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John Hunter Column: Why the DUP is gloating at Bush victory; HE'S GOT HIS FINGER ON THE PULSE OF IRISH POLITICS.

Byline: John Hunter

AS BILL Clinton jetted off into the sunset last week, tears in his eyes and Danny Boy in his heart, there seems to be quiet satisfaction in northern unionist ranks that next man in the saddle will be Dubbya Bush.

This is particularly clear in the DUP, some of whose Assembly members sported Bush stickers as Clinton arrived at Stormont.

Fast into action was Dr Paisley himself, demanding a personal meeting with the incoming President, to put him right on the Ulster issue.

The Big Man hasn't forgotten that one of Bush's campaign calls was to the Bob Jones University in South Carolina, whose religiously-fundamentalist and racist founder, the late Dr. Bob, awarded Rev Paisley his honorary doctorate.

True, Bush hastily backtracked in the row which followed that visit and his advisers took a bit of a verbal kicking. But the real - and ridiculous - reason for Duppie support of Bush is, of course, the Clinton-Gore association with the Good Friday agreement, uppity nationalism and betrayal of Protestant Ulster.

So they forget about the serious economic U.S. investment which formed a key part of the Clinton strategy in Ireland, and plump for a man who has little interest in foreign policy of any kind and has in fact been out of the U.S.A. only three times in his life.

Bush's interest in Ulster is likely to be no interest whatsoever, as he battens down the international hatches.

James Baker, a veteran senior Republican adviser who certainly has Bush's ear currently, was a strong past advocate of leaving Irish affairs well alone. But the very fact that the Republicans traditionally had no positive line on Ireland to match the Democrats during the recent presidential campaign ironically left the way open for Sinn Fein sympathisers in Congress like Peter King and Ben Gilman.

Suddenly, last summer, Bush was - briefly - making Irish policy statements stronger than Gore.

This may well explain the recent row about Secretary-of State Mandelson's reported comments - which he has dismissed as rubbish - on Bush Sinn Feinish advisers in the campaign for the Irish-American vote.

Realistically, of course, the Bush campaign-posturing on Ireland was no more than that, and now that he's elected, he can afford to forget the political shamrockery.

But Unionists across the board would do well not to conclude that now that the Republicans are in, Ulster affairs can backtrack to a bettertime when God was in his Stormont heaven.

They shouldn't forget that an unholy alliance between old cowpoke Ronnie Reagan and Mrs.Thatcher resulted in the Anglo-Irish Agreement slap in the unionist face.


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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 17, 2000
Previous Article:John Hunter Column: Mandy on track for a new post.

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