DUP fundamentalists warming to a deal?

One leading Irish journalist once accused me of being a permanent Polyanna, mostly because I’ve consistently believed there would be an egress, of sorts, from this apparently endless Peace Processing™. John Coulter is even more upbeat than anyone I’ve read recently. He reckons a deal could be done by November 24th. As Gerry Adams said yesterday, a deal could be done tomorrow. Coulter thinks the ‘fundamentalists’ are ready to back one, if Paisley gives the word the deal is passable.

Trust me – 50 days from tomorrow (Friday 6 October), with these immortal words, DUP boss Ian Paisley could win the approval of his religious Rednecks to pave the way for an historic Paisleyite/Sinn Fein deal on Friday 24 November.

Such an agreement will see the suspended power-sharing Executive at Stormont back in action by Monday 27 November with the return of legislative powers to the Northern Assembly. This summer’s heatwave seems to have rubbed off on DUP thinking with the body language on Stormont hill indicating a slightly warmer willingness to ‘do the business with the Shinners’.

In the DUP mindset, there has never been so great an opportunity to seal the deal with SF since an agreement was almost reached in December 2004, just a year after the Paisley camp trounced the rival David Trimble-led Ulster Unionists in the November 2003 Assembly elections. However, the best indicator of an impending deal between republicanism and unionism will come on Monday at Stormont when one of the most historic meetings in the life of the Northern state will take place.

Paisley, the Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster – perhaps the most Right-wing of Protestantism’s fundamentalist denominations – will meet Archbishop Sean Brady, the leader of Ireland’s Catholics. This meeting will be more significant than one at Stormont just over 40 years ago in January 1965 when the then Taioseach Sean Lemass came to Parliament Buildings for talks with the then Northern Premier Terence O’Neill.

While the so-called ‘hot house’ peace talks are scheduled next week for the tranquil setting of St Andrew’s in Scotland, with a major announcement expected on Friday 13 October, it will be Monday’s meeting of the two religious leaders which could give the blessing to the creation of the Executive. Paisley will be seeking assurances from the Catholic Primate that SF is genuine in the republican movement’s desire to join the Policing Board and support the PSNI.

Archbishop Brady will want equal assurances if republicans do endorse the police, the Paisley camp will indeed take the leap of faith and form the Executive with SF. Northern Secretary Peter Hain is adamant if there is no deal by 24 November, the salaries and expenses of the 108 MLAs will be chopped and the so-called Hain Assembly set up in May will collapse.

However, this still leaves a window of a week before the original Stormont Assembly established in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement is formally wound up. The current thinking in unionism is that Paisley will not deal before 24 November – simply to prove to his fundamentalist troops he cannot be browbeaten or bullied by London and Dublin.

The Hain Assembly is expendable – but not the original ’98 version. Indeed, the general mood within unionism is at its most hopeful for six months, according to UUP sources. One senior MLA told the Star last night: “There is no reason for the DUP not to do a deal. They know they could destroy themselves if a deal isn’t clinched.”

In spite of Paisley’s ‘over my dead body’ style speech at the Twelfth, the DUP’s pro-deal wing under deputy leader Peter Robinson seems to have got its act back on track since mid July. If a deal is secured, Paisley could occupy the post of First Minister for a short time before handing over to Robinson, a move which would firmly entrench the DUP as a devolutionist movement.

The DUP’s participation in an Executive with the support of the religious bogmen – especially in North Antrim – would make it harder for grassroots favourite MEP Jim Allister to stage a leadership bid once Paisley relinquished his reins of power.

First published in the Irish Daily Star.

  • BooBoo

    Well, well, a complete and utter contradiction of just about everything else he has written on the subject in the past year.

    Coulter always blows with the wind, desperately hoping to be on the right side of a judgment call.

    Mind you, he’s not quite as desperate as the UUP MLAs (including his dad), who are participating in collective prayer sessions that the DUP will keep them in a job and keep the UUP afloat.

    BooBoo

  • Yer Woman

    Spitefull, Spitefull BooBoo.

