The DUP’s last minute gamble to leave Unionism without future defence?

The second part of an analysis from our occasional ‘columnist’ The Watchman, in which he looks how all the DUP preconditions lapsed at the playing of the last card in negotiations. He argues that it has left Unionism with no cards left to play if the IRA plays outside the rules of constitutional politics.By The Watchman

Dr No’s Casino Royale – Part 2

“UNLIKE THE UUP, WHEN WE SET DEMANDS, WE MEAN THEM AND WE ADHERE TO THEM”

(Taken from DUP 2005 election manifesto, capitalised and emboldened in the original)

Ian Paisley built his career on contrasting his own self-image as a man who always kept his word as against other unionists who did not. He has claimed that he regards his manifesto commitments as a binding covenant with the electorate. So we are entitled to hold him to them. In 2003 the DUP pledged to keep “terrorist-related politicians” out of office. In 2005 it declared that “inclusive mandatory coalition government” with Sinn Fein under d’Hondt was “out of the question”. But that was all in a pre-St Andrews world.

After St Andrews, the party’s executive committee in November 2006 laid down a number of preconditions before IRA/Sinn Fein could enter government – notice how “never” had been dropped – such as a credible testing period, a completion of decommissioning and a default mechanism by which Sinn Fein could be excluded. Then the recent Assembly manifesto required “delivery by the Republican movement, tried and proved over a credible period, in terms
of support for the PSNI, the courts and the rule of law” that would be “condition-led and not calendar-led”.

The DUP’s executive committee passed another resolution on Saturday 24 March, very different in tone and content from that of November. The party would merely act in a way “consistent with our renewed and strengthened electoral mandate and based on our manifesto pledges”. This partial retreat paved for the way for Paisley’s formal surrender on the Monday.

In Paisley’s extraordinary statement of 26 March, he announced his intention to form the Executive without any preconditions on a given date. In fact, this had several breaches of the manifesto on which the DUP had just won its great victory. His son and minder bragged that Dad had won a great victory by breaking through Peter Hain’s deadline. But this concession proved that the DUP’s position was indeed “calendar-led”, and not “condition-led”.

There was no mention that the following six weeks would be a time for testing the IRA’s good faith. Of course, a test where failure is precluded is no test at all, for Paisley had voluntarily bolted the door to any retreat. After being love-bombed by people who damned him for forty years, it is inconceivable that he could now suddenly halt the devolution juggernaut. Finally, a “credible period” of testing demands far more than six weeks. If the DUP had safeguarded its interest here, it would have ensured that it remained firmly in control of this timetable.

All of this spells trouble for Paisley and the DUP. It is obvious that the party buckled under pressure. On 25 March Peter Hain boasted that the DUP had asked twice for an extension and was told that the approval of Sinn Fein would be needed. Since St Andrews, the party has been trying to convince the outside world that the leadership’s position enjoyed the overwhelming support of the membership.

But in October, a BBC poll showed that internal opposition to the St Andrews road map stood at 31.9 pc with only 46.6 pc in support. The DUP has not properly prepared its membership for a u-turn far more flagrant than Trimble ever proposed. Paisley may still be certain to get his own way in the DUP. Yet Trimble also won every internal party vote and ultimately it did him no good. Whatever happens, Paisley’s relationship with his party will never be the same again.

But perhaps the deadliest threat to Paisley comes from his new coalition partners. All the evidence – Florida, Colombia, the Northern Bank, the McCartney murder and related intimidation, and the endless below-radar criminality – shows that republicans ought to have no place in government, perhaps not for ever. Does the DUP still believe that leading Sinn Feiners are, to quote its 2003 manifesto, “terrorist-related politicians”? If not, when did they cease to be such?

The party is already finding the limits to Sinn Fein’s endorsement of policing, when one of its MPs attacked the PSNI for making an arrest in connection with attempted murder. Prior to signing up to policing, Sinn Fein negotiated concessions likely to impede the PSNI in confronting the vast network of the IRA’s organised crime. MI5 is to have no role in policing and the Assets Recovery Agency is to be scrapped.

How the DUP responds when the IRA is up to its old tricks will be interesting. The party may well try to play it down, as Trimble did, since it would leave its leader terribly exposed. Paisley is entrusting his political fate to those with a track record for chicanery and lying. As an aside, he is also assuming that it will always be in the interests of Sinn Fein to keep the Executive in existence.

Paisleyism was built upon one man’s ability to fuse together four ingredients: militant loyalism, evangelical Protestantism, anti-elitism and social activism. For forty years it gave him a fervent support base that was the envy of other unionists. Now Paisley has seen off all rivals to be the undisputed king of unionism. Free for the first time from any electoral threat, he is now also free to indulge his egotism and vanity.

He has shown himself incapable of holding any line against the ongoing republican march through the political process. He was bullied by threats and bribed with office more easily than any imagined. His yielding to Hain’s cynical behaviour guarantees that such bullying will be used against unionists, should they refuse to play ball in the future. He has decisively betrayed his base, as shown by his party’s loss of control of Ballymena Council.

However, Paisley has also opened up a niche to the right of him for a strong character to exploit. It is not clear if such a figure exists. But a healthy minority of the larger unionist party disenchanted with developments, even as they stand, is a starting point.

,

  • Harris

    Paisley seems to be going back on a lot of things lately.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/07/uk_enl_1175684377/html/1.stm

  • Dr Strangelove

    “endless below-radar criminality”

    Is there evidence for this Watchman ? I think you must go staight to the police with whatever you have showing Sinn Fein members engaged in criminal activity.

    I wonder if their “terrorist related” politican remarked referred to any of their own members ?

  • Harris

    Dr.

    “with whatever you have showing Sinn Fein members engaged in criminal activity.”

    But there aren’t, nor have there been any Sinn Fien members engaged in criminality.

  • Sean

    Funny how the unionists always call for the exclusion of the republicanparties but never for the exclusion of their own terrorists and criminals

  • SuperSoupy

    God, I thought Republicans got it tough from the naysayers and doom merchants but it seems the backwards looking pessimists of Unionism are even more jaundiced.

    *Waves at him as the last train leaves without him and the station-master locks him in the station*

  • Two Nations

    If Republicans do return to violence or other nefarious activities, have Unionists nowhere to turn?

    What nonsense. If Republicans do commit ‘old tricks’ and it is proven, then it is up to the two Governments and the rest of the parties to act. If the Governments refuse to act on evidence, then they are condoning non-constitutional activities. All agreements past and present would then be null and void due to the actions of Republicans and the inaction of the Governments.

    If that is the case then Unionists are not bound by any laws and can decide their own fate. We are not answerable to anyone. We have decided our fate in the past and we can do so again.

    If Republicans want powersharing and North-South bodies then they know how they should behave. If Unionists want devolved Government then they know how they need to behave.

    There are rules to be played and other parties refuse to play by them, then no one is obligated to play the game.

    Watchman and all the other Unionist naysayers need to grow a set of balls and know that the future of the British people on the island of Ireland lie ultimately with themselves.

    I did fear the GFA, I did not fear SAA and I do not fear SF because I know this to be true.

  • William Lundy

    The sentence on which the Watchman’s entire point of view rests is: “All the evidence – Florida, Colombia, the Northern Bank, the McCartney murder and related intimidation, and the endless below-radar criminality – shows that republicans ought to have no place in government, perhaps not for ever.” Florida dates from 1999, Columbia from 2000/01. No evidence has ever been made public to suggest that republicans were involved in the Northern Bank robbery. If there had been any – and I concede it may yet come to light – a trial would have been mounted. The killing of Robt McCartney was barbaric but it does not seem to have been an IRA-sanctioned killing. There may be others and if there are that will be a test for all sides in the new administration.

    The Watchman overlooks two things, IMHO. First he overlooks the scope of republicans’ political ambitions. The republican movement is evolving into a slick political operation with its sights firmly set on government north and south of the border. Criminality can only hinder them there. Second, he overlooks the fact that centre-ground unionism really does want to cut a deal so Paisley has a lot of political room for manoeuvre. The centre ground isn’t interested in restoring a unionist parliament for a unionist people any more.

    If unionism wishes to survive and indeed to flourish it cannot talk about certain parts of the electorate being permanently excluded from government.

  • whistling gypsy rover

    Watchman’s a typical UUP man.Whining like crazy now that DUP has outflanked them and played a blinder. RA isn’t going back to violence- electoral ambition too strong and climate change after 9/11. Mind you, i’m beginning to think he’s taken lessons from one of the Ballymena madmen, namely Robin Stirling- the anti-Paisley rhetoric is remarkably similar

  • Greenflag

    Two nations ,

    ‘If that is the case then Unionists are not bound by any laws and can decide their own fate.

