Supporting vs throwing shapes


With the obscenities that are happening in Gaza, it’s an effort to wrench attention back to our own tormented situation. But wrenched it must be, to listen as Peter Robinson tries to laugh off suggestions he might be pushed from his leader’s perch. It is of course no laughing matter, which is why the DUP are so keen to pin the blame on republicans,  and why the Ulster Unionists are even  keener to show themselves even deeper not-an-inchers than the DUP.  Which poses a problem. What to do if unionist politicians, having rejected Haass in their usual classy way, are now refusing to even sit down and address the problem of flags, parading and the past?

The obvious answer is to call in the co-guarantors.  That’s the Irish and British governments. If they see parties failing to live up to their promises, it would seem obvious that they should step in.

Have they? Well er um No. As far back as March 2012 the British and Irish governments signed a Declaration called British-Irish Relations: The Next Decade.  They spent much of it looking at the economy, trade, enterprise and energy relations between the two states, along with EU membership. Fair enough. A state’s got to look after its own interests first, find allies where it can. But what did it say about the North? Well here’s Enda on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street in March 2012: “So we have committed ourselves to supporting the Good Friday and the institution and all of that peace process”. Now why do those words make me think that maybe Enda is holding the matter of the north at arm’s length, while his other hand is holding his nose?

But deeds are what matter, not words. So how did Enda do when Haass was here and needing support to get unionism off its backside? Er, ask me another. OK. What did he do when Gerry Adams was arrested and interrogated in the mouth of the recent election? Well there’s no documented proof that he shouted “Gotchyayahooryah!”  but likewise no proof that he didn’t. He certainly didn’t express disapproval at what looked like an attempt to influence the outcome of an election, especially if he figured it might start votes flowing his way. So when I hear Enda talking about “all of that peace process”, I get worried because those sound like  the comments of a man who wishes the north would just go away so he can concentrate on his own problems.

And the British government? Well we know that the Tories have made one botched attempt to shack up with the Ulster Unionists  (UCUNF and all that). Now Cameron’s turned to the DUP. Had them round to Downing Street for tea and crumpets, to show how much he likes them, just in case he needs their support in a tight corner after the next general election.

 In his statement on the No 10 doorstep after signing the document with Enda in 2012, Cameron said (oh God, I’m not sure I can do this without feeling a bit retchy): “Enda and I are determined not to just roll back on our heels at this moment but actually to roll up our sleeves and really make the relationship mean even more”.  Which means what? Why,  being “good partners in the European Union” and pushing for “pro-growth, pro-enterprise, pro-trade policies”.

And Enda? “I want to echo the Prime Minister’s comments here. The fact that we signed a declaration today and have signed it speaks of the future relationship between Ireland and Britain, which is at an unprecedentedly cooperative and very high level, covering a whole range of a spectrum here, from business to trade, to economics, to politics, and as the Prime Minister himself remarked, family ties, which is included in the declaration.”

George Orwell used to say you could tell the clarity of thought through noting the clarity of a person’s speech. What a pity he never met Enda.

And what a greater pity that the British and Irish governments, instead of mouthing platitudes and snuggling up to each other, haven’t intervened in the North. Haven’t rolled up sleeves and banged those heads that require banging,  so that the Good Friday Agreement of which they are co-guarantors is fully implemented. Not next year. Not before Christmas. Now.


8 Responses to Supporting vs throwing shapes

  1. RJC July 26, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    Sure isn’t ‘all of that peace process’ just grand? Didn’t we solve that problem back in the late 90s? Everything’s fine up there now. What business have the Provos got coming down here and messing in our politics? Sure don’t they have their own Assembly up there?

    Neither does Cameron appear to give two hoots about the north. Any meetings he has with Enda are most likely a case of looking for allies within the EU. Perhaps David Cameron can form his own special EU with Viktor Orban of Hungary.

  2. Iolar July 26, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    “Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
    The words of Buzz Aldrin when he landed on the moon on 20 July 1969. Buzz suggests that there will be people on Mars before 2040. I am delighted that I have introduced my disinterested Martian to this debate. The tragedy is that my Martian friend can see the slaughter in Gaza from outer space. Given his/her/its ability to avail of intergalactic travel, my Martian friend will no doubt also know in advance, the exact date of Mr Robinson’s departure. With due respect to the ladies and gentlemen on the Parades Commission, it is unlikely that my Martian friend would wish to be unintentionally or inadvertently misleading given the fact that he/she/it already knows the determination in relation to political unionism’s intention to march out of the Assembly before the next election.

