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NEW DAWN... OR SUNSET FOR ULSTER?
THE PROVISIONAL republican movement was unable to break Ulster's resistance during their long hot war of aggression against our homeland's right to exist. Their attacks on targets in Ulster only stiffened internal resistance against them. However, successive British governments didn't give a damn how many people were killed and maimed here as long as the situation was contained and England was unaffected. After Hillsborough in 1985, the Dublin government was on board too and everything was cosy for them in this sad little arm's length colony.
That all changed after the IRA targeted the City of London - the main business sector and the engine of the British economy. Bombs in Belfast and Portadown were okay but bombs in Bishopsgate are another matter. Two bombs in the City caused more financial damage than all the bombs planed in Ulster in the preceding two decades. No wonder that the Brits decided to sue for peace with Martin McGuinness. This was the beginning of the 'Irish peace process'.
Now, under their pan-Irish 'nationalist' cold war 'peace' strategy the Provos have gotten results - seats in government. The people who ordered the deaths of many good and innocent people have become government ministers although their own private terrorist army remains intact and well armed. The Government of Ireland Act has been repealed and cross-border bodies have been given executive powers over many aspects of our daily lives.
For the Provos, of course, these arrangements are transitional - a step on the road to an all-island state - just as the 1922 Treaty was a stepping stone to a Republic for Michael Collins. To the Ulster Unionist Party's leadership, the Union with Great Britain is 'copper-fastened' and decommissioning of all terrorist weapons is just around the corner. Who's right? Read our examination of the amendments to the Irish Constitution on page five of this issue.
review stage of the 'Good Friday Agreement' is over and a path has been charted
for the future of our homeland. According to a UUP briefing paper published on
November 19th 1999… 'We now
have, for the first time, the IRA basically endorsing the Belfast Agreement and,
with it, the principle of consent. The IRA's retention of weapons and the threat
of a return to conflict, was based on a refusal to accept this principle. We now
have a new situation…
'Colleagues should also remember that once devolution takes place, two things will happen: (1) The 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement will formally disappear for ever and (2) Articles 2& 3 of the Irish Constitution will go with it.'
In apparent acceptance of this briefing paper, the Ulster Unionist Council has voted 58% to 42% in favour of a deal that has brought about devolved government. According to the BBC, UTV and all the local, Irish and British newspapers (with the honourable exception of the London Daily Telegraph), the business sector, the trade union bureaucrats and the church leaders; peace has finally broken out in 'the north of Ireland' and the lion has lain down with the lamb and the New Dawn we have all prayed for has come about. We have a devolved government of 'our own' at last and the Irish Republic's territorial claim has gone too. Isn't this great? Isn't it marvellous? Well, no. Look at the price.
The basis of the Northern Ireland Assembly is one in which sectarian divisions are formally institutionalised. All assembly members (or MLAs as they now call themselves) have to register a so-called 'designation of identity' as unionist or Irish nationalist. In plain terms are you a Prod or a Taig? What a great step forward towards peace and reconciliation (we don't think)!
Here's a suggestion. As the notorious distance between the eyes test has sometimes proven to be inaccurate, it might be an idea for MLAs to tattoo their 'designation of identity' on their foreheads. This would make the counting of the weighted votes in the Assembly much easier for the Presiding Officer.
This system marginalises any party or group of parties, which seeks to establish a third way. The Alliance Party, which more than any other has campaigned for some kind of devolved power-sharing government, might as well not be there. Its influence is minimal. The same applies to the red front Northern Ireland Women's Coalition, unless it carries out its threat of redesignating itself as a unionist party in order to bolster David Trimble’s crumbling support.
The new system ensures that no third party will ever be allowed to succeed in breaking the Prod versus Taig polarity. Such a change is essential if we are ever to have real peace in Ulster. As we always say, our people have been prisoners of their traditional loyalties (to Ireland and to the British State) for far too long. The Mitchell arrangements perpetuate these. The one difference is that Sinn Féin and the SDLP have the Dublin government to provide back-up support whereas the British government doesn't give a damn about the unionists and will leave David Trimble twisting in the wind if it suits Mandelson or Blair.
Another negative aspect of the new institutions is that as power-sharing is of 'right' it doesn't matter who you vote for, the same government will get in! Under the d'Hondt system the UUP and the SDLP are allocated three ministers each and Sinn Féin and the DUP each get two ministers in proportion to the percentage of votes won in the 1998 Assembly election. All that can change is the balance of parties within the permanent regime and which party exercises what portfolio. There is no place here for a voluntary UUP-SDLP coalition such as was negotiated between Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the new Scottish parliament.
The system has been so rigged that even if a reunited pan-unionist alliance gained an absolute majority of seats, it would run into a number of formidable obstacles. All parts of the agreement are designed to be interlocking and to be interdependent. This precludes, for example, the Assembly ignoring the North-South ministerial council. Instead of proper self-determination, the Assembly will only be able to operate by the leave of the North-South Council and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. In effect, the Assembly is a sub-colonial native council! This is no New Dawn! This will be Sunset for Ulster. This political process will only end when we all come under the control of the brave new Greater Irish State.
David Trimble must know this but he has crumbled under the combined pressure of the media, big business, and the British, Irish and American establishments. They all falsely declare that there is no alternative and that those who think otherwise are 'rejectionists; 'wreckers' and people who only want war, intolerance and division.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Ulster-nationalists want to build something lasting and worthwhile for our children to inherit rather than constant bickering and sectarian wrangling. We want real self-determination for our homeland. Any sensible anti-Agreement unionists with an ounce of self-respect must also realise that this is the only path open to them. The Union is dead, if not buried. As Bruce Anderson put it in The Spectator, "There is only one logical position for any unionist who opposes Mr Trimble's stance: independence for Ulster. Everything else is fantasy." That's telling 'em Bruce!Home Page
A THIRD WAY FOR ULSTER
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