    Indeed . Each Unionist MLA has two legs as has each SF MlA

    ‘We are not answerable to anyone.’

    Other than the NI electorate I’d add .

    ‘We have decided our fate in the past and we can do so again. ‘

    True although I would question the quality/timing of the ‘fate’ decision making in the past .

    Watchman’s analysis is on the surface plausible but his prescription for the ‘future’ is just a repeat of the wasted past. I can understand his feeling ‘aggrieved’ at Paisley’s seeming triumph .Political ‘success’ is often determined and won by those who can sell the most optimistic sounding ‘lie’ to the ‘faithful’. Here a fudge there a nod – and the job is oxo.

    ‘Watchman and all the other Unionist naysayers need to grow a set of balls and know that the future of the British people on the island of Ireland lie ultimately with themselves. ‘

    Full marks for the obvious TN .


    Paisley appears to have delivered most unionist voters into power sharing with SF . His next ‘trick’ assuming the first trick holds -will be ‘delivering ‘ the ‘British /British/Irish/Unionist/Ulster/NI ‘
    hereafter termed the ‘stroke’ people -into a more pragmatic ‘relationship’ with the Republic. A semi autonomous NE mainly Unionist region with some devolved powers in some areas inside a politically stable United Ireland could be what’s needed to give Unionists the confidence they need to move beyond their self imposed political and economic horizons ?

    Whatever the future – there will be no return to simple majority rule in a 6 county NI context .
    What is Watchman’s prescription for future political stability ?

    Elect a new ‘people ‘ is what it sounds like !

    And that is not going to happen .

  • George

    Watchman,
    it seems to me that you are bemoaning the loss of unionism’s latest vanguard against a united Ireland – the mix of militant loyalism, evangelical Protestantism, anti-elitism and social activism.

    And you see nothing coming in its place.

  • kokane

    To be fair if someone calls you a lying, whoring, feninaising friend of popery for jumping into bed wtih lying, whoring, feninaising papists and
    then they do the same it must be tempting to return the compliment. This time round though nobodys listening (except in Ballymena) – but I suppose thats politics.

  • T.Ruth

    We have an Agreement now that places Unionism in control of the Unionist agenda.Of course an agreement to share power in the Sunningdale era might have resulted in a whole different set of circumstances but the majority Unionist voice was excluded from that deal. Events have shown that extremism continued-given the SF/IRA mentality of that time so its hard to judge past events.
    We live however in the present and this Agreement hopefully has removed the belligerent Republic of Ireland dimension from our politics at last. The guns are gone or going .The Loyalist community wishes to fully embrace the political process.Republicans have recognised the legitimacy of the state and the PSNI and are willing to sit in a Stormont Assembly within the UK. North Southery is under Unionist control. Ministers are accountable to the Assembly. Additionally we have a great sense from all quarters that we are on the road to better times. It is difficult for some Unionists to stomach when terrorists are elevated to ministerial office but it is for those people to live with the memory of La Mon.Kingsmills.Bloody Friday,and a hundred other atrocities on their conscience.

    There is a default mechanism.If SF reverts to support for terrorism and criminality this deal is off and we make a new deal that may admit them to the Assembly on the basis of their political mandate but exclude them from the Executive.It would be inconceivable to collapse the process because one party defaulted.
    The DUP will work to advance the majority Unionist agenda with respect to the democratic rights of all citizens. Unionists have nothing to fear-Northern Ireland is in safe hands.
    T.Ruth

  • T.Ruth

    OOps. Senior moment in line 1. Unionists in control of the political agenda.
    T.Ruth

  • scary_eire

    T.Ruth

    Sorry, i might of believed that a month or two ago but now im begining to think that Greenflag’s post at 2.53pm is beginning to look more realistic.

  • kokane

    T.Ruth

    With dead bodies on both sides and principles shelved all round its difficult to see who has won has and who has lost. Non Iron can certainly not claim to be as British as Kent and given the way it has been treated by its ‘own’ governement should probably look south for better friends. I think FG/DUP would make a nice political couple.

  • Sean

    T.Ruth

    what happens when your beloved DUP revert to supporting terrorism and criminality does that mean they get excluded as well?

    Cause paisley is as deep in the muck as Adams is

  • slug

    Soft power (charm offensives) seems to be the way forward for both sides now, post St Andrews Agreement.

  • Greenflag

    T.Ruth ,

    ‘We have an Agreement now that places Unionism in control of the Unionist agenda.’

    Your ‘senior’ moment was actually correct . Your less senior amendment sounds like wishful thinking IMO.

    ‘Unionists have nothing to fear-Northern Ireland is in safe hands. ‘

    I agree that Unionists should have nothing to fear but that won’t stop the xenophobic paranoia among the doubting Allisters/Gillespies etc etc.

    As for NI being in safe hands ?

    Given the history I’d have said relatively
    ‘safe’ hands and a very large mouth 🙁 Two of said hands are attached to an octogenarian fundamentalist cleric.

    I’d have preferred Plan B or Repartition of NI but I’m going to give Paisley and Adams/McGuinness the benefit of the doubt for at least trying and getting this far . Who knows it may even work ? If it does’nt well it’s back to the drawing board .

    It may be that the DUP’s greater organisational and managerial efficiency allied to the SF professional political machine will result in a less frayed power sharing Assembly than the Trimble /Mallon tempestous affair ?

    So behind all the political credos and aspirations maybe just implementing common sense organisational procedures for this unlikely combination is what will make the difference this time . That and the prospect of political failure leading to an effective end to a career in politics for most MLA’s might be just what was/is needed ?

  • kokane

    Greenflag,

    Repartition? Would have been a great opprortunity to get shot of Cavan.

  • GavBelfast

    Greenflag,

    I thought you were supposed to be off repartition for Lent?

  • Sue

    Northern Bank? There is no palce for the British government in the running of NI then.

  • kokane

    Sue

    “There is no place for the British government in the running of NI”

    Thats what Gizzly and the Rev told the boy Hain.

  • Comrade Stalin

    We have an Agreement now that places Unionism in control of the Unionist agenda.Of course an agreement to share power in the Sunningdale era might have resulted in a whole different set of circumstances but the majority Unionist voice was excluded from that deal.

    T.Ruth,

    What is this revisionist bollocks ? Unionism was not excluded from Sunningdale; it chose to sit outside, and then when the result was not to it’s liking, it used paramilitary thuggery to bring it down.

    Don’t try to pretend that you were victims in Sunningdale. You people wrecked it, and here you are 25 years later backing it up and pretending it’s some sort of victory.

  • Greenflag

    Kokane ,

    ‘Repartition? Would have been a great opportunity to get shot of Cavan.’

    Where’s that ?

    Is’nt that somewhere beyond Blanchardstown and Mulhuddart ?

  • Hidari

    ‘However, Paisley has also opened up a niche to the right of him for a strong character to exploit. It is not clear if such a figure exists. But a healthy minority of the larger unionist party disenchanted with developments, even as they stand, is a starting point.’

    But such figures already exist. They are called ‘terrorists’, and they are represented by such organisations as the UDA, the UVF, and the Red Hand Commandos. Whatever happens, there is no going back down that particular road.

    The fact is, with Scotland and Wales now having assemblies (this is the key difference between now and the 1970s) it is an anachronism for Northern Ireland NOT to have some form of devolved powers. Likewise, with an increasingly strong EU, it would be weird for Northern Ireland NOT to have cross-border relations.

    As William Lundy points out, there is not even the ghost of a case against the IRA (let alone Sinn Feinn) as regards issues such as the Northern Bank robbery. Which, to repeat, is NOT to say that evidence will not appear at some point in the future. And how many young people in Northern Ireland could actually say what the Florida and Columbia ‘scandals’ were even about?

    If Sinn Feinn were barred from the assembly then why not bar the Ulster Political Research Group from Belfast Council or kick out Dawn Purvis (Progressive Unionist Party) from the Assembly?

    But that’s different, of course, isn’t it?

    The fact is that Paisley was not railroaded into this decision, he wasn’t forced or bribed, and nor has he ‘sold out’. The Assembly, like it or loathe it, is the only game in town, Sinn Feinn have to be part of the Assembly, and Paisley has simply had to recognise that fact. As Margaret Thatcher used to say: TINA. There Is No Alternative.

  • Aquifer

    “However, Paisley has also opened up a niche to the right of him for a strong character to exploit.”

    Oh really. Another dupe to flay the Union with monster demonstrations of sectarian otherness? A characature of bigotry to make SF look reasonable by comparison? A strong man to scare the crap out of the fenians and show that the northern state will always fail the citizenship test?

