Brown will put NI on the back burner…

Mark Hookham with a possible future scenario of Brown Premiership, it seem Northern Ireland is not likely to feature highly in his planned first 100 days of shock and awe policy assault. Thereafter, presumably, Northern will likely drift back into pre-1968/9 obscurity.

,

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    Strictly speaking that’s not Mark Hookham’s scenario… it’s Hain’s.

    More big stick waving from the perma-tanned one..

  • Dec

    More big stick waving from the perma-tanned one..

    Doesn’t make it necessarily any less true. Is Brown seriously going to expend any energy (apart from half-hearted window-dressing)on this place in the limited time available to him?

    However, that being said, Brown becoming PM isn’t exactly set in stone. Denis Healey, anyone?

  • Pete Baker

    The idea that, should the November deadline pass, issues such as policing – the remaining stumbling block – will be put on a shelf for ten years as Hain has suggested is, frankly, ludicrous.

  • JD

    Pete,

    Policing is not the remaining stumbling block, the DUP has aready moved on to their next obstacle. This is about the DUP and unionisms’ refusal to share power with SF. Always has and always will be until a stand is taken by a British Government to face down their intransigence.

  • Pete Baker

    JD

    I’m not interested in this thread in debating who’s to blame.. the point is that policing, and support for policing, remains an important issue.

    Even if November passes there will still be pressure for that issue to be resolved.

  • slug

    “The idea that, should the November deadline pass, issues such as policing – the remaining stumbling block – will be put on a shelf for ten years as Hain has suggested is, frankly, ludicrous. ”

    Agreed.

  • Mick Fealty

    JD,

    NOt according to Gerry.

    As one DUP member remarked to Slugger just after Leeds Castle, there is only one way home and Sinn Fein know what way that is. He didn’t, as I recall, venture a guess at how long it would take.

    But considering David Trimble thought going into the Executive would get him decommissioning by May 2001, it would not pay anyone to be too over optimistic about how long it will take to satisify the DUP the time is right to deal with SF.

    As someone else noted last week on Slugger Paisley may get his sackcloth, if not quite the ashes he was looking for. Prepare for another long and grinding road.

  • seabhac siulach

    “Even if November passes there will still be pressure for that issue to be resolved.”

    If November passes with no agreement, and the Brit. and Irish govts. are true to their word (not likely, perhaps), then direct rule will continue and there will in reality be no realistic chance of fresh initiatives in the six counties until after the 26 county elections next June (assuming a Fianna Fail victory…if Fine Gael win all bets are off…). So, in this scenario, where agreeing to policing will bring zero political benefits to Sinn Fein, but all the risks, why should they do it? They are on record as saying they will sign up to policing (well, will call special Ard Fheis) once the Brit. govt. implements the agreed legislation devolving security/policing powers to Stormont.
    It is more likely that, while these issues remain outstanding, there will merely be stalemate and a freeze on any discussions relating to policing…at least until well into next year (and depending on the new administration in Dublin, Fine Gael/Labour/Greens…postentially indefinitely). One must remember that it was under the last Fine Gael administration that the ceasefire broke down and it was only when Fianna Fail were re-elected (June 1997) that the peace process got back on track again.

  • Greenflag

    Brown or no Brown -NI is heading for the back burner anyway .

    A decade of relative political obscurity and continuing further relative economic emisseration in comparison to it’s neighbours is all that’s needed to bring NI into the 20th century 🙁

    ‘The idea that, should the November deadline pass, issues such as policing – the remaining stumbling block – will be put on a shelf for ten years as Hain has suggested is, frankly, ludicrous.’

    Why ludicrous ?

    Flashback -1974 ,

    ‘The idea that should the Sunningdale Agreement fail issues such as the governance of NI , police reform , power sharing and other stumbling blocks -will be put on a shelf for 30 years as some are saying is frankly ludicrous .’

    In Northern Ireland -ludicrous -has been known to happen . Where else in modern Europe is a ranting clerical fundamentalist elected as leader of it’s largest party , and potential Prime /First Minister ? Where else in Europe have the leaders of the two main parties not met each other face to face EVER in direct negotiations despite an ongoing political conflict now in it’s 38th year ?

