As the dust settles and another storm brews…

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If you’re in partnership with someone, it helps if you get along. It’d be better still if you liked/loved one another, but a business partnership can generally function if those involved find a way of working together. But let one of the partners develop a drink problem or a gambling habit or a taste for shady deals and the sound of a partnership tearing at the seams can be heard throughout the land.

That’s the situation currently with the DUP and Sinn Féin ans we creep torwards 2017. There’ve always been tensions, of course. The DUP regard or regarded Sinn Féin as the IRA in suits, Sinn Féin regard or regarded the DUP as curmudgeonly right-wingers. But every so often, an incident materialises that presses the DUP ‘Outrage’ button. We had the IRA-is-still-in-business outrage, the Irisgate affair, the Ulster-Bank-raid thing, the flags affront. And now we have the Ash-for-Cash scam.

The Opposition wants to Throw-The-Scoundrels-Out. As the UUP and the SDLP see it, the First Minister has either taken her eye off the ball or has been up to no good; the choice is between incompetence or knavery, and the cure for both is off-with-her-head. People Before Profit’s Eamonn McCann wants an election.

Sinn Féin finds itself in a delicate position. As one-half of a partnership, it can’t go around bad-mouthing the people with whom they exercise power. At the same time, a growing number in republican ranks are fed up with what they see as the DUPers walking all over republicans and are itching to do some kicking back.

Ever cautious, Sinn Féin have tried to take a thought-through stance. The ash-for-cash scheme which was set to syphon off hundreds of millions of pounds must be stopped, staunched, before more millions flow from the public reservoir. At the same time Sinn Féin has called for an independent investigation, to see what precisely occurred and where the blame lies. And to remind everyone that Sinn Féin is not a party with a deficiency of cojones, Deputy First Minister McGuinness suggested First Minister Arlene might want to go on gardening leave until things are sorted. First Minister Arlene declared that though she was intimidated and even over-awed by her Minister Jonathan Bell, she’d-take-no-orders-from-Sinn-Féin.

But then a while back, Sinn Féin was forced to choose. The SDLP, the UUP and others brought a no-confidence motion in Arlene to a hastily-assembled Assembly. The Sinn Féin problem: what to do? Their decision: to abstain. Not rubbing salt in DUP wounds but not administering first aid either.

Martin McGuinness has made it clear that Arlene was speaking for herself and not for the joint office of FM/DFM. Granted, a few poodles got up on their hind legs (Hello William, Hello Nelson) to tell Arlene how pretty goshawful great she’d been, or to lob her a gentle question which she could hit out of the park, but for the most part it was Arlene beating thin air.

So where from here?. The (DUP) Speaker Robin Newton has come under fire for allowing Arlene to speak as First Ministerwhen she doesn’t have the support of the Deputy First Minister. So it looks like the DUP Speaker is part of the DUP love-in, while outside the chamber all other parties are mad as hell and determined not to take it any more.

The HMS DUP has fired a boomerang exocet with its ash-for-cash wheeze. Whether it has holed itself above or below the waterline will emerge in the New Year.

20 Responses to As the dust settles and another storm brews…

  1. Perkin Warbeck December 27, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    The omens, Esteemed Blogmeister, are not good. Not good, at all.

    Especially if one considers a partnership which split up 60 years ago and which, curiously enough, when looked at from a particular angle, and in a certain light, has certain Norneverland overtones. Even, possibly, undertones.

    In 1956 Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (for it was they !) made their last two movies, before their acrimonious rift. After a comedy career which kept us gurriers in Dublin 12 glued to our two-in-a-seats in the Star and the Apollo of a Saturday afternoon.

    Those two movies were (gulp) Pardners and (gasp) Hollywood or Bust.

    Leaving aside the rather obvious Martin and J/Gerry echo of Eireland (and how the monochrome media of South Ireland wish to crowbar them apart) it is perhaps their most celebrated movie ‘The Caddy’ which is not the least relevant to the topic du jour.

