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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Paying the Price
Anthony McIntyre • 29.11.03

Last month when the much heralded Adams-Trimble deal collapsed the astute Irish Times journalist, Frank Millar, aired suspicions that the British government had given up on the Good Friday Agreement and had approved elections that could only produce a compound from which no agreement could be fashioned. He was right only in so far as the British had given up on David Trimble being able to deliver the agreement. They most certainly have not given up on the agreement per se.

The British state is too wily a player to have its alternative to republicanism thwarted by a change in personnel within unionism. From the mid 1980s, British officials have known as a result of secret communications just how little key republican leaders were prepared to settle for. When it gave the green light for this week’s elections to take place, it did so in the full knowledge that more than anything else the Sinn Fein leadership craved institutional power and would go to almost any length to obtain it. Consequently, no matter what emerged at the other side of an election that craving was not going to lose its edge. And in order to slake it, Sinn Fein will eventually jump the even higher bar placed by the DUP. Failure to do so would mean that the Sinn Fein leadership, in return for the long war it directed, would have secured only an end to the war. Hardly a profitable investment.

When the DUP sat down in the same television studio for the first time with Sinn Fein last year, it was a statement of intent that rather than smash the IRA’s alter ego, Peter Robinson’s men and women would ultimately do business with Adams’ nationalist party. But few, including the British, seriously doubt that the DUP, unlike Trimble, will not entertain Sinn Fein in government while the IRA continues to function. Backed by a majority of the unionist electorate and reinforced by Trimble’s own ‘internal DUP’, Peter Robinson et al’s demand for a ‘renegotiation’ of the agreement has been considerably strengthened. And what can Sinn Fein do other than acquiesce? It will take some time but there is no where else to go.

Somewhere, no doubt, there is a fool who believes that Ireland will be united by 2016. But none are in the Sinn Fein leadership. Too clever for that nonsense, their discourse emphasising Irish unity in just over 12 years time is mere mood music for grunts. And Gerry Adams knows if he is to have a further taste of power in Stormont before he is 60 he will have to jump the raised bar and render the IRA non-existent.

For this reason Wednesday’s election poses no threat to either the union with Britain or what constitutes our own form of political stability in Northern Ireland. Constitutional nationalism is merely shedding its old SDLP skin and replacing it with a new Sinn Fein one. And when the fangs are finally extracted the DUP will live contentedly with that.

An edited version of this article featured in the Times.









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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

30 November 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Anthony McIntyre


Special Election Coverage:


Ignore the Headlines

Tom Luby


Doing Well for Themselves Alone
Mick Hall


Our Day Has Come...
Liam O'Comain


Paying the Price
Anthony McIntyre


Sinn Féin Advances Enhances Process
Fr. Sean Mc Manus, INC


'RSF satisfied with outcome - time to consider alternatives'

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Republican Sinn Féin


Poll Result Highlights Flawed Agreement
Andy Martin, 32 CSM


Election Comment


28 November 2003


Where Two or Three Shall Gather...
Liam O Ruairc


Julian Robertson Interviewed

Anthony McIntyre


From the Franklin River to the Chalillo Dam
Toni Solo


Rafah Today
Mohammad Omer




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