Wednesday, 1 October 2008

'Arsing about' at Stormont

Sometimes, in Northern Ireland’s politics, a situation develops that can only be summed up in language which may seem, well, a little un-parliamentary! Sir Reg Empey, speaking at a Conservative Party Conference fringe event, gloriously encapsulated the current executive impasse at Stormont, when he accused both the DUP, and in particular Sinn Féin, of ‘arsing about’ whilst important issues mount up and the economic downturn begins to bite.

Martin McGuinness claims that his party cannot participate in an executive meeting because the DUP will only agree to discuss matters which concern unionists. This is a spectacularly disingenuous claim, made chiefly to deflect blame from Sinn Féin for its continuing refusal to get on with business. Peter Robinson has suggested 25 papers for discussion, 12 of which McGuinness has agreed. If that does not form the basis for an agenda, then the Deputy First Minister must insist on very, very long meetings. Neither is it likely that none of these papers are of interest to the nationalist community.

The truth is that Sinn Féin’s problem with the agenda is that it does not comprise its wish-list. It is making a blatant attempt at blackmail in order to advance its pet projects, at the expense, not only of the DUP, but also of the people of Northern Ireland and the Assembly itself. Additionally, there is little doubt that Sinn Féin’s petulance is making it increasingly difficult for Robinson to reach an accommodation on policing and justice, without lengthy and elaborate choreography. Sinn Féin is less interested in the specific issue of policing and justice, than in its continued ability to precipitate a crisis every time it does not get its way.

As the Republic’s government (and others throughout the world) acts swiftly to address the economic crisis, Liam Clarke has set in contrast the manner in which the carve-up parties are advancing their expensive sectional agendas. His piece, juxtaposing inaction on the economy, with the two parties’ insistence on bolstering their own particular pet language projects, illustrates perfectly the priorities of the two parties which purport to govern us.

Whilst Sinn Féin and the DUP lead their respective communities, expect more of the same. Expect more ‘arsing about’, as evidenced by Sinn Fein's likely rebuttal of Robinson's suggestion that a meeting should have an 'open agenda'.

4 comments:

Hernandez said...

What would happen if the rest of the parties just got on with the business of governing the country without SF/IRA? Are they likely to return to violence and the campaign of terror? If they can't be bothered to fulfil their duties then they should be declared unfit for government. It pains me to watch what is happening in my native country - they are sleep walking into an economic and cultural black hole.

Chekov said...

I'm afraid that's not possible under the current system hernandez.

kensei said...

Reg's claim translates as people don't care about crime, pathetic clearance rates and the rest. Even if he was right, then he is saying that the government should be driven by short term priorities. Pathetic. And given it's such a low short term priority, perhaps he should take the position the powers should be transferred and we'll sort it out the correct shape for them in the medium to long term. So, to sum his positions: complete balls. Some parties just deserve to die. The UUP deserves shot.

As for Red-faced Robbo. If only there was a timeline for P&J powers to set everyone's expectations! If only there was a relatively stable period where we could make progress on the issue. I mean, even a year of relative stability, it'd be enough! if only there were some promising polls on support from Unionists! If only!

Oh shit. There was all that and the DUP squandered it, to show how tough they are. SF are now simply showing they can be tough too which is the natural and correct reaction, because otherwise you get squished on by nastier people. The argument is worthless in this context.

Third, the Assembly is not the Dail's equal, and nor is it ever likely to be. It cannot guarantee that sum of bank deposits. It can't affect tax or spending, unless it decides not to spend all of it, as it has a fixed budget. It can't even issue bonds IRC. And neither parliament is dealing with this issue. They can at best deal with some of the outcomes. And if we can arrange free prescriptions, we can manage some money towards cold pensioners without the Executive meeting.

And again, if the DUP really, really desperately needs these things done and there really is no other way, it can always deliver on stuff it's already agreed in principle.

Chekov said...

“Reg's claim translates as people don't care about crime, pathetic clearance rates and the rest.”

No it doesn’t translate as that as you well know. It translates as people know devolution of p & j won’t make a blind bit of difference to those things / are happy enough that they’re being policed acceptably and won’t accept P & J as an excuse for leaving everything else.

“Even if he was right, then he is saying that the government should be driven by short term priorities. Pathetic”

It’s SF which is pathetic. Government need not be driven by short term priorities, but refusing to govern in the short term shows little inclination to provide good government in the long term.

“And given it's such a low short term priority, perhaps he should take the position the powers should be transferred and we'll sort it out the correct shape for them in the medium to long term. So, to sum his positions: complete balls. Some parties just deserve to die. The UUP deserves shot.”

And the movement for which you’re an apologist knows plenty about shooting UUP reps.

“As for Red-faced Robbo. If only there was a timeline for P&J powers to set everyone's expectations! If only there was a relatively stable period where we could make progress on the issue. I mean, even a year of relative stability, it'd be enough! if only there were some promising polls on support from Unionists! If only!”

The verb ‘to be’ takes ‘were’ in the past subjunctive rather than ‘was’.

“Oh shit. There was all that and the DUP squandered it, to show how tough they are. SF are now simply showing they can be tough too which is the natural and correct reaction, because otherwise you get squished on by nastier people. The argument is worthless in this context.”

Nastier people! Jesus you’re excelling yourself! Nastier than Gerry Kelly or Martin McGuinness! You know why SF is doing this. They sold p & j as a done deal when it was nothing of the sort. Now they are simply undermining any confidence there was in the executive to assume any more devolved powers. And that suits them fine too, because ‘our way or the highway’ is their attitude, as articulated plenty of times by you yourself, both here and on Slugger.

“Third, the Assembly is not the Dail's equal, and nor is it ever likely to be. It cannot guarantee that sum of bank deposits. It can't affect tax or spending, unless it decides not to spend all of it, as it has a fixed budget. It can't even issue bonds IRC. And neither parliament is dealing with this issue. They can at best deal with some of the outcomes. And if we can arrange free prescriptions, we can manage some money towards cold pensioners without the Executive meeting.”

We can certainly alleviate the worst suffering felt by people on the ground. To do this in a sustained, organised way it should meet.

“And again, if the DUP really, really desperately needs these things done and there really is no other way, it can always deliver on stuff it's already agreed in principle.”

It is SF that is preventing the executive from meeting. Because Sinn Féin says it wants something it does not mean that it is in principle agreed.

I don’t think we need any more of your squealing on this subject. The facts speak for themselves and we’ve heard SF’s lies about the subject which we don’t need reiterated by you.