  • fair_deal

    In September he said the ‘rednecks’ could form a “Protestant Reformation Party”.

    In articles in August he though Joint authority
    by Christmas and was calculating the bill for the RoI taxpayer. Plus he though there was ” a snowball’s chance in hell” of the deadline being met and in another that Bertie’s bunker was a sign of JA was on its way.

    In articles in June he was describing Peter Robinson as a new politicl a hero who was winning
    the battle for a deal.

    In May he argued that it couldn’t happen beacuse the 6 in 2006 could be combined with 1976 and 1986 to make 666 and thus mean no evangelical would back a deal and that Paisley’s rhetoric was for real he wasn’t up for a deal.

    Etc etc. These are collected ramblings not political analysis

  • No one is talking about d’Hondt running on 27th November. There may be a “Heads of Agreement” document in time for the 24th November, legislation to alter the worst aspects of the Strand One arrangements may be published and a condition based timetable could be in place but regardless of the mood music from Scotland next week there will be no immediate return to devolution on 27th November. My best guess is May after the scheduled election.

  • Carson’s Cat

    I have to say that F_D has provided a useful trail of John Coulters journey over the last couple of months. You really cant claim credit for predicting the what will happen (which at some point he probably will) if you’ve actually predicted just about every concievable outcome in the past.

    Pakman is also correct – there could be the outline of an agreement reached by Nov 24th but there is no-one with any credibility who is claiming that there wil be an Executive formed by the end of November. Even Hain has rowed back and isn’t now demanding that there be an Executive by Nov 25th – frankly a much more sensible position to hold if he is actually serious about actually seeing devolution rather than just throwing deadlines around.

  • Greenflag

    One senior MLA told the Star last night: “There is no reason for the DUP not to do a deal. They know they could destroy themselves if a deal isn’t clinched.”

    Another powerful incentive for Irish Nationalists and Republicans to turn theior collective backs on the DUP I’d say .

    ‘Paisley will be seeking assurances from the Catholic Primate that SF is genuine in the republican movement’s desire to join the Policing Board and support the PSNI. ‘

    Complete and utter nonsense. Archbishop Brady does not speak for SF . It’s a case of one old fart making use of another old fart’s political naivety .

    Anyway ‘devolution’ is not a solution.It’s a political and economic charade .

  • Birthday girl

    hey its my birthday today so go on give me something to talk about.

    it’s bad when your stoneage is bigger that your years

  • páid

    Well Happy Birthday Birthday Girl! May you live to be 100; or at least see your children’s children. Or alternatively, you could have a happy life.

    Good comments on the likelihood of a deal; last 2 days has seen such a change in atmosphere, it’s beginning to look like a fait accompli.

    Of course, NI will remain a dysfunctional society, doomed to constitutional strife for decades, but, most importantly, no kids scream for their shot Daddy.

  • average joe

    “The DUP’s participation in an Executive with the support of the religious bogmen – especially in North Antrim – would make it harder for grassroots favourite MEP Jim Allister to stage a leadership bid once Paisley relinquished his reins of power.”

    That’s assuming, of course, that Jim Allister has ever had the intention of staging a leadership bid.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Paisley will be seeking assurances from the Catholic Primate that SF is genuine in the republican movement’s desire to join the Policing Board and support the PSNI.

    *sigh*

    Proof positive that even so-called “thinking” and “moderate” Unionists are still stuck firmly in the 17th Century, full of paranoid wibbling about the HiveMind in Rome controlling all the Caflicks…

  • spice girl

    i’m just wondering if the ra will drop another clanger… everytime there looks to be a deal, something gets robbed, guns are found or someone is shot… could it be republicans want to to delay powersharing? watch this space…

  • Bushmills

    “if Paisley gives the word the deal is passable.”

    The sky is blue, the grass is green, dogs sometimes bite men. This is hardly serious analysis from Dr. Coulter.

  • aquifer

    I recall the primary school definition of ‘if’ as a very small word with a very big meaning.

