Trying to outfox Mr Paisley

I find myself in the unusual position of disagreeing with almost everything I read today. I may be in disagreeable form after a certain team lost a certain football match in a sport we dont mention. Anyway, forgetting Laois’s dismal performance, I was reading Anthony McIntyre’s Dr John Coulter’s piece on Paisley in the Blanket and I find it doesnt make much sense. While I am aware that I know a little more about the Orange Order than your average woman/catholic/nationalist/whatever, I would have imagined that every body knew one thing about him. The man has the absolute courage of his conviction. McIntyre Coulter appears to think that Paisley might be swayed or influenced by either his legacy or his reputation. Neither would be a factor in my opinion, I think that Mr Paisley’s only single standard for decisions is his faith and his own belief. He cannot or will not be swayed by anything else, and if Sinn Fein or anyone else tries to play him at that game, they have lost the plot.

McIntyre Coulter says:
If Dean McKelvey’s sharp rebuke of Paisley in a letter in the Belfast Cathedral Digest was to spark a groundswell of public opinion against the DUP boss, it would be the only lever which would forcibly nudge him into an Executive.

Paisley’s Achilles’ Heel is that the Unionist electorate would turn against him personally. As the hours tick away steadily to Day Zero, his party will paw over every opinion poll to monitor the level of support for the DUP boss. Despite constant rumours his two main political confidantes are his son, Ian Junior, and the Free Presbyterian Gospel-singing cleric and South Antrim MP William McCrea, Paisley has always been a politician who makes his own decisions. If the McKelvey letter became a bandwagon of criticism, Paisley could become worried if the polls confirmed the public would abandon him personally if he did not make a deal with Sinn Fein.

The only way to win with Mr Paisley is to be as honest and committed to your truth as he is to his.

  • slug

    Miss Fitz that piece was by Dr John Coulter.

    I agree its a lot of nonsense.

  • Miss Fitz

    Oh God Slug, you’re right…. force of habit, cheers and thanks

  • pete brown

    Great research Miss Fitz-mind you don’t knock yourself down in the rush to put the boot into McIntyre.

  • slug

    MF, I read Coulter each week on the Blanket but I don’t really believe any of it. It would be fascinating if you thought Coulter really knows what goes on inside the DUP. However I have no reason to believe that he does. So it sounds as though he makes stuff up. Also two other things make me think hes a total bluffer. He seems to think that if the 24 Nov deadline is passed there would never be another chance of devolution. That’s rubbish. He also just says that there would be joint authority. Again that is just meaningless nonsense.

  • Miss Fitz

    Pete Brown
    I really shouldnt respond, but hey!

    I had no intention of ‘putting the boot into McIntyre’. If anything, it shows that I associate him with the Blanket to a large degree and it was just a slip.

    I make a habit of not putting the dainty slipper in, actually, I just like to highlight issues that catch my eye.

  • aquifer

    Betrayed=Crap at politics
    Sold out=No english lives lost for prod privilege
    Unionist=Nothing the british want to have to do with
    Martyr=Overdeveloped ego
    Treachery=politics viewed by an overenthusiatic amateur

    An agreement in November???

  • Rory

    I find myself in the unusual position of disagreeing with almost everything I read today

    Do not fret yourself, Miss Fitz, there will always be my kind words to bring you back to lovely peace.

    Of all the simple messages of Jesus, the Christ that I had the most difficulty understanding it was “Let the dead bury the dead”. What the hell did that mean?

    These bonzos, these zombies, these walking dead souls explain it. I suppose I owe them a prayer for that understanding but I just can’t be arsed to say it. I am not yet that far advanced in my own development.

  • Carson’s Cat

    Its incredibly hard to comment on a piece like this, partiuclarly with your intro, without playing the man, but I’ll attempt to stay on the right side of the line – or at least not too far across it.

    Unfortunatley for Dr Coulter, the erstwhile son of UUP MLA Robert Coulter, he may have some insight into the inner workings of the UUP but he has absolutely no insight into the DUP. I have read several of his articles over recent months and he makes many statements with little or nothing to back these up. They may well be his opinions, but he does absolutely nothing to give evidence to back anything up.

    As with so many others he has mis-read Ian Paisley’s 12th July speech, and has put far too much emphasis upon it. That speech, as others are, was about Sinn Fein/IRA and not sharing power with that hybrid organisation. Of course that will never happen. The distinction which can be made when the IRA is off the stage is that power would be shared with Sinn Fein as opposed to Sinn Fein/IRA.

