you couldn’t make it up..

The other reason for Martin McGuinness’ press conference this morning was to officially relay the decision of the SF MLA grouping on whether they would be taking their places on Hain’s Committee the new Restoration of Government Committee. The answer, it would appear, is ‘yes’ – while also calling on the DUP to participate on the committee at a leadership level. Meanwhile, the Belfast Telegraph reports that the DUP will push the Secretary of State’s deadline, of today, further into the week [as it always is with dealines here – Ed]. Worth also pointing to Martin McGuinness’s comments on why this will be in line with the previous position stated by SF.. see below.From the Irish Times breaking news report

The party’s chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, said today that Sinn Féin’s decision was in line with its policy of taking part in Assembly business aimed at securing the restoration of political institutions under the Belfast Agreement.

It is envisaged that the Preparation for Government Committee will consider proposals on how a ministerial code of ethics and a pledge of office should work at Stormont, including the suggestion that ministers will have to state their support for the police.

Among the other issues it will also examine will be the relationship between the Assembly and ministers as well as the power-sharing executive and North-South institutions.

So, just to make that clear.. SF will participate in this new committee, which, as the Secretary of State has already declared, will have a particular remit –

The initial task of the committee will be “to scope the work which, in the view of the parties, needs to be done in preparation for Government”. The committee may choose to develop this remit by consensus over time or to establish sub-groups to address particular issues.

It would be beneficial for appropriate issues, as they are identified, to be referred by this committee to the Business Committee for debate in the Assembly.[added emphasis]

An Assembly that Sinn Féin are currently, if selectively, boycotting..

And, of course, as Peter Hain also helpfully detailed in the Commons last week, the Assembly is where any decisions, by the parties collectively, are supposed to take place.. apart from the actual negotiating that is –

Mr. Hain: I believe that Sinn Fein should be at the Assembly’s public sittings along with all the other parties. I am consulting the right hon. Gentleman’s party along with the others about the proposal for a committee to prepare for restored government. I do not intend to give it any power to negotiate. I could neither do that nor force that on anyone. However, it would be helpful if there were a forum in which issues could be identified by all the parties. Negotiations will obviously take place with the Governments but there is an advantage to everyone seeing what is on the table before they take place.

It’s not just Peter Hain making it up as goes along then..

Update oh yeah.. and the Alliance Party have said yes too, reluctantly.. according to David Ford..