22 January 2006

Paisley says backward is only way forward


(James Kelly, Irish News)

Dressed to kill for a photo opportunity, four well-known members of Ulster's legendary bigotsborough marched into our parliamentary museum at Stormont the other day. It was an important occasion in their eyes. They wore snazzy looking dark lounge suits with white shirts and democratic red ties. Grinning hugely, bossman Paisley carried a 16 page document earlier touted as 'the way forward'. He was flanked by grim looking Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds but lurking behind, grinning like the boss and, like him, devoid of their dual identity dog collars – for this was an important meeting with Peter Hain, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland and Wales.

They came to tell him the 'sad' news for the long suffering population of the wee north that there is no way forward in the forseeable future. That's a direct Paisley quote. So what's all that rubbish on 16 pages about?

My advice to Mr Hain is 'chuck it in the wastepaper basket' and I have had a long experience of the fulminations, political and religious, from that quarter since the old menace fulfilled Terence O'Neill's dire prophecy that one day he would end up squatting on top of the Ulster 'dunghill'.

It has been a long trail awinding for the Ballymena bully boy and hot gospeller and here he is at last laying down the law announcing that he is a converted devolutionist but it will only come when the time is right, perhaps 10 years time, when the IRA has become a distant memory.

Meantime, he and his party members are to present their proposals to prime minister Tony Blair in London next week. The document is entitled The Best Way Forward, when we all know that it is the best way backward. No talks with Sinn Féin this time. Last time it was no talks with teagues or fenians. So be warned Mr Blair, give this gang of disruptionists short shrift. Their message is a quick descent from an uneasy peace to political turmoil. Send them packing!

Sir Reg Empey, the Ulster Unionist leader has at least admitted that the public here are fed up with the political vacuum and years of stagnation. He says it is time to end the political bluff over devolution and recall the assembly. We know who has been playing blind man's bluff and we are heartily tired of his clap-trap. Is there no-one around big enough to shut him up? Why are the business and industrial chiefs so silent about the menace of a Paisleyite disaster sequence? Under his disguised apartheid regime the economy will remain in the doldrums.

South Africa's apartheid regime is no more and now the last remnant of religious apartheid is to be found with a false face hiding in the sick counties of Ulster. Let Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern be advised and not fall for Paisley's new posturing as a devolutionist. He was the sworn enemy of the Good Friday Agreement and remains a determined and unscrupulous wrecker of this international treaty, backed by majorities north and south. Aided by the election bungling between the SDLP and Sinn Féin, he has used every trick in the book to attempt to dismantle the agreement bit-by-bit and set up a restored Protestant parliament for a Protestant people akin to the Craigavon-Brookeborough one which amazingly lasted for half a century.

Southern indifference, stupid nationalist and republican abstentionist policies and blinkered Tory and Labour regimes in Britain helped to prolong this life of that bigoted Orange dictatorship until its collapse in the wake of Derry's Bloody Sunday. Those conditions no longer prevail so there is no future for Paisley's nightmare scenario of a 21st century 'Barbones Parliament'. There was a time when the unionists used to boast with a huge sign outside their Glengall St, Belfast, headquarters 'Ulster Is British'. That cuts no ice any longer.

In an article in The Sunday Times by Minette Marrin, commenting on Gordon Brown's recent avowal of his 'Britishness' in contrast to surveys reporting that Scots feel more Scottish and less British than at any time since 1707, she said:

"So he has to persuade us somehow that he is not all that Scottish at all. No, he's British. We are all British [though this leaves out the Northern Irish who aren't exactly British]". Ouch!

Miss Marrin says a feeling of English separatism is growing: "The English hardly need Scotland and Wales and would be much freer and richer without them." She adds that slowly England's voters are beginning to wake up to all this.

So we are left to wonder what they will do with the "not exactly British" Northern Irish? Does nobody give a damn about that sad old sod across the Irish sea?

January 22, 2006

This article appeared first in the January 21, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

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