    Yet we still have both sovereign governments telling both NI party leaders that they must share power when it’s obvious to all that one party has no intention ever of sharing power ?

    As I said -ludicrous -happens .

    Not in only in NI of course, but somehow in NI they have somehow managed to make the ludicrous seem just ridiculous and the ridiculous even acceptable 🙁

    Roll on repartition and an end to nonsense in NI politics .

  • George

    Pete,
    “The idea that, should the November deadline pass, issues such as policing – the remaining stumbling block – will be put on a shelf for ten years as Hain has suggested is, frankly, ludicrous.”

    There is no reason whatsoever why Brown has to put any of his time into solving policing and other such issues in Northern Ireland.

    If he becomes PM, he’ll leave it to the elected representatives in NI and to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

    As Hain said, if SF and the DUP want an Assembly let them sort it out amongst themselves and let everyone know when they have.

    The same can be said of policing. Let them sort it out.

    What has Brown to gain from bothering with SF and the DUP?

    The future is laid out as clear as day to the powers that be in Dublin and London and their respective electorates are quite happy with things as they are.

    Virtually no one south of the border gives a toss about Stormont and most people across the water probably couldn’t tell you what it is.

  • Greenflag

    George .

    ‘Virtually no one south of the border gives a toss about Stormont ‘

    Ouch -but true .

    ‘and most people across the water probably couldn’t tell you what it is. ‘

    Ouch again -but true

    And those who do know see it as a political zoo with the various animal species living in separate cages 🙁

  • lib2016

    So we are all agreed that it will shortly be up to the NI parties? Then surely we should look at how this will affect their positions-

    Sinn Fein can coast for the short-term on the basis of needing all their resources for the election next year in the South. In the medium term they will need to show some advances in the North but that may come in the results of elections for the new local areas. They will have electoral needs to employ all their resources and need not worry about competition from either the dissidents or the SDLP for the next few years, after that no-one can be sure.

    It has been claimed that the DUP want an Assembly election soon to finish off the UUP. Anyone know if this is true? In the medium term the position of unionism continues to weaken steadily. It will be interesting to see how many previous UUP votes transfer to the DUP, or if there is a return to multiple unionist parties as happened when the Assembly was first set up.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nothing from Blair on Northern Ireland. This is a past tense issue in Westminster at least.

  • JD

    Pete

    By focusing policing as the outstanding issue you are attempting allocate blame, as I am doing by pointing out that DUP intransigence is the only outstanding issue.

    Republicans will only by into policing arrangements once control of policing is being taken away from the mandarins in Whitehall and Stormont Castle. Agreement must be reached on the issue of transfer of powers or any Special Ard Fheis is pointless. If November 24th passes, without a move by the DUP, I agree that the issue of how our communities are policed does not go away. Powers could be transferred to an intergovernmental body in conjunction with the powers of the DPPs under the super council model being significantly increased. Otherwise if the key element of power transfer is not addressed then a new beginning to policing has still not been achieved.

  • Mick Fealty

    JD,

    That’s an interesting idea.

    The problem is that such an initiative would require fresh inputs of political capital, which just aren’t going to be made available again.

    I agree with Pete, to a limited extent that Hain’s comment contains more than a touch of hyperbole. But after November 24th there will be no more government funded process: only the Belfast Agreement, if the means or more importantly local political will can be found to facilitate it.

    There is, in that time honoured phrase, no Plan B.

    I sense that the blame game has either already been won/lost, or it simply does not matter anymore.

  • slug

    Mick

    I think the policing issue is probably as effective a reason for the DUP as decommissioning was for the UUP, if not moreso, because nobody can say that support for policing is a “red herring” in the way that they did about decommissioning. Support for policing is a simple test that people from a wide range of types can understand and sympathise with. It also makes a difference, in that, when policing is supported by Sinn Fein, it will make a difference to the overall quality of public administration of law.

