Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Sinn Féin to lead Ireland? Poots resigns

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jun 17th, 2021 at 11:50:15 AM EST

A crisis in the formation of a new Executive in Northern Ireland was averted last night when the British government agreed to bring forward legislation supporting the status of the Irish language and Ulster Scots dialect next October if the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly has not done so by then. The commitment to support minority languages had been included in the 2020 New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) agreement which enabled the return to devolved power sharing after three years of direct rule from London caused by the collapse of Power sharing due to increasing tensions between Sinn Féin and the DUP over this and many other issues.

A failure to reach an agreement could have resulted in snap Assembly elections and/or a return to Direct Rule as the Good Friday Agreement requires the largest party in both the nationalist and unionist traditions to nominate a First and Deputy First Minister for a power sharing executive to be formed. Sinn Féin had refused to do so in the absence of progress on the issue. Both the DUP and Sinn Féin had lost votes at the last Assembly elections because of public impatience at their failure to form an Executive and operate the structures set up by the Good Friday Agreement.

While the DUP claims not to be opposed to the legislation, in practice it had blocked its passage as it was seen as a Sinn Féin priority and a dilution of the "Britishness" of N. Ireland. The inclusion in the legislation of "Ulster Scots", a virtually extinct dialect within N. Ireland, is a sop to DUP sensitivities even though it is in no way comparable to the Irish language which is increasingly taught and spoken in Northern Ireland, mainly but not exclusively by nationalists, and with 10% of the total population claiming some proficiency in it.

With the DUP riven by divisions following the election of Poots as Leader and plummeting in the opinion polls now would have been a very bad time for the DUP to have to fight an election. This has forced Poots' hand to accept the ultimatum even though he had said he wouldn't negotiate on the issue with "a gun to my head".

However the divisions within the DUP may yet force an election as 7 out of its 8 MPs and 5 of its Lords at Westminster have written to Poots demanding that he stall the nomination of a First Minister. This may be seen as the Donaldson faction (who narrowly lost the leadership election) getting their own back, but they will be slaughtered at the polls if they collapse the power sharing institutions now. Poots had no choice but to face down their challenge and has just nominated his fellow Creationist, Paul Givan, as First Minister. The ructions will no doubt continue.

One can just imagine the politicians in Dublin, Westminster, and Brussels taking out the popcorn and sitting back while the DUP tears itself apart. With the Northern Ireland Protocol - welcomed by nationalists but now bitterly opposed by unionists dominating the news headlines, the issue is a reminder that unionists do not have a monopoly of grievances in Northern Ireland. There may have been 23 years of relative peace since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, but the politics of N. Ireland are as fraught as ever, and will continue to be while the DUP plays a lead role. Every issue, be it the promotion of a language, and even the management of the pandemic becomes not just politicised, but sectarianised whenever they are involved.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin is also doing well in opinion polls in the Republic.. It has overtaken Fine Gael as the largest party with 31% support, and if this trend continues will be well placed to lead the next Irish government after a general election. With Sinn Féin also poised to take the First Minister role after the next Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly elections, due by next May, we could have a situation where Sinn Féin becomes the dominant party in Ireland North and South. Ireland may not yet be united, but its political leadership could become united in one party within the next few months.


Since I wrote this story this morning in response to the agreement on a language act reached at 1.00AM this morning a lot has happened, and Poots has resigned as leader following a vote of no-confidence by his Lords, MPs and MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly). A recent Belfast Telegraph LucidTalk poll had already shown that the DUP vote had halved since the last election (from 32% to 16%) and were now neck and neck with the Alliance party and 9% behind Sinn Féin. If this holds after the next election, they could also lose the Deputy First Minster post and their position as the leading unionist party to the UUP or the non sectarian but unionist designated Alliance Party.

The next elections are not due until May next year but could come early if the new DUP leader collapses the executive by forcing the just appointed First Minister, Paul Givan, to resign. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, the defeated candidate at the last leadership election, could offer to re-unify the party by letting Paul Givan stay in post but that would run counter to the sentiment at the meeting which ousted Poots and which was against nominating any First Minister. No matter which way you look at it the whole thing is a mess from a DUP perspective and they have been comprehensively out-manoeuvred by Sinn Féin.

If the Alliance party takes first place among unionist parties at the next election we could be in for a new era of relatively constructive and pragmatic politics in N. Ireland, but I think it more likely that the bulk of DUP votes will go to the UUP or the even more hardline TUV (Traditional Unionist Voice) party which is almost a one man band for its leader Jim Allister. Whatever happens, the Unionist monolith has been broken and things will never be quite the same again.

Sinn Féin to lead Ireland?

