Eric Waugh argues that further progress is hampered by lack of trust. Without it, he argues, power sharing is simply not possible. He also believes that the governments’ attempt to push start a new round of negotiations is inviting the public papering over major cracks in the story that the IRA has no longer anything to do with major criminal enterprise:
What about the 45 tons of highly toxic sludge found in a stolen container on the Armagh-Monaghan border last week? Chemists estimate that it represented the leavings from the illegal washing of three million litres of smuggled diesel. This is not the sort of sideline run by a fellow with five pigs and two cows.
Police and garda appear to have no doubts about the reality of the continuing lawlessness on both sides of the border. Hence their increasingly tetchy exchanges with ministers.
For Blair and Ahern, the key problem can be bluntly put: it is that the fine print of which republicans are doing it may not matter to the unionists. Paisley’s logic is that he wants no part of them in government until the gangsterism stops.
Many are convinced that Paisley will never go into Government with Sinn Féin. They may be right. His leading lieutenants now have jobs and expense accounts, thanks to the party’s successes at the last election. So he knows their hunger for office at Stormont is allayed. He can afford to be fundamentalist on the republicans.
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