First Minister must stop wavering on Rule of Law

The First Minister’s ongoing attempts to shift the blame for the recent mayhem from his own shoulders are merely highlighting the confusion which exists in his own party on the basics of democracy – a confusion which brings into serious question his suitability for the position he holds.
As joint head of the devolved administration in Northern Ireland, the First Minister’s prime role is to uphold the Rule of Law. Yet on an ongoing basis, since his party’s endorsement of illegal breaches of Parades Commission determinations last summer, he has failed to do so.
Mr Robinson refers to the “settled status quo” on the flags issue. Far from it, the “settled status quo” is the one endorsed by all sides at Stormont in 2000, the one accepted without opposition by his own party colleagues in other Councils, and the one endorsed by 44% of the whole population (as opposed to just 38% of his preferred option) in a recent poll – namely, designated days. Mr Robinson would do well to note he is First Minister not of Unionists, but of Northern Ireland – in all its diversity.
In truth, the First Minister’s ongoing attempts at blaming everyone else are an attempt at deflecting attention from the fact his party started a Shared Future (or “CSI”) process which has come up with precisely nothing. What is required, urgently, is a new process involving direct dialogue with sides on an equal basis. Such a process could do worse than start with an absolute public commitment by all sides to the Rule of Law, and full backing to the PSNI’s application and enforcement of it – in time to avoid a long hot summer and further economic mayhem.

27 thoughts on “First Minister must stop wavering on Rule of Law

  1. harryaswell says:

    There is only one thing to blame for the latest flags “mayhem” as you like to call it. Foolish arrogance from Alliance. The refusal by Alliance to recognise that there are certain Sacred Cows which are far better left alone. Stop trying to shift the blame onto the First Minister!

  2. Clare says:

    Too many sacred cows in my view that need challenged.
    Too many people still stuck in the past and can’t move on to a shared society.

    • Harry Merrick says:

      You are, of course, quite right, Clare. There are far too many sacred cows. They are being challenged, but this takes time. One sacred cow is the Republican urge for a United Ireland at every opportunity. The flag problem was a direct result of this and Alliance foolishly fell into the trap. The other sacred cow is the wish of Unionists to remain British. They have every right to do so. Until everyone abides by the “Peace Agreement” and forgives, forgets, and respects each others cultures, we will never move on. We do have a shared society actually, always did! Now we have to learn to live with each other.

  3. Clare says:

    I was talking about the things were Unionists try to predominate Harry. Hardly in keeping with the shared society idea surely?
    Another is coming along shortly, namely the annual parades and what I see as the annoying idea that Orangemen can walk wherever they choose.
    If the shared society isn’t about flaunting sectarian parades in areas where they are unwanted I don’t know what is!
    And the issue of the flag at the city hall was a reasonable way to reflect a shared society which accepts diverse traditions and that a majority on the council is now nationalist.
    Nationalist councils across NI could reciprocate and have the union flag flying on designated days as a gesture of goodwill to that shared society.

    • Harry Merrick says:

      You clearly haven’t read what I wrote Clare, and then cherry picked what you wanted to answer! You are talking about overall majorities Clare. Last seen, the Unionist community have that majority. We DO have a shared community, of course we do! Orange men have every right to walk the Queens highway, as do anybody else. Democracy again. Sinn Fein and the Republican Movement have done absolutely NOTHING to promote good relations unless it suits their own twisted ideaology. Alliance, like the LibDems, are still hiding behind their own self rightious ways and preaching to one and all that we should have peace at any price! – It simply isn’t going to happen that way. The fudge over the flying of the Union Flag every day, and the vote about it could all have been voted on AFTER Christmas. Hence bypassing all the lost business and the ill feeling now exposed for all to see. Alliance fell, yet again, into the deliberate trap set by Sinn Fein to cause community dissent and riots. Alliance, as per usual, didn’t think their position through properly and hence were directly responsible for the outburst of civil disobedience from the Unionist and Loyalist communities. Wait and see, Alliance will lose most of their seats at the next elections and deserve to do so because of their superior attitude, lack of empathy, and sheer blind stupidity.

  4. Clare says:

    ‘Orangemen do have the right to walk the Queens Highway’.
    Think that through, its totally illogical and impractical.
    If it isn’t then the National Front have every right to walk through Brixton.
    Rights bring with them responsibilities and inflaming the already tense situation
    here is hardly in keeping with a shared society.
    Your problem is Harry you wanted a shared society on your own narrow,
    triumphalist terms. Your rants here prove that.

