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Speech by Jim Allister to TUV Annual Conference, (7 November 2009)

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Text: Jim Allister ... Page compiled: Martin Melaugh

Speech by Jim Allister, then Leader of the Traditonal Unionist Voice (TUV), to the TUV Annual Conference, Belfast, (7 November 2009)


"Traditional Unionist Voice has had a good year. You can always measure the level of your success by the depth of the discomfort of your political enemies. When IRA/Sinn Fein screeches about TUV dictating the agenda, you know you are winning.

Our European election result stunned the political establishment. The aftershocks are still unsettling the DUP/Sinn Fein regime at Stormont. The truth is that TUV is the NEW FORCE in Ulster politics.

I don’t hear that wicked duo Adams or McGuinness accuse the DUP of being petrified by the Tories, but almost every day TUV is cited as the bête noire. Upsetting DUP/Sinn Fein rule is an accolade, not a slight.

The DUP’s neck crick is caused not by David Cameron or Reg Empey but by you very troublesome people in this room who just refuse to give up on the cardinal principles of democracy and unionism. Every TUV voter can take pride that their vote in June is still paying dividends.

Recently, Peter Robinson took the DUP to the doctor, one all the way from Singapore, I’m told. They have a few wannabe doctors of their own, but they needed a real doctor. So they all sat down and Peter explained their problem. The doctor listened, shaking his head, and when Peter had finished, he said “I’m afraid I’ve bad news for you First Minister.”

‘Is it political swine flu?, Peter asked. ‘I know we’ve all had our snouts in the trough, but we’re going to stop.’

‘No’, said the doctor, ‘Your problem: TUV it is. Tuvitis, It starts with a crick in the neck, but ultimately it will be fatal to terrorists in government. Opportunistic, expenses-grabbing MLAs are especially vulnerable, with many living on borrowed time. Symptoms include paranoia about those who keep reminding you of your past promises and apoplectic rage when confronted with the truth.’

 Jeffrey Donaldson, ever eager to speak, was the first to find his tongue, “But doctor, doctor surely we could reinvent ourselves, I’m really good at that; if we kept talking about victims, if we promised again to change the definition, even though we can’t, if we got Nelson to talk tough about the GAA, If Nigel and I went to see Colonel Gaddafi – we get on really well with terrorists these days, if Peter publicly scrapped with Marty, if we sent Iris on a long holiday, if we …”

The truth doctor cut across him. “Sorry, Jeffrey, it’s too late for all that. All you can do is go back to your constituencies and prepare for defeat.”

Not since the treachery of David Trimble has a Unionist party been more deserving of defeat. Not just for ushering unrepentant terrorists into government, but for the shame brought to public office by abuse of expenses. You don’t expect much from IRA/Sinn Fein, who lived of bank robberies and worse for years, but as Unionists we do expect probity in public office.

Whether it’s Iris thinking the taxpayers should buy her a Mont Blanc pen, or Willy – my stomach’s better now – McCrea, sitting behind his publicly funded walnut desk, or Ian Paisley claiming the maximum of £400 per month for food, every month but one from 2004 to 2008, including months when Parliament wasn’t sitting, not that he was there often when it was, or Peter Robinson with the 42” TV which we all kindly bought him – he should have gone to Specsavers – they all have brought politics into deep disrepute.

Be it triple jobbing (the ending of which is the latest promise to be abandoned), family dynasties or rippling off the expenses, greed, avarice and betrayal is the infamous hallmark of some politicians. Sadly, that’s the sorry state we’ve been brought to today. Terrorists in government, spongers in parliament.

And what of wee Jeffrey! How could I forget him? Lonely in London, he found comfort – at your expense – in watching the latest blockbusters, over and over again, it seems!
What was he watching? Well, he says, The lion, the witch and the wardrobe.
Lion – do you think he was?
The witch – what was Catriona Ruane doing there?
The wardrobe – what a great place for skeletons!

Here’s a few other films for him to watch. What about Sleepless in Dundela, directed by Jeffrey Donaldson, Director of Elections. It had its first showing last June but, if you missed it, there is a sequel due during the next Westminster election.

