Sinn Fein blocking implementation of Patten?

Pete blogged a series of interviews conducted by Frank Millar with a fairly comprehensive cast of players from the current devolution drama: Gerry Adams; Ian Paisley; Peter Hain; Mitchell Reiss; and Dermot Ahern. If you want to get a handle on where we really are, all of these are worth a re-read. But the last of them, in which the Republic’s Minister for Foreign Affairs asserted that policing would not be a pre-condition for re-engagement in November, has an interesting parliamentary coda from his colleague Noel Treacy.A couple of weeks after the Irish Times interview, Treacy was asked by two Labour Deputies:

Ms McManus asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, further to his interview in a newspaper (details supplied) on 9 May 2006, the Government position on Sinn Féin supporting the PSNI and joining the Northern Ireland Policing Board, has changed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, further to his interview in a newspaper (details supplied) on 9 May 2006, he will clarify his position on Sinn Féin joining the Northern Ireland Policing Board; if the Government is demanding that Sinn Féin express its support publicly for the PSNI before the Executive is formed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position with regard to Sinn Féin joining the Northern Ireland Policing Board; if the formation of a new Executive in Northern Ireland will be accompanied by Sinn Féin signalling support for the PSNI; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Ms McManus asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to his interview in a newspaper (details supplied) on 9 May 2006, the elements of the Patten report that have to be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Treacy gives a long and detailed answer but the meat in the sandwich (as regards the previous Ahern response) is this:

….these few outstanding issues should not preclude Sinn Féin from endorsing policing. The absence of that party from the policing board and district policing partnerships is now the most significant omission in terms of implementing the Patten recommendations. In the context of the ongoing political process, support for policing remains a critical element in implementing a new political dispensation for Northern Ireland.

And yet, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin’s response a bit later on, gives no indication that Sinn Fein is even remotely ready to move on this issue:

Thankfully it will be the membership of Sinn Féin that will determine our response to policing as it presents at any given time in the North of Ireland and any plans and proposals regarding same.

  • Xabi Alonso

    This was a massive blunder by Dermot Ahern. He was either totally off-message in the Frank Millar interview, or else he betrayed the true position of the Irish Government – no movement necessary on policing before November.

  • martin

    will anyone give me odds as to s/f joining the policing board around Nov , Ó Caoláins assertion that s/f,s membership will decide that issue is almost laughable if it were not so sad, the membership of s/f dont have a say, they just follow their president for life Adams lead and I would bet we will have another presidential address “ahem a cairde republicans have to face hard choices shit again ” leading to the final nail in republican resistance to the goverance of the state of N I

  • Mick Fealty

    Xabi Alonso,

    “or else he betrayed the true position of the Irish Government”

    Surely the later statement to the Oireachtas holds?

  • Xabi Alonso

    Mick,

    While Treacy’s comments may be the official public position, the Ahern interview suggests the Irish government will settle for something less than SF supporting the PSNI/taking seats on Policing Board.

    When the issue was originally raised in the Dail by Rabbitte, Bertie Ahern used the Arsene Wenger defence by claiming not to have read the article.

  • Dk

    “The absence of that party from the policing board and district policing partnerships is now the most significant omission in terms of implementing the Patten recommendations”

    This is hardly fair on Sinn Fein – they are boycotting the DPPs as Patten is not fully implemented. It is ludicrous to say that this boycott is preventing the other outstanding elements of Patten being implemented. How else are they supposed to protest????

    But before I get too carried away – exactly what are Sinn Fein holding out for in Patten?

  • the membership of s/f dont have a say

    The fact that our position on policing can only be changed through a special Ard Fheis proves that your previous statement is bogus!

    It is the membership and only the membership who can change our position.

