month when the much heralded Adams-Trimble deal collapsed
the astute Irish Times journalist, Frank Millar, aired
suspicions that the British government had given up
on the Good Friday Agreement and had approved elections
that could only produce a compound from which no agreement
could be fashioned. He was right only in so far as
the British had given up on David Trimble being able
to deliver the agreement. They most certainly have
not given up on the agreement per se.
British state is too wily a player to have its alternative
to republicanism thwarted by a change in personnel
within unionism. From the mid 1980s, British officials
have known as a result of secret communications just
how little key republican leaders were prepared to
settle for. When it gave the green light for this
weeks elections to take place, it did so in
the full knowledge that more than anything else the
Sinn Fein leadership craved institutional power and
would go to almost any length to obtain it. Consequently,
no matter what emerged at the other side of an election
that craving was not going to lose its edge. And in
order to slake it, Sinn Fein will eventually jump
the even higher bar placed by the DUP. Failure to
do so would mean that the Sinn Fein leadership, in
return for the long war it directed, would have secured
only an end to the war. Hardly a profitable investment.
the DUP sat down in the same television studio for
the first time with Sinn Fein last year, it was a
statement of intent that rather than smash the IRAs
alter ego, Peter Robinsons men and women would
ultimately do business with Adams nationalist
party. But few, including the British, seriously doubt
that the DUP, unlike Trimble, will not entertain Sinn
Fein in government while the IRA continues to function.
Backed by a majority of the unionist electorate and
reinforced by Trimbles own internal DUP,
Peter Robinson et als demand for a renegotiation
of the agreement has been considerably strengthened.
And what can Sinn Fein do other than acquiesce? It
will take some time but there is no where else to
no doubt, there is a fool who believes that Ireland
will be united by 2016. But none are in the Sinn Fein
leadership. Too clever for that nonsense, their discourse
emphasising Irish unity in just over 12 years time
is mere mood music for grunts. And Gerry Adams knows
if he is to have a further taste of power in Stormont
before he is 60 he will have to jump the raised bar
and render the IRA non-existent.
this reason Wednesdays election poses no threat
to either the union with Britain or what constitutes
our own form of political stability in Northern Ireland.
Constitutional nationalism is merely shedding its
old SDLP skin and replacing it with a new Sinn Fein
one. And when the fangs are finally extracted the
DUP will live contentedly with that.
edited version of this article featured in the Times.
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