Or at a bargain price there’s Bringing up Baby, starring Ian Junior, who also co stars with Nigel Dodds in that comic farce “To Libya with love”. In this one, someone from another planet sends policemen to spy on Libya whilst Nigel as ‘Bond’ pursues Gaddafi. But for once, Bond doesn’t get the girl!

And, finally there’s “Miracle on Church Street”, where without spending a penny of their own money, a father and son get the taxpayers to buy their Party a spanking new office.

What a bunch, Ladies and Gentlemen. What a state our beloved Province has been reduced to.

No one should get used to the unfading travesty of terrorists in government. No one with a terrorist conviction should ever be permitted in the government of the state they terrorised. It is obscene. Yet, we are now in our third year of unrepentant terrorists misruling over us. Bomber Kelly in joint charge of victims, Murphy with his explosive convictions from South Armagh in charge of our railways and the First Minister of Terror himself, McGuinness, sharing the highest office in the land.

Nor should anyone be surprised that it has been shambolic and disastrous government. You can’t put the toxic poison of IRA/Sinn Fein at the heart and top of government and expect a wholesome and virtuous product. When you sow corruption you will reap corruption.

Just as its IRA set about destroying Northern Ireland through terror, so instability and bedlam in government suits them fine. They are not there to give us good government, they are there to advance the latest phase of project unification. The methods have changed, but not the goal, so for now its destruction from within rather than without.

Ruane’s destruction of education is but part of the same destabilising strategy that informs everything Sinn Fein does. Only a fool would think they now wish Northern Ireland to be anything but the failed political entity that they long proclaimed. As Peter Robinson once said, "There is no quicker or better way to finally destroy Northern Ireland than from within its own Government."

This incarnation of Belfast Agreement devolution has been a con! 

Instead of hands-on local control making a difference, the lives of ordinary citizens, at best, are unimproved; instead of slashing needless waste, we see growth in Quangos and right at the top of government a bloated OFMDFM of over 400 staff – more than when Peter Robinson came to office, the only people to be sacked from OFMDFM in 3 years have been Ian Junior and Jeffrey Donaldson; we have more spin doctors and so called ‘special advisers’ than ever before; instead of openness we have deliberate concealment, for example, no member of the public is allowed to know how much taxpayers’ money any of these political placemen, who pose as ‘special advisers’ are actually paid. It’s one of Stormont’s shameful secrets.

Instead of saving money, they are wasting £130m pa on useless north/south bodies, £8 pa on MLAs expenses, millions on salaries and many more millions on the Stormont administration itself. Apart from those who live off the political industry at Stormont, would anyone really miss this miserable, failing government?

As for addressing the real needs of people, what has this regime done for education – brought devastation and chaos! What has it done for jobs, apart from jobs for the boys – its impotence is notorious and Invest NI a fiasco! What has it done for orderly administration – engendered endemic deadlock and misgovernment by veto.

There cannot be a more wretched, useless government anywhere in the western world than that which preens itself in Stormont. It is no coincidence that it is also the only government in the western world which, by law, cannot be voted out of office, because of the iniquity of mandatory coalition. Guarantee entry to government by right, rather than by merit and don’t be surprised when you inevitably get bad government. You can’t put terrorists in government and then expect good government.

So, the shambles at Stormont is no surprise to me. Nor will it improve.

Yet, now it is proposed to give the jokes on the hill more powers, not just any powers but the most potent powers of all, those over policing and justice. To this we are implacably opposed.

When political lifetimes melt into a few months you know who’s winning the struggle over policing and justice. Money will buy out principle. When defeat comes, of course, it will be dressed up as another momentous victory for Unionism, just like getting Martin McGuinness as your Joint First Minister. However, anyone with a brain in their head can see who’s driving this process and who is achieving their strategic objective of ending British control and getting policing and justice into an Executive where IRA/Sinn Fein holds sway.

For Traditional Unionists devolving policing and justice is not about money or timing, it is about the much deeper issue of the folly of  gifting such vital and sensitive issues to an Executive and Assembly where IRA/Sinn Fein – the party which still justifies their IRA’s murder of policemen and judges - holds the power of veto.

