Joint Authority Or Direct Rule?

It is strange that any upcoming election will focus on two rival Plan Bs rather than the alleged purpose…electing a power-sharing Executive for Norn Iron.

The Good Friday Agreement is a failure. Whether it deserves to fail…thats a different question.

By common consent, about 95% of nationalists voted for the Good Friday Agreement in 1998…not very different from the vote in the Republic of Ireland. And by common consent about 55% of unionists voted for the Agreement.

This is significant. Nationalists had more faith in the Agreement. The failure therefore hits nationalists harder. Nationalists analysed the Agreement as stepping stones to a United Ireland. Those Unionists who voted YES saw it as a series of obstacles to a United Ireland.

The Good Friday Agreement was sold to the two tribes. For the best of reasons…Peace…it was sold as a Lie…maybe two lies. A Great Big Lie. And I bought it.

A third way to look at the Agreement is that it was neither. It was about letting the pieces fall…but doing nothing and the DUP ensured no progress meant a status quo was embedded …a unionist status quo.

Since 1998….SDLP (initially) and Sinn Féin (latterly) have snatched Defeat from the jaws of Victory.

I always thought that the definition of Hubris was Seamus Mallon proclaiming that the Good Friday Agreement was “Sunningdale for slow learners”. Sometime in the next two decades some nationalist politician will claim that the newest Agreement is “Sunningdale and the Good Friday Agreement for VERY VERY slow learners”.

So….an Election. But SF are publicly doubting they can work with DUP. And SDLP seem to prefer NOrn Iron to be ruled jointly by London and Dublin. In the context of Brexit, it actually makes sense.

The Public might well be disgusted at DUP-SF but their hatred of each other actually ensures they will be the biggest unionist and nationalist parties. The Opposition parties can not cobble together a credible electoral pact (the UUP are simply too mired in sectarianism), a credible platform…SDLP-UUP division is a weakness but DUP-SF division is a strength.

The Public Anger will manifest itself as abstention and a boycott of the election will work against the Good Guys (in this context, SDLP, UUP and Alliance) more than it will work against DUP-Sinn Féin.

Readers of this Blog will know that I have wanted Stormont to fail for some years. It is a constant reminder of how badly I miscalculated….and how badly all nationalists miscalculated in 1998. SDLP blaming the British and Irish governments is not totally convincing. But it is marginally better than Sinn Féin trying to blame everyone else for their constant humiliation at the hands of DUP …thats laughable.

You may think SDLP is the Stoop Down Low Party. I may think Sinn Féin is Stoop Further.

This is an election about Plan B….SDLP and even Sinn Féin would be delighted with Joint Authority. DUP and even UUP would be delighted with Direct Rule from London.

James Brokenshire is unlikely to prevent an election but the NIO will note the turn-out. An a second election is likely to show even lower turn-out.

Brexit DOES throw a spanner in the works but certainly I can see that NIO will facilitate a Dublin dimension BUT still control things….and appoint that ultimate Quango….the Quisling Quango of academics, business people, civic society, lobbyists who have been waiting on this opportunity for years.


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24 Responses to Joint Authority Or Direct Rule?

  1. SDLP activist - North Down says:

    Is PBP going to be re-elected in Foyle?

    • Five seats will squeeze them. I dont think McCann will make it.

      • Vince says:

        There is a safe seat for SDLP, SF & a Unionist there. The last two come down to SF, SDLP & McCann. It will be extremely tight. A sympathy vote for Martin McGuinness, whether he stands or not, could leave SDLP with only 1 seat, particularly with an Independent strongly pro-Life candidate standing.

      • i think there will be changes this time.
        Big winners. BIg losers.
        I just dont know who they will be.

  2. Wolfe tone says:

    We are probably the only region in the world that hasn’t got a viable ‘protest vote’ on a par with brexit,trump,Italy etc etc. Maybe perhaps PBP? Here’s hoping. P.s I wonder wil Saoradh throw their hat in the ring? S.F will not relish that either hence their initial reluctance to force an election.

