The Alliance Party are too angry to act logically at the moment. They have a right to be angry.
There seems no end to the viloence…..”pogrom” they have called it……and the hyperbole is understandable.
The Stormont Debate yesterday will not have helped. The support they were entitled to receive was qualified (DUP) and ritual (Sinn Féin). Alliance is a party which works under the radar……their friends would say they are enablers……their enemies would say unprincipled chancers. The events of the last ten days has thrown them into the spotlight. And they look uncomfortable.
David Ford was angry on UTV. He prefaced his remarks in a panel discussion by publicly criticising the report by Jane Loughrey. He claimed…I think it was pedantic that Sinn Féin, SDLP and Alliance had not voted together etc etc. And even if he was technically right, that narrative train has already left the station.
Matt Baggott, PSNI Chief Constable looked like a man out of his depth. Political policing demands that he claim that paramilitaries may be involved but enquiries continue…….which is of course a way of saying “please please pleas stop before we have to be seen to act”. Of course one of his officers nearly got killed last night…..keeping an eye on Naomi Long MP. And she looked shell-shocked and angry too. Not least at the British Government. Where is the Prime Minister? And she doesn’t want platitudes from Theresa Villiers.
But what exactly IS going on. The campaign against Alliance seems pre-meditated at least in rhetorical terms. Those 40,000 leaflets. And the rioting is sustained and planned. And will be turned off on demand.
Mike Nesbitt (UUP) is another man floundering. Is the Assembly Commission going to agree (seemingly they have no choice) to DUP and UUP demands that the British flag fly all year round at Stormont? Are Sinn Féin and SDLP simply going to accept that?
Edwin Poots (DUP) offered few crumbs of support to David Ford. And earlier in the day he boasted that he was the man who scuppered the Irish Language Act. There is a complete breakdown of Goodwill. Perhaps the Good Friday Agreement assumed that moderates would lead Norn Iron after 1998. But it is hard to see that the absence of Goodwill plus little or no progress on Victims, Bill of Rights, Irish Language Act means anything other than the Agreement has failed.
Are exit strategies prepared?
David Ford has been humiliated by (mainly) the DUP. He more than anyone keeps the sham in place. He holds………ironically…..the Justice Ministry. He claims its a mandate from the Assembly. Lets be frank …..it is the gift of the DUP-Sinn Féin. From their perspective Ford is their creature……bought and paid for. Arguably….as the Alliance Party would see it……it was all done selflessly for the Public Good.
So for the Public Good they have to stay, propping up the very regime which is shafting them.