David McKittrick looks darkly at the future ahead. He opens by suggesting that the recent motion passed at the UUC has:
“…no obvious wriggle room, it commits Trimble and his Unionist ministers to resigning immediately from the power-sharing executive unless the IRA not only disarms but actually disbands by January. It also demands a halt to policing reforms.”
He believes this is the result of deliberate strategising on the part of anti camp:
“No one believes the IRA could or would consent to such terms; they were simply inserted by the Donaldson camp, as carefully fashioned impossibilities, in order to lock Trimble into ministerial resignations.”
However he goes on to point to a major dilemma, which has been addressed by only a few Unionist politicians:
“Episodes such as Colombia played a part in disillusioning Protestants, but of late it has been persistent rioting and trouble on the streets that really turned large numbers against the agreement. One paradox here, not grasped by the average Protestant in the street, has been that the majority of killings and riots have been the work not of republicans but of loyalists. Most Protestants are averse to confronting such realities.”
This is not really grasped by many in the anti camp as yet. But much like Gerry Adams’ and Martin McGuinness’ continued denials of IRA membership; it is likely to exercise a growing corrosive effect on their ability to re-negotiate the Belfast Agreement.
This is likely to be compounded by the fact that there are no Unionist counterproposals on the table:
“One other characteristic of the Protestant mindset is that they feel they can just say “no”. This is a community that feels that rejecting the present arrangements imposes no duty on it to bring forward its own proposals. This capacity for self-absolution gives it the freedom to oppose the agreement and to vote in rejectionists who know what they don’t like but cannot formulate proposals that stand any chance of attracting cross-community support.”
He finishes by saying the Irish and the British governments have invested too much in this process to simply walk away from.