A Chara,- I am not a Sinn Féin supporter in large part because of my family's exposure to Nazism and violence before and during the second World War. But Brexit and its aftermath and Ireland's housing crisis are forcing me to re-evaluate where Ireland's future lies.

Boris Johnson seems determined to try and reinforce partition in Ireland by failing to operate the agreed "border down the Irish Sea" which will force the EU to consider operating a customs border at the Irish land border instead. Edwin Poots seems determined to encourage discord in N. Ireland by failing to support the agreement his own government, supported by the DUP,  negotiated on N. Ireland's behalf.

As a result, it seems likely that that Sinn Féin will become the largest party in N. Ireland and will nominate the next First Minister, a result foreshadowed in the recent Belfast Telegraph LucidTalk poll.

Meanwhile, as indicated in the recent Irish Times MRBI poll, the Irish government's abject failure to address the housing crisis seems destined to ensure that Sinn Féin will lead the next government here.

This means that Sinn Féin will become the lead party in both parts of Ireland and effectively unite Ireland's two political systems under its leadership.

What is the alternative for those of us still concerned by Sinn Féin's past association with political violence? Why has there been no coherent policy response from the other major political parties?

Unless unionist parties can convincingly demonstrate they can improve the lives of all living in N. Ireland, and the Irish governing parties can come up with a successful national public housebuilding programme, voters in all parts of Ireland are being left with no choice but to vote for Sinn Féin.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 17th, 2021 at 01:27:22 PM EST

Irish do not need British permission to raise reunification, says Harris

Fine Gael's Simon Harris has rebuffed criticism from the British government for his party leader's comments about a united Ireland, saying Irish ministers did not "need permission" to talk about the issue.

After party leader Leo Varadkar declared at the Fine Gael ardfheis that it was their mission to achieve a united Ireland, which he could see in his lifetime, UK northern secretary Brandon Lewis described his remarks as "unhelpful and ill-advised" during current tensions in the North.

Mr Lewis said the British government "would be concerned about any deviation from the principle of consent as enshrined in the Belfast Good Friday Agreement" and urged everyone to "dial down the rhetoric, particularly at this time of year".

The British government minister also linked the timing of Mr Varadkar's comments to Sinn Féin gains and a Fine Gael drop among voters, reflected in the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 17th, 2021 at 05:33:36 PM EST
Edwin Poots faces DUP revolt after nominating Paul Givan as North's First Minister following Irish language compromise
DUP leader Edwin Poots faces an internal party revolt after he nominated Paul Givan as the North's First Minister despite the opposition of a sizeable majority of MLAs, MPs, party officers and peers present at a DUP meeting earlier on Thursday.

Senior DUP figures have gathered for a meeting at DUP headquarters in Belfast, amid anger in the party that Northern Secretary Brandon Lewis announced early on Thursday morning that a compromise had been reached over the introduction of Irish language legislation.

This was viewed as a concession to Sinn Féin by some within the DUP.

DUP chairman Lord Morrow, asked if there should be a vote of no confidence in Mr Poots, told reporters: "You'll have to wait to see."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 17th, 2021 at 05:47:35 PM EST
continues apace:
Edwin Poots resigns as DUP leader
Edwin Poots has resigned as DUP leader after an internal revolt over the restoration of the Stormont Assembly.

Earlier, elected party members strongly criticised a decision by the British government to promise to introduce Irish language legislation.

A majority of DUP Assembly members and MPs opposed nominating a First Minister.

They voted against Edwin Poots' decision to reconstitute the power-sharing Executive with Sinn Féin in an internal meeting just minutes before the process for nominating Stormont's leaders began downstairs in the chamber of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

It is understood that Mr Poots and his choice of First Minister, Lagan Valley MLA Paul Givan, had left the room to head for the chamber just before the vote was taken.

One senior party source at the meeting, which happened in the members' dining room, described the atmosphere: "Dreadful. Utterly dreadful. Never experienced the like of it," said the source.

After leaving the meeting, Mr Poots nominated Mr Givan as First Minister while Sinn Féin renominated Michelle O'Neill as deputy First Minister at a specially convened Assembly sitting.

The DUP's ruling party officer team is meeting in Belfast this evening to discuss today's developments and Mr Poots' position as leader, just three weeks after he was confirmed as Arlene Foster's successor."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 17th, 2021 at 08:44:55 PM EST
Could someone ask the new leader if it makes any sense to keep a separate North Ireland, now that the English Prime Minister is himself a Papist?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 07:04:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He is?