    Thanks for trying to think things out from a Unionist perspective. Please don’t let my comments put you off trying to write your thoughts out again.

    Paisley has still enough wit to realise that Unionism must be sponsored by the British to flourish. Yielding to Hain was no burden, it was the only course of action available.

  • T.Ruth

    Unionists were deliberately excluded from Sunningdale so that an agreement could be forged which created an Irish dimension to our politics strong enough to satisfy violent Republicanism.
    The IRA murder and bombing campaign was in full swing and the naked sectarianism of the IRA could not have been checked except by total surrender of the province.

    Now we have a deal that is the best deal Unionists have been offered at any stage since the trouble reignited in the late sixties..
    Unionists control the political agenda. The Irish dimension will be determined by Unionists as will the conduct of N/S bodies and Ministers.The border is no longer an issue.Northern Ireland’s integrity will remain secure under a Unionist majority in the Assembly and Executive. The guns are going ,going,gone. Sinn Fein is signed up to recognise PSNI and the State of Northern Ireland.
    The IRA like the Loyalist paramilitaries will morph into Community development organisations.

    We have peace and the prospect of prosperity.As a Unionist I can live with the STA Agreemnent while gutted that a perfidious British government can bow the knee to terrorism by including them in the Executive level of government.

    It is for Adams ,McGuiness and Kelly and co to live out their future with the blood of innocent victims on their hands.I am glad I can face my children and grand children with a clear conscience in that respect.

    Tony Blair’s legacy will be characterised by his lies; by his failure to defend democracy
    and his capitulation to terrorists in his own back yard.

    There are so many people in our society whose lives have been blighted by forty years of pointless sectarian violence and I would not wish my children and grand children to be forced to endure such conditions for a minute longer than necessary.

    I congratulate the DUP leadership and negotiators on their success in rescuing Northern Ireland from the malign intentions of our government and the government of the Republic and winning the war against terror.

    We have the prospect of a great future. bring it on.

    T.Ruth

  • darth rumsfeld

    ..er, without wanting to be insulting, T.ruth, you could be quoting Dermot Nesbitt circa April 1998-except of course that unionists weren’t excluded from Sunningdale- unless you mean the same ordinary Unionists who will become increasingly offended by the outworkings of this abortion of a government, just as they did in 1974

  • I won’t respond to everything here because it would take another 2000 words and I’ve spent enough time over a PC in the last week. But I’ll make these 2 points:

    1. No one has challenged a central theme of my articles, namely that the DUP’s negotiating position collapsed more conclusively than Trimble’s ever did. (By the way, T.Ruth, how exactly do you know that all the IRA guns have gone?)

    2. Plenty of commentators on these 2 threads carry a lot of bile. Whatever you may think of the position of people like myself, it is at least honest and rational. Far too many posts have been full of mud-slinging along the lines of “Gosh those Ballymena refuseniks are ghastly so we don’t have to consider their arguments”. If you want to think that at the moment, fair enough. But if the IRA acts in the same way as it did during the last Executive, there’s going to be a lot more of us about.

  • kokane

    I agree with your remarks about bile and collapsing negotiating positions. The only explanation offered seems to be that the unionist people knew Paisley was not really interested in a testing period and knew he was going into government without any further movement by SF. This may be true for some but not for all.

    Under the STA is it not the case that the British cannot collapse the assembly – the UU did not agree to this – and was a key demand of SF? Constitutionally this strikes me as quite significant but seems to have attracted little comment by those defending Pailseys negotiating position.

  • Small still voice

    “[I]s it not the case that the British cannot collapse the assembly?” – let’s be polite and transliterate ‘British’ into HMG (as of course there are plenty of ‘British’ sitting in Stormont), and answer your question accordingly: the Government can and will do whatever it likes, and is in no way bound by anything that issued from St Andrew’s. It’s shown itself to be unshackled thus in countless instances in the past, and assuredly will do so again. The doctrine (and for would be reunified Irishmen, deeply unwelcome *fact*) of parliamentary supremacy, let alone all of those happy Henrician executive powers gives Whitehall and Westminster an entirely free hand to reshape present, past and future however it suits them.

  • kokane

    Small Little Voice, yes I should have said British Government.

    I understood – perhaps incorrectly – that in relatin to GFA there is an international apsect to that agreement ( i.e. with the Republic ) and likewise the STA?

  • I didn’t read these comments made by Paisley on the Nolan Show until today on the BBC website and I find them staggering:

    “We were told if we didn’t do this then it was going to be curtains for our country.

    “How would I have faced my people if I had allowed this country to have the union destroyed and the setting up of a joint government by the south of Ireland?”

    In other words Papa Doc can think of no intrinsic merits for the deal he has done. If you admit that you have been bullied into a deal into which you would have not otherwise have entered, then you have been negotiating from a position of weakness.

  • Comrade Stalin

    T.Ruth:

    Unionists were deliberately excluded from Sunningdale so that an agreement could be forged which created an Irish dimension to our politics strong enough to satisfy violent Republicanism.

    You’re totally wrong. Violent republicanism was not present at Sunningdale. The IRA rejected the Sunningdale agreement completely.

    What is the difference between excluding Paisley from Sunningdale, and excluding Sinn Fein from talks in the way that you were on Slugger justifying until recently ? Paisley in the 1970s associated himself with loyalist paramilitaries and was proud of it. He marched men around waving gun licenses, and there are photographs of him as well as accounts from Gusty Spence and Glenn Barr about how he tried to take the credit for the paramilitary strike.

    Now we have a deal that is the best deal Unionists have been offered at any stage since the trouble reignited in the late sixties..

    A deal with Sinn Fein plus Dublin influence, is better than a deal with the SDLP plus Dublin influence ? Codswallop!! You’re spinning away with the old doublethink. Do you really think people buy this rubbish ? You can delude yourself if you want, you can’t delude me. You have done a u-turn which, had you done it 30 years ago, might have saved thousands of lives.

    Unionists control the political agenda.

    Total and utter rubbish. Paisley admitted himself yesterday that the alternative was Plan B, with joint authority and Sinn Fein in the driving seat. Unionists are at the mercy of the political agenda, though they (pragmatically, for the first time ever) took the least worst option.

    The IRA like the Loyalist paramilitaries will morph into Community development organisations.

    If you believe that the loyalists are community development organizations, you really are living on the moon. Where on earth are you coming up with this crap ? Next you’ll be telling me that Al Quaida is an Arabic singing school.

    It is for Adams ,McGuiness and Kelly and co to live out their future with the blood of innocent victims on their hands.I am glad I can face my children and grand children with a clear conscience in that respect.

    Are you sure ? You’re just after describing the loyalists as community development organizations. What sort of community development was the South Antrim UDA doing when they shot dead Danny McColgan as he went to work in a post office in Rathcoole ? What do you think Raymond McCord would make of your comment ?

    I find this remark to be extremely dangerous. Unionists like yourself seem to regard loyalists as benign, friendly organizations. This is in spite of repeated IMC reports pointing at their ongoing criminality, and their refusal to disarm.

    There are so many people in our society whose lives have been blighted by forty years of pointless sectarian violence and I would not wish my children and grand children to be forced to endure such conditions for a minute longer than necessary.

    Thank christ. It’s a shame you didn’t work it out 30 years ago.

    I’m pleased that you are supporting cross-community agreement and structures. What I don’t understand is why you feel the need to lie to yourself and others. I get the feeling that you are typing the above out to try to convince yourself, as much as you are trying to convince everyone else. This is like the people in Sinn Fein who said that the Good Friday Agreement secured the path to Irish reunification, when it in fact jettissoned almost every single one of the principles republicans had killed people for.

    Let’s just get it straight. Unionism has decided to stop blocking, stop the bullshit and start being pragmatic, recognizing that talking and dealing with Sinn Fein was the best way to move forward. Your approach in the past was wrong; now you’ve corrected it. Please at least be man enough to admit it. Don’t bullshit and lie your way through it – it will come back to haunt you.

  • kokane

    Paisley Interview

    Plan B is outed. It was not the water what done it after all. Perfidious Albion strikes it’s most devoted child.

    I am surprised he admitted that he was coerced as this is not to his political advantage to do so. From listening to part of the interview on RTE radio he appeared to be quite rattled and perhaps unguardedly said more than he should.

  • John East Belfast

    Watchman

    “In other words Papa Doc can think of no intrinsic merits for the deal he has done. If you admit that you have been bullied into a deal into which you would have not otherwise have entered, then you have been negotiating from a position of weakness.”

    I too have found that Nolan Interview breathtaking.

