Is that a baboon behind you?

It’s started already, with the News Letter leading the field. When the election campaign begins, stand by to see tactics still at an embryonic stage  grow to full warrior status. I’m talking about the tactics of distraction.

It was at work  in the Talk Back studio earlier this week. What was to be a discussion of the Cash-for-Ash scandal and its consequences began to morph into a discussion of how the two big parties just couldn’t get along, so wedded are they to their weary old Orange/Green clichés. There was also talk about the exact nature of the inquiry into the Cash-forAsh scandal, with much criticism of Sinn Féin for being “all over the place” on what kind of inquiry they wanted. The all-over-the-place notion has again been rammed into the foreground as the topic of pre-election talks is raised: once again, we’re told that Sinn Féin are “all over the place” , with some of the party’s people saying one thing, some another.

Naturally all of these things deserve comment. Political parties should speak with one voice – and when they do, they shouldn’t then be criticized for being ‘militaristic’ or even ‘Stalinist’ in their discipline. If an inquiry into Cash-for-Ash is being suggested, it’s helpful if all parties have a consistent line on how such an inquiry would look. And while Orange-Green clashes can be dreary, they do represent a highly important political concern: whether this state should be subject to rule by Britain or whether Irish people should conduct Ireland’s affairs.

What is happening, however, is that distraction tactics are being used, until we find the plethora of disagreement tedious and baffling, and decide that one lot’s as bad as the other. This is something nationalists and republicans would do well to be on their guard against.

If we keep in mind one core point, we’ll successfully repel those who’d like to carry our attention elsewhere. This Core Point  is that the coming election is not about Orange and Green. One matter only has propelled us into this crisis, and it’s a matter of public money. Not Orange money, not Green money – just public money. At present, the public are mad as hell that, under the watch of two DUP ministers, a heating scheme was established and kept in place which will cost the taxpayer here close to half a billion pounds. Insult has been added to injury by the First Minister, who initiated the scheme, refusing to stand aside while an investigation is conducted.

Yes, there are other matters behind this – Red Sky, NAMA, the absence of an Irish Language Act . But the biggest financial scandal to occur in this state is the RHI scandal, and it  was initiated and maintained by two DUP ministers.

Other matters are distractions. The state of Martin McGuinness’s health, when he might retire, who might succeed him, when Gerry Adams might retire, who might succeed him, whether talks should be held with the DUP: all and any of those can and will be used as diversionary tactics so that we forget about the dark secret in the belly of the beast: the RHI scandal. That’s what should exercise and outrage people in the coming election; all else are optional add-ons.

Oh look – over there – a crocodile!

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35 Responses to Is that a baboon behind you?

  1. Mark January 12, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    Dia duit ar maidin Jude, now, is it a baboon or a croc behind us?
    My own thinking is, from what you point out, is, it’s the Alliance party, up to their tired old tricks of, let’s try to get all the fenians to support our O Neill approach to preserving the union, treat them like prods and they’ll act as such.
    I even heard a commentator on BBC this week, as I have before, point out this is a unionist political party, regardless of what they say, they have avoided my door for four elections as it only results in rejecting arguments as to why I cannot vote for them, although I’ve not much choice these day’s.
    Roll on March.

  2. giordanobruno January 12, 2017 at 9:48 am #

    So are Sinn Fein going to make the election a referendum on the DUP handling of RHI?
    No campaigning for an Irish Language Act or Equality legislation or anything else, as those would just be distractions? Clearly nonsense.
    The risk alone would make it a bad idea.
    If they make it all about RHI and the DUP return as the largest party (as still seems likely) then obviously they will proclaim that as a vindication of their stance on that issue and SF would be unable to argue.
    But why think it through when we can just go for the usual tired cliches.
    In this case the bad unionist controlled media namely the BBC and the Newsletter who led the way (why?) in exposing the RHI scandal.

    • Michael January 12, 2017 at 10:17 am #

      MMcGs resignation letter basically outlines what the problems are.

