It’s all about policing

While the DUP leader Ian Paisley has reiterated his position on policing as Mick noted here, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has echoed the previous comments by Foreign Affairs Minister, Dermot Ahern, and Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, and called for a “clearer message” from Sinn Féin about policing but not necessarily supporting the police publicly before an executive is formed – in line with Dermot Ahern’s call for “an understanding that there is a move toward full acceptance of policing.”From the Irish Times[subs req]

Bertie Ahern said Sinn Féin need not join the Policing Board or voice support for the PSNI before any new executive is formed. But he said it should make clear its intentions to “play their role” in policing. “I do think that a clear message [ is needed] as we go forward – or maybe I should say, correctly, a clearer message going forward – that they will take and play their role in policing, as they have previously undertaken to do,” he said.

His remarks follow comments in The Irish Times last week by DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley in which he stated bluntly that no political progress was possible until Sinn Féin backed the PSNI. “The talks have no future until everyone who is going to be in the government of Northern Ireland is a complete and total supporter of the police,” he said.

Speaking in Dublin before Fianna Fáil’s 80th anniversary celebrations, Mr Ahern said: “Ultimately, the position has to be that policing is devolved, and that government plays its role in it. I don’t see the devolvement of policing powers before that. The ‘message’ [ about SF’s future intentions] could well be before that,” he added.

“I don’t think we are going to see the whole policing issue resolved before we see the executive resolved, but Sinn Féin’s attitude to policing will be important.”

It falls short of the requirement Ian Paisley stated in his interview in the Irish Times, but it fits with the pattern from both the Irish and British Governments who seem to be easing back on the pressure on individual parties before the November deadline.

Interestingly, though, the Irish Times also notes Bertie Ahern’s comments on RTÉ

Speaking earlier on RTÉ, the Taoiseach said failure to agree to form an executive by the two governments’ November 24th deadline could mean the opportunity being lost for decades. “If we can’t do it in six months, then we’re unlikely to do it this side of the next 20 years.”

The choice of referring to a 20 years wait would, of course, take us 10 years beyond a certain centenary anniversary.

If we go back to the deadline, and while the public statements today are emphasising the absolute nature of that date, it’s also worth remembering what Secretary of State Peter Hain has said over the past week

“If they go to one minute past midnight in the expectation that we’re going to blink, well we won’t blink first. Now, if they then decide voluntarily to go on the dole, sack their staff, close down their advice centres, and then come back to me after one month, two months, three months, six months, and say, ‘We think we got it wrong, now we’re ready to run it again’, well my door’s always open. But I’m not going to be chasing after them.”

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  • seabhac siulach

    It is clear that Sinn Fein will support the new policing arrangements only when the executive is formed…and policing powers devolved to it…
    Using policing as a precondition, or as an attempt to delay the formation of the executive, as the DUP are now doing, smacks of deep political cynicism…when we all know that the formation of the executive and Sinn Fein’s acceptance of the police are two things that will happen together…one will not occur before the other and the DUP know this. They are being told this.
    All that is required (by the Govts.) from Sinn Fein is some statement in advance, perhaps a commitment to join the policing board, but as we see, the DUP are busily attempting to sabotage such a move before it has even begun…

    The DUP’s whole strategy appears to be one of stalling and waiting (for what?)…the deadline of November must also be forgotten seeing as how Paisley ‘dismissed’ it in the Irish Times on Sat.
    There will be no movement before November then…and more stalling from the DUP…
    They are playing silly games, perhaps being comfortable with the idea of Direct Rule continuing and their increased representation in Westminister. There may be a political price to pay for this in the long run…

  • Overhere

    and if Sinn Fein do comply and make a committment to Policing the DUP will simply come up with another pre-condition.

    The last time the pre-condition was for the IRA to disappear. After that happened now we have this pre-condition. Howe many pre-conditions can they pull out of the bag before the two governments call their bluff.

    “We will not form a government until all those in Sinn Fein march on the twelve of July with Orange sashes”,(The way things are going it is not as far fetched a pre-condition as you might think)

  • Occasional Commentator

    Just as the SDLP say they’ll take part in debates to test the government willingness to listen, SF could test the police by giving some support over the next few months. One sign of this was their call for the alleged kidnappers of Bobby Tohill to turn up at the courts. The next thing might be asking witnesses to give statements to the police.

    This would give the DUP the cover to sign up to the Executive, which would then allow SF to join the Policing Board.

  • Stephen Copeland

    A much cleverer ploy would be for SF to say that they will give their support to the PSNI when the Oversight Commission can report that all of Patten’s recommendations have been implemented.

    This mirrors perfectly the DUP insistence on the IMC giving SF a clean report before they will even think about any movement.

    The two ‘independent’ bodies, and their two reports would then act as perfect counter-balances.

  • heck

    there should be no support for the PSNI/courts/prosecution service until the issue of collusion is addressed.

  • BogExile



    In a move which will spark dissent amongst the ranks, Sinn Fein today declared themselves ‘unmoved’ by calls from the rank and file muntership to fully support and endorse terrorism.

    Said spokeshood Gerard Lynch-Mob: ‘We will make the necessary moves to commit to joining physical force politics but only after the PSNI have been completely decommissioned in line with the Good Friday Agreement. It is they who are standing in the way of criminality, racketeering, recreational joyriding and drug taking. They know what they have to do.’

    There will be an editiorial on this subject as soon as Richard McCauley’s fax arrives.