“What we shall look for in the next few days is delivery, not promises”

NI Questions might have gone by in a flash, but there was at least one response by the Secretary of State for Wales etc, Peter Hain, that was worth noting. In a, perhaps, surprisingly concise answer [time constraints? – Ed] he took a strong line on two issues – looking for delivery, not promises, on policing and ruling out an issue that Sinn Féin attempted to resurrect in recent days – on-the-runs.The question and answer went like this

Mr. Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Is the Secretary of State aware of how damaging it would be to the prospects for restoration if the Government were to return to the issue of on-the-run terrorists being given what amounts to an amnesty? Although we welcome the earlier answer from the Minister of State that no legislation is to be brought before the House, will the Secretary of State reassure the House and settle the nerves of my colleagues and me by assuring us that no other procedure will be used to allow on-the-run terrorists to return?

Mr. Hain: There is no other procedure. There is no prospect of an amnesty. The legislation was tried; it was withdrawn when support for it collapsed, not least in this House, and we have absolutely no intention of bringing legislation back. That, I think, should reassure the hon. Gentleman. What we shall look for in the next few days is delivery—not promises—from Sinn Fein on policing and respect for the rule of law, and then a commitment from all the parties to a power-sharing Executive.[added emphasis]

As well as the apparent sequencing envisaged by Peter Hain – which he hinted at in his Belfast Telegraph article – looking for delivery firstly on policing and then power-sharing, the line on OTRs echoes the comments by Dermot Ahern, speaking at the start of the week on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics[RealPlayer video] – approx 2.30min in – thanks to Ronan.

“To bring forward legislation, particularly in the UK, will tear parties and possibly, potentially, tear the agreement apart. And that’s one of the reasons why the governments have been very clear that the on-the-runs issue can’t be dealt with in the context of this agreement.”[added emphasis]

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  • Brenda

    Explains why no one has heard much about the issue since gerry kelly last spoke about it a few days back, IMO SF appear to have accepted this. If they haven’t they are keeping awfully quiet about it.
    The on the run legislation failed partly because of the way SF handled the whole thing. They’ll do the deal with or without the on the runs. Considerations of this sort never stopped them before.

  • POL

    Maybe it is better off being dropped,seeing as the british govt tried to use it as a means to get their murderous death squads and their handlers included in the same legislation

  • mnob

    POL – sauce for the goose – parity of esteen – no hierarchy of victims – hoisted by your own petard etc etc.

  • lib2016

    People are beginning what they hope are final discussions. It would take a very foolish person to think that anything said now will neccessarily be reflected in their final positions.

  • Wilde Rover

    Interesting point mnob. This whole parity thing needs to be resolved at this stage of the game. While not detracting from the suffering and pain caused, surely it should be time to recognize that both sides have traveled through dark places in an attempt to achieve their political goals, and that it should be left at that.

    By its very nature, the whataboutery school of political thought can only result in every sordid detail of every offence committed by both sides being morbidly labored over by the lawyers, who will doubtless grow fat on these tribunals of misery.

    And at the risk of sending many sluggites into a political coma, surely the business of a new Assembly should be dealing with bread and butter issues and the need for normalization, not sniping at one another over the previous day’s tribunal revelations.