The major cards lie with the DUP

It’s fair to say that even before Hain’s last push began late last year, the DUP were braced for a PR onslaught on their political redoubt. In the event, the IMC reports took several iterations to push the IRA into reasonably clear water, with the last one hinting that it considers criminality to be sufficiently out-of-house not to require such close attention. As a result, the required head of political steam never quite got as far as Dundela Avenue. In the Newsletter today, Alex Kane has been taking some soundings.By Alex Kane

Addressing the National Committee on American Foreign Policy in New York on April 5, Peter Robinson spoke of his hope of a future in which “the eternal values of liberty and democracy have prevailed and the sons and daughters of the Planter and Gael have found a way to share the land of their birth and live together in peace.”

Addressing the British Irish Association last Saturday, Peter Hain noted that “the Plantation goes to the heart of the insecurities and grievances of both communities in Northern Ireland and touches the core of the constitutional issue for the whole island.” So he, too, wanted a solution that embraced the descendants of the Planter and Gael.

This sort of dialogue is known as the “choreography of the peace process.” Peter R speaks onto Peter H because both Peters know that the Doc has no particular interest in the Planter and Gael doing a deal at the moment. As far as he is concerned it has taken four hundred years to resolve the differences kick-started in 1609, so pushing past the November 24 deadline isn’t going to make much of a difference in the short term.

Mind you, there are some in the DUP who have more mischievous reasons for skipping through the deadline. The closure of the Assembly, and the accompanying loss of salaries, staff, offices, expenses and grants, will hit the UUP much harder than the DUP. From the DUP’s perspective, inflicting further damage on the UUP and curbing its campaigning and constituency activities, would give the DUP more room for manoeuvre in the run-up to a deal.

I can see the immediate and self-interested attraction of such a strategy for the DUP, but I fear that it could result in a mere pyrrhic victory. The days of one party umbrella unionism are gone forever, along with tens of thousands of former voters. We need two strong, effective pro-Union parties; competing to attract and maximise the unionist vote and co-operating to ensure the best possible deal. The DUP cannot carry the load alone.

There are others in the DUP who want to call the weakened Prime Minister’s bluff. They believe that the Good Friday Agreement is the only remaining feather in his legacy cap and they reckon that he won’t risk collapsing it during his last few months in Number 10. In other words, if Blair can be persuaded that the DUP is within a squeak of a deal, then he will keep the show on the road (albeit non-funded) until next Spring. This allows the DUP to seem tough to its hardcore base and also avoids the sort of internal tensions that could follow on from what looked like an enforced and jumping-too-quickly deal with Sinn Fein.

As ever, the key to the whole thing is Ian Paisley. I have written before that I suspect that all of his own personal, political and psychological instincts are opposed to any deal at all involving Sinn Fein. Yet the prospect of finishing off the UUP, along with the promise of a referendum in advance of devolution, could maybe, just maybe, tempt him.

So, the deal could look like this. Push through the November 24 deadline (to hurt the UUP); reactivate the negotiations with Sinn Fein to produce a Comprehensive Agreement Mark 2; put the deal to a referendum (Paisley won’t move without the endorsement of “the people” and a mere consultation exercise won’t convince him); an Assembly election (allowing the DUP to quickly capitalise on a hoped for referendum success); and then four years to allow the whole thing to bed down.

To be honest, the DUP is in a fairly comfortable position at the moment. Tony Blair needs a deal. Peter Hain’s career would be enhanced by a deal. The DUP has to be seen to deliver something fairly soon, but it is under no sustained pressure from either the UUP or any other unionist presence. The only fly in the ointment is Sinn Fein. Oh to be another fly on the wall in that stately home in Scotland!

First published in the Newsletter on Saturday 16th September 2006

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  • slug

    I liked this piece.

    For a long time I have foudn Alex Kane to be “Mr Gloomy”. But this piece is rather good analysis and free from the “we’re doomed” tone he often uses.

