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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
The Spark in Jeffery
James Fitzharris • 12 January 2004

Eamon Sweeney’s engaging analysis of the political career of Jeffrey Donaldson provoked me to visit the Donaldson website which is, dare we use the term, “in the process” of being updated. Undeterred by the blank home page I accepted Donaldson’s invitation to find out more “about me”. Born of good Presbyterian stock he joined the Orange Order at 16 years, progressed via the UDR to Enoch Powell’s office in South Down. Jeffrey’s coyness and reluctance to make any reference to educational attainments are in stark contrast to his claim in a sympathetic TV profile a few years ago that he had “turned down an opportunity to study history at Cambridge,” a claim which infers spectacular early education attainment. At the time his fantasy claim was met with a chorus of derision from those who knew him when he was “serving his time” as an apprentice electrician in Ballykinlar British army camp. Apparently little Jeffrey left his local school in Kilkeel with fewer GCEs than Rodney Trotter; a fairly unremarkable achievement that would in later life be a constant irritant to his self esteem, especially in the company of the donnish Trimble and his coterie of university trained ministers.

Requiring a trade like all good working class Presbyterians, his association with the Loyal Orders left him more than well qualified to work in the camp where seemingly his confusion about ac, dc and cross wiring proved as potent a threat to the British soldiers as did physical force Republicans. When an itinerant conservative MP Enoch Powell arrived in the South Down constituency looking for someone to drive him to and from the airport the bright young spark did Ballykinlar camp and the army a big favour by volunteering his services.

Very presentable, the young fellow showed more flair as a personal aide. In his television profile he confessed to being educated into politics listening to Powell talking about his work on those early morning journeys to Aldergrove. Enoch a man of remarkable intellect, double first in classics and ex military intelligence soon recognised the gaping chasm in the Donaldson c.v. and it was arranged that Jeffrey enter the hallowed portals of QUB at a time when many a more deserving young student was denied by an entry system which demanded and got A level high achievers. Little is known about his three months at Queens other than the Donaldson trait of cut and run when confronted with discipline, in this case academic, once again displayed itself. One wonders how he explained this early defection to his elderly mentors Powell and Molyneaux, and will the combination of persuasiveness coupled with his undoubted brown nosing ability which sustained him throughout his early political career work on his new boss?

One thing certain is that the lack of an academic education will not inhibit Jeffrey’s political ambitions within the DUP. In fact he should be comfortable in a party where there is a natural distrust of academia; and a mediocre education considered to be a badge of honour. So the bold and defiant Donaldson need never again be reticent or embarrassed about his early lack of it.

In the recent assembly election all DUP candidates were required to include educational background on the DUP website. His updated site will make interesting reading to political watchers for as well as education attainment, it should indicate the degree of independence he will be permitted to display in his new party. Most people care little about a public representative’s beginnings. Jeffrey Donaldson is a shrewd, clever operator and nobody’s fool; he has not fallen into the same trap of another famous Jeffrey (Archer) and invented a glowing C.V. flagrantly using it to climb the ladder to political power. He does however owe the electorate an explanation on his public claim as to how as a young man with no entry qualifications he was offered a place in Cambridge to study history. I don’t expect that we will ever get an explanation -- anyway, bible studies at Bob Jones will prove more advantageous to his advancement in the fundamental ranks.

It is a fairly safe prediction that in the medium future he will conform and subscribe to the seven principles of his new leader. Just how long he can contend with and conceal a personality trait that resents authority is another interesting question.



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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.
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Index: Current Articles

20 January 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Demise of the Dinosaur?
Eamon Sweeney


The Price the Working Classes Pay for a Pedestal These Days
Mick Hall


The One Eyed Observer

Anthony McIntyre


The Spark in Jeffery
John Fitzharris


Anti-Racism Rally

Davy Carlin


32CSM Condemns PIRA Shooting of Republican Activist
Andy Martin


Semantics of Empire
M. Shahid Alam


16 January 2004


Response by the Maghaberry POWs to the 'Compact Propsals for Separated Prisoners
PRO Maghaberry POWs


Horses or Zebras?
Paul Fitzsimmons


The Future of Iran

Pedram Moallemian


Anthony McIntyre


A State of the Union Address

Eamon Sweeney




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