    Never again can anyone in the DUP describe the UUP as ‘Pushover Unionism’.

    There is no question that Paisley painted the unionist community into a corner and faced with Power Sharing or Joint Authority he spectacularly capitulated.

    His actions since then have been both embarrasing and pathetic to watch – you almost feel sorrow for him was it not for the untold damage that man has done to the unionist cause his entire life.

    He has destroyed moderate unionism and elevated Republicanism at the expense of constitutional nationalism all because of his own vanity and beligerance.

    Having spent his life in destructive protest he was clearly out of his depth when it came to constructive negotiation because he left himself with no where to go.

    Even his language now about “sacrificing his reputation for the country” etc – what did he think Pro Agreement Unionism was about all that time ?

    When Trimble was at the helm he was a nationally respected politician leading mainstream and moderate unionism in a continual battle to get Republicans to adhere to their commitments.

    ‘Right’ was on unionism’s side and not once at that time would the British & Irish Governments have threatened the UUP with Joint Authority or make them believe it was “curtains” for the country.

    How could Paisley have allowed such a scenario to be reached.

    Paisley is now being patronised and sniggered at by London, Dublin and SF – somebody needs to tell the man

    – absolutely pathetic.

  • darth rumsfeld

    only problem with your analysis John is that Trimble repeatedly caved in, and thus whatever respect he may have won for the initial decision was thrown away because he was so thoroughly in Blair’s pocket. Paisley may still-just- have enough ability to whip up sturm und drang to need watching, though admittedly this pathetic interview hardly helps.

    “Moderate Unionism” is often trailed as a virtue, but for such a disliked community which lacks influence it is often more of a vice. Our influence at its core is founded on the ability to be a greater pain if coerced – like a wife too expensive to divorce. Perhaps this will change in future, but not for some time.

  • John East Belfast

    darth

    What is Trimble “caving in” to you is Trimble taking risks to me. It would only have been a cave in had he stayed in there – but although he jumped 3 times he also pulled the plug 3 times.

    Right and argument was on our side – we were never being blackmailed by the British & Irish Govts.

    We said we were up for a deal and had proven we had no problem with sharing power but we expected Republicans to deliver.

    We didnt know until last week if Paisley was up for power sharing or not and in the end he had painted himself into a corner and his bluff was called. When Paisley was pushed it wasnt a case of him falling over but it was more he was discovered as being hollow – there was nothing there.

    Trimble was never in a corner – we had stayed in the centre of the ring with options open and if we were knocked down we got up again.

    Paisley has played all unionism’s trump cards and there are none left – being “a pain if coerced” is now shown as a hollow threat and God knows where we will be led by the nose to now.

    SF realised that moderate unionism was their biggest obstacle – it would reinforce SDLP and win sympathy from the Govts.
    They needed Paisley at the helm to destroy the moderate unionist voice, reinforce their Republicanism at the expense of the SDLP and ultimately tame Paisley himself.

    They used Paisley’s bluster and vanity to achieve this and anti Agreement unionism was equally used by SF and Paisley.

  • The Dubliner

    “As a Unionist I can live with the STA Agreemnent while gutted that a perfidious British government can bow the knee to terrorism by including them in the Executive level of government.” – T.Ruth

    Isn’t the reason you can live with terrorists in government simply that it is preferable to a greater role for constitutional nationalists in the running of the state i.e. the Dublin government?

    It can’t be a sincerely held principle when it is abandoned for such a base sectarian purpose, can it?

  • kokane

    Dubliner

    It is no more ‘sectarian’ not to want ‘Irish’ involvement in ‘Ulster’ than it is ‘sectarian’ to to not want ‘British’ involment in Nort East Ireland.

    Its simply a question of national identity.

  • Can we please …

    … get away from this nonsense that Paisley was threatned with ‘joint authority’: he wasn’t, he’s lying in affecting that he was.

  • kokane

    Can we please

    Can we please have some evidence for your contention.

  • Can we please

    ***I’m*** not making any contention: it’s Paisley that’s making the contention (ie ‘we had to X otherwise we were threatened with Y’). No evidence has been supplied to back up Paisley’s contention for the very good reason that there isn’t any: it’s yet another one of the lies his long career is littered with. And for anyone who doubts that this is the case (that there was indeed NO threat of anything so fanciful), go and find Robinson or Dodds and ask them then. Ask them: were you threatened with anything that even vaguely resembles ‘joint authority’ if you didn’t in the end cut the deal you did? I have: there wasn’t.

  • Can We Please,

    What about Jeffrey Donaldson’s leaked private comments at the end of last year, November I think, namely that if his party did not do the deal then it would be faced with joint authority?

    BTW, I also regard it as a green bogeyman, although one capable of scaring far too many politicos into situations that cannot favour them.

  • Can we please

    *If* he said it (which I don’t think he did), then very obviously – bogus granny frightening.

  • kokane

    Can we please,

    “go and find Robinson or Dodds and ask them them”

    Been looking all evening and no sign of Robbo & Doddo anywhere – though perhaps they dont drink on the Falls road?

    It is not in the DUP interest to suggest that they were threatened with Joint Authority – so Paisley had no incentive to make it up whereas Robbo & Doddo do have an incentive to deny it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It can’t be a sincerely held principle when it is abandoned for such a base sectarian purpose, can it?

    Don’t hold your breath. Any time I ask T Ruth anything that requires a substantive response he goes quiet or repeats what looks like a DUP mantra.

    I think we need to subject him to the Turing Test.

  • Philip

    If you take a man at his word then Paisley has sold out, plain and simple. How can the catchphrase of “Never, never, never” be ambiguous? Several years ago, I suggested that Paisleyism and Robinsonism factions are at work within the DUP. Today it seems the latter has won with the former being the puppet king for vanity sake.
    In the Newsletter today, a letter states that the DUP existed to destroy the UUP; this thereby implies that it did not have as its prime objective the betterment of all of the citizens of the province.
    Notwithstanding the annoying trait of Christian forgiveness, one must ask, if it was wrong to share power with the SDLP in 1998 why is it right to share power with Sinn Fein/IRA in 2007?
    Furthermore, Northern Ireland’s future lies in the hands of her citizens’ consent. Therefore by sharing power with members who belong to an unconstitutional and unlawful Marxist Army Council instead of following up on their Manifesto pledges and falling on their swords if need be, would a constitutional and lawful administration via Direct Rule (+ Joint Authority) not be preferable?

  • kokane

    Philip

    “would a lawful administration via Direct Rule (+ Joint Authority) not be preferable”

    Dont forget that SF might hold the balance of power in south if not this time – then next time round.

    I think DUP were put in a very difficult position and did a Trimble i.e. took the least worst option.

  • Inspector Clouseau

    SF could be prohibited from goverment at Stormont but it is possible they could have been part of a Dublin goverment with more authority in NI’s internal affairs.

    I think Paisley was balancing forcing SF down exclusively democratic route without letting the balance tip to joint stewardship.

    Dont forget that he was dealing with terrorist-murdering bastards on one hand and lying manipulative bastards on the other(London and NIO). All and all he did better than Trimble.

  • kokane

    Clouseau,

    How do Paisley’s remarks about Joint Authority play with Unionists?

    I presumed that it would be damamging to the DUP.

  • Inspector Clouseau

    I understand that they could be negative, however Paisley has a certain credibility built up within the unionist community that Unionists may have the attitude that if Paisley said that this deal was better for Ulster than the alternative it must be true.

  • Philip

    Indeed he does. He has that ironic quality of being the oxymoronic trusted politician. As for Sinn Fein holding the balance of power in the Republic of Ireland, this indeed could be true but it is a different political animal down there. In addition, by the next UK General Election there could be a hung Parliament and the unionist MPs per se could be the fulcrum of power here.
    It is a long time since we heard the ‘guns under the table’ chants. Do you think the DUPs’ rent-a-thugs are embarrassed?

  • Alex S

    How do Paisley’s remarks about Joint Authority play with Unionists?

    I suspect that for the majority, especially the non-voters it’s makes little difference given the changes south of the border in the last 30 years

  • Philip

    There is an old joke that goes:
    If money is the root of all evil why do churches always want it…
    Putting that to one side it appears that given a sufficient amount of it any principle can be lost with the passage of time.

  • Soa

    Nice site.

  • Philip

    Talk about surreal!

  • John East Belfast

    kokane

    “How do Paisley’s remarks about Joint Authority play with Unionists?”

    If Trimble had come to the UUC and told us we either do this what we dont want to do or we have Joint Authority we would have been going back to the Associations and telling them to prepare for war.

    However we were about reaching Agreement in Partnership with Nationalists as equals being facilitated by the two Governments.