    In this check-pant production Jerry Lewis played the part of the caddy to the golfer Dean Martin. While Donna Reid played the female lead whose name is, erm, Kathy Taylor.

    Should there ever be a remake of this 1953 fillum there is one name, and one name only, which first springs to mind to play the female lead.

    One whose very pugnacity is a byword for girl power.

    Kathy Taylor: [At an elegant country club soiree] Good evening.
    Joe Anthony: [Feeling underdressed and out of his element] I better make that ‘good night.’ I’m out of uniform.
    Kathy Taylor: You’re positively stunning. So what if you left your dinner jacket at home?
    Joe Anthony: I left it in Kansas City, but I can show you the pawn ticket.
    Kathy Taylor: I believe you. Shall we dance?
    Joe Anthony: Only if I lead.
    Kathy Taylor: You can lead.

    AMEN CORNER

    In front of every Taigue aka Timmy
    Tiocfaidh Arlene comes to shimmy
    Hi, you, Paddy
    You can caddy!
    For Foster each long putt’s a gimme.

  2. jessica December 27, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    Northern Ireland is a failed state, it is not surprising that politics and even the GFA, i.e. politics with training wheels and crash bumpers has also failed.

    The underlying problem is the same one that has always been the problem here, unionism in Ireland.
    Thankfully, it was not republicans who brought the institutions into disrepute and are bringing power sharing down but unionists.

    And it is not a problem with the DUP, but the problem that such a large proportion of the population feel superior to their nationalist counterparts, who feel more entitled to the wealth and preferred status within the UK. That the flag represents them and those that have no respect for it should be made to leave just as they want the EU immigrants to leave.

    It would simply not be possible for any nationalist party to go back into power sharing with the DUP without all of the facts being made public. There would be no support for any institutions until this happens.

    The question will be what to do if unionism returns the DUP back as the main party within unionism.

    Do we accept democracy and work with whatever that throws up, or should nationalist parties simply refuse to work with the DUP?

    I would hope that the institutions should be suspended indefinitely until an investigation under the enquiries act has taken place and has made its evidence public, with a criminal investigation and convictions to follow were necessary.

    Simply standing aside is not enough now. If a fraction of the allegations are true, more than one DUP member needs to face the courts and the justice system called to question with the same scrutiny. The whole Northern Ireland entity should stand or fall based on how this matter is dealt with.

    Any attempt to fudge this should come to the streets just as we did in the civil rights marches period though this time it will not be over religion but all of those who want an end to sectarianism and corruption.

  3. Ryan December 27, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    This must not be allowed to slip into an “Orange vs Green” issue. That’s exactly what the DUP wants it to become because it takes the focus off the incompetence (or allegedly cronyism) of Arlene Foster and the DUP generally and gets Unionist voters swarming around their leader. Wasting £480 million isn’t as important as getting one over “them’uns” to some Unionist voters. I’m not demanding Arlene to resign because she’s a Unionist, I’m demanding she resign because she’s a bloody loose cannon or maybe something far worse. I don’t think most people can comprehend how much money £480 million is. Then we hear that the figure is really around £600 million or even £1.2 BILLION. I mean, this is no accident, people need to go to prison for this.

    It was last month when DUP MLA Paul Girvan visited a GAA Pitch in what many viewed as an act of outreach to the nationalist community. But, as many suspected, it turned out that gesture was hallow and false. Paul Girvan has recently scrapped a £50,000 grant for Irish Learners whilst at the same time putting aside £250,000 for people to attend trips to the Somme. Just like the Education Minister before him, Paul Girvan is engaging is false gestures of reconciliation with one hand, while engaging in discriminatory practices with the other. As Alliance Leader Naomi Long said in reference to Girvan scrapping the £50,000 grant: “Is there an Irish word for petty?”. Naomi agreed with my tweet that the DUP is engaging in dangerous anti-peace actions.

