"We understand Sinn Féin's difficulties here.."

The BBC engages in some interpretation of the Conservative Party leader’s comments for its headline on David Cameron’s visit today – as the report points out he actually said he would prefer if “the IRA went away”, but that an old boys association “would be acceptable” based on Ian Paisley’s previous comments, while he did state that Sinn Féin “must work fully with the PSNI”.

Meanwhile, in the Irish Times Gerry Moriarty focuses on the supposed “standoff between the DUP and Sinn Féin over the First Minister and Deputy First Minister pledge of office dispute [which] is causing some disquiet in Dublin and London, according to senior official and political sources.”
According to the report

The DUP is insisting that before Dr Paisley and Mr McGuinness can be deemed First Minister and Deputy First Minister designate by the scheduled date of November 24th, Mr McGuinness must sign up to a pledge of office that incorporates a commitment to support the PSNI and law and order.

Sinn Féin is arguing that it cannot by that date make such a commitment because it would be seen by republican grassroots as the Sinn Féin leadership pre-empting what decision a Sinn Féin ardfheis – which is to be held after November 24th – would take on policing.[added emphasis]

“We understand Sinn Féin’s difficulties here, but policing is a bottom line issue for us and that commitment must be there before Ian Paisley will sign up as First Minister designate. Sinn Féin have to work it out for themselves,” said one senior DUP figure.

The emphasised paragraph above is backed up by a further quote

At the weekend Mr McGuinness indicated he could sign up to a conditional pledge by November 24th but it was unclear whether this could also involve a contingent commitment on policing. “We can’t be seen to be overriding what an ardfheis might do,” said a senior Sinn Féin source.[added emphasis]

Unfortunately for anyone attempting to make that particular argument, both the Irish and British governments appear to be holding to their previous statements on this issue – repeated as recently as Tuesday via the Joint Communiqué

The two Governments paid tribute to the work of the political parties at St. Andrews and welcomed the major progress made to clear the way to restoration of the power-sharing institutions. They reiterated their belief that all parties should be able to endorse the St. Andrews Agreement and to implement it in good faith, building the trust and confidence necessary for a stable and lasting settlement. They also restated their position, as set out at St. Andrews, that support for policing and the rule of law should be extended to every part of the community; and that such support includes endorsing the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the criminal justice system, encouraging the community to co-operate with the police in tackling crime, and actively supporting all the policing and criminal justice institutions, including the Policing Board.[added emphasis]

The various parties are still to give their answers to the governments on the St Andrews Agreement by the 10th November, and as I’ve argued previously [when we get back to Kansas – Ed], that answer will encompass the paragraph on policing.. whether the Sinn Féin leadership wish to be seen to be making that decision before an Ard Fheis vote is a matter of timing, not a matter of principle.

The only way for SF to avoid the implication of keeping to the November 10th deadline for an answer from the party would be yet another application of the constructive ambiguity which has proved so successful to The Process™ in the past..

  • Anonymous

    They also restated their position, as set out at St. Andrews, that support for policing and the rule of law should be extended to every part of the community; and that such support includes endorsing the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the criminal justice system, encouraging the community to co-operate with the police in tackling crime, and actively supporting all the policing and criminal justice institutions, including the Policing Board

    the British government have to be considered as “every part of the community”

    let them turn over those involved in killing pat finucane

  • Smilin’ Jim’s Barbary Coast Travel Agency

    Yo Pedro, something for that half full glass.

    I donno if it was intented to energize the Shinners but Schwarzenegger’s campaign signs are green white and orange.

    Time will indeed tell of Arnie is a closet chuckie.

  • Pete

    Or half empty, Jim.. are you sure those colours aren’t green, white and red? :o)

    But perhaps ‘I’ll be back’ was just another way of saying ‘I haven’t gone away’..

  • smilin’ jim’s barbary coast travel agency

    Never underestimate the power of stupid peole in large groups, Pedro.

    Arne is defining himself as a saviour of the environment, hense the green. The California state flower is the orange California poppy. We are also known as the Golden State which is sort of orangish. It makes sensc once you get north of the Grapevine.

    It’s not like we’re the first group to elect an Austrian politician.

  • Anonymous

    So pressure has switched off the DUP and back to Sinn Fein. Now that the DUP have agreed to their end of the bargain, Sinn Fein have to deliver on theirs – although they are trying to get out of it by claiming that they need approval from an Ardfheis.

    I don’t remember them needing Ardfheis approval before the Good Friday agreement. This is just stalling. But they will suffer electorally if they sink this agreement – their only hope is that the IRA do something (with plausable deniability, of course) that causes the DUP to walk out in a huff.

    I’m not sure what is so Republican about scuppering an agreement that will remove British direct rule and put nationalists in power, purely because the police force was once a military target. If they scupper the agreement, the police force will still be there. The government has committed to devolving judicial powers in March 2008 (see the St Andrew’s Agreement timetable), so even that supposed obstacle is not really there.

    The more you look at it, the more it appears that Sinn Fein have got themselves into a real pickle over law and order – the same as in the South where they are forever trying to get the killers of Gardai out of jail. Or is it as simple as if they accept policing then the SDLP will gain political capital saying “we told you so”.

    My prediction – they come up with a conditional oath, the DUP say that it is OK to go ahead on that basis with the provision that the DUP will pull the thing down if Sinn Fein don’t ratify the oath by a specific date. Sinn Fein don’t ratify the oath by that date, the DUP pull the thing down and are seen as the “no” men again.

    DK

  • Anonymous

    DK: prediction? Or prospective excuse-making for the perennial ‘no’ men! SF are always in a corner. If they accept this outside of an Ard Feis (which was always their stated process), they will be accused of being autocratic and ignoring their grass roots. If they don’t accept his before Nov 24, they will face the ludicrous accusations thrown by the likes of DK. This is simply another hurdle being put by the leader of Ulster Resistance to try and get the best chance NI has had to fail.

  • Deus Ex

    DK said,

    their only hope is that the IRA do something (with plausable deniability, of course) that causes the DUP to walk out in a huff.

    I think you will find that the we scandal thing is a unionist instrument,used at any given time and used pretty often to ensure they dont have to share power with Republicans.

    Republicans will sign up to policing,Obviously everyone knows this but you DK.However they have a party structure and an Ard Fheis to convince in terms of police acceptability and an oath(which the dupers will not be drafting up nor having an input).

    However not to get away from the real laugh,which is about all the dup semantics of this. Is this a diversion tactic by the dupers trying to convince their faithful that they have delivered something when in fact they have achieved nought difference from the GFA,accept an Irish Language act.

    Its a pity we didnt realise some years ago that to get the dupers to share power with their sworn enemies,all we needed was for a Sec of State to give them a wee spanking.

    Fact is that finally the dupers have accepted that there is going to be no return to the days of unionists supremacy and thats what they have to sell to their own party and supporters,if they need the Shinners to help them do this,then so be it.

    But the real joy for me is that the dupers have accepted the GFA(with a few wee amendaments)after snipeing from the side lines for years.In effect this is how many will see it within the party and within the support,and i will sit back and watch the most backward party in this hemispere implode.

  • Paul

    So, basically, what you’re all saying is that it’s all the other side’s fault?