  • sapi

    I don’t know what the author of this blogs background is but I assume rightly of wrongly he may be from a nationalist / republican background. Again laying blame with someone in this case before it happens, but that is nothing new. Blaming the DUP (before a ball has been kicked) if it goes wrong again. Have you ever wondered what behind scenes demands the main oposition party (in this case Sinn Fein) are making from the DUP to ensure agreement on certain issues being address before forming the Assembly.

  • slug

    Sapi: Alex Kane is not to my knowledge from a nationalist/republican background, nor is he nationalist or republican.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t know what the author of this blogs background is but I assume rightly of wrongly

    You assume very wrongly. Alex is a senior member of the UUP. I suggest you educate yourself before exposing your ignorance.

    The article is up to Alex’s usual high standard. The point about a referendum is interesting. The DUP may be somewhat deluded if they think a referendum provides an escape clause. In practice the DUP will have to align themselves either with the yes or no camp for any given deal. They can hardly campaign for a “no” against a deal that they have put their own hand to; and if there is no resounding endorsement of the deal then they will appear weakened.

  • Brian Boru

    If the Unionists are not going to implement the GFA, then the 2 govts will have to step in and run NI jointly. Otherwise the Republic should restore the constitutional claim on NI, as this claim was only removed as a quid-pro-quo.

  • Crataegus

    I also find the idea of a referendum intriguing. If I were in the DUP it wouldn’t be an avenue that I would be rushing along, dammed unpredictable things. I can think of quite a few who would vote against simply because the DUP support it. Though the novelty of Paisley says YES would be entertaining.

    What really brasses me off about this whole debate is that there is an agreement that was endorsed overwhelmingly by the electorate North and South and supported by the two governments. We then had SF pissing around for years for their own audience and advantage, the British Government’s insidious side deals, criminals released, and now the DUP wanting to rewrite the dam thing again for its own audience and advantage.

    If I employ someone as an account I don’t expect them start arguments about not doing the books until I have restructured the company. If they did they would soon be looking for a job. We have pampered and pandered this bunch of reprobates and it really is stupid. You reward results not belligerence, you wouldn’t do it with employees and really that is what our politicians are, they are there to represent us, we pay them. Worse than that we allow them to use threats in order to extort concessions, which can be financial and-or political. Pay up or we will throw a tantrum. This is utter anarchy and is a sign not of diplomacy but of weak management. None of them should have received one penny in wages or expenses. Don’t do a job don’t get paid easy and a good starting point.

    The agreement should NEVER have been structured to allow minority vetoes but that is another story.

    In my opinion no progress until a post Paisley era and if the British are clever the longer Paisley lives the more damage the DUP suffer.

  • John East Belfast

    “From the DUP’s perspective, inflicting further damage on the UUP and curbing its campaigning and constituency activities, would give the DUP more room for manoeuvre in the run-up to a deal.

    I can see the immediate and self-interested attraction of such a strategy for the DUP, but I fear that it could result in a mere pyrrhic victory”

    This is a good point by Alex – anyone in the DUP thinking along these lines should think again as it is not the UUP they will be damaging it will be the Union itself.

    The bottom line is there are many tens of thousands of unionists out there who if totally turned off the UUP will simply get bored with the Union itself.

    Whether you agree with it or not the only thing to the forefront of Pro Agreement minds was the best strategy to protect the Union.
    How that worked out may have pissed people off who disagreed with the strategy – but the motivation was clear to anyone who looked.

    Lets face it what other reason could there have been ?

    I have never seen anything from the DUP that wasnt ultimately about advancing its own electoral success at the expense of the UUP.
    This will only and ultimately reduce the overall pro Union vote.

    The UUP and DUP are political opponents not enemies and talk of killing off your enemies is the wrong way to be thinking in the democratic struggle for the greater number of unionist votes.

  • Dave

    Of course the DUP will say no to the November deadline (which will not be moved according to the government) Then both the British/Irish governments will try to implement joint authority without an assembly and therefore without the consent of the people.

    The big NO plays to the DUP. The people of northern Ireland want the assembly up and doing what is supposed to be doing, but, not at any price or by threats from the Britsh/Irish governments. The DUP have a Royal Flush.

