Mood music good for SF/DUP courtship…

IT wasn’t so long ago that Ian Paisley was calling for the disbandment of Sinn Fein, saying that the party should “have no part nor be in any negotiations”. Contrast that with his statement yesterday, and you’ll see how far the DUP has belatedly come – now they are prepared to accept the IRA continuing in the form of an ‘old boys’ association’. Wasn’t it Albert Reynolds who used that phrase first, which was later adopted by David Trimble? Anyway, how times change

For those who watch events closely, this would seem as clear an indication as any that a deal of some description is on the cards.

The relatively upbeat assessment by the DUP of the British and Irish Governments’ joint paper, the much-changed language of the DUP, the flexibility of Sinn Fein on Executive formation, the ‘regret’ over the Birmingham bombs (such statements having come before big moves in the past), the statement by Peter Robinson about how the DUP proposals were not outside the fundamental principles of the Agreement, the refusal by the DUP to rule out greater North South co-operation on matters of mutual benefit, the confidence SF have to allow Bairbre de Brun to resign her Assembly seat to concentrate on Europe, the offer of clergymen viewing decommissioned weapons, the friendly DUP visit to Dublin, the common cause of the two parties on negotiating a peace dividend and opposing water charges – are all meaningless on their own.

But added together, and with a few more signals besides, such as the DUP and SF briefing their executives this week and the flurry of high-level activity during today’s anniversary of the last Assembly election, they seem to strongly indicate movement towards a deal that is about to be made.

Much baggage has had to be dropped on this rather frustrating and often tedious journey.

Will we get the Big Deal though, or an interim measure towards full restoration of the institutions? My guess is that we are still talking March/April at the earliest before a full Assembly will meet (the governments might be anticipating something after the next IMC report, but before the May election – although the DUP might want to stall until afterwards for electoral reasons) and I still think there will be certain issues left unresolved regardless…

  • peteb

    Interim measures all round then, Gonzo.. with accompanying declarations of ‘real and historic progress has been made’ from each.

    So it goes.

  • Butterknife

    What happens if devolution is restored before next May? What happens if it is not? Will the UUP be damed either way?

  • Keith M

    People can’t have it both ways, saying one week that they doubt the DUP’s good faith on power sharing and then a few days later decrying them for accepting SF as potential partners in the executive. People have to ask themselves if they want the DUP and SF/IRA to do a deal or if they don’t. If they do, then they are going to have to accept both sides making compromises and not go into hyserical fits of hand-waving everytime a party shows a willingness to compromise. If (mainly for the own party political reasons) they don’t want a deal, then they should come out and say it.

    I have always been clear, I want a deal and a new fair agreement that enjoys equal support in both communities. I know this will require change and I welcome change AS LONG AS a fair, sustainable agreeement is reached.

    As for the DUP, whether people like it or not (and this site is full of DUP knockers), they have almost negotiated themselves into a “no lose” position. If they agree a new fair agreement now, they will be the heroes who finally closed the deal after years of stop-go nonsense. If they don’t sign up, and they can justify why they have problems, they will be seen to have met their promises and not een the pushovers that the Trimbleite UUP became.

    In fact the onlty way the DUP can lose is if they sign up to something that falls apart before May, and heaven knows there are enough nay-sayers around here wishing for that!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Upon further reflection, it seems that former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds may have first suggested the IRA become an old boys’ association.

  • Davros

    Isn’t “Old Boys Association” a bit sexist ?

    I mean , where would the RA have been if it wasn’t for the little ladies making cups of tea and sarnies ?

    “Old Persons Association” ?
    I would have suggested Old Members Association, But “OMA” would be uncomfortably close to the truth ….

  • Warm Storage

    Hey, how about Stood-Down Lapsed Provos?

  • davidbrew

    or Shootings Done Let’s Profiteer?

  • Warm Storage

    Or Statesman Doc’s Latest Partners?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Only if they are Still Doing Legal Politics.

  • Warm Storage

    Indeed, Viscount Gonzo of Failed-Unionist-Backhander.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Be warned, noble subject, that such heresy will not be tolerated in Another Place, should no deal come about which could secure your current circumstances!


  • Pat Mc Larnon

    An old boys association probably with their own legally held weapons. The DUPers legitimising the IRA who’d have thought

  • Belfast Gonzo

    LOL, Pat!

    Actually, I wonder what the LOLs will be saying after this…

  • unionist_observer

    I wonder what the theme was from the last movie version of “The taming of the shrew”