromise. then things would work. If trust is built, maybe we can move on. Not before, and not with the way Unionism currently behaves. The only safeguard I believe is worth having you are unable to contemplate.

It would be a significant part of nationalism, not in any respect a ‘tiny bit’. That is clearly nationalist participation.

65% could be pulled in by Unionism, Alliance, and an SDLP consisting of even, maybe 10% of the vote. It's just picking the Nationalists you can tolerate, and excluding the rest forever. Permanently dispossessed groups. Nothing learned.

Demonisation is not required for a movement which tried to murder its way to its goals. That movement has demonised itself.

Of course, I've never been involved with any political party, much less any paramilitary organisation, but you'd be happy to exclude me, and could go off on a wee rant about "ethno-nationalism" if I gave you a wee push (hilarious, in that you're as much of an ethno-nationalist as anyone here, simply wearing a different mask). An dplenty of others on slugger or other boards. It's contempt, actually, which very bad indeed. And that's before I start ont he fact that life isn't always clear cut, and some the IRA's aims were not always wrong, and some of the people in it were not animals.

But if demonisation and absolutes keep you happy, not a lot I can do.

Chekov said...

"No, the key is for people to compromise. then things would work. If trust is built, maybe we can move on. Not before, and not with the way Unionism currently behaves. The only safeguard I believe is worth having you are unable to contemplate."

Except that compromise in Republicans eyes involves disregarding the principle of consent and undermining Northern Ireland's status in the United kingdom. Not tenable. Therefore we are left with stalemate.

"65% could be pulled in by Unionism, Alliance, and an SDLP consisting of even, maybe 10% of the vote. It's just picking the Nationalists you can tolerate, and excluding the rest forever. Permanently dispossessed groups. Nothing learned."

65% is a baseline figure. Obviously the modalities would need to pull in a decent proportion. It isn't a matter of permanent exclusion. Any group with a mandate would remain part of the political process. The only difference would be their inability to force their agenda on the vast majority.

"Of course, I've never been involved with any political party, much less any paramilitary organisation"

You describe yourself as a Republican and argue from the standpoint of a movement which tactically ceased a sectarian murder campaign very recently.

"but you'd be happy to exclude me, and could go off on a wee rant about "ethno-nationalism" if I gave you a wee push (hilarious, in that you're as much of an ethno-nationalist as anyone here, simply wearing a different mask)."

Rubbish. Stop trying to fit every mode of thinking into a nationalist straightjacket.

"An dplenty of others on slugger or other boards. It's contempt, actually, which very bad indeed. And that's before I start ont he fact that life isn't always clear cut, and some the IRA's aims were not always wrong, and some of the people in it were not animals."

Whether people in the IRA were animals or not, they carried out a vicious sectarian murder campaign. They acted like animals. They deserve contempt. The people that support them deserve contempt. That was where Trimble was very good. Although he recognised the need to work with Provisionals, he never let them be under any false allusions that he had anything less that total contempt for them. It's similar to holding Nazis or the BNP in contempt.

Chekov said...

*anything more than total contempt for them

kensei said...

Except that compromise in Republicans eyes involves disregarding the principle of consent and undermining Northern Ireland's status in the United kingdom. Not tenable. Therefore we are lefcp int with stalemate.

Actually if we could work out some sensible compromises over an Irish Language Act. Policing and Justice and a few other pieces, we'd all be getting along fine. In fact compromise over the detail of P&J was largely worked out: it is the timing that is the current problem.

I simply gave you what I consider the only acceptable price for the removal of the Nationalist veto. It is a most excellent example, because roughly how untenable you feel it is roughly how untenable I believe removing that safeguard is.

I should also add: it is a compromise that cuts both ways. In the event of a 50%+1 vote, which I assume you acknowledge at least has an outside chance, provides a model for the British Government to retain some involvement.

Second I would be wary of hardening a "principle" into a law. Over 40% of people here vote for parties that want to end the Union. While it may be true to say not all of those people would vote for it given the option, as and until there is a referendum we don't know given the unreliable nature of polling here. A very small number of people could be the difference between the Union and a United Ireland. Such huge minorities really would do neither situation much good. The Principle of Consent is there because it is the only fair way everyone can agree too, bit if there was another innovative Constitutional answer then it doesn't pay to wear a mental straight jacket. oh, and obviously any deal like that would need tested in an election, at least.

It isn't a matter of permanent exclusion.

Of course it is. That is exactly what Unionism would do. Sammy Wilson's recent behaviour hardly inspires confidence and is a cut above anything SF have done regards names.

Any group with a mandate would remain part of the political process. The only difference would be their inability to force their agenda on the vast majority.

Yes. They could be part of the process, but have no influence, and you could pick the nice taigs you want to talk to.

You describe yourself as a Republican and argue from the standpoint of a movement which tactically ceased a sectarian murder campaign very recently.

I am a Republican. I am proud of it. The majority of people on this island are Republicans, and the majority have no involvement with political parties much less paramilitary organisation.

You're second half is the logical fallacy "Guilt By Association" and unworthy of discussion.

Rubbish. Stop trying to fit every mode of thinking into a nationalist straightjacket.

Nope. You are as British Nationalist as I am Irish Nationalist. At least your dude on Unionist Lite admits that, and is deserving of some respect. Yo

Whether people in the IRA were animals or not, they carried out a vicious sectarian murder campaign. They acted like animals. They deserve contempt. The people that support them deserve contempt.

I am sorry you live in such a black and white world. I am sorry you are incapable of finding the humanity that would make wonder why what are essentially ordinary people did bad things. I am sorry that you think you can brand everyone involved over a 30 year period as the same.

Chekov said...

“Actually if we could work out some sensible compromises over an Irish Language Act. Policing and Justice and a few other pieces, we'd all be getting along fine. In fact compromise over the detail of P&J was largely worked out: it is the timing that is the current problem.”

Nonsense. We’d negotiate the impasse, but another would be along soon enough.

“I simply gave you what I consider the only acceptable price for the removal of the Nationalist veto. It is a most excellent example, because roughly how untenable you feel it is roughly how untenable I believe removing that safeguard is.”

And the SDLP are coming to an alternative view, which is to be welcomed. The fact that introducing more democratic accountability is as untenable to you as demolishing the Union against the wishes of the majority is to me speaks volumes.

“I should also add: it is a compromise that cuts both ways. In the event of a 50%+1 vote, which I assume you acknowledge at least has an outside chance, provides a model for the British Government to retain some involvement.”

That is something to be discussed when (if) 50% +1 ever becomes a serious possibility.

“Second I would be wary of hardening a "principle" into a law. Over 40% of people here vote for parties that want to end the Union. While it may be true to say not all of those people would vote for it given the option, as and until there is a referendum we don't know given the unreliable nature of polling here. A very small number of people could be the difference between the Union and a United Ireland. Such huge minorities really would do neither situation much good. The Principle of Consent is there because it is the only fair way everyone can agree too, bit if there was another innovative Constitutional answer then it doesn't pay to wear a mental straight jacket. oh, and obviously any deal like that would need tested in an election, at least.”

A transfer of sovereignty to the ROI would not be0 an ‘innovative constitutional answer’ it would merely be a capitulation for unionism, as you well know. A capitulation which is not in any respect necessary.

“Of course it is. That is exactly what Unionism would do. Sammy Wilson's recent behaviour hardly inspires confidence and is a cut above anything SF have done regards names.”

Once again I would not wish to defend the DUP, but we are not operating a system of joint sovereignty. Outside the existing mechanisms ROI officials have no role in our government. Wilson is a plank, but he is acting within his rights.

“Yes. They could be part of the process, but have no influence, and you could pick the nice taigs you want to talk to.”

It’s the nature of democracy that you appear to have a problem with..

“I am a Republican. I am proud of it. The majority of people on this island are Republicans, and the majority have no involvement with political parties much less paramilitary organisation.”

The majority of people on this island are not apologists for PSF.

“You're second half is the logical fallacy "Guilt By Association" and unworthy of discussion.”

There is no fallacy in stating that supporting unreformed murderers is despicable.

“Nope. You are as British Nationalist as I am Irish Nationalist. At least your dude on Unionist Lite admits that, and is deserving of some respect.”

The nationalist disease. A complete inability to appreciate that nationalism is not the only template by which to order states and an insistence that every viewpoint must be forced into a nationalist mould.

“I am sorry you live in such a black and white world. I am sorry you are incapable of finding the humanity that would make wonder why what are essentially ordinary people did bad things. I am sorry that you think you can brand everyone involved over a 30 year period as the same.”

I have done none of those things. That does not lessen my contempt for those who continue to adhere to an organisation whose modus operanda was murder and mayhem. It is right to maintain that contempt. Any reasonable person should be contemptful of those people.

kensei said...

Nonsense. We’d negotiate the impasse, but another would be along soon enough.

It is less the actual compromise the than the attitude required. If we can compromise on those issues, then we can compromise on roughly anything.

