Peter Hain in the Guardian is interesting. He is clearly in the believer camp – well I guess he has to be, it’s now his plan. He insists this is no Groundhog Day event. He cites two reasons: “One is its clarity and lack of conditionality. The other is the degree of internal consultation that followed Gerry Adams’s call last April for the IRA to step away from physical-force republicanism and to embrace democracy”.This not a trivial point. Some suggest that this deal is simply the December deal deferred. In fact this is the fourth time of asking since the local institutions collapsed in the wake of the discovery of an alleged IRA spy ring in Stormont.
He goes on to lay out the potential timeline for the reenstatement of normal politics:
There will need to be a process of verification by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), which now has a track record in assessing paramilitary activity and criminality. The IMC will report in October, and again in January, on whether all aspects of paramilitarism have ended: an end to recruitment; to training; to intelligence-gathering; to targeting; to weapons procurement; to so-called punishment beatings; and to exiling young people from their communities.
In return for Sinn Fein joining the policing boards, he will finally resolve the vexed case of the on the runs – those who offences have never come before court, or were not apprehended during or after the troubles, and therefore not covered by the Belfast Agreement.
Then, and only then does he expect the Unionists to come back into play:
In this new environment it will be the responsibility of unionism to respond positively. Provided that the actions have followed the words and the IRA is locked into a democratic and peaceful path, then we will want early negotiations towards the resumption of shared government through a resurrected Northern Ireland assembly.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty