Thursday, September 29, 2005

DUP exposed as political pygmies

Brian Feeney:

So far so predictable. Once again the leaders of unionism have positioned themselves where they are happiest – isolated, beleaguered and looking stupid. Everyone knew that's where they would seek refuge. While the Irish and British governments, the US and the world's media all take as read that the IRA has disposed of its arsenal and ceded control of the republican movement to Sinn Féin, only the DUP pretends to believe it hasn't happened. They are the flat-earthers of politics.

The really tedious aspect is the credibility local journalists lend to the nonsense the DUP churns out. The DUP expects people to believe that General de Chastelain, Tauno Nieminen and Andrew Sens travelled half-way round the world to meet up with Fr Alex Reid and the Rev Harold Good for the sole purpose of constructing an elaborate con trick to dupe the DUP in the full knowledge that whatever they said the DUP would reject. Does the DUP seriously expect anyone to believe that?

Yet instead of treating them with ridicule, local journalists indulge the DUP's bare-faced political dishonesty and cowardice with real questions. In response they receive a torrent of incoherent half-truth and non sequiturs. Typical is the non-issue of whether all IRA weapons have been disposed of. How would anyone, including the IRA, ever know? There's absolutely no doubt that years from now rusty revolvers and rifles will be uncovered in hedges and ditches. So what? They are no longer part of an IRA arsenal. The DUP knows full well that arsenal had been rendered unusable which is what the Irish and British governments wanted and are satisfied has happened.

Even more important for the purposes of the exercise, that is what the republican leadership wanted.

For some years now they have been anxious to unburden themselves of the IRA's weaponry. The breakthrough in the 2002 Dail elections demonstrated that the continued existence of the IRA as a fully armed guerrilla army was a hindrance rather than a help to republican political ambitions. The decision to get rid of the weapons was not to please the DUP but because, for the first time in history, holding weapons was no longer a way of advancing republicans' goals.

In fact, since last Christmas convincing the IRA to stand down as a military organisation rather than just getting rid of weapons became republicans' priority. The principle of decommissioning had been accepted by the movement years ago.

Sinn Féin is now free from the encumbrance of an IRA which has been redundant as a military force since 1997.

Sinn Féin can now participate fully in Irish political life north and south of the border. It remains to be seen how long it will take the unionist community to catch up with this reality. At present they seem unable to raise their eyes above their own wee dunghill which they elect the risible DUP to crow from the top of.

As Gerry Adams addressed himself to the British and Irish governments, American supporters and unionists, the DUP's leaders resolutely confined their response to their own voters, the only people in the universe who could possibly believe their nonsense. Never were they more exposed for the political pygmies they are, preying on the fears of an electorate they have gulled for years. Their press conference on Monday can be summed up in the phrase. 'Stop the world, I want to get off'.

The political task for the British administration is to find a way to lure the DUP from their hideyhole and persuade them to sit around a table with Sinn Féin.

What the British cannot be allowed to slide away from in the meantime is the disarmament of loyalist paramilitary groups.

Like unionist politicians, British ministers here have never exerted any pressure on the UVF and UDA to disarm and disband.

True, it was rather difficult since the Stevens report revealed that the security forces acted as accomplices of both organisations in murder and therefore members of both UVF and UDA could testify to the nefarious activities of RUC Special Branch and MI5 over the years. So there's no reason to be confident of an end to the British ambivalence towards loyalist paramilitaries which remains unchanged after 35 years.

DUP now needs to bite the IRA bullet

Hypocrisy must stop

They haven’t gone away, you know

Transforming politics on the island

O’Hagan case handover call

What will DUP do to save the peace process?

A good day for peace


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