“If Sinn Féin is having difficulties in getting their people to support the police..”

Interesting comments reported in the Irish Times from Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern[subs req], and from the DUP leader, Ian Paisley, whose constituency Dermot Ahern was visiting yesterday..From Dan Keenan’s report in the Irish Times

Mr Ahern said the governments were continuing “intensive discussions with the parties” to unravel the difficulties which emerged earlier this week and that led to the postponement of the first official meeting between Dr Paisley and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams at Stormont on Tuesday.

In Ballymena, Mr Ahern referred to the republican position on policing and the requirement for acceptance of the PSNI to enable the restoration of the Stormont institutions. People want to move on in relation to policing,” he said.

They accept that huge reform has taken place as a result of Patten. It’s one of the most reformed police services in the western world.[added emphasis]

“The time is now for moving on, and hopefully over the next few weeks decisions will be made by Sinn Féin which will lead to devolved government.” He said the two governments’ timetable leading to devolution by March 26th can and will be met, “if there’s a willingness”.

Of course there is the not insignificant matter of a much earlier deadline that must be met first – if the British Government are to change the current legislation setting out the 24th November deadline.

As the Secretary of State for Wales, etc, has stated..

On support for policing I want to spell out to the House what that means, by quoting from paragraph 6 of the St Andrews agreement.

It means fully endorsing the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

It means actively encouraging everyone in the community to co-operate fully with the PSNI in tackling crime in all areas.

It means playing a full and active role in all the policing and justice institutions, including the Policing Board.[added emphasis]

And as Peter Hain also told the House of Commons

We have asked the parties to consult on the St Andrews Agreement and to respond by 10 November, to allow time for final drafting of the Bill to take through the House.

Once this happens, and on the basis that the St Andrews Agreement is endorsed, the Assembly will meet to nominate the First and Deputy First Minister on November 24, the deadline for a deal. [added emphasis]

And that date, or rather the 10th November – when the governments have stated they require all parties to endorse the St Andrews Agreement – is likely to be behind Ian Paisley’s reference in the Irish Times report

Dr Paisley said his party would not finalise its position on the St Andrews Agreement “until we [ have] carried out our pledge to consult widely with the party and the community. This consultation has now begun.”

He added that important aspects of the St Andrews Agreement, such as the institutions and structures of evolved government, a financial package “and equality and fairness measures for the unionist people, require more effort”. The importance of policing should not be underestimated, he added.

If Sinn Féin is having difficulties in getting their people to support the police, then they should go to the government and ask for more time, because there is no question of the DUP accepting anything less than their full support for the rule of law.“[added emphasis]

as I mentioned before.. 10th November.. tick tock