This piece by Anthony McIntyre, was written about a week ago, but raises issues that are very pertainent to the current crisis.
He outlines the ‘double stalemate’ situation both communities find themselves in:
“…the nationalist electorate want Sinn Fein in government regardless of unionist concerns. And who are the unionists to tell that electorate otherwise? Do they expect a double veto, firstly over the constitutional question – which they have already – and also over the form in which partition is to manifest itself within the North? There is no just reason for the British Government to collapse the institutions at the behest of unionism.”
“At the same time the unionists would not be disenfranchising the nationalist electorate by refusing to sit in a functioning government with those whom nationalists elect. The nationalist electorate cannot compel unionist politicians to sit in government with Sinn Fein when the unionist electorate believe – with no small measure of hypocritical cant – a report by the Times that there is now a majority of Army council members who are also Sinn Fein elected representatives.”
He poses an important question:
“In all of this, it is hardly fanciful to believe that Trimble does not want to destroy the Agreement but is having his ability to drive it thwarted by a grassroots unionist belief that the IRA remains active. Thinking republicans presumably ask themselves if the IRA were to be removed from the equation would there be a crisis at all?”
He finishes on a more controversial note:
“…because ministerial positions are more important than the IRA and because the Sinn Fein leadership could quite easily wrap up the IRA in the morning the inexorable logic is one of moving towards a trade-off where the IRA, like its guns, is little other than a disposable Sinn Fein bargaining chip facing disbandment in the South and being pulled back into Sinn Fein in the North as a form of IRB-cum-Praetorian guard. And who then expects unionists to complain long and hard if the only object of IRA force is recalcitrant or awkward republicans?”