'We get our shrine – you fly your flag'

Dr John Coulter with a piece that first featured in the Irish Daily Star on  23 September 2013.

Give us the Maze Shrine and you can fly your Butcher's Apron again permanently on City Hall – and don't be half-Haassed about it!

That's the blunt message I'd advise the Shinners must give Unionists during the talks hosted by peace guru Richard Haass.

With the Unionist community in disarray, disorganised and disillusioned, Sinn Féin has its best opportunity to stamp its authority on Irish politics since it romped to victory in the 1919 General Election when it clinched the majority of Irish seats when the entire island was under British rule.

If Shinners box clever with Yankee Ricky, the experienced international diplomat will deliver a series of concessions even better than all the deals since the 1994 Provo ceasefire.

The trick of the trade-offs for republicans is to give tiny concessions to the Unionists, but ensure Unionists cave-in and give major concessions in return.
And once these concessions bed in for Sinn Féin, coupled with favourable election results in the European, Super Council, Commons and Stormont polls, the Easter Rising centenary shindig in 2016 will be some party for republicans.

Unionists simply want a wee Union Jack to flutter all year round above Belfast City Hall. Sinn Féin should agree to this – in return for yet another DUP U-turn over the Maze Shrine.

First Minister Robbo to avoid substantial splits in his DUP has had to back-track on the peace centre at the old Long Kesh jail site.

Think of the political kudos Sinn Féin would gain if it could formally unveil the republican Maze Shrine in time for 2016? That would sound the Stoops' electoral death knell.

On parades, the Shinners should get Yankee Ricky to propose to Unionists that they get their Ardoyne Shops and Drumcree parades – in return for republicans staging more Castlederg-style Volunteer commemoration marches in religiously mixed areas.

Traditionally, republicans tended to hold their Volunteer events to mark dead IRA men in nationalist heartlands.

Castlederg proved that republicans could march in religiously mixed areas. Imagine IRA commemoration parades through the leafy 'Garden Centre Prod' North Down turf, or in Ballymena at the heart of the Ulster Bible Belt?

On the past, Sinn Féin must get a formal declaration that there is no hierarchy of victims of the conflict – all deaths are equal.

In commemoration terms, the East Tyrone IRA units wiped out at Loughgall are equal to the police officers killed in the Newry RUC barracks mortar attack; the people killed in the Monaghan and Dublin no-warning loyalist car bombs are the same as the people murdered in the Real IRA's no warning car bomb in Omagh.

Dissident republicans will struggle to point to concessions from Sinn Féin on taking the party's Stormont seats, working a power-sharing partitionist parliament with the DUP, recognising the police and decommissioning Provos weapons.

But what of the massive concessions Sinn Féin has wrung out of Unionists since 1994?

The Good Friday deal has split unionism irreparably; St Andrews sucked Paisley, Robbo and the DUP into power-sharing.

Other deals such as the 2010 Hillsborough agreement and 1993 Downing Street declaration have weakened Unionism.

Sinn Féin must recognise that Unionists come out of every negotiations just that little bit weaker and that bit more split.

Hopefully, the Shinners will take a positive attitude and treat Yankee Ricky as the Class Haass, and not play stupid by viewing the senior diplomat as Haass the Ass.


  1. John:

    The flag which was flying over city hall was being flown Illegally , It can be flown Legally on the designated days as per the British Government In London , though imo it should not be flown at any time.

    As for the slim ball peter the punt , he already agreed to the peace center , Then he thought up a good Idea, "If we Cant have our wee fleg flying over the city hall , then you's lot in SF can't have your peace center, Wrong move on his part.

    "On parades, the Shinners should get Yankee Ricky to propose to Unionists that they get their Ardoyne Shops and Drumcree parades – in return for republicans staging more Castlederg-style Volunteer commemoration marches in religiously mixed areas."

    NO way , Drumcree and Ardoyne Shops are not for negotiating , nor , is the bigots parading past St Patrick's , stupid drunk singing and dancing to songs of hatred, "The Famine Song" as an example.

  2. No warning car bomb in Omagh? You're having a laugh... The cops knew full well where the bomb was and put as many in its path to cause as much death and mayhem as possible - sure it's been admitted at the inquest they received a third warning half an hour before the explosion detailing the exact location of the bomb and that this information was not passed on. No warning bomb your fucking arse - yet more British-orchestrated murder more like