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29 May 1997 Edition

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SF train is getting up steam

By Mary Nelis

As the people of Bellaghy were burying their most respected citizen Sean Brown, the New Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair was in Belfast reassuring the Unionists that the Six Counties will always be part of the United Kingdom and that even if a majority of people in the North gave their consent to change, the British government would have the final say and he, Tony Blair and his New Labour Government would not be persuaders for Irish unity. He went on to say that Nationalists should not be afraid for their future in such a scenario.

Blair reinforced the Unionist veto by saying - no less than six times in his speech - that there will be no change in the status of the Six Counties without the consent of the majority. But that majority does not understand the word consent because it still sucks the breast of British imperialism.

Blair's speech, hailed by John Hume et al, as opening new doors, could have been written by Churchill, Thatcher or his predecessor John Major. It was, by its clear references to some form of devolution, a chilling reminder that new Labour's intention is the back to the future scenario of giving Nationalists promises and Unionists power. As Blair said, ``if people succeeded in arguing for a United Ireland within the talks, we would respect it. But none of us, even the youngest person in this room is likely to see Northern Ireland as anything other than part of the UK.''

Blair's New Labour is a mirror of the old Tories in that it is committed to the Union and colonialism. Such imperialist thinking is reflected in the arrogance of Blair's assertion that the nationalist community give its allegiance to a government which set up, through the Government of Ireland Act, this undemocratic entity and used its army to protect the apartheid institutions it created.

Blair talks ad nauseum about the principle of consent, but fails to acknowledge that no person, in either part of Ireland, ever cast a vote for partition, which has been responsible for the monster lined up at Drumcree Churchyard in the past two yeas.

And just in case the Unionist and the Drumcree backwoodsmen felt that the triple lock guarantee given to them by the previous British administration, was not sufficient, Blair has stated that New Labour would ``not negotiate any arrangement that would be threatening to Unionists''.

In addition Blair, like his Tory counterparts, is advocating the removal of Articles 2 and 3 from the Irish constitution, so that it would reflect the Dublin government's strong support for the Unionist cause through the consent principle.

Blair is suggesting that we, the Nationalists, become a minority without an identity. In other words, the opposition in the resurrected Stormont Parliament would be like the Palestinians, stateless.

Should the Dublin government agree to this outrageous suggestion, the Nationalist people, who in every decade since partition have been driven from their homes by Unionist pogroms, would not be guaranteed sanctity or safety in the South of Ireland, as that government would no longer have any legal responsibility for us.

Rather than opening doors, Blair's speech is about closing borders, both constitutional and political.

How then can this much-hailed speech promise a new future? How can it encourage the IRA to consider a ceasefire when it would seem the outcome of talks has already been pre-determined? Blair speaks of words and deeds matching - Sean Brown was murdered by people whom Tony Blair saw fit to commend for their restraint, but whose words and deed have left a trail of murders, bombings, arson and intimidation throughout the entire island. The UVF, the UDA, the UFF, the Red Hand Commandos, the British Army, the RIR, the people who speak through the CLMC but who in reality are but surrogates of the British government, would take comfort in Blair's reassurance that there was not the remotest possibility of a democratic resolution to the conflict.

John Hume would do well to hail the process towards his canonisation, not only because thank God, he is still alive, but because Blair's speech has put him in the unhappy position of not being able to deliver peace.

The local government election results have given Sinn Féin an increased mandate. It reflects the will and the consent of 16.9% of the electorate that Sinn Féin represent their interest in talks, without preconditions and which will guarantee them as Northern Nationalists, the right to decide their own future, without interference from the British government, its armies, its surrogate murderers and most of all from New Labour.

If there is a renwed IRA ceasefire, then it will clearly have to be for reasons other than admission to talks. Our train, Tony, is getting up steam, we would not want it to leave without the real peacemakers.

New Labour has the majority to buy the ticket.
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