    There may be some who will disagree, but that 12th July speech was not something (IMO) which was ruling out everything. It was a shot across different people’s bows that the conditions on entry to Government remain. Sinn Fein = Yes, Sinn Fein/IRA = No. Its as plain and as simple as that and Coulter like many others falls into the trap of assuming that Ian Paisley speaks with absolutely no subtlety at all. Of course he is plain-speaking, often to the point of bluntness, but it would seem that many ‘commentators’ dont or maybe more often wont look any deeper than the initial reacton they happen to gather from the speech.

    “If Dean McKelvey’s sharp rebuke of Paisley in a letter in the Belfast Cathedral Digest was to spark a groundswell of public opinion against the DUP boss, it would be the only lever which would forcibly nudge him into an Executive.”

    Not to stray towards playing another man, but if Dean McKelvey started a groundswell of opinion on any subject then I’d run buck naked down Royal Avenue! I know that wasnt what he was suggesting, but I feel it had to be said anyway. He wrote some piece or other criticising the DUP – hardly newsworthy given that he clearly detests the DUP. I wonder does he feel the same about those COI members who vote DUP?

    Obviously the DUP take into account unionist opinion, but that is simply making sure the commuity is brought with them on any decision. That is obviously why consultation with the community has been mentioned in the past. There is a fine line between leadership and being led – however by the DUP consulting amongst the unionist community it could actually encourage whatever sceptics there may or may not be out there (when the time comes) to support any move by the DUP. Sometimes youre a little more likely to be supportive if your support is asked for, and any doubts answered to you rather than the UUP assumption that the community would blindly follow them.

    As for these “new realists”, this seems to be another sub-category of DUP members invented solely in the mind of John Coulter. He wrote a different article a few weeks ago putting people into seemlingly invented categories (with no justification) and now here’s another made-up set.

    Re the UUP hoping Donaldson will “split another party” it would seem that even after all this time the UUP are pinning their hopes not on their on revival due to their own policies and work, but are still waiting for the DUP to stumble. Not exactly a brilliant strategy.

    There’s not a snowball’s chance of any DUP group splitting off to form another ‘Party’. Those sort of things only happen when there has been deep discontent over an extended period of time – there is absolutely no evidence to show any discontent within the DUP over any period of time. Its pure fantasy and not even particularly entertaining fantasy.

    The DUP will move when the time is right and it will move as a cohesive block – that has been one of their strengths for quite some time. They will bring the community with them when they do so, because there will be clear evidence that their conditions have been met. And, what exactly is a ‘unionist revisionist’ by the way?

  • willis

    Consider this

    Robinson and Dodds handed the Education and Health portfolios to Sinn Fein in the Executive then blamed everyone else for the consequences. Were they wrong? The DUP have the MP salaries, Sinn Fein have excluded themselves from Westminster.

    It is a no-brainer – Joint Authority will happen and it will be woeful.

  • Garibaldy

    Carson’s Cat,

    Does Mc Kelvey’s annual black Santa gig count as a groundswell of opinion giving how many people give him cash. If so, I’ll avoid Royal Avenue this Christmas.

  • Billy

    I don’t agree with a lot of the content of this article.

    However, I think that there is a fair percentage of Unionists who are indulging in self-delusion.

    I can see no reason to believe that Tony Blair + Peter Hain will not stop the salaries and abolish the assembly if the November 24 deadline isn’t met – that date is actually enshrined in the legislation. Unionist influence at Westminster is negligible and, as he has shown, Tony Blair isn’t afraid to upset Unionists.

    Joint Stewardship is not Joint Authority. However, it gives the RoI govt a lot more (and increasing) influence in the running of NI. Once Joint Stewardship becomes a reality – the only way back to a locally devolved assembly would involve some sort of back tracking by Paisley and the DUP.

    The current govt will be in power for at least 2.5 years after Nov (possibly 3.5). NI will be a very different place politically by then (7 councils etc). Therefore, I think that any Unionists who are pinning their hopes on a change of govt are being very hopeful.

    I don’t claim to know the inner workings of the DUP but I have followed the political scene in NI avidly for many years. All political parties have their different factions and the DUP is no different. It’s common knowledge that Peter Robinson leads the more pragmatic wing of the party who are more likely to negotiate a deal. The fundamentalist element Paisley, Paisley Jnr McCrea etc would clearly be less likely to do so.

