“We have six days to do it.”

In the Sunday Times, Liam Clark quotes a DUP source broadly agreeing with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s assessment of that party’s internal consultation. But notes that the approval rating of “nearer 90% than 80%” is conditional

The issues on which the DUP require progress include the creation of a mechanism by which Sinn Fein can be expelled from the executive if the IRA becomes active. One possibility is an enhanced role for the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC). The DUP is also refusing to share power with Sinn Fein before it declares support for the police.

The DUP will also make its acceptance conditional on a range of less clearly defined issues, including an enhanced financial package, progress on loyal order parades, arrangements to move away from mandatory coalitions in the future and “further fairness and equality measure for the unionist community”.

Liam Clark also quotes DUP MP Sammy Wilson

“The question put to members was not ‘are you happy with the St Andrews agreement and do you think we should proceed into an executive government with Sinn Fein?’ We clearly need to get sufficient movement on the matters outstanding to take us to the next step and I don’t think that is certain. Most members recognised that we laid down conditions for Sinn Fein to meet. If they do meet them and it has been verified, then we will abide by the commitment that has been made in the manifesto.”

Sinn Féin’s declaration of support for the police remains an outstanding issue, with a party spokeswoman setting out the conditions for the calling of an Ard Fheis on the issue recently.

Those conditions might be met, at least in theory, but whether the mechanism for devolving powers over policing and justice, as set out in current legislation, would be changed to remove the requirement of a joint proposal by the First and Deputy First Ministers is another matter – that, ultimately, grants a veto to both holders of those offices. Even so, there seems zero chance of an Ard Fheis being held before all the parties are due to endorse, or not,, the St Andrews Agreement.. something’s ticking, it might be a clock

But having left grey areas to produce the St Andrews Agreement in the first place, filling in the detail will undoubtedly be as difficult as most people imagined.

It’s probably worth remembering what the various players positions were earlier in the year including, given the quotes from Sammy Wilson, the stated view of the US Envoy Mitchel Reiss speaking to the Irish Times’ Frank Millar in June

The worry for many people is that even if Sinn Féin resolves the policing issue, the DUP will simply find fresh obstacles. Is he saying that Sinn Féin signing up for policing should be seen as the last act, so to speak, of republican decommissioning?

Again, Mitchell Reiss says he doesn’t want to presume to know the DUP’s position, while his own seems clear: “I will say that I’ve been encouraged by the objective criteria they have set out for joining a government with Sinn Féin. The two issues Peter Robinson articulated when he visited the US in April were a commitment to supporting the police and an ending of IRA criminality. I think those are completely reasonable for the DUP to stake out – and again, if they should be met, then I can’t see any reason why the DUP wouldn’t be willing to stand up in Stormont immediately.”

As Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, as quoted in the Sunday Times, said

Bertie Ahern, the taoiseach, underlined the importance of Friday’s deadline at the Fianna Fail ard fheis yesterday. “We need to have agreed the legislation by Friday and then it has to be passed in two weeks,” he said. “This is a tight timeframe for what are complex issues. The parties are up for it, but there are a lot of things that need to be agreed yet. It is serious. We have six days to do it.”

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  • Greenflag

    What Bertie says

    ‘We have six days to do it.”

    What Bertie means’

    ‘ The chance is gone ‘

    Just as well . Try again in 10 years . Meanwhile FF have an election to win .

  • smcgiff

    ‘The DUP will also make its acceptance conditional on a range of less clearly defined issues…

    an enhanced financial package, progress on loyal order parades, “further fairness and equality measure for the unionist community”.’

    Such requests/preconditions really make me despair for Northern Ireland Unionists. I look forward to the day they join us in the real world.

    ‘arrangements to move away from mandatory coalitions in the future’

    This is a legitimate and understandable aim, and if Northern Ireland ever gets to a position where this is possible it will be a great day for NI and Ireland as a whole, of course within an all-Ireland context would be even better! 🙂

  • The conditions for govt set by the DUP are: “we want some of this, all of that, more of this, on and on and on and on and on and on”

    Then if Sinn Fein meet all of the above then a further set of conditions, on and on and on…….

