Nationalist government?

After Mark Durkan and Gerry Adams met yesterday, both appealed for the British government to hold the line, and not suspend the political institutions if unionist ministers resign.

This introduces the interesting scenario that all major posts in government could be run, by default, by the remaining ministers, ie those held by the SDLP, Sinn Fein, and possibly even the DUP, who have, as ever refused to reveal their political hand in public. The parties remaining in post may even pick up those vacated by the Ministers in David Trimble’s party. In other words, the UUP is gambling all its political capital on the actions of one of its most inveterate opponents.

However, it may not come to that. The pressure that has been building for weeks on Sinn Fein may now force them to take their seats on the Policing Board, and get behind the new PSNI (see here). A quickening of the decommissioning may also allow David Trimble to retain his post to the satisfaction of the hardliners in his party. But, unfortunately for him, that is no longer in his hands alone. In the past Sinn Fein has never been the most helpful of dance partners for the UUP.

John Reid was very near the mark when he said this agreement could only work if everyone wanted it to (see here). But the ball is now bobbling around somewhere in the middle and there is no telling at this stage who will pick it up, run with it and finally win the game.

There are indeed some ‘interesting’ times ahead.