  3. Perkin Warbeck July 26, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    As always when one peruses the daily issue from Esteemed Blogmeister one keeps an eye out for the key word. This is known as the Clothes Hanger word from which the rest of the measured prose is dangled. Most of the time these Clothes Hanger words, the ones manufactured from wire, are in the Q’s English but occasionally the Clothes Hanger word, the wooden one, is in the Leprechaun language. Usually with the health warning, mind: ‘An tSualainn tir a dheanta’ which is Leprechaun for ‘Made in Sweden’.

    One is not sure exactly what massage that cryptic warning is designed to convey.

    Rarely – if ever – is the Clothes Hanger word is in a strange tongue. Happily, on this the birthday of the pianist John Field,( the man who coined the phrase ‘Don’t Knock the Nocturne – if may be your turn next ‘) the word is in mellifluous Swahili:

    -Gotchayahooryah !

    Alas, one’s delight was to be not unmingled with a sense of disappointment. For it led one to expect the spotlight to shine on the only member of the Free Southern State Cabinet who is fluent in Swahili. That would be, none other than the Yawnaiste herself, Joan Burton TD. I know this because the TUT (The Unionist Times) reported so on her election to her current dizzy height.

    She appears to have learned it during a sojourn in Tanzania. Now, while it did not say where she keeps up to s. with her Swahili one suspects it is in the Yerraland of Kerry, the only county on the island of Eireland where that mellifluous language is spoken and where the daily greeting is:

    -Howaroohoorinoohooroo !..

    It is strongest in the area just north and west of the Swahealy Pass and when the prolific American novelist, Leon Uris, the author of ‘Uhuru’ which seemingly is the Swahili word for ‘Freedom’ visited the Yerraland of Kerry to research his tome ‘Ireland: a Terrible Beauty’ he was not a little startled to hear himself addressed thus:

    -HowaroohoorinUrisoohuru !

    He was so nonplussed he thought he had landed in Black and Tanzania (in fact, he had) and not unsurprisingly, shortly afterwards made his, erm, exodus.

    But, back to Joan Burton (64). By omitting any reference to the Yawnaiste one feels that the note of today’s blog would not be so pessimistic. For, indeed, not for nothing is she known to her inner circle as ‘Suds’ and this gives great hope for the future history of this rhyming country.

    When any eavesdropping outsider hears her addressed as ‘Suds’ they automatically link her to the great Australian operatic coloratura contralto, Dame Joan Sutherland, with whom Joan B bears more than a passing resemblance both in nomenclature, in sounds and, of course, in looks. Not for n. was Dame Joan known as ‘the Desperate Dan Diva from Downunder’..

    While this jumping to a hasty conclusion by the eavesdropping outsider is understandable, give or take, nonetheless it is incorrect. For the ‘Suds’ the insiders of Joan Burton (64) have in mind is another ‘Suds’ altogther. These insiders, btw, are under the stern but friendly control of the Yawnaiste’s office manager: the formidable Dora. Which remarkably, though innaccurately, conjures up memories of another D.O.R.A. (Defence of the Realm Act).

    No, the other ‘Suds’ is none other than Peter Sutherland who was A.G. during the visionary Taoiseachship of G. FitzGerald, TD.

    Many a time and oft did one, during one’s legendary time as a T.S.C.W.. in the Civil Service stand in awe and gaze at ‘Suds’, standing in awe and gazing at the magnificent stained glass window by Evie Hone which adorns the first landing of the ceremonial staircase in Government Buildings, Dublin.

    The title of that wonderful work of art is ‘The Four Green Fields’ and ‘Suds’ could be heard to sigh, with the plaintive sigh of the true patriot who longed for the territorial integrity of his native land.

    Hence his enthusiastic pursuance of the policy known as ‘Hands across the Border’. which some some shinners who should be ashamed of themselves, but who never are, denigrated with a characteristic twist of the Q’s English: ‘Hands Over across the Border’

    Depend upon it, the new Yawnaiste, Joan Burton (64), T.D. will pursue this policy of outreach with no less enthusiasm. Not for n. is she known as ‘Suds the Second’.

    So, Jude, one trusts this clarifies while you were a tad on the too pessimistic side today. Go easy of all that paella and gazpacho. Known as ‘pigging of the p.a.g’. in gastronomic guides to the Iberian Peninsula

    Housekeeping note: 1.The T.S.C.W. rank was the ‘Time Serving Clock Watching’ one and is now done away with in these straitened times.. Not before its time, I say.
    2. None of the Four Green Fields in the stained glass mistresspiece relate to the Birthday Boy called John. Comrade Field was red, and ended up in a honky tank in Moscow., located in the Siberian Peninsula. A son of Dev’s even tried to reclaim him for the 4GFs.

