Is the argument about to change?

Malachi O’Doherty yesterday:

“The question for Gerry Adams now is whether he still has a political hand to play. He has. He will make the case that the Agreement failed because Unionists could not commit to it. In that case, the British government must make them commit to it.

“It takes some gall to advance a case which depends on his overlooking all his own side’s sins, but that is the sort of gall which makes Gerry Adams such an impressive leader . He has, after all, withstood decades of opprobrium for murder and sabotage on a massive scale. He is well used to people thinking ill of him, and he is well practised at smiling through it all and blithely assuring anyone who will listen that Sinn Fein is a well intentioned party that wants to get on with everyone.

“Ask him about past murders, current vigilantism and the espionage ring, and he will assure you that he is working harder than anyone else to make Ireland a place where these things don’t happen. All he asks is that Unionism and the British government should allow him the time and the space to get on with the job.

“If the agreement dies, as it well might, Adams will demand that Northern Ireland be governed in an all-Ireland context. He will push for a referendum on a United Ireland, hoping the disillusionment of those nationalists who had been prepared to settle for the Agreement as the end of the constitutional argument, will concede the impossibility of that now and vote for an end to Irish partition.”

Towards the end he switches focus to the DUP:

“The net winner of the last week is the Democratic Unionist Party of Rev Ian Paisley. Chief tactician and the most coldly logical man in Ireland, Peter Robinson, appears to have a plan. He says the Good Friday Agreement is dead and proposes negotiations for a new agreement that will not leave the other parties dependent on Sinn Fein behaving itself . He even appears to hold out the prospect that he would share power with Sinn Fein, if it was proven that all connection with terrorism was at an end, ‘though I can’t foresee that happening’.

“His pitch is to define the problem and lead all of unionism into a solution. Where every other leader’s game seems tired and spent, Robinson’s is about to begin.”

The DUP have not yet said what they may have up their sleeves that will counter Sinn Fein in private negotiation, except for the potential of unifying the Unionist vote behind a single party. In the meantime, they may have handed Sinn Fein the opportunity to agree with the DUP analysis that the agreement was imperfect, and should be re-negotiated.

We await the outcome with keen anticipation.

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