    The fact is that everyone knows that the process is nearly there, with just a few remaining issues, one main one of them policing. The parameters for a deal are set. Its a question – as Frank Millar noted in the Irish Times – of when both sides feel comfortable with it. That may not be November, but I guess that as time goes on it will get easier for both.

    So the notion that after Nov 24th there will be no further possibilities for the government of the day to sort things out is rather dumb to say the least, because getting Northern Ireland sorted is important in terms of putting to an end a dispute that resulted in thousands of lost lives and vast economic costs.

  • JD

    Mick,

    There is a Plan B, Hain has already said that much of the work on has been completed between the two Governments at it will be announced jointly if November 24th passes without movement. He will not be drawn on it, as to do so lessens that likelihood of movement and becomes a distraction in the upcoming talks.

  • lib2016

    The NI problem will not stand still simply because one abandons the blame game or gives up on unionist involvement in pozersharing nor will the present leaderships last forever. Neither the Irish nor the British government can afford to stand idly by while new paramilitaries rise up.

    Northern Ireland was left to its own devices for 50 years and that is one solution which will definitely not be tried again. There will be active government involvement here for the medium term at least.

  • harpo

    ‘Where else in modern Europe is a ranting clerical fundamentalist elected as leader of it’s largest party , and potential Prime /First Minister ?’

    Greenflag:

    I know the answer. The Vatican has such a guy as it’s head of state.

    And I don’t recall there being any free elections there while you’re on the subject.

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    And while they’re looking for a political will, the Oversight Commissioner will continue to report on how the Patten recommendations are being implemented and 50/50 recruitment will continue. Policing, unlike some of the political parties, will not be standing still.

  • slug

    Pete

    And as the 50/50 thing proceeds there is an increase of 2%/annum in the % of Catholics in the PSNI. Thus in only 2 years time it will be about 25% Catholic. Each year it becomes easier (harder) for Sinn Fein to (not to) back them.

  • Yokel

    Hain is misinformed.

    Brown would happily put his effort into a deal in order to get the kudos out. Hain isn’t part of Brown’s inner circle and Brown’s unit have spoken to the DUP.

  • ultonian

    For those who haven’t worked it out yet. SF never wanted and don’t need Stormont. For them it represents a clear failure of the republican quest. Belfast Agreement = Stormont = Partition. that was trimble’s real victory, SF in Stormont and will be the DUP’s greatest defeat – they (the DUP) will successfully keep SF out.

    Plan B is simple greater North South co operation, no Stormont, SF do well in a ROI election based on “Paisley won’t let us into Stormont”. Possibly followed by some cleaver ruse by SF of running their abstentionist MPs for the Dail.

    All wrapped up in a Anglo Irish Agreement mk II with stromng Westminster – Dail arrangements. Sovereignty does change but authority or management does.

    As has always been the case the DUP will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!

  • Greenflag

    Harpo,

    ‘I know the answer. The Vatican has such a guy as it’s head of state. ‘

    I don’t recall ever suggesting that the Vatican is a modern european democracy or that the RC Church is a democratic institution . IIRC it neither purports to be or pretends to be either .

    The fact that you think it is can only mean that

    a) You have no understanding of what a modern European democracy is ir aspires to be and

    b) Your understanding of the RC Church and it’s institutions is less than your knowledge of the mating habits of sea bed anemones .

    How’s your igloo coming along . Winter soon 🙂

  • harpo

    ‘I don’t recall ever suggesting that the Vatican is a modern european democracy’

    Greenflag:

    Me neither. What does this have to do with your reference to ‘modern Europe’? You never mentioned democracy.

    ‘a) You have no understanding of what a modern European democracy is ir aspires to be’

    I do, but you didn’t mention democracies. Thus my referring to somewhere that is in modern Europe, but isn’t a democracy.

    ‘b) Your understanding of the RC Church and it’s institutions is less than your knowledge of the mating habits of sea bed anemones .’

    I know nothing about the latter, but plenty about the former. I never did say it was a democracy.

    ‘How’s your igloo coming along’

    I don’t have one. Why do you ask? Are you building one?