Ulster Says Noah

Nesbitt was chosen not because of his ideas (most of which passed over the heads of his supporters), but because he was reckoned to be the man to turn around the negative media perception of the party and land some hefty blows on the DUP – Alex Kane

Former UUP leader Tom Elliot defends imprisonment without trial so long as the agencies that provided disinformation for the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, also supply the intelligence upon which a British state decree of internment may be issued. Consistently antediluvian in outlook it appears he is an apple that dropped from the Harry West Bramley tree, losing none of the bitterness in the fall. That he eventually had to relinquish the reins of leadership within the UUP might have raised expectations in some quarters that Harry’s ghost had been sufficiently exorcised to the point that any Doppelgänger resembling the old Fermanagh Orangeman might just be the recipient of a persona non grata award in Glengall Street.

But only in some quarters. The ghost of Unionism Past is proving a tough nut to crack. Tuning in to the ideas of new leader Mike Nesbitt hardly engenders confidence that he will be much of an improvement on what he replaced. Okay, his attempt to sound progressive and secular on the issue of no state funding for faith schools might win him a few brownie points - even fewer blessings - but not many. Likewise with his decision to remove the party whip from that other escapee from the Ark, Ken Maginnis, who thinks in true biblical style that gay people are “unnatural and deviant.” Nor, even in the Left deficient Northern assembly, is there any chance of him emerging as flaming Red Mick from the Strangford Soviet because of an invite issued to a Marxist to address a UUP seminar on poverty.

Assuming the leadership from the hapless Elliot was the turning point at which Mike Nesbitt failed to turn. He forewent the opportunity to gust through the political Ark of which he had become captain. The flood of political violence and conflict had long since subsided. His main news presenter spot for UTV created an image of Nesbitt as someone able to see both sides. But he has squandered whatever vision he might have laid claim to in order to wear the black patch of one of the North’s one eyed tribes. Far from guiding his creaking vessel to terra firma for essential maintenance he has taken to the high seas under the colours of the Jolly Rodger. A political plundering he shall go.

The type of piracy being advocated by those he captains is hardly hidden as they continue to wave their cutlasses at nationalists.  Antrim UUP councillor Adrian Cochrane Watson promised pigs would fly before Antrim Council would see a Sinn Fein mayor returned. Cookstown UUP councillor Robert Kelly’s less than novel approach to the past is that the ‘terrorists’ should have been “sought out and punished” in the manner that the US and Israel delivers justice.This is the sort of "drone" Nesbitt is listening to.

The contempt that the UUP shows for nationalists and their representatives was further evident in Derry when former republican prisoner Sinn Fein's Kevin Campbell was elected mayor of the city. Mary Hamilton of the UUP, the deputy mayor, refused to allow Mayor Campbell put the chains of office on her in a bid to outdo the outgoing mayor DUP mayor Maurice Devenney who refused to place the chains on Campbell. Devenney would have no problem in putting Campbell in chains, just not mayoral ones.

Even though he has removed the whip from Ken ‘two swallows don’t make a summer’ Maginnis, it was only after the party's officers had:

actually over-ruled Nesbitt's public call for an executive meeting to discuss the Maginnis debacle, then made matters worse by issuing a statement which didn't even come close to criticising the peer.

Revenge seems to be the watchword and Nesbitt’s own stance is facilitating such revanchist attitudes rather than pushing them back.  In a recent debate with Sinn Fein chair Declan Kearney, Nesbitt played to the backwoodsmen gallery rather than seriously address the issue under discussion.  He emerged the clear winner for two reasons, neither of which is rooted in his own political acumen. Kearney had not prepared his defences to meet the nature of the attack launched by Nesbitt; Sinn Fein’s position on the question of truth and reconciliation is hopelessly compromised by its stated desire for reconciliation but an aversion to the truth: which gives its demands for inquiries only into British state political killings the ring of ‘half the truth sets you free’. It was easy for Nesbitt to bust such a rampart.