  • lib2016

    Poor unionists still fantasising that they have a veto! The people have made their deal and won their referendum long ago. The delays in implementing it have stemmed from British and unionist sources with their mysterious vanishing white vans, mythical burgulars in Castlereagh who know all the security codes and a spy plot bigger than Watergate whose only identified member was a British agent!

    At least the Brits used their time wisely and destroyed the loyalist networks of sectarian thugs who have always been the real source of unionist power.

    With MI5 at the top in the OO, the DUP and everywhere else you care to look their job is almost done. Unionists will do what they are told or be ignored – kings of their squalid little empires in Castlereagh or Ballymena for a few more years but never again trusted with power.

  • Greenflag

    Crataegus ,

    ‘We have pampered and pandered this bunch of reprobates and it really is stupid. You reward results not belligerence, you wouldn’t do it with employees and really that is what our politicians are, they are there to represent us, we pay them. Worse than that we allow them to use threats in order to extort concessions, which can be financial and-or political. Pay up or we will throw a tantrum. This is utter anarchy and is a sign not of diplomacy but of weak management. None of them should have received one penny in wages or expenses. Don’t do a job don’t get paid easy and a good starting point. ‘

    So there is common sense out there after all 🙂

    Well said .

  • ciaran damery

    The Stormont assembly was created as a sop to Unionism so that they might engage in the democratic process. Ironically, Unionism now refuses to participate in the assembly. So let’s get real here. Unionism is a supremacist and sectarian philosophy. Paisleyites (who represent most unionists/loyalists) are constitutionally incapable of sharing power with the leading nationalist party, Sinn Féin. They are imbued with a hatred of all things Irish and unable to comprehend the basic tenets of democracy. They will never share power in the occupied statelet. So let’s ditch the assembly. Meanwhile, it is incumbent on both governments to implement all other aspects of the GFA. If they refuse and occupied Ireland is returned to the ‘back burner’ for another decade or so, we can expect a renewed armed campaign designed to liberate our country. The Irish people in the occupied zone are entitled to equality, justice, the right to continue our quest to vigorously pursue the goal of reunification and freedom from sectarian terrorism perpetrated by Unionist terrorists. The GFA was supported by the vast majority of the Irish nation and it’s implementation is necessary because the alternative will almost certainly be yet another armed rebellion. Those who assume that the IRA are prepared to twiddle its thumbs whilst occupied Ireland continues to be subjected to British direct rule, ad infinitum, are gravely mistaken. The Army’s decision to cease military activities is contingent on the implementation of the GFA, especially the disbandment of SS/RUC, evolving N/S executive institutions and a willingness by unionism to accept that the South has an integral (and evergrowing) role to play in the governance of the occupied area. If the Brits do a U-turn at the behest of their orange cheer leaders, resulting in an indefinite period of Direct Rule from London, then the GFA project will have failed. But does anybody seriously think that Irish republicanism will meekly accept this scenario? If so they are living in cloud cuckoo land. Rather, the Irish nationalist community throughout the island will never again trust the Brits (we never did trust unionists) and the available options will be reduced to one. If this happens Irish Republicanism will have to shelve its electoral ambitions, the leadership will have to accept that their project failed and Britain will pay a very heavy price for reneging on it’s comitments. Their is a need for Irish republicans to accept that a return to armed struggle is becoming more likely. But next time out, it will be necessary to prosecute a war based on the lessons we learned during the most recent phase of armed struggle. We MUST prepare ourselves for this outcome. We MUST brace ourselves for the possibility of a new war designed to remove Britain from the equation and to destroy Unionist terrorists both the ‘legal’ and illegal variety. We MUST not forget that the blame for the failure of the Irish Peace Process will rest firmly on Britain and Orange fascism. We owe it to our patriot dead, our martyrs and those who demand the right to self determine Ireland’s future without colonial interference. Their will/would be negative consequences (obviously) to a renewed struggle for liberation, but we are strong and powerful. We cannot lose. All we ask for is the implementation of the GFA, we are entitled to this. If Britain and descendants of Orange planters prevent this, what else can we do? But this time it will/would be different. A mean, well trained, dedicated force armed with up to date military armaments and politicised, militarily savvy Volunteers would be able to prosecute a ferocious war. Finally, I am not advocating a return to war. I am a pacifist but not a door mat. I am also a realist and if the governments do not implement Joint Authority when Unionism rejects the democratic process, then it will be incumbent on Irish Republicans to unveil our ‘Plan B’, on a scale hitherto unseen in occupied Ireland and Britain. Beirfidh Bua!