  • martin

    I remember the special Ard Fheis on abstentionism,1986 I think which sawthe removal of O bradaigh as president of s/f, now the rules in them far of days were each commhairle ceanntire forgive the spelling would appoint delegales. well mo cara Belfast did not have any more than two proper commhairle ceanntire,s ie, Lagan valley and A /town and both of them had only a few dedicated workers, the rest of the Belfast area were non existent in reality, but lo and behold as usual in such circumstances the dead arose, and the Mansion hall was full of dedicated delagates, and believe it or not they all voted just the way Gerry would straight up guv, The point I was trying to make mo cara was simply this all major decisions have been made and rather you like it or not thats the truth , ps can you ever recall a minor never mind a major decision going against your s/f president for life wishes catch yerself on not an ounce my arse.

  • The current rules for Ard Fheis entitlement is 2 delegates per registered cumann depending on the size, very open and transparent.

    I was trying to make mo cara was simply this all major decisions have been made and rather you like it or not thats the truth

    What point?

    Are you arguing that all major decisions were made by the Ard Fheis?

    If so I agree and that is the way it should be done, by the sanction of the membership.

    The same will happen with policing

    ps can you ever recall a minor never mind a major decision going against your s/f president for life wishes

    I know of several decisions at the last Ard Fheis that went against the wishes of the Ard Chomhairle. One was that as a precondition of any future coalition government the offences against the state act must be repealed first.

    Another occurred when Delegates rejected a motion from the Ard Chomhairle that all Sinn Féin members of SIPTU must opt out of the Political levy.

    That is what the Ard Fheis is for and the membership have never been afraid of going against the leadership if they feel a certain pathway or decision is not in the party’s best interests.

    That is a good and healthy thing for any political party.

    It is best to do some research before you try an bullshit, you would do well to remember that!

  • Xabi Alonso

    Can anyone actually say what parts of Patten haven’t been implemented?

    To the best of my knowledge, the only two outstanding elements of Patten are “more civilianisation” (i.e. getting civilians to do desk jobs and policemen onto the streets) and the outstanding disposal of former RUC properties no-longer in use.

    Hardly reasons to sty off the Policing Board.

  • Xabi Alonso

    Sinn Féin’s position is not that once Patten is implemented that we will accept policing.

    The position is that once Patten is implimented the party will call a special Ard Fheis on policing and then the membership will decide what changes or conditions Republicans will need to see before we accept any policing structure.

    The full implimentation of Patten is only the starting point, it is not endgame

  • martin

    I would do well to remember that , sounds like the old s/f to me, as I get my kneecaps altered.2 delegates per registered cumann .now as I was saying earlier there may have been registered cumann,s all over the place on paper, but in fact never met .nor dealt with any area problems, as I have said and I speak only of the northern counties, a clique of Gerry and friends (god knows who was briefing them )decided what was policy and then they organised sufficent delegates to make sure that policy was implemented , ie 1986 and so on, a few crumbs from the top table makes it look all very democratic mo cara, nothing else. again I am and so are a lot of other people waiting for a debate on collusion within the republican movement, do you think that will ever happen mo cara.

  • Xabi Alonso

    Chris Gaskin,

    So do you agree that Patten has, in effect, been implemented?

  • Thanks for a very useful clarification Chris. Though I note the paradox that Patten cannot be fully implemented until SF sign up.

  • No, Patten has not being fully implemented

  • sounds like the old s/f to me, as I get my kneecaps altered

    Straw men here we come!

    I am and so are a lot of other people waiting for a debate on collusion within the republican movement

    Why not just ask for one?

    do you think that will ever happen mo cara

    I don’t see any reason why not

  • Xabi Alonso

    Chris,

    Which of the outstanding elements of Patten are Sinn Fein waiting on?

    The disposal of PSNI property?

    Or greater civilianisation?

  • ballymichael

    xabi

    “Which of the outstanding elements of Patten are Sinn Fein waiting on?”

    Good luck, maybe you’ll get an answer. I have never, ever got a definite answer on this from an SF supporter. The charge that Patten was “watered down” is made loudly, but the specifics of how?

    Suddenly, all is silence.

    Then something is muttered about lack of democratic accountability (which needs SF participation to take place) and that the special branch is still too powerful (but the changes Patten promised on the special branch were all delivered, as far as I can see).