The first GUEST POST by our new regular contributor Am Ghobsmacht

I sometimes wonder if the Siege of Derry was the worst thing that ever happened to the Ulster Protestants.

The modern day Protestant wonder solution to everything  (a WD40 for emergencies if you will) is to cry "no surrender", stubbornly dig his/her heels in and wait for the inevitable to happen.

Somehow though the inevitable didn't actually happen at Derry.

In fact, it all went the wrong way around:

They replaced an experienced and able commander (Lundy) with two not-so steely characters, Messrs Baker and Walker, who, just for the record, wanted to surrender the city too (never mentioned).

A relief force arrived from England, saw that it was a waste of time and after discussing the situation with Lundy buggered off to England again

Where the Jacobites went wrong: French siege engineer?
Somehow, a superior Jacobite force with French backing couldn't do what needed to be done despite Derry's vulnerability and squandered a golden opportunity.

On one hand, a great victory for the Ulster 'Protestants' but at the same time the start of a crippling legacy.

The solution to nearly every big obstacle since then has been the same; lock the gates and cry no surrender.

It was the case for keeping Ireland as part of the UK, they refused to countenance it as a mere dominion  (and less British too?) state such as New Zealand, Canada or Australia.
Now the Queen's head can be found on coins from these three countries, but no longer for Ireland.

Not an inch lead to "well, quite a lot actually".

Roll on the civil rights campaign. No surrender. The awful attempts at stifling reform gave rise to the Provos and its chaotic campaign.

The Anglo-Irish Agreement: "No Surrender!". Maggie says "tough titty!", happens anyway.

Drumcree: "We will walk this road". They still haven't walked that road

Flegger-geddon: "Our flag will fly again, 365". So far, that seems as likely as Gordon Brown becoming a Las Vegas star entertainer.

Twaddell: "We will walk this road!". Yeah, sure.

So on and so forth. And now with the Haass pow-wow in town there are a whole range of goodies for Unionists to shout 'no surrender' at and wonder why everything has gone wrong:

Unionism: "Learns from its mistakes...."

New Northern Ireland flag.

Removes all doubt regarding Northern Ireland's flag status
Gives Northern Irish sporting teams something (legitimate) to fly at events
Won't have the Loyalist connotations of the ulster flag
Will be more acceptable to potential Catholic unionists (or 'Catholics who vote for the status quo')
Will give Sinn Fein something to worry about (as in it could be a symptom of unionists catching themselves on. How scary!)

Will annoy fleggers
Is obviously part of a Sinn Fein plot to destabilise loyal Ulster and their objections are a cunning bluff, you fools...
New Northern Ireland Flag: Such a cunning republican plan that even republicans oppose it...
(from 'New Flag for Northern Ireland's' Facebook page  )

Designated Days Across Northern Ireland

Will stop unionists from looking like the knuckle-draggers in these talks
If successful will see the Union Flag flying where it hasn't flown for some time
Will bring the unionist councils in line with other British cities.

Will annoy fleggers
Being more like the rest of Britain will make us, erm, less British...?

Flying the Tricolour on state visits

We'll be like every other country than has the dignity and respect for other states

Will annoy fleggers

Respecting Flegs: One way street?

Show some respect, decency, sobriety and common sense at controversial parades

Will rob 'residents groups' of their ammo
Will stop the parades from being so intimidating
Will stop them (the aggressive minority of bandsmen) from looking like aggressive dicks every summer
Will adhere better to the Orange Order's Christian principles

Will annoy fleggers
Is an obvious ploy by Sinn Fein. We don't know why as aggressive parades help their cause and makes them look like the good guys but it must be a Sinn Fein ploy....

And the usual candidates that even Haass won't touch:

Moving the regional stadium to a neutral area, flying a new NI flag and playing a NI anthem

Expands the current potential for support from just Protestant unionists to other people who live in Northern Ireland (whoever they maybe?)
Might actually qualify for a competition instead of being a journeyman of FIFA
More people may have pride in Northern Ireland football team instead of just half the country.

Will annoy the fleggers and the more vocal OWC types (some of whom may be fleggers...)

An Irish Language Act

If unionists agree to it whilst they have a negotiating position they have the chance to tailor it to their liking (whatever that may be) e.g. perhaps add more of a Scottish flavour to it? Make it conditional that Sinn Fein cease the use of Irish in their literature? Demand Tayto be printed in Irish? I dunno, but they can do something.

When it eventually does get passed they'll have no say...

It'll annoy fleggers
It'll please the fenians.
Pleasing the fenians will annoy the fleggers even more...


Of course, the standard response from the 'leaders' of the Unionist camp is to say "no!" and expect to cling on with the whitest of knuckles until demographics forces their hand.
At which point they'll have no influence.

The unionist leadership seems absolutely oblivious to the fact that demographics is overtaking them.

King Cnut: Terrible orangeman...
King Cnut, the Viking King of England and (a fair whack of) Scandanavia knew he couldn't stop the tide from coming in.
He decided to prove it to his followers and let the sea come in about his feet and throne whilst he ordered it back.

The are no King Cnuts in the upper echelons of Unionism.

They seemingly think the tide will just 'stop'.

Just when they should be at their most dynamic and determined in terms of reform and reshaping Northern Ireland to make it a more appealing place to ALL of NI's citizens they instead listen to those who have entrenched themselves.

From a Darwinian point of view this is asking to be taken out of existence.

Unfortunately, a number of unionist leaders don't believe in Darwinian theory and as such even fear the word 'evolve' let alone implement some sort of evolution.

This is all the more shocking given the military tradition of the Ulster-Anglos. The upper crust of Ulster Anglican society have produced an incredible amount of military talent.

The top 5 British generals of WWII were of Ulster stock (and there were more besides).

General Sir Alan Brooke
Chief of Imperial General Staff
Churchill's Top General
One of the 'Fighting Brookes of Fermanagh'
Saw 'the bigger picture'
 Churchill's right hand man was one of the 'fighting Brooke's of Fermanagh'.

Not to mention officers like Blair 'Paddy' Mayne, soldier and hellraiser extraordinaire who was instrumental in the original SAS missions in North Africa.

The Ulster generals and officers were heavily involved in North Africa in WWII.

The front moved constantly, they didn't just pick a place, cry "no surrender!" and fight to the death and lose the ruddy war (well, maybe at Tobruk, but they did at least have the Royal Navy supplying them...).

No, they had to keep an eye on the bigger picture and accommodate it, regardless of how galling the short term moves may have been (e.g. withdrawing from parts of the front).

This shows that strategic vision isn't alien to the Ulster Unionist community but it has been severely lacking this past half century.

They have no 'end game' or refuse to believe that it will end.

Men like Alan-Brooke, Auchinleck, Dill, Montgomery, Alexander, Dorman-Smith* and Mayne saw an end game or at the very least adapted to the ever shifting circumstances of the war theatre.

They weren't stuck in 1688.

Alas, the same can't be said for their political successors. In a time where dynamics and change are required we instead see more walls, literally and metaphorically.

Nationalism and republicanism have time on their side, Unionism does not.

Governor Walker: A Lundy?!
 At least Governor Walker contemplated surrender (or 'change' in this context), Governor Robinson seemingly does not.

Having said that, Derry survived the siege, Northern Ireland on its current trajectory will not.

Thanks Pete...

* Interesting chap Eric Dorman-Smith/Dorman-O'Gawen.
 A strategic visionary who was instrumental in the North African campaign.
He was also a Catholic Ulsterman and his disillusionment with the establishment led him to dabble with militant republicanism after the war.

For more info on him and Ulster's top military brass try this for size:

Really, it's quite the eye-opener.