Sean and Colum and Alasdair

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 13.43.29Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 13.45.46

Picture by Stratagem         Picture by Learning…

I saw an old friend on the TV last night: Sean Farren. He was a former grandee of the SDLP and a former colleague of mine at the Ulster University. I found him a pleasant, agreeable man, easy to work with. I can think of only one occasion when we talked – and disagreed – about politics, and that was when the subject of a united Ireland was raised. Sean figured it should be put on the back burner “except you want a civil war, because I don’t”. Well, neither did I, of course; but I didn’t think that was a reason for not mentioning the subject or burying it full forty fathoms deep for forty years.

Anyway, last night there was Sean on Portstewart’s marvelous beach, walking along with reporter Gareth Gordon from the BBC’s The View. The topic? The leadership of the SDLP. Who did Sean favour to lead tomorrow’s SDLP? Not Alasdair McDonnell, it emerged. Sean sang the praises, with no ifs or buts, of fresh, young Colum Eastwood.

I met Colum Eastwood once, when he was mayor of Derry. At the time I was struck by his youth, his friendliness and his fluency when addressing the audience. From what I saw, he looked like someone who had most of the qualities that Alasdair McDonnell lacks. If I were an SDLP voter, I would have given him my vote for new leader when the party meets in November.

However, things are not always what they appear. Someone who knows the young Derryman better than me told me two things about him the other day. As he told it, not only is Colum  not terribly popular within the SDLP, he’s not terribly popular within the SDLP in Derry. For example, another SDLP grandee from Derry (yes, Virginia, I do like that grandee word – it says so much) – Pat Ramsay was reported as being something less than Colum Eastwood’s biggest fan. It was also suggested that Colum isn’t much given to the hard work that’s so much a part of politics.

I have no way of knowing if any of this is true. Perhaps Colum is the toast of the Derry SDLP– I liked him myself, as I say – even the toast of the entire SDLP. Barring Alasdair, of course, and maybe Fearghal McKinney. Maybe he will do a Jeremy Corbyn in November and emerge as top man, leaving Alasdair face down in the dust.

If he does, we’ll know two things. One is that the SDLP will have a better leader than the present one. Let’s face it, Mickey Mouse would run Alasdair a close second. And two,  should Colum gain top spot in the SDLP, maybe hold back with the champagne for a while. In Alice in Wonderland there’s a character called the Cheshire Cat which is given to slowly fading from view, leaving its smile to vanish last. Alasdair McDonnell doesn’t do smile and Colum does it rather well. But November won’t really make a whisker of difference. The SDLP is doing a long goodbye; it’s a question of when, not if. The best Colum can hope for is a delayed demise.

53 Responses to Sean and Colum and Alasdair

  1. ANOTHER JUDE October 2, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

    The lack of support shown towards Alasdair by his party is incredible, it really shows just how unpopular he is, I can`t think of any other party leader on the island who would get so little. Not even you, Peter. Maybe it`s time for a younger leader, after all, there is only so much stooping down low a person can do.

  2. fiosrach October 2, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    Where is the catholic middle class (people of substance according to st John Hume) going to go now? This coming fiasco at the stoops ard chomhairle will be great craic. Race of the zombies and may the least decomposed win!

    • Ryan October 2, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

      Alliance Party? I don’t know if they will go to the DUP/UUP or not, if they do then they have a lot of anti-Catholicism to stomach, mostly behind the scenes, of course. A bit like Turkeys voting for Christmas.

  3. Perkin Warbeck October 2, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

    As SDLP is the text for Saddle, Esteemed Blogmeister, there is something fittingly piquant that one by the name of C. Eastwood is poised to be hoisted into the saddle of the Social Democratic and Labour Party; perhaps, for the last time.

    And for the hoss to be pointed west, and with the melancholy strains of Enio Moricone, with its cracking whips, whistles, gunshots, jew’s harp and sub-sonic trumpets, a-warble in the background, be seen to ride off into the sunset of Bloody Foreland, his eastwards looking back at both the Gorbals and Ballycastle-o.

    .His saddlebags, of course, a-bulging with gold bullion, as befits a son of the gerrymandered city of Londonderry who finds himself in that once high and mighty position of a once golden and ebullient party.

    One mentioned Ballycastle (see above) for it was there or thereabouts the the outgoing yet strangely introverted former leader to be, Doc Mack, aka The Medicine Man, originally hailed from. And where he joined the clubbable chums in the Oul Lammas Labour party where, fair dos to them, dulse and yellowman were the order of the day.

