The SDLP shifts but SF sticks to its guns

The Sunday Life claims the SDLP are open to a shadow assembly. This leaves Sinn Fein isolated but Gerry Adams remains in belligerent mood.

Ahern’s rhetorical shift from shadow to fully operative seems to have worked. Although the SDLP’s concerns remain they are willing to put their faith in Bertie Ahern. A senior SDLP source said:

“We believe that the Taoiseach knows our concerns and knows what we don’t want to see and we expect that he and Tony Blair will outline proposals that will see some real and meaningful engagement at Stormont that should lead to the creation of an Executive.”

Gerry Adams, has not left the belligerent mood in America, stating yesterday that:

“Several weeks ago, Sinn Fein resolutely opposed any halfway house, in-between, transitional, interim or shadow Assembly. That remains our position…The current approach of the governments to the restoration of the political institutions is a source of significant concern.”

Although as parties have been arguing for years what the Belfast Agreement actually means maybe this comment gives Sinn Fein some wriggle room:

“If there is to be an Assembly in the north, it has to be the Assembly contained in the Good Friday Agreement.”

Is it significant that for all the republican fury no one has mentioned the b-word?

  • lib2016

    The GFA includes a provision for the Assembly to take six weeks electing an Executive.

    Doesn’t this give us a way for getting everyone of the hook?

  • Somewhat missing the point, fd.

    No-one seriously believes that the parties, all of them, won’t turn up at the beginning – whether any meaningful engagement follows or not during that summer recess.

    We’re still watching the game of, to resurrect Mick’s memorable phrase, political chicken.. this time to be played within an Assembly, of sorts, for part of the time, rather than outside it.

    The avoid the blame game rules still dominate in The Process. The governments appear to be hoping that that will be enough to get an Executive up and running.

    Hope and history once again.

  • pacman

    God these people will do anything to ensure the salary keeps coming. This will end up the same way as the ill-fated forum.

    If the SDLP go along with it, it’ll hasten their demise come the next election. Their propensity for electoral suicide shows little sign of abating.

  • slug

    “God these people will do anything to ensure the salary keeps coming.”

    Like do the work they are paid to do? Just how low can they stoop!

  • pacman

    How can they be deemed to be doing the work they’re paid to do when there’s no executive, no decisions to be made and no chance of affecting any decision an NIO minister makes?

    Unless you think that trading insults across the chamber constitutes work for these bozos. Besides what have they done to justify getting paid since the assembly was suspended?

    It’s time Hain got rid of the most useless quango of them all.

  • slug

    “How can they be deemed to be doing the work they’re paid to do when there’s no executive, no decisions to be made and no chance of affecting any decision an NIO minister makes?”

    An MLA’s job is to be a member of a legislative assembly. A ministers job is to be an executive minister and there is separate pay for this (i.e. it is not the work an MLA is currently being paid to do).

    The job that MLA’s are paid to do is to participate in discussions and debates, participate in scrutinising committees, and pass legislation. Just like in most other leglislative bodies. The legislature is a separate governmental function from the executive.

    Furthermore the ability of the MLAs to affect the decisions of NIO ministers is not much different from their ability was to affect the NI Executive ministers, i.e. very little. That is why some of the parties have emphasised that accountability to the MLAs shoud be improved.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m in favour of a shadow assembly, but the trouble is that it’s really going to be a toothless tiger. There needs to be a clear roadmap to getting the executive back on course and get devolved power up and running here.

    All of this running around won’t get us away from the problem where the DUP won’t talk to Sinn Fein. They’ll talk to unelected loyalist criminals, but won’t deal with a party with a significant mandate. This hypocrisy needs to be cut out once and for all. Time for Paisley to wear a bit of sackcloth and ashes.

  • fair_deal

    CS

    “won’t get us away from the problem where the DUP won’t talk to Sinn Fein.”

    All MLAs sat and worked on the committees of the Assembly and the Assembly itself so that will not change. It creates an all-party forum that presently doesn’t exist.