Ending British control of policing and justice has long been a strategic republican demand, as plainly set out in their 2005 Manifesto: “Our strategy is for a new all-Ireland policing and justice system. That cannot be achieved without the transfer of policing and justice powers away from London, into an Executive and Assembly and the all-Ireland institutions.”  No Unionist should be facilitating the attainment of their goal.

On the issue of finance it would be utter folly to accept an IOU from an outgoing PM, who’ll be long gone when the bills have to be paid. Instead, we will see front line services in health and education starved of funds to pay for the prioritised costs of policing and justice, especially as republican terrorism increases. On the experience of the last 3 years who could have any confidence in this miserable failed Executive being able to handle any of this?”

And, what happens when the upsurge in republican terrorism is stepped up a gear. When new legislation is needed or more money required to crush IRA terror, then the Sinn Fein veto on every cross-cutting requirement of the Department of Justice will really come into play.

Let me say, I have an abiding scepticism about the supposed distinctions between the many facets of the IRA. I grew up on a farm and there is a good country saying about all being “the pigs of the one sow”. So is there a real distinction between the various manifestations of the IRA or is there a continuity of purpose and objective that binds them as one, remembering the documented use of flags of convenience and deniable operations throughout the Provos’ terror campaign. Even the IMC now admits it is open transfer season between every wing of the IRA.

But for TUV policing and justice would already be devolved. The delay is further evidence of the policy-changing pressure TUV has been able to exercise. There are 66,000 reasons for Peter Robinson’s foot on the brake pedal. The votes for TUV in June are proving to be the most influential of all those cast.
If TUV did not exist then Marty would already be meddling in policing and justice. As I said at the European Election, TUV is indeed the Unionist people’s best insurance policy.”

But, make no mistake, the DUP is preparing to deliver this key republican demand. Another phoney consultation and a few diversionary sweeteners will be the ploy, but Marty’s meddling days in justice are coming. It used to be the IRA decided when judges would be killed and policemen butchered, soon they will exercise a controlling veto over those very disciplines. That will be the DUP’s shameful and lasting legacy from this its first and last era of First Ministership.

As for devolving policing and justice to Stormont being in the likeness of Carson, such nonsense! Carson’s life and legacy delivered Ulster from republican government and control, the DUP’s legacy, tragically, is of empowering republicanism, first as Joint First Minister and now in gifting them sway and veto powers over policing and justice. Every Unionist who facilitates the transfer of policing and justice powers to an Executive and Assembly in which IRA/Sinn Fein holds sway is advancing the republican ‘Brits Out’ strategy of ending British control of the two most potent symbols of constitutional affinity, control of the police and control of the judiciary. 

As for the ‘no Unionist need apply’, ‘I’m agnostic on the Union’ Justice Minister, he will be a mere pawn in the quadruple hands of the Joint First Ministers. A stooge, if ever there was one. Why do you think spineless Alliance was chosen to provide this placeman, because with no back bone you can be twisted every which way round the manipulative little fingers of the Brothers Grim. Already the Joint First Ministers have made what should have been his first appointment, by themselves, unilaterally decreeing who will be the Attorney General.

Capacity for independent thinking normally comes with the territory of government office, but, then so does ability, but normal rules clearly do not apply because this is an Executive which has Edwin Poots and Robin Newton on its front bench. So David Forde may not feel too bad about being a puppet of OFMDFM. His party’s been a puppet for the NIO for years, so what’s new?

The “huxter shop” deal on policing & justice, like past DUP/Sinn Fein deals, has a ticking timebomb built in. In 2012 a sunset clause opens the whole subject up to fresh negotiations, affording Sinn Fein another opportunity to extract fresh concessions as the price for devolution continuing. What they don’t get this time they’ll be plucking next time from the concession conveyer belt.

Of course, this whole debate about policing and justice points up a glaring contradiction in the stance of the other Unionist parties. They, rightly, say that Sinn Fein is unfit, for now, to hold the justice portfolio, but merrily gift them destructive control of the education of our children. Herein is a defining and logical distinction with TUV. If IRA/Sinn Fein is unfit to hold the Justice department, and they most assuredly are, then they are equally unfit to hold any government office. The logic, clarity and truth of that reality is unanswerable, yet, both the UUP and DUP are hopelessly wedded to insulating Sinn Fein in every other office, because both have bought into the iniquitous Belfast Agreement and its central structure, mandatory coalition.

