Where’s the pressure for agreement?

Newton Emerson, writing in yesterday’s subscription bound Irish News, but available via the excellent Newshound, makes the not unreasonable point that for all the public posturing in his MacGill Summer School speech, or for that matter his subsequent speech to the press on Monday, the stick waving by the Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, has produced little tangible evidence of any real pressure on the DUP to change their current position on forming an executive.. or, for that matter, on Sinn Féin on policing..From Newton’s article:

Meanwhile, Mr Hain’s wide-ranging reforms will continue – because they are necessary to the long-term viability of Northern Ireland.

So why shouldn’t the DUP sit on the sidelines in comfortable, complaining opposition while others take the hard choices, rather than sitting in Stormont taking the blame?

A viable Northern Ireland is what unionism wants and Ian Paisley can step forward to inherit its government once the real work is done. If Mr Hain has any idea how to make him step forward one moment sooner, then he has certainly yet to reveal it.

The only additional points I’d make is that, firstly, in the same speech, Peter Hain attempted to relax rather than continue the pressure on Sinn Féin to make the necessary moves on policing.

That fitted in with previous comments on this issue from both governments, namely that there is an expectation of a “clearer message”, and “an understanding that there is a move toward full acceptance of policing” from Sinn Féin.. but let’s not talk about it in the meantime..

The other point is that, while Peter Hain may talk about joint stewardship, the British government’s NI spokesman in the Lords has been making clear that such an arrangement will be strictly limited

Meanwhile, negotiations with the UDA continue