>> 24 Oct 2004

Bertie's Bluster

Goodness me, the Irish are getting really arrogant when it comes to the issue of Ulster, are they not? Just over a week after Bertie Ahern, the government leader of a foreign state, stood on a platform and declared the destruction of the Union to be an essential aim of the Irish Republic's policy, big bad Bertie has today issued what, in effect, amounts to a thinly-veiled threat towards Northern Ireland majority Unionist population. Today's Irish Independent says: 'Mr Ahern has underscored the importance of the joint approach by the two governments....and the issue of co-partnership of this process. The positive relationship between the two governments is also a profound and indispensable reality.' I will brush aside this new display of unbridled Hibernian arrogance and introduce a scintilla of political reality to the situation.

Firstly, there are two options for Northern Ireland: 1) We see fundamental changes to the Belfast Agreement; or 2) An indefinite continuation of Direct Rule. Given that most Unionists would be loath to see the Provisionals back in any form of administration, the second option is most likely to come to fruition.

Secondly, if Direct Rule becomes the norm for Ulster's governance, it will be a Direct Rule structure with nothing more than consultative input from the Republic. Directing threats of 'joint rule' at the Unionist population because they refuse to play ball with callous, unrepentant murderers elected by people who are not fit to be described as equal human beings is a trick which has long ceased to have a fear factor in pro-Union politics. Don't get me wrong, I hate to see the Irish state having any role in Northern Ireland's internal workings. That said, the extension of mere consultation is far and away from what separatists see as a fitting conclusion to the collapse of power-sharing.

I think it would be better all round if political big-wigs allowed the Belfast Agreement to die a natural death. Surely a template that has caused instability and community polarisation, as well as the elevation of terrorism, deserves to wither quickly on the vine.


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