A quick search found this on Wikipedia, so apparently he is:

Johnson was baptised a Catholic and later confirmed into the Church of England,[53] but has stated that "his faith comes and goes"[616] and that he is not a serious practising Christian.[617] In 2020, his son Wilfred was baptised Catholic, prompting suggestions that Johnson had returned to Catholicism.[618] Johnson and Symonds married in a Catholic ceremony at Westminster Cathedral on 29 May 2021.[619] In order to be married in the Catholic Church, Johnson needed to have his two previous marriages proven to be invalid by reason of lack of canonical form. Since he was baptised Catholic but his previous weddings were not conferred by the Catholic Church, they are considered putatively invalid.[620][621]

Will they invite the Stuarts back next? Apparently the curent "king across the water" is Duke Franz of Bavaria though he isn't keen on claiming his title moving to England, which one can well understand.

by fjallstrom on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 07:33:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For calibration in US terms, if Poots was in there for 21 days that works out to about two  Mooches. Anthony Scaramucci held his job in the Trump White House for 10 days.
by asdf on Thu Jun 17th, 2021 at 10:54:45 PM EST
It is some achievement to be scatter-brained for a leader like Trump...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 09:49:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And Poots isn't even decent at Twitter.  At least The Mooch was mildly entertaining.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 01:41:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's all the fuzz ...?

Edwin Poots resigns - As it happened

by Oui on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 05:49:24 AM EST
Gaoth Dobhair

"The Gaeltacht districts were first officially recognised during the 1920s in the early years of the Irish Free State, following the Gaelic Revival, as part of a government policy aimed at restoring the Irish language."

I can imagine BoJo getting bored with the Irish matter and let NI go.

by Oui on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 06:34:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a mystery to me why he is prepared to ship so much diplomatic damage for a liability like the DUP and N. Ireland.

It's a bit like Putin shipping a lot of damage for a minor political figure like Navalny. Perhaps its a matter of personal ego as much as national pride. The British sausage has to be fought for  even if the |N. Irish make far better sausages for themselves.

Fintan O'Toole: Tories' appetite for farcical fodder is insatiable

To understand what is going on with the Northern Ireland protocol we have to ask: why sausages? Why did Boris Johnson confront Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit over the weekend: "How would you like it if the French courts stopped you moving Toulouse sausages to Paris?"

The question, as it happens, makes no sense. The Saucisse de Toulouse is made all over France, so even in the unlikely event of a blockade, Parisians would have no trouble finding some for their cassoulets.

And as an emblem of the allegedly terrible deprivations inflicted on the plain people of Ulster by the protocol, the sausage seems, on the face of it, even less apt.

If we go back to February 2020, we will find a very different official story: that the protocol would be great for the Ulster sausage.

Why? Because Northern Ireland has lots of fine sausage-makers, including Karro Food in Cookstown, Cranswick in Ballymena and the wonderful Finnebrogue Artisan in Downpatrick.

Not only is the protocol not causing a sausage famine in the six counties, it is a great boon for these pork peddlers. Says who? Well how about the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, whose Minister is one Edwin Poots.

Boris Johnson's gibberish may be surreal but it's also dangerous

In February 2020, Poots's department exultantly pointed to the great advantage that Northern Ireland sausage-makers would enjoy because of the protocol: unfettered exports to both Britain and the EU. There is in fact a huge opportunity for them. The UK was selling £17 million (€19.8m) of sausages a year to the EU, with almost half of that going to the Republic. Now, only Northern Ireland sausages can be sold to the EU. The protocol really puts the sizzle into this export trade.

So if you were going to pick out an object to epitomise the evils of the protocol, the last one should be the sausage. But the decision to bang on about bangers has nothing to do with ordinary logic - and that is precisely what makes this whole charade at once so ludicrous and so dangerous.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 10:02:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More to the point, and something that Macron apparently missed, reportedly answering that "Toulouse and Paris are in the same country": the main reason Toulouse sausages can be shipped to Paris without any control is that both cities are in the same EU Single Market.

Not only Toulouse and Paris: the same sausages can equally be shipped to Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw, all the way to Helsinki (should they ever be interested in French sausages). They can also be shipped to Dublin without any border control and, from there even carry on to Belfast (again, should the locals ever take a fancy).

Interesting, heh? It's called the EU single market. Johnson might have heard of it.

(Or course, even if Saucisse de Toulouse is made all over France, the real deal can be found in the southwestern city by the Garonne river)

by Bernard on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 08:47:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the former Leader appearing to luxuriate in her successor's misfortune will go down too well with the DUP troops. But then she says she has resigned from the party and is no doubt looking forward to a leisurely stint in the Lords. Democracy, British style.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 09:52:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 12:18:36 PM EST
Who Could Have Predicted?
by Bernard on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 08:33:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Going global! China & Saudis bestest friends!