  • Greenflag

    Dave,

    ‘The people of northern Ireland want the assembly up and doing what is supposed to be doing,’

    Do they ? I would’nt bet on it . It’s done nothing for the last four years or more and the people /economy seem to be doing ok .

    ‘ The DUP have a Royal Flush. ‘

    Looks to me like they’re sitting on a pair of deuces, and the game is moving on without them .

  • McGrath

    “So, the deal could look like this. Push through the November 24 deadline (to hurt the UUP); reactivate the negotiations with Sinn Fein to produce a Comprehensive Agreement Mark 2; put the deal to a referendum (Paisley won’t move without the endorsement of “the people” and a mere consultation exercise won’t convince him); an Assembly election (allowing the DUP to quickly capitalise on a hoped for referendum success); and then four years to allow the whole thing to bed down.

    How long is Mr Paisley going to live?

  • Fanny

    Brian Boru:

    “If the Unionists are not going to implement the GFA, then the 2 govts will have to step in and run NI jointly. Otherwise the Republic should restore the constitutional claim on NI, as this claim was only removed as a quid-pro-quo.”

    Fuck the constitutional claim, in the event of the GFA failing (er, like it’s succeeding now?) the murderers who should never have been let loose must return to serve out their sentences. Wasn’t that Mo Mowlam’s staggering quid pro quo deal? At least we could sleep a little easier in our beds.

  • ciaran damery

    Fanny, those “murderers” you refer to presumably include SS/RUC and other components of the British military force in Ireland. Although most were never incarcerated, as is often the case with State sponsored terrorists, why ignore the plethora of SS/RUC and RIR/UDR murderers and those members who collaborated with their fellow travellers within UFF/UVF? Moreover Fanny, remember that it is Unionists who refuse to recognize the mandate of the Irish nation who overwhelming endorsed the GFA, ain’t got nothing to do with Oglaigh Na hEireann Volunteers or ex POWs. Finally, I actually agree with you on the constitutional claim. It’s just a piece of paper and the fact is that Irish Republicans will never accept the notion that a shower of Orange fascists and Paisleyite bog trotters have a veto over the right of Irish people to self determine our own future, irrespective of what articles 2 or 3 say. But if you are having trouble sleeping in yer bed maybe the Paisleyites in Ballymena can help ya. I hear their Orange Heroin does wonders for insomnia.

  • Crataegus

    McGrath

    How long is Mr Paisley going to live?

    I’m resorting to voodoo

  • John East Belfast

    ciaran damery

    Has internet access been introduced as a form of therapy to whatever mental institition in which you reside ?

  • Fanny

    Ciaran, I do mean everyone, all those who’ve murdered and maimed, were (for the most part) lawfully tried and convicted but were released in order to facilitate an agreement that has been shelved for years now. The charmers you mention ought to be tried as well once the GFA is proven defunct.

    Funny how no one seems to want to mention these desperadoes. It’s as though they’re the human equivalent of the proverbial can of worms: once freed, never to return. I imagine it would be next to impossible to undo the harm Mowlam et al did, but that’s of little comfort to law-abiding citizens

  • Brian Boru

    Fanny I think you are too focused on vengeance rather than dealing with the root societal and political causes of the conflict.

