Liofa funding real cause of collapse

I appeared briefly in BBC Talkback yesterday and no sooner had I emphasised yesterday’s point that the Secretary of State should not proceed to an immediate election but probably would, he stood up in the Commons and confirmed he would.

The DUP is now swiftly retreating from previous positions in order to appear not responsible for an election for which it is clearly responsible. Why is a public inquiry the right thing now when it “wasn’t going to happen” on 19 December?

What I did not get to say was that something much worse for power-sharing occurred four days later. DUP Communities Minister Paul Girvan withdrew funding from the Liofa programme, helping poor children learn Irish in the Gaeltacht. The amount was minuscule but what it said to Irish Nationalists, indeed to non-Unionists, was massive. At just the moment bridges needed to be built and respect needed to be shown, the DUP opted for the opposite. It was an appalling act – along with “leprechaun language”, “curry my yoghurt” and a boat renaming, it was yet another needless and gratuitous assault on a language which, though not widely spoken, is at the heart of many Northern Irish people’s national identity.

It is that act more than any, just before Christmas, which made it impossible for Irish Republicans to stay in the Executive as per the “status quo”.

The DUP could yet escape an election by announcing a new bursary and that it would not stand in the way of a reasonably cost-neutral Irish Language Act. It would be free to dress this up under the recognition that, after all, “Presbyterians saved the Irish language”. This would in fact come at no financial or political cost whatsoever.

Yet the DUP probably does not even realise that such a move is necessary, and would probably be too arrogant to pursue one even if it did.

We could be in, resultantly, for a completely unnecessary and nasty election – or even two.

It is simply ludicrous.


9 thoughts on “Liofa funding real cause of collapse

  1. korhomme says:

    Liofa = £50,000 per year

    RHI = £85,000 per day.

    Spot the difference.

  2. 1729torus says:

    MMcG invested 20 years and a considerable amount of political capital into the GFA, and knowingly risked humiliation like John Redmond with Home Rule or the SDLP with Sunningdale. He put his credibility at stake by asking nationalist voters to trust in the ballot box and the goodwill of Unionists.

    As others noted, SF ‘s leaders were forced into this election by their grassroots and broader base in the face of Foster’s arrogance, this isn’t a cynical attempt at whipping up sentiment like unionist politicians are known to do. If SF didn’t take up the cause, someone else would be found eventually. Things are too far gone to prevent an election.

    MMcG’s resignation letter makes it clear that SF are going to run on a what could described as a progressive nationalist platform: LGBT, keeping NI in the EU, equality and so on.

    That doesn’t mean that they won’t use strident rhetoric like calling the DUP bigots, or calling out corruption. Gerry Adams will likely (and correctly) accuse the DUP of trying to disenfranchise Nationalists by abusing the GFA.

    SF will say that “now is the chance for a progressive future ” or similar, and their FM/dFM candidate will not be an ex-IRA member. Maybe Martin O’Muilleoir.

    If SF run this “positive” campaign in the face of whatever tactics the DUP engage in, and the DUP retain a considerable amount of support, things will get nasty.

    Nationalists will conclude that a majority of Protestants/Unionists would rather see the place get burned to the ground instead of seeing a Catholic FM. That many Protestants actually secretly hate them, and are still nostalgic for the days when Taigs were kept down in their own country.

    The first thing that will happen is that SF and the SDLP will call for joint authority and collapse the assembly. They’ll say there is no way the DUP can be allowed to exercise power after the way they ran their campaign and voluntary coalition is impossible.

    Expect some unpleasant rhetoric to emerge eventually, like IRA apologetics from unlikely sources. Attention will be drawn to the fact that there is no unionist veto for a border poll . Any violence from loyalist areas will result in calls for “severe measures”.

    It’s a hypthothetical second election that would be the really nasty one, the first one will be noticeably tamer than you expect IMHO.

    That’s when you could subsequently see small, but active attempts at cultural eradication in the nationalist dominated “supercouncils”. The SDLP demanding that Unionists publicly sign declarations explicitly noting that their consent is not required for a UI as a precondition for talks, demands for apologies for the anti-catholic programs of the 1920s, Frank Aiken getting openly hailed as a hero by senior SF members other than Gerry Kelly.

    NI will become a chillier place for Unionists overall, and they will regret supporting the DUP this year should they choose to do so. There will be no more chances to prove a sincere change of attitude due to demographics, by the time Stormont gets up and running again, the unionist base will have visibly shrunk.

  3. Andrew says:

    So the Irish language is a vital part of the nationalist identity?

    Methinks the Union flag is also pretty central to the identity of the British majority in Northern Ireland. That didn’t stop your party voting to strip it from BCH on all but a miserly 18 days per year. One of the things I noticed on my last visit to Belfast was the complete absence of the Union flag on any building – be it a civic building, or a hotel, or a company office. That’s something you wouldn’t see in any other UK city.

    We all know how this has come to pass: It’s a direct consequence of a loud, well-organised nationalist minority that not only wants to use ‘equality’ as a Trojan horse to denude NI of all forms of British symbolism, but also wants to advance its own seditious agenda using generous Barnett cash provided chiefly by the very same English people it openly despises.

    Including people who want to destroy a state in the governance of that same state is an insane recipe for disaster. That’s why power sharing with Irish nationalism will never work.

    • What is your alternative, given there are more Nationalists than Unionists in Belfast (and soon will be in NI as a whole)?

      • Andrew says:

        More nationalists? Or just a greater number of Catholics in a society where no one group has an overall majority? You seem to forget that the decrease in Protestants in 2011 was almost evenly matched by a rise in the number of people claiming not to have a religious affliation, but who were concentrated in areas with an overwhelming Unionist political culture.

        Why conflate religious identity with how people may vote in any future Border Poll. All reliable indications indicate a solid majority for the Union. It’s high time Northern Ireland was fully integrated into the British party political system.

        If, by continuously intimating that Unonists are going to be outbred you’re expecting them to meekly rollover and accept being ousted from the United Kingdom, then both you and those arrogant republican shills who claim likewise will probably be in for a very brutal shock.

      • Is it the case that being pro-Union means pro-Union Flag, and being pro-Irish language means being anti-Union?

        Not sure what exactly going after Irish scholarships is going to do to put a Union flag up in Belfast City Hall!

  4. You are probably right, that the DUP struck a nerve. Givan’s explanation that this was an efficiency cut is a tad insulting, particularly when he could not highlight how this constituted getting more from less.

    I don’t think the DUP are as Hibernophobic as most nationalists would protray, but they really do seem to rely on cudos for going after “themmuns” and that really is sad for Northern Ireland and for unionism in the end.

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