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Another Blinking Pact

Mark Devenport | 18:10 UK time, Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Blink and you might have missed it. Gerry Adams wrote to Margaret Ritchie offering cooperation in "specific constituencies" - code for Alec Maskey standing down in South Belfast in return for Fearghal McKinney doing the same in Fermanagh South Tyrone. The SDLP leader swiftly declined to meet the Sinn Fein President, instead lecturing him on his handling of the devolution of justice and his party's abstentionist stance. Mr Adams responded by accusing the SDLP of not treating the initiative seriously and rubbishing Alasdair McDonnell's attendancerecord at Westminster.

SDLP sources say that even if you took all the principled policy differences out of the equation the offer made no sense, as a Sinn Fein withdrawal from South Belfast would simply precipitate a unionist unity response in the seat.

However expect Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to try to turn up the heat on the SDLP tonight and tomorrow accusing their rivals of being "vote splitters".


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  • 1. At 6:34pm on 13 Apr 2010, SusieFlood wrote:



    At last, at least one party has decided not to play the sectarian card. In FST & South Belfast, Ritchie is showing she has cojones in face of the anti-democratic machinations of the DUP/Sinn Féin Fascist Coalition.

    My disgust for the UUP now knows no ends. Empey’s recent dalliances [secret meetings; and Ken Magennis lookalike agreed unity candidate in FST] with the sectarian DUP have exposed his Party’s sectarian credentials with a vengeance. Oh, and not forgetting the disingenuousness of nominating Danny Kennedy for Justice Minister when Empey & his Party had been adamant that the post was rightfully the preserve of the SDLP.

    If the SDLP stick with their current position of refusing to engage in an electoral pact with the sectarian Sinn Féin, I believe there will be voter reward on the morning of 7 May.


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  • 2. At 6:36pm on 13 Apr 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:


    Do you really think Gerry Adams did this without thought. Very good Gerry, your some boy!!!

    Up Sinn Fein!!!

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  • 3. At 8:52pm on 13 Apr 2010, alaninbelfast wrote:

    Maybe the parties should all meet up before the 4pm deadline on Tuesday 20th and decide who is most likely to top the poll in each constituency. Then the other candidates could all withdraw, and we could have ballot papers with a single cross-party unity candidate on them, and get rid of all this troublesome people's choice.

    You'd think the way they're getting on that the parties don't believe their candidates are electable!

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  • 4. At 9:25pm on 13 Apr 2010, thelocalboy wrote:

    I have two views on this matter...

    Miss Ritchie, well done. Madge didnt become a hypocrite and join a pact right after they critised the unionists for doing so. She was tuned in and knew that if the SDLP and SF joined together, they would be susceptible to abuse.

    Madge, publishing Gerrys letter to you? Not very nice. Thats just putting Gerry down in order to build yourself up. No wonder you arnt married I say. However, I suppose I shouldnt be expecting behaviour any better.. being a politician and all that...

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  • 5. At 9:43pm on 13 Apr 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:


    You have on a few occasions referred to Ritchie's marital status. Do I sense a little admiration for the lad~less~lady Ritchie???

    Go on son, you might even make her smile!!!

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  • 6. At 9:53pm on 13 Apr 2010, Stephen Blacker wrote:

    The pact in FST is a good move for the people in that area. Sinn Fein say they look after the interests of all the people of FST, that is untrue, the Unionist people (and Nationalist) have not had any repesentation at Westminster for years now. The word SECTARIAN is easy to say but the truth is it is a good idea to have an MP's voice heard and used.

    Margaret Ritchie must be congratulated for not taking the easy option of having a pact with a party that makes a mockery of this election and the people, all the people, they say they will represent. I would have thought that Sinn Fein would have learnt by now that it is better to argue your point from within an establishment like Westminster but I guess that, even now, their hatred for anything British is more important.

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  • 7. At 10:04pm on 13 Apr 2010, thelocalboy wrote:


    ssshhh.. its a secret.
    I hope shes reading this blog... for her to find out of my undying love for her...which I have of course stated numerous times here and how much I admire her

    Make her smile? Funny you should mention it that... because I walked past an election poster of her today in Downpatrick which was at eye level and I noticed she has a real set of pearly whites... she must really look after them teeth! or else just get the photos edited before the posters are printed...

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  • 8. At 00:35am on 14 Apr 2010, Jimmy Cricket wrote:

    A bit of a let off for the Orange Order and Unionists there by Gerry he could have sat back and showed there is integrity within republicanism and give the voters of South Belfast a choice and a voice as to who and what they support instead of playing to the gallery and trying to emotionally blackmail them. Playing catch up with Unionists in the dirty tricks department is a step backwards. Nationalism must show they are above this type of sectarian politics.

