Doctor Paisley's letter to Tony Blair…

Is all going to fall over the head of photographs? Who knows! So much of the news in the last week or two has apparently been more for the benefit of optics than for any substance. The latest sees Ian Paisley presenting Tony Blair with a letter (an inversion of Blair’s famous missive to David Trimble promising to pressurise Sinn Fein on decommissioning): “I have conveyed to him in writing what must be done especially in regard to decommissioning. I have left it with him. It is all over to him.”

  • cg

    Any attempts to humiliate republicans will not be accepted.
    The IRA is not a beaten army.
    If paisley is serious about a deal he has to get real.

  • Alan

    CG,

    After the last decommissioning fiasco when words were not allowed, what do you expect of the DUP? Less? A nod and a wink? The IRA have got themselves into this mess. They have no legitimacy, no constituency and no accountability

    Most of us believe passionately that guns should never have been part of the equation. That includes loyalist guns and the British Army. Marion Price asked what thirty years of death was for. It was for nothing, a complete, absolute waste.

    Now is the time for the militarists to walk away and become a bad memory.

  • Henry94

    cg

    I don’t see any issue with photographs. The IRA has long stated its willingness to put weapons beyond use in a way that maximises public confidence.

    Now is their chance.

    The decommissioning issue has worked well for the IRA bringing concession after concession after concession but it can’t be milked forever. It was an unexpected gift from David Trimble and John Major and it kept on giving. But the guns have to go and now is the time.

    It’s asking a lot of the DUP to accept the Agreement which they opposed so bitterly and refused to even negotiate. If they are giving a lot they should get a lot. And what are the photographs really? A stick to beat the UUP with.

    They are the big losers in this.

  • ulsterman

    A deal will only be struck with the ending of the IRA. This is the bottom line.

    There will if a deal be stuck have to be a lot of negotiations over the role of SF in the new DUP led government and assembly.

    SF will have to accept their minority status and will be given irrelevant portfolios. It is up to them to prove themselves as loyal ministers of the crown.

    We won. SF should admit their defeat and move on. The Union is secure for ever.

    The Lord looks after his own.

    The Pope was defeated.

    God Save The Queen.

  • willowfield

    The UUP are big losers (not as much as the SDLP, though), but they have been proved right. The DUP has gone back on everything it ever said about the Agreement and signed up to it: an incredible about-turn.

    But they will get away with it – no-one can doubt their political skill at making an U-turn look like a victory.

    Those of us who supported the Agreement from the start and said all along that it couldn’t be overthrown can afford a wry smile and a smug sense of “told you so”, but that’s not much comfort to the UUP party bosses.

    How did the UUP turn a victory into defeat, and how has the DUP turned a defeat into victory?

    Trimble is to blame for failing to trumpet the ideological victory of April 1998, and failing to deal with his internal dissidents. But he was also in a difficult position, given the UUP party structures, and bad faith from the Provos.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Henry94, I’m glad to see at least some people are talking sense.

    cg, come on, you probably don’t remember “the war” that well so stop it with the armchair chuckie stuff. I don’t think you’ve grasped the huge significance of Paisley doing a deal with republicans. It’s a tremendous thing, and you have to remember that although Paisley will be able to say that he disarmed the republicans, the republicans will be able to say that they pacified Paisley and made him come to realize that the Irish dimension and the recognition of the right of an aspiration to Irish reunification was valid.

    If you’d told me two years ago that Paisley would be even talking to the govt about a deal to get SF in government I’d have laughed. Up until recently, the governments and parties actively designed the arrangements to keep the DUP out. Nobody ever thought that they would ever be interested in playing a constructive role.

  • davidbrew

    Those of us who supported the Agreement from the start and said all along that it couldn’t be overthrown can afford a wry smile and a smug sense of “told you so”, but that’s not much comfort to the UUP party bosses.

    …and those of us who opposed it all along can say thatit didn’t work, had to be reformed, and can afford an open guffaw and an even smugger smile at the idea that the UUP have a moral victory.