    I believe that there are a fair percentage of UU voters who switched to the DUP who have little in common with the religious fundamentalism of Paisley, McCrea, Allister etc. They are more in tune with the pragmatism of Robinson, Donaldson, Hay etc.

    I think the DUP will certainly be a party which will have to accomodate more diverse opinions once the fading grip of Paisley Senior is gone permanently.

  • Patrique

    Ballymena Council, paisley’s stronghold, are more or less twinned with Foxford these days. Foxford is in MAYO.

    A tenuous link I know, but I couldn’t resist. Heading to Louisburgh this Saturday to see Mayo do the Dubs.

  • Patrique

    The DUP probably want a United Ireland as they could share power permanently with Fianna Fail. Fortunately Sinn Fein are holding this back, because they are not strong enough in the South. They would be happy ruling Norn Ireland.

    On second thoughts, Peter Robinson as Tanaiste doesn’t sound that bad.

  • bertie

    “During this final 100-day era, if Donaldson could convince enough DUP MLAs to defect to a United Unionist Coalition with Empey’s UUP and David Ervine of the Progressive Unionists, Hain and Tony Blair may be prepared to give the new Unionist Rainbow grouping a chance to form the Executive.”

    Has anyone seen any sign that Donaldson is willing and eager to join forces with David Ervine? I can’t see it. Apart form anything else Empey’s flirtation with the dark side hasn’t gone down too well.

  • None of your business

    An old friend of mine and a wise young man
    once tried to cool my under-graduate ardour for
    republicanism with the prospect of a grand “national unity” coalition

    “ UUP / DUP / Fine Gael / PD understanding for our wonderful new republic under the Queen”

    Careful what you wish for….

  • David

    There is no incentive for the DUP to do anything because the British Government, Irish Government and Nationalism have made it clear that unionism is not getting anything out of any future talks.

    Irish nationalism is at its core an aggresive ethnic supremacist creed. It sees no contradiction in threatening all sorts of bad things to unionists if they do not do as they are told, so much for its much vaunted tolerance.

    If the powers that be are just going to continue to ram unacceptable things down the collective unionist throat, why should unionism co-operate with this? Obstructionism is the only possible unionist strategy.

    It is not that unionists do not belive the threats, it is the fact that the threats basically are “agree to this or we’ll force it on you”. The UUP tried agreeing in the hope they’d get something from the process, it was widely perceived as a failure.

  • fair_deal

    The analysis of this particualr writer belongs on a modern fiction website not a site for political comment.

  • boshank

    fair deal,

    I agree! Barking stuff.

  • lib2016

    This analysis is a decade late. The end of unionism hasn’t been announced by helicopters on the roofs at Stormont but by the school gates closing in Bangor.

    Unionism might have had this sort of bargaining power just after the GFA. Now they have no backing from the paramilitaries for taking to the streets nor links with any significant group in Britain. With no history of democratic politics and no credibility anywhere, except apparently with Fine Gael, the DUP need to come to an accomodation with Sinn Fein by the end of this year.

    The only avenue left for unionism is to resurrect the GFA. We know how successful they were when they tried to bring back Sunningdale so I don’t give much for their chances. In fact I’m confident that as always they’ll overplay their hand and lose everything.

  • nmc

    Sinn Fein = Yes, Sinn Fein/IRA = No

    Or perhaps it was just the usual crap the old man comes off with and isn’t worthy of detailed examination for subtle undertones.

  • inuit_goddess

    Hehe, and for more of the same breathless, conspiratorial nonsense narrative check out his in-depth analysis of the “House of Horrors on Notting Hill”…

    http://lark.phoblacht.net/JC2008067g.html

    “House of Haunted Hill was the name of William Castle’s 1958 classic horror tale about the unspeakable things which happened at the fictitious Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane. It was successfully remade in full gory colour in 1999.

    The main plot of the film was that very few people survived the operations which occurred in the house. Maybe there are some ominous omens for Unionism in the Dublin government’s House on Notting Hill?”

    It’s classic stuff. How could anyone argue with penetrating insight like this? Give the guy a Newsletter column!

  • kensei

    “Irish nationalism is at its core an aggresive ethnic supremacist creed.”

    No it isn’t.

