Has anything been happening while I’ve been away?

For the past few of months I’ve been buried in other projects, not least the Scottish referendum. So Northern Irish affairs are as inward looking and deadlocked as ever. Well I never!

Paisley’s death passed off with little fuss amid the  customary respect the Irish reserve with fingers crossed  for the recently dead in contrast to the living. How amazing  that at the funeral this most clerical and religious of politicians had no church service  and no political salute.  The elephant in the room was surely his last King Lear-like interview with Eamonn Mallie where in deep old age  he depicted himself improbably but  perhaps accurately as  peacemaker and sacrificial lamb. With the family the bitterness  is raw and understandably so. What a shower  those successors Junior calls pygmies appear to be. They might at least do history and their own  reputations some good by giving a candid account of Paisley’s last days in harness before long. Perhaps we’ll learn  more when  a memorial “event” takes place.

As he has done for years, Peter Robinson said the minimum necessary in tribute  but kept his calculated distance from his old mentor. Peter was the only one a line of Paisley deputies from the 1950s to survive for long and  represses the emotional scars. I’m can’t resist the verdict: “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” ( Galatians 6:7).

We shall not see his like again,” said Peter  Indeed.  Not only has fundamentalist religion declined as a driver as politics but Paisley’s political legacy  is being questioned by his  inevitable successor. Still, Dennis Kennedy’s verdict on Paisley’s motives for doing the deal – ego and impending death – is a mite  ungenerous and pessimistic about the deal itself. It may be stuck  in petty recrimination and dire politics but  no alternative is in sight.

Indeed how ironic that Northern Ireland’s constitutional position is currently the most stable in the UK. How wise though for Peter at his most graciously statesmanlike  to reject the idea of a referendum in 2016 or whenever.  Whatever the polls say  – and who can have confidence in them after the Scottish result ? – you never know what all them Catholics might do in the privacy of the voting booth!

Tax raising powers? Don’t make me laugh, it would hurt too much.

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  • Michael Henry

    ” You never know what all them Catholics might do in the Privacy of the Voting booth ”

    Just like you never know what all those Protestants might do in the Privacy of the Voting booth- or what way neither religion or not religious people would vote in the Privacy of the Voting booth- which is as good as reason as any to hold a referendum on this issue to see where it all stands- why the Unionists and Brit Government are so sh1t scared of the peoples voice is beyond me-

    Saying all that there is not much privacy in those new fangled polling booths- and at busy times others can see what way a person Voted- time to bring back the old way where you could pull the curtain behind you and have some privacy-

  • sean treacy

    Despite the Belfast telegraph polls,when the idea of a border poll becomes reality it will be a real game changer. It will galvanise people ,apathy will disappear and people disillusioned with the boring day to day politics will reengage.As in Scotland young voters will come on board with enthusiasm and the fact that it will have to be held again in 7 YEARS will ensure a defeat will not be as crushing as it was for the Scots.There are a number of variables which could effect the outcome coming down the tracks.The Brits could pull out of Europe,austerity could become unbearable here as England demands more for itself and a reactionary Tory / UKIP axis comes to power. A leftish or even centre leftish Dublin government could seem attractive compared to a UK in turmoil. A poll held at the right time under the right circumstances could be very interesting indeed.

  • Michael Henry

    One hundred per cent correct- which is why the Unionists / Tory’s are afraid of democracy being played out- the other head on this NO trident will be the number of Journalists who will repeat and repeat the Big Brother mantra that a the removal of the border poll is not needed- we can’t let that trilogy of anti democracy members stand in the way of the peoples choice-

  • dodrade99

    Why does everyone get this wrong? The GFA says there cannot be another referendum on a united Ireland after a no vote for at least seven years, it does not say there has to be one every seven years.

  • Zeno1

    It sounds much better for propaganda purposes.

  • Zeno1

    “There are a number of variables which could effect the outcome coming down the tracks.”

    Indeed, I remember it was United Ireland by 2016. Then it went to United Ireland will happen because other things that people thought were impossible have happened. Now it seems to be “if the UK leave the EU”.

  • Micheàl O Teamhneàn

    The decision to hold a border poll rests with the NI secretary.However what are the specific circumstances which need to be fulfilled in order for such a poll to be called? It all seems rather vague and poorly thought out and at the whim of an individuals decision.We all saw the large swing towards scottish independence which occurred over the last month.This high level of support was not evident in the polls which predated the decision to hold the referendum but despite this the British government granted scots the right to hold the referendum.

  • Morpheus

    The first YouGov poll, the one which caused all the fuss, from 24/10/2012 had support for Scottish independence at 29%

    They granted the referendum because of the SNP majority at Holyrood