  • ciaran damery

    John from E. Belfast uses that oh so familiar Unionist tactic of tossing insults at his opponents but never engaging in a debate cuz he knows that he would be beaten hands down. Unionists are a wierd sub-species. They delude themselves by (for example) referring to the six occupied counties as “Ulster” and refer to their parades of hate as “cultural”. Meanwhile they physically and emotionally abuse catholic church goers in Harryville, throw their feces at little school girls in North Belfast, protest when Irish catholics comorate their dead at cemetries and choose a complete and utter plonker to lead their cause. Where else in the world would Papa Doc Paisley be a leader? So John, by all means take issue with my post but try to be a tad more insightful and innovative in yer response.

    fanny – Oglaigh Na hEireann Volunters were not “lawfully tried and convicted”. They were tried in non-jury courts, by a judiciary which is/was politically alligned to Unionist supremacism and in most cases they were “convicted” because of confessions they purportedly offered an enemy who was found guilty by the International court of Human Rights of torturing Republicans in their custody. So to assume that Irish republicans were “lawfully tried” has as much credence as Iraqi dissidents who were tried by Saddam Hussein. And again, it is not the IRA who are holding up progress, it is Unionism who refuse to recognize SF’s mandate and engage in the process. Incidentally, no IRA Volunters have been reincarcerated for any subsequent ‘offence’. Wish I could say the same about Unionist terrorists.

  • Fanny

    “Fanny I think you are too focused on vengeance rather than dealing with the root societal and political causes of the conflict.”

    Sorry, Brian, just imprisonment is … vengeance? Since when?

  • circles

    Ciaran – stop embarassing yourself please.

  • Fanny

    Ciaran, I’m sure you’re right by your lights in what you believe, but it is historical fact that a great many bombs exploded in NI from the early 70s onward, killing and maiming. I conclude that said bombs did not self-detonate, therefore various individuals were responsible.

    Same applies to bullets fired, knives thrust and other assorted weapons brought to bear. Most of the killings done by those weapons were done by terrorists–and yes, many of those terrorists wore uniform.

    Many of those terrorists were apprehended, tried and convicted. And yes, it is a matter of record that many of the trials were either morally or ethically unlawful.

    Yet the fact remains that murderers and would-be murderers were put where they could do no more harm. In jail. That many are now free in exchange for an agreement that was in effect for a wet afternoon or two is a fact as well.

    I frankly don’t give a fuck whose side you’re on. I do give a fuck that murder can be treated so lightly in this place. It’s wrong. And it sends out the wrong signals to developing countries, should we ever wish to show them a good example of how civilization works.

  • Billy

    “The big NO plays to the DUP.” “The DUP have a Royal Flush.”

    Yeah, right.

    The DUP have the power to prevent a local assembly from sitting – that’s it! Blair hasn’t much time left – Labour need to get ready for the UK council elections – they are NOT going to waste any more time on NI. Bertie Ahern also has an election to fight next year so won’t waste any more time on NI.

    Do you really think that the UK govt will continue to dance to the DUP veto tune and pump billions into NI to keep it afloat?

    If Nov 24th passes (which it will), the 2 govts will move on. The plans are already in place – the legislation on the statute books.

    The DUP are more interested in destroying the UUP and Paisley just wants to preserve his legacy of saying No.

    The longer he remains leader, the weaker the DUP position will be when they come to make a deal – which they inevitably will have to do.

  • Brian Boru

    Well Fanny, referenda North and South legitimised those releases though I do think it’s strange that the 2 govts seem to be implementing them differently. In the South, the govt’s position seems to be that the release-provisions only apply to those convicted before the GFA, whereas in the North, it appears the British govt position is to release all paramilitaries who are keeping to a ceasefire and support the agreement – even those convicted after the GFA. I would go as far as saying these positions should be harmonised to avoid inconsistencies, but stopping them outright would violate a democratically-expressed decision.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Ciaran Damery

    You opinions are pure and unadulterated sectarian bigotery:-

    ‘They [unionists] are imbued with a hatred of all things Irish and unable to comprehend the basic tenets of democracy. They will never share power in the occupied statelet.’

    ‘The Irish people in the occupied zone are entitled to equality, justice, the right to continue our quest to vigorously pursue the goal of reunification and freedom from sectarian terrorism perpetrated by Unionist terrorists.’