  3. paddykool January 12, 2017 at 10:05 am #

    I’ve noticed already , Jude that the Soot for Loot is being pushed back by distraction. Paul Givan has suddenly found that Irish language Christmas present that he couldn’t find behind the tree on christmas Eve…..Imagine !! Suddenly the bedroom tax is a big deal.Why didn’t they think of that a few weeks ago and whisper in Arlene’s ear.Martin Mcguinness’s stand down was telegraphed long ago so why were they not prepared before this. At bottom this is still about DUP larceny or incompetence and the various commentators have all but forgotten this is the cause .All the smaller parties are gathering to bite too but let’s face it , all we had to do was watch the DUP antics on television shows like the Nolan expose to see their true colours. Arlene Foster was absolutely the wrong person the Dup could have chosen to lead them .She was already damaged goods, lolling back in her office for years , twiddling her thumbs and it only took a year in her last job to realise that she had no working “off” switch. She really didn’t know when to shut her mouth and listen.Not only was she incompetent or a criminal but she couldn’t take advice either.

    Get the posters out …”copyright the Mighty Perk”…


    Say it loud and say it proud .Say it often too…

    • Mark January 12, 2017 at 10:54 am #

      So, hidden from the childer he finds a lost fifty grand, perhaps now we can ask for the rent they owe us since 1169?

  4. RJC January 12, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    Excuse my cynicism, but what difference will an election make? Even if the DUP drop votes, I don’t see them losing enough to stop them being the largest Unionist party in Stormont. Forgive me if I don’t hold out much hope for DUP voters to suddenly decide to embrace fairness and equality.

    I hope to be proven wrong, but if DUP voters are prepared to overlook the gross incompetence/dishonesty around the RHI scheme in order to assert their superiority over the taigs, then there is no way that power sharing can continue to work. The DUP have proven time and time again that they are incapable of joint governance.

    Now should be an opportunity for change. Power sharing has failed. Time to try something else.

    • Michael January 12, 2017 at 10:14 am #

      As the PUPs Sophie Long put it…
      “If we’d rather be robbed by a Protestant than led by a Catholic then we are in trouble.”

      • Jude Collins January 12, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

        `You argue a persuasive case, RJC

    • Mark January 12, 2017 at 11:29 am #

      ‘Now should be an opportunity for change. Power sharing has failed. Time to try something else.’
      Trouble is, and I disagree it has failed, I’d say it never actually worked, what might we replace it with RJC?
      The recent suggestion of joint authority sounds like a threat to unionism and, frankly, Dublin would continue to permit themselves to be walked over so the Irish citizens would be no better off, though, Charlie Flanagan would not need an expensive helicopter to take him to work.

    • Jude Collins January 12, 2017 at 3:34 pm #
    • Scott Rutherford January 12, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

      The thing is RJC, is if power sharing is in the long term unworkable then what is the alternative?

      Three options from what I can see.

      1.) Tweak the current arrangement perhaps reforming the POC etc.
      2.) Joint rule which would require a referendum both north and south, along with monetary contributions from the south.
      3.) A whole new system based on voluntary rather than mandatory coalition.

      I prefer the third option of a new system of voluntary coalition with perhaps a weighted majority of say 60% in favour to pass legislation in order to address the fears of one side dominating the other in majority rule.

      Also the POC should have clearly parameters for its use. Perhaps a panel of UK, Irish and EU judges could be set up to rule if it’s valid for it to be used.

      Any whole new system would need a new referendum to get a mandate though.

      • jessica January 12, 2017 at 6:07 pm #

        If the DUP are returned as the largest unionist party, then a border poll should be called immediately.

        • MT January 12, 2017 at 7:00 pm #

          “If the DUP are returned as the largest unionist party, then a border poll should be called immediately.”


          • jessica January 12, 2017 at 7:21 pm #

            Because the DUP and its supporters should never again be given the opportunity to impose their sectarian politics or cause any further conflicts on this island.

            More and more MPs in Westminster believe that uniting Ireland is the best solution post brexit.

            Northern Ireland was given 20 years to show it could work and it failed. It failed because unionism have never acknowledged their role in starting the conflict, It failed because unionism were unable to move beyond sectarian bigotry to share power and embrace quality. It failed because the majority of unionists could not live with the good Friday agreement and the DUP provided a means of rejecting it which the majority of unionists readily endorsed leading to the despicable displays of arrogance and discrimination shown by Arlene Foster and Paul Givan.