    It’s part of Sinn Fein’s strategy to keep the Stormont institutions open. I thought for a long time it was SF being weak but ignoring the DUP’s sectarian antics defuses situations and foils the DUP’s agenda of getting a reaction from Republicans. But obviously this cant go on forever. Sinn Fein is now saying that more and more Republicans are getting fed up and its time to counter the DUP’s sectarianism in order to appease these republicans.

    In many ways the DUP (and all elements of sectarian Unionism) are destroying themselves. They are driving themselves into a political cul-de-sac. This week Brian Feeney in the Irish News thinks Arlene Foster could even be the LAST Unionist First Minister. I don’t agree with that but I think she will certainly be one of the last. Feeney predicts a Nationalist political majority within just 7 years. How can political Unionism ever appeal in any way, shape or form to nationalists if they are engaging in sectarianism against them? That’s not even touching on the historical baggage of Unionism, which Nationalism certainly hasn’t forgot.

    I think Arlene is a goner. I think there will be another election next year. Whatever the result, I don’t think politics here will be changing much but it will in a few short years…..

    • MT December 27, 2016 at 9:51 pm #

      “Just like the Education Minister before him, Paul Girvan is engaging is false gestures of reconciliation with one hand, while engaging in discriminatory practices with the other. As Alliance Leader Naomi Long said in reference to Girvan scrapping the £50,000 grant: “Is there an Irish word for petty?”. Naomi agreed with my tweet that the DUP is engaging in dangerous anti-peace actions.”

      You think the Provos are going to go back to ‘war’ over funding for school trips to the Gaeltacht?

      • jessica December 27, 2016 at 10:12 pm #

        The provos did not go to war over discrimination and intolerance in the first place MT.

        It was over murderous unionist mobs backed up by murders by the RUC and later the british army.

      • Ryan December 28, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

        “You think the Provos are going to go back to ‘war’ over funding for school trips to the Gaeltacht?”

        The PIRA never started any War MT, it was the UVF and political Unionism who did that. The PIRA didn’t even exist when the troubles started off. The very first group to bomb, carry out sectarian murders and even kill RUC men were the UVF. The UVF were even planting bombs in the hope they would be blamed on the IRA. Gusty Spence, the UVF’s Leader, even said he was paid by Unionist politicians to do this.

        As Jessica rightly points out, the PIRA was a reaction to the murders carried out by the RUC, UDR, UVF and the British Army. We often hear the myth that “Catholics got Civil Rights by the 1970’s”. This is not true at all, the British Government and Political Unionism opposed Civil Rights, especially in Jobs and Housing, for Catholics right up until 1989. It was thanks to the efforts of Irish Americans that stopped the discrimination because they threatened to pull investment from companies in the North if they discriminated against Catholics. The British Government gave in because they realized they were being portrayed in the same light as Apartheid South Africa and were taking big damage to their reputation worldwide.

        I am in no doubt that Unionists/British Government will still discriminate against Catholics in any way, shape or form today if they can get away with it. The DUP’s Paul Girvan is one example of that. God knows what is going out behind the scenes. Serious Questions must also be asked of InvestNI for their underfunding of poverty stricken Catholic areas.

        PS: I also think all those set to benefit from the #RHI scandal should be investigated, it will be interesting to find out how many are Orange men and if any of that money is given to the “Ulster Land Fund”, a fund specifically set up to stop land being sold to Catholics.

        • MT December 28, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

          “The PIRA never started any War MT, it was the UVF and political Unionism who did that. The PIRA didn’t even exist when the troubles started off. The very first group to bomb, carry out sectarian murders and even kill RUC men were the UVF. The UVF were even planting bombs in the hope they would be blamed on the IRA. Gusty Spence, the UVF’s Leader, even said he was paid by Unionist politicians to do this.”

