The moment that draft seven of the Haass proposals went into the shredder may well have been at 10:45pm when BBC NI’s The View broadcast deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness telling Mark Carruthers:
Mainstream unionist elected representatives have told me that they accept my analysis that in the city of Belfast the UVF, the PUP and the Orange Order are one and the same thing … I believe it needs to be challenged. Just as I have challenged those so-called republican dissidents who would try to drag us back to the past. [Martin McGuinness]
While there is undoubtedly some level of overlap of members or supporters or sympathisers between those three groups, to group all three together will incite an incredible political backlash (particularly from unionist elected representatives who are members of the Orange Order) [Ed - is "UVF-PUP-OO" the new "Sinn Fein-IRA"?] and damage any modicum of trust that has built up between organisations.
Yet, repeating the same statement
four times in the interview, it was clearly a soundbite that the deputy First Minister was intentional about putting on public record. There must be subtler ways of asking unionism to improve its leadership. at least three
Later on in the interview Martin McGuinness suggested that St Patrick’s Day – with its annual pilgrimage to the White House – was “the American’s deadline” for local politicians to come to an agreement … insinuating that their Washington DC invitations (or the level of access they’d receive when they arrived) depended on it.
[There's no predicting exactly when the full interview will appear on iPlayer over the next few days ...]
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Update – First Minister Peter Robinson released a statement overnight responding – in haste – to Martin McGuinness’s “unhelpful and irrational comments”.
He speaks as if it is every other party’s requirement to move to his position – and if they do not then he considers it to be a lack of leadership on their part. He speaks as if he is not one of the parties but rather the controller and dictator of how the process will operate. He appears to believe it is everyone else’s duty to reach an agreement on his terms.
Peter Robinson added …
The Deputy First Minister shows a visceral hatred of the Orange Institution in his interview … I defy Martin McGuinness to deny that Mervyn Gibson’s contribution was anything other than instructive and positive. It is not a revelation to say that there is a link between the PUP and the UVF. Nor is there any news in the suggestion that just as the Orange has within its membership people who are in the DUP, UUP and TUV so too it includes members of the PUP.
… and concluded:
SF should refrain from further public utterances aimed at heightening tensions within the Talks. Let’s have less of the mind games outside the process and more serious engagement within it.