Ping Pong Diplomacy…Norn Iron Style

The object of Unionism is to destroy Nationalism. The object of Nationalism is to destroy Unionism.

Things are really that simple. The Good Friday Agreement provides a basis to put this on hold………providing as it does a set of obstacles to the unity of Ireland………and/or the stepping stones to a united Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement……with its creative ambiguity was sold to both sides of the war on a different basis.

The outworking of the Good Friday Agreement has not gone according to the script. The power sharing administration is effectively in the hands of the DUP and Sinn Féin rather than their more moderate unionists and nationalists (UUP and SDLP). This has surprised commentators and the seemingly cosy relationship between First Ministers Peter Robinson (DU) and Martin McGuinness (SF) shocks many.

Last weekend Peter Robinson attended his first ever Gaelic Football match (Derry versus Tyrone)….at the invitation of McGuinness and the Ulster Council of the GAA. Post-match he was happily signing autographs for supporters….nationalists to a man and woman.

McGuinness himself has hinted that he would attend a Norn Iron football match at Windsor Park and would support “any team with a green shirt”.

In a sense DUP and Sinn Féin have outflanked their rivals within unionism and nationalism. Tom Elliott leader of the UUP has already publicly stated that he could not attend a GAA match……..and from my own perspective, I would never travel to Windsor Park to watch Norn Iron and if the match was televised, I would happily support the Satanic Host from Hell against Norn Iron.

The surprise here should be that Robinson and McGuinness have the full confidence of the DUP and Sinn Féin. Not because the DUP and SF agree with the basic premise of “lets get alongerism” but rather they know that there is no real sincerity. This is gesture politics.

It would be near impossible for a UUP Leader to attend a GAA match without being branded a traitor to Unionism. And near impossible for a SDLP Leader to cheer on Norn Iron team at Windsor Park without Sinn Féin demonising him/her.

Two things. It was Richard Nixon who visited China in the early 1970s. It was Richard Nixon who negotiated with the Viet Cong.

This is the same kind of Ping Pong Diplomacy. Later this year, as part of the sixtieth anniversary of her coronation, Elizabeth Windsor (aka The Queen) will be visiting all parts of her “kingdom”. The money shot is her being welcomed by Robinson…… AND McGuinness.

But all the choreography in the world does not change the fact that Unionism wants to destroy Nationalism. And vice versa.

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