Adams “not in a position” to propose holding a special ardfheis on policing

In the Irish Times, Mark Hennessy notes[subs req] Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams’ comments yesterday on the party’s internal consultation, “Up to 60 meetings have been held since and a small number remains outstanding”, and a party spokeswoman briefs him on the conditions under which Adams will call that Ard Fheis on policing

Sinn Féin said last night that Mr Adams was “not in a position” to propose holding a special ardfheis on policing to the ardchomhairle until a date for the devolution of policing powers to Stormont was agreed, and until the British government enacts other policing legislation after November 16th.

In addition, an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party over the way in which government departments in Northern Ireland will operate subsequently will also be necessary, a Sinn Féin spokeswoman told The Irish Times.

Which will make responding to the governments on the St Andrews Agreement by November 10th difficult..

Tick tock

, ,

  • Yokel

    There is one thing we are missing at the moment and that is an idea of what way the UK goverment will swing on this. Do they believe this SF commitment to policing has to be in place before all this ministers but not minsiters, devolution but not devolution blah blah thing or not? Thats really the key because their choice will decide who the blame game will focus.

    From what I have been told, any Westminster consensus left on NI will go to the wall if the UK government dont stand on the idea that a commitment to policing has to come first.

    Paisley, by the looks of it, has much of the Unionist electorate sewn up on StAA. He will go over the heads of his own No To The Power of Infinity wing by using the results of this consultation business to back him up.

    Within that context, Dodd’s no policing devolution for a generation business is just one hell of an odd statement. Either the DUP think they are holding solid cards or Dodds was stupid. Despite what people have been saying, I haven’t heard from people who hang around UUP & DUP circles that the DUP are really struggling overall to sell the deal to the people who matter, i.e. their electorate. There was always people who wouldn’t buy this deal in the DUP as there are always was going to be some within Sinn Fein who wouldn’t buy it either. Both parties know this.

  • Frustrated Democrat


    So he has the unionist electorate sewn up………I from where I am am taking soundings would have to disagree. I think if he proceeds he will have a split in the party, there are many who do not agree with the St.AA within the DUP and the FP’s.

    From my own viewpoint it is a worse document than the GFA and has carried on the concession road too far. Trimble had the balance much better and would have made it work but for the DUP and now the unionists have lost further ground … so much for protecting the Union RIP has pulled it down brick by brick everytime he opened his mouth over the past 40 years.

    Come back Sunningdale all is forgiven, what would we do for you now?

  • ciaran damery

    SS/RUC are an unacceptable part of the equation. The Unionist militia who masquarade as ‘police’ will NEVER be tolerated by Irish people in occupied Ireland. We can never forget that the Uncle Toms in sdlp supported the vile RUC throughout the war and despite the well documented collusion between SS/RUC and their ‘illegal’ cousins within Unionist terrorism. Sdlp are Uncle toms who have the unmitigated audacity to claim that they are an Irish party. But we know better. The Uncle toms wil be shown the door at the next election, and even that will be too late. Beiridh Bua!

  • Yokel

    FD, you misread my point. Some of his party and the FP’s do not constitute anywhere near the bulk of the unionist electorate that gave Paisley such a dominant position never mind. Add to those who wouldn’t vote for him or his party but are broadly in favour of the StAA.

    You also have to look at where the DUP where before the meteoroic rise in their votes. Apart from perhaps Paisley in N. Antrim, they had Robinson and for a time McCrea. Robinsons vote isn’t exactly Free P dominated at all, its dominated by his personality politics and McCrea the Mid Ulster business was that he was the Unionist candidate. Even then the dedicated Free P’s were not constituting the bulk of the DUP vote. As a proortion they are even fewer now.

  • Yokel

    Nice to see Ciaran damery back. Bless.

    He reminds me of Wolfie Smith…Freedom for Tooting!

  • Token Dissent

    Whereas I agree with Yokel that the FPs are a small group within the DUP, I believe that the wider influence of conservative/evangelical Protestantism has to be observed.

    Paisleyism would never have amounted to anything if had solely relied on the FPs. Its strength is from the coalition of the populism personified by Robinson, with its broad cross-denominational appeal to conservative Protestants.

    This appeal is especially strong within the mainstream Presbyterian Church in many rural DUP heartlands.

