The ever excellent Newshound has an interesting article by Professor Paul Bew, Cracking the DUP will not be as easy for Blair, carried in yesterday’s Yorkshire Post in which he seems to say that the hard-line members of the DUP out-manoeuvred both Tony Blair and the IRA – in that while appearing to give ground,they knew that the IRA would never deliver and as such have neutered those in the party who were “soft” on Sinn Féin, being prepared to deal with them while the IRA was mereley disarmed yet still in existance.The front line DUP leadership was, in a sense, humouring Mr Blair because they were confident that the IRA would not give the necessary transparency (photographic evidence of an act of decommissioning). In this respect the DUP was better informed about the IRA’s real intentions than the two governments. But there were those in the second rank of the DUP leadership subjectively keen for a deal. These modernisers have been weakened by events since then.
He argues that the DUP bar (IRA gone) is realistically higher than the Trimble bar (IRA decommission) and that Criminality from within republican ranks has assumed a greater importance than in past negotiations.
He ends with a useful discussion of double standards.
In his famous speech at the Belfast Harbour Commission in 2002, the Prime Minister eloquently attacked the idea of a double standard for democracy on the island of Ireland. He made it clear that he could not accept that there should be a different standard for access to government indifferent parts of Ireland. However, this crucial concept has been quite forgotten in recent times. The Irish government insists that the IRA must disband before Sinn Féin is admitted to the government in Dublin. However, neither the Irish nor the British government insists that disbandment must occur before their admission to the government of the North. It was this double standard which broke Mr Trimble. Will it also break the DUP?