    Don’t you think a long look at your opinions about the people you share this island with might be useful in the 21st century or maybe you prefer to spue out such bile.

  • Anna Dale

    Frustrated Democrat
    “Don’t you think a long look at your opinions about the people you share this island with might be useful in the 21st century or maybe you prefer to spue out such bile.”

    I might be wrong, but I’ve a feeling Ciaran is presently nowhere near the island that the rest of us share. It’s always been much easier to fight the *good fight* from the other side of the Atlantic.

    Of course maybe he is, like me, Irish, in which case it would be nice if he could refrain from referring to other fellow Irish as an “Orange fascists” or “Paisleyite bogtrotters”.

  • The Hermit

    Ciaran Damery, I want nothing more politically than GFA to work and for both unionist and nationalist to stop posturing and making treats and get on with the job of governing. I believe a united/peaceful/stable Ireland may well be possible in the future if people like you (and the Paisley’s lot) stop spouting hate… Your all the fucking same hatemongers and warmongers and it’s about time all reasonable people said NOT IN MY NAME…

    I hope you don’t have children!

  • Fanny

    “Well Fanny, referenda North and South legitimised those releases…”

    Yeah, Brian, all this is true. But wasn’t the proviso attached to the release of murderers of various hues that we’d have devolved government? Well, we ain’t got one, or am I living in a parallel universe?

    And we won’t have one come November either if Paisley and other knuckle-draggers have their way. So: no GFA = no deal = joint government = naughty boys back in chokey.

    Or am REALLY missing the plot here?

  • Elvis Parker

    ‘We need two strong, effective pro-Union parties; competing to attract and maximise the unionist vote and co-operating to ensure the best possible deal’

    Oh dear Alex if you mean the UUP and DUP you are slipping way down the hopeless ‘all Prods together path’.

    If you meant DUP to cater for tribal/Orange Prods and say – the Conservatives to carry the case for the broader minded and broader visioned then I might believe you werent descending into the sectarian swamp.

    You dont really think there is a future for the UUP do you?

  • Alex. Kane

    Elvis:

    I used the phrase “pro-Union parties” very deliberately.

    I happen to think that there is a role and a future for the UUP if it chose that role and future.

    Whether it will or not is something that the present leadership will have to decide. The signs, sad to say, are not good.

    If the Conservative Party believes it is better placed to provide that “broader minded and broader visioned” vehicle then good luck to it.

    My own period of active politics is drawing to a close, but I will watch all parties with interest.

    Best wishes,

    Alex.

  • Southern Observer

    Ciaran,
    This is dangerous lunacy.

  • Martin Ingram and British Imperialism in Ireland.Just another web site on the FRU.Here it is
    http://jackgrantham.blogspot.com/

  • aquifer

    Another referendum? Whatever happened to majority rule? Or 71% weighed majority rule?

    Is this just code for ask Ian Paisley, or ask Kane?

  • POL

    New rates hikes,water charges,pretty much a freeze on wages whilst the cost of living gets higher.Would you say this was a big stick to beat us into an assembly or simply a means to make the sick counties less dependable on the english exchequer?

  • Dave

    “‘ The DUP have a Royal Flush. ‘

    Looks to me like they’re sitting on a pair of deuces, and the game is moving on without them .

    Posted by Greenflag on Sep 16, 2006 @ 05:56 PM”

    If this is what you believe, that is fine by me. But a pair of Deuces is still a better hand than what SF/IRA hold at the moment. The best hand SF/IRA could possibily produce at this time is an Ace up the sleeve (which they don’t have)and would need to draw from another pack. other players at the table would define this as cheating. Should this prove to be true then the DUP would be well within their rights to withdraw from the came, who knowns they might even decide to topple the table?.

  • Wilde Rover

    Ah Ciaran, this is all mad four-in-the-morning whiskey talk.

    If you want to call the period between the Government of Ireland Act 1920 and the fall of Stormont in 1972 the failed unionist apartheid statelete, I will agree with you. If you want to call 1972-1998 the occupied six counties, I will not argue the point. However, after 1998 it’s Northern Ireland.