    • Harry Merrick says:

      Cherry picking again, Clare. I said “everyone” has the right to walk the Queens highway. Yes, that may also mean the National Front have every right to do so as well. However, what they also do have to do is to walk peacefully and legally, and not cause any civil disruption. The shared society you keep on about also depends upon ALL sides agreeing with and co-operating in making it work. You simply cannot “make” or “force” people to do what they don’t want to do. The GFA was and is a deliberate fudge, were many people were given no choice. As for ranting, why, it seems your rather good at that yourself!

  5. Clare says:

    What you are proposing is a recipe for chaos which would set community relations back years and play into the hands of the paramilitaries Harry.
    To summarise then, your vision of a shared society is one where the Union Flag is flown 365 days (this rule extended to all buildings perhaps).
    The Orange Order and anyone else who feels like it can walk anywhere they like.

    • Harry Merrick says:

      Nonsense Clare.You just don’t read what you don’t want to read!! Where is the sense in your summary? We are ALL entitled to walk the Queen’s Highway. We DO have to obey the rules though! THAT is the point.

  6. Clare says:

    The point you don’t understand is that a free for all dosn’t work. Its why a parades commission is needed.
    And any idea that these parades are peaceful and orderly does not stand up to close scrutiny.
    Donegall Street is but one example.
    If this was a mature undivided society there might be some rationale or sense in what you are proposing Harry.
    Sadly it isn’t.

    • Harry Merrick says:

      I rather believe that the problem is rather more than just about money!! For goodness sake! Damage to community relations? What planet are you on? Sectarianism is alive and well and just as bad as ever it was. Until you get rid of sectarianism and also bigotry, we will not get good community relations! Your problem is that you expect everyone to agree with you. Rather unlikely don’t cha know?

  7. Clare says:

    Tell you what Harry, you go away and calculate the policing bill for forcing parades through areas where they aren’t wanted.See if you can work out where the money might come from.
    Add that to the cost in damaged community relations.

  8. Clare says:

    I am not expecting anything Harry other than sound proposals to advance a shared society.
    Your proposals to any reasonable thinking person advance nothing but chaos.
    How you think that reintroducing the flying of the Union Flag every day of the year and a free for all in regard to parades will help reduce sectarianism and bigotry is beyond me.
    The best way to start tackling these issues is by finding the means by which everyone can feel included in society. This has to be fair commenced already and more people than ever feel that some of the institutions of the state operate for everyones benefit e.g. the PSNI.
    But Unionists have resisted every change in this regard and would happily have left the RUC as a Protestant force.
    The other point is that the DUP really haven’t got any plan in place to tackle sectarianism and advance a shared society. And why should they? Sectarianism is the bread they feed off. As has been said elsewhere here, both they and Sinn Fein exist on keeping the pot boiling.
    It remains for the sane middle ground to advance the ways to reduce sectarianism.

    • Harry Merrick says:

      The whole point about the Peace Agreement was the accepted promise that Sinn Fein/IRA would indeed demonstrate and carry out what they promised. That is, forgive, forget, honour and respect the cultures other than Republican Irish. So far, after all this time, they have done none of those things, and as unreconstructed terrorists and murderers they are unlikely to do so. You seem to forget that for thirty years or so we have had to put up with Republican mayhem attacking our towns villages and economy.

  9. Clare says:

    No one is denying the past but its time to move on.
    I am not saying either that Repubicans aren’t blameless either. Many are exploiting the unrest over parades and flags.
    But unionists and loyalists unwittenly play into their hands with their senseless backward looking intrangigence and resistence to anything that contributes to a shared society.
    Republicans may very well have not entered into the spirit of the GFA, but neither have the unionists. Particularly the DUP who never even supported it at the start.
    It remains for the middle ground to speak for the sane majority, most of which understandably dont bother voting

    • Harry Merrick says:

      You are just not being logical here, nor are you being realistic. The problem lies in the fact that NOT every party was involved in the original peace agreement, and those that were were bullied by Blair into all night sessions and bad decisions due to lack of sleep. I note that Brussels also employs these suspect methods in order to achieve bad results. You forget, Clare, all the deaths, tortures, bombings, attacks on “both” communities by the PIRA, not to mention deliberately attacking our economy. For forty years!! Still going on and still getting worse. Until that is all stopped permanently, you will get very little compromise from anyone.

