The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
In Defence of the Crown

Eamon Sweeney • 1 February 2004

It would appear that after all his torments and woes of the last few years and months David Trimble has eventually succeeded in approaching a level of complete decommissioning. Sadly for David however it is the UUP he has put beyond use rather than the weaponry of the IRA.

Trimble has busied himself this week traipsing around various media studios in a futile attempt to convince the public at large that the UUP will be rebuilt despite the shattering setbacks it has encountered particularly since last November’s election and more precisely since the defection of the power starved Jeffrey Donaldson.

In a week that saw the dissolution of a UUP branch in Kilkeel, Co. Down when 26 members of the party resigned, adding to the 30 members who walked out in Trimble’s own constituency in the previous week to follow the new pied piper of Paisleyism, Trimble presented a valiant but nevertheless jaded façade about the nature of his and the party’s comeback.

For any party the symbol of their health and continuity is manifested in the strength and vitality of their youth wing. In this way the vigour of strength in numbers provides a point of pride to the senior executive that they are doing something right and that they will bequeath a healthy ideological mantle to those that follow. Furthermore it shows to the other party’s that this solid lineage is an indicator that they are likely to be around for a long time and therefore it engenders a sense in opponents that this party must be treated with the utmost gravity.

Since the early 1980’s at least, the Ulster Young Unionist Council has been tantamount to the political equivalent of the Manchester United youth academy.

The last most eminent protégé to graduate from this school was none other than Jeffrey Donaldson who chaired the organisation in the glory days of Ulster Says No back in the mid 1980’s. It is clear that his true blue stamp was permanently ingrained to this society, perhaps even to the level of the imaginary bloodstains that Lady Macbeth vainly tries to scrub from her murderous hand. Whilst still a member of the UUP and in the run up to last years assembly elections Donaldson was the keynote speaker at the youth convention last October. At that point also he was still the vice-president of the organisation. Also at that time the UYUC was the largest youth movement attached to any party in the north and was represented at every single level of the senior party’s decision making process.

A more sinister or at best uglier indication of the far-reaching tentacles of the UYUC was the fact that it delegated 35 Orange Order members from it’s ranks to sit on the 860 strong Ulster Unionist Council.

These of course are all markers that reveal that the UYUC were not as in other party’s child-like replicas of their grown up mentors but walking, talking, suit-owning and camel-haired overcoat wearing mini Enoch Powell’s.

The UYUC will no longer be a thorn in the side of David Trimble since it extracted itself from the ever growing wound in the UUP body politic by simply dissolving last week. The lack of noise about the departure of this wing of Unionism spoke volumes about it’s position. Basically they felt that no further comment was necessary to illustrate their feelings towards Trimble and the ensuing death of the UUP in it’s current format.

More defections are also expected. Notably amongst these are former UUP stalwarts such as David Brewster, who helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement and Elvira Tulip, party member since 1952. Significantly, Tulip was also a vice-president of the UYUC and also was the vice-chairwoman of the Ulster Woman’s Unionist Council. The defection of notable UUP dignitaries such as these will only serve to have a knock on effect. Indeed Donaldson has been boasting very publicly about being inundated with a request for DUP membership application forms, 100 alone he claims, in the last week from the Drumbo branch alone.

Whether the current leader survives or not it is clear that the structure of the UUP will have to be radically altered in the near future. This consistent haemorrage of hardliners must present the UUP with an opportunity to tighten up it’s lax rules.

The party is currently predicated on a federal basis, and is in theory at least a coalition of local associations. It’s ruling body the Ulster Unionist Council can be called at short notice by a conglomeration of just thirty members which of course can and often does include members of the Orange Order. This loose structure is the key to explaining why Donaldson was able to basically create a party within a party and consistently chip away at the authority of not only the leader but the UUC as well. An executive body that is at the whim of ordinary level members is in effect not an executive body at all.

With the almost constant convening of the UUC, which in reality were not so subtly disguised tilts at Trimble’s leadership, he has been left like a world champion boxer who drew his last bout and retained his title only because he is the incumbent champion. In other words he is champion in name only, and the remaining challengers begin to realise that the hero has a glass chin and feet of clay. It is unlikely that a comeback anything short of a Rocky type scenario will see Trimble or the UUP reassume a position of primacy in the near future.

To stave off any similar future attacks of this nature the reconstitution of the UUP will be there only saviour. Even party chairman James Cooper has openly conceded that there is a need to review the happenings of the past twelve months and then “modernise” the present structures.

That Trimble will be welcomed in a revitalised UUP is not assured. Even he must recognise that his weakness in commanding instead of requesting compliance from figures like Donaldson has cost his party dearly. Instead of nipping any dissension in the bud Trimble’s ego allowed him to play personality politics and when the time came for decisive action he rushed headlong at it and acted illegally with regard to the unapproved suspension of the unholy trinity of Donaldson, Smyth and Burnside. All the while of course the DUP were rubbing their hands in glee, gathering smug satisfaction and the more delicious kudos from watching their seemingly unassailable opponents carve each other up.

As a bonus they had the unwitting, or supposedly unwitting help of a UUP fifth columnist in the changeling Donaldson waiting to pole vault the wire into the Unionist utopia of Paisleyland.