    And where the Good, the Bad and the Ugly who once made up the membership of the SDLP were, erm, Sergio Leonesed by the acolyte hacks in the Free Southern Stateen media as the Party which could really…….. party !

    Doggone ! the Slieve Donard-high stacks of empty crates of Chateau Taxpayer which had to be collected from the rear portullis of Dublin Castle after a SDLP drink, oops, think-in. Not to mention the strange, spaghetti-coloured stuff which carpeted the surrounding streets the morning after.

    Ah, how nostaligic one now feels for those dear dead days beyond recall, Once upon a Time in West Britain.

    Poignantly, his successor has inhertied a party which is bereft of both a pulse and a fellowman.

    Something sadly apt too about the way in which you end on a diminuendo, EB: ‘a delayed demise’.

    For perhaps the most famous quote from the Man with No Name (played, oddly enough, by a different C. Eastwood) in The G, the B and the U. was: ‘You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig’.

    (How much more appropriate – and meaningful – the acronym GBUP would have been for the Lime-green Loyalist Party. Sadly, too late ! too late ! / ar amharai an tsaoil, ro-dheanach ! ro-dheanach !).

    This revelation that incoming incumbent is not much inclined towards either the digging or the heavy-lifting motion came as a kind of a mule-kick to the solar plexus.

    Perhaps, the role of Tuco the Tanaiste of the party might have better suited him: ‘Why, if you work for a living, you kill yourself working?’. Shades of Arbeit Macht Frei, not. if only one were allowed to use that AMF phrase.

    (Shhhh: best delete that. Otherwise, this C. Eastwood might end up as the Man with No Title. Which would indeed be a shame. For one feels the poncho would become him, almost as much the chain of mayoralty, as distinct from Moynalty. Pity though he hasn’t commenced to shave yet; for one is confident the sandpaper stubble would have colour co-ordinated mightily with the poncho.).

    PS It is not entirely true to say that the other C. Eastwood played the Man with No Name as he is called ‘Blondie’ throughout the fillum. One mentions this as a suggestion was made recently to the effect that ‘An Chuilfhionn’/’The Coolin’ might serve as the next National Tantrum. Or, National Antrim as it is known in certain parts of Joe Duffycity.

    This is a suggestion which has been parked, and peremptorily parked at that. Proper order,too.

    For, of course, ‘An Chuilfhionn’ translates as ‘Blondie’. Which also happened to be the name of (gasp) Onkel Dolf’s pet alsation.

    All those therefore who would vote for this traditonal tune, no matter how ethereal is sounds, would, in effect, so swell the Sympathy Vote for the uber-persecuted Alan Shatter, MP that he would be a shoo-in as the next Prime Minister to address the Oirish Porliament in high-toned High School, Zion Rd. Dublin 6, English. Yes, that lingo, pardner: the G.Q’s English.

    With, in all proability, the poncho-wearing, fuzzy-faced C. Eastwood co-opted as his Deputy PM.

    Even Enio Morricone would be put to the pith of his piccolo to come up with a tune sufficiently doleful to soundtrack that a. vista.

    • Jude Collins October 2, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

      Even Enio Morricone would be put to the pith of his piccolo to come up with a tune sufficiently doleful to soundtrack that a. vista. – I think today you kept the bestest wine for last, Perkin. You are a light that shines bright in a naughty world…

      • Perkin Warbeck October 3, 2015 at 6:08 am #

        GRMA, a Mhaistir Ionuin Blog.

        Factoid of the matter is, one just cannot help but be in the mood mirthful at this sad m. in time, g. forward.

        For one is currently high-fiving under the influence these doleful days, at least six times over the statutory limit. Under the influence of a newly published comic masterpiece.

        That would be ‘The Maximalist: The Rise and Fall of Tony O’Reilly’.The clue to the comedy which lies within is contained in the cover title. Inspired as it was by the face of Max, who was THE Face of the Fifties until the impossibly handsome hunk of a dashing young blade knocked him off his perch.

        Even as he dashed away from the line of the Lions and over the opposite white-washed line, festooned by Springboks to dot down the leather ovoid.

        Max was the Two-faced fellow whose visage was used to sell razor blades. There was his scowling jowly and stubbled physiog. Turn it upside down and – lo ! – there was his cleanshaven smiley face !

        It must have been a close conference call not to call the biog of the new physiog on the block: ‘Ketchup a Falling Star’.