Yet what did he achieve other than to remind his audience that they should cling tenaciously to any reminder of the past so that it would continue to serve as an impediment to the present? In the end Nesbitt’s was a pyrrhic victory, something that, as Brian Rowan observed, ‘was more smug than smart, and it was a missed opportunity to engage seriously on the past and on the issue of reconciliation.’

Rowan was not criticising Nesbitt for having serious problems with the political violence of the IRA, stating that ‘his “war crimes” question is perfectly fair.’  But Rowan contextualised this with a serious point that Nesbitt, with typical unionist myopia, seems unable of comprehending. Republican war crimes may surely be discussed: 

but in the right process when all the other “war crimes” questions are being asked – not of one side but every side, including the involvement of paid intelligence agents in murder. This will open the Special Branch, the Military and Security Service MI5 to the same questions.

Nesbitt has argued for a process which effectively avoids ‘painting the state and its security force personnel as the villains.’ The files of the British state should only be opened if the first in line are those of “McGuinness, M” and “Adams, G”. The UUP will stand shoulder to shoulder with those who made the decision ‘to don uniforms, put themselves in harm’s way, and held the line against an existential threat to Northern Ireland”.

Mike Nesbitt is much too familiar with the victims question to credibly assert that the British State was not up to its neck in killing people it claimed were its own citizens. His desire to frame the victims question in the context of republicans as victimisers par excellence underscores that, like Sinn Fein, the focus of the UUP under his leadership remains on recrimination rather than reconciliation. Yet his attitude of ‘follow me I’m right behind you’ has done little to prevent his party trailing well behind in opinion polls. In June the Belfast Telegraph had the UUP at its lowest ever level, 11%.

For all of that, rummaging around in the sectarian gutter where it can fight the DUP for votes at least allows us to see the UUP perspective: bragging rights trump all others.


  1. I think the uup like the sdlp is a busted flush irrespective of who leads either party,as for the qsf/dup coalition this engineered marriage will continue for as long as the real bosses in Downing st and Whitehall consider them useful the other eejits the Alliance well nothing needs to be said about them,,,

  2. On the subject of leadership I see that the INLA/ IRSP have allowed the qsf and its quisling micro brit minister Michelle O Neill to hijack the unveiling of a mural to vol Kevin Lynch,who by their own admission after investigating the allegations made by Richard O Rawe that Adams and his committee deliberately allowed the last six of those hero,s to die just to advance their political interests,which they the IRSP have subsequently found to be the truth,then if so does it not follow that they have have once again allowed a volunteers name and memory to be hijacked for their own purposes if so shame on the INLA/IRSP

  3. "Mindless militarism,adventurism and egotism had no place in the Irish freedom struggle in 1916 in 1971 in 1981 and it has no place in this same struggle that we carry forward in Ireland today", Michelle O Neill, bullshit can anyone recall qsf,s fixation with !isms" in the 80,s,wonder who wrote this shit it has the sound of Deccieboy Kearney or possibly Jonathan Powell same difference really!

  4. Marty-

    Was in Dungiven yesterday when thousands came onto the streets to remember the Hunger-Strikers- the IRSP had a wreath laying ceremony last week at Volunteer Kevin Lynch's grave- IRSP flags were still flying yesterday along the route of the march,but don't know why you are having a go at them-
    I though Michelle O'Neill spoke well [ her cousin Volunteer Tony Doris was killed by the sas in 1991 ]- its mindless militarism when those who say they are at war are not figting a war- we are at peace in 2012-did nobody tell you-

  5. Marty what you have the IRSP do if the Queens own Shinners do what they do best - body snatch our dead?

    After all the mural was painted on the wall of the bar owned by the Lynch family. Kevin died as a member of the INLA and his family know that. I afraid it's sad that they allowed the Adamsites to hijack his memory.

  6. Talking about the Queens own Shinners, I see their script writer changed The ICA's "We serve neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland" to 'we must serve neither Britain nor bond-holders - but Ireland' for Michelle O'Neill's propaganda speech.