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  • 9. At 00:41am on 14 Apr 2010, ManOfPie wrote:


    Don't be ridiculous, a smile would surely break her jaw.


    I take it that your vitriolic condemnation of the "unity candidates" places you in the [difficult] position of having to vote for either the SDLP or Alliance? It'd be interesting to see how adamant you were to truly sticking to your [outspoken] principles. So what'll it be?

    People constantly say that "F&ST" has "no representation" at Westminster. I think that the absence speaks volumes in terms of the representation of what the people really think.

    How the hell is Cameron getting away with this pact move? Surely Labour should be all over him with this, using it as a stick to beat him with.

    Love, PieMan

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  • 10. At 03:27am on 14 Apr 2010, Dungannon wrote:


    I don't know how widespread the digital retouching of election posters is among the NI political parties but I can confirm the SDLP has a history of it! I bumped into Alban Maginness canvassing during the Euro election last year. He stopped to chat and I couldn't help but notice that his teeth were less than perfect as he talked (No ones perfect). Then he asked for my vote and handed me a flyer with his picture on the front, with a beaming set of pearly white teeth! It made ME smile anyway :D

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  • 11. At 09:24am on 14 Apr 2010, AntrimView2 wrote:

    I didn't think Adams would run to the SDLP who they claim to have defected and almost made extinct. The SDLP was never going to drop McKinney after promoting him so highly. He joined to stand for election not stand down to let someone else in.

    Jimmy Cricket - "Nationalism must show they are above this type of sectarian politics. " Perhaps this proves that they are not?
    The definition of "sectarian" is a bit over used here anyway.
    In all elections in every country there will be voting packs if parties can agree on some common ground that they consider to be of high important.

    Still can't understand how Ritchie got voted in above McD.
    She just does come across as well in my view. She also appeared more hard-line nationalist than McD and the SDLP is still trying to play both the "Green card" and the moderate card.

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  • 12. At 10:38am on 14 Apr 2010, thelocalboy wrote:

    Dont you dare say that about my darling Miss Ritchie...shes a hottie and thats that... ;)
    If she agrees to marry me.. i'll ask you to bake the Wedding cake/pie

    yess, I have noticed Alabns electoral posters before aswell. Whoever did the computer work.. did just too good a job. Slightly white would have been good.. although not bright shining white like popstars!

    I totally agree with your disgust for UUP after nominating danny keddedy! A terrible sly move, after agreeing that the SDLP were entitled to the ministerial role!
    However, your view that the SDLP will gain on the 7th of May? Doubtful. However, I think they will gain more votes on the 6th of may... when the westminister elections take place due to them refusing to sign up to a pact.

    Jimmy Cricket,
    Your dead right. Gerry made quite a mistake in going the same way, and copying the unionists. He has left himself open to critism and can no longer say anything about how pacts are wrong and secretarian.

    Stephen Blacker,
    The SDLP could have really gained from an electoral pact with the shinners if they then made SF agree that the SDLP would take the places in Westminister of SF who would not go to westminister... if you follow me. Why would the SDLP say yes to a pact with SF over a westmisister election, to then have a SF MP elected in the area and then never go to westminister? The SDLP were right to say no! Maybe, if SF actually went to westminister, Id like to think that the idea of a nationalist pact would be considered?

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  • 13. At 11:24am on 14 Apr 2010, urris wrote:

    smacks of desperation from sf, Gerry yesterday called the sdlp a failed party, yet was trying to jump into bed with them.

    my respect for ms ritchie went up yesterday, still wont be voting sdlp, but fair play to her

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  • 14. At 11:56am on 14 Apr 2010, noneoftheabove wrote:

    urris, your last comment summed up this political cesspit quite nicely.

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  • 15. At 11:58am on 14 Apr 2010, Jimmy Cricket wrote:

    AntrimView2 that was pure opportunism from Adams he knew the SDLP would never have agreed to that. Sinn Fein knows they would never win South Belfast its all about F+ST where they will now sit back and accuse the SDLP of being unpatriotic and uncooperative in the interests of Nationalism - They will hold on to F+ST for that reason. You're right, perhaps this does prove that they can stoop just as low as Unionism and turn democracy into a sectarian headcount.

    There are voting pacts in every country between various parties but these pacts are made in return for agreement on policies or positions in government etc, they do not have pacts between each other in constituencies to keep out rival political opponents because of the colour of their skin or religion. I know I can be accused of overreacting and being extreme in that defination but at the end of the day, peel all the layers off and the kernel at the end is the truth that it is sectarian.

    I refuse to vote, never have, politics is overrated and corrupted, wealth and power is more important to politicians, that has been proved on the Unionist side but sadly it is also the case with Nationalists and that includes Sinn Fein, whilst the rest of us are trying to scrape by these people are buying £350 pens and £1000 for curtains and even having the brass neck to claim back a £1 charity donation.