This is where TUV differs irreversibly. We refute and reject the Belfast Agreement in all its forms. Others mouth platitudes of residual reservations, pretend unease and to chloroform their dwindling supporters speak deceptively about being on a journey, but day and daily they work the Belfast Agreement in all its facets. Without them it would be moribund, with them it is thriving and delivering the all island agenda which is its dynamo. Let me make it very clear, working the Belfast Agreement will not lead to its demise, will not lead to a final destination of different orientation, but assuredly will bit by bit sever Ulster from its British affinity and control, the devolving of policing and justice being a classic illustration is disengagement in action. The logic of some has become so perverted that retaining rather than removing British control is twisted as anti-unionist.The same deceptive logic which today justifies working the Belfast Agreement ‘in the interests of unionists’ will one day cause the same types to justify its evolution, and their involvement ‘in the interests of unionists’, in Irish unification. Those who can stomach Martin McGuinness as their buddy in government would ultimately have no difficulty settling into a united Ireland.

For us there is no way forward through the present perverse and rigged system of mandatory coalition. It must end. We reject the insult that we are the only place in the western democratic world where by law you can neither vote a party out of government nor have an official opposition. Both are pre-requisites for durable and democratic devolution. No party, particularly one that bought its negotiating strength through its practice of terrorism, must be guaranteed a place as of right in government. That’s the very antithesis of democracy.

So in the next Assembly election TUV will be presenting a very clear platform of irreversible opposition to terrorists in government and the system of mandatory coalition designed to keep them there. Through a sufficient bridgehead of Traditional Unionists, pledged not to operate the evil of mandatory coalition, we will force change and we will test the platitudes of others who protest they too want change. One of the scandals of the present unrepresentative Assembly is that the voice of 30%, and growing, of the unionist electorate is disenfranchised. Come the next Assembly election that will assuredly change and with it the system that so besmirches and insults democracy.

Right across this Province we will see candidates elected who are committed to replace the present undemocratic structures and chaos with good government, built firmly not on appeasing terrorists, but on respecting the fundamentals of democracy, which straightaway would confine mandatory coalition to the bin, because with a large enough dissenting Unionist block it cannot survive.

TUV is certainly opposed to terrorists in government, but as we’ve often said we are not opposed to shared government through the democratic route of voluntary coalition.

After every election, those who can agree a platform and collectively command the requisite majority in the Assembly form the government. Those who cannot, form the Opposition, challenging and affording voters an alternative at the next election.

TUV would not be entering government with IRA/Sinn Fein under any system. Distasteful as it would be to us, if IRA/Sinn Fein can by persuasion of others attain government by the regular route of voluntary coalition, from which the electorate have the right to remove them at the next election, then we would have to accept such and perform the role of Opposition. We can accept the rules of democracy, why should others benefit from special pleading and provision? If the answer is because of fear that the supposedly now democratic IRA/Sinn Fein would take us back to “the bad old days”, then, we are being blackmailed as well as conned. If Sinn Fein are only democrats so long as they are in government, then, they are not democrats at all!

Why should Northern Ireland be the only place in the democratic world where by law you cannot vote a party out of government and by law you cannot have an Opposition? It shouldn’t be, but alas TUV is the only party prepared to say so and to act to insist on the banishment of this insult to democracy. Others pretend dislike of mandatory coalition but happily operate it every day as their ticket to office. They could end it now, but the shackles and lure of office bind them.

Every bad-tempered spat, real or contrived, between the Joint First Ministers is further confirmation that the present Belfast Agreement devolution cannot work, or last. The gridlock and breakdown at the very top of government confirms everything TUV has ever said of the unworkability of this regime and system.

The First Minister should do us all a favour by bringing this expensive farce to an end. It’s time for Peter Robinson to face reality: his coalition with IRA/Sinn Fein has failed and will not work. Sinn Fein has more than proved itself unfit for government; yet, Peter clings desperately to this sinking ship. It’s time he recovered some dignity and cut Sinn Fein adrift.

Faced with the end of mandatory coalition, voluntary coalition will be accepted, even by those who now claim otherwise, because without it they will have no Stormont and that would never suit politicians and parties wholly dependent on it as their financial and political lifeline.