  • ballymena town

    I know of nobody of any shade of unionism who gives Coulter’s ramblings any credence. This is just gobbledygook of the worst order – especially when juxtaposed with his previous delirious ‘analyses’, all of which contradict each other.

    This sounds like a desperate attempt to save his job and his da’s with it – he styles himself “Rev Dr Coulter’s Press Attache” after all – a grandiose title indeed which no one would want to lose!

    Any guesses as to who the “senior UUP source” he frequently quotes in his articles might be?

    I cant understand why Mick pays him any credence.

  • T.Ruth

    Pakman’s analysis is on line. The deal cannot be done according to Phain’s deadline but the agreement to do a deal is entirely possible and the roadmap to a shared future can be worked out over the next year. The DUP reqirements must be met and though part of the way forward may require D’Hondt system to be in place for a time it clearly must go.The Rev.Ian is the key but it is becoming increasingly clear that he has led his party to a massive victory over terrorism and speaks for the vast majority within Unionism.I believe he will lead his party into devolved government and become First Minister for a period.It would be in my view a serious miscalculation not to press home the enormous advantages DUP negotiators have gained and create the conditions to achieve a great result for the people of Northern Ireland. If the Rev. tells the Unionist community he is happy with the deal they will accept that.We need devolved government and this is the moment the Unionist people have waited for.
    Sinn fein and the IRA must make the concessions needed to ensure their involvement in the Executive level of a devolved Assembly. The government must promise that any party which resiles from a committment to democratic politics will be expelled from the Executive while the Assembly continues without their involvement at Executive level.
    T.Ruth

  • Bushmills

    Ballymena

    He doesn’t seriously refer to himself as a “press attache” – you’ve got to be extracting the urine, surely?….

  • is he

    Average Joe
    “That’s assuming, of course, that Jim Allister has ever had the intention of staging a leadership bid.”

    And assuming he actually is the ‘grassroots favourite’ that you say he is.

  • BooBoo

    The problem with Coulter is that no-one within pro-unionist circles takes him seriously. Which is why he has to write for the Irish Daily Star, Magill and The Blanket.

    He doesn’t understand unionism and his contacts within it are limited to his father and Sam Gardiner. No-one from the DUP gives him the time of day.

    As someone noted earlier, he has gone through just about every possible outcome in the last year.

    It really is very poor stuff—personal and uninformed opinion disguised as analysis.

    BooBoo

  • Briso

    T.Ruth wrote:
    …though part of the way forward may require D’Hondt system to be in place for a time it clearly must go…

    Why?

  • Baldrick45

    T.Ruth – “the enormous advantages DUP negotiators have gained” – ROFLMAO

    Care to elucidate the differences between GFA (which I seem to recall was going to be smashed by the DUP) and the new “Fair Deal” which is about to emerge ? Cause I can’t see a single substantive change which the DUPs have “won”.

    Decomissioning was inevitable and was “given” by P O’Neill when it was advantageous to SF to do so. It would have been nice to have had it sooner but it was in no way a DUP “victory” – You even rejected it’s value at the time..

    All I see by way of DUP negotiations is a few more “greenbacks” to largely undeserving causes but sure they’re “Our causes” rather than “Fenian Causes” and that makes it all right.

    Well no it doesn’t…. wasting public money for party political point scoring is the sort of triumphalist, “We’re more important than you” , “we can do what we want” BS we’ve wasted all these years trying to escape from.

  • GrassyNoel

    There won’t be any deal. What are you all smoking?

    Did you not hear Tony Blair say at the Labour conference last week that he’ll be gone by summer next year? So what’s Paisley’s motivation? he’s going to pretend he’s ready to do a deal, maybe not by the Nov 24 deadline, but a bit later, if we can just extend the deadline a liiiitle bit…then he’ll find some way to stymie it around mid December, then everything will be parked until well after Xmas, and by then everyone’s focus will have shifted to preparing the ground for the new Labour leader election.

