The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Careful What You Wish For

Political journalist and Unionist Revisionist Dr John Coulter believes London and Dublin should get a dose of that 'auld tyme religion' if they want Protestant fundamentalists to share power with the Shinners, or should that be Sinners?

Dr John Coulter • 11 September 2006

This month marks the fifth anniversary of 9/11 when religious fundamentalists demonstrated their awesome power at inflicting indiscriminate mass slaughter on a democratic nation.

While clearly not on the same horrific scale as the American genocide, the politicians preparing for next month's planned 'hot house' talks in Bonnie Scotland should ponder on the same awesome grip which Protestant fundamentalism has over progress in the peace process.

The hard reality which Blair, Ahern, and Hain must face is that the Independent Monitoring Commission can give the Provos clean bills of health until the cows come home, but Paisley's fundamentalists need to believe its God's Will to enter a power-sharing Executive with the Shinners.

This high-powered Gang of Three must copy Northern soccer hat-trick hero David Healy and devise a three-point plan which will have the fundamentalists singing and dancing to the song 'Oh when the saints go marching in' on 24 November.

The Gang of Three must focus on three seemingly unusual phrases as their tactics – God and Ulster, party before progress, and restoration with revival.

It will be Ian Paisley himself who will make the final decision concerning 24 November – no matter how much pressure is applied to his MLAs.

And Paisley will base this decision based on party unity, not community progress. The DUP's powerhouse is its ruling, yet emotionally volatile fundamentalist wing. This influential faction has stood firmly beside the Big Man right from the days he founded his Free Presbyterian Church in 1952.

To enter an Executive without fundamentalist blessing will fatally split the DUP and there's every chance the religious hill billies will retaliate by forming their own ultra Right wing version of the defunct Protestant Reformation Party.

Hence, the importance of the phrase 'party before progress'. The DUP privately realises the importance of the Executive to community and business development in the North – but not at the cost of Ulster Unionist-style feuds.

What Dublin and London must understand is that these religious Rednecks will not make their decision based on party manifestos, discussion documents, or even academic books on political science. The King James version of the Holy Bible will be their guiding star.

Through their prayer meetings and Bible studies, if the fundamentalists do not feel in their hearts that God if telling them its safe to enter an Executive, there will be no movement. To them, Paisley's decision has to be seen as the Lord's Will.

Hence, another of the phrases, God and Ulster. To fundamentalists, Loyal Ulster will only receive God's Blessings if the Lord's Will is clearly followed.

Having the 'hot house' talks in Scotland is a clever tactic as it allows the DUP MLAs to negotiate with Sinn Fein without fundamentalist constituents monitoring their every move, ever watchful for the hand of the Biblical devil, Baal, or the Anti Christ.

Even if a workable Sinn Fein/DUP blueprint is hammered out, time must be allowed in the Scottish mists to develop a strategy to sell the deal back home to the North's fundamentalists. This phase of the talks will be just as important as the content of the deal itself.

And so to the third part of the plan – restoration with revival. Spiritually, the fundamentalists must come to see that the restoration of devolved powers in the North will somehow trigger a religious revival.

If Blair and co. want to embark on a pre-24 November lobbying and advertising campaign, let them focus on the church leaders of the smaller, yet highly influential, fundamentalist denominations such as the Free Presbyterians, Baptists, Brethren, Elim Pentecostalists, Church of the Nazareene, as well as Free and Independent Methodists.

It should not go unnoticed that in this month's edition of The Revivalist, the magazine of Paisley's Free P Church, there was a timely article entitled Essentials for Revival, by Dr William Fetler, the founder of the Russian Missionary Society.

It stated: “If a believer meets God's conditions personally, God's blessing will be showered upon him individually.” If fundamentalists could be convinced one of God's conditions was the Executive, the spiritual blessings of revival will be showered on the Northern community.

The fight for the Executive will not be won at Blair, Ahern and Hain's professionally spun Press conferences. It will be won in the mission halls, church hall and Gospel halls frequented regularly by fundamentalists in the coming weeks.

In truth, if its in the Bible ... the deal for 24 November is a winner!

And then there's the case of the Labour leadership and its effects on running the North. In my books, either pro-Unionist Chancellor Gordon Brown, or pro-nationalist Home Secretary John Reid will decide the future balance of power in the North, depending on which of the two rival Scots succeeds Blair as Prime Minister.

Even though Blair has so far resisted pressure to confirm he will step down as PM on 31 May, 2007, it is already thought the battle to become the next Labour leader – and ultimately PM – is becoming a two-horse race.

Ironically, Blair's biggest critics to date within his own party have come from his Scottish and Welsh MPs, with current Northern and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain likely to be a key figure in deciding who is crowned PM.

If Blair does survive until May 2007, the date is also significant as it is when the next Northern Assembly elections are planned should a power-sharing Executive be formed at Stormont before the November 24 deadline.

Even if the Middle East conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan were to force Blair to continue as PM after May, he has emphasised this year's Labour and Trades Union Congress conferences would be his last – so he will definitely be gone by October '07.

Although the next Westminster General Election is not expected for another four years, elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are due within the next year – and the polls show Labour losing considerable support to both the Scottish and Welsh nationalists.

This pressure could force Blair to name his departure date even sooner than 31 May. At present, the most likely successor is Brown. As a Protestant clergyman's son, the tough-talking Scot would be the favourite of the broad Unionist camp.

This would be especially true of the DUP, where Ian Paisley would attempt to draw political parallels between himself as a fundamentalist preacher in the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and Brown's own church background in Scotland.

However, the DUP would be unwise to assume a Brown administration would initiate an immediate return of Stormont should the Assembly fold after 24 November.

While Brown is a supporter of devolved government, it is believed he would follow Blair's current policy of implementing joint authority of the North with Dublin should the planned 'hot house' talks set for early October fail to cook up a deal between the Paisley camp and Sinn Fein.

As the present Chancellor, Brown has acquired considerable government experience in money matters and as PM, he would ensure the North's 1.7 million population paid as much of the estimated £9 billion budget needed to run the North.

This would include the introduction of hard-hitting water charges, increased property rates, as well as tough cuts in red tape. Brown will ensure he gets value for money from the planned programme of cuts in the administration of education, health and local government scheduled to be completed by 2010.

Brown would be expected to implement proposals to drastically reduce the number of health and education boards in the North, as well as oversee the slashing of the number of further and higher education institutes from 16 to six so-called 'super techs' by September 2007.

Local councils will also be chopped with the present 26 being reduced to seven super councils. Although Brown is strongly perceived as supporting the Union, he will make the Northern population pay through the nose to remain in that Union.

Indeed, if joint authority is implemented, Brown would probably expect the Dublin administration to foot at least part of the £9 billion annual Northern bill.

Nationalists, especially in the SDLP, would welcome the election of former Northern Secretary John Reid as PM. The Celtic-supporting Catholic was viewed as being strongly supportive of the SDLP's position during his spell in the North.

While Reid's economic policy would have similar effects on the North as Brown's, the former's pro-nationalist leanings would be a major factor in building the role of the North South bodies, especially the British Irish Ministerial Council.

Irrespective if Stormont exists or not after November, if Reid as PM considerably enhanced the powers and scope of the North South bodies, this would be especially pleasing to Sinn Fein, especially if the republican party could treble its Dail TD's from five to 15 in next year's expected Southern elections.

This could put Sinn Fein in a position where it had two ministers on the British Irish Ministerial Council.

Three other Labour leadership candidates have been mooted for the race for Number 10 Downing Street – Education Secretary Alan Johnston, Environment Secretary David Miliband and radical Left-winger John McDonnell.

Both Johnston and Miliband would be viewed as luke warm on the Northern peace process and would perceived to follow a Blairite agenda if elected.

Wild card McDonnell is the darling of the Labour hard Left, and would be viewed as a supporter of Sinn Fein, but is unlikely to attract more than a handful of votes among present Labour MPs.



  1. The signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998.
  2. Victory for the Yes camp in the May referendum on the Belfast Agreement.
  3. Maintaining of the IRA ceasefire and the moves leading to three major acts of decommissioning.
  4. The establishment of the Northern Assembly and the creation of a – albeit it brief – period of legislative government for the North, the first since 1972.
  5. A steady reduction in troop levels in the North and the dismantling of a number of significant Army bases.
  6. The development of a more accepting policing force in the North with the PSNI.
  7. The promotion of millions of pounds of inward investment in the North as a result of the peace process.
  8. Developing plans to cut the amount of red tape in education, the health service and local government.
  9. Encouraging an increased number of American Presidential visits to the North.
  10. Massive cash incentives to encourage militant Loyalism to 'come in from the cold' and participate in the democratic process.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

18 September 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Kick the Pope
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When Saying Sorry Isn't Enough
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"The third camp is about real lives": Interview with Hamid Taqvaee
Maryam Namazie

John Kennedy

Sympathy for the Victims
Mick Hall

For The Victims of Britain's Holocaust in Ireland
Brian Halpin

Dreary Eden
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Legalize the Irish
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Careful What You Wish For
Dr John Coulter

The Peace Process — A Children's Fantasy
Tom Luby

John Kennedy

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Renaissance Republicanism
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Goulding, the Provisionals and the Current Political Process
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Irlande du Nord: Interview With Anthony McIntyre
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Sectarian Interfaces: Glenn Patterson's That Which Was
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Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 9
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Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 10
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A Curious Snub
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Against Civilisation
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Blanket Coverage for All
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5 Years
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