    BTW,Willow, there’s more than one way to bring something down than a full frontal assault, as we may yet see. No-one believes that the Provos will treat an agreement mk 2 as a final settlement, and nor should Unionists. It can be a stepping stone, whereas for Trimble it was simply a mill stone

  • Belfast Gonzo

    The GFA had “to be reformed”?

    Have you joined Alliance?

  • jonty

    According to the DUPes , the Agreement was to be buried and destroyed , not reformed.

    Now we`re all pro-agreement, except for Bob McCartney. Maybe thats why hes running in N DOwn next year

  • willowfield

    DB

    …and those of us who opposed it all along can say thatit didn’t work, had to be reformed, and can afford an open guffaw and an even smugger smile at the idea that the UUP have a moral victory.

    Had to be “reformed”? A far cry from bringing it down, then!

    When all’s said and done, the DUP have bought the Agreement and done a respray.

    BTW,Willow, there’s more than one way to bring something down than a full frontal assault, as we may yet see. No-one believes that the Provos will treat an agreement mk 2 as a final settlement, and nor should Unionists. It can be a stepping stone, whereas for Trimble it was simply a mill stone

    So the DUP are signing up to a stepping stone to a united Ireland?

  • cg

    Roger W. Christ XVII

    “cg, come on, you probably don’t remember “the war” that well so stop it with the armchair chuckie stuff”

    Sorry to burst your bubble Roger but I remember it well. I have seen friends and loved ones die and do time for the cause so don’t presume to tell me what I know and don’t know.
    I am not an “armchair chuckie” as you so eloquently put it. I am a republican and republicans can only give so much.

    If the IRA disbands will the British army leave this country, Will they heck. There was more than one protagonist in this conflict.

    What do you say to the nationalists in interface areas, sorry you have no protection from loyalists if they try and kill you but you can always call the cops. Get real

  • willowfield

    Why would the Army leave the country??

    Shame on you for supporting terrorism.

  • davidbrew

    The GFA had “to be reformed”?

    What’s wrong with reformation? Didn’t harm Luther, Calvin or Knox, two of whom were former RC priests and who were considerably improved by the Reformation, which did a fair bit of damage to Roman Church domination.

    Oh dear Willow
    Your desperation to employ semantics instead of political argument is something most people grew out of in Primary 7. The UUP leader used to lecture bemused and confused delegates that his brilliant constitutional lawyer’s intellect had saved the Union-the press release on Good Friday 1998 was headed “A great day for the Union”. But unlike practising lawyers, he’d never negotiated a deal in his life, and didn’t understand that the other side would exploit any ambiguity, while he simply argued that his interpertation was the reality. The DUP also exploited the ambiguity in the Agreement and in spite of threats of legal action they couldn’t be touched. The lesson-elect proper leaders to negotiate for you and never drop your guard. A lesson learned by the electorate from contrasting the UUP supine floundering with the Provos’ ruthless cmapaign to undermine the Union from within government. Unionist voters want their representatives to be able to overcome such tactics, not huddling in an amorphous blob like the UUP MLAs.

  • cg

    “Why would the Army leave the country??
    Shame on you for supporting terrorism.”

    They should leave this country because they are an occupying force.

    I don’t support terrorists but those who try to achieve a 32 county socialist republic.
    You consider the IRA to be terrorists, I don’t.
    You don’t consider the British state forces in Ireland to be illegitimate, I do.

    If we go down this road we will be here forever. We come from totally different backgrounds so you have to except and respect the fact that we have totally different views.

  • willowfield

    DB

    What’s wrong with reformation?

    Absolutely nothing. Why do you ask?

    The DUP promised to bring down the Agreement. Looks like they’re going to end up settling for “reforming” it, i.e. changing a few clauses about the accountability arrangements of ministers.

    Could we be more underwhelmed?

    cg

    They should leave this country because they are an occupying force.

    Sorry? Are you drunk?

    I don’t support terrorists but those who try to achieve a 32 county socialist republic.

    Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?!

    You consider the IRA to be terrorists, I don’t.

    Why’s that? Everybody else does.

    Shame on you for supporting them, whatever you call them.

    You don’t consider the British state forces in Ireland to be illegitimate, I do.