            If the unionist people once again in spite of the clear offense taken by their actions within the nationalist community continue to support this direction, then there will be no option for nationalism but to reject Stormont and British rule and seek the opportunity to express our wishes to unite this island in a referendum as outlined within the GFA.

            And why not?

            Unification could be the catalyst to transform this island and help address the many issues, public service reform, investment in construction of thousands of new homes to alleviate the immediate homeless issues and longer term housing shortage.

            To drive forward road building and improving connectivity to neglected parts of this country especially in the west where jobs are in short supply forcing our people to leave where transport links could offer jobs at home.

            It would help boost tourism and spread the benefits around the country beyond Dublin.

            It would even help improve the relationship between Ireland and Britain that the DUP and its brand of unionism has damaged and perhaps working with people like myself who prefer to work the GB than remain in the EU we can persuade all of Ireland to leave and form a new federal relationship between these islands.

            That’s why

        • Scott Rutherford January 12, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

          Not going to happen Jessica, under the GFA the SOS only calls a poll if he thinks there is evidence that it might be successful.

          Like it or lump it it’s the only way it’ll happen.

          • jessica January 12, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

            I think under those circumstances, the evidence will be plenty and on the streets Scott, we have had enough lumping it from unionism

            Direct rule will not be any more acceptable than DUP rule.

          • Mark January 12, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

            Scott, and I again agree with Jessica but, whom is in a position to know it would not be successful?
            With respect but, my great Grandfather told his Grandson, my Daddi, ‘it’s not the crown they’re interested in, it’s the half crown’, bearing in mind the practical economic benefit of 12.5% corporation tax, with how many unionist business folk felt during the departed, perhaps now returning, free state boom, who’s to know how a re-unification referendum may go, Christ there’s a chance the neighbour’s in Scotland will have two this decade.

          • jessica January 12, 2017 at 7:39 pm #

            There may not be any other choice Mark, that is the direction we are going in

          • Scott Rutherford January 12, 2017 at 9:35 pm #

            Mark, I accept that there is no way of being 100% sure a border poll won’t be successful short of running one.

            However it clearly states under the GFA that the SOS will only call one when there is clear evidence that it may be successful, not just every now and again just in case.

            Probably a Nationalist majority in Stormont or a clear majority identifying as Irish in the census would do the job.

          • jessica January 12, 2017 at 9:59 pm #

            The only way it will ever be successful Scott, is when Dublin get behind it.

            If the DUP are returned once again as the largest unionist party in spite of their incapability of parity of esteem, which has been proven beyond any doubt over nearly 20 years if not much longer. Then Stormont is no more and we will have a void in which case Dublin will be forced to choose.

            Enda Kenny has said he doesn’t want to wait 20 years for unification. Fianna Fail have been claiming they are establishing in the north for some time but haven’t the guts to do it.

            In those circumstances with no government in the north, what possible reason could Dublin have to shirk their responsibilities any longer?

            When that happens, no SOS will say no to a border poll and do you think London will go against Dublin with whom they have the largest cut of a £1 billion per week trade and who they will need on board in brexit negotiations.

            They have already said they have no interest. They will accept it would be for the best economically but will let the Irish people decide.

            Instability in Ireland is not in their interests and instability is all the DUP have to offer in spades.

            Time to wake up and smell the coffee Scott.

      • Ryan January 12, 2017 at 6:08 pm #

        “I prefer the third option of a new system of voluntary coalition with perhaps a weighted majority of say 60% in favour to pass legislation in order to address the fears of one side dominating the other in majority rule”

        Scott, I fail to see your logic. If the DUP cant endorse equality and fairness in power sharing…..what makes you think they will do it if majority rule returns here? Sinn Fein walked out because of the DUP’s attitude as a power sharing partner and said they would not return until all that stops. Sinn Fein (the same goes for the SDLP) would NEVER agree to majority rule returning here, especially with Unionism still being the largest grouping and its obvious why. Indeed it was Unionist misrule that sparked off the Civil Rights Campaign and ultimately the Troubles. I don’t see any change of the Unionist mentality today compared to then and I could see unrest if Unionist majority rule returned. Its ultimately a pipe dream. Its basically making a bad situation much worse.

        • Scott Rutherford January 12, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

          Well Ryan if assuming there’s no big change in the make up of the assembly (a big assumption I add), then what other alternatives are there?