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  • 16. At 12:12pm on 14 Apr 2010, ManOfPie wrote:


    Before you go giving too much respect to her, she simply did the obvious thing. It would have been electoral suicide for her to take the Shinners up on the pact, they'd have been destroyed in Belfast with a new unionist unity candidate and lost their shining knight in the form of McKinny. Credit where it's due, but this was a no-brainer.

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  • 17. At 09:06am on 15 Apr 2010, AntrimView2 wrote:

    Jimmy Cricket - Total about the expenses and its funny how so many people have forgot about it already.

    Seriously never voted? I am surprised by that. Even if it is the best of a bad bunch you still should vote.

    I honestly don't think it is that simple when you strip it away. The minority often are the most vocal and I don't believe the motivation is to keep someone with another religion out. I think people need to stop the mixing of Catholic, Protestant and Unionist, Nationalist etc.
    Many "Loyalist" have not Protestant faith whatsoever and many nationalists are the same. Some on this site have stated as much.

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  • 18. At 11:58am on 15 Apr 2010, Jimmy Cricket wrote:

    AntrimView2, No I have never voted, I dont agree with their policies or opinions and to be honest all governments now are really under the control of the non elected moneymen in the background. It is they who decide whats best for us, elections are mearly rearranging the deck chairs - nothing changes.

    I'm from a Nationalist background but not religious, I have many friends from across the religious divide and I respect them wholeheartedly. All politics here is sectarian, its based upon, not who to vote in but who to keep out or each parties policies or ideals are exclusive to one section of the community ie Protestant or Catholic, Republican or Unionist. Its never about bread and butter issues for all, the modern day snake oil salesmen we have as politicians would and will sell us all out to the highest bidder in order to keep power and hold on to their lavish lifestyles. I will never participate in giving them mandate to exploit our people.

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  • 19. At 3:50pm on 15 Apr 2010, Sean G wrote:

    I live in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.
    My family and I would traditionally have been SDLP voters but after this fiasco we are switching to Sinn Fein as I gather alot of SDLP voters are from talking to them on the issue.
    So SDLPs' intransigence has de facto had the effect of creating a unified nationalist candidate in FST at least. Would n't get too annnoyed if a unionist took it, as the overall picture is how many votes nationalists get across the 6 counties.

    People talk about 'sectarianism'? a bit rich i think as the whole concept of the 6 counties was founded and is maintained on daily state sponsored sectarianism. Protestants didn't want to live with the rest of their Irish brothers and sisters based on their religion so they gerrymandered an illegal statelet against the overwhelming majority of Irish peoples wishes.

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  • 20. At 6:13pm on 15 Apr 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:

    Sean G

    Nice to hear some non revisionist common sense on the Devenport Diaries. N'Ireland was achieved through terrorism, not through democracy, it is therefore an illegal state!!!

    I don't think any pact would work between Sinn Fein and the Stoop Down Low Party, in FST. The SDLP's only chance is someone shuttled in as they have no bona fide candidates the people can trust.

    I used to be a news reader before they sacked me, get me into Westminster as I need the money!!!

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  • 21. At 6:37pm on 15 Apr 2010, U14405564 wrote:

    Jimmy Cricket,

    What do you do on election day? Spoil your vote?

    Sean G,

    I hope a lot of people in South Down switch from the South Down and Londonderry Party to Sinn Fein simply in order to remove Ritchie from her ivory tower!!

    The cowboy!

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  • 22. At 7:11pm on 15 Apr 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:


    You only dislike Sinn Fein in the assembly then. It's OK for people to vote for them in a Westminster election as long as they exclude the SDLP???

    p.s. the cowboy act is getting silly, if you can't standby what you post, you should not post at all!!!

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  • 23. At 7:45pm on 15 Apr 2010, Jimmy Cricket wrote:

    rhinestonecowboy I dont register to vote its a pointless exercise, what difference will it make who gets into power, will we be any better off, politicians are supposed to listen to the people, not the other way round. Maybe if you came from where I live you would understand the hypocrisy of the meaning of moral values and socialism from most of the political representatives who are elected. People can only be fooled for so long, the next generation hopefully wont be as foolish as the last.

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  • 24. At 7:56pm on 15 Apr 2010, Jimmy Cricket wrote:

    By the way this is what I mean.

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  • 25. At 9:15pm on 15 Apr 2010, U14405564 wrote:


    I am happy for Sinn Fein to be excluded from Westminster in F&ST but in South Down I am happy for them to win.

    Jimmy Cricket,

    I agree with you in principle. Whoever we send to Westminster will only be there for their gain, not ours.

    The cowboy!

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