A shadow by any other name…

The Irish Times has more details on the kickstart package Blair and Ahern are working on. However, it will not be a “shadow” assembly but a “fully operational” one.Will the word play be enough for northern nationalism to stop saying No?

  • Pete Baker

    FD

    From the first line of the report –

    “Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and prime minister Tony Blair meet at the Brussels summit tomorrow to finalise a new plan to have the full Northern Assembly meet for a set period, after which it would be required to agree on a power-sharing executive.”

    It’s the same [newly finalised] plan as before.. the one they backed away from announcing on the 8th March.. because the parties wouldn’t agree to it..

  • fair_deal

    PB

    Oh no read the rest negotiations about the package will carry on up to the last minute 😉

    It is fundamentally the same package and is Blair and Ahern doing what they always do cut the orange in half.

    Unionism’s burnt fingers mean they won’t rush into an Executive again. The SDLP’s primary criticism was temporary could become permanent. Sinn Fein all or nothing approach seen as a strategy for collapse (as well as a bit rich everyone else has had to endlessly hang “wait for provo” but once they move every one else has to sprint).

    So they go with a shadow body for a restricted time and to sweeten it for the provos they start waving the joint authority stick and for Unionism the delivery on some of the DUP’s enabling environment stuff.

    The Assembly and its committees would also create a multi-lateral format for engagement between parties.

    I think the annual outing to Washington was also a reason for delay, Bertie went out to square Irish America for a package that won’t have nationalists too pleased. It would also offer an explanation why Adams went for a particularly petulant performance while he was out there.

  • Rory

    Given that the Brits and the Unionists have both played fast and loose with both the letter and the spirit of the agreement since its inception it is understandble that Adams would insist on any new development adhering to the principle of the agreement.

    Perhaps, however, in order to develop the implementation of the agreement, even after all this tardiness, it might be possible to agree a longer time table than the six weeks, with the clear understanding that this was a concession to the strict terms in order to allow the executive to come into play. Even then, a new time limit would need to be set and there would needs be spelt out penalties for those parties who refused to co-operate after that time.

    The difficulty with this scenario being sold to nationalists might be the ghost of that time tarnished slogan of Michael Collins, “the freedom to achieve freedom” overshadowing any hope for such concession.

  • missfitz

    FD, I dont want to provoke one of the old and tired debates, but I really DO want to ask you to expand a little more on your comment about Unionists getting their fingers burnt by joining an Executive.

    You appear to be fair minded and balanced, do you truly, honestly, deeply believe that the Executive collapsed because of a SF spy ring? If not that, then what caused it all to fall, if not an intransigence and deep seated belief that this is a protestant state for a protestant people?

    (I’m only using that quote cos Rory steals all the good ones before I get a chance)

  • fair_deal

    missfitz

    The fingers burnt comment was about more than the spyring.

    Trimble started the Executive a number of times expecting the ongoing executive to lead to a start/continuation/completion of decommissioning which it invariably didn’t, there was the ongoing activites of the IRA (this has varied at different stages of the process punishment beatings and shootings, murders, weapons importation/development as well as various robberies) that happened when the UUP was the predominant party.

    I was thinking of the Northern Bank and the McCartney murder cover-up just after the near deal of December which makes the DUP more wary.

    On the spy-ring, a number of my friends were on the spy ring database so I have seen the material that collected on them from the police reports they showed me. So the “blame denis” stuff just doesn’t wash with me. Also republican activists were caught and convicted of doing the same in the RoI.

  • Warm Storage

    “Under the Belfast Agreement, the Assembly can meet for six weeks before the d’Hondt mechanism to elect an executive is required to produce a resolution. The two governments appear to be seeking some device to prolong the period for success beyond this, but it is not clear how they intend to do this.”

    Well-researched article, obviously. The device not only already exists in legislation but was used repeatedly in 2001.

  • Stephen Copeland

    The solution is simple:

    The governments are striving to devise a mechanism that would reconcile the DUP demand to create a working Assembly before full restoration of the executive – with a Sinn Féin insistence that any development be compliant with the Belfast Agreement.

    The two governments could also make clear what will happen in the event of no agreement on power- sharing between Sinn Féin and the DUP after the six-week period stipulated under the d’Hondt mechanism.

    Under the Belfast Agreement, the Assembly can meet for six weeks before the d’Hondt mechanism to elect an executive is required to produce a resolution.

    Let Ahern and Blair re-establish the Assembly. Let it be ‘shadow’ or whatever. Give it six weeks to do whatever a ‘shadsow assembly’ does. Then, at the end of the six weeks, just before the pre-determined collapse, Sinn Féin and the SDLP should walk back in and say “Right, now an Executive”.

    The DUP will have had their pointless shadow assembly, the nationalists will have boycotted it, the governments will have set their deadline, and the nationalists will have re-entered in time to join the Executive.

  • Rory

    Neat solution, Stephen. I like it. Let’s hope you can now sell it.

  • ingrammartin

    Quote”Let Ahern and Blair re-establish the Assembly. Let it be ‘shadow’ or whatever. Give it six weeks to do whatever a ‘shadsow assembly’ does. Then, at the end of the six weeks, just before the pre-determined collapse, Sinn Féin and the SDLP should walk back in and say “Right, now an Executive”.

    You ever thought about an alternative career as a stand up comic!

    Martin

  • Stephen Copeland

    You ever thought about an alternative career as a stand up comic!

    Why, when I can do it from the comfort of my (’employer’s) chair?

  • Yokel

    It may be a shadow Assembly butIi suspect some of those participating don’t have shadows themselves……

  • ingrammartin

    Stephen.

    Quote”Why, when I can do it from the comfort of my (’employer’s) chair?

    Nice one, a bit like Gerry Adams.

  • missfitz

    Thanks FD, but it doesnt wash. I think more than anything else, there was a reluctance to share power, a reluctance that we must go one setp further to understand.

    Sometimes its more useful to start from a position of truth and work things out from there. The Ulster Unionists were the dominant party from what? 1921 to 1972? They ran the State and the institutions. Thats not a fenian whine, its a simple state of fact. Sharing power was not part of the equation for them.

    I believe that the spy ring was manufactured, I really do. But it would be more useful to de-construct that and see what lies beneath. Thats where the trust building and mutual understanding has to begin.

    As to bringing in the McCartny cover-up, well I think that re-inforces what I said. If there is a basic level of mis trust and suspicion, anything will suffice as an excuse, even using something that happened several years later. COme on, look at the logic….. we collapsed the assembly cos we know that in 3 years time there will be a bar brawl, someone with loud sisters will get knifed and you will be put in the postlight.

    Like I said, it doesnt wash, but it points to the truth.