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TIM PAT COOGAN - the veteran Irish republican journalist - has a conspiracy theory to top many others. According to a recent column in Ireland on Sunday newspaper, the Ulster Unionist Party leadership are intent on bringing down the Mitchell Agreement by using the 'decommissioning ploy' to keep Sinn Féin out of government.
According to Mr Coogan, the real strategy of Trimble and the UUP leadership is to undermine Gerry Adams' leadership of the Provos and engineer a split so that he will go the road of Michael Collins and be taken out by his military colleagues. A divided IRA would return to war and be easily defeated. (Coogan doesn't say who'll actually defeat them) in a civil war.
All that would be left of the Mitchell Agreement, Coogan muses, would be the cross-border bodies. The Machiavellian UUP big shots would use these bodies to whinge constantly about the shortcomings of the Irish state so much that the Dublin negotiators would be sickened and the bodies would be abandoned. The UUP would then return to their glory days when they ruled the roost unchallenged at Stormont.
Have you ever heard such nonsense? It seems to us that the leadership of the UUP is incapable of such duplicity. If only!
Coogan believes that David Trimble only signed the Mitchell Agreement under duress from Tony Blair and that he has no personal commitment to it. He's probably right about the duress and we're pretty sure that Bill Clinton piled on some pressure too but we disagree with his last point. Trimble has burned his boats here as far as his support for the Agreement goes, but he has tried to read things into it that are not there. His position on decommissioning, for instance, is not backed up by the text of the Agreement, but only by worthless pledges from Tony Blair.
Coogan has some advice for Tony Blair to avoid this 'conspiracy' succeeding...
"Fresh from his triumphs in Kosovo, over which his courage has to be acknowledged, Blair must now turn to confront the Milosevics of Irish Serbdom, the would-be Unionist supremacists.
As Drumcree bears down on us, Blair's choices (and Ahern's) are two:
Mr Coogan seems to want to avoid a civil war by inciting Blair and Ahern to launch a crusading Anglo-Irish civil war against Ulster loyalists. Shades of the Rambouillet ‘Agreement’ where the party which refused to accept it – Serbia - was bombed into submission by NATO.
David Kerr, July 1999
A THIRD WAY FOR ULSTER
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