So what’s to come next?

A reader (and retired civil servant) writes

The Secretary of State has it within his gift to determine the timelines and actions to follow. So my suggestion is this

…no immediate election, a (potentially prolonged) period of Direct Rule. That might be dressed up by the NIO, as putting manners on the local political parties, but acknowledging, reluctantly, the relevance of Brexit negotiations and ‘island of Ireland’ implications, and some other Dail associated/non-associated considerations, to create room for private talks about Fresh Start 2.

At the same time, cynically/optimistically/simultaneously offering room to UUP/SDLP to re-establish popular opinion/sympathy.  Otherwise these older parties are in danger of being – like Private Fraser in Dad’s Army used to day – ‘all doomed’.

  • johnny lately

    People actually believe the British government will reward unionism with Direct rule after the DUP it can be argued attempted to bankrupt the Stormont government through a series of financial blunders which also just happened to be of financial benefit to friends, family members and backers of the DUP ?

    Is no one listening to what is being said – There will be no return to the status quo and I would imagine Direct rule would be resisted by both nationalism and the Irish government.

    Both unionism and the British government, even at this late stage, know the solution to the crisis and they have until the 16th to decide if they were ever really serious about solving the divisions in this part of Ireland or about honouring the commitments they both made in the GFA and St Andrews agreements.

  • NMS

    In some ways, the most significant statement yesterday was Phil Hogan’s article in yesterday’s Irish Times. He carefully restated for all of the Irish slow learners, on either side of the Border, that the EU/EC is running the UK departure negotiations. And while they might listen sympathetically to the concerns expressed, rules are rules.

    As with Dr. Merkel’s earlier statement again pointing out that the UK will not be able to cherrypick any provisions, including I would suggest local “soft” i.e. special arrangements in Ireland will not happen, because they are against the rules.

    This short piece by William Cook from the Spectator is a fair summation of the German approach, which should be http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/01/germany-wont-break-rules-britains-sake/

    There has been as much an air of unreality about the issue of rules in Dublin until recently as in the North. However, I think it is finally beginning to sink in the depth of the hole the UK has dug already. Their failure to understand the rules will ensure that they are buried alive.

  • notimetoshine

    The irony is direct rule would be a punishment for unionism (especially the DUP brand). The Irish language would get a much more sympathetic hearing from direct rule minister (and the civi! servants advising them) that it currently gets. Not to mention gay marriage, doing something with the MazeLong Leah site, the possibilities are endless. Also don’t discount that possibility of increased southern role or cooperation in regards to the North, May need to show that brexit or no brexit the UK is still able to make agreements and cooperate with EU countries etc. They have to keep the apperance up if nothing else.

    Personally I can’t wait for direct rule, might get everything and more!

  • johnny lately

    A return of direct rule would lead to demands for a border poll.

  • lizmcneill

    Once again, Ireland is getting screwed over by the English (with a helping hand from the Welsh).

    Why should a region which voted to remain in the EU suffer the worst effects of leaving?

  • Fear Éireannach

    For NI to have a special status is not against any rule and the EU will not cut Britain any slack they would be happy to facilitate NI. The problem is the dysfunctional setup here is preventing asking for the bleedin’ obvious.

  • Reader

    johnny lately: People actually believe the British government will reward unionism with Direct rule…
    The British Government has ample means to punish the DUP within Direct Rule. Set up a public inquiry with aggressive terms of reference; then do something about equal marriage, abortion and maybe Irish Language.
    With a few strokes of the pen the Government could make Northern Ireland into a far less embarrassing province, with the bonus of making the dinosaurs squeal and squirm.
    They will soon have the DUP back at heel.

  • mickfealty

    Maybe. Then clear the slate for a whole bunch of other mutual punishments. I think both are in the process of having their collars felt.

  • notimetoshine

    I suppose it all goes back to the resilience of the relevant electorates. The DUP and SF bases have been largely willing to tolerate repeated crises and interruptions to government without any huge impact on their electoral prospects.

    I personally doubt the election will deliver a bloody nose to the parties, leaving us status quo ante after the ballots are counted, and I really don’t see Brokenshire opting for yet another election, leaving direct rule the only viable option.

    But direct rule (or the threat of) could end up a punishment for SF I suppose, leaving them vulnerable in negotiations. Direct rule would be a red rag to the bulls on their flank, attacking the very heart of their republicanism. This would I am sure make them anxious for a return to power sharing, pushing them towards more concessions than they would necessarily be comfortable with, ultimately handing victory (albeit potentially pyhrric) to the DUP.

  • AntrimGael

    So now RTE and Enda Kenny are hinting of possible bilateral talks. What a surprise…not! It’s maybe starting to hit home for both Dublin and London that no Stormont totally undermines Brexit talks and special status for the North, and indeed border compromise between Britain and Ireland. The bigger picture is coming to the fore and I wouldn’t be surprised if intensive 3/4 day talks are arranged on somewhere like the Isle of Mann etc with Sinn Fein eventually agreeing to renominate DFM. The Shinners probably DO have the most to lose if Stormont collapses for good. It completely undermines their political strategy over the past 20 years if it all fails and vindicates those withing Republicanism who deem the North a failed state. On much happier news Joe Gormley has re-signed for Cliftonville….there IS a God after all!