    • Jude Collins July 26, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      Perkin, as the actress said to the bishop: you take my breath away…

  4. Micheal July 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    This whole situation feels akin to that of the Margaret Thatcher Government which somewhat decided that if the security situation was contained over in ‘Norn Iron’ they wouldn’t loose to much sleep over it. The fact of the matter is, even though wee Enda and Cameron signed their scribbles for “pro-growth, pro-enterprise, pro-trade policies” their commitment to the North seems to on a back burner and maybe quite rightly so going by the problems the UK and the South are have at the minute.

    When Mr Kenny stated “So we have committed ourselves to supporting the Good Friday and the institution and all of that peace process” I can almost see him mumbling these words under his breath in the hope that no-one actually heard him utter them. As for Cameron, lets be honest, of all the PM’s (joint or otherwise) to have taken on the North of Ireland, he has kept us at arms length more than most and its somewhat refreshing. The Government over here (if you want to call it that) at Stormont needs to learn to sort its own messes out. Both sides need to see that only they can move the North forward and constantly calling on wee Enda and Cameron to step in, makes Stormont somewhat of a laughing stock in political circles. Unionism needs to grow up fast and quit sulking over the flags and parades issue and move on. The ‘poor me’ syndrome rife in Unionism at the minute is growing old.

  5. AndyB July 26, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    The DUP will do well to remember 1985, and to realise that they need expect no efforts on things that matter to them, ie flags on public buildings and parades.

    The Tories made it fairly clear in 2010 that the local parties need not turn up on the doorstep of No.10 without an invite, which I knew was a clear indication that they wanted the local parties to grow up.

    It’s still my opinion that if the Assembly collapses, the NIO will take over, and after a period of time spent asking the children to put the toys back in the pram, that will be the end of it.

  6. paddykool July 26, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    I think you’ve got it about right Andy… Toys and prams….Tom Waits is choogling away in the background with 1985’s “Jockey full of Bourbon” from the “Raindogs ” album…Wonder if any of our politicians had a spare minute back in 1985 to cop a listen to Tom back then ..maybe not …probably gazing as intently up their own fundament as they still are now. More into a bit of Daniel O’Donnell anyway , I suppose….Wee Daniel always was a nice wee boy …with a nice wee smile.
    Wonder do any of them think about their feeble wasted lives …spent wrangling about the wonderment of flags and marching …a bit of rioting on the side. …and what have you achieved in life Wee Sammy , Wee Peter …?
    Ach , we’ve had a few laughs with the punters at this oul’ politics lark….y’know stirring the buggers …they like a bit of stirring up….a bit of summer recreational rioting …traditional isn’t it?…. ….riling them up on the streets …signing bits of this and that …chuffing about now and then…getting together to make Big Serious Responses to this and that. Big Serious Declarations about Graduated Responses to this and that…It’s a bit of craic {or is “craic” too “Paddy” a thing to say?}…bit of “crack” then…. for a few months of the year between summer holidays….pays the mortgage too….. Not a bad living .You don’t need a lot of imagination , especially since Cameron and Whatisname down south are keeping their nebs out of our wee Stormont. Sure we knew we’d wear them down eventually .Only a matter of time before we get our wee Ulster back the way it was back in the early 1960’s …just hold on tight and wear them down…they’ll soon forget what it was all about and why the trouble blew up in the first place….only a matter of time….and sure we’ll be retiring someday soon .The whole lot of us can get away to that wee compound in Florida.We deserve it after a lifetime of these politics …don’t we.? There’ll be a whole new generation to kick up a stink about everything and sure it ‘ll be all a whole new game for them .They’ll never know there ever was an Agreement about anything, anyway.How could they…sure we’ve already forgotten ourselves….

  7. Freddy Mallins July 26, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    Yes Pk, that’s where they’ll be; Florida, Cyprus, Malta or perhaps South Africa. That’s where they feel at home, bless them. Heaven forbid the’d travel outside the British protectorate zone. They might learn about other European cultures.
    We are actually being governed by creationists like Poots and Storey ( jackanory). Telling us that Diinosaurs were roaming the earth less than 6000 years ago with humans. And they feign insult at having to share power with Republicans! The mind boggles.