Saturday, January 27, 2007


Northern Ireland Success Will Boost Hain's Prospects

Is Stormont Castle about to become, at last, the seat of genuine shared government for the troubled province? The report in The Guardian today suggests that centuries of conflict might, just, be about to be put to rest. The crunch moment comes on Tuesday when ministers from London and Dublin decide whether to give the green light for new elections... or dissolve the assembly. Some moment.

To think that we're on the cusp of the lion lying down with the lamb-whichever role one attributes to Paisley and/or Adams- seems like a dream or a scene out of some parallel unrelated universe; certainly it's hard to imagine the former terrorist leader working peacefully with the the furiously bigoted and loud voiced leader of the DUP; someone, incidentally, who acquired his Phd without the usual preliminary of writing a thesis reckoned to be of publishable standard. But if the IRA-Sinn Fein at its Dublin conference, can swallow acceptance of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, then this outcome is likely to be achieved.

Even without such a happy outcome- though the possibility of an early breakdown in a relationship which has not yet risen, on Paisley's side, to the warmth of a handshake, must remain a strong possibility- the condition of Northern Ireland represents a remarkable achievement. From a strife torn part of the world echoing to constant explosions and the wailing of those robbed of their loved ones, we have witnessed the emergence, during Labour's rule, of a new Ulster, prosperous and peaceful, with very few remissions into barbarity.

Assuming it all goes smoothly on Tuesday, this will represent a huge achievement for Tony Blair not to mention those, along the way- Major, Clinton Mitchell, Aherne, Mowlam, Mandelson and the indigenous Hume, Adams, Trimble and Paisley - who assisted the tortuous peace process. Blair will be able to wear this success as a badge which to some extent offsets his Iraq and other failures but the major beneficiary in terms of the future is likely to be the perma-tanned S of S, Peter Hain. In a party so starved of decent successes, I can see his chances of winning deputy being considerably enhanced. Certainly his stock as the man who'll take over if Gordon falls under a bus, will begin to climb rapidly.

I doubt it Skipper, the man is generally acknowledged to be a "tit", by those in Northern Ireland(where he is generally seen as a joke), and even his Labour colleagues. I am sure a lot of people would object to having a Deputy PM who had committed acts of terrorism. He would make Prescott look good.

The snide remark on Paisley shows something of a lack of knowledge. The title is honarary, following years of links between Dr Paisley and the institution. The sort of thing that happens hundreds of times a year. Your remark about him being "a bigot" is very subjective. What is less subjective is to say that Adams presided over an organisation that arranged the muder of thousands of innocent people, and that Iain Paisley is, by far, the most popular politician in Northern Ireland.

I hope, and expect, the DUP can find a way to thwart this latest attempt to submerge them into a United 32 county Irish Republic, which they know full well would be the end for Protestant people in this part of our kingdom.
Paisley is indeed the most popular politician in the province. My admittedly snide comment, is still valid I maintain, despite your point, which I admit I did not know. Honorary titles from universities are given out freely but very few people officially use them, and those that do are regarded with some suspicion.
'Paisley's use of the title 'Dr.' derives from an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree awarded by Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian college in Greenville, South Carolina. Bob Jones, Jr. (1911 – 1997) was a close personal friend and, with Paisley, a leader in Christian fundamentalism. Paisley continues to maintain a friendly relationship with the institution and has often spoken at the University's annual Bible Conference.'

So a doctorate in how to maintain Christian intransigence.

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