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25 February 1999 Edition

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Black propaganda agents gear up

By Christy Ward

It's not likely the March 10 deadline set down by the British government to hand over power to a Six County Executive will be met.

The chief obstacle to progress has been and always will be the hard-line unionists who simply refuse to share power, or anything else for that matter with the the nationalist community.

Unionists want the status quo. Don't change a thing. Don't touch that dial. That's why the words uttered by Gerry Adams more than five years ago need once again to be taken out, dusted off and hung up like a banner.

Everyone say it out loud - - The British government must act as a persuader - thank you very much.

The British government has to tell the unionists- Look, here's the deal, in 20 years, we'll be out of this place - no British Army bases, no British Army guns, no British Army soldiers, no British funds - and it's time you got used to it.

Unionists know what's happening. Ian Paisley, for all his buffoonery, has been right all along. The Brits are going to get out and Dublin will one day be the capital. Adams' fifteen years to a united Ireland' probably isn't too much off the mark; it fits a 20-year plan nicely, seeing that the process began a little over five years ago.

But the key to all this happening is the formation of the new executive and that's got to happen pretty soon or the whole thing could collapse.

That's exactly what the unionists hope will happen. If it does, they'll simply blame it on the IRA - no mater where the fault rests.

The unionists feel pretty safe. British troop levels are not much different than a few years ago; the Royal Ulster Constabulary is still plenty strong, plenty bigoted and plentifully supplied with British weapons; and if a few innocent people buy the farm to save the province, it's acceptable. Been there, done that.

In short, unionists know what needs to be done to scuttle this (remember Sunningdale in 1974) and they'll use every excuse to convince people that no good can come from allowing Sinn Fein in the game.

We've already seen the desperate attempt by the RUC to paint itself as a regular police force.

The RUC failed in its efforts in the U.S. to convince even the grandest of supporters of the British crown that they are doing a good job. No editorials in the `royal press in the U.S.' Nothing in the New York Times or the Murdoch Post.

The odd editorial supporting early IRA decommissioning has popped up, but the meat of the message betrays a lack of understanding and a lack of commitment.

Last week the Baltimore Sun ran an editorial that was certainly British government inspired, although it had enough errors in it to make one wonder why they wasted the time pasting it up.

Among other errors of fact, it claimed the new Six County executive would have 12 seats, and that the IRA had been welcomed on the council. This sort of half-hearted support can be expected as the unionist hold on Ireland further slips.

The black propaganda folks will be working hard in the coming weeks. They've already focused on what's being called the dramatic rise in paramilitary punishment beatings. This is to take attention away from other beatings - like the one that resulted in the death of Robert Hamill in Portadown, not 20 yards from a police car filled with uniformed members of the recently reformed RUC.

James Clarity of the New York Times has been at it again, adding wit and wisdom to the process. The man who saw nothing new in the first ever meeting of Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionist Party at a 1995 Fordham University debate, just spend a fortune and a few thousand words explaining the language of `Ulster.'

He objects to Catholics referring to themselves as nationalist and Protestants referring to themselves as unionists. It would be much simpler for Mr. Clarity if everyone was just labeled by religion - and it would fit the British line the Times has championed for 30 years, that this is a religious war.

So keep your head about you out there and get on with writing letters and phoning your local editors - especially the next time they run one of those 300-word works of fiction submitted by Shawn Pogatchnik at the Associated Press.

Don't let the Brits or the Orangemen - or the lovers of the English royal family on the editorial boards of America's major dailies - screw this peace thing up. You have a right to say how you want this to turn out.

If you like, clip this column and send it along to them. Let them know in no uncertain terms, it's united Ireland or nothing.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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