    “It sees no contradiction in threatening all sorts of bad things to unionists if they do not do as they are told, so much for its much vaunted tolerance.”

    Wrong.

    “If the powers that be are just going to continue to ram unacceptable things down the collective unionist throat, why should unionism co-operate with this? Obstructionism is the only possible unionist strategy.”

    Powers that be aren’t ramming anything, and there many strategies other than obstructionism.

    “It is not that unionists do not belive the threats, it is the fact that the threats basically are “agree to this or we’ll force it on you”. The UUP tried agreeing in the hope they’d get something from the process, it was widely perceived as a failure. ”

    Mental.

    If you need any other crazy sweeping generalisations corrected, give me a bell and i’ll set you straight. Happy to help.

  • Ziznivy

    “There is no incentive for the DUP to do anything because the British Government, Irish Government and Nationalism have made it clear that unionism is not getting anything out of any future talks.”

    That is because the mechanics of the political arrangement all sides seek (admittedly on their own favoured terms) to implement have already been agreed by unionism. The UUP agreed to them initially and the DUP agreed to the same concepts in 2004. The structures of power-sharing are a given and it is not possible to renegotiate the basic mechanics of the Belfast Agreement now. What remains is the question of the parties agreeing the time is right to proceed on this basis, so I’m not sure what talks with the British and Irish governments you’re referring to. The only remaining issues are the existence of the IRA and republicans signing up to policing.

    “ Obstructionism is the only possible unionist strategy.
    It is not that unionists do not belive the threats, it is the fact that the threats basically are “agree to this or we’ll force it on you”. The UUP tried agreeing in the hope they’d get something from the process, it was widely perceived as a failure. “

    Forced to agree to what? The principles have been agreed by both unionist parties. What the governments want to force unionism to do is work the agreement.
    The UUP reversed a process whereby unionism was in disarray and not being listened to. The UUP’s conduct may have been perceived a failure from 2003 onwards, but this was largely a gut reaction to the symbolic issues of prisoners and decommissioning as well as revulsion caused by continued criminality in the republican community. This perception didn’t extend to the constitutional arrangements the UUP scored heavily on, arrangements which the British Government was actually scrupulously fair in encouraging in comparison to their attitude to decommissioning etc.
    Unionism may be ignored and unpalatable changes may be forced on it, but this will only happen if your purely obstructionist viewpoint prevails.

  • lib2016

    “Unionism…unpalatable changes may be forced on it, but this will only happen if your purely obstructionist viewpoint prevails.”

    The various strands of unionism have competed to be the most obstructive. No matter what happens now there will be serious splits in unionism and even within Northern Ireland they will become a minority.

    Given that so many of them couldn’t accept Sunningdale nor the GFA they will not be able to accept becoming a minority.

    Within a decade unionists will become as rare as Scottish Tories. There was an opportunity for the unionist community to become players in a New Ireland. Trimble blew it by 2000 by refusing to work with Mallon in establishing a stable Assembly. The DUP won’t be able to do any better, not because of their followers but because that’s who they are.

    The GFA will continue but the Assembly is doomed, and it will take the prospect of a separate NI with it.

  • Ziznivy

    “The various strands of unionism have competed to be the most obstructive “

    The status quo is a union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. If unionists obstruct attempts to make this no longer the case they should make no apologies for that. To say that the only trend in unionism is obstruction of any political progress or even that that is the predominant trend is just plain wrong. Various attempts at settlement have failed, unionists have been involved in trying to make many of these work and in the near past have been let down by nationalist obstructionism. The obstructionism of not wanting Northern Ireland to work as a political entity. The obstructionism of making promises they have no intention of keeping.

    “No matter what happens now there will be serious splits in unionism and even within Northern Ireland they will become a minority. “

    That shows no sign of happening. That is complete conjecture with no basis in fact. No matter what divisions of opinion there may be within unionism and differences as to tactics there is no foreseeable end to the majority in Northern Ireland wanting to maintain the Union.

    “Given that so many of them couldn’t accept Sunningdale nor the GFA they will not be able to accept becoming a minority.”

    The majority did accept the GFA. The majority still subscribe to the GFA as the basis for political settlement. If unionists expect promises to be kept by Republicans and if they expect the governments to hold them to these promises they are hardly being obstructionist. Merely expecting a fair deal.

