The Economist, calls this week’s developments the only way you can. Not by reading into the clarity (or rather the lack thereof) around the act itself, but into the political frame around the act (subs needed). In particular the DUP:
…after recent rioting by Protestant paramilitaries who have killed scores in the past ten years, Mr Paisley’s scepticism sounded like a substitute for political engagement. The armies in whose weaponry Mr Paisley has shown least interest are the illegal Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Ulster Defence Association (UDA). One UDA spokesman, calling the IRA move irrelevant, said loyalists would keep their guns while the Union was in danger, a favourite Paisley phrase.
An international monitoring body set up at unionist insistence to detect paramilitary activity will report on the IRA in October and January. If it finds no criminal or paramilitary activity, the governments will press the DUP to negotiate power-sharing with Sinn Fein. The only internal pressure on Mr Paisley may be his own party’s ambition, and perhaps the desire at the age of 80 to hold power at last, even if it must be shared with the enemy.
The chess game has begun. The IRA and Sinn Fein have made a strong first move. But the DUP will not be hurried into making its next move either now, or when the second IMC report comes in January next year.
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