    Oh, and lets not forget the ability of the DUP to desolve the asembley at a whimm, Gerry Adams not brushing his hair, Martin McGuinness has egg on his tie.

    Lets face it, there is no desire to share power with Republicans whatever conditions are met.

    Why not be truthful, DUP say there is not any circumstances in which they will share power and be done with it.

    The only way change can be achieved is for it to be forced on the DUP, that way they can retain their credibility within their colony.

    The DUP are in a position of heads they win, tails we lose.

    A time for sitting on ones hands for the DUP.

    All the window dressing in the world will not allow the timetable to be met.

    Time for plan B a joint stewardship of the North by London and Dublin, corss border economies, closer ties, a harmonised Ireland in all but name.

  • Greenflag

    Art Hostage .

    ‘Lets face it, there is no desire to share power with Republicans whatever conditions are met.’

    Well you might be forgiven for coming to that conclusion after 35 years 🙂

    But full marks for the obvious .

    Plan B will be fine . Leave the rest to economics demographics , council redistricting and time .

  • Plan B will be fine . Leave the rest to economics demographics , council redistricting and time .
    Greenflag

    Along the way the Unionist community must be given protection in an Irish/European Bill of rights, a similar status to that given to Inuet Indians in Canada, where they are given First Nation status, the Unionist can be given “special Nation” status that affords them legal protections under an Irish constitution, and the European constitution.

    The whole Ireland of Ireland incorporated within Europe is inevitable, its just the timetable that is unclear.

    The term United Ireland is “So Yesterday” lets start using the term Harmonised Ireland, within Europe.

  • Smithsonian

    Greenflag
    Plan B may not be fine. You don’t know what it is. You have no idea of the challenges that must be faced. Institutionalising a sectarian divide is no way to build a future.

    and as for economics and demographics… provided there is no resumption of violence, the economy will recover, the demographics will follow.

    It is of course true that no political progress is possible without a consensus on the way forward but this cuts both ways and most people are simply fed up with politics that get us nowhere (including talk of a United Ireland or repartition).

    I suspect that the people of Northern Ireland will conclude that learning to rub along with each other gives the best long term solution for everybody. Talk of a United Ireland or repartition is very premature and undermines the cause of those that articulate it.

    Attempting to force anybody into anything is undemocratic and will not work.

  • Greenflag

    Art Hostage ,

    Ireland is not Canada and whatever Unionists are they are not Inuit Indians . Unionists are already protected by the British constitution, the Irish constitution and a European Bill of Rights .

    The term United Ireland is “So Yesterday”

    Perhaps in Canada . Here in Ireland it’s still a runner even if I personnally would prefer a fair repartition of NI. Harmonised Ireland sounds like one sound bite too many .

  • Greenflag

    Smithsonian,

    ‘Institutionalising a sectarian divide is no way to build a future.’

    Exactly and that’s what the SAA does . An ‘involuntary power sharing of the DUP/SF with no alternative real opposition in the Assembly .

    NI will have moved on from being a one party sectarian State under Unionism to a two party sectarian State under a DUP/SF carve up.

    ‘Attempting to force anybody into anything is undemocratic and will not work. ‘

    I agree . But it’s a bit late in the day for Unionism to be learning this lesson . Had they learnt it in 1920 or even in 1968/69 or 1974 things might be diffeent now . But they did’nt and so here we are in 2006 still stuck in the same political and economic rut .

    ‘It is of course true that no political progress is possible without a consensus ‘

    It’s even more true that normal democratic politics are not possible in a State (Northern Ireland) which does not have even enough ‘consensus’ from it’s citizens as to whether the State has any longer term future !

  • Mike

    Oh for God’s sake…

    Yet another potentially interesting thread hijacked by Greenflag’s sinlge transferable ‘repartition’ post.

  • Smithsonian

    Greenflag
    The problem does not lie with Unionism or for that matter Nationalism. Both are legitimate aspirations. What is not legitimate is to persue either aim via terrorism or by trying to destroy the current arrangement so as to force acceptance of an alternative.