A word or two must be said about Donaldson’s current position. Obviously unashamed about the outstanding Machiavellianism that he used in wearing the UUP hat to get himself elected and then switching party’s and handing the safest UUP seat in the north to their deadliest rivals. Now that he has supposedly revealed his true self Donaldson may find that the promised land will not deliver on many of it’s promises, the outcome of which may reveal the true validity of Jeffrey’s principles after all. Given that he joined the DUP on the back of their hard line attitude towards the GFA, how is he feeling now as their tone and outlook becomes softer by the day. Travelling to the Irish embassy in London to talk to Ahern is in itself a quantum leap for Paisley senior. Therefore as we can all guage the logical progression of this first step, will Jeffrey end up walking away from the DUP as well at some point to become a lone wolf in defence of Ulster’s slipping crown, he and Bob Mc Cartney carbines in hand on the roof of Castle buildings singing I don’t like Mondays, or will he remain on board and swap the carbine for a ministerial briefcase?

In his defence Jeffrey could contend that if the UFF can travel to Dublin to speak to the papist Fenian head of an illegal government then why can’t he?Being of harder physical material than the DUP the UFF representatives, oh sorry, the UPRG delegates, must have reasoned that the car journey to Dublin was cheaper than the plane ride to London, especially with all that cheap freestate diesel, they have also proved that Protestants as rumoured do not vaporise ten yards past the Auchnacloy checkpoint.

So what now for the disbanded Aryan youth movement that was the UYUC. I suppose if nothing else is available to wile away the long winter evenings they should be made aware that Sinn Fein now accept former RUC members and they also have a thriving youth wing!It’s a hard business this defence of the crown lark.

It is made all the harder when the supposedly more civilised proponents of it are involved in a salvage operation of their own party system. For the doom merchants of the GFA like myself, scant solace is gleaned from the fact that the bulwark of mainstream Unionism has been sliced in two. I’m neither mournful or pitying about the death of the UUP, in fact on one level I suppose that I am almost ecstatic about it.

The endurance of my happiness about this however is wholly transient, as if there was a nationalist/republican party capable of now stepping into the breach to finish the job off, I would be confident of a decidedly more rosy political future.

Instead we are left with a so called republican party eager to consolidate a mandate to a non existent partitionist parliament and a nationalist party in electoral tatters in the throes of a leadership crisis and who are engaging in nothing more constructive than arguing with the Alliance party on the nature of representation and how to conduct head counts in the same non-existent assembly.

Still in the business of decrying the ills of the PSNI, Sinn Fein’s very own police service roundly savages anyone accused of dissenting from their line. The next logical step along the road must be nightly book burnings and youth classes in De Valerian double speak. It is hilarious to witness Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail flail their verbal whiplashes with regard to accusations to financial irregularities in each others camps. Both parties are hewn strictly from the same rock and not just in financial terms, the only separation now remaining is the feigned legitimacy of sovereign governmental rights, better suits and cars. Yes, Fianna Fail need to start catching up!Is there really a point in this type of mud slinging when money gained illegally is still dirty and that is that?Is the point that we all turned a blind eye to this and blessed it with pseudo morality when a war was still being prosecuted on the streets of the north and beyond the Irish sea?

What is the difference between Charlie Haughey buying himself an island and the leadership of Sinn Fein lending their patronage to the Gortahork area of Donegal, or as Ireland on Sunday once called it Playa-Del-Provo?

Arguments about the elected government of a sovereign state like the Republic of Ireland involving itself in underhanded financial chicanery and the appalling abuse of power that this entails matters little to the ordinary man in the street. What care I when and how it was done?

What care I about the downward spiral of democratic standards?All I know as the man in the street that the money that was “misdirected” took food from my children’s mouth, wasn’t there when my job needed saving, and all the while you kept on taxing me and taxed me more when you had to pay for the futile tribunals that investigated who stole the money in the first place. It was ever so. No government ever establishes a tribunal unless it is guaranteed to win. Capt. James Kelly discovered this in 1970, the family of Dr. David Kelly discovered this last week, and the families of the Bloody Sunday dead will discover this in the future. If the Labour government were prepared to sacrifice their national communication network to hide it’s failings, then what hope for 14 Irishmen slaughtered 32 years ago to the week on the streets of Derry?

Whilst unionism crumbles before our eyes, in typical Irish fashion, Irishmen fall out amongst themselves. Sinn Fein are Fianna Fail little more than two generations back and when the optical gauze is stripped from the two way mirror that they sit on either side of then we truly will be in trouble. By defending their own constricted little corners and ignoring all else, these people are surely by proxy defenders of the crown just as much as Trimble or Donaldson.





Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

25 March 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Deporting the Burly Bartender: Seán Ó Cealleagh
Seaghán Ó Murchú


For Being Irish in the Wrong Place and at the Wrong Time
Breandán Morley


Lords' Ruling Timed to Stymie Collusion Inquiries

Eamonn McCann


Cannabis Ard Fheis Blow
Mick Hall


Why Growth and Power in Both Parts of A Divided Country Will Do Sinn Fein Just Fine
Anthony McIntyre


In Defence of the Crown
Eamon Sweeney


Game Playing by "Free Trade" Rules
Toni Solo


Social Inequality, Grinding Poverty, State Negligence
Cédric Gouverneur


22 March 2004


A Momentous Week in Madrid
Douglas Hamilton


Shinner Sing-A-Long
Brian Mór


Biggles and the Provos

Kevin Bean


'The Solidarity of Those Who Struggle for Justice'
Willie Gallagher


Truth, Power and Dissent
Anthony McIntyre


The Irish Hero - A Multidisciplinary Conference in Irish Studies
Centre for Irish Studies


The 2004 Jonathan Swift Poetry Competition
Dr John Hirsch


The Letters page has been updated.




The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices