Separate motivations for settlement

Mary Riddel in The Observer with a canny reading of the underlying changes that make an unlikely deal possible.

In Paisley, there has been an personal motivation towards closure:

“Even 10 years ago, his mortality weighed on him. He could not stand down, he told me then, because: ‘My supporters would think it was all up and the game was lost. I would like to think that, when I do retire, we shall be on smooth water and have accomplished what we set out to do. There are things I’d like to do before I die – travel the world, write a few books.'”

For Republicans she estimates it’s the gradual change in their constituency that is the motivation for settlement:

“For Adams and McGuinness, the goal remains a united Ireland. That end will not be delivered, as they once hoped, by fast-track demographics. Birth rates have fallen to their lowest level since 1841, denting Sinn Fein’s hopes of a quick Roman Catholic majority. The drop in population and the end of terrorism are connected.

“Young republicans, better educated and more ambitious, are marrying later and having fewer children. Instead of blowing up their neighbours, aspiring social improvers are reading law at Queen’s University in cosmopolitan Belfast. Life is better, too, in the rural republican heartlands, where people can visit their local pub without worrying about whether they will get home alive. Yesterday’s keen young IRA volunteers are now trimming their garden hedges or playing golf”.

  • aquifer

    Archetypal outsider Paisley upstaging establishment Trimble to claim ultimate prize?

    I think he will wobble and fail if his party let him, what do you all think?

  • Fraggle

    is this “cosmopolitan belfast” a different one from where all the racist attacks take place?

  • Davros

    It would be quite difficult to have racist attacks in a place that wasn’t cosmopolitan.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    If the demographics aren’t right, then should SF not be trying to convince everyone of the merits of a united Ireland? If they have been, it’s certainly not been something that’s had any impact…

  • Fraggle

    unless it was a racist attack on a monkey

  • Moderate Unionist

    Good to see you back on form. I think that the DUP are in a bit of quandry. An outright NO would lead to joint authority and possibly no Stormont.

    An outright YES leaves then to work with SF for at least five months, before the next elections. I don’t think big Ian would be able to swallow hard for that length of time. There must be a bust up which wouldn’t play well.

    My guess is a fudge, no decision until say March assuming the Westminster and Council elections are in May. Time enough to have done a deal, but not enough time to have fallen out.

    Will the governments allow the extension?

    As long as they are still talking nobody will do anything.

  • cg

    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t