Blair and Bertie Ahern have moral duties to save
DUP deputy boss Peter Robinson from being politcally
mauled by Paisleyism's religious hill-billies and
Throughout 2006, Robinson has become the Unionist
family's Great White Hope - the man who possessed
the wisdom, vision and courage to form a power-sharing
Executive with Sinn Fein before Northern Secretary
Peter Hain's 24 November deadline.
London and Dublin must face up to what everyone
in the North already knows - the DUP is irrepairably
split under the surface despite the party's glossy
spin and propaganda about being unified.
Big Paisley may still rule his party, but his fundamentalist
zealot clique has steadily picked off Robinson's
supporters within both the DUP ruling executive
and especially in its 32-strong Assembly team.
The Robinson camp is now at crisis point. In January,
he could command the loyalty of around 16 MLAs -
enough bodies to form a United Unionist Coalition
with Sir Reg Empey's 25-member, socialist-leaning
This would have isolated Paisley's fundamentalists
and signalled a Sinn Fein/UUC power-sharing Executive
even before July's summer recess.
But senior Stormont sources claim the Robinson camp
has been obliterated to a core Gang of Six - Robinson
himself, his wife Iris, Jeffrey Donaldson from Lagan
Valley, William Hay from Foyle, East Derry's Gregory
Campbell, and out-of-flavour green campaigner Jim
Wells from South Down.
The hard fact is Robinson's sums don't add up. It's
July and he now lacks the numbers to successfully
stage a coup within the DUP. He could try, but he'd
be wiped out by Paisley's fundamentalists and MEP
Jim Allister's ultra-Right wing supporters.
What Blair and Ahern urgently need to do by September
is to create conditions at Stormont Hill which allow
for yet another, but workable, realignment within
Unionism - this time into pro and anti-deal Unionists.
Rather than having to wait a political eternity
until the entire Paisley camp negotiates a deal
with Sinn Fein, Dublin and London need to establish
the scenario where the pro-deal Unionist camp can
hammer out an agreement with the Shinners.
The size of the hill Blair and Ahern have to climb
is immense - but it can be done.
Of the 32 DUP MLAs, Paisley now commands 26. He
can also count on United Kingdom Unionist Party
boss Bob McCartney and Independent Unionist Paul
The latter desperately needs back into the DUP fold
if he is to save his Newry and Armagh seat following
allegations about his private life. The anti-deal
camp is 28.
Pro-deal Unionists can drum up 31, comprising the
25 UUP/PUP group plus Robinson's Gang of Six. The
pro-deal camp may need the help of Alliance to give
it a workable majority over anti-deal Unionism.
If Hain truely wants the Executive by November,
he needs a financial carrot for MLAs. Instead of
axing all salaries and expenses, he should offer
20 per cent for registering and the remaining 80
per cent for attendance at the Executive and committees.
This could tempt some of the present anti-deal DUP
MLAs into defecting. Hain must starve out the Paisley
camp without punishing those who want the Executive
He must also focus on the underlying splits within
the DUP rather than tarring all of the Paisley camp
with the same Never, Never, Never brush.
He, too, has a moral imperative to help those within
the DUP who want to secure the future of the North
within the Union by restoring Stormont.
Any DUP MLA who joins the pro-deal camp will have
taken the historic step of putting the country first
before selfish, party-political point scoring.
But these DUP MLAs, just like UUP pro-Agreement
MLAs in the late 1990s, will face a barrage of verbal
and physical abuse from anti-deal fanatics.
They will be especially prey to cowards who operate
anonymously and viciously on the numerous internet
blog sites, spewing out their political vomit.
If Stormont falls, the fingers of blame will not
all be pointed at Big Paisley. Blair, Ahern and
Hain will have to carry the can for lacking the
guts to fully support pro-deal Unionism.
As for the DUP, joint authority will become Paisleyism's
The Unionist family will then have to seriously
consider the concept of Revolutionary Unionism.
This is Unionism within a 32-county framework where
Unionists have a direct say in the running of the