>> 16 Sep 2004

Talking Heads - On a Road to Nowhere?

It was refreshing to see the figure of Ian Paisley arriving at Leeds Castle this morning. I am reasonably confident that the man will be able to apply the brakes on some of his less principled, but distinctly more fanciful, underlings in the Democratic Unionist Party in their efforts to quench the thirst of power at the fountain of Brownshirt fascism.

Nevertheless, I have one question to ask the party collectively: what the hell are they doing within 500 yards of Sinn Fein/IRA, let alone involving themselves in discussions - with the implicit assumption that negotiations equal concessions? I am clear as to where the various Northern Ireland parties should be. The DUP, SDLP, Alliance and UUP should be up at Stormont (if devolution has to be resurrected), involving themselves in the everyday politics of the Province; Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen should be back in their own country, sorting out the myriad of problems on home turf; and Sinn Fein/IRA and Ervine's crowd in the PUP should be incarcerated in Ulster's very own purpose-built version of Penang prison for continuing to hold on to illegal weaponry in defiance of democracy.

Peter Robinson knows Sinn Fein will be given concessions on the back of these talks. Their current demands, coupled with all of the nauseating indulgences they have been offered to-date, amount to a longer shopping list than one Imelda Marcos would bring with her upon entry to a branch of Dolcis. If the DUP are serious about taking heed of the wishes of the pro-Union people, they would leave this charade with gusto.


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