The democratic imperative against mandatory coalition cannot be resisted long-term. Aided by the infusion of sufficient Traditional Unionist MLAs it cannot survive. Certainly, voting for those operating mandatory coalition and thus Sinn Fein rule will only perpetuate it, but electing those opposed will compel change.

Bad as the original terms of the Belfast Agreement were, at least it guaranteed a Unionist First Minister, because it by law stipulated the First Minister had to come from the biggest party of the biggest tradition. In the St Andrews negotiations that Unionist protection was thrown away and the NI St Andrews Act, passed in November 2006 amended the 1998 Act to remove the position of First Minister from the biggest tradition, Unionism, and instead to gift it to the biggest party. That is the shameful mechanism by which a Sinn Fein First Minister could be foisted on a Unionist majority in the Assembly.

But the real and indelible shame is that it was done with the connivance of the DUP. Peter Robinson's fingerprints are all over the change, because he thought it was a terribly clever way to duress the Unionist electorate into voting DUP.  Shame on him for such a handover of the Unionist title deeds.

When the NI St Andrews Bill was published, after two days of secret proximity talks in London, it proposed this legislative change which permits McGuinness to become First Minister. Yet, when it was debated in the House of Commons on 21st November 2006 not one DUP MP, not one, voted against this monstrous change, or even required a vote. They all meekly accepted this notorious and treacherous change. That was the moment when in my heart I knew that in the end the other apostles would buckle. And, so they did. Just as they rolled over on the big issue of terrorists in government, so they will wilt again in their residual resistance on policing and justice.

So, when in a future election the DUP try to play the fear card over their partner becoming First Minister, their hypocrisy will be vigorously exposed and they will be reminded that they were complicit and desirous of this appalling change. There is no point in pretending outrage over McGuinness switching into Peter's seat, when it was Peter himself which thought this change in the law so politically expedient. The Good Book aptly says, "Be sure your sins will find you out."

"But this issue throws up questions the DUP must answer. Not just the question, every time the DUP raises the spectre, of why not one of their MPs voted against it, but will they serve under McGuinness? Is their love of power, any power, so great that they will subject themselves and Unionism to such humiliation? Principle will never save us from the DUP propping up IRA/Sinn Fein in government, but maybe pride will! How will William McCrea’s stomach be on that day of reckoning and wretching?"

But before that we will have a Westminster election. TUV will be there to give voice to those we represent. There will be much for us to expose in that election. The scandal of expenses, which has brought shame on politics. The broken promises over double jobbing. The neglect of representation of Ulster in Parliament, some Ulster MPs manage only one day a week in Parliament, but take a full-time salary. The pitiful performance of Belfast Agreement devolution. The unworkability of the dysfunctional DUP/Sinn Fein coalition and the scandalous shredding of the solemn pledge in the DUP’s 2005 Parliamentary manifesto that mandatory coalition, the very system they are now operating to keep Sinn Fein in office, was ‘OUT OF THE QUESTION’.

Such duplicity will not go unanswered at the polls and the flagrant breach of the cardinal pledge in the 2005 DUP manifesto against mandatory coalition will set the bar against which every new facile, empty DUP commitment will be measured. Do the DUP, like Trimble before them, take Unionists for fools: that they can pledge at one election mandatory coalition is ‘out of the question’ and within 2 years embrace IRA/Sinn Fein as their chuckle partner in government; that in the Euro elections they can solemnly pledge to end double jobbing and then months later brazenly present the same slate of double and triple jobbers for re-election; that they can cream off every expense hand out that’s going and then piously present themselves as selfless servants of the people. No, the people have caught them on and no where more so than in North Antrim where I look forward to the challenge, whichever Paisley dons the armour of Goliath. Be it Chuckle 1 or the galactic one from Planet Junior, bring it on.

TUV has had a good year in 2009, 2010 can be even greater, because with the dedication and enthusiasm which imbues this Party, married to the principle which drives us, we, together, can and will do much to right the wrongs inflicted on this Province. Our task is not easy, but our cause is just. We will not flinch, we will not bend, we will not be bought, we will succeed."


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