    The central republican argument that no elections and referenda since the election of the first Dail were legitimate because they did not take place throughout the island ended after the Belfast Agreement (I hate the whole ‘Good Friday’ business. Too much voodoo talk as it is) was carried by 80% of the people of Ireland.

    And that’s that. That’s the stage you have to decide if you are a republican or something else. And before you say it, no, a 100 year old General McGuire passing the flag doesn’t count for s**te, regardless of the fact the guy fought beside my grandfather.

    The idea of a republic is to create a society where everyone is treated equally, and your jihad argument, especially considering the democratic decisions reached, is about as far away from that as you can get.

    I should also point out that I am not currently a resident of the mad little island. As to my nationality, I am Mexican, or at least that’s what the good people of Newry assured me I was when I lived there.;0)

  • slug

    Interesting piece by Peter Robinson in todays paper.

    Clearly states support for devolution abd puts acceptance of policing by Sinn Fein centre stage as the condition for powershaing with Sinn Fein.

    Link to Peter Robinson piece

    It seems like something that will appeal to the unionist electorate at least, the idea that parties that aspire to run the country should support others whose job it is to enforce the law of the country.

  • Fanny

    And what if the police are seen not to enforce the law of the country as they should? I can think of several countries where this is the case, notably in Latin America.

  • George

    Brian,
    you would need a referendum south of the border to change Articles 2 and 3. Do you think a claim on NI would pass? I don’t, especially as the current one got 95% support to remove the claim.

    I always remember John Taylor (UUP) basically saying after the referendum that unionists should now simply not worry about the GFA and just “pocket” the Article 2 and 3 concession.

    Seems he was telling the truth about unionism’s intentions towards the rest of us on this island all those years ago.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “Ciaran Damery” is obviously a troll, people should not lose their temper and resort to swearing.

    I think it’s inaccurate to dismiss him as being from somewhere outside Ireland. I suspect he is from here, and his views are pretty much representative of the kind of young people who are getting themselves mixed up in dissident republicanism. That said, I couldn’t make it past the first three sentences of what he wrote. He needs to use paragraphs.

    I have two things to say to Ciaran :

    (1) How many Omaghs are you prepared to sit through before you get what you want ?

    (2) What does the orange colour in the Irish national flag (which flies in South Armagh and Lurgan) represent, and why is it there ?

  • fair_deal

    “We need two strong, effective pro-Union parties; competing to attract and maximise the unionist vote and co-operating to ensure the best possible deal.”

    I agree with this statement. However the question needs to be asked is the UUP capable of being a strong effective party anymore? Is it not trapped by its history, whether that is the Stormont era or the Belfast Agreement, to be able to reach out to old or new audiences? Is it not riven by internal division, how can it be strong? Is it not saddled with a huge debt and an aging membership that means it lacks the resources to be effective?

  • Brian Boru

    “Brian,
    you would need a referendum south of the border to change Articles 2 and 3. Do you think a claim on NI would pass? I don’t, especially as the current one got 95% support to remove the claim.”

    I think it would pass if people felt they had given something away without getting something in return, thereby removing the raison-d’etre for getting rid of 2 and 3.

    “We need two strong, effective pro-Union parties; competing to attract and maximise the unionist vote and co-operating to ensure the best possible deal.”

    To reach a deal you actually (doh!) have to talk to the other side. The DUP haven’t even gotten to this stage yet. They don’t want a deal. I think the hints they did (e.g. talking about a fair deal etc.) around election time was a play for more moderate Unionists voting for the UUP or Alliance. The reality is that Unionism has always been the most rigid political-ideology since WW2 in Western Europe to enjoy mass-support among a constituency of voters, and will not do a deal and sticj to it full stop, requiring the 2 govts to step in and take control of the asylum.

  • George

    Brian,
    “I think it would pass if people felt they had given something away without getting something in return, thereby removing the raison-d’etre for getting rid of 2 and 3.”

