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Deal Will Underline Delusions


David Adams • Irish Times, 27 October 2006

Ian Paisley and his colleagues looked rather pleased with themselves when speaking to the media at the conclusion of the St Andrews talks.

During the negotiations, they had managed to secure the two governments' backing for their demand that Sinn Féin pledge support for the PSNI before a power-sharing Executive is restored.

After decades-long opposition to "the Irish Republic meddling in Northern Ireland's internal affairs", the DUP's barely contained delight at getting the imprimatur of a Dublin Government for their position on the patently internal issues of power-sharing and policing seemed, at best, a little incongruous.

It wasn't so much a case of them having slaughtered a sacred cow at St Andrews, as simply pretending it had never existed. In fairness, they weren't the only ones suffering from wilful absent-mindedness in Scotland.

Though they tried to put a brave face on it, it was clear when Gerry Adams and the Sinn Féin contingent took their turn with the media that they, unlike the DUP, were none too happy.

Their problem, however, was not with the requirement that they endorse the police service of a state they had previously made every effort to destroy, but rather with the proposed timing of that endorsement.

The two governments and everyone else are demanding that it come before they begin helping to administer Northern Ireland; Sinn Féin would prefer it be afterwards.

In the context of the leaderships of both of these parties having just presided over the final demise of virtually all they had previously stood for, (and had encouraged others to believe in), the real oddity was that something as relatively trivial as sequencing should provoke Sinn Féin and the DUP into a public display of any kind.

Of course, neither party has yet accepted the governments' St Andrews proposals, nor is there any guarantee they will.

Nevertheless, it has been clear for a while that each has already reduced what they once held to be fundamental points of supposedly immovable principle to mere matters of timing.

Ian Paisley has gone from opposing any form of devolved governance short of majority (Protestant) rule, to now agreeing to share the highest office in a Northern Ireland administration with a former IRA leader on condition that he and his Sinn Féin colleagues pledge their support for the police.

For their part, the republican movement killed and died for decades in pursuit of the forced removal of Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and the subsequent setting-up of 32-county unitary state.

They are now debating whether they should give their immediate endorsement to the police service of a Northern Ireland that remains part of the United Kingdom, or wait until policing and justice has been transferred to a devolved Assembly in which they are eager to play their full part.

These are changed times, indeed. Ian Paisley, who stood at Stormont in 1965 and threw snowballs at the courtesy-calling then taoiseach Seán Lemass, appears willing, 41 years later, to embrace what amounts to a virtual joint stewardship role over Northern Ireland for the Government of the Republic.

After spending five decades opposing tooth and nail every political initiative and effort at compromise, he seems prepared to accept not only power-sharing with republicans, but extensive cross-Border bodies and substantial investment in Northern Ireland by the Government of the Republic.

In the twilight of his career, the man who couldn't bring himself to share power with the inoffensive Gerry Fitt is on the point of reaching agreement with Gerry Adams.

In recent years, the republican movement has sought to peddle the myth that their 25-year campaign of death and destruction was driven almost solely by a thirst for equality and civil rights.

In truth, unionist discrimination against the Catholic community merely provided the IRA with a platform from which to launch a violent campaign aimed at overturning the democratically-expressed wishes of a majority of the electorate in Northern Ireland.

While republicans were busy spreading pain and misery across all communities in Northern Ireland, the determinedly non-violent SDLP, whom they opposed at every turn, were effectively righting the wrongs of the past through democratic politics and peaceful lobbying.

If it had only ever been about unionist discrimination, the IRA campaign could well have finished in 1972 when Stormont was closed and direct rule from Westminster introduced.

As the DUP and Sinn Féin now give serious consideration to a deal that has been on offer in one form or another for decades, the people of Northern Ireland might well ask what the last 30-odd years of death, destruction and refusal to compromise was all about.

As each seeks to convince core constituencies that defeat is victory, they might care to reflect on their role during the past 40 years, and the legacy of pain and bitterness that will last for generations.

They might even consider it appropriate, at the next media gathering, to display a little long-overdue humility.


Reprinted with permission from the author.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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30 October 2006

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The Litmus Test of Republicanism
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Monkey Business
Anthony McIntyre

Northern Invasion
Dr John Coulter

Eamon McGuire: The Life of an Undercover IRA Activist
William Hughes

Deal Will Underline Delusions
David Adams

Blood in the Water
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Muslims = Terrorists
M. Shahid Alam

Nothing Could Be More Offensive!
Maryam Namazie

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From Up the Ra to Up the Rozzers
Anthony McIntyre

Just Say No
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Whither Irish Republicanism
Mick Hall

The Three Stooges
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Jockeying For Position
Dr John Coulter

An Irish Agreement
Liam O Comain

Up the Garden Path
John Kennedy

A Gaelic Experiement
Nathan Dowds

Preventing Prejudice
Anthony McIntyre



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