    I wonder did Marty's handshake with the Brit Queen have anything to do with the rewording?

    Anyway as Connolly said....

    "The problem was not how to defeat a nation in arms battling for all that makes life worth living, but how to fool a nation without arms into becoming the accomplice of its oppressor. And the strategic move in question is already being hailed as a great landmark of national progress.

    Yes, ruling by fooling, is a great British art – with great Irish fools to practice on.

    James Connolly 1914"

  7. Remember when SF used to say none of these people would be in jail now if it wasn't for the troubles during the hungerstrikes. Same applies to Stormont I suppose. How pathetic politicos really are.

  8. Mickeyboy, O Neill the media trained micro brit minister spoke the words someone else wrote for her,as for her cousin vol Tony Doris,Ernie O Malleys "its easy to sleep on another mans wounds"springs to mind here,if and it looks increasingly likely that there will be an apology from the RA for their troubles related deaths,then the commemorations by qsf to our fallen comrades becomes nothing more than a farce, indeed as has been said before it criminalises the actions of Tony Doris and every other Irish man/woman who stood up to british/unionist tyranny,the bold Michelles scriptwriters will have to pull another load of bullshit out to try and fool the people with..and the stuff they have been shoveling is now getting very thin.

  9. marty
    not easy to ride two horses as they take different routes in a fork in the road. It just gets better and better watching shame fein try harder and harder the further apart the horses drift.

  10. Mickeyboy maybe you could ask that republican stalwart micro brit minister Michelle O Neill just what is qsf,s attitude to their colleague orange Danny Kennedy regional development minister marking out his territory like the bigoted dog he is.. the bold Danny has ordered the erection of 12 WELCOME TO NORTHERN IRELAND signs on the busiest cross border roads,some of which has already "disappeared"those revolutionary boys and girls of qsf up in Stormont sure are carrying the struggle forward and at a pace a snail could pass!! p.s. is this not geographically the north east of Ireland ?

  11. Marty,

    Michelle O'Neill's speech simply shows how bankrupt the party is in terms of republicanism. Every single accusation she levelled at republicans was made by the Sticks against the Provisionals.

    When the Stick virus gets in it ravishes

  12. Anthony when I think of those people I think of John Adair,(the one of Glenveagh notoriety)Adair like those in qsf claimed to be a champion and defender of the common people,he like some in qsf got himself elected as an mp as a Land League activist,and like qsf he turned his back on those who trusted him,and like some in qsf he to became a landlord and he is now famous for his eviction of over 200 people in one of the harshest of winters on record,!so a cara that saying about history repeating itself well then a lot of common people should now be getting very very nervous..!!!

  13. This is the type of naked sectarian bigotry promoted by Elliot

  14. Tom obviously Elliot instead of calling for justice and truth about the deaths of everyone killed during the so called "troubles"irrespective of which side of the tracks they came from,would rather his supporters in unionism "chocked" up the system in order to prevent the truth emerging about deaths at the hands of state forces and their agents which he was a ranking one off..he carried a weapon on our streets, probably still does and is OBVIOUSLY a bigoted bastard...

  15. Marty/Dixie

    I am not sure the IRSP feel able to do much about it given it is what the family have opted for. The party knows the committee sealed the fate for six of the boys including two INLA volunteers. It knew from the earliest days of the Richard O’Rawe intervention.

    I guess it is uncomfortable for the IRSP to watch. It might think about how to handle these things in the future. I imagine it will need to say something for ethical reasons alone.

  16. I understand the position the IRSP may have now found themselves in,and agree with Dixie that qsf are experts in body snatching,but I also believe that a clear and unambiguous statement about the treachery and subsequent unnecessary death of their volunteer Kevin Lynch and the other five heroes is now long overdue,and a public demand that neither Patsy O Hara,s or Kevin Lynchs name and memory be sullied by qsf in their quest to hang on to the illusion of power on the backs of such brave men is the very least they can do for their fallen volunteers and those comrades who gave their lives so unselfishly.