The Lion and the Unicorn


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Thursday, July 25, 2002

Blair edges closer to direct rule

This government does not want to admit that one of its major 'triumphs' has not acquired an air of permanence. Tony Blair and John Reid made their announcement on ceasefires, tightening or restating their definitions of what was acceptable, and stopping short of acting on an endless list of provocations. However, with the IRA preparing a campaign in the shadows and the loyalists battling for territory on the ground in Belfast, the issue is rapidly becoming one of "who governs Northern Ireland?".

Even the political parties can no longer forge a consensus on combatting paramilitary activity, blaming each other's extremists for the crisis, and inching closer towards direct rule. After all, with the loyalist organisations no longer observing a ceasefire, why cannot the authorities imprison those terrorists released on license?

Monday, July 22, 2002

A 'Law and Order' Problem?

The above phrase is the latest description that the Unionists apply to the increasingly lawless and uncontrolled paramilitary groups that terrorise various areas of Belfast and indulge in a nasty form of urban 'ethnic cleansing' using young rioters and petrol bombs at the euphemistic "interfaces". Read the Northern Ireland news site on the BBC and this has become a daily refrain for both republicans and loyalists. Now, the old stagers have dug up their guns and the first of the victims is again shot dead by the Red Hand Defenders.

This "measured military response" is surely the announcement of those who do not observe a ceasefire. Is it not time that this government, who released most of the murderers and terrorists after the Good Friday Agreement, saved their diplomatic baby by implementing the sanctions that were put in place to punish those unwilling to abide by the rule of law? Why not arrest every rioter and imprison them? Why not jail every member of the UFF released on license? Why not punish those who break the peace?

Because you are weak and are unwilling to take the risk that you may have to go to war again, even at the cost of your agenda of appeasement. Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists are the only electoral winners from the collapse of the pro-Agreement parties and this assembly seems doomed to fail. The only losers are the people of Ulster.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Is the Northern Ireland assembly a viable constitutional settlement?

The government will make an announcement on Wednesday (July 24th) as Trimble is again threatening to walk out and collapse the assembly, hence the timing at PMQ just before Parliament goes into recess. The stability of the power-sharing political settlement remains a permanent cause of "crisis" and as elections loom, the pro-Agreement consensus appears to be a myth as far as the Unionist/loyalist community is concerned.

Has Blair forgotten that the Unionists still wield a veto? He acts as if Sinn Fein/IRA have one but does not acknowledge the power of the other side, a lack of attention that he could regret.