used to boast the mathematical maxim six
into 26 won't go; a reference the six counties of
Northern Ireland would never join the 26 of the
following the Tony Blair administration's announcement
of local government reform in the North, nationalists
can confidently adopt their own new mathematical
maxim seven into 32 will come!
the North will come under republican political control
well within a decade because of the British Government's
radical reductions in the number of local councils.
the reform of public administration, Blair has slashed
councils from 26 to seven and within a few years,
four will have republican majorities.
changes for the new super councils will leave unionists
in the political minority for the first time since
the creation of the Northern state in 1920.
the Dublin and London governments will move in the
first half of 2006 to pull the rug from underneath
the DUP's feet on Paisleyite excuses not to do a
deal with Sinn Fein.
the DUP attempting to stall the process for at least
another year, such actions could bring the rival
Sir Reg Empey-led Ulster Unionists back into favour
with Downing Street, even though the party has only
one Westminster MP.
decommissioning is now a beaten docket with the
unionist parties and the new political buzz 'D'
word is 'Decisions'. Paisleyism came within a hair's
breadth of being in legislative government with
Sinn Fein in November 2004.
given the DUP's voting record at Westminster since
its General Election trouncing of the UUP, there
is a view the Paisleyites are simply not up for
a deal and that the centre parties got a
raw deal out of the elections.
political migraine facing Blair or even his
expected successor tough-talking Scot Gordon Brown
is that if he reaches June 2006 and there
have been at least three independent monitoring
commission reports giving the Provos a clean bill
of health on decommissioning and criminality, what
does he do if Paisley still won't talk to Sinn Fein?
option is to recall the suspended Northern Assembly
himself and give the 108 MLAs six weeks to form
a power-sharing government.
this can't be done, there will automatically be
elections to a new Assembly, and if there are still
no moves to create a legislative parliament, Blair
will shut Stormont permanently and deal directly
with the Dail.
Fein's current political dancing indicates a shift
in emphasis from an internal Northern settlement
to an external Southern solution coming from the
expected May 2007 Dail General Election.
middle of the road unionists like Empey predict
Sinn Fein will clinch up to 12 seats in any new
Dail, mostly at the expense of Bertie Ahern's Fianna
Fail coalition government.
Ahern's own Dublin constituency, it is an open secret
Sinn Fein plans to parachute in leading MEP Mary-Lou
McDonald to take out the Taioseach's running mate.
may have said now he'll not form any coalition government
with Sinn Fein, but a 12-seat republican power bloc
would still be highly influential. Even if it was
not a coalition partner, Sinn Fein could still be
in a position to prop up any Dail government.
Fein has already abandoned its abstentionist policy
on the Dail. Maybe a trade-off might be seats in
a coalition government with Fianna Fail in exchange
for scrapping the abstentionist policy on Westminster
strategists attempting to rebuild the party under
Empey have concluded the Blair administration has
fallen out badly with the DUP. Blair simply wants
a unionist party that will negotiate with republicans,
even if it only has one Commons seat.
has not forgotten the DUP's strange decision to
vote against his 90-day holding clause in the new
British terror bill. The UUP is offering an 'up
close and personal' approach compared to Paisley's
life-long megaphone diplomacy tactic.
UUP under former boss David Trimble built up considerable
negotiating expertise in spite of the cost being
a meltdown in the May's Westminster and council
if Paisley succeeds in stalling the peace process,
the UUP has conceived a Plan B using the Assembly
to kickstart talks, but avoiding the pitfall of
Stormont being an expensive multi-million pound
UUP does not want a repeat of the 1985 Anglo-Irish
Agreement when the Tory Government under Premier
Maggie Thatcher snubbed unionism and signed a deal
first the UUP knew the contents of the Dublin Accord
was when the Press passed a copy of the document
through the railings at Hillsborough Castle to the
late Upper Bann MP Harold McCusker.
Belfast MLA and former Lord Mayor Empey has described
the '85 Accord as unionism's biggest comeupins.
The UUP views Paisley's demand for a two-year decontamination
period for the Provos as simply dancing around
the issue of forging a deal with republicans.
Ulster Unionists believe Paisley himself is fighting
a different battle to the rest of his party. As
Moderator of his fundamentalist Free Presbyterian
Church since its formation in 1952, Paisley's primary
battle is against the Church of Rome and
he views republicanism as a tentacle of Rome.
the UUP believes this is not the case for the DUP's
deputy leader Peter Robinson or even former UUP
politician Jeffrey Donaldson, now the Lagan Valley
DUP MP and MLA.
big question the diehard fundamentalists are asking
will Ian Paisley's legacy be a photo of him
as First Minister shaking hands with Sinn Fein's
Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister in a
legislative power-sharing Executive at Stormont?
those within the UUP who believe Blair will try
and get the DUP off the present political hook by
offering a massive redundancy package to Royal Irish
Regiment soldiers are becoming a tiny minority.
must face a bitter reality that a political alarm
clock will start ringing in June 2006 if a third
successive monitoring commission gives the IRA an
'all clear'. In that month, no matter how loud the
DUP rhetoric, Paisley will be bluntly told by Blair
put up or push off!