The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Sucking Up to Sinn Fein

The British Government seems to have adopted the tactic of 'sucking up to Sinn Fein' rather than 'Pandering to Paisley' to move the peace process forward. Political Columnist Dr John Coulter examines what is being viewed in Unionism as a change in Tony Blair's strategy.


Dr John Coulter • 11 December 2006

Tony Blair will adopt a policy in the coming weeks of 'sucking up to the Shinners' rather than 'pandering to the Paisleyites', well-placed sources in the Ulster Unionist executive were claiming last night.

One senior UUP executive source said: “The British Government has clearly recognised Paisley has sacrificed progress on devolution for a radical Right-wing stance on so-called decontamination for the Shinners simply to off set a grassroots rebellion by Unionist dissidents in the DUP.

“Basically, Paisley has bought himself time until the New Year to paper over the cracks within his ranks on the St Andrews Agreement. But Blair himself wants a solution to the Northern Ireland Assembly before he leave Downing Street in mid 2007.

“It will be equally clear in the coming weeks, because the DUP has gone more hardline to please their dissidents, that Blair will switch his emphasis to persuading the Shinners to sign up to policing.

“The new dissident-leaning platform of the DUP was also stressed in the delegation to meet Blair – two people from the pro-deal wing, and two from the anti-deal wing.”

Earlier, yet another Stormont sub-committee was established to try and resolve the impasse between the DUP and SF over the transfer of policing and justice powers from Westminster to a future power-sharing Stormont Executive.

This specific sub-committee has reportedly been given a cut-off date of 3 January to devise tactics for the main Programme for Government Committee in the Northern Assembly.

This will be just less than a month before Northern Secretary Peter Hain formally dissolves his so-called 'transitional' Assembly on 30 January to pave the way for fresh Stormont elections on 7 March.

Unionist sources at Parliament Buildings have already dubbed the Programme for Government Committee as the “Embryo Executive”. Said one source: “Hain is not going to announce all that extra cash for advisers, new offices and computer technology for nothing.

“But the DUP still has to face the hurdle of actually going into a power-sharing Executive with the Shinners. The Paisleyites could be in a real fix if Sinn Fein decides to take its places on the Policing Board – without calling an ard fheis to ratify support for policing.

“By taking its Policing Board seats, it could use them as a platform to criticise the PSNI and MI5 without actually having told the movement its policy on law and order had radically changed.

“This could mean trouble for Paisley again with his dissidents – what happens if the Assembly is dissolved on 30 January and the Shinners still haven't held their ard fheis? How does he sell this on the doorsteps of his hardline stomping turf of North Antrim?

“The other problem for the Shinners is clearly if they move to support policing, even by tactically taking their Policing Board seats, will this cause even more rifts with their own dissidents.

“And they can't bring their Provie hardmen back onto the streets to deal with dissidents in the same way they cleaned up the IPLO in '92.”

This was a reference to a Night of the Long Knives-style operation in late October 1992 when the Provos were believed to have used some 100 members in a bid to disperse the fringe Irish People's Liberation Organisation on the grounds the latter was heavily involved in drug-dealing.

One IPLO member, Samuel Ward, was killed and several others were wounded. Within a fortnight, the IPLO announced its was disbanding.

The Unionist Executive source added: “If the Provos can't deal openly with its dissidents, then you might see a few boyos permanently disappear from republican heartlands and never be seen again – no bodies, and no claim, no blame!

“The reality is the Shinners will be hurt internally by any move on law and order, even to take their Policing Board seats. And this will have a knock-on effect on the pro-deal Paisleyites. If Blair can get the Shinners to sign up to policing, it leaves Paisley on a sticky wicket.

“In the aftermath of the November debacle at Stormont, Paisley issued a statement supposedly clarifying the circumstances under which he would allow himself to be nominated as First Minister.

“Yet DUP dissidents like Jim Allister constantly refer to the DUP executive decisions. Paisley may still be the party leader, but it is clear the real power base in the DUP rests with his party executive where the dissidents seem to be gaining ground steadily.

“If we get to 30 January and both the Shinners and the DUP are in difficulties with their respective dissidents, then the Assembly elections could be pushed back to the autumn of 2007 to save Gerry Adams, but especially Paisley – in much the same way the 2003 elections scheduled for May were postponed to November to save Davy Trimble's ass.

“The real danger for the Unionist family as a whole is if Blair is now committed to sucking up to the Shinners and stopping pandering to Paisley as much, what more concessions will the British Government offer the republican movement?

“This could be in the form of an even more green Assembly through the cross-border bodies, or even a dark green form of joint authority should the whole Stormont process collapse.

“There is a real sense of apathy in the Unionist electorate at the moment, and if the elections go ahead on 7 March, the outcome for Unionism may not necessarily be decided on policy, but on who can overcome the apathy factor and get their supporters out on the day,” said the UUP executive source.









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

12 December 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Chile: The death of a Murderer
Tito Tricot

35 Years of Silence
John Kennedy

Perpetual opposition haunts DUP
David Adams

Sucking Up to Sinn Fein
Dr John Coulter

Circling the Wagons
Anthony McIntyre

Spin Cycle
Carrie Twomey

The Hypocrisy is Pathetic
Seamus Kearney

'Provo leaders should wake up to the truth'
Carrie Twomey

Prison Protest Held in Newry
Republican Prisoners' Action Group (RPAG)

Get It Together
Dr John Coulter

The Liar is Dead. Long Live the Liar
Anthony McIntyre

Throw Away the Key
John Kennedy

The State's Bar Must Always Be Higher
Mick Hall

Zionism: Pitting the West Against Islam
M. Shahid Alam

Mental Madness
Dr John Coulter

3 December 2006

Forensic Framework Unravels
Martin Galvin

RUC Killing of Irish-American To Become Issue in New Congress
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

F's All Around
Dr John Coulter

Loose Ends
John Kennedy

The People of No Principle
Geraldine Adams

Policing, a Bridge Too Far for Republicans?
Willie Gallagher

Conway Mill Debate
Anthony McIntyre

Not Too Late for a United Front
Mick Hall

Afraid of the Voice of the People
James Bradley

Ideals Live On
Dolours Price

Ray McAreavey

Poetry in Motion
Lord Falls

Michael Pebble
Anthony McIntyre

Action Required to Stop Bullies
Dr John Coulter

O'Shea is Right on Aid Policy
David Adams

Ministerial Own Goal
Anthony McIntyre

‘Beyond the Veil: Perspectives on Muslim Women in a Western Secular Context’
Maryam Namazie



The Blanket




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