Does it matter if David Cameron and the Tories are adopting a Pro-Unionist stance in Northern Ireland?

David Cameron has been hosting meetings between the Ulster Unionists and Democratic Unionists in a effort to help them resolve their differences. Cameron may at the same time be ruining his chances of being seen as an independent broker in Northern Ireland should he get into Downing Street. However, Mr Cameron may well want the votes of Northern Irish parties in Westminster should he win by a narrow margin. And after all he claims that he is trying to help not hinder the peace process. Will these meetings hinder any prospect of enhancing security and peace in Northern Ireland should the Conservatives win the next general election?

Does it matter if David Cameron and the Tories are adopting a Pro-Unionist stance in Northern Ireland?

Yes because... No because...

End of bipartisanship

In approaching and discussing the issues of devolved security and peace in Northern Ireland solely with members of the Unionist ideology, Mr Cameron has endangered the processes of devolved criminal justice and police powers to local authorities. The move reinforces a long suspected fear that the Tories want to create a pan-unionist front that can significantly challenge Sinn Fein.

The secretive manner of the Unionist discussions appears incredibly Machiavellian, a perception which surely cannot help resolve the intricate and complex issues of trust that still afflict the peace process in Northern Ireland, as Alasdair McDonnell, leader of the SDLP, so brazenly expressed, "This is a sinister development. We have travelled far over 15 years of peacemaking and are now at the point of putting in the last piece of jigsaw. What we have is Mr Cameron parachuting in with hobnailed boots, going off into a corner with two parties and excluding three others." [http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jan/25/tories-northern-island-gordon-brown]

Does it matter if David Cameron and the Tories are adopting a Pro-Unionist stance in Northern Ireland?

Yes because... No because...

The Peace Process

No matter the intentions, whether they were just or sinister, the very fact that a meeting between the UUP, DUP and Tories took place at all, and the timing of such a meeting, severely threatens the peace process - already rocky in the light of Peter Robinson's family controversy. Writing in Irish Central magazine, Niall O'Dowd argues that "If the talks break down in Northern Ireland this weekend, blame Conservative Party leader David Cameron." [http://www.irishcentral.com/story/news/periscope/tory-leader-davd-cameron-may-destroy-irish-peace-process-82411112.html]

Mr O'Dowd goes further, "Cameron appears to be willing to put the North's fragile peace process at risk in order to find some grubby votes among unionism to bolster his number of seats in the next election." Certainly a serious accusation and one which should not be dismissed lightly.

Does it matter if David Cameron and the Tories are adopting a Pro-Unionist stance in Northern Ireland?

Yes because... No because...

Diminished future government credibility!

Wow! Did the Tory's just enter Northern Ireland politics, obviously they don't know their audience! Seriously though, I feel nationalists will now feel despondent, betrayed, marginalised and dis-empowered. Like a child who discovers he is no longer wanted by his foster parents. Doesn't a government need/want the credibility and respect of the people it will rule? Isn't this action a conflict of interest for the Conservative party if it aspires to govern Northern Ireland and act as an enabler of cross party relations? Swwooosh! Feels like we have gone back 30 years. Even if the Conservatives, whom I respect a great deal, make a statement of impartiality, it is uncertain if trust in David Cameron can be regained now. This action is certainly not conducive to peace in Northern Ireland.
I don't blame Unionists, it is completely natural for them to want to side with the future british government and the cherry pickings of Westminster, but particularly at a time when things are looking gloomy! If Eton wants to be in charge of international affairs in the future, this undermining of the peace process of Northern Ireland has shown a jolly-old spring blossom of ignorance among the duck houses of the conservative party and is concerning to say the least! Perhaps they shouldn't have got involved, I'll let you be the Judge.
A completely unnecessary move. This is a real shame for all sides!

Does it matter if David Cameron and the Tories are adopting a Pro-Unionist stance in Northern Ireland?

Yes because... No because...

Blown out of proportion

An alternative view would be to say that the talks at Hatfield House were designed with the best of intentions for the peace process and that the accusations of partisanship are nothing more that overblown electioneering by Sinn Fein and the Labour Party. A Tory spokesman said: "This is yet another attempt by Gordon Brown to create an imaginary political dividing line. The meeting was a genuine attempt to help the peace process stay on track. We have consistently supported the government on Northern Ireland. We want nothing more than to see policing and justice powers devolved to Northern Ireland and the situation there stabilised." [http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jan/25/tories-northern-island-gordon-brown]

Indeed, it does seem quite ludicrous that, being so close to a general election, the Tories would risk such negative publicity on such an important issue. The controversial revelations regarding Peter Robinson also adds fuel to speculation that the issue has been exploited by republican factions in order to undermine the unionist parties.

Debates > Does it matter if David Cameron and the Tories are adopting a Pro-Unionist stance in Northern Ireland?