    “Within a decade unionists will become as rare as Scottish Tories. There was an opportunity for the unionist community to become players in a New Ireland. Trimble blew it by 2000 by refusing to work with Mallon in establishing a stable Assembly.”

    David Trimble tried time and time again to uphold his side of the deal. It was the failure of Republicans to decommission that caused the bringing down of the assembly. Once again that is not obstructionism. It is expecting people to act in good faith.

  • lib2016

    A basic rule is not to allow your opponent to control the game. Decommissioning was not part of the Agreement but support for the Assembly was. By refusing to participate in the Agreement the unionist parties only ensured that they would have no longterm future.

    Without a Northern Ireland Assembly what use is a vote for unionism unless, of course, you really want to have your representatives sniggered at and despised in London and Brussels?

    Unionism sidelined itself long ago – too late to change that now.

  • Ziznivy

    “A basic rule is not to allow your opponent to control the game. Decommissioning was not part of the Agreement but support for the Assembly was. By refusing to participate in the Agreement the unionist parties only ensured that they would have no longterm future.”

    The priority of unionist parties is to secure the Union. This is what the Agreement was about for those unionists who supported it. Decommissiong may not have been written into the text of the agreement but it was a clear specification for unionist participation in it. Trimble needed to bring down the Assembly in order to prove that unionism was serious in its stipulations. What this achieved was not the destruction of unionism as you suggest, it was ultimately to cause republicans to disarm.

    “Without a Northern Ireland Assembly what use is a vote for unionism unless, of course, you really want to have your representatives sniggered at and despised in London and Brussels?”

    There is an element of truth in that when unionism is represented by the DUP in the main. Fortunately modern secular unionism is no laughing matter in London and Brussels. Unionists of this ilk remain widely respected and will be listened to where elected. If unionists involve themselves in constructive politics they will not be ignored.

    “Unionism sidelined itself long ago – too late to change that now.”

    Unionism forced itself from the sidelines it assumed during the 70s and 80s to the fulcrum of negotiations in the late 90s. Only now, under the custodianship of the DUP has the process of ignoring unionism re-emerged.

  • kensei

    “Fortunately modern secular unionism is no laughing matter in London and Brussels. Unionists of this ilk remain widely respected and will be listened to where elected.”

    I don’t know where you come from, but here on Planet Earth Unionism is an irrelevance everywhere but here.

  • Ziznivy

    “I don’t know where you come from, but here on Planet Earth Unionism is an irrelevance everywhere but here.”

    The political doctrine of Ulster Unionism may be. Unionist politicians are not necessarily an irrelevance.

  • kensei

    “The political doctrine of Ulster Unionism may be. Unionist politicians are not necessarily an irrelevance.”

    Nah. All of our politicians are basically an irrelevance in the real world.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Irish nationalism is at its core an aggresive ethnic supremacist creed. ‘

    Which is why the Irish Republic has 400,000 foreign immigrants working and living in the state including tens of thousands of Britons ? Not to mention the 3,000 Green Order Parades marching up and down and around the towns and cities of the Republic for 3 months of the year every summer beating their drums and browbeating the non Irish into accepting the Catholic faith and the civil and religious freedom their faith brings to all ? I’m sure you’ve already read about the tens of thousands of Polish and Chinese people who have been hounded out of the ‘supremacist ‘ Republic ? Keep taking those tablets David. And stop eating mushrooms .

    ‘Obstructionism is the only possible unionist strategy. ‘

    You could also try sticking your head in the sand as an alternative . Musical chairs on a mock up of the Titanic could work ?

    Another strategy for Unionists at least those Unionists truly committed to the survival of the Union is to demand a fair Repartition . This is the only way that Unionism can ever ‘enjoy’ the benefits of ‘majority’ rule ever again on this island and then only in an area of about 10% of the total island .

    Another ‘repartitionist’ has come up with a ‘plan’ which would reduce the NI nationalist population to about 40,000 in a new Northern State . Unfortunately this would mean that approx half the Unionists would be transferred to ROI jurisdiction and the resultant Unionist State would be made up of just two non contiguous areas . From a Nationalist perspective it would also mean that those areas in NI which would transfer to the Republic there would be no non contiguous areas.

    A bit extreme perhaps but maybe that’s what should be on offer for the DUP at the end of their days of ‘obstructionism ‘.

    Until then Ireland needs to turn it’s collective back to the DUP and their ilk .