Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionists trying to out-celebrate
each other concerning their respective centenaries,
we are left still pondering - why is the DUP so
quiet these days?
all, the Shinners' recent big shin-dig in Dublin
has more to do with putting the shine back onto
their Southern electoral bandwagon as the crisis
over the Northern Bank heist and the McCartney killing
deepens on a daily basis.
seems to have partially work given the fact Sinn
Fein raised its percentage vote in the recent Dail
by-election in Meath, but then again, as the proverb
states - one swallow does not make a summer.
founder Arthur Griffith must be lying in his coffin
with a king-size migraine when he views the balls-up
the present day leaders of Sinn Fein have made of
his original separatist movement.
as for the UUP, plenty of banqueting, praying, singing
hymns, and fine speeches to commemorate how the
Ulster Unionist Council has saved Ulster from Dublin
rule over the last century.
week later, the Orange Order dumps the UUC hopefully
to clean up its tarnished image as a result of Drumcree
and return to being a purely religious organisation.
At the moment, the jury is out on this one.
a pity that saving glory of the UUC's Thanksgiving
Service will only last until 5 May. Maybe that's
why only half the 900 plus UUC delegates attended
the centenary AGM earlier this month. Indeed, there
were more people at the centenary banquet and the
thanksgiving service than the actual AGM itself.
again, with all this internal strife in the republican
family, and an electoral apocalypse looming for
the UUC, is it any wonder the Paisley camp has decided
to stay silent and bask in the glory of their opponents'
has it, the Paisley camp is well and truly in electoral
mode for 5 May
but the DUP is still nervous
Sinn Fein might throw a wobbly and orchestrate a
huge act of public decommissioning complete with
a portfolio of photos before the elections.
the republicans really need to urgently initiate
is the introduction of another 'D' word. We've had
disbanding and decommissioning - now we need Sinn
Fein to decouple itself from the IRA. The hard reality
is the IRA an out of control boil on the face of
republicanism which must be lanced otherwise it
will cause a political scar which will persist for
a massive act of verifiable decommissioning to decouple
Sinn Fein would force the Paisleyites to show their
hand at what they had really negotiated with the
doves in Sinn Fein before last year's supposed 'collapse'
of the peace deal.
persistent rumours the DUP modernisers have conceded
more to Dublin on cross-border bodies than Trimble
did in the Good Friday Agreement, the last thing
the DUP wants is SF to deliver on decommissioning
before any General and council elections.
ill health gossip now laid to rest, the Big Man
and the fundamentalists are now firmly at the helm
of the party, putting the Nigel Dodds campaign to
succeed Paisley as DUP boss back on track. Peter
Robinson and the modernisers have once more to take
a back seat.
social body language of the UUC celebrations clearly
showed South Belfast Assemblyman Michael McGimpsey
is the man of the moment amongst Ulster Unionists.
Indeed, maybe the DUP will need an even bigger gun
than Nigel's wife, Diane Dodds, to prevent McGimpsey
replacing Martin Smyth as South Belfast MP.
could be a good time for the DUP's man of the moment
- MEP Jim Allister - to enter the fray as its South
Belfast standardbearer. If he won, it would place
him in prime position to take the DUP leadership
impressive vote in the 2004 Euro poll not only established
his considerable credibility amongst the DUP rank
and file, but also the private respect of many Right-wing
the UUP MLAs held an 'away day' in Templepatrick
to discuss their future. Having met the SDLP the
other week, the big question is whether the UUP
leadership will unveil a British Government document
containing four possible proposals to end the impasse.
the DUP proposal document already with the Secretary
of State, the UUP is under pressure to give its
council and Westminster candidates some policy direction
on the doorsteps.
disturbing reports of a potentially violent summer
ahead - especially in north Belfast - there is pressure
to get an interim arrangement as soon as possible
after 5 May.
is then hoped real negotiations can begin again
in September, with the new deal in place by Christmas
and the Assembly restored by January 2006 - just
a year late!
another question is still bugging many - why won't
the SDLP make the ideological jump and share power
with unionists without SF being present, especially
as the latter is hell bent on wiping out constitutional
nationalism on 5 May?