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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Carrots and Sticks

Political journalist and Radical Unionist Dr John Coulter maintains increasing the number of Super Councils in the North could be the carrot Ian Paisley needs to make his religious bog men agree to a power-sharing Executive with the Shinners.


Dr John Coulter • 18 September 2006

Bumping up the number of proposed new Northern super councils from seven to 11 could well be the tonic which Big Ian needs to cure his religious bog men of their fears about climbing into bed with the Shinners.

The DUP king pin has already made it clear there'll be no deal by the 24 November deadline, inevitably leading to the collapse of the so-called Hain Assembly brought back by the Northern Secretary in May.

However, the long-term fate of the 2003 Assembly is still in the balance. Usually reliable SDLP sources are adamant the Big Man will lead his fundamentalist dominated party into a power-sharing Executive as part of the separate 2003-elected Assembly.

These SDLP sources are basing their conclusions on supposedly confidential briefings given to party activists by top-level Stormont civil servants.

Word is the carrot Paisley will dangle in front of the bog men – especially in his North Antrim stomping ground – is an increase in the number of super councils due to come into power by 2010.

Under the present seven-council scenario, nationalists look set to have a four-three majority over unionists. The picture changes radically if the boundaries are redrawn under an 11-council set-up.

This would give unionism a clear six-five majority, with the DUP likely to again out-gun the election-battered Ulster Unionists in nearly all of the 11 super councils.

To ratify this solution, Big Ian will tell his Bible-bashing bog men he'll have to enter a power-sharing Executive with the Shinners to save the Union.

And there's been considerable gossip on Stormont's third floor this week the DUP is preparing to bring wee Paul Berry back into its ranks, giving the Paisley camp 33 MLAs in the Assembly – and supposedly a fourth ministerial seat in the Executive.

Wee Paul, once top of the pops in the North's highly popular Gospel-singing circuit, fell off his prime Newry and Armagh perch following a series of allegations about his private life.

But the DUP – once known for its hardline anti-gay Save Ulster From Sodomy campaign – appears to be having second thoughts about the independent unionist MLA and, like the Biblical prodigal son, is believed to be on the verge of giving wee Paul the party whip again.

The Paisleyites are riding high after giving the UUP another bashing when they succeeded in having former UVF jailbird and present PUP boss Davy Ervine bucked out of the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group.

The move effectively nobbles the UUP's third seat on the Executive which the UUP/PUP coalition had created, and if the Bring Back Berry camp come out of the political closet, the final Executive ministerial headcount would be DUP 4, Shinners 3, UUP 2 and the SDLP one.

And the Paisleyites must also be rubbing their hands with glee at the present UUP-style leadership crisis in Labour.

The supposed Labour dream team of Scot Gordon Brown as party leader and Welshman Peter Hain as deputy running an English Parliament could badly backfire in the British Shires, handing the Premiership to Tory chief David Cameron by a very slender majority.

If the Paisley camp could pick up the Westminster seats of South Belfast and Fermanagh/South Tyrone, giving the DUP a Commons team of 11, the Big Man may be sorely tempted to devise a deal – not with the Shinners – but with the Tories to keep Cameron safely in Downing Street.

Mind you, Unionism should not forget how it was shafted by two former Conservative PM's, the late Ted Heath who axed the original Stormont Parliament, and Maggie Thatcher, who dumped the '85 Dublin accord on the North.

And there more gossip around the Stormont tea rooms ... with DUP deputy Peter Robinson's support amongst the Paisleyite Assembly team now rumoured to have risen to a dozen MLAs, is the mooted United Unionist Coalition with Reg Empey's UUP now back on track?

The Northern Ireland Office number crunchers maintain the proposed 36-strong new Empey/Robinson Unionist Party could be just the ticket to cut the deal with the Shinners and isolate Big Paisley.

Meanwhile, there's also considerable buzz around the Stormont restaurants the real block to any DUP/Sinn Fein deal are the Paisleyites' demands the Shinners sign up to the Policing Board and give full recognition to the PSNI.

If we ever do manage to get a devolved parliament back, one of the first laws which any policing ministry should pass would be to give members of neighbourhood watch groups the power to make citizens' arrest of young thugs who terrorise communities, especially in rural areas across the North.

The village vermin who are polluting once-quiet localities think they are the Untouchables under the law because any adult who challenges their cheek is likely to end up in jail on a crazy assault charge.

If neighbourhood watch groups are to have any teeth, they must be given the right to physically prevent teenage yobs from vandalising property or intimidating the elderly and disabled.

This means being able to forcibly hold young thugs and hoods until the police arrive and the brats can be prosecuted.

If we don't have a policing system which supports the 'watchers', then its only a matter of time before the paramilitaries or independent 'paid-for' vigilantes start dishing out their own brand of brutal community justice on teenage street hooligans.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

25 September 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

DNA and Diplock: A Recipe for Injustice
Martin Galvin

Carrots and Sticks
Dr John Coulter

The Time of My Life
Ray McAreavey

Hunger Strikers for Sale on Ebay
Breandán Ó Muirthile

Strange Logic
Anthony McIntyre

Digging Up the Past
John Kennedy

The History of the Belfast Anti War Movement
Davy Carlin

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 11 & 12
Michael Gillespie

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 13 & 14
Michael Gillespie

Lights Out
Anthony McIntyre

Papal in Glass Houses
Derick Perry

The GFA and Islam
Roy Johnston

Muhammad's Sword
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We Are Not As Evolved As We Think
David Adams

Stone Me
John Kennedy

18 September 2006

Kick the Pope
Anthony McIntyre

When Saying Sorry Isn't Enough
David Adams

"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
Frank [Name Supplied]

Careful What You Wish For
Dr John Coulter

The Peace Process — A Children's Fantasy
Tom Luby

John Kennedy

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