DUP’s planned, long term rapprochement

There has been a lot of scepticism about whether Paisley would do a deal, especially in Nationalist quarters. Since there is no ink on the St Andrews Document to dry, it cannot be said to have been done, but as one consistently pessimistic journo told Slugger this evening, “it was a great deal more than any of use were expecting”. Another said he has had to keep pinching himself. But the shape of this deal was first sketched by Peter Robinson in interview with Frank Millar in November 2002. And Vincent Browne, in his best journalistic moments an empiricist, two years ago in the wake of Leeds Castle had some interesting historical material on ‘the Doc’.Adds: Peter Robinson’s New York speech, included by request, though I think the shift here is in tone, rather than in substance.

I’m put in mind of the last line Slugger’s think piece on the future of Unionism: A Long Peace?:

Reconciliation is important in Northern Ireland, but so is a return to fullblooded politics. A greater openness will help unionism escape barren ground for more fertile pastures. Unionists must focus on a basic goal – a peaceful, economically prosperous and politically stable Northern Ireland – while drawing on a reservoir of deeply held values. This is not about making unionism more yielding. A ‘long peace’ will not be an easy peace and unionists will often need to be tough in their projection of power. But ‘no’ should never be their final answer. Defensiveness is far too predictable a strategy. A genuinely disruptive politics must shape the terrain on which future contests for the Union will be fought, opening up alternatives, rather than shutting them down.

It relies on democracy – a Northern Ireland that cannot govern itself will always be a brittle and unstable entity. But a strong state should not be an unlimited one. There is not a government solution for every problem. People need elbow room. There must be space for enterprise, an audience for new voices, room for fresh ideas. Unionism would do well to cultivate a certain restlessness; to allow the questioning of hallowed principles; to let mavericks have their head; to encourage experimentation on a small scale to see what will work on the large. Ultimately, this is a battle for people and not for land.

1066 and All That tells us that the English Civil War was ‘an extremely memorable struggle between the Cavaliers (Wrong but Romantic) and the Roundheads (Right but Repulsive).’ In future struggles, unionists need to be both right and attractive. For that, a firmer, bolder, more far-sighted unionism will be needed. In a ‘long peace’, after all, people must want the Union for it to survive.


  • joeCanuck


    I think you should also include a link to the speech Robinson made in New York? a few months ago. There has been a seismic shift in DUP thinking.

  • páid

    Scepticism in this individual Nationalist quarter remains as high as ever. I’m genuinely sorry to say that I don’t buy it, it won’t happen.

    Paisleyism is anti-Irishism. It’s just a question of time until tradition asserts itself and the dreary steeples emerge once again from the Lake of Denial.

    I’m with Corporal Frazer, if not Willie.

    We’re doomed.

  • Carson’s Cat

    A link to the New York speech would be useful:


    However, rather than a shift in thinking today probably represents a big step towards the realisation of what was outlined there.

  • Mick Fealty

    Amended the original now guys… scepticism is a fine and noble position… fat ladies and all that…

  • 4thlanark


    Who defines Irishism?

  • joeCanuck

    I’m not sure that there is such a thing as Irishism or any other nationalism.
    We’re all the products of successive waves of migration throughout the world.
    Yes, we may hold various things in common such as religion, but apart from that, is there really much difference in what Irish people, English people, French people, or whatever, wish for themselves and their children?

  • Crataegus

    It relies on democracy – a Northern Ireland that cannot govern itself will always be a brittle and unstable entity.

    It is difficult to disagree with the general thrust of above but it’s a two sided problem for there are those who don’t want a stable entity. Those who see economic decline and division as a precursor to a United Ireland. It is a view that is as wrong headed as some forms of Unionism. For sadly in the end for Ireland to be United or for there to be an effective Union with Britain requires a substantial body of people who will not have their political aspirations fulfilled, but who must feel comfortable in the state as it then exists. For either of these to happen requires us to address some of the sacred cows such as should political parties be closely affiliated to quasi religious organisations, sports that exclude and schools that place themselves apart. The reality of our economic limitations must provable what we legislate for and the forms of institution we set up. The industry that has been built up surrounding the division must be systematically dismantled. Our economy cannot afford the Byzantine embellishments that have evolved. In the need NI we will need politicians who are good managers and a lot less of the old variety of pedantic begrudges.

    It isn’t just Unionists that needs to display a positive self confidence.

  • Roger

    Irishism ….

    I’m with JoeCanuck… Irishism and any other bloddy “ism” is some nonsense held by the not too bright.
    I’ve had to work all over the world and just about the only norm i have found is that it’s really very simple things that people want from their life. Labels and type casting have got bugger all to do with it.
    Something a lot of the increasingly pompous posts on “Slugger” might like to reflect on.

  • 4thlanark


    Having posed the question, I think that this is a theme that should be explored more on Slugger.

    For example, Irishism – does it mean accepting that a visit to the GP to get help for your sick child will cost you 50 euro? Does it mean being able to have a proper say in the running of your owncountry, instead of being dictated to by English / Welsh / Scottish MPs and faceless civil servants? Does it mean buying into an economic model where those who owned property before 1996 are ok and enjoying the boom, but those didn’t and who are trying to get a house & raise a family have to work 10 hours a day and then commute three hours a day? Does it mean not having to put up with a government that start a war in Iraq based on some rather dubious intelligence?

    I agree with Roger’s suggestion about what people want. The questions are, which state can best deliver the things that people want, and which section of society will be marginalised as a result?

  • Curious

    The ‘agreement’ doesn’t seem to have been a surprise to whoever hosted the event as the ‘St. Andrews Agreement’ signs were to the fore fairly quickly. Is this not just more of the choreography we should now be used to? Is it coincidence the Royal Irish got a medal from HM just before this? Will anyone be surprised that the SF leadership ‘swing’ the Ard Comhairle onto the policing board? Who bets SF (or their successors*) will be in Westminster and the DUP in the Dail within 5 yrs?

    *Can SF retain their current name in a modern society grounded in diversity and inclusion? This may allow them to ‘change’ their traditional stance on a lot of issues.

  • mnob


    No I dont want to pay 50 euro to have my sick child seen to.

    We are not ‘dictated to’ by English/Welsh/Scottish MPs’ – as firstly we now have our own assembly 🙂 but secondly our MPs have the same (if not more by population ratios) power in our parliament. Those English / Welsh / Scottish MPs have the same concerns and worries about their constituents as our MPs should have. We are part of a bigger ecenomic Union – something the Republic took many years to realise and then they jumped to an even bigger union with even less say in their own affairs. For the majority of NIs existence it has done better from being part of its Union.

    The economic model where owning property before 1996 was a good thing – I take it this is ROI you are talking about because there that anomaly is much more pronounced.

    War in Iraq – governments make bad decisions. This wasnt a decision forced on the people of NI but on the people of the UK as a whole. You can react to that by splitting off and denying any responsibility or fighting within your own jurastiction – has the ROI had any effect on this ? (and lets not talk about rendition).