Last night on Nolan


Oh dear – wasn’t last night’s Nolan Show  compulsive viewing? For all sorts of reasons. Some on Twitter compared it to Butlin’s Holiday Camp entertainment, some produced extracts from Jonathan Powell’s book (OK, I was one of those), others spoke of the core elements of Arlene Foster’s debating style, with emphasis on her finger and her eyes. There were so many bits and pieces flying around, it was like being George Clooney in that film Gravity, with random debris swooshing in from all sides.  So let me pick out a few of the things I thought were important.

1. Jim Allister. It’s not in everything I agree with Jim but I thought he brought his forensic skills to this one early on in the shouting match. If the DUP did  know the position regarding OTRs,  then they’re faking it now – pretending to be outraged by something they have known about and accepted for years. If the DUP did not know the position regarding OTRs, what sort of crass incompetence was that: happy to rest in ignorance of a key political matter?

2. Denis Bradley.  I don’t agree with everything Denis says but he brought factual information to the debate. The Policing Board had discussed the matter of OTRs, two or was it three DUP people were in attendance: the matter of OTRs and their treatment was in the public arena some eight years ago. Which kind of puts a hole in Peter’s petulance now.

3. Gerry Kelly. I thought Gerry Kelly brought forward a reminder that most of us seem happy to forget. The OTRs were not people who had escaped from prison and were being pursued so they could be incarcerated once more. In fact, the letters they received were clear assurances that they were not wanted for any crime of any kind by any police force in the UK. Why then be outraged by the decision of these police forces – or do you think these police forces had a special soft spot for republicans?

4. Equity.  How come it was republicans who were exercising the mailman with letters of assurance, while loyalists watched the garden path in vain? Shouldn’t sauce for the republican goose be sauce for the loyalist gander? Again, Gerry Kelly put his finger on this one (you may not have heard it over Arlene’s shouting): there were no loyalist/security forces OTRs. As Anne Cadwallader’s book Lethal Allies  makes clear with careful documentation, there were dozens, even hundreds of cases where innocent Catholics/nationalists were killed by loyalists acting in collusion with state forces. There was never any question of action against these killers. Why run when you don’t need to?

5. Unionist anger.  You would never have thought it last night but the DUP anger,  feigned or for real, was directed at the British governments . About, among other things, royal pardons. So unionists who insist on their unswerving loyalty is to the crown and Westminster are feeling outraged because the royal prerogative appears to have been exercised in some cases and because, they claim, British governments acted without consulting them. They’re shocked and outraged about this? That Britain appears to have treated them with lofty indifference? Get used to it, guys. It’s what Britain does.

6. Not being told. I had a communication yesterday from someone whose innocent family member was attacked and killed several decades ago by members of the security forces, with family members present.  From that day to this the killers have walked free, no case mounted against them, no apology given to the family. The family member who contacted me made the point that if Peter Robinson felt he’d been kept in the dark, then he knew what this family had been suffering for decades, with no end in sight.

7. This is Flags 2.  Express outrage about an issue, whip up feeling in the hope that it will bring increased voters to put their X beside your party’s names. It’s the election, stupid.



20 Responses to Last night on Nolan

  1. Pat MacMurphy February 27, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    A true comedy of errors on the DUP’s behalf. Although I hate to say it, Jim Allister hit the nail on the head and in my opinion their reaction is nothing more than electioneering. I believe they knew and this is nothing more than faux outrage, they’re fighting a losing battle now and this is as good an opportunity for Peterpunt to get out of OFM and point the finger at something other than ‘DUP incompetence’.
    By the time the results of a judicial review, if it ever happens, are made public the ship will have sailed. The OTR’s were always a central point of discussion for SF so for the DUP to ‘ignore’ the implications is either incompetent or evasive.
    All said and done it was a master stroke of negotiation by SF.

  2. Cal February 27, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Most of my friends and family simply don’t care if Stormont is brought down. Due to years of DUP stonewalling on any issue beneficial to nationalists, be it in housing or tackling poverty.

    Hopefully under direct rule we can get an Irish language act and legislation on Hass. Stormont is a failure and has been for years. No-one should mourn its loss.

  3. giordanobruno February 27, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Do you think the rest of us had a right to know about these letters?
    Did families of victims have any right to know that possible suspects had received such letters?
    Did the Unionist parties have a right to know about this deal?
    Are Sinn Fein in any way to blame for keeping this deal secret, or do you find them wholly innocent?

