Inch by inch?

An Irish Times report outlines suggested proposals of a phased process to be put forward by the Irish and British Governments in an attempt to secure agreement between the political parties here.According to the Times chief political correspondent, Mark Brennock,

The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, said yesterday the plan would see the Northern Assembly restored first in “shadow” form, with the power-sharing Executive to be functioning by spring. This would be part of a deal involving a permanent end to the IRA’s campaign and the resolution of the decommissioning issue which has plagued the political process.”

That part of the deal has not fundamentally altered since 2002.

The Taoiseach said the elements of a deal had been outlined by Mr Blair in his speech at the Belfast Harbour Masters in October 2002, and had not changed.

First, there had to be a resolution of decommissioning. The independent decommissioning body “would find a satisfactory way of ending the decommissioning argument, either in phases or all together”.

Second, the IRA would have to issue instructions to its people to end the conflict and enter a different mode.

Third, unionists would have to guarantee that if the political institutions were re-established they would be stable, and “they wouldn’t bring them down again”. Finally, issues such as policing, demilitarisation and other matters in the joint declaration by the two governments would be resolved.

If all of these things happened, “we would re-establish the Assembly and the Executive and get ahead with the North/South bodies”, Mr Ahern said.

The Taioseach also repeated the warning that “Waiting until after the Westminster elections, which many expect next May, was “not an acceptable strategy”, however.”

There’s no mention of what might happen if this attempt fails, “They hoped not to have to consider how to proceed if those efforts failed. ‘We are looking at lots of suggestions but it is not the way we want to go.'”

And no mention of a blueprint for joint-rule that Gerry Adams has told the Friends of SF in New York he wants to see (and no mention in this more widely reported speech by Adams of 2016 either)… and unless that first phase resolves the decommissioning issue it’s difficult to see the DUP agreeing to anything else.

Meanwhile General De Chastelain is reported to have departed.. but is due to return at the end of this month… oh.. and, of course, Violence levels ‘still high’.