The big stand off game of 2006?

Interesting think piece from Danny Morrison, who tries to unpick the likely moves of the DUP in terms of re-forming the institutions set up under the Belfast Agreement. He argues that the DUP will have no alternative but to deal with Sinn Fein, since all paths have led inevitably to the point where Sinn Fein is the top dog on the Nationalist side of the house.

Gregory Campbell recently said: “If the Provos are in a hurry we aren’t.” Sounds good, but explains nothing. Perhaps, after the high of their election victory, the party needs time to go through ‘cold turkey’ and be prepared for the great compromise. But where is the sign, other than a statement here or there from Paisley that he’ll do a deal when he believes the circumstances are right?

It put me in mind of Frank Millar’s seminal interview with Peter Robinson (subs needed), in December 2002. In that he argued that the Belfast Agreement had two fundamental flaws: it’s lack of accountability of its ministers; and it elevated ‘terrorists’ into government. Most previous Unionist concessions had been ceded.

Indeed in the comprehensive deal that followed Leeds Castle, few observers were convinced that the DUP had won any concessions on the first part, and could have been vulnerable on the second.

In answer to Millar’s last question Robinson’s reply is consistent with the recently outlined proposal to take a step back from executive government:

I can’t choose who the electorate return. We have to deal with whatever the electorate throw up. Therefore you have to have a system that isn’t dependent on the outcome of an election, which isn’t dependent on the good behaviour of those who are elected. That’s the reality. It must be a system that has sufficient shock absorbers to be able to deal with the kind of bad behaviour that we have seen from the Provisional IRA.

  • Tiny

    On the matter of Peter Robinson, having read his New Year Message I wonder if Peter is planning to move things on a bit or is he indulging in DUP double-speak:
    “We cannot wait until the IRA’s credentials are satisfactorily assessed or the clearing up from the “dirty war” is done”, does he mean back to Stormont, as soon as possible (ASAP)?
    “No-one doubts that the aggressive and destructive nature of the Direct Rule decisions”, see previous comment?

    “We should attempt to get devolution off the ground by establishing a non-executive form of devolution within which local decisions can be taken while we test the paramilitary and criminal activity of republicans” see previous comment.

    Does he mean that instead of ‘Minister McGuinness’ we are going to have ‘Committee Chairman McGuinness’, after all how else are we to have a “form of devolution within which local decisions can be taken”

    Could it be that having promised a “Fair Deal” in 2004 and “Leadership” in 2005, the DUP are out to move position again in 2006!

  • Kathy_C

    Hi all,

    I found Danny Morrison’s piece to be rather politically naive.

    There is a saying about the weather and politics…if you but wait a minute it changes. Danny Morrison is commenting on a Republican political world that has changed dramatically in just a few days….with the outing of Donaldson and SF’s reaction or lack there off…to the outing. Yet, Danny’s article avoids the political consequences to the outing both at home and abroad. The political world of republicanism has changed….Sinn fein’s reputation and that of it’s leaders have changed….
    Ian Paisly and the DUP have played the last year more effectively for their agenda than SF…
    All in all it is Sinn Fein that is constantly in the news almost like begging the DUP to share power with it….
    Danny Morrison used to have a good grasp of politics…but now especially with what he has written recently….he seems to have lost the edge.

  • Joe

    Kathy_C, I agree. Danny is writing for the wishful thinking world of AP/RN, Daily Ireland etc.

    Republicanism will be further weakened as the full story of its leaderships manipulation by the british continues to become public.

    Republicans are starting to question the wisdom of trusting in the current leaderships judgement.

    The DUP will be under no pressure to deal with the damaged SF.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Interesting that Peter Hain held a private reception at Hillsborough before Christmas for the Shinners at which they were presented with the DUP concession shopping list-not something I imagine ever happened the other way round. Is this to give them time to soften up the grass roots?

  • CS Parnell

    Actually, I thought Danny was more interested in sticking the boot into the SDLP than saying anything serious.

    I don’t think the L’affaire Donaldson will see SF go back, but I think we have to recognise that they are at the peak of the current cycle. The only way they can go higher in the republic is if they enter the government in the North and show themselves to be competent.

    Adams wants to finish his political career in the Park and so the South is what this is all about for now – this is the long war by other means and the Shinners can afford to wait in terms of the internal situation in the North but need to see progress if they are to advance in the South.

  • Kathy_C

    Hi all,

    Joe, I agree about the leadership of sinn fein being weakened….and danny’s article pretends that the political world is back the way it was prior to one of SF’s top people was outed (not by those in SF or republican movement) but by the brits….people aren’t going to look at Adams/McGuinness the same way as before. And, I found this interesting before his heart attack Alex Maskey wrote an article about the republican movement should accomadate the orange order….Seems Sinn Fein and many of it’s leaders are eager to accomodate the brits rather than their people.

    Darth, now with the outing of donaldson….it is going to be very difficult indeed to ‘soften’ up the grassroots…cause now anytime SF comes to their grass roots…people are going to look at them and think…is this best for the republican movement…or best for the interest of those in Sinn Fein who are doing the brits bidding…

    CSParnell, I think this entire affair has done more to help Durkin and the SDLP than anything the SDLP could have planned. What i found strange is how Danny Morrison who did so much for Bobby Sands and is in charge of the Bobby Sands foundation…didn’t come out stronger against the brit spy donaldson especially with donaldson’s relationship to Bobby Sands….yep…very disturbing indeed.