the hour, cometh the man
hail the new Northern
political saviour Peter Robinson, the DUPs
weeks I have lost sleep he lacked the will to face
down Big Ians ruling fundamentalists, but
Big Pete is now striding around the corridors of
Stormont like a man who knows his mission.
as the late Enoch Powell was the best Prime Minister
Britain never had, it would be a bitter, crying
shame in the troubled history of the North if Robinson
never became First Minister.
has just returned from the United States and the
word on the hill and I mean Capitol Hill
in Washington is that the East Belfast MP
and MLA is definitely the Bush administrations
Paisley senior and the rest of the religious puritans.
The Yanks and Brits both believe correctly
that Robinson can deliver on a power-sharing
Executive at Stormont.
fan club in the DUP, dubbed the modernisers, came
within a picture thickness of cutting a deal with
the Shinners in November 2004 when Big Ian was slap
bang in the middle of his supposedly near-death
back bounced Paisley, and promptly jumped over any
deal. Until last week and Robinsons latest
American sortie, there was a bigger chance of Trinidad
and Tobago winning the World Cup than a DUP/Shinner
Executive by November 24.
word on Stormont hill is that the DUP doves have
suddenly sprouted political muscles and could be
about to kick the fundamentalist hawks into touch.
by the body language of two leading hawks
Ian Junior and singin Billy McCrea
the modernisers have a few ace cards up their sleeves.
is not a time to play cat and mouse with Big Ians
religious mob; this is the opportunity to face down
the fundamentalists once and for all.
tried, but crashed and burned. The UUPs new
boss Reg Empey has got his fingers badly nipped
with the partys alleged links with the murderous
alone remains the Great White Hope for unionism,
and whilst Paisley is still ranting in his own Never,
never, never land, the East Belfast MP is
now looking and sounding every inch the man who
should be Northern Prime Minister.
are the dark glasses of the late Seventies when
Robinson snatched the safe UUP East Belfast constituency
from former Vanguard founder Bill Craig.
Ulster Resistance red beret is dumped in the bottom
drawer, and Robinsons notorious Clontibret
Commandos have been disbanded.
knows Robinson has the brains and experience to
be an exceptionally competent First Minister. If
he pulls this one off by 24 November, hell
become the greatest unionist leader since Edward
Bush, a Robinson coup at Stormont could be the only
success story of his foreign policy as the Iraq
fiasco rumbles on with the Yank President seriously
having to now consider attacking Iran and even Syria.
Ahern, Blair, Hain, Adams and Empey must all realise
they cannot sit back and let Robinson fight this
one out alone. Empey must rally his troops behind
the Robinson faction.
must agree to do business with the DUP modernisers
and isolate Paisley. Bush must supply the international
investment if a Northern Executive is to be financially
Blair and Hain must give the assurances to the unionist
people that a Robinson deal is not a one-way ticket
to a united Ireland.
is playing the party unity card, hoping he can persuade
Blair to prolong the Assembly until next May and
have yet another crack at the already election battered
no doubt a Robinson peace deal will split the DUP.
The challenge for the unionist people is
do they want peace, or another generation of Protestant
infighting? Its crunch time get real
with Robinson, or potty with Paisley.
in spite of all the pomp and ceremony surrounding
Charles Haughey's state funeral in the Republic,
he was probably the single biggest Southern hate
figure of the 20th century to Northern Unionism,
second only to former President Eamon de Valera.
will always be remembered as the Fianna Fail politician
who was arrested and tried on charges of gun-running
for the Provos.
he was acquitted of all charges and spent several
years in the Southern political wilderness, he never
regained the trust of unionism not that it
ever existed in the first place.
has always been the perception among the vast majority
of Northern Protestants a view which haunted
him to his grave that Haughey was a living
inspiration for the Provos' terror campaign.
fact such a high-profile Southern politician could
even be linked to a gun-running scandal involving
republicans was enough to convince many Unionists
that Haughey harboured a secret support for the
Northern Unionists eyes, if Haughey had not been
linked to the arms scandal, then the republican
movement would not have been prepared to plunge
the North into more than three decades of murder,
mayhem and bloodshed.
he publicly condemned acts of IRA violence and even
developed a fairly warm working relationship with
the Iron Lady, British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher
in May 1980, Haughey remained hated by Loyalists
and deeply distrusted by Unionists.
the Paisley camp, he was a political God send and
the DUP used him as one of its central hate figures
in the Carson Trail election rallies and the launch
of the Ulster Third Force paramilitary group in
it not been for Haughey, the Paisleyites would not
have been able to demonise the Dublin government
in the way they used the IRA to castigate republicans.
terms as Taoiseach effectively galvanised the DUP's
fear factor among Northern Protestants that the
South wanted to take over the North.
leadership was sold to rank and file Protestants
on the basis that the IRA was doing his 'dirty work',
and if the Provos bombed and shot the North into
a united Ireland, he would be the main political
premierships strategically laid the groundwork for
the DUP to eventually become the largest unionist
party in November 2003.
Ulster Unionists, his relationship with Thatcher
was viewed with tremendous suspicion. Although it
was always known by Unionists there was a large
degree of tension between the two premiers, the
fact Haughey was prepared to have talks with Thatcher
made Unionists paranoid he was trying to undermine
the Iron Lady's dogmatic support for the Union.
in November 1985, Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish
Agreement with Garret FitzGerald of Fine Gael, the
UUP has always remained deeply suspicious it was
really Haughey who completed all the spadework for
Haughey not been bedevilled with controversy and
scandal within his own Dublin administrations, Loyalist
paramilitaries may well have attempted to assassinate
his fall from political grace was adjudged by them
as summary justice for his tough united Ireland
policy and any attempt to kill him would have backfired
in the form of a tide of sympathy for Haughey
and a united Ireland - among the Southern electorate.
Haughey been Taoiseach in November 1985 instead
of FitzGerald, the Dublin accord which ironically
Haughey appeared publicly critical of and
especially the Maryfield Secretariat near Stormont
would have been much more republican in ethos and
could have seen joint authority of the North before
the end of the 20th century.
death will not be mourned by Unionists and Loyalists,
many of whom still view him as the gun-runner who
the state funeral for Haughey, Northern Unionism
will brand him as being no better than militant
rebels Padraig Pearse, James Connolly and the other
signatories of the Proclamation of the Provisional
Government 90 years ago during the failed Dublin
Unionists also believe had Haughey succeeded in
having a Fianna Fail premiership as long as one
of his successors present TaBertie Ahern
then republicans could have been marking
the Easter Rising commemorations with at least joint
authority, at best a united Ireland.