boss is someone who learns from other people's
mistakes. That's probably why he did not come
home to Ulster waving a copy of the St Andrew's
Agreement and uttering the words of the unlucky
British Prime Minister of 1939 Neville Chamberlain
Peace in our time!
weeks of Chamberlain's prophetic prediction, Britain
was at war with Nazi Germany. Listening to Paisleys
post Scotland Press conferences, it is clear the
Big Man was correctly read the mood of the vast
majority of people in the North who want
Peace in our time.
even the new social
cancer of racism [and here]
in the North can now be tackled head-on as the
St Andrews Agreement looks a safe bet to
produce a return to legislative, power-sharing
government in Northern Ireland by 27 March, 2007.
sequencing of events will take place between now
and that date makes perfect political common sense.
It will see Sinn Fein, the Provisional IRAs
political wing, recognise the Police Service of
Northern Ireland and join the Policing Board,
in return for Paisleys Democratic Unionists
agreeing to power-sharing with republicans.
next key date in this political choreography we
should watch with interest will be 24 November
when the suspended Stormont Assembly will meet
to nominate a First and Deputy First Minister.
piece of notable Irish history looms - Paisley
will be nominated as First Minister, with Sinn
Feins chief negotiator Martin McGuinness
nominated for the Deputys post.
in January 2007, the Independent Monitoring Commission,
which monitors terrorist activity, should set
the minds at ease of even the most fundamentalist
of Paisley's religious bogmen. The IMC is expected
to give the Provisionals a clean bill of
health, signalling a referendum or election
in the North to ratify the St Andrews Agreement.
had Paisley and Sinn Fein not given their blessing
to the St Andrews Agreement, the London
and Dublin governments would have scrapped the
Stormont Assembly before Christmas and set the
North firmly on the road to joint authority rule
between the Dail and Westminster.
spite of the constant terror threat from dissident
republican groups, such as the Continuity and
Real IRAs, and political unease within the Hard
Right of Paisleys DUP, the spectre of joint
authority has been well and truly exorcised.
Christmas, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams is
expected to call a special conference to ratify
the partys support for the police. His ability
to deliver this shows the continued trust of the
majority of grassroots republicans.
before Octobers so-called hot house
talks in Scotland, which produced the St Andrews
Agreement, Paisley was moving tactically to ensure
there would be no rebellion from his volatile
religious fundamentalist wing.
hours before the Scottish negotiations, Paisley
held historic face-to-face talks with Archbishop
Sean Brady, the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland.
based his strategy on a simple trust me
mentality, and the religious hardliners duly followed.
After 40 years of being branded the Dr No of unionism
and religious Protestantism, Paisley had pulled
off a coup by demonstrating what he could say
strength of the St Andrews Agreement is
that it will be accompanied by a substantial financial
package for the North, along with guarantees a
restored Executive would have the power to cap
rates and protect the Norths elite grammar
protection of the grammar sector will ensure that,
electorally, the DUP will retain the support of
the highly influential middle class unionists.
It will also put a serious question mark over
the future of the Reg Empey-led Ulster Unionist
its former leader, the joint Nobel Peace Prize
winner David Trimble, the UUP negotiated the 1998
Good Friday Agreement which established the Stormont
in the November 2003 Assembly and 2005 General
Election, the unionist middle class opted for
a Dump Dave policy and made the DUP
the lead voice for unionism.
the St Andrews Agreement has also sown the
seeds for the creation of a single Unionist Party
which would include the DUP, UUP, the revamped
Northern Ireland Tories and the right-wing of
the Alliance Party.
Agreement is a triumph for materialism and the
concept of money talks. Unfortunately,
racism has become the new sectarianism in the
North and recent years have seen a massive jump
in the number of racially motivated crimes.
a DUP/Sinn Fein power-sharing government will
be able to implement a policing strategy which
will combat racism on the ground,
especially with the number of migrant workers
and asylum seekers expected to grow when Bulgaria,
Romania and even Turkey when the join the enlarged
the next few months, certainly until March, spin
doctors from the two governments, the DUP and
Sinn Fein, will earn their salaries selling the
almost universal Scottish 'soft yes' to an agreement
on a phased, sequenced deal into a loud, clear
YES across the North.
the main parties with perhaps the exception
of the DUP would prefer a referendum, especially
if the outcome is a higher support among unionists
for the St Andrew's Agreement than the UUP-negotiated
Shinners are shy about a referendum because of
the looming Dail elections. The DUP would be enthusiastic
about an election because the UUP has nothing
to offer the electorate. All its weak C List team
brought back from Scotland was a resounding kick
up the butt for the party's daft blogging initiative.
the UUP has to face a March election, the outcome
will see its 24 MLAs reduced to 10 or 12. Some
pessimists have even suggested it could end up
like the Alliance Party with six. The bottom line
for Ulster Unionism is a March election
would be fatal.
the UUP is smart, it will merge with Alliance
and the revamped Northern Ireland Tories in a
bid to mop up the centre ground. Empey looks certain
to face another leadership challenge at the next
ruling Ulster Unionist Council meeting
and North Down MLA Alan McFarland's profile seems
to be growing by the day.
Northern Secretary Peter Hain's dogmatic emphasis
on the all or nothing deal approach
by Friday 24 November, otherwise he will permanently
axe the Assembly, has certainly paid off. The
Unionist family looked over the cliff into the
abyss of joint authority, and for once, took the
wise decision of backing off, not jumping and
getting back on the negotiating trail.
it always seemed practically unlikely the Executive
could be up and running as a fully devolved legislative
parliament by Monday 27 November.
as the hours ticked away through the sessions
of the three-day Scottish talks, the deal
always appeared to be an agreement on a sequencing
of events in the coming weeks but after
the 24 November deadline.
final barrier if it is still a barrier
- facing both Sinn Fein and the DUP is still how
to sell the deal to their respective supporters
without splitting their parties.
between Sinn Fein and the DUP can be maintained
through the Paisleyites successful meeting
Archbishop Brady, who could find himself in a
pivotal role as an intermediary between Sinn Fein
and Ian Paisley.
political cherry on the icing for the Paisley
camp could be hopes of both a March referendum
and an early Stormont election in May 2007.
the UUP still facing more internal wrangling,
the DUP may push to strike while the iron is hot
electorally and finish the UUP off
at the ballot box once and for all. Whenever the
election, the Paisley camp goes into it with a
firm deal under its belt.
there has also been much talk about factions within
the DUP, the party is likely to remain intact
as long as Paisley himself continues as leader.
are three clear factions in the DUP the
modernisers around deputy leader Peter Robinson;
the fundamentalists around South Antrim MP Rev
William McCrea, and the traditional hard Right
wing supporting MEP Jim Allister.
has been considerable speculation North Belfast
MP and MLA Nigel Dodds is Paisleys personal
choice as his successor.
Senior will also want to ensure his son, Ian Junior,
is in a firm position to hold the partys
Westminster Jewel in the DUP Crown the
North Antrim seat which the father has held comfortably
with massive majorities since 1970.
body language from Scotland was the political
jig which Paisley wants to dance to is a deal
which will keep his party united, yet finish off
the rival UUP at the same time.