  4. DaddyPobbin February 27, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    There are three outcomes:

    1. New Elections, 2016 is too far away anyways.
    2. Stormont collapses, Direct Rule – like Cal says, the British government, abiding by EU rules will probably be forced to implement an Irish Language Act and legislation on Haas will be looked at.
    3. Direct rule from London AND Dublin. Perhaps the inclusion of Dublin will make the DUP wise up. If Robinson loses his nerve at every turn we’ll be stuck in 1998-2007 era forever.

  5. hoboroad February 27, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    I see the Daily Mail has printed the names of some of those who received these letters of comfort.

  6. hoboroad February 27, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

  7. ANOTHER JUDE February 27, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    I agree with Cal and DaddyPobbin, let Stormont fall. The Unionists still hate Nationalists and they will never change. It`s only been a while since Martin was complaining that the DUPs were giving him the cold shoulder. Why haven`t Sinn Féin tried to remove those hideous gargoyles of Carson and co. in that place? I am sorry to say it but they are stuck in their loveless marriage. I have always voted Sinn Féin and I always will but it is time they began to stand up to the Unionists. Enough is enough.

  8. ANOTHER JUDE February 27, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    Just remembered something, a few months ago Panorama treated us to the sights and sounds of her majesty`s finest, regaling us with tales of how they were part of a special hit team set up by the British to go around murdering Catholics. Maybe I missed it but when are the so called authorities planning to arrest these people? Or are Norman Baxter and the other bitter old RUCs only interested in persecuting the taigs for stuff that happened during the war?

  9. John Murphy February 27, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    Unionists’ do anger well

    I wonder that the British Government / NIO/ PSNI could not have used a more convenient method of Informing the “on the runs” after all they could have use” Smoke signals” that way every one would have seen them.

  10. Antonio February 27, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    I have to agree with the sentiments of previous comments above. What is the point of Stormont power sharing when clearly the Unionist parties have no interest whatsoever in engaging with Sinn Fein constructively on any matter. It’s 17 years since the IRA ceasefire, 16 since the GFA and I think 7 years since the DUP agreed to enter the Executive alongside Sinn Fein. In the past I’ve heard Arlene Foster described as a more moderate voice within the DUP. Yet last night her venomous rage was on display like it has not been for a while and I think wholly disproportionate to the issues being discussed.

  11. ANOTHER JUDE February 28, 2014 at 1:03 am #

    Taking a leaf from our host, here is the conversation I believe took place between Ms Villiers and Mr Robinson.

    `Ah Peter, come in, good to see you…
    `I haven`t come here to exchange pleasantries Secretary Of State, I am here because the people* are rightly outraged by the disgraceful behaviour of the government…
    `Oh I understand fully, Her Majesty`s Government** are fully aware of the concern shown by your good self. Please, take a seat. ***
    `Secretary of State, I have to inform you I fully intend to tender my resignation forthwith unless you give me a solemn promise of a full judicial enquiry and that all letters sent to terrorist suspects will be immediately rescinded. ****
    `Of course, of course, that is exactly what we intend to do, naturally we here appreciate all the fantastic work you have done to bring peace and stability to Northern Ireland, we fully appreciate you have had to make difficult decisions such as sharing power with that awful man, whatshisname…from Derry..
    `Oh yes of course, LONDON derry. Rest assured there will be a place in the House Of Lords for you and your good wife whenever you retire. Old Paisley should be long gone by then, chortle, chortle. How is Mavis?
    `Oh yes of course, Iris. Hope she has fully recovered from her problems, tut, tut…Before you go, could I ask you if you wouldn`t mind awfully following that mandarin into his office so he can formally hand you the certified guarantee of a full judicial blah blah…
    Peter follows the man into a small room. The man proceeds to open a file marked CHICANERY AND OTHER PERFIDIOUS TYPE STUFF. Peter looks at the open page and visibly winces, his face turns even whiter than any self respecting Caucasian male`s should. He pulls back, mutters a few inaudible words and beats a hasty retreat. Smiling, the mandarin closes the book and puts it back in the already huge cabinet marked NOT FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION. Ms Villiers smiles and says `Another poor deluded betrayed Paddy, eh Jenkins?`
    What did Peter see? Was it a secret recording of Iris made whilst he was incarcerated down south in 1986? Was it a list of names of DUP members, past and present, liable for arrest should the PSNI ever decide to charge people for incitement to hatred or aiding and abetting terrorism? Did he perhaps have a Catholic girlfriend before the conflict? Or did he actually say hello to a Priest one day? We shall probably never know. But Peter knows, he knows all right.

