Monday, September 26, 2005

Guns On The Roof

Genuinely this seems to be a historic day. Eleven years (and more) of an interminably dragged out peace process have probably dulled people's senses into not appreciating the implications of the IRA's move.

Now I don't have any time for Shinners at all, but I can't help but feel that the Unionists are reacting in exactly the depressing way any fool could predict. Amazingly it suits both Unionists and Republicans to paint the peace process as a victory for the Republican "cause" when any sober analysis shows the opposite to be the truth.

The Union is stronger than it was in 1969 and the Southern state is as benign an "enemy" as one could hope to have. Yet, since the foundation of their state, the Northern Unionists have always needed a combination of the Southern Papist enemy and the Provo bogeyman to feed their insatiable siege mentality.

Every time republicanism takes a step towards normality, the Unionists attempt to shore up their defenses with more roadblocks. They've obviously been planning how to deal with the terrible news that their state's number 1 enemy has disarmed for a while, so we'll have to wait and see what the new precondition is. But I imagine some combination of accusing the IRA of lying and focusing on criminality will be the main route.

I have some sympathy for them, but not a lot. Unionist politics is even more tribal than the Shinners' and is failing their community spectacularly. The Shinners want power and a United Ireland (in that order) but they don't *hate* Protestants. If anything they have a bigger problem with the sceptical, educated middle classes in the South that regard them with contempt.

In reality Northern Ireland is further down the menu for the Shinners' right now. Power in the South is the first priority while the Unionists bluster and blather away. Interesting times ahead.

UPDATE: Just listening to Ian Paisley Junior on Today FM - "It's up to the IRA to convince us, they have not" and "They have to demonstrate that they have dismantled their criminal empire". Pretty predictable stuff. Now how, exactly, do you demonstrate that an organisation no longer exists?...

ANOTHER UPDATE: I saw Ruairí O' Brádaigh, president of Republican Sinn Féin (basically the looney fringe of the Republican movement that views the armed struggle in almost romantic terms) on BBC's Spotlight last night. He considers the IRA move to be "treachery". So that's both Republican Sinn Féin and the DUP that are hacked off with disarmament!
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