While the Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, seems intent on continue the policy of tough talking, and today, accompanied by Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, introduced the idea of the April window – interestingly referring to “[making] the necessary legislative changes and introduce government amendments to the Northern Ireland Bill to deal with the internal architecture of the power-sharing arrangement” – the BBC’s Martina Purdy has another excellent report today, to add to this one I noted earlier, asking whether either of the two parties, who need to agree for devolution to proceed, actually want it enough.The two main points Martina Purdy makes in the article are –
Does Gerry Adams want to see Stormont reopened? Does Ian Paisley need it?
And, in looking at the realpolitik, suggests that Gerry Adams, despite the repeated rhetoric, doesn’t really want it enough –
Mr Adams insists he wants power-sharing to return – but one might ask how badly?
Certainly not badly enough to allow it to reopen in a less ambitious form while trust is built. Mr Adams might well calculate that his interests lie in proving Northern Ireland is an unworkable political entity.
After all if Northern Ireland works, does that help or hinder his goal of Irish unity?
If on the other hand it becomes apparent that Stormont will never reopen, no matter how much progress the IRA makes towards keeping its promises, Sinn Fein can step up demands for joint authority while focussing on building his party’s strength in Dail Eireann.
and Ian Paisley, even if he did want it enough, couldn’t necessarily bring his party with him –
The realpolitik would suggest he [Paisley] cannot because it is too much to ask any politician – even one with Ian Paisley’s powers of persuasion – to sell power-sharing with Sinn Fein in the short-term.
Mr Paisley has said too much about the IRA, and David Trimble, over the years to shrink from his uncompromising position the minute he gets power.
It could split his party as surely as the Ulster Unionist Party split.
To keep his party united, Mr Paisley requires time and context before he can compromise.
He needs to be able to explain why he has changed his mind – and his time-frame is probably years (he suggested at least two in August 2005.)
He is certainly in no hurry. In fact, there was a very telling quote from the DUP leader in the News Letter to mark his party’s annual conference.
He suggested he did not have to worry about sharing power with Sinn Fein in an Executive because the IRA would never be able to pass the democratic test.