And the SDLP are coming to an alternative view, which is to be welcomed. The fact that introducing more democratic accountability is as untenable to you as demolishing the Union against the wishes of the majority is to me speaks volumes.

I don't view voluntary coalition as any extension of "democratic accountability". In fact, by the removal of a veto that gives a guarantee against Unionist domination and permanent government, the net effect is to reduce accountability. You might not like it, but this isn't Scotland, and there is no point pretending that there is.

And the SDLP is dying on it's feet. We'll see if this does any better for them.

That is something to be discussed when (if) 50% +1 ever becomes a serious possibility.

Ah gotcha. Happy to change the rules when it suits you.

A transfer of sovereignty to the ROI would not be0 an ‘innovative constitutional answer’ it would merely be a capitulation for unionism, as you well know. A capitulation which is not in any respect necessary.

Depends how it is done. What you are saying, effectively, is "not an inch". If the giving up sovereignty to the republic guaranteed that some remained with UK permanently, and removed from the table the constant tug of war over the Constitutional question, it is not clear to me that is a "capitulation", other than the Unionist psyche cannot tolerate it. I also see big problems working out anything like that in practically terms, hence the requirement for innovation.

Basically you want it to be 1955. Only don't exclude all the Taigs this time. Just the bad ones and sure it'll wotj this time.

Once again I would not wish to defend the DUP, but we are not operating a system of joint sovereignty. Outside the existing mechanisms ROI officials have no role in our government. Wilson is a plank, but he is acting within his rights.

I had actually expected more from you than to actually defend it, but still, people disappoint you every day. He may well be "within his rights" but it's fucking stupid on any measure and opposed by the body involved. I'm unsure if the SDLP and SF can call in the decision. They really should. I am sure if the advisor involved had have been English he may not have went with the "Northern Ireland advisors for Northern Ireland" schtick.

It’s the nature of democracy that you appear to have a problem with.

Democracy is not majoritarianism. The US includes a number of balances in its Constitution to protect against the tyranny of the majority. We have out own, based on our unique circumstance and troubled history. That mechanism is mandatory coalition and mutual veto. You are simply tinkering, not introducing democracy. Spare me.

The majority of people on this island are not apologists for PSF.

I am not an apologist for anyone. SF have made plenty of fuckups. Not everything they have done is wrong, though, nor is everything they believe wrong. At the moment, most Nationalists think their the best bet to shift things in the direction they want. They neither have to agree or like all of the things they've done, or the people involved. If there is a better horse to ride, you'll see them move very quickly.

There is no fallacy in stating that supporting unreformed murderers is despicable.

Well, one could say that as the campaign is over, they must have reformed. You are perhaps thinking of unrepentant.

The nationalist disease. A complete inability to appreciate that nationalism is not the only template by which to order states and an insistence that every viewpoint must be forced into a nationalist mould.

Perfectly true. You however, are a British Nationalist with pretensions otherwise.

I have done none of those things.

Yup, you have.

That does not lessen my contempt for those who continue to adhere to an organisation whose modus operanda was murder and mayhem. It is right to maintain that contempt. Any reasonable person should be contemptful of those people.

No. I don't think so. Contempt is a rarely a useful thing. I know people who were in the IRA. One had family killed by loyalists. Does it excuse it? No. Does it make him right? No. Is it everyone's story? No. But can I understand why he did it? Damn right. Worthy of only scorn and contempt. I don't believe so.

Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest of earth. I said then, I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

Eugene Debs. In the end, I have no idea what I am capable of given the wrong circumstances and less stable environment than I had. I simply pray I'm never tested and try to look for common humanity. I don't believe that person is worthy of my contempt. Are there people that are? I'd guess, yes, somewhere. But I'd never presume to tar a whole group in such a fashion.

Chekov said...

“It is less the actual compromise the than the attitude required. If we can compromise on those issues, then we can compromise on roughly anything.”

The attitude which pertains is a carve-up along sectarian lines. That is unsustainable in the medium to long term.

“I don't view voluntary coalition as any extension of "democratic accountability". In fact, by the removal of a veto that gives a guarantee against Unionist domination and permanent government, the net effect is to reduce accountability. You might not like it, but this isn't Scotland, and there is no point pretending that there is.”

Removing mandatory coalition facilitates an opposition, which can scrutinise the actions of the government. Currently mandatory coalition in concert with collective responsibility provides only the DUP and SF significant power, but it shares responsibility across the board. It is anti-democratic and anti-competitive. That much is indisputable. ‘Unionist domination’ is not a viable possibility, and you are being disingenuous by maintaining that it is.

