Mick’s taking a well-deserved break for a few days but he’ll be back soon [no rest for the wicked however – Ed]. In the meantime we’ll try to keep the posts flowing and the trolls under the bridge. Opening today’s account is the Irish Times Editorial which argues that, despite the internal party tensions the DUP leader Ian Paisley faces, he can legitimately claim to have changed the political landscape, and that might mean there is no better time for him to seize the moment. [subs req]From the Irish Times
To see the changing world through their eyes is to realise that this is not easy for Dr Paisley. Yet he knows that the world – and “the enemy” – has changed, and that he has correctly divined the mood of his people. He may instinctively revile the language of the “peace process” of which republicans and nationalists claim ownership. He need hardly be expected now to laud the Hume/Adams dialogue, or the many initiatives that preceded it all the way back through people like Fr Alex Reid and Albert Reynolds to Charles Haughey.
Nor is Dr Paisley likely in a moment of humility to acknowledge the role played by David Trimble’s Ulster Unionists in re-shaping and re-directing that process. What Reg Empey calls their “heavy lifting” secured constitutional change in the Republic and brought all parties to accept the principle of consent for any change to Northern Ireland’s own constitutional position. Without it there would not be the foundation for the partnership government Dr Paisley can now jointly lead with Sinn Féin’s Deputy First Minister-designate, Martin McGuinness.
That said, the DUP leader can legitimately claim to have changed the landscape in an already transformed Northern Ireland. The comprehensive IRA decommissioning, damagingly denied to Mr Trimble happened on Dr Paisley’s watch. The reports of the Independent Monitoring Commission testify to the ongoing degradation of the IRA’s capacity as a terrorist organisation. And, crucially, it was Dr Paisley who successfully argued that support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland should be a requirement of any party entering government. He knows that the decision by the Sinn Féin Ardfheis in January marked the final acceptance by republicans of a state they had previously fought to destroy.
Yes, change is required of him. But the circumstances in which he is asked to do so are altered beyond his wildest imaginings. There will never be a better moment – and it is his to seize now.