    By the way I love the comment above about yer man ‘doesn’t understand unionism’…what’s there not to understand? Unionism is about not sharing power with Taigs, plain and simple, and pretending NI is part of Britain. In that order.

  • barnshee

    “By the way I love the comment above about yer man ‘doesn’t understand unionism’…what’s there not to understand? Unionism is about not sharing power with Taigs, plain and simple, and pretending NI is part of Britain. In that order.”

    Er
    1 Don`t share power with murders and their
    apologists -of whatever hue

    2 NI is “part” of the UK– Britain is the Big Island on the right if you look at a M-A-P

    Just for a laugh
    Of course if the doc had a mischievious streak head he would be off to dublin and suggest

    1 All Ireland parliament in Armagh

    2 D`hont for the new parliament

    3 New flags emblems etc

    4 Police and army 50 % prod

    5 Same equality legislation as current in N Ireland

    6 All other employment must reflect religious divide numbers

    7 End of Irish language requirements

  • GrassyNoel

    “Of course if the doc had a mischievious streak..”

    What do you mean, ‘if’???

    As for M-A-P reading..yeah good one, lol etc. However I was more referring to the what NI politicians love referring to over and over and OVER again, i.e. ‘the rayaluddy of the sitchee-ayshun’, which is that no British person that I’ve ever met or heard speak (apart from politicians paying lip service to the ‘Union’) – & I include many friends of mine in this – considers NI to be part of ‘Great Britain’ in any real sense.

    I remember sitting in a bar in Sydney with a friend from Cornwall 5 or 6 years ago and having to explain (pretty much from scratch, whatever ‘scratch’ is considered to be) what was going on in Northern Ireland, that there were people there who wanted X, and other people who wanted Y etc. and why there used to be bombs going off in places like Manchester, Birmingham and London, who the IRA and UVF and UDA and LVF and UFF and PSNI and GFA and so on…Not only did he find it ridiculously stupid, petty and somewhat confusing, but his eyes started to glaze over and wander around the room after a couple of minutes, a typical British reaction as I’ve said. But then I do have a reputation for being very long-winded when I get into storytelling mode…

    The point is NI is one of the biggest shitholes in the world, and the only reason people outside of NI would want to have anything to do with it at this stage is that they think if they’re seen to be making an effort to ‘sort it all out’, it will:

    a)further their political careers/get them back in the PM’s good books after serving time there , e.g. every minister for NI there has been in the last 40 years; or

    b)add an extra bit of ‘shine’ to the foreign affairs section of their CV and political legacy, i.e. Bill Clinton, Tony Blair.

  • GrassyNoel

    Match of the Day September 2006, Northern Ireland 3 Spain 2.

    Alan Shearer: “There’ll be a lot of pints of guinness drank in Ireland tonight”

  • fair_deal

    Grassynoel

    “Alan Shearer: “There’ll be a lot of pints of guinness drank in Ireland tonight”

    Are you suggesting the inaccurate cultural cliches used by a fottball commentator define entire communities?

  • parcifal

    fair-deal
    I think GN is simply pointing out “how you are seen from the world outside a very small part of Ulster”.

    similiar to this:
    Ali G “So is you Irish”
    Sammy Wilson ” No. I’m British”
    Ali G ” So is you ere on holiday”

    When Trimble tried the slogan “Simply British” it sounded over here ( mainland ) like he was selling pork sausages or ice-cream. It was ridiculous.

    It just doesn’t work. Nobody believes you, even though technically Ulster is part of the UK.
    The identity thing fails, as GN says:
    “nobody considers NI to be part of ‘Great Britain’ in any real sense.”
    I’d like to feel some sympathy for you, but I honestly can’t because I’d be supporting “denial”.

    To me you’d be better off asserting your irish individuality by calling yourselves “Protestant Irish” ie the orange bit in the tri-colour.
    It would solve all the problems, and you’d still have a uniqueness to be proud of.

  • fair_deal

    parcifal

    So what? The ignorance of tohers doesn’t define people, they define themselves.