    Any query about the impact of the (probable) St Andrews agreement on the DUP’s religious base has to look far beyond the FPs.

  • Pete Baker

    It’s interesting that the discussion has focussed on the DUP’s reported difficulties… while the comments quoted in the original post, delaying the moment at which that party might attempt to broach the subject of policing, come from Sinn Féin..

  • WindsorRocker

    Nobody wants to talk about poor old Sinn Fein and how they still don’t want to sign up to policing, if you have a scapegoat who was up for a kicking in the past then why not kick them again a la the DUP.

    The crux of this is that SF want legislation which will put a timeframe on devolving policing and justice regardless of what the broad NI community think. Therefore they can say to their base that any police service they sign up to will be an Irish police service and not one controlled by Westminster…….

    The rest of us just want the representatives of 25% of the population of NI to sign up to law and order, form a government and then we’ll let people see if we’re good enough to get policing powers.

    I personally think that whilst arms was a test that the government could water down for Sinn Fein… i.e. by tying it in with troop reduction, lettting it be done in secret, policing is an entirely different kettle of fish. The govt have already watered down policing to get nationalists on board and any further concessions to get Sinn Fein on board would mean measures that the average middle of the road 5’8″ would deem as loony and dangerous to the safety of ordinary people.

    The barrel of policing has been scraped, the RUC are gone. Officers can’t do anything half controversial without the Ombudsman breathing down their neck. We have a Policing Board full of political appointees and DPPs which are specifically structured to encourage homogenous policing. The government have no fig leaf to give Sinn Fein on this one. It’s a hard choice for a change.

  • Dicey

    Gerry can’t ‘go to the people’ until he’s sure the answer will confirm their support of policing. If he loses the vote he’ll lose political face and may even face a challenge to his leadership. This is all obvious stuff!

    To solve the problem he may have to hold out for the ultimate HM govt policing “cave-in”. The RUC organisation has gone but some of the personnel remain so the “cave-in” will comprise things that will change this and the ethos of policing completely. Ultimately this my have to mean something of the magnitude of training police north and south of the border together; all police officers who served in the RUC be made an offer to leave – one that they can’t refuse; a change of uniform / appearance! The policing slate will then have been wiped clean in the (fading) nazcho memory and SF supporters will have no choice but to support him.

    If he feels strong enough he may try to force the issue with this type of change promised on the long finger. In my view SF would be better in there now, effecting change from within.

    The question then is one of timescale and what to do with any crises that arise meantime. If they’re prepared, and get the chance, to wait all the old-hands will be retired and policing, which is constantly changing worldwide and in modern circumstances very fast, will have moved on anyway..

  • Cynic

    er…just a tiny problemette Dicey…..

    It isnt only Gerry that has to be accommodated. Unfortunately it still hasnt dawned on some republicans that there’s still an awful lot of Prods up North who want their say too (on policing and other issues).

    One of the reasons Gerry is on the back foot at the moment is that, after making / being forced to make all the concessions, the Prods are fed up and want to see some committment from SF.

    Gerry on the other hand is trapped beween the loss of the soft green vote, who want to get on with life and want a deal, and the loss of the hard green vote who havent yet realised that they lost the war! It’s time for a hard choice – something SF have managed to avoid so far.

  • guillaume


    Your name contradicts your opinion.
    Gerry is not trapped anywhere.Don’t you know that he’s been smelling the roses since 98 and the first ST.Andrews Agreement.

    The DUP on the other hand and I hope you agree that it is one body with the Sdlp and the UUP/we want to be conservatives but the conservatives are not,playing their little game of footsie;have nothing to say except that ‘we have nothing to say to you’.Intersesting watching Dodds on Hearts and Minds the other night.Clearly a better debater than Gerry Kelly but honesty rips shite to shite when Kelly said that this is going back to the 60’s.
    If they do not want to share power then the andrews is dead.If they don’t want to devolve policing by 2008 then Andrews is no lazarus.If they don’t want to talk to sinn fein/I’ve gone away then the Andrews is gone to Hell.
    Joint power nice and slowly as the taioseach as recently confided to an Unimportant republican is the way.AN Sli.

  • Cynic


    We are long past the 60’s now – or we can be if the politicians will do some politics. The problem is that that will demand action on both sides and my point remains.