    We live in a pluarist society with significant inflows of guest workers. We operate as part of the European Union and are inexticably linked to the global market. All of the legislative safeguards are in place.

    What we need is a bit of peace, and time to work things out. Constant agitation (and that is what we get from you) does not permit the two traditions time to sort things out. In fact you and others like you cynically exploit the situation for electoral gain. The two extremes will not find a solution because there are decades of hatred, injustice and hurt on all sides to be resolved. It requires them to reach out to the other side without compromising the own position. This is serious politics.

    The challenge is to find away of living together. Time cures all ills but constantly bringing up the “bogey man” is no way forward. The Belfast agreement may not have been perfect but it was the only option on the table. The St. Andrews proposal doesn’t change the fundamental thrust. The DUP must share power, SF must support the police and law and order.

    I do not expect the political process to end Nov 10th. because no one has offered a viable alternative.

  • But notes that the approval rating of “nearer 90% than 80%” is conditional

    How about Lurgan’s 53%?

  • Yokel

    Yawnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, the DUP will go with it,end of story.

    For those who so want and hope that they don’t, if you don’t believe the DUP’s rumoured 80-90% approval then listen to someone opposed. Bob McCartney who reckons he can count a massive 21 000 votes worth of opposition.

    Yeah, serious opposition..From what I can see., Unionists are by and large pretty relaxed about it. Given that forums such as this tend to attract the biggest and most radical mouthpieces there has been a dictinct lack of wailing and gnashing of teeth from Unionists.

    The reason why the DUP get their 80-90% approval is simple..they are not just talking to their own members, they are talking to their electorate. Are there conditions? Of course there are just as there are conditions for Sinn Fein in their acceptance, thats politics.

    The DUP will come out in favour. Strangely enough the people whos heart it breaks more than anything are not rejectionist people within the DUP but some people in the nationalist/republican fraternity…sad. I’m no fan of Paisley, but the more I read these posts here the more I’m beginning to think he’s really making life diffciult for republicans, something he’s failed to do in 40 years.

    Anyone is welcome respond but don’t be offended if I don’t reply. The speculation and rumours about the DUP’ers appear to be total bollocks overall and I’ve given up on it meself.

  • Yokel

    I forgot the Ulster Unionists…some of whom I am sure are gutted at the moment.

    Nothing against the UUP but theres bigger issues like finally taking the gun out of all politics here, bringing back devolution and letting our useless politicians administer rather than useless politicians from across the water.

  • Rubicon

    Pete – I appreciate your focus on the SF difficulty with the SAA. The criticism you’ve received seems unfair – and I’m still waiting for a SF supporter to say when the SF Ard Fheis will be (much less whether the policing issue will be put on the agenda).

    This and nearly every thread started on the SAA has regressed to old chestnuts that will have ample time for regurgitation if either SF or the DUP fail to step up to the mark.

    ‘Republican’ commentators here appear to be deliberately trying to point the finger towards DUP difficulties. There could be many reasons for this – anything from sick sectarian joy to blame-game preparation.

    I wonder if there’s a SF view on whether there should be an Ard Fheis and, if so; when, and is the SAA an acceptable framework to work within? Put simply, are ‘republicans’ willing to sign up to policing when the devolution of criminal justice requires a cross-community vote in the Assembly?

    If the answer is “yes” – then perhaps the divisions within the DUP become relevant. If not, it will be SF left holding the can and the wiser minds in the DUP know it.

    Let’s see if ‘republicans’ can openly engage in what is a very difficult issue – for them and most concerned citizens. Setting a date for devolution of criminal justice is something I would have very much liked to have seen – but expect the conditions of accountability will be met once SF agree to support policing.

    Let’s have a discussion rather than a slagging match – or worse – if I read another repartition post I think I’ll take a break from Slugger for a while. We all have political objectives Greenflag – but could you engage with the issues at hand? PLEASE!)

    Keep at it Pete!

  • Billy

    Rubicon

    As a moderate Nationalist, I believe that Sinn Fein should support policing and I hope that they do.