        One approached the hilarious tome of the definitive beancounter expecting to find it crammed with Heinzight, perhaps even too crammed.

        Instead, to one’s joy almost unconfined one discovered it to be stuffed to the, erm, G’s with…..foresight. Indeed, the case might be made for stating that it is self-congratulatory the way the prose high-fives with foresight.

        Two examples will suffice:

        1. Sir AJF O’Reilly’s inner broth of a bhoyo’s choice of a place to be bi-located in, tranz Atlantic like: Prittsburgh, Pennysylvania. You, know, the very city made famous in the Fifties in popular song, as the city where there is a pawnshop around every other corner. Just how foresightful was that ?

        2. Under his ruthlessly benign overlordship, when as the Sindo headline had it – Heinz Inc redefinz corporate goldminez ! -he introduced his innovative LCO prorgamme.(In the German Queenz English it stood for: ‘Low Cost Operator’; but in the more blunt bespoken American it meant ‘Let’z Compenzate O’Reilly.).

        The thing was: Tonez required the dosh for far more pressing and lofty needs than did the newly redundant thousandz of employeez who felt the squeez (much as the new -fangled Heinz ketchup bottles did): he had to wheelbarrow endless fundz to his favourite political Party so that this Party would be able to party as only that Party could party. Resulting in the high minded membership of this Party of purity being wheelbarrowed home on a regular basis, apres party..

        (Ladiez and gentlemen, puleezzzze be upstanding and put your handz together for the SDLP…….before it is too late).

        But the key component of Sir Tonez’ new Low Cost Operator policy was a stroke of the purest genius, sublime in its very simplicity: he ordered that (gasp) the label from the back of the traditional Heinz ketchup bottles be……..removed.

        This was perhaps a candidate for THE most foresightful move of the 20th Century by a truly foreseeing 20th Century freckled foreheaded fox.

        Who else could have foreseen that forty years down the line he himself would be, as it were, without a label on his own back. Or, as the put it in Dublin parlance: ‘without an arse in his pinstriped trousers’ ?

        Cue: canned laughter.

    • Ceannaire October 2, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

      Ahh, Perkie references my favourite scannán! Could I suggest a better scene for this leadership battle? Tis the part where Blondie and Tuco decide to take out Angel Eyes and his men. Instead of coming across said bandits, Tuco finds a note they have left.

      Tuco (attempting to read): “See yoooouu la–aa-ter id-ido-ido”

      Blondie (takes the note): “It says idiots. It’s for you.” (hands the note back to Tuco).

      • giordanobruno October 3, 2015 at 11:05 am #

        Given that Eastwood has the backing of Deputy Leader Kelly I think it would be more appropriate to reference “For a Few Dolores More”.

        • Ceannaire October 3, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

          LOL, Giordanobruno. Now why didn’t I think of that?

  4. Jim Neeson October 2, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    Problem is in the demiseof the SDLP those Castle Catholic voters will vote Unionist such is the hate for Sinn Fein

    • RJC October 2, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

      Do any ‘Catholics’ vote for Unionist parties? Really?

  5. Iolar October 2, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    Time and tide wait for no man and it was left to the two health professionals to address key issues given the lack of strategy or leadership from our elected representatives. The health professionals were clearly not impressed with the standard of debate and I wonder what they would have made of Richard Needham’s contribution on radio today. “Now is the winter of our discontent…”. All we need is a casino. The 6th Earl of Kilmorey’s contribution to the crisis in the health service must rank as yet another faux pas for the history books. Chlis sé san imirt, he played his cards badly, given his recent support for the development of a casino with finance attached to assist those individuals with gambling problems. He is clearly a man who likes an each way bet.

    Today he set about diagnosing problems in the health service. According to Mr Needham, we need to sort out the war lords, the vested interests, the consultants and the unions. His comments will be treated with the contempt they deserve by dedicated hospital and community based health care personnel, not to mention all those being consigned to lengthy waiting lists. It would appear that all bets are off. It is time to deal with causes, not symptoms. There is something radically wrong when highly paid politicians are remunerated for failing to work and workers are being left with little alternative other than to engage in industrial action in spite of their sustained efforts to provide high quality health care in difficult circumstances, today.

  6. jessica October 2, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    Civil war eh.

    Reminds me of the old scorched earth policy unionists produced around the same time.

    Detailed plans those naughty unionists produced to destroy all of the infrastructure before leaving should england ever succumb to withdraw from ireland.