“And the SDLP is dying on it's feet. We'll see if this does any better for them.”

The SDLP retains a significant section of the vote.

“Ah gotcha. Happy to change the rules when it suits you.”

Clearly I would seek to retain some link with the UK in these circumstances. I would ultimately respect the p of c nevertheless.

“Depends how it is done. What you are saying, effectively, is "not an inch". If the giving up sovereignty to the republic guaranteed that some remained with UK permanently, and removed from the table the constant tug of war over the Constitutional question, it is not clear to me that is a "capitulation", other than the Unionist psyche cannot tolerate it. I also see big problems working out anything like that in practically terms, hence the requirement for innovation.”

Unionism has moved to accommodate a consultative role for the ROI in NI’s affairs. Constantly encroachment on the existing constitutional position is rightly something that unionism won’t tolerate.

“Basically you want it to be 1955. Only don't exclude all the Taigs this time. Just the bad ones and sure it'll wotj this time.”

I don’t want it to be 1955. I don’t want to exclude anyone and I don’t refer to anyone as ‘taigs’. I simply want Northern Ireland to remain unequivocally within the UK and to be governed in an effective fashion. It is a nationalist speech I am welcoming after all. Which is of course why you and your ilk are so exercised about Durkan ‘breaking ranks’.

“I had actually expected more from you than to actually defend it, but still, people disappoint you every day. He may well be "within his rights" but it's fucking stupid on any measure and opposed by the body involved. I'm unsure if the SDLP and SF can call in the decision. They really should. I am sure if the advisor involved had have been English he may not have went with the "Northern Ireland advisors for Northern Ireland" schtick.”

He is at liberty to decide who he wants to take advice from. Personally I don’t see why someone from the Republic would be less qualified to provide that advice, but Wilson is entitled to run his department in the manner he sees fit. Personally I believe he’s playing to the gallery with this one. I don’t welcome his actions, but certainly they are not the end of the world.

“Democracy is not majoritarianism. The US includes a number of balances in its Constitution to protect against the tyranny of the majority. We have out own, based on our unique circumstance and troubled history. That mechanism is mandatory coalition and mutual veto. You are simply tinkering, not introducing democracy. Spare me.”

Democracy needs to be accountable and that is what voluntary coalition provides which mandatory coalition does not.

“I am not an apologist for anyone. SF have made plenty of fuckups. Not everything they have done is wrong, though, nor is everything they believe wrong. At the moment, most Nationalists think their the best bet to shift things in the direction they want. They neither have to agree or like all of the things they've done, or the people involved. If there is a better horse to ride, you'll see them move very quickly.”

The fact remains that by voting for PSF, given the history they bring with them, voters are tacitly accepting their murderous actions. At the very least they are saying ‘although I didn’t necessarily think it was right to kill all those people, it’s not important enough to prevent me voting for PSF’. I would say precisely the same if unionists were voting in numbers for former loyalist paramilitaries.

“Well, one could say that as the campaign is over, they must have reformed. You are perhaps thinking of unrepentant.”

Certainly they are unrepentant, but ceasing their campaign was tactical, their mindsets have no changed, so they are also unreformed.

“Perfectly true. You however, are a British Nationalist with pretensions otherwise.”

No I am not.

“No. I don't think so. Contempt is a rarely a useful thing. I know people who were in the IRA. One had family killed by loyalists. Does it excuse it? No. Does it make him right? No. Is it everyone's story? No. But can I understand why he did it? Damn right. Worthy of only scorn and contempt. I don't believe so.”

Contempt for people personally is not the same as contempt for the fashion in which they use their vote. The person closest to me had an immediate family member killed by the IRA. Did that cause any of that family to join a murderous organisation? Certainly not.

“Eugene Debs. In the end, I have no idea what I am capable of given the wrong circumstances and less stable environment than I had. I simply pray I'm never tested and try to look for common humanity. I don't believe that person is worthy of my contempt. Are there people that are? I'd guess, yes, somewhere. But I'd never presume to tar a whole group in such a fashion.”

People are responsible for their actions and society is entitled to judge them by those actions.

kensei said...

Removing mandatory coalition facilitates an opposition, which can scrutinise the actions of the government.

An opposition is only relevant as a potential alternative government. Else you may as well leave it to committee.

Currently mandatory coalition in concert with collective responsibility provides only the DUP and SF significant power, but it shares responsibility across the board. It is anti-democratic and anti-competitive. That much is indisputable.

I disagree. I think the electorate is quite smart enough to know where the blame lies. It does also offer a fair bit of power to the other parties, which if they are smart they could make use of.