    That we would have received such an ultimatum would have been unthinkable.

    That Paisley has managed to humiliate the unionist people this way is astounding.

  • Greenflag

    ‘however Paisley has a certain credibility built up within the unionist community that Unionists may have the attitude that if Paisley said that this deal was better for Northern Ireland than the alternative it must be true. ‘

    Snake oil is much more authentic when bought from a real snake oil salesman . As a 60 year purveyor of heavenly promise for the ‘chosen’ people it’s not surprising that Elixir Doc should have built up such ‘credibility’. Was’nt it Goebbels who said that if you repeat a lie long enough it becomes the ‘truth’ ? Only when/if the time arrives and the emperor concedes that he is in fact naked -will the credulous look elsewhere for salvation.

    I don’t ever foresee Elixir Doc as ever declaring his ‘nakedness ‘. With a neck like the proverbial jockey’s bollix and a skin as thick as a pachyderm’s the sight of a naked Paisley is not one which even the most hardened Republican or Irish Nationalist would want to confront! The Doc will make the hundred yet !

  • Stiofán de Buit

    If Trimble had come to the UUC and told us we either do this what we dont want to do or we have Joint Authority we would have been going back to the Associations and telling them to prepare for war.

    I can’t help but imagine scenes reminiscent of Dad’s Army. Willie Ross would have made a great Pvt. Frazer, John Taylor’s plummy vowels would make him a natural for Sgt. Wilson, and of course young Jeffrey Donaldson would have to be Pikey.

    Altogether now:

    Who do you think you are kidding Mrs. Mowlam…

  • Greenflag

    ‘If Trimble had come to the UUC and told us we either do this what we dont want to do or we have Joint Authority we would have been going back to the Associations and telling them to prepare for war. ‘

    So are we to deduce from this you you now see Paisley as a ‘peacemaker’ ?

    BTW -Who would the ‘War’ have been with ? The British Government or Irish Government or the Nationalist people of Northern Ireland or just a civil war between Unionists of various degrees of intransigence ?

  • John East Belfast

    Greenflag

    If the British Govt had told nationalism and republicanism that if they didnt do what they wanted they would be faced with a return to majority Stormont Rule somehow I think the same unease would have been generated.

    Somebody asked how unionists would have reacted to being given an ultimatum about Joint Authority and I tried to give you an honest answer Pre Paisley.

    There is no point beating about the bush about such things – how that would have manifested itself is something thank God we did not face but I am only pointing out that such an undemocratic scenario would have caused unionism to seriously consider its options.

    Yes I am speaking drammatically but I am amazed at what has happened here.

    The UUP tore itself to pieces with endless discussion and meetings about sharing power with republicans.

    However Paisley appears to have turned up to his Executive a couple of weeks ago and told them the game was up. Either they flip flopped on everything they had been sayng for at least 10 years or we would have Joint Authority and it was ‘curtains’ for Northern Ireland – just unbelievable.

    I would have thought Paisley 30 years ago would have reacted to form against such a scenario but I suppose now that he is at the helm he was totally out of his depth.

    It is one thing belly roaring and encouraging young guys to be attracted to loyalist paramilitarism but it is another to have to take the lead in such things yourself.

    However Paisley and the DUP have always provided bad leadership for uinionism.

    The true risk taking and firm leadership of unionism always lay with the UUP.

    It is pretty clear that the DUP’s stance the last 10 years was all about elevating Paisley.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    JEB: “If the British Govt had told nationalism and republicanism that if they didnt do what they wanted they would be faced with a return to majority Stormont Rule somehow I think the same unease would have been generated. ”

    That doesn’t necessarily clarify your prior statement, JEB.

    JEB: “There is no point beating about the bush about such things – how that would have manifested itself is something thank God we did not face but I am only pointing out that such an undemocratic scenario would have caused unionism to seriously consider its options.”

    funny thing, innit, JEB — Unionism claims to loath Loyalism, but, when thwarted, can readily find the means to hold their nose an’ encourage them to gird themselves for conflict, which, to that collection of thugs, usually meant up the random killing of Catholics.

    JEB: “I would have thought Paisley 30 years ago would have reacted to form against such a scenario but I suppose now that he is at the helm he was totally out of his depth. ”

    A fairer explanation is that Paisley, for all his skill at demagougery, is, at the root, a tyro when it comes to actual legitimate politics. Having learned nothing of maneuver in his thrity-odd years of rabble-rousing, he was cheerfully out-maneuvered by most of the other players, some of whom held weaker hands. Likewise, I would point out that Paisley managed to get a number of things that the UUP had been unable to deliver, simply be being intrangiesent.

  • John East Belfast

    Dread

    Please stop trying to read anything other than what I said.
    I was asked how unionism would react to being threatened with Joint Authority.
    Under Paisley the answer seems to be capitulate.

    Under the UUP we would have had a catastrophe.

    I was speaking with a degree of licence to illustrate how being told you “take this or Joint Authority” should be received in the unionist community.

    As I said “take this or return to majority unionist rule @ Stormont” would be rightly rejected by nationalism.

    However the two issues are so extreme they would not have been on anyone’s radar.

    My issue is two fold

    1. How in God’s name Paisley managed to get unionism into such a scenario

    2. How Pailsey so spectacularly climbed down when faced with it.

    Somebody above has said Paisley was lying in order to get his supporters on his side.

    As the whole thing is so unbelievable I am almost tempted to think this was the case.

    However that he would stoop to such a low and his supporters would be taken in by it is probably more unbelievable.

  • kokane

    JEB,

    I always assumed that UU were being marched somewhat against their will into power sharing because as remarked earlier in these threads Trimble knew that each time Unionist said no the next time round the offer would get worse. Worse meant more Southern involvement or plan Bism. Trimble needed SF to default and whether the IRA carried out the Northern Bank or not the British goverenment moved to collapse the assembly to try and save Trimble’s ass. I think Tony and many British politicians respected Trimble’s courage.

    Looking at it from the other side of the community fence however there would not appear to have been that much difference between Paisleys and Trimbles avialable options. They did not so much jump first or second but rather were both pushed by either implicit or explicit British threats.

  • John East Belfast

    kokane

    When I voted Yes for the Belfast Agreement I didnt for one minute think we had been forced into anything against or will or under threat from the British Government.

    Indeed any such threat explicit or implicit would have guaranteed an outright rejection of the Agreement.

    Pro Agreement Unionism saw an end to militant Irish Republicanism, the full recognition of the Consent principle and the removal of Artciles 2 & 3 combined with a Power Sharing Administration which had authority over cross border bodies set up for mutual interest as a bloody good deal for unionism.

    Meanwhile Trimble was a highly respected politician in both these islands and further afield.

    We could then set about introducing a degree of stability and prosperity to the place and the Border would be decided by our children and grandchildren hopefully in an environment of mutual respect and reasoned peaceful debate.

    Paisley rejected all of this but has now done so because he was told it was curtains for NI if he didnt.

    The comparison with what was facing Trimble and Paisley is wide of the mark.

  • kokane

    JEB,

    I take your point – but Paisley argued that a majority of Unionists were against GFA – though I dont think this could be proven either way.

    STA – is basically GFA with Unionist gains in
    restrictions on unilateral ministerial decisions & appopintments plus more control over cross border bodies. Nationalists have gained the ( eventual) devolution of Police an Justice and the removal of British Governement power to collapse the institutions. But as suggested on another thread London may be able unilaterally to reassert control over this.

    So JEB – leaving aside the fact the Provos have disarmed and ‘gone away’ and irrespective of the issue of threat – which was the better deal for Unionism?

  • Comrade Stalin

    When I voted Yes for the Belfast Agreement I didnt for one minute think we had been forced into anything against or will or under threat from the British Government.

    All throughout their history the Brits have used exactly this tactic in Irish politics to scare people to move. Perhaps most famously with the Treaty in 1921 where Lloyd George famously issues the Irish plenipotentiaries with a similar threat if they refused to sign what was on the table. History is similarly replete with efforts to use threats against unionists, the Anglo Irish Agreement springing immediately to mind.

    I think the circumstances were not identical, but similar, ten years ago. The GFA was and is a unionist document. Not only that but it was a unionist document which secured a capitulation from republicans. They completely sold out on their own principles and made a mockery of their own “armed struggle”. Despite all of this, the SF leadership were able to successfully paint it as a victory (and their success in doing so probably didn’t help unionists feel any better). Despite the fact that he was the true victor, Trimble was distinctly unenthusiastic about the whole thing. For that reason I was always under the impression that the Brits must have used the Plan B threat to get him to move into line.

