16 May 2006

Nationalists must end DUP delusion

Daily Ireland

Daily Ireland Editorial

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

What goes around comes around: the DUP’s proposed public consultations in the autumn on doing the business with Sinn Féin are not unlike a similar excercise the republicans carried out nationwide in the wake of the signing of the Downing Street Declaration by the British and Irish governments.
A positive response from the loyalist heartland is as certain as was the republican thumbs-up all those years ago for further engagement in the peace process. The reality is that at the grassroots, the punters are now ahead of the DUP hierarchy and happy to break bread with the ould enemy. (Just as the republican base had arrived psychologically at every major milestone in the peace process — signing the Good Friday deal, decommssioning, IRA standdown — before the Sinn Féin leadership.)
What then stands between the DUP and a historic pact with Sinn Féin in a new executive? Nothing, if truth be told, except the realisation that it would be folly indeed for them to enter a powersharing executive before they have wrested some more concessions from the governments.
From Britain, that probably means even more cackhanded decisions by Peter Hain of the sort which brought us Orangemen on the Parades Commission, on-ceasefire republicans locked up in jail and a king’s ransom for anyone who ever served in the UDR-RIR militia. Look out for the hapless Mr Hain bowing to a series of infantile demands from the DUP in the weeks ahead to allow them to whine and wring their hands at Stormont in televised, quasi-official debates about water rates and hospital cuts.
What more, however, can Bertie deliver? What more indeed? After all, this is the Taoiseach who singlehandedly gifted the DUP the greatest wrecking ball a DUP refusnik could wish for in his statement that Sinn Féin wasn’t fit for government. That said, the Taoiseach’s unhelpful weekend intervention on the issue of policing — that Sinn Féin must “be more clear” about their attitude to the PSNI — is giving another hostage to fortune. Expect the DUP to return to this thorny issue after the summer, using the Taoiseach’s words to try to stall any agreement. The devotion of the DUP to the PSNI and their insistence that Sinn Féin offer up any information on “lawlessness” before they get the ministerial limos is touching indeed when one considers the Paisleyite party’s legendary links with loyalist paramilitaries right up to their present membership of many UVF and UDA-dominated parade forums. Number One priority for nationalists is Irish unity and that means getting the executive, the powersharing institutions and the cross-border bodies up and running again. Unionism is in denial. For nationalists to participate in any type of sham shadow assembly debates would only feed their delusional state.

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