Is unrealistic, of course.. but this is part of an ongoing pattern I have to say. The Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland has now
dictated decreed decided that unless there is unanimous agreement on the business for the assembly there will be no debates scheduled. Given that Sinn Féin are boycotting debates on any subject unrelated to forming an Executive that would seem to narrow the agenda somewhat. But, along with Peter Hain’s earlier extension of the initial assembly run, it raises other issues about this version of the assembly.. and may also provide an answer to David Ford’s[sorry, misread previous post] some parties questions on what Peter Hain means by consensus.If we go back to Hain’s statement to the Commons on the recall of the assembly he gave specific reasons to Parliament for the assembly to be recalled, reasons which he now appears to have abandoned:
Our hope and intention is that the Assembly will elect an Executive within six weeks, as envisaged by Paragraph 35 of Strand One of the Good Friday Agreement. However, if this timeframe proves too short, the Assembly will have a further 12 week period after the summer in which to complete the task.
During this period, it will be open to the parties to engage in further discussion, both amongst themselves and with the Government, on improving the running of the institutions.
The Assembly will also have opportunities to prepare for Government by considering issues crucial to the future of Northern Ireland, such as the economy, and reforms to education, water charges and public administration.[emphasis added]
Also noted in that post was the NIO statement describing the Preparation for Government Committee, which Peter Hain created, and its 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.[emphasis added again]
Today, after extending the initial run of the assembly, we now have a demand for unanimous agreement from the Business Committee before Peter Hain will put forward any business to be debated in the assembly.. and if the Business Committee must be unanimous, then it stands to reason that the Preparation for Government Committee must also be unanimous first…?
But take a moment to look at the sequence of events:
Peter Hain announces the recall of the assembly.
Sinn Féin boycott assembly debates.
Peter Hain anounces new Committee.
Peter Hain changes his mind.
Peter Hain over-rules Assembly Speaker and appoints chairmen to his new committee.
Peter Hain ignores Business Committee recommendations and insists on unanimous agreement first.
A cynic would say he’s making it up as he goes along…