The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Heatwave Won't Affect Cold Storage

Political journalist and Unionist Revisionist Dr John Coulter explores the options should the Northern Assembly fall

Dr John Coulter • 15 July 2006

The clouds of doom and gloom have descended over Stormont Hill with the news MLAs have reportedly been told by the Government to prepare to lay off their staff from 24 November – a sure sign any hope of a deal is a dead duck.

A major problem is that both the Paisleyites and Shinners' alternatives to the Assembly as we sit in the middle of the summer recess appear very workable and politically lucrative.

Sinn Fein is already talking about pulling out of the Assembly. This is an abstentionist tactic it has used in the past with the '82-'86 Assembly and the '96-'98 Northern Forum.

There's no way Blair will return to Direct Rule if Stormont collapses. Forget the daft notion coming from Paisleyite ranks that even if the Assembly is axed in November, negotiations will continue and it will return in a revamped format with fresh elections in May 2007.

The North will be governed by joint authority between Dublin and London with the British Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body (BIIB) and the cross-border bodies the real power brokers.

Since 1994 and the first Provo ceasefire, Sinn Fein has always had to contend with the oozing boil of dissident republicanism. The Adams/McGuinness peace strategy has endured a barrage of verbal criticism over Sinn Fein's decision to participate in a partitionist parliament.

Pulling out of Stormont would allow Sinn Fein to swing a new, double-edged sword. Firstly, it will keep the dissidents and hardliners within the republican movement happy – especially in south Armagh, south Derry, and east Tyrone – that the party has finaly abandoned its long-term Stormont agenda.

Secondly, with major Sinn Fein gains expected in the 2007 Dail elections, it could place the republican movement not just in a prime spot to form a coalition government with Bert Ahern, but also to have key seats in BIIB.

Gossip is also increasing a group of grassroots UUP activists will push for Unionists having a say in the running of the South should joint authority become a political reality.

With five Westminster MPs, and Dail seats on the BIIB, SF could move more rapidly towards a British withdrawal from the North than farting about inside Stormont. With its two MEPs, Sinn Fein can also use the European Union to bring added clout to its campaign to rub out the Northern border.

As for the DUP, Northern Secretary Peter Hain made a serious tactical blunder with the leaking of the NIO document about cutting £1.5 million from the Paisley camp if Stormont shuts.

But the DUP still has a massive income from its nine MPs and one MEP. The gossip on the Hill is it has found jobs for all but eight of its MLA team.

Paisley personally fears a rebellion from his hot-headed religious hill-billy Rednecks. They must be fully on board before a deal is sealed otherwise the DUP will descend into Davy Trimble-style UUP civil war.

But rumour also has it while there may be little apparent movement at Stormont, DUP negotiators have been heavily involved in so-called tripartite talks in London using the British Government as the go-between.

The key issue, according to well-placed moles, is policing. Present DUP policy is 'no deal', but if Sinn Fein joins the Policing Board, Paisley may well agree to an Executive at five to midnight on 24 November.

The statements of four key fundamentalist DUP politicians must be carefully pawed over after the summer recess – Big Ian himself; his son Ian Junior; new peer Maurice Morrow, and Free Presbyterian cleric Billy McCrea.

The worry is these influential fundamentalists will persuade the DUP modernisers around Peter Robinson to hold fire on any deal, believing the loss of Stormont will finish off the UUP, forcing the Reg Empey-led party to sell its prestigious Cunningham House HQ in Belfast to pay off party debts.

This hill-billy Redneck plan is simple – kill off the UUP and unionist voters will have no alternatives at the ballot box; its the DUP or nothing.

Senior Stormont sources have indicated to The Blanket if the Assembly flops, it could be a decade before there is another election for some kind of regional parliament in the North.

Other major ideas have been thrown into the melting pot for the parties to ponder during their summer recess, including: an announcement in September that London and Dublin would prop up a power-sharing Executive without the DUP.

There is talk the governments could spring a snap referendum on the Northern electorate as to whether people wanted a legislative devolved administration – a move which could seriously isolate the foot-dragging Paisley camp.

This isolation would be further compounded if Sinn Fein joined the Policing Board – a decisive move which could give the Robinson faction the courage it needs to defy Big Paisley.

Looks like the ghost of the arch plotter himself, Guy Fawkes, has decided to cross the Irish Sea and haunt the Stormont corridors; let the talk of treason and plot begin.

























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

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

19 July 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Dupe Process
Anthony McIntyre

Heatwave Won't Affect Cold Storage
Dr John Coulter

Hanson's Handouts
John Kennedy

Israeli State Terror
Anthony McIntyre

Judgement Day
John Kennedy

Israel, US and the New Orientalism
M. Shahid Alam

The Right, the Need to Resist
Mick Hall

An Invitation to My Neighborhood
Fred A Wilcox

Prison Fast

Death Brings Fr Faul
Anthony McIntyre

Risking the Death of Volunteers is Not the IRA Way
Brendan Hughes

Principles and Tactics
Liam O Ruairc

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Preliminary Hearings Cont'd.
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Rupert's Reward
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Rupert's Inconsistencies
Marcella Sands

Blast from the Past
John Kennedy

An Elegant End
Seaghán Ó Murchú

West Belfast - The Past, the Present and the Future
Davy Carlin

9 July 2006

Father Faul Saved Many Lives
Richard O'Rawe

Richard O'Rawe, PSF, and Events in 1981
Gerard Foster

Looking Back on 1981
Anthony McIntyre

Haughey and the National Question
Maria McCann

Brits Not to Blame for Haughey
David Adams

John Kennedy

Euston Manifesto: Yesterday's News
Mick Hall

Considering A Multi-Faceted Approach to the Middle East
Mehdi Mozaffari

Book Better Than Its Title
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Crowning Mr Unionist
Dr John Coulter

Extra Time Will Not Be Decisive
David Adams

'Pretty Much a Busted Flush'
Anthony McIntyre

John Kennedy

Just Books Web-launch
Jason Brannigan

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Omagh, David Rupert, MI5 & FBI Collusion
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Preliminary Hearings
Marcella Sands

Jury Duty Free State
Dolours Price

Even the Obnoxious
Anthony McIntyre



The Blanket




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