          Why didn’t you answer the question? Do you think the Provos are going to go back to ‘war’ over funding for school trips to the Gaeltacht?

          Are you saying the UVF is going back to ‘war’ over Gaeltacht funding?

          “We often hear the myth that “Catholics got Civil Rights by the 1970’s”. This is not true at all,”

          It is true.

          “the British Government and Political Unionism opposed Civil Rights, especially in Jobs and Housing, for Catholics right up until 1989.”

          No they didn’t.

          “I am in no doubt that Unionists/British Government will still discriminate against Catholics in any way, shape or form today if they can get away with it. The DUP’s Paul Girvan is one example of that. God knows what is going out behind the scenes. Serious Questions must also be asked of InvestNI for their underfunding of poverty stricken Catholic areas.”

          That’s fascinating but why won’t you answer the question?

          And why do you keep.mentioning Paul Girvan?

          PS: I also think all those set to benefit from the #RHI scandal should be investigated, it will be interesting to find out how many are Orange men and if any of that money is given to the “Ulster Land Fund”, a fund specifically set up to stop land being sold to Catholics.

          • jessica December 28, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

            MT, as the momentum is now building to reunite this country, do you think the threats of loyalist violence which are starting to surface have any substance?

            Will unionism once again resort to violence against the democratic will of Irish people on this island do you think?

          • MT December 28, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

            “MT, as the momentum is now building to reunite this country, do you think the threats of loyalist violence which are starting to surface have any substance?”

            I’m not aware of any such threats do I can’t answer.

            “Will unionism once again resort to violence against the democratic will of Irish people on this island do you think?”

            It didn’t previously resort to such violence therefore it wouldn’t be possible for it to do so again .

          • jessica December 28, 2016 at 4:25 pm #

            “It didn’t previously resort to such violence therefore it wouldn’t be possible for it to do so again.”

            So the civil rights marches didn’t meet violent protest leading to thousands of families put out of their homes, the RUC shooting hundreds of people and street mob aggression that the british army were sent over to restore order?

            You will be telling us Unionism didn’t introduce paramilitarism, form the UVF and smuggle in arms to violently oppose home rule by threatening civil war in Ireland next?

            Or perhaps Ian Paisley was really J R Ewing and like in Dallas it was all just a bad dream and none of it really happened.

          • MT December 28, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

            “So the civil rights marches didn’t meet violent protest …?”

            No, they did meet violent protest.

  4. Desmond mcKinley December 27, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

    A lot of people are describing this situation as a possible oversight by Arlene in her capacity as the minister in charge of RHI. I do not believe it was an oversight. At that time PR was First Minister, and she may well have been following his order’s. However, the way that she has handled herself speaks volumes about her ineptitude in a ministerial role. From Fracking to NAMA, and then to RHI, the DUP has shown that their main objective as the leader of Unionism, and indeed in as the leading party in the North, is all about what they can syphon from our economy before Nationalism becomes the lead in the Politics of this little region of stuck between the UK and it’s natural home. When Unionist and Loyalist voter’s eventually accept that they are Irish in the eyes of the rest of the UK, then maybe we can live out our lives in the way that people in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland live theirs in peace and harmony. If only for our children and grandchildrens sakes.

    • jessica December 27, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

      That would certainly explain how they have been behaving from day 1 Desmond.

      They have made zero effort at reconciliation.
      They have vetoed absolutely everything they disliked, abusing it totally and have not embraced power sharing one bit.
      They have publically insulted their partners in government and mocked nationalism in general.

      They have always tried to maintain sectarian tribalism in politics here, not that it has been difficult but it would explain why they have made no effort to change things.

      They have been clearly using the most vulnerable in their own communities also, leaving them at the mercy of paramilitaries which they have done precious little to remove from society. In fact if anything they have had an unhealthy relationship with active and illegal paramilitaries, directing millions towards a group headed by the leader of the UDA,

      At least now Westminster are well aware who is milking their public purse.

