In the aftermath of the St Andrews Agreement on October 17th 2006, while still a DUP MEP, I issued this warning:
“The St Andrews Agreement sets in motion a process which delivers Sinn Fein into government in perpetuity with no democratic option of being able to evict them.
This means the basic right of the electorate to evict a party from government is withdrawn.
“So long as a party secures a handful of Assembly seats they are guaranteed a place in government as of right and for ever.”
Hence yesterday’s ultimatum politics from Sinn Fein, because they know there can be no government without them.
In the same statement I went on to warn that an Irish language act would be about sanitising Northern Ireland of its “Britishness”.
Northern Ireland has been on the wrong road for a long time and belatedly people are waking up to the fact that Sinn Fein was never in government to make Northern Ireland work.
That is the unpalatable truth and the reason why it is folly to keep chasing the rainbow of failed mandatory coalition.
Indeed, as a unionist, I am embarrassed by the endless genuflecting to Sinn Fein. Even after all the ultimatum politics from Adams the DUP – for the sake of office – is still scrambling to please.
Payroll interests must not trump principle. Rigged devolution has failed. It’s time to move on. Government can only come from Stormont or Westminster.
With Stormont a lost cause and mere vehicle for Sinn Fein misrule, the only option is British ministers in Stormont Castle.
Attempts by Dublin to muscle in must be rejected. Coveney has already tried it on this week, as he strutted round Parliament Buildings, without a whimper from the main unionist party.
Governance can only come from within the UK.
What of demands for an Irish language act?
Arlene Foster claimed a short while ago that we have nothing to fear from Irish.
Whatever the truth of that, we have plenty to fear from an Irish language act. Sinn Fein has confirmed that its demands are based on the 2015 proposals put forward by the then republican Culture Minister.
Among these are measures of preferment for Irish speakers and discrimination against non-Irish speakers in public service employment, making Irish an official language on a par with English on every road sign and in every public body, including councils and the Assembly, and making it a criminal offence not to work with an Irish language supremo to promote Irish.
As for the “equality” argument we know that Adams views equality merely as a means to “break the b*******”.
That is exactly what Sinn Fein seeks to do through Irish. They want to make those who don’t see themselves as Irish feel alienated in their own land. That’s why many people from a unionist/Protestant background left the Irish Republic after de Valera introduced the aggressive promotion of Irish in the 1930s.
The idea that there is existing inequality is clearly nonsense. In fact, an Irish language act – which would advantage the few, not the many – would create gross inequality in Northern Ireland and increase division.
Northern Ireland already provides Irish medium schooling at a cost of over £20m per year. An Irish medium school has even been opened with just 12 pupils.
You couldn’t do that with an English language school. There is a special North/South language body with executive powers and £177m lavished on Irish since 2007, not to mention generous broadcasting provision.
In reality the current calls by Sinn Fein for legislative provision for Irish are drawn straight from the IRA Green Book, the bible of the terror group, which says:
“Culturally we would hope to restore Gaelic, not from the motivation of national chauvinism but from the viewpoint of achieving with the aid of a cultural revival the distinctive new Irish Socialist State: as a Bulwark against imperialist encroachments from whatever quarter.”
Having brought Stormont to its knees over an Irish language act, paying the price of its survival would guarantee further Sinn Fein belligerence and insatiable demands, as they repeat the trick the next time they need their boots filled with DUP concessions.
Or, as someone once said, feeding the crocodile is not the way to do business.
It’s time to say ‘Enough is Enough’ and reject the demand for an Irish language act. It must be resisted under any guise, including the deception that Ulster Scots could also be advanced.
• Jim Allister MLA is TUV leader