    Oh well. Perhaps the next generation will have more bottle and stop cowering at every unionist threat.

    Sure we’ll all be dead of old age by the time the graduated response builds up any real steam.

  7. giordanobruno October 2, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

    Zombies! Castle Catholics! Stoop Down Low Party!
    I see the Ireland of equals is going to be a welcoming place!
    A young leader of one the main parties would be good news.
    Only when the old generation to which Alasdair belongs moves off the stage can we hope to move forward.
    Come on Peter, Gerry, Martin, et Al, do us all a favour.

    • Jude Collins October 2, 2015 at 8:51 pm #

      I do hope you’re not being ageist, gio…Not like you.

      • giordanobruno October 2, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

        Their actual age is not the real issue for me. It is their inescapable link to the past.
        Men (all men) forever looking backward, to old battles.
        The likes of Colum Eastwood are naturally inclined to look forward.
        Don’t you read your Bible? Moses leads the people through the wilderness but for his sins ,he does not get to enter the promised land.

        • Jude Collins October 3, 2015 at 9:26 am #

          So it’s the SDLP that are the lost tribe of Israel! Who would have thunk it? If you don’t remember your past, you’re doomed to repeat it – plus sanity requires memory as well as anticipation. This notion that all who were involved in/lived through the conflict need to be jettisoned is nearly laughable, in that equates anyone over a certain age as a dinosaur. Ageism, anyone?

          • giordanobruno October 3, 2015 at 11:12 am #

            Not only were they involved in the conflict and thus have bloody hands they insist on celebrating it while pretending to commemorate.
            As I say it is not really about their age (providing their failing memories hold up, Gerry I’m looking at you!), it is about the need to keep fighting old battles and the obsession with making their version of history, be it Unionist or Republican, the accepted one.
            My hope is that the next generation will be more interested in the future than the past.

          • Jude Collins October 3, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

            I hope for focus on the future too, gio – but I’m assuming you’re not saying that Sinn Féin are the people who keep reverting to the past. A moment’s thought will tell you it’s unionist politicians such as Jim Allister, Tom Elliott, Nigel Dodds et al.As for their commemorating/celebrating those killed – it’s a fairly common occurrence on all sides. I don’t see why the Shinners should be the only ones not allowed to hold such commemorations if they wish. Or are we back to ‘It was the IRA wot dun it’?

          • jessica October 3, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

            I think the current Sinn Fein leaderships credentials as peace builders will set them apart in the history books and in time will be their sacrifice and efforts will be recognised globally.

            Gerrys memory is every bit as good as Bertie Aherns and he made it to taoiseach.

          • jessica October 3, 2015 at 11:22 am #

            Yes, reading about history and remembering it are rarely the same thing.

            We need the experience and wisdom from our elders more than we know.

            The problem in ireland is not dinosaur thinking, it is the presence of british rule outside of britain.

            As with its other colonies, eventually they will mature enough to want to leave the roost

            Such is the way of things

        • jessica October 3, 2015 at 10:24 am #

          Oldies but goldies

    • Argenta October 2, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

      Yes Gio ,parity of esteem will be alive and well in the Brave new Ireland!! As Mr Storey might say” How dare you suggest that Gerry and Martin (amongst others) are past their sell by date?”

      • Jude Collins October 3, 2015 at 9:28 am #

        Ha ha ha – well said, Argenta. I always get a chuckle when I see such concern from unionists and the SDLP that the Shinners shed their leaders. Kinda confirms they must be doing something right . (The latter, of course, NOT the former)

      • jessica October 3, 2015 at 10:23 am #

        Parity of esteem yes.

        Toleration of unionist insolence no

        Have nationalists got so used to being belittled by unionist leaders we simply accept it as the norm?

        Does donning an orange sash suddenly make someone believe they have the right to drive over our children?

        I say no more. It is time some manners was put on unionism. Perhaps then parity of esteem might actually mean something.

      • giordanobruno October 3, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

        The personal abuse and name calling directed at the SDLP gets a bit tiresome. Criticism of policy is of course valid and there is no doubt they are struggling to find their purpose these days.
        I think SF supporters have such loathing towards the SDLP because they never supported violent means and thus are always a contradiction to the narrative that Nationalists had no choice but to resort to violence.

        • Jude Collins October 3, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

          I think you’re wrong about that, gio. I think the animosity is more likely rooted in the lack of emphasis on national unity among SDLP people, whereas that’s a cornerstone of Sinn Féin policy.