          Mandatory coalition a failure and doesn’t work.

          Voluntary coalition even with weighted majorities as a way of ensuring that most likely some Nationalist votes would be needed is unacceptable you say.

          Then the only option we have left is direct rule which will most likely be Westminister rather than Joint rule due to the complexities around sovereignty, taxation and BREXIT. Unless there is a referendum north and south to approve it of course.

          What’s your alternative?

          • Ryan January 12, 2017 at 9:46 pm #

            Scott, if mandatory coalition is a failure, which I agree it is, then how can voluntary coalition ever be a success? We seen majority rule before, that’s a key factor that led to 40 years of conflict. The DUP cant rule for everyone when given a little power, how is the answer giving them MORE power? It doesn’t make sense. As I mentioned previously, Nationalists/Republicans would never accept majority rule again and even political Unionism knows its out the window forever because it needs Nationalist consent. Indeed Voluntary coalition is the very least likely option to happen. I think Unionists themselves will take this stance if the Assembly make up changes.

            Long term Direct Rule is pretty much ruled out too. The SDLP doesn’t want it, Sinn Fein doesn’t want it and deep down Unionist political parties don’t want it. The Irish/British Government wouldn’t want that either. Jeremy Corbyn today said that he doesn’t support Direct Rule again and hopes that a solution will be found to save the institutions, which will require the DUP to seriously change how it does things. Corbyn was asked about Joint Rule and he said it isn’t ruled out but he hopes for power sharing again. James Brokenshire refused to comment on Joint Rule.

            The only alternatives I see Scott is Joint Rule or the DUP making MASSIVE changes to how they do politics, maybe your in a better position to judge on that one since your a Unionist yourself. I don’t think the DUP can risk changing too much, they know what happened to the UUP when they changed just a little….

          • jessica January 12, 2017 at 10:14 pm #

            The DUP have done more to damage the union than Sinn Fein could ever have.

            Ironically, Sinn Fein know the importance of having good relations with GB and want to build bridges, whereas unionists would turn on their own at the drop of a flag pole or to get marching down a road.

            Britain is a liberal, democratic and multi cultural nation with no animosity towards Ireland or the Irish. The truth is, unionism here no longer fit in with modern Britain and they are frankly I am quite sure an embarrassment.

            There would have to be at least two years of positive behaviour before the DUP could be considered suitable to share power with again so it simply isn’t going to happen no matter what they say or what gestures they make now Ryan.

            If the DUP are returned as the largest party in unionism, Stormont is finished. If the UUP come out on top, it would be hard for Sinn Fein not to give it a chance as it has never been tried before, but I don’t believe unionism is capable of change so I don’t believe this election will be about Stormont but what comes next so I expect the DUP will remain on top to fight to the bitter end.

            Stormont is over for good.

          • Scott Rutherford January 12, 2017 at 10:22 pm #

            Sorry to break the stereotypical bubble Ryan but I’m a Unionist who always voted alliance, so I’m in no better position to judge the DUP than anyone else.

            Joint rule is possible but there’s major hurdles. As I’ve said before issues around sovereignty would require a referendum. The ROI goverment would need to pony up some money which they may be reluctant to do. Plus the BREXIT complexities etc etc.

            Joint rule doesn’t seem feasible so that’s why I think it’ll be Westminister direct rule. I’m ok with that but I’d imagine Nationalists aren’t.

            Voluntary coalition (with the 60% weighted majority) would work better I feel because post election parties would negotiate terms in which they would agree to before they form a government. If the terms are broken a party in the coalition could resign as there partners have not honoured there side of the bargain. It’s not a radical system, in fact it’s fairly standard all over Europe including the ROI.

            It also wouldn’t automatically mean more power DUP as if this system was in place now SF, SDLP, Alliance and UUP could form a government if working with the DUP proved impossible.
            A 60% weighted majority would almost certainly always contain at least 1 of both a Nationalist and Unionist party and they would have chose to work together rather than have been forced to.

            If the relationship breaks down we have a election and even if the same parties are returned the political parties can choose different coalition partners. Simple really.

