Ahern and Blair meet to lay out Autumn timetable

Hope you are still awake at the back!! Tony and Bertie meet in Belfast today to lay out the timetable for re-deployment. Pravda reports Ahern saying that if they cannot get an answer by November we could be talking 2010 before there is a functioning government in Northern Ireland. It looks like the local MLAs will have precious little to say for themselves after weeks of barracking in committee. The Belfast Telegraph has a useful review of what’s outstanding:

Many still question whether either the DUP or Sinn Fein are up for a deal that neither Mr Blair nor Mr Ahern themselves would countenance. For unionists, the next IMC report on the IRA will be crucial, but for Sinn Fein, the prospect of greater north-south co-operation and a decisive role in the Dail could be more attractive than a troublesome Stormont partnership. The hope is that the two premiers can get the parties, and people, to face up to the realities of the situation, as supporters of devolution. Threats and bribes, to force agreement, will provide no long-term answers.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Not just Pravda, Mick.

    Today’s Irish Times reports that:

    Mr Ahern told UTV’s political editor Ken Reid yesterday evening that if the parties couldn’t find agreement more than three years after the Assembly was suspended and after three years of “sustained” attempts to restore Stormont, then “we are not likely to see [ a deal] in this decade”.

    “We have an opportunity, probably the last opportunity in a long, long time, certainly the last opportunity that I will be engaged in in the foreseeable future,” said Mr Ahern.

    “I think if we fail on setting up the Executive now it’s gone for light years away.”

    Thats a pretty clear hint that either there is a deal by November 24 or Plan B will be the next generation’s inheritance.

  • Mick Fealty

    Plan B = RPA?

  • lib2016

    Plan A was implementation of the GFA. Plan B is implementation of the GFA with minor amendments to Strand 1.

    No-one serious has suggested that the referendum will be re-run, much less that it be ignored. Unionism has never willingly accepted any movement towards democracy but this time it seems time may be running out, as it did for Southern unionists in 1920.

  • Stephen Copeland

    I don’t know if they’re going to tell us the details of Plan B today – it might seem a little pre-emptive since we still have 5 months of game-playing to endure before D-Day [you can pick your own interpretation of D – defeat, disaster, decommissioning of the GFA, descent into anarchy, Dublin rule, … ).

    My own thoughts are that Plan B will be the RPA with beefed up powers for the Councils, direct rule that strongly co-operates with Dublin, almost to JA levels, and a major shake-up for a lot of other things. Plan B will not be a UI, but it will be sore for unionism. In other words, the price of excluding Sinn Féin will be including Dublin.

  • lib2016


    What is continually underestimated on this blog is the strength of feeling amongst moderate ‘gardencentre’ unionists and their drift towards post-unionism.

    My evidence may be anecdotal but I believe that anticlericalism will destroy unionism just as surely as it did the old Nationalist Party.

  • Stephen Copeland


    … strength of feeling amongst moderate ‘gardencentre’ unionists …

    The turn-out figures certainly indicate that they are disengaged, but because of that very disengagement we don’t really know what they are thinking. We hear a lot of anecdotal evidence, such as that businesspeople are quite relaxed about north-southery, and so on, but so far nothing that has really impacted on the wider consciousness.

  • Greenflag

    What’s with the 5 months ?

    The’ve had 40 years to fart about .

    Enough is enough .

    Close it down now .

    Forget plan B and move on to Plan C

    Repartition .

    A 30 county Irish Republic can be just as prosperous as a 26 county Republic .

    Time for Irish nationalists to take another direction . As far away from Unionism as is politically possible . Political and economic decay is contagious .

  • lib2016

    Unionism is in crisis and its majority is restricted to a few country market towns. There is no viable NI left, not even a 2-county version.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    I’m beginning to suspect that you are committed to a repartition scenario – that is to say repartition has become your first choice.

    Personally, I think repartition is a nightmare scenario – and I say that as a nationalist who could reasonably expect to be voting in Dail elections after such a carve-up. It should only be countenanced in the direst circumstances, such as in the event that genocide might occur. It certainly should not be considered as a means of avoiding the hard work and challenges that reunification WILL entail, much less as a short-term land grab.

    How would you tell the hurlers of the glens of Antrim that they are expendable? Or the Catholics of Ballymena? And what would happen to Belfast – second city of Ireland and half nationalist?

    What exactly does your repartition scenario entail? You frequently talk about a two-county NI – presumably Antrim and Down, yes? Including Newry and most of South Down? (In fact geographically, more than half of Co Down is majority nationalist.) Meanwhile the Republic gets Portadown and Coleraine and Castlederg? Great…

    Repartition is about as good an idea as partition was – and just as long-sighted, courageuous and moral too.

    I take it from your moniker that you are a nationalist, or at least would like to give the impression that you are? So how come you are aping this classically imperialist strategy?

  • Greenflag

    I’m beginning to suspect that you are committed to repartition – that is to say repartition has become your first choice’

    Brilliant observation BG 🙂

    ‘How would you tell the hurlers of the glens of Antrim that they are expendable? ‘

    I would’nt . They would still play in the All Ireland Hurling league and their political position will not be much different than it is today . In any event it should be a neutral international agency that would draw up a new border not the British or Irish Governments or NI politicians ‘

    You frequently talk about a two-county NI -‘

    I usually try to term it a two county ‘size’ rather than 2 county as in Antrim and Down . I’m sure that South Down would end up being ceded to the Republic. The cartographers, census takers and statisticians would be responsible for the detail . The Whitehall mandarins update their ‘repartition’ scenario maps every couple of years so it’s not as if the possibilty has been considered. I don’t see why a neutral international agency could not complete the job within 3 months working with recent census figures and population extrapolations .

    ‘And what would happen to Belfast – second city of Ireland and half nationalist? ‘

    Slightly more difficult than other areas but inevitably West Belfast would end up in the Irish republic and East Belfast in the new Unionist State .

    ‘I take it from your moniker that you are a nationalist’

    That’s right, a civic minded , moderate nationalist .

    ‘So how come you are aping this classically ‘
    imperialist strategy?

    I’m not . The classic imperialist strategy is in fact being aped by those who wish to impose a 32 county All Ireland Republic over the heads of 850,000 British Unionists who have no desire to be part of such a Republic, and also by those British Unionists who insist on maintaining a 6 county NI State despite the fact that 750,000 Northern Ireland nationalists object to the very existence of that State .

    Imperialism means rule without the consent of the governed or more usually consent arrived at by the threat of force.

    Let me put it to you like this BG . Do you believe that it would be worth it to see your children or family members lose their lives for the sake of a UI or to preserve a 6 county NI State ?

    I don’t . Which is why I happen to believe that if people differ so much between themselves on the constitutional status and future of the area they live in then it makes absolute political sense to divide that area as far as is possible between the parties.