Ulster: old enemies unite in new government —and opposition

What a bizarre irony. The international press are playing up the lovefest between the once-implacable enemies who have united to revive the “devolved” government at Stormont for the first time since the power-sharing assembly was suspended in October 2002: new First Minister Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) (who in 1998 was forcibly ejected from his Europarliament seat for calling Pope John Paul II the “anti-Christ”—to his face!) and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin (a former IRA commander who was convicted on “terrorism” charges in 1973). Meanwhile, protesters who gathered outside the Stormont parliament building to condemn the swearing-in ceremony as a sell-out included both veteran IRA militants who decried the betrayal of Republicanism and a group called “Justice for Protestants” made up of Ulster Defence Regiment veterans—paradoxically united by their mutual desire to avoid uniting with each other. Just to add to the fun, a group of anti-war protesters also showed up to protest Tony Blair’s appearance at the affair. (Canberra Times, May 10; Belfast Telegraph, May 9; RTE News, May 8; BBC News Profile: Martin McGuinness)

See our last post on Northern Ireland.