          • jessica January 12, 2017 at 10:32 pm #

            A new way of doing government will certainly need to be established Scott and your suggestion may well indeed be worthy of consideration.
            But it should be in Dublin and for all of the island.

            It took 10 weeks to form the current setup with Fianna Fail hiding their role in the coalition to be in and out of government to prop up Fine Gael but take no blame for the unpopular decisions they support.

            As both parties support declines which will be a more common feature and a total reform of politics in Ireland will be needed.

            You need to think bigger. Northern Ireland is finished, it has run its course and failed miserably.

  5. Bridget Cairns January 12, 2017 at 11:36 am #

    imo power sharing is appeasement disguised as compromise

  6. billy January 12, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    incompetence election more like.they could hardly run a bath between them they have had their chance and failed miserably.time to close her up.

  7. Nuala Heaney January 12, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

    It would be wonderful to have a”not orange or green” election.

    SinnFein needs to keep a 75% focus on RH scheme

    . DUPwasn’t advised or didn’t listen to advice? Letter to bank shows a full grasp of the scheme.
    Quote the whistleblower – a school child would have spotted the flaw.

    So what was DUP’s agenda? It certainly wasn’t a green one (as in environmental green. Their work on the environment to date has been grudging and minimal, so why the sudden generosity?) Who/what was it that made this scheme into an attempt of daylight robbery?

    Then the whole issue of when others began to tell the DUP that they wouldn’t/couldn’t get away with it?
    How much has the delay cost already? Two money figures – what it has already cost and is costing as we have an election.

    If the claw back is flawed, another thing to emphasise. I bet there will be as many court cases about this as the A5 or A6

  8. philip kelly January 12, 2017 at 3:07 pm #

    Will always be the same with the bbc/ newsletter/irish news backed up by the free state media of which the belfast telegraph being a subsidiary of the irish independent will all come out with guns blazing aganist sinn fein as they endeavour to blame sinn fein for all of this , HOW DARE SINN FEIN STAND UP FOR JUSTICE , EQUALITY AND AGAINST CORRUPTION, HOW DARE THEY WANT TO HOLD THE DUP TO ACCOUNT AS THEY WASTE TAXPAYERS MONEY TO THE BENEFIT OF THEIR SUPPORTERS , HOW DARE WE QUESTION MILLIONS GIVEN TO VARIOUS LOYALIST SO CALLED COMMUNITY GROUPS HOW DARE WE QUESTION THE DUP AND NAMA ABOUT £7STG MILLION IN A ISLE OF MAN BANK ACCOUNT

    • billy January 12, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

      spotlight and nolan brought it out to the public.

      • Scott Rutherford January 12, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

        And you can hardly say the Newsletter is pumping out DUP propaganda when it’s reporter Sam McBride has been at the forefront of bringing the RHI into the light. So much so in fact that the DUP were advocating a boycott of it.

      • jessica January 12, 2017 at 6:20 pm #

        That is not true billy.
        Concerns were brought up in the assembly by Sinn Fein which is broadcast however little interest there is.

        It was Nolan who made it a big public story which is his job and it was the public backlash that made the DUP start taking those concerns raised seriously but to suggest it was somehow covered up just simply doesn’t stack up.

        • billy January 12, 2017 at 8:07 pm #

          every party knew for over a year what was going down.why do you think a public enquiry was being blocked.

          • jessica January 12, 2017 at 8:33 pm #

            To be honest, I don’t really care what you think you know was going down billy.

            It looks to me that Sinn Fein were trying their best to keep a government going, not only for the people they represent but for everyone. And that I have respect for them for. It is the way forward.

            If they are guilty of anything it is trusting the DUP could ever change and being too soft on their intolerance, but as we know now, there is a limit to their patience and what is important now is that the DUP get no more opportunities to spread their hatred and corruption and that equality is delivered by whatever means.

            The DUP can look forward to an investigation into the RHI scandal which could well see some of their members or past members behind bars if the claims made by Jonathan Bell stack up and the evidence is what many believe it will turn out to be.

            The DUP would like it to be a public inquiry so they can delay the setup and workings through political posturing, but an independent investigation could be setup very quickly and they will not be able to delay or prevent the truth coming out sooner than they would like.

            It is unfortunate it wont be this side of an election but as the DUP will not be in power again regardless of the result, it is irrelevant.