I nearly crashed my car this afternoon but I have only my own naivety to blame for it. When I started the car the radio was on Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster’s Talkback and Crawley was giving people an opportunity to say what they understood by the word ‘majority’ in the Good Friday Agreement. Ian Paisley, keen I suppose to have people talk about him for other reasons than breaking parliamentary rules and going off on family holidays funded by shady governments, has come up with the wheeze that ‘majority’ simply must mean ‘weighted majority’ or ‘super majority’. In other words, 50%+1? ‘No thanks” says Ian.
Mind you, I shouldn’t have been so shocked. The leader of the DUP, Jeffrey Donaldson, has shown that he’s not wild about 50% + either: Sinn Féin may have the largest party, but the DUP will do all it can to stop Michelle O’Neill assuming the title First Minister. And the thing it does best is sit on its hands. Or rather, sit on one hand and use the other to receive a hefty salary for not doing what it was elected to do. If forming an Executive involves making Michelle O’Neill Numero Uno, Jeffrey and his DUP mates are not even a teensy bit keen on such an occurrence.
Professor Colin Harvey was on Talkback, and said it was “crystal clear” what ‘majority’ meant in the Good Friday Agreement. Or in any other agreement, Colin. Or in the English language. People agree to things and then go back on their word, like Boris Johnson saying he’d never consent to a border in the Irish Sea. Ian Paisley Senior guldered ‘Never, Never, Never, Never!’ but then did the Free Presbyterian Flip and jogged. through his lap of honour (OK, lap of vanity, then) for the next year or so, with Martin McGuinness as smiling Deputy First Minister.
Colin Harvey, I think it was, made the clear distinction on Talkback between what the document the Good Friday Agreement said legally, and what one might like to happen politically. Legally, a border poll that gave its assent of 50% + 1; politically, the republican majority should do all possible to let those opposed to a united Ireland feel as much at home in a new Ireland as any of those who have been uber-keen on seeing their country reunited at last.
A new Ireland that came into being with the goodwill of unionism would be a prize worth striving for; but talk of a weighted majority is delusional horse-feathers, even coming from the mouth of Ian Paisley. If the DUP plan is to muster behind what it sees as a chink in the Good Friday Agreement, the sensible advice coming from nationalism should be “Don’t even think about it, Ian old sausage’.