          • giordanobruno October 3, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

            Maybe but I’m not convinced. They may not make it their central tenet but they are essentially on the same side as SF so why the venom and contempt from some (not all) SF supporters. It seems to me rooted in their not supporting the ‘struggle’ and therefore stooping down to the brits.
            (Do you concur with the StoopDownLowParty moniker? I’ve never seen you contradict anyone using it.)
            They hold up a mirror to SF and remind them that not all Nationalists saw the need for violence.
            As Argenta points out Hume in particular did so and thus he receives so little recognition for his role.
            Regarding your comment above I am including many Unionist members in the pantheon of oldies (for want of a netter word) so not just SF.
            Dodds, Wilson ,Campbell, even wee Jeffrey, all 60 or thereabouts, all linked to the bad old days and all yesterdays men.
            And all too fond of commemorating their fighters just like SF. It is really not good enough to say “it’s a fairly common occurrence on all sides”. It is time to move on.
            Can you honestly say we are going to make progress with this lot in charge?

          • Jude Collins October 4, 2015 at 11:47 am #

            Gio – I’ve never used the Stoop Down etc monicker, but neither do I see it as my job to correct people who use it – just as you say a lot of things that I don’t get round to commenting on. Some correct, some off the radar. John Hume receives little recognition for his role? Mmm. Nobel Peace Prize isn’t enough, you think? I’ve never heard a republican who said John Hume didn’t play a vital role in moving things to the GFA. I personally have always admired a great deal about him, have known him personally, and have liked him. Is that enough or will I stop now? Re ageism – being ageist about a lot of people is actually worse than being ageist about a small number or an individual. I’d have thought you’d have figured that out. AS to commemorations: are you opposed to all commemorations? Or just selected ones? “Can you honestly say we are going to make progress with this lot in charge?” It depends on who you mean by ‘this lot’. A considerable number of ‘this lot’ on the SF side have transformed politics on this island. That’s why they’re resented in the north and loathed in the south by opposing parties, who (guess what) keep bringing up the past – even with SF politicians who weren’t even out of nappies during the Troubles.

          • jessica October 4, 2015 at 12:22 pm #


            “They may not make it their central tenet but they are essentially on the same side as SF”

            Not so.

            Sinn Fein are on the nationalist / republican / anyone who wants a new ireland without british rule side.

            If that is the same page the SDLP are on, they haven’t done a very good job of getting it across.

            “They hold up a mirror to SF and remind them that not all Nationalists saw the need for violence.”

            Very few nationalists supported the Easter rising but I hope there will be plenty of commemorating next year.

            Will the SDLP be a part of that do you think or will they be to busy staring at how they look in the mirror.

          • giordanobruno October 4, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

            You keep throwing the accusation of ageism at me but ignore the point I am making.It is the inextricable links to the troubles that so many of our current leaders have which makes me feel they are now holding us back and not moving us forward.
            Yes some have been integral in the peace process but making peace is not the same as governing in peace time as Churchill found out.
            I’m not against commemoration per se, it helps us remember the horrors of war,but we need a moratorium on commemorations that are really celebrations of deeds in our recent history. They are not helpful.
            Statues to the UDR, murals for Loyalist killers, playparks named for IRA men, and yes, the mawkish death cult that has arisen round the hunger strikers.
            A new generation I hope,would not be so obsessed with these things.

          • Jude Collins October 4, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

            How do you feel about Remembrance Sunday, gio? Btw, you still haven’t withdrawn your ageist taunts…

          • jessica October 4, 2015 at 7:18 pm #

            British rule is an inextricable link to the troubles.
            Surely that is the biggest thing holding us back then. If cutting all ties to the troubles is your solution, you must be a republican then.

          • giordanobruno October 4, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

            Are you really suggesting the SDLP (of which I am not a supporter by the way)
            are a Unionist party? Because there are only 2 sides on the constitutional issue so they must be one or the other.
            I don’t know how they will be commemorating the rising and to be honest I don’t much care. I am more interested in their proposals for the future.

          • jessica October 4, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

            I dont think even the SDLP knows what they are or where they stand on that.