    You’re wrong.

    If we go down this road we will be here forever. We come from totally different backgrounds so you have to except and respect the fact that we have totally different views.

    In other words, you know your views are unreasonable and unjustifiable, so you don’t want to get into a discussion where you are forced to try to defend them.

  • cg

    Willowfield

    I will support the rightful custodians of the first and second Dail’s.
    The fact that you disapprove of my support will hardly cause me sleepless nights.

    Then again I would expect nothing else but intolerance from you willow.

  • willowfield

    I will support the rightful custodians of the first and second Dail’s.

    That’s just code for supporting the Provisional IRA.

    Shame on you.

    1800 murdered.

  • The Dog

    wf,

    Surely the point is that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter and one man’s defender of the union is anothers agent of opperssion and colonisation.

    I personally don’t think the IRA are terrorists – so I don’t see how your claim that this is how everyone percieves them stands up.

    BY the same token I see the British as central protagonists who have no real justification to remain – just as they have left all of their other former colonies it is only a matter time before they manage to find a way of extractuing themselves from here – and I believe that they firmly want to.

    Whatever about the history – the truth is that the momentum is firmly established for irish re-unification.

    When you see that people like NIE have an all-Ireland business development strategy then you know they the writing is on the wall.

    BUt it has to be about much more than opening up a single marketplace for business -there is – in the long term – the potential to look at democracy because let’s be homnest western democracy is a bit of a joke – no-one votes and politics has beome more and more about managing vested interest ala US style democracy for hire.

  • Henry94

    The Dog

    When you see that people like NIE have an all-Ireland business development strategy then you know they the writing is on the wall.

    If business starts to look as the island as a single market of 5m people they are going to want to see the elimination of any barriers to trade. Facilitating this is in all our interests.

    Of course it has no effect on the constitutional position.

  • willowfield

    The Dog

    Surely the point is that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter and one man’s defender of the union is anothers agent of opperssion and colonisation.

    No, that’s not the point.

    I personally don’t think the IRA are terrorists – so I don’t see how your claim that this is how everyone percieves them stands up.

    Almost everyone. (Those who support or sympathise with the IRA are, unsurprisingly, the exceptions.)

    BY the same token I see the British as central protagonists who have no real justification to remain – just as they have left all of their other former colonies it is only a matter time before they manage to find a way of extractuing themselves from here – and I believe that they firmly want to.

    That is an unreasonable view and one that has been accepted as unreaonable and unrealistic by all bar the dissident republicans. Indeed, it is simply wrong.

    Whatever about the history – the truth is that the momentum is firmly established for irish re-unification.

    Even if one agreed, that is irrelevant.

    When you see that people like NIE have an all-Ireland business development strategy then you know they the writing is on the wall.

    Yeah! 1800 murders for an all-Ireland electricity strategy! Whoopy-doo!

    BUt it has to be about much more than opening up a single marketplace for business -there is – in the long term – the potential to look at democracy because let’s be homnest western democracy is a bit of a joke – no-one votes and politics has beome more and more about managing vested interest ala US style democracy for hire.

    “Look at democracy” all you want.

  • Young Fogey

    On behalf of the non-Loyalist people of Northern Ireland, I accept the conditional surrender of the DUP. (Remember that one.)

    cg

    What do you say to the nationalists in interface areas, sorry you have no protection from loyalists

    How do you know he isn’t one?

  • fair_deal

    CG

    All other changes in this process have been in public view – political structures, policing, demilitarisation (camp closures etc). These have been done and seen to be done.

    Why is the provo contribution on decomissioning to wrapped in secrecy?

    Why was it good for all the rest of the process to be seen and to be seen to be done but not this element?

    If public view equals humiliation does the republican movement owe an apology to the other participants in the process for humiliating them?

  • Millie

    This fixation on IRA decommissioning is getting more and more tedious. It’s the only thing Paisley could think up to differentiate his party from the UUP. Also it leads to the conclusion that IRA weapons and violence = the Troubles, completely exonerating the unionists and British Govt from any blame or responsiblity for the mess that is Northern Ireland.

