PETE flagged up what the loyalist delegation to Bertie Ahern would say, and it was accurate – concern over the increasing likelihood of the November 24 deadline for devolution being missed and current moves towards facilitating ‘joint stewardship’. Bertie, the old smoothie, has told them what they want to hear, and the
UDA UPRG boys seemed happy enough with his statement. In fact, they sounded positively pro-Agreement, which might make a few DUP members take note, as it creates an interesting dynamic in the peace process…Paisley’s speech in the Twelfth Field was criticised by all the other parties, and now by the UPRG, who now appear to regard the Good Friday Agreement as a bulwark against perceived Joint Authority. The UPRG statement after the Ahern meeting was reminiscent of PUP leader David Ervine’s past comments about the DUP.
David Nicholl told the BBC:
“(We want) to persuade people there is no sell-out plan, that there is no betrayal, that there will be no imposition of any further agreement. There is one agreement. People must sign up to it.”
Mr Nicholl also said the taoiseach had given them assurances there would be “no imposition of an Anglo-Irish (Agreement) mark two”.
“The Good Friday Agreement is the only way forward and we welcome all the support that he has given us on our journey and transformation as well and we look forward to working with him in the future,” he said.
If the perceived threat of Joint Authority now within the two largest loyalist paramilitary groups means their political representatives are in the pro-Agreement camp, it leaves the DUP politically isolated within loyalism and unionism as the only anti-Agreement faction. It seems that in the event of political meltdown, the DUP could no longer rely on loyalist paramilitary muscle. The DUP “can’t be bought” and does not see the November 24 ‘threat’ as real, while loyalism needed assurance (and a few investment promises), but seems to be moving in a different direction from Paisley.
Will the loyalist constituency now be weighing up the Agreement against the ‘threat’ of Direct Rule evolving into Joint Authority? Can the DUP hold out until next year?
I reckon they’re thran enough to give it a go, but expect the pressure to continue.