    Part of Paisley’s success this time around is that he has been able to paint what he has achieved as a victory quite successfully, after successfully painting the GFA as a huge concession to republicans, even though almost nothing has changed since 1998 other than the implementation of certain critical parts of the GFA, and minor tweaks to the mechanisms of government. I find the UUPs efforts to draw attention to the capitulation point, and the attempts to suggest that they did not similarly bow to this same kind of pressure, rather disingenuous. The term “joint authority” has featured prominently in the Northern Ireland lexicon since the Anglo Irish Agreement. Nobody can pretend it was never on their minds.

    Finally, the politician who brags about refusing to capitulate to threats of joint authority, is the politician who risks stirring up the civil war. Frequently I hear unionists, including on Slugger, commenting that joint authority can’t happen because the loyalists would launch a civil war, as though the threat of paramilitary violence is a trump card that they can safely play. Surely this is a clear violation of the commitment to peaceful and democratic means ?

  • Mordechai

    Seems as if SF is using a few gravity assist orbits of Stormont to boost its onward space-travel to Dail Eireann and regions yet to be explored.

  • John East Belfast

    kokane, comrade

    Re Joint Authority threat – I had a quick look at Trimble’s biography there and the first mention it gets is Frank Millar’s interview in the Irish Times with Tony Blair in Nov 2002 when Blair categorically ruled it out in response to ongoing Republican foot dragging.

    I can assure you I never heard it mentioned as the alternative to any Pro or anti agreement unionist stance.

    The reason Trimble found it hard to sell was not because he had been blackmailed into accepting it but because selling Prisoner releases and SF in govt was not an easy thing to do to the unionist electorate. He was fighting a rearguard action both within the UUP and the DUP at the time as well.

    I also heard that he also said privately to a friend of mine that one of the reasons he could not crow too loudly was he didnt want to make things difficult for Republicans who he was desperately trying to get to deliver on disarmament and an end to paramilitary activity – ie the kind of thing they reserved for Paisley.

    Unionists looked on with bemusement at the ‘victory parades’ in nationalist areas following their cease fires and the agreement. That SF sold the failure to get Brits Out and acceptance of Partition as a victory fair play to them. However we couldnt sell Prisoner Releases as a victory of any kind.

    “So JEB – leaving aside the fact the Provos have disarmed and ‘gone away’ and irrespective of the issue of threat – which was the better deal for Unionism?”

    There would have been no SAA if it hadnt been for what we achieved before.

    Disarmament and going away was always inevitable under the Agreement for lots of reasons – it just happened on Paisley’s patch. All the heavy lifting had been done by the Ulster Unionists.

  • kokane

    JEB,

    its certinly a moot point as to who got the better deal under GFA – Nationalists or Unionists.
    Articles 2 & 3 were of value as bargaining chips – becuase Unionist did not like them. They were swapped for actual southern involvlement as opposed to aspirational involvement. As a Nationalist myself the GFA seemed to hollow out the union and then promised unionists it could not be changed unless they agreed. A sort of constituional lock after the horse had at least partly left the stable.

    But coming back to my previous point – which deal was better for Unionism GFA or STA – or do you think they were both more or less the same?

  • John East Belfast

    kokane

    I am probably in favour of the limits on Ministerial power under SAA.
    However the new rule that FM & DFM go to the biggest parties rather than the biggest blocs is definitely a backward stop.
    The new Irish Language legislation is another backward step that will only create more acrimony.

    Therefore if you want to push me for an answer on this i would say the GFA.

    The fact that the Provos moved further on criminality and decommissioning has nothing to do with SAA.

  • kokane

    JEB

    Yip, I think the parties rather than blocks may benefit SF next time round.

    I also agree about the Provos – it suited SF to ditch the extras as they would never get into government in south.

  • snaz

    Just been following the debate which like all things N.I. politics the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

    From a purely party political point of view it is a fact that the DUP has stolen Trimbles clothes, but that is not something that should be particularly unwelcomed. Politics should always put Country before Party and in that regard a lot of pragmatic Unionism vision has been/is being delivered. However that ignores some important gains and losses Unionism AND NORTHERN IRELAND as a whole as we look at the make up of the recently elected Unioist MLAS.

    FACT NUMBER 1. In 1998 50% of the MLAs elected were opposed to Power sharing with Republicans. Many had never shared power with the SDLP in Councils up and down NI. Yet here we are with the DUPs transition into pragmatic Unionism with a minimum of 80% of Unionist MLAs supporting power sharing with Sinn Fein under DHont and even the 20% who might be against it only 1 (DUP South Down MLA) had the balls to vote against it at the DUPs executive and then, as is unfortunately customery in todays “not my responsibility political set up” did not have the courage to follow that up by refusing the DUP whip in the Assembly. Bottom line Trimbles vision has been delivered and nearly all Unionist MLAs have bought into it.

    POINT NUMBER 2.
    The untold story of the Election. This was a bad election for Unionism as a whole. A net loss of 4 seats.

    Turn outs in what were (and still are if people actually vote)Unionist heartlands in the low 50%.

    3 out of 6 in South Antrim
    Non in West Belfast
    2 out of 6 in South Belfast

    These are shocking results for Unionism.

    DUP circa 200,000
    UUP , circa, 100,000
    Non Unionist Voters 300,000 (at least)

    Unfortunately I believe this tells the story of the last 10 years of unionist infighting has let down the electrate. We should be selling the benefits of the Union our core British values and trying once again trying to work in an intelligent manner to field the correct number of Unionist candidates in an agreed way.

    The Unionist people want one, middle ground but principled voice. The extreme right wing of Unionism is already showing ugly signs of reforming.(Allister, Ballymena Councillors, Willie McCreas Parliamentary rant etc,etc)

    The newly formed, broad church centre, from both main parties, need to work together to promote the Union and to convince the stay at homers that we have policies that can improve the quality of theirs and their friends and neighbours lives, regardless of their socia economic background, colour or religious affiliation.Despite DUP “gains” Actual votes cast suggest that Unionism has still not “United” around anything and it is about time that all Unionist with a passion for a modern, pluralist NI got working on a strategy as to how we can create a broad church again that energies the Unionist community sufficiently to vote in large numbers.

    Paisleys recent utterings suggest he may be up for the challenge but it is extremly doughtful whether with Paisleys baggage the 400,000 Unionist who have never voted DUP could be persuaded.

    Overall though, a lot of work to be done but promising signs of a united voice eventually emerging.

  • kensei

    Actually, The Single Voice would be an overall net loser for Unionism, just as it would be for Nationalism, and it is anemia to democracy. It may win you a few seats in the short term, but particularly with some level of local Government, people will eventually get annoyed and the vote will shrink. What would be healthy, would be a proliferation of Independent Unionists as in 1998; splitting may win marginally less seats, but is far better to have many different ideas and outlets than a single font, and it would probably secure more votes overall. Nationalism has the same problem.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “When I voted Yes for the Belfast Agreement I didnt for one minute think we had been forced into anything against or will or under threat from the British Government.

    Indeed any such threat explicit or implicit would have guaranteed an outright rejection of the Agreement. ”

    hohoho John, you really do know how to rewrite history on a Paisleyesque scale.
    Your UUP leaders were explicitly threatened by Blair -they would get the blame for not doing the deal, so they decided to go for it, even though they knew it had too many loose ends , and paid the price since.
    They sold the deal to the Unionist people by saying that those of us who opposed it were inviting the Provos to go back to “war”.
    Even Blair realised he had to tweak the threat when feedback showed too many Unionists undecided- hence the infamous Coleraine pledges.

    So, in the above comment the only part that’s true, is that when you voted yes you “didnt for one minute think”. The only merit in Paisley’s recent Nolan interview is his laying bare the blackmial which has always been used on Unionists by HMG to get a settlement- it happened in 1920 and 1974 so why on earth would you think it didn’t in 1998?

  • For the last time …

    … Paisley *wasn’t* threatened with ‘joint authority’; that was a lie; and because it’s such an easily disprovable lie, that’s why you won’t find either of, for example, Dodds or Robinson *repeating* said lie.

    To repeat: Paisley lied when he suddenly blurted out he had been threatened with ‘joint authority’ (or anything like it) because it was the only thing he could feebly bring to hand to justify live on air – a state of being his handlers are right no longer to trust him in – what he has just done with Sinn Fein/IRA. There was no threat of joint authority; there will be no threat of joint authority.

  • John East Belfast

    Darth

    “They sold the deal to the Unionist people by saying that those of us who opposed it were inviting the Provos to go back to “war”.”

    The Provos going back to war is a threat to you but keeping the Provos on ceasefire is an objective for me.

    There were different ways of looking at these things.