    I agree it’s essential that the guns have to disappear from the political scene, but even if the IRA disarm whatabout the loyalists? Will Catholics be back in the same position they were in 1969, defenceless at the mercy of armed loyalist mobs? Will the security forces finally get their hands dirty and move against the loyalist paramilitaries? I mean it can’t be too difficult knowing where their weapons are, the loyalists are riddled with agents and informers. And will the British army disappear along with the RIR and a whitling down and disarming of the PSNI in proportion to the size of the population? And when that’s all finally done, then we can get on with the business of what started this conflict in the first place: lack of democracy, social justice and impartial policing or in other words, the existence of NI as a sectarian state.

  • Young Fogey

    Will the security forces finally get their hands dirty and move against the loyalist paramilitaries?

    Oh, I do hope so.

  • davidbrew

    “When you see that people like NIE have an all-Ireland business development strategy then you know they the writing is on the wall.”

    dream on my canine chum. By that logic, the opening of an M & S in Switzers must mean the 26 are returning to lawful British government, and we’re all part of the USA. All politics is shaped by economics, but not determined by it.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    “we’re all part of the USA”

    Damn – I knew it!

  • Henry94

    davidbrew

    All politics is shaped by economics, but not determined by it.

    Ultimately it is. But it is more likely to make all our positions irrelevent than to favour one over the other.

  • Davros

    This fixation on IRA decommissioning is getting more and more tedious.

    Simple answer then is for the IRA to decommission in a manner that inspires confidence.

    Will Catholics be back in the same position they were in 1969, defenceless at the mercy of armed loyalist mobs?

    Remind us of how many Catholics the IRA killed killed over the past 35 years- This idea that the IRA somehow “defended” ordinary catholics is dishonest as claims that the loyalist paramilitaries were any way beneficial to the protestants of NI.

  • davidbrew

    some day Mick Fealty will get an honorary doctorate for preserving the ramblings of people from NI and further afield on this blog.

    Historians will probably trawl through the archives of the Fealty Institute to assess contemporary opinions before going on chat shows.

    Students will be given listings as homework or go on field trips to the spacious fealty Library in-natch-the south of France.

    Learned monographs will pour forth on such topics as “Jonty and the role of the jester in the 21st century” or “Christopher Stalford’s misuse of grammar as a form of self expression”.

    So there are many positives

    But

    When we have to wade through the bilge which passes for Millie’s understanding of our society we have to wonder…wouldn’t there be better ways to spend your life Mick?

  • Young Fogey

    And will the British army disappear

    Presumably when Tony formally submits an application to join the USA it will.

    😉

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    There should be no deal until Paisley publicly dons black cloth and sashes, um er sorry.

  • Davros

    LOL Pat 🙂

  • James

    Millie:

    “but even if the IRA disarm whatabout the loyalists?”

    Ever hear of the Prod Job? Do the math.

    The IRA is the organization with the greatest capability; The UK can mop up the rest of the goons once the heavy lifting is done.

  • CavanMan

    Can someone tell me has Ulsterman ever posted a comment which actually made sense?

  • dave

    FAO THE DOG and the rest of Bloggers for that matter!

    “Surely the point is that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter and one man’s defender of the union is anothers agent of opperssion and colonisation.”

    For those that remember me and comments that I have posted, will confirm that I am anti Republican and anti SF/IRA.

    The SF/IRA (Freedom Fighters? Yes, they were at one time no doubt about that, however the instance they murdered a civilian and placed no warning bombs in cities they became TERRORISTS and there is also no doubt about that.

    If you are unable to reason that for yourself, then God help us all.

  • cg

    God help me 😉

  • chunkyguy

    yes dave- this is a difficult question-are the ira freedom fighters are terrorists- answer is a mixture of the 2 depending on area and era- for example in the late 60s they were used as a deffensive grouping against loyalist pogroms-which could not be described as terroists- however planting bombs indiscrimately in public spaces is terrorism!

  • willowfield

    “Terrorist” and “freedom fighter” are not mutually exclusive.

  • George

    Terrorist, soldier and police officer are also not mutually exclusive.