15 May 2006

It’s the Irish government that vetoes Irish national democracy

Daily Ireland

Geroid O Caireallain

Maybe it’s the early Summer sun and that feeling of lethargy that accompanies the first signs of the Mediterranean weather in Ireland. Or maybe its because experience has taught us that the period between Easter and September in this part of the world is officially designated a political sleep zone.
You quite often get elections in May or June. Often in October or early November as well, but early and mid-Summer is much more popular. However, apart from whenever elections occur, the months of Spring and early Summer are not the best for politics. And this year we will not be having elections. Next year, definitely, but not this time.
Apparently, the Orange marching season starts officially on Easter Monday. At least it did this year. And, apparently, you can’t have a political initiative during the Orange marching season. It would be a distraction, you see. During the Orange marching season, Unionist politicians have to concentrate on banging the drum, starching the collarette and polishing the bowler.
By July and August Paisley will be busy thundering his blood and guts out to the Orange hordes, damning Dublin and the Whore of Rome, and proclaiming No Surrender to the IRA, the British Government, the Irish Government, International Opinion, the Catholic Church, the European Conspiracy and all those who work, play or attend football matches on a Sunday. Not a good time for compromise.
And that’s why there is no chance, and never was a chance of any arrangement being found to allow the re-establishment of the Stormont institutions by the end of June. So November of this year is the real deadline, the only deadline, if indeed it is to remain as a deadline.
Here is a perfect world scenario. Sinn Féin edges and inches the DUP into a deal and next November the two parties head up the new Assembly and power sharing Executive at Stormont, with Ian Paisley as First Minister and Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister, and agreement announced on policing and the devolving of powers.
Declared peacemakers and nation builders following their historic breakthrough in the North, a buoyant Sinn Féin strides into the general election in the South (to be held next May or June) and carries off sixteen seats, winning a place in the new coalition government with Fianna Fáil, or – better still – a position of enhanced influence as the party holding the balance of power in the Dáil.
And now the worst world scenario: by the end of October this year the DUP let it out that they are seriously considering making a deal with Sinn Féin and going into government with Republicans. Big Ian later confirms to the media that, although not one hundred per cent sure that the IRA have turned away from criminality and terrorism, the party has decided to take Sinn Féin at their word and go into government for the sake of the people of Ulster.
But a week before the deadline something happens. A tout is shot, or a bank is robbed, or former IRA personnel are involved in a fracas in which a man is killed, or a business man with close links to Sinn Féin is accused in a Sunday newspaper of laundering money for the IRA, or someone jumps bail, or a gun is found or a bomb goes off… whatever.
The IRA deny it, Sinn Féin point the finger at the Brits dirty tricks department, the Irish government pleads for cool heads… but Paisley walks. The perfect Paisley scenario – no need to go into government with Sinn Féin, and all the blame lies with the Republicans. We all believe Sinn Féin, but it makes no odds.
The DUP may well decide that they would be better served by staying clear of a Stormont Assembly with its powersharing Executive. They have nine MPs at Westminster, and perhaps their sights are set on a bigger target than Stormont.
Just say Tony Blair goes early next year and Gordon Brown takes over the Labour Party and the British government. The new man will have to confirm his mandate at the poles and in the ensuing General Election, the DUP might well end up holding the balance of power between Labour and the Tories, whichever one of them is in power.
The next British government could well depend upon DUP votes, and I would say that Paisley, Robinson, Donaldson and crew will be well able to use that situation to their best advantage.
But just say this. Just say that duly elected MPs from the Six Counties were also allowed to sit in the Dáil. The Unionists may well boycott such a set up but who cares? As a Northern nationalist I would be delighted to be able to see my chosen representative sit in the Dáil.
With democratically elected representatives from both communities sitting in the Dáil and Westminster, the two governments could easily set up a system of committees to oversee the governance of the North. It would not be a United Ireland, so it should be acceptable to Unionists, but it would turn Dáil Éireann into an all-Ireland government, and that would be good enough for me.
Just magine it – the North being run on a joint basis by the two governments with elected representatives from the Six Counties entitled to sit in both national parliaments, with all powers including policing and justice, economic development, roads, education, tourism, culture… the lot vested in the democratically controlled committees.
And the system would be further complemented by the new, seven district local council set up.
The only stumbling block, the only barricade on the road, the only problem is the Irish government. Its not the Brits, its not imperialism or colonialism, or even Unionism - it’s the Irish government that has the power to allow democratically elected Irish representatives from North East Ireland take part in the national parliament of Ireland. Its not the Unionist veto, but the Irish veto we have to fight to achieve national democracy.
The good weather makes you dream the big dreams...dammit, here’s the rain again.

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