Twas’ the Night Before Election… – by Michael Lagan

To say Northern Irish Unionism is in a bit of a pickle is an understatement of the most epic proportions.  Friday morning, one minute after midnight the Secretary of State for this little mess of a place may call a general election because one party refuses to sit in the Executive, essentially paralysing its decision-making powers on massive issues like health, the cost of living crisis, and more.  The DUP’s stance that it is attempting to bring stability to the North is ultimately disingenuous as the DUP and indeed political Unionism as an entity is the very element in this jigsaw that is causing the instability right now.  They’re essentially saying ‘We’re going to create stability by causing absolute chaos’. 

There’s also a massive issue for the UUP in all of this, in that as a policy the UUP feels the Protocol would be better dealt with through negotiation in Stormont, change from within if you will, yet what Unionism seems to be completely oblivious of is the fact that this little statelet we live in, and its political architecture, has little or no bearing on what the outcome will be as negotiations take place between Westminster and Brussels, between the UK and EU . Ironically, things seem to progress in a more smooth fashion when the DUP are not involved.  

While the UUP’s stance is admirable, and it does actually enjoy a semblance of respect from nationalism, it is ultimately void in the respect that our politicians cannot command negotiations from Stormont.  The UUP also has a problem in that it has to take a roundabout way in calling for a return to Stormont, for fear it will be seen as a Lundy or a backstabber or as Jamie Bryson likes to call it, an “EU facilitator.”  Because of this we hear long-winded swerves such as, and I quote – “No Executive…no budget, no budget…no pay deal, no pay deal…nurses strike, nurses strike…people suffer, people suffer…with no Executive” and of course on that point Doug is right.  We need Stormont up and running to maintain these institutions.

However, with Micheal Martin coming out with one of his strongest claims yet, that a return to direct rule is not possible for Northern Ireland, one has to wonder what’s going down in Dublin.  Are Fianna Fail and Fine Gael finally taking heed of the sentiments in NEI?  His demands were also echoed by Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald, who first made her demand last Friday which triggered David Campbell so much that he released a statement saying he was going to talk to his mates in the Loyalist narco-terrorist gangs in an appeal for calm. The Taoiseach said that if institutions are not reformed in time, “the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference will occur”. “The Good Friday Agreement provides for meetings in relation to close consultation with the Irish Government on matters affecting Northern Ireland.”

In a week where Jamie Bryson and his good friend Jeff seem to have got their backroom political wires crossed, Jeff was on Nolan telling how he had met Jamie Bryson “maybe twice” in the past year (bearing in mind they were at anti-Protocol rallies together…many MANY anti-Protocol rallies) while the very next day JB came out claiming he was in contact with Jeff on an almost weekly basis and in fact had spoken to him twice this week already.  So which is it, twice in one year or twice in one week?  As ashamed as I am to admit it, I’m more inclined, on this occasion to believe JB.  Some would even say JB has a direct line to many of the Unionist political parties in NEI with some suggesting he may be an intermediary between those in the Loyalist Combined Command…I mean, the Loyalist Communities Council and political Unionism…but who knows……

Ultimately, the wind is changing here and it seems another bus may be hurtling toward Northern Irish Unionism again.  When will they learn? Unionism seems to think the threat of an unresolved Stormont is a bad thing, that it’s something to be held over the heads of nationalism and Republicanism and ‘other’ as some kind of leverage.  Little do they know how sick people are of that threat, and little does Unionism realise the seething resentment building in the North toward those who would dare to hold us to ransom in a bid to ram through something which we in the North voted against.

Little do they know….little do they know.

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