The Irish Times’ Gerry Moriarty has the latest ‘will they, won’t they?’ report (stop yawning at the back!). It’s a, by now, well rehearsed piece, that just about writes itself.. he does, however, mention the ‘big’ stick that the Governments’ appear to think can be used to apply pressure to the intransigent parties.. “If the proposals are rejected, Mr Blair will be faced with the option of whether to call Assembly elections” – cue hollow laughter.
There are some pertinent paragraphs though, including another ‘deadline’ –
The Taoiseach and British Prime Minister intend to travel to Northern Ireland on Wednesday either to endorse a comprehensive political agreement or to publish their proposals for restoring devolution if the deal is rejected.
The British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, will hold a critical meeting with the Rev Ian Paisley in Downing Street this afternoon as both the DUP and Sinn Féin continue to wage a brinkmanship battle over visual verification of IRA disarmament.
British officials were last night arranging a Belfast venue for Wednesday’s scheduled meeting between the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, and Mr Blair.
Mr Ahern and Mr Blair were hoping for definitive answers from the DUP and Sinn Féin today to their amended blueprint for restoring devolution, but are prepared to give the parties until tomorrow evening for their final responses.
“Sinn Féin and the DUP have until close of business on Tuesday to tell us whether this is a runner or not,” said a senior Dublin source last night.
“The parties had the weekend to reflect on our proposals. It’s now up to them to make up their minds,” said a British government spokesman.[my emphasis]
Worth noting is that despite Gerry Adams’ claim that ‘both governments are well aware of his party’s position’ they still don’t appear to know whether that position is “Yes” or “No”.
Dublin and London sources made it clear, however, that if the blueprint was rejected, the governments would publish the proposals or a summary of them. They appeared confident that the public would consider the proposals a fair deal.
If the proposals are rejected, Mr Blair will be faced with the option of whether to call Assembly elections. In such an eventuality the “blame game” would then kick in with whichever party – the DUP or Sinn Féin – was viewed as chiefly responsible for the collapse of the deal having to justify its stance to the electorate.
So we may, eventually, get to see the actual proposals being discussed behind closed doors.. or rather a summary of them – yeah, best not to confuse us with the actual details of the proposals. I mean, there’s been far too much clarity already, hasn’t there?
How exactly the two Governments see the political process progressing beyond that point is unclear.