    * Protestants
    **Use of this formal term instils an automatic toady reaction
    *** Black ops experts have told Mrs V that this phrase will remind Peter that Naomi Long has HIS seat in London. Does he want it back??


  12. ANOTHER JUDE February 28, 2014 at 1:09 am #

    The four asterisks…….RESCINDED is the buzz word this week. Remember the days when CLARIFICATION was all the rage?

  13. michael c February 28, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    Jude,as you would be more familiar with the BBC than me ,could you tell me which masonic/ orange lodge has been running their newsroom this past week.Today (Friday) they are referring constantly to the letter recipients as “republican paramilitaries” not “alleged ” or anything else.A couple of days ago they referred to a new bishop of “Londonderry” ,a totally false term for the position concerned.I do not know how to complain about this so maybe someone from these parts could raise it with them?

  14. paddykool February 28, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Anther Jude. : I’m out of the loop at present but am most grateful to you for keeping me up to speed….what a source for comedy this place is?
    Your piece was as true as anything else in this absurd never land….

  15. paul February 28, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    #3 ‘Being Irish means they’re guilty, so they’re guilty one and all”

    #4 The elephant in the room, dead on Jude, ” why run when you don’t have to?”

    #7 Flegs Mach 2, along with LOO marches, decomissioning, Maze Peace Center and the list goes on. The DUP says “NO” and London always seems to listen

    It occurs to me that First Minister Peter is either a DUPlicitous liar if he says he was totally unaware of this or else he thinks the great unwashed are morons. Second thought, both are true. Keep writin JC

  16. michael c February 28, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

    As this thread is about Nolan ,would there be any possibility of that oaf refraining from calling this place a “country”? Its factually incorrect as well as extremely annoying and if he continues ,I will not renew my TV licence. ( Her indoors has just informed me that last threat could be as empty as Robinsons threat to resign ! )

    • daniel moran March 3, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      Paul’. Arlene’s on Nolan and jeffrey’s synthetic rage means they should get equity cards and take to treading the boards. As the scenery chewing on an industrial scale from both, [note it’s the two plastic duppers Robbo fed to the wolves]shows they should get Equity cards and be treading the boards. The election campaigns in late april will be even dirtier esp from the DUP, if private polling tells them they’re in trouble. Jonathan Powell’s out of Paisley’s comfort letter from Blair about the OTRs to the effect that Trimble would get the blame, is shown in the lack of DUP scrutiny of the policing board and it will feature heavily in party political clips by the other parties.

  17. ANOTHER JUDE February 28, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

    Nationalists have had to listen to newsreaders and weathermen referring to `northern Ireland` for decades, we have had to watch Orange marches both live and on tv, we have had to endure the constant references to the British royal family, we have had to listen to bigoted, ignorant people belittle the Faith, we have endured a conflict in which hundreds of our fellow Nationalists were murdered by the state and it`s cronies, a conflict started by the very people now trying to behave like democrats despite their Ulster Resistance and Vanguard aosts. When was the last time an interviewer mentioned Clontibret to Robinson? Everything is geared against our Irish identity but still thousands vote for Sinn Féin. Is it any wonder the Unionists are constantly angry?

  18. ANOTHER JUDE February 28, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    Oops typo, the word `aosts` should of course be `pasts` but I am sure you knew that. I hope.

  19. daniel moran March 1, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    Last Night on Nolan point 5
    You may have seen on last night[‘s Stormont[Friday]on BBC2, where Sam McBride and Fionnuala O’Connor were speculating about the ‘chaos’ behind the scenes chez DUP after Robbo’sthreat which dematerialised, and how it manifested on both Nolan and in the stormont debate. The anguished cry for help from poor Arlene in high dudgeon, who repeated the line ‘dirty deal done with IRA by our own government’ to point out to those behind her, how despicable of her colonial masters to so openly show their contempt for her and the DUP drones. The cultlery drawers are staying open in the DUP afgter Robbo’s humiliating retreat. Only question is, why are they giving nationists the satisfaction of seeing their rage at the perfidious British?.