  3. zig70 says:

    I think Marty will be a big factor and a call to come out and vote as a political farewell might just create something

  4. zig70 says:

    Two things about this annoy me. Ireland having a minister for foreign affairs dealing with us and the liberal shite posing ‘we’re all as bad as each other’ supposedly balance misinformed opinion pieces. There, feel better now

    • That pretty much defines LetsGetAlongerism. Alliance Party trying to make out that unionism and nationalism are “as bad as each other”.
      I see it as the Celtic-Rangers “balance”. By any standard, Celtic has a more decent and honourable history and ethos than Rangers but letsgetalongerists will never admit that.

  5. Vince says:

    Contrary to the “it will be the same again” narrative among the commentariat, I think that the DUP are actually going to take a v significant hit here, with losses well beyond the proportion by going from 108 to 90 seats. The main beneficiaries of that will be the UUP and to a lesser extent Alliance (they will get a bigger proportion of a larger number of UUP transfers). SDLP will need to fight a very positive upbeat campaign, however they feel about it in private – otherwise there is a risk of being swamped by SF & overtaken by Alliance (in terms of seats if not vote share). The message is key as always, but they have to get candidate selection right – they cannot afford any weakness in that regard. This is particularly crucial in E Derry, S Belfast (should still have 2 candidates), Strangford, N & Armagh (running 2 is only an option if there is optimism about getting ahead of the 2nd Unionist runner) and W Belfast.

    • Candidate selection is crucial, especially for SDLP. Personally Id run two in South Belfast, even though there is likely to be one seat. Electing Claire on the first count with a surplus would only help another candidate. A second SDLP candidate could influence the final seat.
      And Strangford…if I was advising SDLP (and GOD knows they never listen to me, I would run Fearghal McKinney).
      It begs the question could high profile people do well outside their own area.
      In five seat constituencies the quota is higher and I am not sure that experts have factored that in.
      Take Upper Bann. It looks like 3:2 to the unionists but Id doubt if SF have two quotas without a lot of transfers. Im not suggesting that SDLP will take it back…if they finished 7th in 2016,finishing 5th in 2017 would be doubtful.
      I am not sure the candidate would be Dolores. But a high profile GAA player-journalist would be ideal.
      If Iwas advising SDLP, Id actively recruit high profile people.
      Could Fearghal add 1,000 votes inStrangford….or Upper Bann or Lagan Valley etc.
      Would it be a game changer if Margaret Ritchie resigned her Westminster seat to contest Strangford?
      Utilising the candidate pool is crucial.

      • Billy Pilgrim says:

        “a high profile GAA player-journalist would be ideal.”

        Do you have anyone specific in mind?

        I think you’re right that the SDLP should scour the GAA for potential candidates. Recruiting Justin McNulty in N&A was smart. The GAA has been a natural recruiting ground in Irish politics ever since the great Tipperary hurler Phil Shanahan was elected for Sinn Féin way back in 1918. Since then we’ve had Jack Lynch, Sean Kelly, John O’Mahony, Seamus Mallon, Maurice Hayes, Henry Kenny (Enda’s dad), John Donnellan, Eoin O’Duffy, Jimmy Deenihan, Peter Fitzpatrick. It’s a very long list. They don’t always win, of course. (Shane Curran, Graham Geraghty, Barney Rock, John O’Leary.)

        And Kerrymen of a certain age will tell you the most brilliant player on their most brilliant-ever u-21 team (the team of the early 70s, that went on to become the most dominant senior team ever, the famed “Golden Years” team) was not Pat Spillane, Mike Sheehy or Tim Kenneally. It was one Martin Ferris – whose footballing career was later waylaid by, er, other pursuits.

      • Yes…but one is an academic but might be available in a winnable seat. The other is not in a winnable seat.

