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Communiqué from the unquiet graves…

March 27, 2009

I watched Republican Sinn Fein’s press conference last night. Richard Walsh’s beard couldn’t conceal his youth and it gave him the appearance of the stereotypical Al Qaeda operative, which I’m sure will resonant with those still committed to the disastrous ‘war on terror’. Flanked by young men in baseball caps Walsh looked like he was leading a chav army. His remarks sounded glib and well rehearsed. And of course they were. He speaks the language and discourse of his republican forefathers, many of whom are now sitting the Stormont executive.

But despite their youth and hackneyed rhetoric, dissident republicans shouldn’t be underestimated. The economic crisis may create the sort of competition for work and resources between Protestants and Catholics that will prove fertile recruiting ground for republicans and loyalists who are deeply suspicious of the new dispensation. The temptation for the State when confronted with insurrection is to meet it with repressive security measures but ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ that might prove to be the best terrain upon which to undermine physical force traditions. It’s how the Stormont executive meets the current economic crisis that will determine the success or otherwise of Richard Walsh and his comrades.

I am reminded of something the late David Ervine, leader of the Progressive Unionist Party used to say: ‘You can’t eat a flag.’  Historically this is a notion that Northern Ireland’s political leaders have had scant regard for. This time the equality agenda must be underlined with a commitment to social and economic justice or we may be hearing more from the unquiet graves…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2009 12:54 pm

    I am agree with the political thrust of the post – but my mind keeps drifting to lower things.

    Do you think young Walsh knows he looks like a Oxbridge undergrad in Footlights imitating Gerry Adams?

  2. Rab permalink*
    March 27, 2009 1:53 pm

    It’s a bad beard and no mistake. I think he’s striving for a Castro, which, in the pantheon of great revolutionary facial hair, is not a great look without a cigar.

    I myself prefer to sport a ‘little Lenin’.

  3. March 28, 2009 6:41 pm

    I think it was John Hume who originally said ‘you can’t eat a flag’. Nice to see it’s one idea that has crossed the divide, in any case.

    I hope you are right about the economy being a unifying factor – my concern it that it may be the opposite, if everyone is scrabbling for a piece of a smaller cake.

    • Rab permalink*
      March 28, 2009 8:54 pm

      I don’t know whether the economy will united us, Jenny, put the response to the economic crisis might. The Assembly has to show that it can make things better for people. Free prescriptions and public transport for pensioners isn’t a bad start, and it was heartening to hear Ian Paisley Jnr defending these policies on Nolan a few weeks ago. How committed our MLAs are to sustaining and pushing on with such progressive policies remains to be seen. I’ll confess I’m not terribly optimistic.

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