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Get It Together

Political journalist and Revolutionary Unionist Dr John Coulter argues both pro-deal republicans and pro-deal unionists need to form separate Pan Nationalist and Pan Unionist Fronts to fend off the threat from rival dissidents in the 7 March Assembly poll.

 

Dr John Coulter • 4 December 2006

Pro-deal Catholics need to form a Pan Nationalist Front between the SDLP and Sinn Fein to fend off any boycott calls from the dissident Pan Republican Front in the 7 March Assembly poll.

Just as dissident Unionism could slip on the banana skin of ‘We don’t want a Shinner about the place’, so too could republicanism nosedive over the hurdle – ‘we don’t want a cop in our community.’

In spite of the security crisis at Parliament Buildings during Freaky Friday, it is being widely interpreted Sinn Fein has cleverly backed the Big Man of Unionism Ian Paisley Senior into a tight political corner concerning the timing of the ard fheis.

In electioneering terms, the longer Sinn Fein can delay its ard fheis, the harder it will be for the Paisley camp to sell the entire St Andrews Agreement to its religious fundamentalist hardliners, especially in North Antrim, Upper Bann and Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

Before the 13 October Scottish deal, it was widely viewed the DUP comprised three factions – the fundamentalists around Paisley Senior; the pro-deal modernisers around deputy boss Peter Robinson, and the anti-deal ultras around MEP Jim Allister.

But just as they did 35 years ago at the formation of the DUP in 1971, the Free Presbyterians are asserting their anti-deal grip on the party.

It would be a very brave ‘Free P’ elected representative who would voice support for the St Andrews Agreement given the tremendous unease within the political Paisley camp.

The real fear the pro-deal Paisleyite faction has – what happens if Unionist voters unhappy with the St Andrews Agreement look likely to switch their allegiance to North Down MLA Robert McCartney’s United Kingdom Unionists?

There is the danger the DUP could lose vital seats in its key strongholds to the UKUP, in much the same manner as David Trimble’s Ulster Unionists lost out to the UKUP in leading areas such as Lagan Valley in the 1998 Assembly battle.

It has been suggested given Unionist voter apathy and defections, the UKUP could pick up between eight and a dozen seats – most at the expense of the DUP.

If Paisley is smart, he’ll form a pro-deal election pact with the largely pro-deal rival Ulster Unionists to outgun any potential voter defections to the McCartney camp.

Practically, the slippery slope the DUP needs to avoid is its members remaining in the party for the meantime, but choosing to vote UKUP on 7 March as a protest.

In 1998, eight Unionist MLAs were elected on anti-Good Friday Agreement tickets even when the DUP itself was campaigning hard against the Belfast deal.

There has also been talk of dissident republicans opposed to the present Sinn Fein peace strategy forming a political Pan Republican Front to oppose Sinn Fein candidates, such as in chief negotiator Martin McGuinness’s Mid Ulster constituency.

DUP sources have indicated between the 2001 and 2005 General Elections, Sinn Fein’s rural jewel in the Northern crown of Mid Ulster saw its vote slip by almost 4,000.

This is being interpreted as a steady trickle of nationalists returning to the historical policy of abstaining.

If this is the case, Sinn Fein must consider an election pact with the SDLP to maximise the nationalist vote.

Tactical voting by Unionists could see some Sinn Fein seats fall to the DUP or UUP as happened in West Belfast in 2003 when Diane Dodds - wife of leading DUP fundamentalist Nigel – won an Assembly seat.

Without election pacts in either community, between 16 to 24 of the existing 108 seats could change hands either through republican abstentionism or Unionist infighting.

The really interesting scenario is created if in the March election, Catholics form a pro-deal Pan Nationalist Front, while Protestants plump for a pro-deal Unionist Coalition. That would guarantee a tight finish.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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

Liberalism
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

 

 

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