The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Black Friday

Everybody knows the boat is leaking.
Everybody knows the captain lied
- Leonard Cohen


Anthony McIntyre • 16 October 2006

No matter how dismissive of superstition we may be, it remains difficult to suppress an awareness of Friday the 13th each time it comes around. A rational mind knows that the chances of something ominous happening on Black Friday are normally 1 in 365. But if on that day bad luck lands on the doorstep there will be more than enough willing to see the date as the main causal factor. Even the rational fail to blank it out entirely.

Last Friday, the 13th, helped create the atmospherics for Sinn Fein's performance at the St Andrew's talks. The outcome however had nothing to do with bad luck and everything to do with bad leadership. 25 years after the hunger strikes ended with a rallying cry from the H-Block prisoners who shook their emaciated but determined fists at constitutional nationalism for its supposed proclivity towards selling out, here were those whose political careers were propelled by the events of 1981, selling off everything republican in return for some British power which the British state would allow them to administer. For the one time republican party, British rule is okay so long as it is not direct. A shameful act carried out by shameless people.

In their lust for mercs and perks they even abandoned the children: 'damn your kids and the abolition of the 11 plus - we want power.' The DUP smelt the Sinn Fein power lust and decided to shame Martin McGuinness, who while British education minister promised the abolition of academic selection. The next move will almost certainly be the release of highly dubious details into the public domain firming up allegations made earlier this year that McGuinness is a British spy. The DUP must reckon if it can hobble the Derry Catholic politician sufficiently, it could end up forming a Paisley/Ruane government. The allegations will unsettle enough nerves. Only the drone and devotee could fail to realise that 10 Freddie Scappaticcis could not have destroyed republicanism as effectively or thoroughly as McGuinness and his camarilla. And like the mafia, some will think, 'why take a chance?'

If successful in destroying McGuinness, Paisley would trumpet that he had sent the IRA slinking off with its tail between its legs. The DUP electorate would be more at ease with Ruane as deputy first minister than McGuinness. What unionist would seriously fear a Paisley/Ruane scenario?

It is probably fair to say that few expected as much ground to be covered at St Andrews as there was. Brian Feeney summed up the outcome as being 'against all odds.' Both parties knew the need to outmanoeuvre the British government imposed deadline and were certain to come up with a form of rolling arrangement which, while well short of conclusive, would have put the government on the back foot had it collapsed everything.

It all worked to the advantage of the DUP. A rolling arrangement emerged in which Sinn Fein were rolled over. Despite the party's earlier promise never to embrace policing until the devolution of justice and policing powers, the order of things has been reversed. According to Frank Millar in the Irish Times, the British Government and DUP both agree that two weeks before the formal November 24th nomination of a DUP and Sinn Fein first and deputy first minister, the prospective ministers would have to take the following oath:

We believe the essential elements of support for law and order include endorsing fully the PSNI and the criminal justice system, actively encouraging everyone in the community to co-operate fully with the PSNI in tackling crime in all areas and actively supporting all the policing and criminal justice institutions, including the Policing Board.

It is what Tom Luby has described as Sinn Fein's 'suck the truncheon' moment.

While for now it remains an agreement only between the two governments, St Andrews is still a dreadful outcome. It will not lead to power sharing. Sharing suggests a generosity of spirit. There is nothing to suggest that the two most anti-democratic parties on the island, one theocrat-led and the other marshalled by an autocrat, are possessed of generosity. The Black Friday Agreement is about power splitting, not sharing. Sectarianism will deepen as the distribution and denial of communitarian goodies will be observed through a zero sum prism of 'us against them.'

St Andrews happened because Blair knew Sinn Fein's weakness: it has nowhere else to go. When things were on the verge of collapse he insisted that it would be policing before power or nothing. It was a reassertion of the DUP position. Sinn Fein folded. The party has now to sell it to a grassroots long used to buying faulty goods. It should be no great challenge to sell another.

But say what they will, Sinn Fein's leaders are faced with immutable laws. Hugh Orde and Ian Paisley are not taking anybody to a united Ireland. The British are not going. The MI5 building at Palace Barracks is not to manage British withdrawal or to firewall any transition to Irish unity from securocrats. The real securocrats are here to stay and in numbers far exceeding anything they previously stood at. Meanwhile, the mandarins of Whitehall sip their pink gin in glasses raised to the undefeated army.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

16 October 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Friday the 13th — The Most Terrifying Deal Ever Done!
Tom Luby

Black Friday
Anthony McIntyre

When No Means Yes
Dr John Coulter

Blowin' In The Wind
John Kennedy

Time to Conclude NI Process
David Adams

Once Bitten
Anthony McIntyre

Dysfunctional Family Values
Mick Hall

Racism: The Social Uniter?
Dr John Coulter

Nobody Home
John Kennedy

'The Revolution is the People'
Jane Horgan-Jones

10 October 2006

Hail The Messiah
Anthony McIntyre

HET: History of Whitewash Continues
Martin Galvin

To Deal or Not
Martin Ingram

One Small Step for Paisley, One Giant Step for Ireland?
Dr John Coulter

The Haunting
John Kennedy

Subversion of an Irish Peace Plan
Brian Wardlow

Working Class Hero
Mick Hall

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 15 - 22
Michael Gillespie

John Kennedy

Racism: The Social Cancer
Dr John Coulter

Forced Out
Anthony McIntyre

The Letters Page Has Been Updated.



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