          • giordanobruno October 4, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

            I have been clearly talking about commemorations of our own recent history, so asking about Remembrance Sunday is a red herring and suspiciously like whataboutery but for the record I dislike the jingoism attached to it and do not wear a poppy for that reason, although I I think it appropriate to have some form of commemoration for all those lives lost.
            You are very sensitive about my alleged ageism. I have explained a couple of times that it is the links to our recent troubles that concerns me about our leaders rather than their actual years.
            When Unionists look across the benches they see people closely linked to the PIRA and all they did.
            When Sinn Fein look across the benches they see people linked to state forces,the Orange Order and loyalist terrorist groups.
            We desperately need a new generation without that baggage.
            What is your objection?

          • Jude Collins October 5, 2015 at 8:28 am #

            Me, sensitive, gio? You must be joking. I wouldn’t write a blog like this if I were a tender shoot (oops, is that a non-PC metaphor?). R Sunday is not a red herring as you well know – it’s commemorating those who’ve died in violent conflict. Which is what we were talking about. Yes it is their years, gio – you’re saying these guys have been around too long, have experienced too much to be ever capable of really changing their ways. Ageist and presumptuous. You’re right about what each side sees when they look across the benches – which is why the efforts at reconciliation, almost exclusively by SF, are admirable. What’s needed are similar gestures from unionist politicians. You can choose to react to your past in two ways – wallow in it and sigh for the good old days, or take a deep breath and cope with the challenges of here-and-now. And there’s no age-limit involved.

          • jessica October 5, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

            Sack the lot of them!!!

            You wouldn’t be the first to come up with that one gio. 🙂

            Not sure if it is the most practical solution though.

            Creating a political vacuum in the present will hardly bode well for the future don’t you think.

            As for getting rid of those with links to the troubles. Sinn Fein basically is what you are suggesting methinks.

            Personally, I think had the mainstream unionist parties integrated loyalists into their parties rather than cast them aside, that community would have much better representation and there would be a more cohesive peace process and we would all have been the better for it.

            I think you, like many of the unionist leadership, are on a one way street going backwards and looking only at where they have been.

            I listen to unionist leaders, then to local loyalists working harder on the ground often for peanuts and they have in my opinion more to offer but just don’t have the political backing to succeed.

            What do you want to do gio; exile everyone with a past or embrace the positives the offer in the now?

            You should really take a better look at yourself gio.

            None of us are perfect the next generation wont be any different should we be foolish enough to make the same mistakes again.

          • giordanobruno October 5, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

            I am not saying sack the lot of them, I’m calling on them to stand aside as they’ve had their chance over the last 30 years, in some cases longer. They have
            How long do you want them to go on for?
            If they want to contribute their advice from behind the scenes to the next generation that would be fine.
            Unfair or not the SF leadership will continue to be seen by Unionists as having blood on their hands. If they genuinely have the good of our communities in mind they should leave the stage now.
            And just to reiterate I am not referring only to SF here. The Unionist leadership are far too intransigent to be able to contribute anything to progress.
            I fail to see how I am the one going backwards. I haven’t built any shrines or statues or painted any murals lately.
            We will as usual have to agree to differ.
            I don’t know if you actually read what I wrote,but I am specifically talking about our troubles period and those linked to that time so remembrance sunday is not what I am talking about at all, though it may be what you would prefer to talk about.
            And I did not say those people cannot change their ways I said they cannot escape their history and will always be perceived as being linked to that bloody time.
            Every time a body is found in a bog, or evidence of collusion comes to light the same old arguments will be wheeled out.
            I do agree that SF have appeared more willing to reconcile, but their efforts would be more effective from a new generation and would be better received by a new generation of Unionism. That is just reality.

          • Jude Collins October 5, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

            No, gio, that’s not reality – that’s your opinion. I beg to differ. Of course I read what you wrote – my God, man – I don’t pass by jewels and not pick them up! Remembrance Sunday is relevant: it’s recalling and commemorating and, yes, celebrating the courage of the men who died. Sounds suspiciously like what happens at republican commemorations, which we’re told are different. You may be right that some people revert to the same old arguments, but not everyone does. That kind of blanket condemnation of all politicians from a particular era just doesn’t make sense, any more than a condemnation of all plumbers from a particular era wouldn’t make sense. Some are good, some middling, some useless, some worse than useless. If you think scrapping all the over-50s, say, you’re heading up a mental cul-de-sac. We hear the same kind of talk about royalty – skip a generation and go with William. I mean, WILLIAM? Quality or non-quality has nothing to do with age – I’m happy to say. And I still think you’re a closet ageist, gio…

          • jessica October 5, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

            “I’m calling on them to stand aside as they’ve had their chance over the last 30 years”

            There was an Austrian once wanted similar control over who he felt should be fit to run the country.
            Didn’t work out too well.

