The choice is in DUP hands…

Brian Feeney’s column correctly anticipated the gap between the DUP’s timescale for developments, and that more favoured by the two governments. According to Feeney, the two want a deal sooner rather than later whilst the DUP is not for moving until the back end of next year.

He admits that the resulting stasis would suit the DUP:

Of course the DUP are going to emerge from today’s talks telling us all how tough they are and how no IRA statement will shift them. They’ll be talking tough in Northern Ireland question time today as well, making the same point. On the face of it they do have a strong position. After all, unionists have twice voted not to share power with Sinn Féin and the DUP are the beneficiaries of that vote in more ways than one. Many, perhaps most, unionists like direct rule partly because they don’t want to share power with Sinn Féin, partly because they also think direct rule guarantees there’ll be minimum change here.

The added bonus is that if the DUP stall on talking to SF then their main opponents, the UUP, stagnate. Even better, if the assembly is dissolved, as it should be, then the UUP leader will be at most a mere councillor. It’s inevitable that there’ll be no deal ratified before another assembly election when the UUP’s annihilation should be completed. Looks good, doesn’t it?

But, he argues, it would also release Sinn Fein energies for other things:

…direct rule enables SF to concentrate on their main aim, increasing their Dail representation with a view ultimately to getting into government. The latest polls show SF in the Republic back to where they were last December. Direct rule means unionists can never have any power but it leaves the prospect of power on an all-Ireland level open to Sinn Féin.

Finally he argues that:

…despite all their breast-beating the DUP are left with no choice. Hang tough, go nowhere and watch the Irish government consolidating its influence here, or make a deal with SF and watch the influence of the Irish government here grow as SF ministers press for more cooperation and harmonisation between north and south.

  • Two Nations

    Assuming that Sinn Fein do achieve a certain amount of power in the ROI, does anybody believe that there would be a change in the power dynamic within Sinn Fein?

    There will be southern SF members with more REAL power by sitting in the ROI cabinet than what the northern SF members would have sitting in NI twiddling there thumbs, waiting for the Assembly to kick off again.

    My question is, would these southern shinners be happy to take their orders from the northern leadership or will they seek more autonomy? Will there be a repeat of the early 80s in terms of a split north and south?

  • peteb

    I’m sure I’ve read this same opinion piece by Feeney before.. alright.. probably more than once..

  • steve48

    “My question is, would these southern shinners be happy to take their orders from the northern leadership or will they seek more autonomy?”

    I think that in this scenario it is more likely that the shinners have negotiated with Bertie a raft of concessions based on the pira statement and the dup wanting a breathing space. These will include the issue of speaking rights in the Dail for NI M.P’s. We could therefore have MaGuiness as SF spokesman on education taking park in a debate on all-ireland education. Or indeed on the fact that many of those leaving Irish Language schools in the Gaeltact can’t speak Irish.

    I’m quite sure that the shinners are working on a win-win scenario irrespective of the dup position

  • Keith M

    Two Nations : “Assuming that Sinn Fein do achieve a certain amount of power in the ROI”. This is a huge assumption. Neither FF or FG would consider a coalition with SF/IRA based on the public opinion of that party. This may change in a decade’s time (in the way DL became acceptable long after they had broken thier ties with SFWP and and OIRA). At the moment this suits SF/IRA in the south again. They are a party of opposition and would not be comfortable making decisions with real impact on the public.

  • Jo

    Get Devolution back sooner and we get a chance for locally election politicians to do what they promised to do and STOP WATER CHARGING.

    To leave it to end-2006 is FAR TOO LATE.

    We will all be worse off as a result.

  • Weavering Wanderer

    Again what we are seeing is DUP self interest as opposed to what is good for the country.

    All the DUP are concerned about is lining their own pockets and making sure that they can destroy the Ulster Unionist Party in the process.

    Nothing else matters to them