Shinners' shuttle diplomacy, as fundamentalists back fundamentals…

AFTER his meeting with Sinn Fein today, the Taoiseach admitted that changes to the Agreement would have to be made to enable process. The SF team flew to London afterwards, with everyone seemingly in agreement that changes to the GFA are possible, so long as they are not ‘fundamentals’.

And with troop levels set to be slashed by Christmas (by which time decommissioning may no longer be an issue), and IRA movement expected very soon, elements of a choreographed deal appear to be falling into place, unless someone scuppers it… and don’t count your chickens yet that Sinn Fein have accepted that proposed changes to the GFA are not ‘fundamental’. The shuttle flight from Dublin to London may not be the best of omens, but Adams could be playing hardball.

Another statement today that was possibly made out of concern about internal competition was when DUP Deputy Peter Robinson revealed what he understands the Agreement’s ‘fundamental principles’ are, which he has said are not incompatible with his party’s ‘Devolution Now’ proposals:

“The fundamentals of the Belfast Agreement, as defined by the Secretary of State (Paul Murphy) in his letter, were the commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means; the guarantee that there will be no constitutional change without consent and the requirement for cross-community participation in devolved government,” the East Belfast MP told PA News.

This is almost identical to the principles listed in my recent analysis piece, as stated by the Prime Minister almost four years ago.

  • Keith M

    It’s a wonderful lesson in pragmatic politics to watch how the governments have whittled away at the Belfast Agreement leaving the “fundamentals” which are so basic that it’s really a carte blanc for the parties to find a solution they can all sign up to. Who can dispute “the commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means; the guarantee that there will be no constitutional change without consent and the requirement for cross-community participation in devolved government”?

    No mention of designation, no cross border authorities, no Council of the Isles, nothing on policing etc etc. None of these are “fundamental” apparently.

    By redefining the Agreement in such a basic way it allows the pro-agreement parties to keep the fig leaf of keeping the original agreement. Politics surely is the art of the possible.

    The poor SDLP must be apoplectic (not that it matters anymore).

  • peteb

    Gonzo

    No sooner has it been spun one way.. they go and spin it the other – SF welcomes Ahern assertion on deal… just to make sure every possible angle has been covered.

    Is McGuinness’s line the offcial SF position? or is it Adams’?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Heh! At least they cover all the bases.

    They’re just making sure the SDLP doesn’t get to carry the nationalist pro-GFA banner on its own, methinks…

  • willow

    Keith M has written off the SDLP too soon. Not all Nationalists are keen on Sinn Fein, therefore dont be too quick to write off the SDLP position.
    The SDLP needs a new wardrobe as all their clothes have been stolen.
    Who knows they might merge with a southern party, whatever happens their opinions cannot be written off. Only a fool would think otherwise.