      • Vince says:

        Agree with a lot of that Fitz. Margaret Ritchie would not have to resign as an MP before contesting Strangford – only afterwards if successful. No lose situation. Pat Catney is a good candidate – I would run him again in L Valley although no chance in a 5 seater.
        Upper Bann could be retrieved with the right candidate. SF are actually further away from 2 quotas (from memory) than SDLP are from 1.
        I think it is time for Alex Attwood to step down in W Belfast – if Colin Keenan available then he should run. Failing that, someone high profile with a business background or an Irish speaking female candidate – either will require an extremely thick skin. They can only hold W Belfast if they can get ahead and stay ahead of the leading Unionist candidate and the 2nd runner for PBP. Could do it with as little as 8.5% on the 1st count. Alex can’t do that – someone else might.
        They should also find someone from an NHS background to run with Claire Hanna in S Belfast. The NHS is in crisis & no amount of short term and expensive fixes with the private sector will solve it – precisely the opposite in fact.
        In E Derry, I think they need some excuse to replace Gerry Mullan. I have no doubt that he is a v decent & hardworking MLA but he does not seem to be making much of an impact and only scraped through last year. Brenda Stevenson or Stephanie Quigley would be better bets.
        They should really pile into S Antrim with Roisin Lynch – Declan Kearney of SF and Ford of Alliance are dispiriting candidates & that may be the best opportunity for a gain.

      • Well this is the kinda thing I love …speculation but I should not be doing it yet. But I cant resist.
        Strangford….if Margaret didnt resign it would be a sign of no confidence in winning. SDLP would hold the seat at Westminster.
        South Antrim….I always expected Ford to stand down after a year so that a co-option would take place. I think Roisin has a better chance against a replacement for Ford. Alliance is NOT that strong in South Antrim.
        Lagan Valley….agreed.
        EAst Derry…I have never met Gerry Mullan and I was surprised at his selection because I thought Stephanie Quigley was best placed. It would be divisive to change now.
        The problem with not really knowing candidates is that there is no way of knowing their individual circumstances….especially family commitments, job committments etc. What looks obvious to you and me would not be obvious if we knew individual circumstances.
        Again, the same is true in West Belfast. Id say that Alex might stand down but Id think his brother Tim is the successor. He is very visible and maybe touches parts of the electorate that has deserted SDLP.

  6. pádraic says:

    “This is an election about Plan B….SDLP and even Sinn Féin would be delighted with Joint Authority. DUP and even UUP would be delighted with Direct Rule from London.”

    As a worst case scenario – after all hope of even a dysfunctional but functioning Stormont has evaporated – then yes. But we’re not at that point: yet. Until then, all of the parties (with the possible exception of Allister) want and desperately need Stormont up and running for financial reasons.

  7. Vince says:

    It’s really important SDLP get their most able candidates out in the field. They took a fairly brave decision in W Tyrone in 2016 – they need to repeat that elsewhere now. If Justin McNulty is to have a running mate in Newry & Armagh then it should be Sharon Haughey. Failing that, Thomas O’Hanlon – I know the geography isn’t ideal but ability trumps that.
    Similarly in Strangford – if not something left field as suggested above, then Terry Andrews should get a run. Can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.
    E Derry I think is high risk – Appreciate the personal circumstances line here and elsewhere but needs to be overcome. Lack of female SDLP candidates west of the Bann last year was disappointing – can’t afford that again this year. I think they could urgently do with a female candidate in Foyle in particular. Oh, and they need to get a new Deputy Leader sorted out – there are a couple of really good potential candidates for that.
    Hope they get this right.

    • Wolfe tone says:

      Sharon Haughey the Hillary Clinton supporter? Careful now!

      • Vince says:

        Well, a wee bit better than the apparently dangerous, allegedly sex offending, narcissist alternative…..

      • Wolfe tone says:

        You could be describing Clinton there Vince although you would have to remove ‘allegedly’ and ‘apparently’. If you want to take the word of the liars and assassins within the CIA then go ahead. I’ll stick with judging people by their actions. Fine words and crocodile tears are for Hollywood.

      • I am not a Hillary fan. Effectively her role was to build a coalition between Hollywood, Wall Street and be the recipient of donations from both.
        And the blue collar workers? Well she simply took them for granted.
        The Clintons and the Blairs have both been rumbled. GREED was the achilles heel….and War.

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