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Jun 21st, 2021 at 09:53:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And China and Saudi Arabia combined are still smaller export markets for the UK than Ireland - even after a 70%+ drop in exports to Ireland...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 21st, 2021 at 11:07:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bernard on Thu Jun 24th, 2021 at 08:59:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What sort of economic policies is Sinn Féin likely to follow in Ireland and in a united Ireland?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 03:44:53 PM EST
Mildly left of centre, social democratic, state interventionist in housing, education and healthcare. Will be careful not to scare away MNCs specially with Ireland's corporate tax advantage diminishing. Redistributive in taxation/social welfare benefits. Perhaps surprising socially conservative -won't be any further human rights reforms. It's Northern base is quite conservative Catholic (relative to the rest of the country). (Fundamentalist Protestants won't have any problem with that).

All in all a big bogeyman who doesn't want to scare anyone. Ireland's politics and political system is biased towards consensual, cooperative policies and practices - as long as the professional elite get their cut.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 04:07:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeffrey Donaldson expected to become new DUP leader in `coronation'
Jeffrey Donaldson is widely regarded as the most likely to succeed Edwin Poots, who announced on Thursday night he was standing down less than five weeks after his election.

A senior DUP source told The Irish Times nominations were expected to open on Monday and Mr Donaldson could be appointed by Friday.

The source said there was no appetite within the party for another potentially damaging leadership election, and with Mr Donaldson expected to be the only candidate, it would be a "coronation" rather than a contest.

It is understood the party wants to move quickly to appoint a new leader in order to try and heal the divisions within the DUP.

I'm not so sure this will solve the problem, as Donaldson is from the other wing of the party entirely, and there seems to be a split between the London based MPs and the NI based MLAs. Perhaps if he retains Paul Givan as first Minister both factions will be happy for now, give that an immediate election would do them no favours.

But this is just the latest in a series of blunders by the DUP, and it will be interesting to see how the Marching season progresses and what the next opinion polls say.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 08:44:19 PM EST
It seems like the DUP is just generally fucked.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 09:44:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not in N.Ireland. Things move very slowly there...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 18th, 2021 at 10:48:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A fossilized community at a slow pace - think coelacanth.
by Oui on Sat Jun 19th, 2021 at 04:11:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 19th, 2021 at 12:22:37 PM EST
Ulster Fry
Theologians at one of Northern Ireland's top colleges claim to have uncovered evidence that the new DUP leadership team has its origins in a biblical flood 4000 years ago.

"In the book of Genesis, we see a clear indication of things to come," says Dr John Calvin-Klein from the University of Ballymena.

"Noah is told to bring two of every kind of animal into the Ark," he explained. "According to an ancient Aramaic tradition, among these animals was a pair of Half-Wits, mythical beasts that resembled a cross between a Gulpin and a Hallion."

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jun 21st, 2021 at 05:36:28 PM EST
by epochepoque on Mon Jun 21st, 2021 at 10:08:04 PM EST
A great and very detailed account. My regard for Van Morrison has also taken a tumble.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 21st, 2021 at 11:39:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems like a problem when you get a bunch of people together who absolutely refuse to compromise on anything, it automatically causes fragmentation. Maybe there is a mathematical explanation of this.
by asdf on Tue Jun 22nd, 2021 at 04:13:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bernard on Wed Jun 23rd, 2021 at 08:18:12 PM EST

The past eight weeks have rocked Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist party to its core, perhaps terminally. So it is not surprising that most of the DUP has reacted to the unopposed election of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson as the party's third leader since Easter with something like exhausted relief.

It may therefore prove less bothersome if Mr Givan, installed only last week in a manoeuvre that backfired spectacularly on Mr Poots, stays on for a while, until Sir Jeffrey can join the Northern Ireland assembly and take over.

A Stormont election looms. It may have to be brought forward if the deal on Irish language legislation struck with Sinn Féin and the UK government by Mr Poots last week is not carried out by September.

But a more volatile possibility is barely a fortnight away, with the start of the main marching season on 12 July. With unionist opposition so aroused over the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol, which creates a trade border with Britain in the Irish Sea, this threatens to be a very hot political summer.

by Oui on Fri Jun 25th, 2021 at 06:03:14 AM EST
But does SF have a policy on crumbling houses in Donegal?
by rifek on Sat Jul 10th, 2021 at 02:09:35 AM EST
AFAIK it is against them...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 10th, 2021 at 12:24:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be an improvement over the current policy which doesn't seem to acknowledge the problem exists outside the immediate environs of Dublin.
by rifek on Sat Jul 10th, 2021 at 07:43:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]