            What unionists see is their own problem. Why should any non unionist party working democratically and fully respecting the unionist communities electoral mandate do anything to help unionists promote basically fascist ideals (i.e. not respecting the nationalist electoral mandate).

            “I do agree that SF have appeared more willing to reconcile, but their efforts would be more effective from a new generation and would be better received by a new generation of Unionism. That is just reality.”

            Had Britain acted like Israel and totally raised nationalist communities to the ground and drove us all out it would have been received well by the unionist community. That is also a reality and is what the Israeli flags are flown for isn’t it?

            You are drifting dangerously close to the dark side gio.

            All we need is love as a great man once said.

          • giordanobruno October 6, 2015 at 9:31 am #

            With all due respect that is nonsense. I am voicing my opinion on our leaders on both sides, not calling for anyone to be sent to the gas chambers.
            You say “What unionists see is their own problem.” Actually it is a problem for all of us. If we cannot find an acceptable way to work together then it all falls apart.
            That means the perceptions of the other side must be considered, if we are serious about reconciliation.That is reality.

          • jessica October 6, 2015 at 10:25 am #

            No it isn’t gio, that’s the way it all starts.
            No one has ever voted for or called for “anyone to be sent to the gas chambers”.

            If nationalists continuously try to appease unionists and vice versa, then that will only encourage even more entrenched positions and where will that lead us?

            What we need is a way to break stalemate situations caused by abuse of veto from any quarter, not to indulge political discrimination which is where you are going or being led.

            That will never come about by agreement, not now and not ever while part of Ireland is ruled by England.
            There will always be two entrenched positions, for and against which according to the GFA are of equal merit.

            What we need is a way to look at reasonable issues, such as unionists stopping an Irish language bill for example so they are not able to block such a reasonable bill for sectarian reasons.

            Allowing politics to dictate in this way can only lead to an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of governance.

        • jessica October 3, 2015 at 1:11 pm #


          Everyone has a choice whether or not to turn to violence.

          The Irish army didn’t surround the border preparing to go in and get their fellow irish citizens out for no good reason.

          The truth is, the british didn’t expect the provos to get so good at it having initially thought of it as training for the british army.

          I dont hate the SDLP because the never supported violence.

          I wont vote for them because the SDLP put their parties own self interests above the overall good of the nationalist community whereas sinn fein have repeatedly shown they are prepared to put their necks on the line to stand up for the people they represent.

          That is the most relevant difference between the two parties in my opinion.

          • Argenta October 3, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

            “I won’t vote for them because the S D. L P put their party’s self interest above the overall good of the nationalist community whereas S F have repeatedly shown they are prepared to put their necks on the line to stand up for the people they represent ”
            Surely John Hume is the classic example of putting his party second in the search for peace.Much thanks he got for it!You would think from listening to many S F representatives that their party had a monopoly on the ” peace process”!
            Perhaps you would give us a few examples of S F putting its “neck on the line” and putting party considerations second.

          • jessica October 3, 2015 at 9:58 pm #


            Firstly, I am not a Sinn Fein representative and not even a socialist.

            I have a lot of respect for John Hume but a lot has happened since he left the scene.

            Obviously, building peace involves dealing with men of conflict, persuading them there is an alternative option and even then providing the communities they thrive in with the political, economical and social support needed to sustain and cement the peace long enough for it to embed and a new more prosperous future to evolve.

            Sinn Fein have delivered what at one point would not have been believed possible.

            While unionist leaders have been happy to share platforms with billy wright during LVF killing sprees, happy to play both sides of the fence, on one hand defending their existence while on the other condemning their actions.

            During the conflict, these communities went along with this, but now I don’t see how they don’t feel totally used and betrayed.

            The SDLP post john hume will never get their hands dirty. They will happily discuss what’s best for whoever they represent and then come out and attack sinn fein to get that chip off their shoulder and then tell us what should happen without ever having spoken to the people impacted the most.
            They don’t deserve any credit as far as I am concerned.

            Sinn Fein have never abandoned the community they come from regardless the political difficulties doing so could have avoided.

            They have convinced people like myself who did not support the GFA that peace is worth it for our children’s future more so than our own.

            Unlike unionists, they will fight for a peace dividend for those communities who suffered most from the conflict and not become the simple minded austerity pushing tory puppets that is the limit of unionist aspirations to the detriment of the poorest in their own communities.