    However a threat of Joint Authority is nothing less than a threat and that is what we are talking about here.

    There was no talk of JA in the discussions of the Belfast Agreement 10 years ago – that is somewhere Paisley has managed to lead the unionist community.

  • Alright, then …

    … not for the last time it turns out: there was ***NO*** threat of joint authority (or anything like it, hereafter, if there is an hereafter, ‘OALI’). The claim that there was such a threat was a sudden synaptic spasm by Paisley, made once, startingly (not least for his handlers) on air, and never since. It’s never been elaborated upon by any other senior DUP member, and for the very good reason that no such threat was ever made.

    So why did Paisley, as a one off, never to be repeated (go on, try and get him to repeat it if you still don’t believe me), make this extraordinary, fallacious (and easily proven thus) claim? Very simple: something by way of a guilty conscience made him reach for this utterly feeble excuse.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Re Joint Authority threat – I had a quick look at Trimble’s biography there and the first mention it gets is Frank Millar’s interview in the Irish Times with Tony Blair in Nov 2002 when Blair categorically ruled it out in response to ongoing Republican foot dragging.

    John, that doesn’t mean that the Brits didn’t use the tactic, and I’m still damn sure they did. I don’t expect the Brits to put out a press release explaining how they forced progress by threatening unionism with a big stick.

    The reason Trimble found it hard to sell was not because he had been blackmailed into accepting it but because selling Prisoner releases and SF in govt was not an easy thing to do to the unionist electorate.

    A bit of effort could have seen that work. My recollection about the prisoner releases at the time was that it was a cheap concession to make; most of the prisoners were due out within the next five years of the agreement date anyway due to the existing early release arrangements. On both of the above points I’d refer the honourable gentleman to unionism’s well-documented history relating to loyalist paramilitarism.

    I also heard that he also said privately to a friend of mine that one of the reasons he could not crow too loudly was he didnt want to make things difficult for Republicans who he was desperately trying to get to deliver on disarmament and an end to paramilitary activity – ie the kind of thing they reserved for Paisley.

    That’s at odds with my own recollection. There was at least one opportunity for Trimble to secure a IRA disarmament event, which was derailed at the last minute due to a public comment made by Trimble which the IRA had interpreted as belligerence. It is true though, that the IRA appears to have tolerated Paisley’s rather more bellicose pronouncements.

    Unionists looked on with bemusement at the ‘victory parades’ in nationalist areas following their cease fires and the agreement. That SF sold the failure to get Brits Out and acceptance of Partition as a victory fair play to them. However we couldnt sell Prisoner Releases as a victory of any kind.

    I commented on that above, but it should have been possible to make more out of the fact that the union was now secured by consent, that articles 2&3 had been removed, etc. Unionists did themselves a huge disservice by concentrating on the prisoners.

    snaz:

    Yet here we are with the DUPs transition into pragmatic Unionism with a minimum of 80% of Unionist MLAs supporting power sharing with Sinn Fein under DHont and even the 20% who might be against it only 1 (DUP South Down MLA)

    I think it’s dishonest of you to describe any of this as fact. Several prominent DUP individuals have been decidedly cold about things even since their party executive vote. I wonder how many of them are waiting in the wings for their opportunity to strike, in the way that people like Martyn Smith and Jeffrey Donaldson did in the case of Trimble.

  • snaz

    My reading is that there are fundamental differences from 1998. The main one is that there is no real anti powersharing alternative party. The dup representitives that i know well openly admit that they have had to accept the power sharing realities once the GFA and SAA confirmed that there is not going to be on UNited Ireland. The job now is to get on with making NIWork for all of its diverse constituent parts.

  • Greenflag

    JohnEastBelfast

    ‘If the British Govt had told nationalism and republicanism that if they didnt do what they wanted they would be faced with a return to majority Stormont Rule ‘

    A big IF- JEB. Simple majority rule in a 6 county NI context died in 1972 and was finally buried in 1974 post Sunningdale . There are only two conceivable circumstances in which simple majority or voluntary coalition can ever again be implemented in Northern Ireland . One is in a UI context and the other is in a post repartition context in a smaller predominantly 80% plus Unionist State . Neither of the latter appear likely at this stage thus the present ‘arrangement’

    ‘Somebody asked how unionists would have reacted to being given an ultimatum about Joint Authority —how that would have manifested itself is —-have caused unionism to seriously consider its options.’

    I agree that ‘unionism’ would have to seriously consider it’s options in such a situation however two questions present themselves . One is what would be the ‘options’ and two would the different factions within ‘Unionism’ unite to implement one or other of whatever options presented themselves as possible ? Joint Authority has been in effect (muted) anyway for the past decade and Plan B would have been just more open recognition of the reality . The Union would still be safe under Plan B as long as the majority in NI were prepared to vote against a UI in any future referendum . No British Government is ever going to expell ‘Unionists’ from the UK . Not even if 90% of the British electorate wanted them to . The only situations in modern times where Governments have ‘expelled’ people /nationals of their country to other areas have been the South African Apartheid era Governments expulsion of some ‘unwanted South Africans to ‘self governing ‘ tribal Bantustans and the Nazis ‘expulsion’ of the German jewish minority .

    ‘Yes I am speaking drammatically but I am amazed at what has happened here. ‘

    I understand but I’m not as ‘amazed’ as yourself . I was surprised at Paisley’s move at this time to be honest but I don’t think it matters whether or not he was ‘pushed’ or ‘pretended to have been pushed ‘.

    ‘The UUP tore itself to pieces with endless discussion and meetings about sharing power with republicans. ‘

    No question. They also disappeared into the ‘Cone of Silence’ for 20 years under not so smart Molyneux which achieved nothing for ‘unionism’ either in respect of it’s political credentials in Britain or Ireland .Paisley filled the vacuum.

    ‘However Paisley appears to have turned up to his Executive a couple of weeks ago and told them the game was up.’

    About time I’d say assuming that’s what he did say !

    Either they flip flopped on everything they had been sayng for at least 10 years or we would have Joint Authority and it was ‘curtains’ for Northern Ireland – just unbelievable.’ I would have thought Paisley 30 years ago etc ”

    30 years ago Unionism in NI was in a stronger position demographically and politically . Paisley can read the numbers just as Carson did in 1920 . Continuing the present stand off for another decade would have resulted in weakening an already weakened Unionism even further . All Paisley has achieved last week is perhaps a slowing down of that process so that ‘Unionism’ maybe and I repeat maybe can start an ‘internal debate’ about it’s longer term political future on this island -IMO.

    The restored ‘Assembly’ is no guarantee of success for either DUP or SF . It may yet implode just as other attempts to restore some semblance of political normality have in the past .

    However both the DUP and SF know that if the Assembly comes crashing down – it will be Plan B . The problem with the latter from a Democratic Unionist perspective is that it would allow the British Government to ‘dictate’ the pace at which a UI will be ‘foisted’ on to the NI Unionist people . By agreeing to power share with SF -the DUP have at least some say in a) reducing that pace or b) trying to divert that direction .

  • Greenflag

    JohnEastBelfast

    ‘However Paisley and the DUP have always provided bad leadership for unionism.’

    If by ‘unionism ‘ in this instance you mean enhancing /maintaining the political union with the UK I agree . Paisley may yet turn out to be more Protestant Nationalist (Ulster) than Protestant UK Unionist. The former stance is more likely to lead to a stable long term future in Ireland for the Unionist minority in the North East -IMO

    ‘The true risk taking and firm leadership of unionism always lay with the UUP. ;

    True but there’s not much point in having the ‘talents’ if you don’t /can’t /won’t use them . The relentless long term decline of the UUP since 1974 is symptomatic of the many inherent political and economic contradictions within ‘Unionism’

    ‘It is pretty clear that the DUP’s stance over last 10 years was all about elevating Paisley. ‘

    You might think that but there are those who would say that he Paisley did not need much ‘elevating ‘. His particular snake oil mix of fundamentalist preacher allied to political rabble rouser has had an unfortunate appeal to a large section within the Unionist community .

    In Paisley’s favour particularly in latter years (and yes I am saying that almost choking on my own tonsils) is that his aggressive absolutist mix of ‘born again protestant politics ‘ helped to keep a large majority of the more fearful ‘Unionists’ away from the non constitutional road taken by the UDA, UVF etc etc .

    Whether Paisley can ever deliver his flock into a UI at some point is now perhaps ‘debateable’. One month ago I would have said never .

    Perhaps Paisley has been reading Sir Kenneth Bloomfields biography ‘Tragedy of Errors’

    Some excerpts .

