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.

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