'Unionist domination’ is not a viable possibility, and you are being disingenuous by maintaining that it is.

Nope, I am not. The DUP has underlined it's opposition to sharing power, and Sammy's stunt was just the latest in a long line. I have no trust in Unionist politicians, and no desire to rest on their good will. Really, really, not spoofing here. I'm sure you have great faith in your benevolence, but it's not really the point.

The SDLP retains a significant section of the vote.

15.2% and dropping. They are no longer the lead party within Nationalism. Unionism always wants to deal with the last Nationalist leader. Tough.

Unionism has moved to accommodate a consultative role for the ROI in NI’s affairs.

Please. The British Government has moved and Unionism has no say in the matter. You'd end it this second if the option was there. Besides, "consultative" is all very well, but that is not a role that can act as any kind of guarantor, and you're asking for the loss of the Nationalist veto.

Constantly encroachment on the existing constitutional position is rightly something that unionism won’t tolerate.

If the Nationalist vote hit 45%, 47%, 49%, is it the same as now? In theoretical terms it is, but in practical terms it seems inconceivable. The pressure comes internally, not from the Republic. You appear to miss that.

I don’t want it to be 1955. I don’t want to exclude anyone and I don’t refer to anyone as ‘taigs’.

Okay, the Ketholics if it makes you happy. You're on record wishing your forebearers had done exactly that.

Which is of course why you and your ilk are so exercised about Durkan ‘breaking ranks’.

It's not about "breaking ranks". Lazy accusation. It's about it being a fucking stupid idea.

I don’t welcome his actions, but certainly they are not the end of the world.

If this had have been SF and a Welsh advisor on the grounds that only Irish people should advise Irish people, you'd explode. Your full of fucking shit and you know it.

Democracy needs to be accountable and that is what voluntary coalition provides which mandatory coalition does not.

The ultimate accountability is the electorate. That is the essence of democracy and they can lay both the DUP and SF low if they choose. We are not without accountability either - committees, statutory bodies, the courts. No system si perfect.

The fact remains that by voting for PSF, given the history they bring with them, voters are tacitly accepting their murderous actions.

No, they're not. Guess what, I can do baseless assertion too.

I would say precisely the same if unionists were voting in numbers for former loyalist paramilitaries.

I think we've already demonstrated double standards here.

Certainly they are unrepentant, but ceasing their campaign was tactical, their mindsets have no changed, so they are also unreformed.

Actually, changing to politics was initially strategic. It's not the same. But it certainly seems to have dawned that violence does not work in any case. No one within the Provisionals is going back.

No I am not.

Yeah, you are. Do you entertain EU Federalism? World Government? Localism? Open to some arrangement with the Republic? No. You are a British Nationalist. You understand sovereignty perfectly fine. Your basis is the British state, and it commands your loyalty. Who are trying to kid, here?

Contempt for people personally is not the same as contempt for the fashion in which they use their vote.

No. You cannot separate people like that. Can't be done, and if you think you can you are lying to yourself.

The person closest to me had an immediate family member killed by the IRA. Did that cause any of that family to join a murderous organisation? Certainly not.

Would I have understood if they did, especially given the context of NI? Yes. Would it have made it right? No.

Come back when you get the point.

People are responsible for their actions and society is entitled to judge them by those actions.

You can't escape personal responsibility. But it's not society judging, though. It's just you.

Chekov said...

“An opposition is only relevant as a potential alternative government. Else you may as well leave it to committee.”

The point is in providing voters with a clear line of responsibility to the decision makers and an alternative, the current system provides neither of those things.

“I disagree. I think the electorate is quite smart enough to know where the blame lies. It does also offer a fair bit of power to the other parties, which if they are smart they could make use of.”

You’re wrong. There is not a clear line of responsibility.

“Nope, I am not. The DUP has underlined it's opposition to sharing power, and Sammy's stunt was just the latest in a long line. I have no trust in Unionist politicians, and no desire to rest on their good will. Really, really, not spoofing here. I'm sure you have great faith in your benevolence, but it's not really the point.”

It is not possible for unionism to hold power without nationalist consent, now or in the future and unionist politicians have grasped this, or else they would not be in a power sharing arrangement in the first place. Sharing power isn’t the same as conceding a list of demands.

“15.2% and dropping. They are no longer the lead party within Nationalism. Unionism always wants to deal with the last Nationalist leader. Tough.”

15.2% is significant and I do not believe that we can judge whether it’s dropping until a full election. The European polls will give us the first serious indicator, not council by elections.

“Please. The British Government has moved and Unionism has no say in the matter. You'd end it this second if the option was there. Besides, "consultative" is all very well, but that is not a role that can act as any kind of guarantor, and you're asking for the loss of the Nationalist veto.”

Unionism signed up to the agreement and the principles inherent. Of course it doesn’t view ROI as ideal, but it has been accepted for the greater good and ultimately for the good of the Union. Constant encroachment is not the same. We don’t want joint sovereignty or anything similar, however much you howl about it.

“If the Nationalist vote hit 45%, 47%, 49%, is it the same as now? In theoretical terms it is, but in practical terms it seems inconceivable. The pressure comes internally, not from the Republic. You appear to miss that.”

And a clear majority are not applying pressure. Their will cannot be ignored. We are not interested in joint sovereignty.

“Okay, the Ketholics if it makes you happy. You're on record wishing your forebearers had done exactly that.”

Forebearers is not a word. And I certainly don’t like to see power reside with extremes.

“It's not about "breaking ranks". Lazy accusation. It's about it being a fucking stupid idea.”

It is about breaking ranks. It is about an idea which is convivial to unionists. It is about not trusting the prods to couch it in the language you seem to revel in.

“If this had have been SF and a Welsh advisor on the grounds that only Irish people should advise Irish people, you'd explode. Your full of fucking shit and you know it.”

I’ll ignore this with the contempt it deserves,

“The ultimate accountability is the electorate. That is the essence of democracy and they can lay both the DUP and SF low if they choose. We are not without accountability either - committees, statutory bodies, the courts. No system si perfect.”

And a clear line of accountability to the electorate has not been established. No system is perfect, but at least allow the possibility of improving it!.

“No, they're not. Guess what, I can do baseless assertion too.”

Of course they are. They know what these people have been responsible for and they still offer them their votes.

“I think we've already demonstrated double standards here.”

You have done no such thing.

“Actually, changing to politics was initially strategic. It's not the same. But it certainly seems to have dawned that violence does not work in any case. No one within the Provisionals is going back.”

If a few years more violence were likely to deliver a United Ireland they would restart their campaign tomorrow.

“Yeah, you are. Do you entertain EU Federalism? World Government? Localism? Open to some arrangement with the Republic? No. You are a British Nationalist. You understand sovereignty perfectly fine. Your basis is the British state, and it commands your loyalty. Who are trying to kid, here?”

I do not wish to see larger states broken up along ethnic lines. It’s very simple and it’s all over this blog, so I need not expand here.

“No. You cannot separate people like that. Can't be done, and if you think you can you are lying to yourself.”

Nonsense.

“Would I have understood if they did, especially given the context of NI? Yes. Would it have made it right? No.”

And would they have been responsible if they had and should they be condemned? Without a doubt.

kensei said...

The point is in providing voters with a clear line of responsibility to the decision makers and an alternative, the current system provides neither of those things.

Well you have said that the current system concentrates power int he two lead parties. The electorate is perfectly capable of switching them if it so chooses. they have already done it once.

You’re wrong. There is not a clear line of responsibility.

Nope, I'm right, but then, as a democrat and republican, I respect the electorate.

It is not possible for unionism to hold power without nationalist consent, now or in the future and unionist politicians have grasped this, or else they would not be in a power sharing arrangement in the first place. Sharing power isn’t the same as conceding a list of demands.

60% or 65% could be met by the Unionist parties, the Alliance, and a fraction of the SDLP. The vast majority of nationalism could be opposed, and be ignored completely.

Power sharing does not mean conceding a list of demands. It does require that you be able to concede some of what the partners want if you are to get anything done. Simply, you know, turning up is not actually a concession.

15.2% is significant and I do not believe that we can judge whether it’s dropping until a full election. The European polls will give us the first serious indicator, not council by elections.

Look at the trend line. I'll lay a £50 bet now to the charity of your choice that at the next Westminster election the SDLP's vote will less than the previous Westminster election, and at the next Assembly election they'll be less than 2007. I know you are thinking about the Southern election result, but it would be wise to recall those talking up the SDLP before the last Northern election.

Unionism signed up to the agreement and the principles inherent.

Balls. It was coerced into a minimum, like always.

Of course it doesn’t view ROI as ideal, but it has been accepted for the greater good and ultimately for the good of the Union. Constant encroachment is not the same. We don’t want joint sovereignty or anything similar, however much you howl about it.