    “It is possible, as a resident of Northern Ireland hitherto always glad and proud to be a citizen of the United Kingdom, to feel at times like a party to a marriage whose partner no longer feels or shows any real affection, but who maintains an increasingly cool relationship out of a sense of loyalty,”

    “Vociferous as Peter Hain in the role of secretary of state may now be about his support for the consent principle, supporters of the union cannot blot out of their minds his earlier support for the Troops Out Movement.”

    “Nor can one ignore the fact that, amongst all the citizens of this supposedly United Kingdom, we alone have been afforded no opportunity to vote for a party now deeply entrenched in the government of our country. ”

    “There are moments, I confess, when even I – the son of English parents, although born in Ulster, a graduate of Oxford University and a Knight Commander of the Most Noble Order of the Bath – wonder if we would not enjoy a more dignified position as a community within a united Ireland.”

    I’m sure Dr Martin Mansergh also an Oxford Grad but born in England and likley to be the next FF Minister for Foreign Affairs once he’s elected as TD for South Tipperary in the coming election -might even agree with Sir Kenneth .

  • John East Belfast

    Comrade

    “My recollection about the prisoner releases at the time was that it was a cheap concession to make;”

    I think that is why you support the Alliance Party and not the Unionist Parties.
    Believe me Prisoner Releases was anything but a cheap concession amongst mainstrean unionism

    “That’s at odds with my own recollection”

    I am telling you what a friend heard privately from Trimble therefore unless Trimble told you something else I dont know how you are in a position to dispute it.

    However please dont blame Trimble for the failure of PIRA decommissioning – that is a ridiculous statement.

    If Republicanism had done all it was supposed to 6 or 7 years ago NI politics would now be a very different place.

    I totally blame republicanism for not disarming and disbanding and for incredible bad faith to moderate unionism during this whole process.

  • John East Belfast

    Greenflag

    I wish you would stop projecting your wishful thinking as fact.

    A UI will only come about when the majority of NI wish it.
    There is no evidence that the Bristish Govt are engineering it as you imply. The British are quite happy for us to manage it ourselves and the £6bn subsidy is a small price in overall UK GDP against the dowry they would have to pay to sell it down the river with.

    Anyhow all the evidence of them engineering a withdrawel points to the contrary.

    Until this year NI had its own Companies Act but it is now throughout this year being incorporated within the new England & Wales Act – this is a major piece of legislation. Even Companies House is being moved from Belfast to Cardiff along with the English & Welsh corporates.

    Add that the investment in the new MI5 HQ just outside Belfast or the dismissal of a NI Corporate Tax Rate equal to the ROI. No moves on the Euro either.

    Basically there is no evidence that the UK is withdrawing – infact I challenge you to give me some.
    If you cant please give the “you are unwanted” line a rest and go back to your Repartition theme if necessary.

    Regarding Bloomfield – perhaps that says more about his own marriage than anything else.

    A marriage goes through ups and downs and a successful marriage knows how to re-invent itself as times change.
    Also the Union is not a stationary thing – generations, politicians and governments come and go.

    Marriages can be saved you know.

  • kokane

    JEB

    If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck etc then it probably is a duck. Non Iron technically will remain in the UK for probably 30 years – depending on demographics. In practice with the removal of symbols, increasing economic and social links from the south a probable Irish language act and the place being half run by people with allegiance to the south it has become a very warm house indeed to be Irish. The British governement appears to behave towards Non Iron not through desire but through weary duty – with the new boyfriend ( the south ) expected to pay some of the costs as the divorsing husband (UK) begrudges the maintenance of a failing union/marriage.

  • John East Belfast

    kokane

    Just more wisful thinking

    “In practice with the removal of symbols, increasing economic and social links from the south a probable Irish language act and the place being half run by people with allegiance to the south it has become a very warm house indeed to be Irish.”

    Well I am glad republicans and nationalists are happy being Irish in Northern Ireland – that was the whole point of the Agreement.

    However you should not confuse your happiness with unionist discontentment with the Union or any kind of fondness for the Republic.

    In the end of the day as a Northern Irish citisen I am every bit as British within NI as anyone anywhere else within the UK.

    It is written clearly on my British passport, on the money I use, on the media I watch and the only Budget that had any bearing on me was Gordon Brown’s last month.
    I am interested in British Health, Welfare and Education Policy and its Foreign and Defence Policy affect who at anytime I might be at War with.

    Infact the only thing I have in common with the ROI is we share the same island.

  • Cahal

    ‘Infact the only thing I have in common with the ROI is we share the same island.’

    It is amazing how the north-eastern pro-British Irish have maintained a seperate cultural identity from the rest of the country for hundreds of years. I guess there was never much of a desire to assimilate with the natives.

    Odd too how the same people share ancestors with the Scots Irish Americans who assimilated fully in America. Perhaps Ireland is just too close to the Muthaland; bit like the English living in the Costa del Sol. I wonder if they will still be running aroung in union jack t-shirts in 400 years. Oh I almost forgot about Gibralter.

  • kokane

    JEB

    I am not sure passports and media are good arguements as many poeple listen/watch RTE/Oirish Times etc and have an Irish passport. Health and Education will also be influenced by a party (SF) that will seek to emphaise and reinforce any Irish links. But this does not mean a United Ireland is inevitable ( now that would be wishful thinking on my behalf) but that the unity of Ireland in many and increasing ways is in fact a reality.

    ps If you take money from the south then it would seem inevitable that you might sneak a furtive glances in that direction on budget day.

  • John East Belfast

    kokane

    “Health and Education will also be influenced by a party (SF) that will seek to emphaise and reinforce any Irish links”

    well if you mean we share Health services on the island if it makes commercial sense and an invoice goes in each direction for whatever service is sold great.

    Regarding Education do you want to divide the place even further by having the Catholic Maintained Sector following the ROI curriculum and all the Prods following the UK GCE s etc ?

    Cahal

    I have lots in common with the 26 county Irish – indeed more in common than divides us.
    I was simply trying to highlight the fact that the practical on the ground reality of being Northern Irish was British in terms of Legislation – and indeed in many recnt respects was increasingly so.

  • kokane

    JEB

    I accept your point about recent legislation and from a Unionist persepective this is obviously welcome. With Britian declaring no strategic, economic interest etc and in most areas of social and economic activity links with the south will make the border less and less relevant particulalry with SF, the SDLP and the Oirish governmnet working in that direction.

    p.s. re. Education – I personally would like to see an increasingly strong Irish language sector

  • George

    Kokane,
    seeing at the Council of Europe has already warned the UK about its lack of support for the Irish language, especially in the area of support for Irish language medium schooling, hopefully outside pressure will lead to developments here seeing as inside Northern Ireland there still seems to be a problem with minority languages.

  • Greenflag

    JEB –

    ‘I wish you would stop projecting your wishful thinking as fact. ‘

    I was quoting Bloomfield .

    ‘A UI will only come about when the majority of NI wish it. ‘

    Perhaps but it’s not guaranteed . There is also the matter of the majority in ROI being prepared to pay as well as vote for it .And Unionists could still go for a UDI and repartition. Much easier to do so with a Unionist First Minister in situ than with Plan B in operation .

    On the point of Britain wishing to withdraw I can do no other than quote First Minister Ian Paisley when he was asked the same question .

    : Is Britain trying to get out of Northern Ireland ?

    Paisley : ‘Of course they are: ‘I accept that . I’ve been saying that for years , but the pundits would’nt believe believe me . But they’re believing me now .

    ‘A marriage goes through ups and downs and a successful marriage knows how to re-invent itself as times change. ‘

    A ‘marriage of convenience’ is I suppose still a marriage . Britain playing the role of absentee ‘husband’ while Mrs Northern Ireland is put on the far shelf and taken out once or twice a year for dusting doesn’t sound like much of a marriage ? More concubine than marriage I’d have thought.

    Re invention is of course always possible but with one half of the ‘concubine’ wishing to form a permanent relationship with the wealthy young suitor next door the odds are not great that the other half of the ‘concubine’ will gain in attractiveness to the absentee husband in the future -in fact the opposite would appear to be a foregone conclusion .

    The ‘dynamics’ within power sharing will heavily favour the republican agenda IMO which is why most ‘real’ Unionists have always opposed power sharing as representing the first slippery step on the slope to a UI. The only reason power sharing appears to have been accepted now-IMO is because all other options are deemed to be even worse and speed up the slippery slope process .

    I’ve always put forward the view that only a fair and agreed ‘repartition’ can save the Union in at least a large part of the present NI State and I still hold that view . But in the final analysis it can only be Unionist leadership which could deliver such a solution.

    Believe me when I say that that is not wishful thinking – it’s just how I see it .