Trimble again

The First Minister was the subject of some forceful journalism this weekend. Áine O’Neill wonders if: “The penny might just have dropped with the UUP this week that loyalist violence, and their own perceived ambivalence towards it, is pushing another generation of young Catholics into the waiting arms of Sinn Féin. You could sense that as you stood among the silent young people on the Floral Road at Tuesday night’s vigil, the wind sighing through the fir trees where UDA …

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Lighter side..

I don’t normally post on a Saturday, but as the Belfast Telegraph doesn’t generally update it’s Friday stories till late in the day, I thought I’d just have to post Gerry Anderson‘s column to lighten the atmosphere round here. Elsewhere: After the failure of the DUP’s long running campaign to have the appointments of First and Deputy First Ministers rescinded, questions are being asked about how much it has cost the public purse. With the talk of collapsing institutions, some …

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Ulster Scots

Interesting overview of the history and position of Ulster Scots, by Lord John Laird arguing that Ireland is nowhere less an island than in the North East, where there is only 13 miles of open sea between it and Scotland. There are several useful Ulster Scots sites: educational; information and mailing list; and the statutary language bodies.

Headline politics

The funeral of Gerard Lawlor took place yesterday. Meanwhile the pressure on Trimble is palpably coming from all sides of the UUP, thought it is clear no final action will be taken until the Party meets in September. The Belfast Telegraph tries to add a longer term perspective on the security situation at least: “Nerves are still on edge, heightened by the weekend’s shooting spree, but the government has provided some much-needed guidelines for the future, which the paramilitaries will …

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Challenge denied

The House of Lords has rejected Peter Robinson’s challenge to the legal status of the First and Deputy First Ministers. The appeal claimed that John Reid should have called fresh assembly elections last November because a time limit of six weeks had expired before Trimble and Durkan were re-appointed. Lord Bingham in defence of the decision: “I can see no reason why, in introducing that time limit, it should have been intended to constrain the assembly’s power to elect otherwise …

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Aftermath

As Nigel Dodds was welcomed to the home of Gerard Lawlor, Denis Bradley called for greater protection of Catholic areas. Suzanne Breen asks if anyone cares about the fate of any of the working class of North Belfast – Catholic or Protestant.

Not Northern Ireland…

Phillip Murphy has a new definition of political opposites. According to his post on 13th July, we are either shaken or stirred!

More on the Commons statement

David Trimble leads the comment on the Government state with his own article in the Daily Telegraph this morning. He suggests that Reid’s words are a hint of positive action, but that it falls short of specific action to be taken against breaches of the various ceasefires. Towards the end he questions Sinn Fein’s commitment to the Belfast Agreement: “Sinn Fein has committed itself only to an abstract version of the agreement. It refuses to address the responsibilities of making …

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From other Irish weblogs

Thanks to fellow blogger Brendan O’Neill for featuring the Letter at the top of his short piece on Irish weblogs. Our stats software has packed up for the rest of the week apparently, so I have no idea how many are reading it just now. If you have any comments, please send them in. Terry McMenamin tries to get to grips with what is really driving the DUP‘s political agenda. In truth it is hard to get to the bottom …

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Mixed reactions

There is some cautious optimism that today’s statement by Tony Blair will have the desired effect, though Jeffrey Donaldson holds on to the hard bottom line: “Anything that falls short of an effective exclusion mechanism is not worth the paper it’s written on,” he insisted. “Equally, the idea that we can draw a line under Colombia, Castlereagh and the violence on the streets of Belfast is a non starter. Republicans must be held to account for what they have done, …

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Focus switches to Blair

Today’s expected statement from the British Prime Minister is not expected to end the on-going crisis in the political process. It looks like Blair will offer a tightening of the criteria of what constitutes a breach of the ceasefire. It is not clear whether he will commit himself to specific sanctions. Brian Walker is decidedly upbeat! Though he adds as a coda: “But what if the parties don’t play? If the UUP, with or without Trimble, and the DUP reject …

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Demographic nightmare

If both sides are to be believed then no one is to blame for the ongoing nightmare in North Belfast. Still there is something quite chilling in the latest statement from Loyalists with regard to recent violence. It is forthwrite, simple and completely unapologetic: The senior loyalist said that Mr Lawlor had been killed in retaliation for a gun attack on Sunday evening in which a Protestant teenager was seriously injured. He said: “We’re one bullet, one fatality away from …

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Tuesday, July 23, 2002

There is an inevitable gloom gathering once again over North Belfast, in the wake of the killing of Gerard Lawlor early yesterday morning. Loyalists claim the killing, but insist that it was in response to “…the onslaught against the Protestant community by the republican gunmen”. Further action is threatened if there is no abatement. That gloom will not be helped as we approach Trimble’s deadline of tomorrow night. For what seems like the umpteenth time in the four years since …

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From 1954…

There are some great old articles to be found on the Atlantic Monthly site. In 1954, John V Kelleher in discussing partition suggested that: “The history of the problem is nearly irrelevant to its solution. Three present factors count: religious differences, the failure of either state to create within its own borders a vigorously healthy society, and the bald fact that the division between North and South aggravates with every passing year.” “Anti-Partitionist propaganda never admits any of these factors. …

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What next?

Trimble puts the responsibility for keeping law and order on Blair. And there are signs that Blair may go some way to back-up Trimble’s call for a tougher and more transparent approach to breaches of the ceasefires. Though it is clear a majority Unionist population at large holds Sinn Fein responsible for the current destablising violence in Belfast’s streets, there is a corresponding puzzlement amongst Nationalists. The Sunday Business Post ponders the possibility of joint authority.

Street killing

The street violence of the last week or so claimed it’s first death yesterday; he was one of several others injured. It’s difficult to gauge exactly what triggered it off this time, but the Newsletter reports that Loyalist patience is growing thin in some interface areas.

IRA

Finally, for the first time in many years, the coverage in the media seems to be looking at Ulster Unionist problems with some degree of sympathy. Henry McDonald leads the way with a short but pithy analysis of where the epicentre of the current crisis may actually lie. “Arguably the greatest paradox of the peace process is that the crisis in unionism exists only because most of its leaders and spokesmen are so blinded by bigotry that they can’t spot …

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Counting costs

And a last word of the week to Jack Holland, who is fed up with the endless rounds of ‘whatboutery’ that we are all inclined to locked into – and nowhere moreso than in cyberspace. For a great choice of NI news links throughout the working week Newshound is the best single source.

End of Agreement?

With little left in the game for pro-agreement Unionists except electoral humiliation next May, they will likely collapse all institutions, bin the Good Friday Agreement and throw the peace process back a stage. “Assembly elections are due to be held in May next year, but unionists have warned the body could have been dissolved and direct rule re-imposed long before them unless Mr Blair acts.” PA The rejection of the IRA apology has not gone down well with some. There …

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Thursday, July 18, 2002

Here’s an in-depth article giving good background to the Catholic-Protestant change in fortunes. It’s almost worth registering with the New York Times for!!