Which is fine. Understand, I really do. I don't want to lose my protective veto, however much you howl about it. You might think ti right and proper and a great idea, but nope, not going to countenance it. I doubt SF will either. SO what do you have to offer that mean appeal?

And a clear majority are not applying pressure. Their will cannot be ignored. We are not interested in joint sovereignty.

Way to miss the point, dude.

Forebearers is not a word. And I certainly don’t like to see power reside with extremes.

I am of course right, and can dig out the quote if you wish. You know this, so you choose to be a pedant rather than concede the point.

It is about breaking ranks. It is about an idea which is convivial to unionists. It is about not trusting the prods to couch it in the language you seem to revel in.

It's about not trusting people who are currently taking delight in fucking you over. It is not that it is convivial to Unionism: the fact is that it is detrimental to Nationalism.

I’ll ignore this with the contempt it deserves,

You'll ignore it because you have no answer.

And a clear line of accountability to the electorate has not been established. No system is perfect, but at least allow the possibility of improving it!.

I do. Your suggestion doesn't. Try again.

Of course they are. They know what these people have been responsible for and they still offer them their votes.

No, actually they don't. SF and the IRA had an overlap in membership, but they are not the same thing. People are also interested where people are going. People didn't vote for killing. They voted for no killing. Strengthening SF undoubtedly did that.

You have done no such thing.

Yeah, we have. I'm trying to imagine the post int he vent of t being Connor Murphy and not Sammy Wilson, but it's a bit ugly.

If a few years more violence were likely to deliver a United Ireland they would restart their campaign tomorrow.

Worthless argument. And if a few years violence was likely to deliver a stable NI within the UK, there'd be those within Unionism that would do it tomorrow, and those that'd would say it was terrible but give implicit support anyway. Even if the whole Provisional movement had the moral fortitude to turn it's back on that, there'd be another man outside of it that wouldn't. The same goes for any group faced with a choice for the it heart's desire. Fortunately we live in the real world where it doesn't work, and can't work.

I do not wish to see larger states broken up along ethnic lines. It’s very simple and it’s all over this blog, so I need not expand here.

Yes. Because it suits your British Nationalist world view.

Nonsense.

Trufax.

And would they have been responsible if they had and should they be condemned? Without a doubt.

Still missing the point. Keep trying, you might get there.

Chekov said...

“Well you have said that the current system concentrates power int he two lead parties. The electorate is perfectly capable of switching them if it so chooses. they have already done it once.”

In order to make an informed choice the electorate must be able to clearly differentiate what different parties stand for. If an entire executive is asked to stand over policy then the electorate does not have clarity of choice. It’s very simple, basic stuff.

“Nope, I'm right, but then, as a democrat and republican, I respect the electorate.”

Republicanism bombed its way to the negotiating table without any reverence for the ballot box. Republicanism only ‘respects’ the electorate when the electorate begins to endorse republicanism.

“60% or 65% could be met by the Unionist parties, the Alliance, and a fraction of the SDLP. The vast majority of nationalism could be opposed, and be ignored completely.”

The point is having participation, which would be significant, as a safeguard for rights. Then normal politics can emerge.

“Look at the trend line. I'll lay a £50 bet now to the charity of your choice that at the next Westminster election the SDLP's vote will less than the previous Westminster election, and at the next Assembly election they'll be less than 2007. I know you are thinking about the Southern election result, but it would be wise to recall those talking up the SDLP before the last Northern election.”

I’d take that bet if I could be sure my money would not end up in the hands of some risible ex-prisoners’ support group.

“Balls. It was coerced into a minimum, like always.”

Looks like I don’t have a monopoly on contempt.

“Which is fine. Understand, I really do. I don't want to lose my protective veto, however much you howl about it. You might think ti right and proper and a great idea, but nope, not going to countenance it. I doubt SF will either. SO what do you have to offer that mean appeal?”

Nothing. But nevertheless I will congratulate Mark Durkan for broaching this subject. Clearly he wishes to advance on this issue because he realises it is the correct way to go, not because there’s something he can horse trade for it.

“It's about not trusting people who are currently taking delight in fucking you over. It is not that it is convivial to Unionism: the fact is that it is detrimental to Nationalism.”

Unionism by existing is fucking you over. That’s the mentality.

“You'll ignore it because you have no answer.”

I don’t need to answer a baseless allegation. What is the point of you saying ‘yes you would’ for me to answer ‘no I wouldn’t’ for 20 posts? Life is too short.

“No, actually they don't. SF and the IRA had an overlap in membership, but they are not the same thing.”

Fucking hell!