    Also there is probably scope for some legislative work to be done too. Why wait for Westminster to get round to measures like resident only parking when an assembly can get it done here and now? Such things are not earth-shattering stuff I know but better sooner than later.

    “Time for Paisley to wear a bit of sackcloth and ashes.”

    So “humiliation” is good for the process now?

  • Comrade

    If the DUP talk to SF, they would be backtracking on their mandate and would be likely to suffer for it at the next election.

  • slug

    Suspect the DUP will do committee style business with SF but not direct discussions (a la Trimble) under the present SF leadership.

  • CS Parnell

    It won’t be a “shadow” assembly. It will be the real deal. The question is about the executive. Boycott makes no sense if the assembly meets but the DUP and SF may feel it is in their interests to let the whole thing collapse so they can blame the other lot.

    In that case I hope Hain makes it plain it is shit or bust time – no executive will not mean no new set of elections. Whether he has the powers to so declare is something I don’t know the answer to.

  • CS Parnell

    sorry, I mean no executive will not mean a new set of elections. Too many negatives – the story of life in the North.

  • pacman

    I believe Hain has already signalled that there will be no get-out clause of elections.

    At the end of the day, what is the point of an all-party (or minus the Nationalists if the SDLP stick to their guns) forum. A perennial talking shop will achieve nothing of any substance.

    “Such things are not earth-shattering stuff”. Exactly, so why continue the drain on the public purse with their salaries and expenses?

    It’s long past time for the carrot and stick approach, and for once a Secretary of State doesn’t appear to be afraid to use it.

  • Ballymoney Man

    The bottom line is that the DUPers cannot have nationalists in Executive positions where they can effectively put in place positive social change and deal with outstanding issues like inequality and so on. They know that when something changes for the better in the north that it tends to stay that way and it will be extremely difficult and unlikely that the DUP will try and change it back again.
    The Executive will give parties like SF the opportunity to break further barriers, and its not that the DUP don’t want ‘taigs’ in powerful positions, they don’t want taigs who are going to provide effective and radical change as was seen when McGuinness was Education Minister. An executive with the SDLP would suit them down to the ground as the SDLP don’t like to rock the boat as much.

  • Rory

    The whole ball game in Ireland since 1966, as far as Mother England has been concerned, since that absolutely irrefutible commitment to the EU, has been “How to sell the Prods down the river with the minimum of fuss”.

    All that followed since has been as a consequence of that commitment.

    It’s been a long game of “softly, softly, catchee monkee” with the Prods.

    What is now being played is a short game with “the Shinners”.

    It always comes down to cricket, doesn’t it?

    Discuss.

  • Glen Taisie

    Ballymoney Man,

    “they don’t want taigs who are going to provide effective and radical change as was seen when McGuinness was Education Minister.”

    I must have missed the effective and radical change, Martin thanks to an excellent Head of Department (CIVIL SERVANT) ran a good show.

    To be fair Brid Rogers, Sean Farren, Carmel Hanna and Mark Durkan didn’t do much wrong.

    Bairbre was a bit of a disaster and was probably sent by Gerry to Brussels as a result, where is has been neither effective or radical.

    .

  • fair_deal

    “Sean Farren, Carmel Hanna…didn’t do much wrong.”

    Read the Audit Office report into the New Deal programme.

  • jj

    just one thing to say …note to mark james joseph here has had it if you go along with this shadow stuff and you will cos you already picked bertie as the scapegoat count me out next time and tell alban not to bother rapping the door

  • Mr Angry

    “”Sean Farren, Carmel Hanna…didn’t do much wrong.”

    Read the Audit Office report into the New Deal programme.”

    The New Deal programme had been up and running for some very considerable time before the Assembly – indeed on the day of it’s launch it was predicted it would be a financial catastrophe (see here: http://www.eiro.eurofound.eu.int/1998/04/inbrief/uk9804118n.html ).

    “Way to go” Audit Office!!