            And for examples of putting their neck on the line.

            You need to realise, not all of the combatants are supportive of where Sinn Fein have taken the peace process.

            There are plenty of those would still like to see it fail.

            Standing shoulder to shoulder with the PSNI chief constable against dissident killings and showing respect to the british monarchy is not without risk.

            But calling the most dangerous ex IRA criminals, those who terrified the british army for so long is whether you accept it or not, putting their necks on the line and why they more than any other party here deserve our gratitude and support.

          • giordanobruno October 3, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

            Everyone has a choice you are right. Of course victims never chose to lay down their lives for a United Ireland, yet they get no play parks named after them.
            How did the SDLP put party interest over the good of the Nationalist community?

          • jessica October 4, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

            What I am saying is the SDLP never have been and never will be in a position to deliver on this peace process.

            Sinn Fein were and are and while it has given plenty of political ammunition for its political opponents who continuously refer to the past at every opportunity for their own ends, thankfully, the people on the ground in both jurisdictions here have more political competence and can see through it all. It is what it is.

            As for Sinn Fein hating SDLP, rubbish. It is the other way around.

            All I hear is the SDLP attacking SF at every opportunity. Hardly in the nationalist electorates best interests is it.

            I take it you are an SDLP supporter.
            I put it to you, it was never Sinn Fein that dumped on the SDLP, but the british government that used them and dropped them when it suited.

            Seamus Mallon and his generation knows this, but admitting it will make them look like the fools they are whereas blaming republicans will give them all of the media support and backing for their recovery attempt.

            Unionists will never vote SDLP. They did in west Belfast to keep out Gerry Adams but to base a post nationalist strategy on this was political idiocy. They are political nincompoops easily trodden over by unionists and taken up the garden path by the british.

            They are faced with the choices of slow decline, to permanently play second fiddle to Sinn Fein or merge with a southern party while they may still have that option.

    • jessica October 2, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

      Noooooooo Not our Marty,

      He is the closest thing we have to a true statesman.

      If it weren’t for him the pantomime on the hill wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did.

  8. Ryan October 2, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

    “Sean figured it should be put on the back burner “except you want a civil war, because I don’t”.

    There’s no getting away from the fact such an opinion is sheer cowardice. No Unionist or Loyalist will be putting me off my aspiration for Irish Unity by threat of civil war or violence. There’s a statue of a terrorist gun runner who threatened just that up at Stormont now. Such people like that need challenged and faced down, not cowered/pandered to. Civil War or not, I certainly wont be intimidated out of my legitimate commitment to Irish Unity. Obviously most within the SDLP haven’t the minerals to stand up for what’s right.

    How McDonnell ever became Leader of any political party is a mystery and shows in life anything can happen. The man has the charisma of a damp squid. He has a voice that would send an audience into the 3rd stage of deep sleep. He’s just a terrible choice for leader. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Alasdair is a nice guy outside politics and a gentleman, its not personal.

    The SDLP is definitely declining but I don’t think they will disappear as quickly as many think. They still held their seats in Foyle and South Down with comfortable majorities in May. What they need to do is get onto the same page as SF, stop behaving like a dog sniffing around the tails of Unionism and do what’s right for the nationalist electorate.

  9. ben madigan October 2, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    “a dog sniffing around the tails of Unionism” –

    that’s what scottish nationalists call the “cringe response” – in action Ryan.

    it’s described here with reference to Jarlath Burns’s proposal to do away with the national flag and Anthem at GAA games but it permeates all walks of life

    • Ryan October 3, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

      I agree Ben. Jarlath and others will learn the hard way (as so many did before them) that pandering to the extremists within Unionism wont work.

      Jude’s support for the removal of the Irish national anthem and Irish flag was more to do with the fact people attending GAA games are already very comfortable in their Irish identity, so why the need for a national anthem/Irish flag to be played/flown at every game? I see his point but disagree with it because it would be seen as pandering to Unionist extremists, who will not see it as a friendly compromise but as a “Victory”, such has the siege mentality dented their little minds. There was also an argument that it will bring in more Unionists to the GAA. I don’t think that will happen.

      There’s also the backlash that would be received from many nationalists too is why I disagree with removing the Irish flag/anthem from GAA grounds, hence why even Jarlath admitted his proposal wont be implemented anyway.

  10. michael c October 2, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    How McDonnell ended up in the SDLP at all is a mystery.According to glens people I know, his family background would not be Redmondite at all.