“People are also interested where people are going. People didn't vote for killing. They voted for no killing. Strengthening SF undoubtedly did that.”

Strengthen the killers to stop the killing! What a philosophy!

“Worthless argument. And if a few years violence was likely to deliver a stable NI within the UK, there'd be those within Unionism that would do it tomorrow, and those that'd would say it was terrible but give implicit support anyway. Even if the whole Provisional movement had the moral fortitude to turn it's back on that, there'd be another man outside of it that wouldn't. The same goes for any group faced with a choice for the it heart's desire. Fortunately we live in the real world where it doesn't work, and can't work.”

The crux of the issue, which you want to ignore, is that the Provisionals’ adherence to politics is only a tactical machination.

“Yes. Because it suits your British Nationalist world view.”

Rubbish. I adhere to the notion of a multi-national state which provides a multiplicity of identity. There is a clear difference between that and nationalism.

“Still missing the point. Keep trying, you might get there.”

The point is clear. The point is that responsibility cannot be absolved because of circumstances. The point is that very many victims didn’t become involved in murder. The point is that paramilitaries who murdered and maimed are contemptible whatever their circumstances and whichever side they happened to be on.

Chekov said...

Btw I will be leaving this debate here, because I'm bored to the back teeth with responding.

kensei said...

In order to make an informed choice the electorate must be able to clearly differentiate what different parties stand for. If an entire executive is asked to stand over policy then the electorate does not have clarity of choice. It’s very simple, basic stuff.

Fine in Constitutional theory. But people aren't thick. They know voting for particular parties will help towards particular outcomes they want.

Republicanism bombed its way to the negotiating table without any reverence for the ballot box.

Again, confusion between Republicanism and paramilitarism. Would you like a diagram?

The point is having participation, which would be significant, as a safeguard for rights. Then normal politics can emerge.

Yes, you participate over there, in opposition while we run the place. No thanks.

I’d take that bet if I could be sure my money would not end up in the hands of some risible ex-prisoners’ support group.

I'll quite happily name a cancer charity.

Looks like I don’t have a monopoly on contempt.

It isn't contempt. It is a sad admission of facts. Unionism has had to be dragged almost every step of the way. It's not contempt, more frustration.

Nothing.

Guess what you'll get.

But nevertheless I will congratulate Mark Durkan for broaching this subject. Clearly he wishes to advance on this issue because he realises it is the correct way to go, not because there’s something he can horse trade for it.

This is reality, not the West Wing. If Durkan was suggesting giving Unionism the top of its wish list for nothing, then he is a fool and beyond a fool. However, not even Durkan is that dumb. He is asking for a Bill of Rights as a safegaurd. I feel it's inadequate and moves power from the people to the courts.

Unionism by existing is fucking you over. That’s the mentality.

No, Unionism by blocking promised devolution of P&J is fucking us over. By blocking funds for the Irish language is fucking us over. By being small minded and shutting out help from the South on public bodies is fucking us over. And so on.

But just on this -- this is it? Your standard of debate is "Youse just hate us"? That's all you got? God help you.

I don’t need to answer a baseless allegation. What is the point of you saying ‘yes you would’ for me to answer ‘no I wouldn’t’ for 20 posts? Life is too short.

Baseless? I can pull out plenty of threads where you delight in ranting about SF doing similar things. At least be honest. It'll feel good. You don't care about what Sammy did because it suits your outlook. If Connor Murphy had blocked an Englishman you'd be on a rat.

Fucking hell!

That is the truth of the matter. Not liking it doesn't actually make it false. Ask Jonathon Powell.

Strengthen the killers to stop the killing! What a philosophy!

One that worked, apparently.

The crux of the issue, which you want to ignore, is that the Provisionals’ adherence to politics is only a tactical machination.

Says you. I think there has been a realisation within the Provisional movement, certainly the leadership, that violence is never going to solve the problem,or get what they want. That it actual harms their goals. That's fundamental, and important.

Rubbish. I adhere to the notion of a multi-national state which provides a multiplicity of identity. There is a clear difference between that and nationalism.

Nope, and modern nationalism is more than capable of accommodating a multiplicity of identity . The US would be your typical example. You build your logic around what you like. Which is being British.

The point is clear. The point is that responsibility cannot be absolved because of circumstances. The point is that very many victims didn’t become involved in murder. The point is that paramilitaries who murdered and maimed are contemptible whatever their circumstances and whichever side they happened to be on.

2/10. No, still not there. Keep trying.

Btw I will be leaving this debate here, because I'm bored to the back teeth with responding.

Great. I luurve getting the last word. Oh yeah.