Gerry Moriarty reports that whilst there are some important caveats to the IMC report and the IRA can only expect to collect on the benefits (subs needed) of its “mostly justified positive British-Irish governmental spin” if its followed by a second positive report in October. But in the meantime the important questions now shift onto the capacity of the DUP to do a deal.
A maxim of this long-running peace process is that it is for Bertie Ahern to deliver the IRA through Gerry Adams and for Tony Blair to deliver the DUP through Ian Paisley. With the IRA decommissioning and declaring an end to its “armed campaign” last year and now with this “most significant” IMC paper to date, it is clear the Taoiseach is fulfilling his part of the contract. But Tony Blair’s attempt to bring the highly unpredictable DUP leader aboard the power-sharing train is proving a tricky business.
There are still many pundits who insist the Doc will “never, never, never” treat with Sinn Féin, regardless of how much the IRA eschews violence and criminality. But senior British government people reply that no, this is not the case: that Dr Paisley is deliverable, that DUP MPs travelling to Killarney and Peter Robinson talking about a settlement that meets the demands of “Planter and Gael” isn’t just for show.
But the DUP still requires considerable coaxing. And that was why Mr Blair – who, with John Prescott and some of his other under-achieving cabinet colleagues, must have many pressing matters to concern him – took considerable time out yesterday to provide interviews to the BBC, UTV and RTÉ to stress the importance of this IMC document.
Given that it seems to have been Sinn Fein which drew the line under the negotiations back in December 2004. The focus and sticking point then was the price for decommissioning – visibility. Now that decomm is more or less done, there is nothing substantial holding back the parties from finally consumating a deal.
Provided there are no more skeletons lurking in the cupboard, Danny Morrison may yet have to eat that metaphorical hat!
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