    Gerry has been smelling of roses since 1995 but now the mildew is showing. There has always been an internal contradiction in SF’s position – I dont envy them it or wish them it – but it’s there. They accepted the GFA. Inherent in that was acceptance of the constitutional position of Northern Ireland and its institutions of which PSNI is one. All the flim flam about an imminent United Ireland has helped conceal it but its still there. Now, whatever the wording or choreography, SF need to sign up to policing or the process stops.

    If they do sign up they risk a reaction from their militant base who are starting to waken up to the fact that they are history.

    If they dont sign up, they may lose many of the softer nationalist vote who could accept them while they were seen to be on a constitutional path. Many in the Unionist community – including those who supported GFA and still want a deal – may then also conclude that SF never had (or have) any real intention to honour GFA committments or play real politics.

    If that isn’t being in a corner, what is? Unless, of course, SF were never really interested in a deal in the first place, but I dont see it that way. They want a deal. They want power and they want to pursue their aims politically….but to do that there will be some political pain this time.

  • Alan

    It seems that the electorates view is being overlooked considerably by SF. The soft nationalist voters want peace and security the same as the soft loyalist vote.

    Policing communities is a fundamental requirement in any civilised society and the so called “soft” voters will let hardliners know when the next round of elections come up.

    When UUP and SDLP move back to being the premier parties representing loyalist and nationalist communities then I suspect we shall see the real SF raise its ugly head again. I do not believe SF have it in them to be just political and I do not believe it would be long until they took up their old ways (the words “leapard” and “spots” spring to mind).

    The DUP would then return to saying “NO” to everything and we will have the status quo restored.

    This is the pessimistic forecast for the next few years. rain rain rain – when can these so called politicians start acting like politicians – there are a lot of ordinary folk out there that want a proper society. I beg them to deliver it.

  • Cynic

    Dont totally agree Alan.

    SF is a political party and has come a long way from the time when it was just the voice of the Army. The leaders are a lot older (and hopefully wiser!) and many of the young SF activists of today were never involved in violence anyway.

    Outside the leadership, the skills needed to secure votes or run Government are usually a little different to those involved in murdering people or blowing up shops. PIRA hasnt been militarily that active for 11 years (the odd murder aside) so its skill base must be on the slide as must be the interest of those members who only were interested in the ‘armed’ bit of the struggle. Its also harder to get involved in violence (or politics) if you are in your 30’s, have a job, are married and have 2 kids than if you are 22 and single.

    In short, time moves on for all of us. We all change. Hopefully we also get more sense. If we dont how will we ever sort this mess out?

  • alan

    cynic –

    I certainly hope I’m wrong and that democracy and words shall be the weapon of choice.

    However the abstaining from institutions, councils and boards can be damaging as it creates a void for those who wish to seek solution by whatever means they choose to rise to the surface.

    The void is normally filled by societies undesirables and our politicians have a responsibility to avoid that. They have been elected to represent so I wish they would pursue their mandates by getting stuck in to the dialogue and convincing people of the merits of their case – not by abstaining.

    I hope SF and DUP have arrived at that juncture -both have some bitter pills to swallow – now we need them to gulp it down and move on.

  • guillaume


    This is an aysmetrical agreement where each issue is detached from the others which effectively means that the process can never stop.What the DUP is trying to do is change the direction of the process having finally realised that it cannot be ground to a halt.
    I enjoy your optimism but I am not for sharing what is an essential commodity for those who might support my position.The DUP are not capable of agreement because they would be putting the shinners in government which amounts to a cardianl sin in their book.What they want to do is aysmetricaaly oppose the enemy on issues of major importance in the hope that sinn fein will cave on the devil of the detail.In other words hang them on oaths and other just nonsense.Is that a way forward for the people of Ireland?

  • Cynic

    “This is an aysmetrical agreement where each issue is detached from the others which effectively means that the process can never stop.”

    I wasnt advocating it – just describing it. That’s why it has taken 11 years so far but the fact that the process doesnt stop doesnt mean that the process doesn’t progress. The problem for both parties is that the two governments are fed up with the seesawing and are threatening to close the playground.

    “Is that a way forward for the people of Ireland?”

    Possibly not but, even if I agreed with you, whether it is or is not an ideal way forward is irrelevant. It’s politics…or at least the politics of evasion …. and the game that SF have also played to perfection up until now.

    We now need the politics of committment on both sides. Different game.