  10. Clare says:

    You conveniently forget the loyalist murders over 40 years. Selective memory.
    And it’s the loyalists who are presently damaging the economy.
    You seem incapable and unwilling to move on, and you damage your own cause and the place you cherish by doing so.
    I’m sorry for saying this but people on both extremes who refuse to compromise and meet in the middle are as bad as each other.
    Thankfully it is the majority in the middle who will make for a brighter future. Dinasaurs like
    yourself Harry WILL be destined to the dustbin of history,

    • harryaswell says:

      It would appear, Clare, that either you are highly biased, or, you are highly stupid! I am not representing any particular cause as you suggest. I am merely highlighting the simple facts that “MOST” people will not agree to peace at any price, and will NOT subjugate their identity for you, Alliance, or anyone else! Unprincipled surrender is no answer. The Republican Movement specialises in bullying, and this we see on a daily basis. To give in to this would be totally wrong. A United Ireland is NOT what the majority wants. Oh, and you say there is a majority in the middle who will make for a brighter future? Were are you figures for that assumption? Total nonsense! I suggest you go out and check properly. I may indeed be a Dinosaur, (I can also spell it by the way), LOL, but I am sure that you will find that I do reflect the opinions of ordinary people. NO United Ireland, NO loss of British identity and certainly NO giving way to Republican bullyings and sectarianism. Alliance still appears to be alarmingly arrogant and still hasn’t learnt any lessons of contrition, respect for the opinions of others, or the maintenance of the link with the UK. They will reap their rewards at the next election, mark my words.

  11. Clare says:

    I have noted your totally unbiased comments Harry.
    Despite the image Northern Ireland gets, you do not reflect the majority opinion.
    Opinion polls here continue to show that most people are reasonable and
    not entrenched in the past as you would appear to be.
    I haven’t said a majority want a United Ireland, I have said that a majority want to
    move on and get away from conflict. Your argument that the past condemns our future
    is negative and nonsensical.
    Your brand of politics is of the past and ordinary people want to get away from that.
    People standing in snow and rain wrapped in a Union flag only illustrates they have no life and ordinary British people are bemused by them. They should accept a democratic vote.
    Most people here are sick of it and although it’s the reason why a lot of people have stopped bothering to vote, the opinion polls continue to reflect a desire for a new type of politics.
    It’s pointless debating here with you Harry as you are clearly bitter and entrenched in your views and are not open to anything beyond that.
    Well done to Alliance by the way Ian on their proposals for a shared future.
    I am particularly interested in the consultation on shared symbols.

    • harryaswell says:

      Obviously you are so self opinionated and sanctimonious that there is indeed very little point in wasting my time with you. I note your complete lack of evidence that what you say is true by the way. WHAT polls?? A new type of politics? Let us get the existing one right first. You “are” correct that there is a hidden community not voting due to their dislike of violence. However, they are wrong to do that, we should all vote, otherwise we get what we do not want, which is what is happening right now. Oh, and by the way, these voters are undoubtedly UUP voters. With the new UUP getting off it’s feet, Nesbitt will get many to return to the fold. As for accusing me of being entrenched in my views, ROTFL, take a look at yourself Clare!

  12. Clare says:

    If I am entrenched in my views it’s only in a forward looking way. Your entrenched views lead this country nowhere but into the abyss.
    And really Harry, the pot really is calling the kettle black on being self opinionated.
    You really did give me a laugh though over UUP voters and hope for the UUP and Mike Nesbitt.
    Check out the Belfast Telegragh’s latest polls. In case you haven’t noticed Northern Irishness is on the rise.
    The same poll said support for the Union was greater than ever. How sad then to watch the continued insecurity of loyalists and unionists.
    If there is to be hope for this place in certainly won’t be found in DUP leaning Nesbitt.
    As far as I can see Alliance are the only party who have been speaking sense for years.

  13. Clare says:

    You really need to get out more Harry. There are other people who live here apart from working class Protestants.
    I can see why you largely ignore this guy Ian. I will follow your lead.

  14. Clare says:

    Incidently here is what ‘hope of the future’ Nesbitt has to say.
    Have you seen this Ian? Depressing

    • harryaswell says:

      Clare, it has to be said, you are a total nutbar!! I haven’t ever seen anyone who tries to read between the lines and gets it so consistantly wrong! Nesbitt is saying as he sees it. I agree with him. You do not. But you also refuse to see the other side of the question and see what can be done! Until the likes of you see and accept that there are more than one opinion to consider and learn to compromise, then certainly there will be no progress. Now, that is what is “really” depressing!

  15. Clare says:

    You surprise me Harry. Using dirty words like compromise.
    Bring it on!

  16. Clare,

    Yes, I saw that interview – which was so bizarre, I wouldn’t know where to start commenting on it!

    Nesbitt is of course right that, to an extent, every poll in NI is two elections (with some parties managing to enter both).

    However, his complete removal of policy from the equation and his effective endorsement of the sectarian system was frankly troubling.

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