Tomorrow will quite possibly see the finalising of the deal that Peter Robinson already made with the Secretary of State following the collapse of Haass. He agreed to Irish Government involvement in a new talks process and also that flags, the past and parading would be put back on the agenda.
Robinson told the SOS that something was needed to ‘appease’ the North Belfast Orangemen. It was agreed that a panel would be set up to look at the issue.
The whole graduated response farce was simply Peter Robinson pulling the rest of Unionism, or those gullible enough, into his web and wider game plan.
Robinson was challenged during a DUP executive meeting a number of months ago,as I exposed following a briefing from one of those at that table. The challenge was led by Paul Givan, Paul Frew, Paisley Jnr and Edwin Poots who were angry at the secret deal that had been contrived between Robinson and the SOS. They also opposed a new round of talks. They felt that Robinson was mis-leading and betraying grassroots Unionism.
Robinson moved quickly to quell this rebellion and sacked three of the four dissenting voices.
The only game being played now is whether those DUP dissenters, who seem to have some self dignity and decency left, are strong enough to torpedo the impending feeding of the IRA concession meter.
The main negotiation is not going on in plenary sessions, it is going on within the DUP.
Robinson is poised and ready to betray the loyalist community once again, although a small but powerful group within the DUP are doing all they can to put a stop to this latest DUP sell out.
The next 24 hours will either signal the beginning of the end for Peter Robinson as leader of the DUP or it will strengthen his position. He will be forced to either yield to anti Agreement Unionism, which is growing rapidly, and pull down the institutions or he will cement himself as leader of the DUP and make a deal that will further strengthen the architecture of the peace process.
As an unashamed anti agreement unionist the next 24 hours offers high stakes for those of us who have worked very hard to oppose and resist the political ‘process’. Chipping away at the ‘process’ has brought us much success, including forcing the DUP and UUP to abandon Haass, but all of that progress will be undone if a deal is sealed tomorrow.
It is inevitable that the institutions will eventually collapse. It is not a matter of if but when.
It is no secret that I would wish for nothing more than them to come crashing down now and for Westminster to restore direct rule until such times as a fair and equitable agreement would allow the Assembly to function again. That would mean undoing much of the Belfast, St Andrews & Hillsborough Agreements.
If a deal is done tomorrow the harsh reality that I, and all of anti agreement Unionism, will have to accept is that pro agreement Unionism is likely to stumble on for a few election cycles yet. The danger of that is that the IRA concession meter is fed so much over those dark years that there is no way back for Unionism.
If the talks collapse this time around then the anti agreement Unionism know that we are within touching distance of achieving our goal.