    Here I disagree, it wouldn’t have a chance in hell of passing. 95% of the electorate voted for a united Ireland only with the consent of a majority north of the border because that is what they want.

    The raison d’etre for removing Articles 2 and 3 was because they didn’t represent the views of the Irish people and, even worse, were being used by elements as an excuse for their violence.

    Their demise has removed an albatross from around the southern body politic’s neck, the benefits of which will be played out in the decades to come.

    Any perceived “siege” of the “North” has been lifted and now we shall see whether unionism really is to the benefit of the people of “Ulster” or if it is an ideology with no clothes.

    This is the battleground the Irish republicans (and I don’t mean Sinn Fein when I use that term) should engage unionism on over the coming decades.

    Which ideology on this island is delivering for its people and which ideology will continue to do so.

    This is why I laugh when I hear talk of winning hands for the DUP. The game they are playing is over and a new one has begun.

  • Brian Boru

    “Here I disagree, it wouldn’t have a chance in hell of passing. 95% of the electorate voted for a united Ireland only with the consent of a majority north of the border because that is what they want.”

    No I strongly disagree George. We voted to remove it as part of a comprehensive peace-agreement. We were voting for peace. But polls shortly before the agreement showed 52% backing for 2 and 3. It was a quid-pro-quo, and had we known the GFA was not going to be implemented by the Unionists, we would likely have rejected the changes.

  • George

    Brian,

    You are talking about the past and why many people voted yes in the 1998 referendum, I am talking about the present and how they would vote now.

    There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a majority of voters to vote in favour of reinstating the old Articles 2 and 3.

    You could argue that the people were conned back in 1998 and would have voted differently if they knew how things would pan out but that is neither here nor there in 2006. There is no movement to bring back the old Articles because nobody wants them.

    Personally, I think most of the 95% wanted rid of the claim because they knew there could never be peace without consent.

    It wouldn’t matter if the DUP went up and burnt down Stormont in the morning to prevent devolution occurring, the overwhelming majority of people in the Irish Republic are cock a hoop about the principle of consent.

    Apart from being the ultimate get out of jail free card when it comes to “the North”, it is also a tenable position for a mature European democracy to hold.

  • Fanny

    I agree with George. It’s hard enough to get the electorate out to vote for ANYTHING, let alone the restitution of articles that were something of an embarrassing anachronism to most modern Irish.

    I don’t believe it’s too cynical to say that irredentists are as hard to find in the south as college-age virgins.

  • Brian Boru

    “I agree with George. It’s hard enough to get the electorate out to vote for ANYTHING, let alone the restitution of articles that were something of an embarrassing anachronism to most modern Irish.

    I don’t believe it’s too cynical to say that irredentists are as hard to find in the south as college-age virgins.”

    Fanny 77% in the latest poll want a UI so I disagree with you on irredentism (if you mean support for a UI). On the Articles, opinions may differ, but I don’t believe we would consider it acceptable that we make a concession while your side breaks its word.

  • Fanny

    Brian, wishing for is not the same as working for. I wish I had a toned midriff but couldn’t be arsed going to the gym 4-5 times a week to achieve it. Vox pops record peeps’ voices not peeps’ intentions

    BTW, I like the way you choose my “side” for me. Generous.

  • George

    Brian,
    the Irish electorate voted for the principle of consent because that is the position they agreed with.

    They didn’t vote for it as a concession. There was no mention of “concession” on the ballot paper.

    You and others like you may well have voted for it as a concession but that doesn’t mean everyone else shared your view.

    Some voted yes for peace, some voted yes as an anti-IRA gesture, as a concession, as members of the Reform Movement, because the political parties said to, because Republican Sinn Fein were the only ones voting no etc. etc.

    The bottom line, or lowest common denominator, is the principle of consent.

    Fanny’s analogy is an excellent one ( I say this as someone who would like a toned midriff but would never set foot in a gymn) and my understanding of her mentioning irredentists is in reference to those who don’t agree with consent (ie. by any means necessary – aka violence) not those who would like to see unification.

    A majority may want unification but the overwhelming majority of that majority only want it by consent.