Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Me First or Me No Play?
I feel a link to Liam Clarke. Two links, actually. I believe he’s from my own home town of Omagh and he once sent me a message with a little winky icon thing in it. You can’t help but feel close to a man like that. Where was I?... Oh right. The other day Liam was writing in the Bel Tel about the dangers of Martin McGuinness becoming First Minister after the next election. Check it out – it’s a good laugh. Peter Robinson is reported as saying that when he does the doorstep thing, people are worried about the bread-and-butter stuff, granted, but they are also fretting something awful about Martin McGuinness becoming First Minister. Jim Allister’s solution to this appalling vista, as you probably know, is to have all unionist leaders right now swear a holy oath on the King James Bible that, if McGuinness becomes First Minister, they won’t serve as his Deputy First Minister. This, Jim says, will render McGuinness impotent as First Minister – like love and marriage used to be, you can’t have a First without a Deputy First Minister. That’s Jim’s cunning plan. Peter’s solution is rather more, um, party-centred: vote for the DUP, for God and Ulster’s sake.
It’s all a bit reminiscent of the Martin-McGuinness-is-Minister-for-Education-and-he’ll-eat-your-children! routine that unionism went into, when Sinn Féin announced him as their Education choice in the first Assembly. In fact, of course, Education ministers don’t get within miles of working with children, so even if Mr McGuinness had had flesh-eating proclivities, all those Protestant youngsters were quite safe. And they still are, even though the Wicked Witch of the West Caitriona Ruane was depicted as tryiing to get in their classroom window to start chewing their bones.
But it’s a frustrating one, the First Minister affair, for Peter and unionism in general . That’s in general – there are a growing number of unionists who think McGuinness is OK and a smaller number who think he’s pretty damned effective. But the FM issue is frustrating for some because Mr McGuinness has said two annoying things recently. One, he doesns’t lose much sleep wondering if he’ll become First Minister, and two, if he did happen to get the FM nomination, he would immediately want to abolish Deputy First Minister and have two First Ministers, so emphasising the togetherness and equality of the position held by the top nationalist and the top unionist in the state. Who was it advised that you should love your enemies, it drives them mad?
In fact, unionist reaction is beginning to look like anti-democracy on steroids. Not only do some unionists – and I stress ‘some’ again – do some unionists not want to have a republican in charge, even if what puts him there are democratic rules they themselves devised. They're also agin the idea of having a republican and a unionist leader as true co-equals – joint First Ministers. As Marcellus might have said had he been living here: “There’s something rotten in the state of Northern Ireland”. Certainly it's got more than a whiff of the croppies-lie-down to it on this one.