      It will be interesting to see what other names a criminal investigation will bring into the fold, you are quite correct, Jonathan Bell has clearly fingered Arlene who in turn mentioned Peter being responsible at the time.

      The threat of incarceration may well reveal a lot more. I cant see any of them having the fortitude of Michael Lowry to do time, especially for a political party with no long term future and indeed, quote possibly no short term future either,

  5. Pointis December 28, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    “We had the IRA-is-still-in-business outrage, the Irisgate affair, the Ulster-Bank-raid thing, the flags affront. And now we have the Ash-for-Cash scam.”

    We also had the DUP support for the islamphobic sermon in the Whitewell Tabernacle and Mr Robinson saying he could trust a Muslim to go to the shops”!

  6. MT December 28, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

    “the British Government and Political Unionism opposed Civil Rights, especially in Jobs and Housing, for Catholics right up until 1989”

    Is Jude content for his site to be used as a vehicle for peddling falsehoods like this?

    • jessica December 28, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

      Discrimination was rife in many factories here in 1989.
      Loyalist paramilitaries often were given the keys to social housing to carry out attacks.

      I witnessed both first hand and know many others who did also.

      I could also mention education, as I also witnessed and was victim to sectarian discrimination in Portadown college where the teachers joined in with other students in abusing the few Catholics in the class verbally until we had to leave.

      I wont mention policing as intimidation and abuse was so frequent around that time I could give you a list of incidents.

      There is nothing false about that statement, if anything it doesn’t go far enough

      • MT December 28, 2016 at 8:33 pm #

        None of what you say supports the statement, which is indeed false. Incidents of discrimination taking place doesn’t mean that the government opposed civil rights.

        • jessica December 28, 2016 at 8:52 pm #

          I see what you are saying.

          You acknowledge that the civil rights marches did meet violent opposition from unionists, but there is no evidence all unionists felt this way.

          The british government knew it was going on and did nothing, but this only proves they didn’t give shit, not that there were actually opposed to equality.

          The same british government who I suppose weren’t involved in collusion because all of the evidence that they were can be covered up by themselves under national security otherwise everyone would know that the worst atrocities of the conflict were carried out by them or their agents?

          The thing is, no one believes them any more. Not deep down.

          Even the media report it as being too damning to allow it ever come to public light, as if that justifies covering it up.

  7. James Quigley December 29, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

    To get back to the Ash-for-cash scam. Many have been jailed for less, say fiddling an electric meter. But when it comes to this and the like of NAMA it will be once again ‘one law for the poor and another for …… ‘

    I am surprised how no one mentions Martin McGuinness’ statements about protecting the institutions of the English state and it’s good name. How amazing were these and not one grunt from loyal followers? I wonder could they have been euphemisms for protecting the gravy train and indeed one’s own position?

    Which brings me indeed to Mr McGuinness’s position as Deputy and Sinn Fein’s power sharing role. Some of their counterparts in the Republic have been lauded for their acumen in financial matters. Now where did this acumen go up here?

    • jessica December 30, 2016 at 11:26 am #

      If the allegations are proven true, I don’t see how incarceration could be avoided James.
      Failure to act would only bring down the whole justice system such as it is already, that is how serious the situation is.

      I have no problem with anything Martin McGuinness has said or done though.

      Are you saying if the DUP are proven to be corrupt and were up to no good or simply incompetent economically, that Sinn Fein should have done more to stop them making such errors in the first place?

      Or are you saying perhaps the fact they didn’t, were they cashing in on it also?

      I think an investigation should look at all parties with any involvement in this whatsoever and any criminality from any quarter severely punished and no one whether it be Martin McGuinness or Arlene Foster or anyone else for that matter should escape a custodial sentence if fraud or criminal negligence is proven against them.

      I would say that devolved government to Stormont in a new united Ireland has also been severely damaged and Sinn Fein may need to rethink this depending on the outcome of the enquiry.