    However, I doubt that any of the current deadlines will be met. I don’t think that Sinn Fein will meet the policing requirements – equally it is clear that the DUP are simply looking for excuses not to share power so, in the unlikely event of Sinn Fein agreeing on policing, the DUP will create yet another obstacle.

    However, the “blame game” ,as you put it, is only of interest to people in NI. The UK electorate don’t understand NI and/or don’t care.

    If things don’t work out locally in NI, the govt will simply move on with ‘Plan B”. While the local politicians may apportion blame, the UK electorate will simply see it as yet another failure of NI politicians to work together.

    There is no publicity or PR battle with the UK electorate – they’re simply not interested.

  • realist

    A few no warning bombs at the heart of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ would end all of this talk of enforcing ‘joint stewardship’. Worth bearing in mind.

  • Billy

    Realist

    Apart from the moral implications of your dispicable post, do you really think that “loyalists” can bomb their way into the UK.

    There is little interest or support in the UK for NI Unionism. The little support that does exist is due largely to antagonism caused by the IRA campaign in London and Birmingham.

    Now that the IRA have gone, any terrorist attacks by “loyalists” will simply make the UK electorate actively hostile to NI Unionism and strengthen the UK govt resolve to get out of NI.

  • Put simply, are ‘republicans’ willing to sign up to policing when the devolution of criminal justice requires a cross-community vote in the Assembly?

    No, for the obvious reason that that gives the DUP the power to block devolution.

    Our party policy states that the timetable must be fixed. The St Andrews proposals don’t provide that, hence they do not give us enough to go to an Ard Fheis.

  • Yokel

    Wednesday. You may well have just stumbled upon the DUP’s strategy….

  • realist

    Billy, I’m not talking about loyalists ‘bombing their way into the UK’ – merely pointing out that any push towards unity (by stealth or otherwise) could easily be seen off by the forces of loyalist resistance. The Republic’s appetite for bombs on Grafton Street or at Compaq factories is even less than the British government’s for the same in the City or elsewhere. That’s the reality, I’m afraid.
    Just something to consider. Oh, do spare me any bleating about the ‘morality’ of such tactics – the Provos wrote the book. Others were taking notes, though.

  • Yokel

    Realist I have to say that your original post comes across a bit like the great Wolfie Smith of the 21st century that is Ciaran Damery (peace be upon him).

    On reflection, however, you do have a point. Such a direct input that is rumoured to be on the cards would act as a pretty big unifying force amongst elements of the loyalist terrorist base. Loyalism has long had a strategy built around making things painful & difficult. At a high level the Brits don’t care as long as its not on their territory

    Two things in mitigation however,

    The loyalist movements are so riddled with informers that it would be hard for them to really get a decent campaign going.

    The talk of Plan B has more and more been driven by the British than the Irish government who are more keen to keep it under wraps. They know its not only tricky politically but problematic economically to get too close to the North so they’ll be fairly selective about their involvement.

    What is most significant over the last few days is the absence of apparent comment from Bertie and friends about Sinn Fein. Bertie has said that he expects the DUP to deliver so hes obviously been told by them that they will but nothing directly on Sinn Fein…unless I’ve missed it.

  • Greenflag

    Smithsonian,

    ‘What we need is a bit of peace, and time to work things out’

    Your post could have been written in 1973 . Change DUP for UUP and SF for SDLP and you have deja vu yet again.

    I don’t disagree with your overall sentiment but frankly the best cure if you have a headache is to take an aspirin . Banging your head against a wall for 35 years or more does not improve your headache .

    Northern Ireland is a failed political entity . It’s as simple as that . It needs to be replaced with a political entity or entities that can work and can bring normal democratic standards to NI .

    I suggest that the SAA is just Sunningdale Mark 3 and will neither provide good governance to NI nor allow the local politicians to implement the kind of economic policies that could wean the NI exonomy off it’s permanent excessive public sector dependency condition.

    The above is not ‘agitation’ . Just the facts of economic and politcal life! Even a ‘widget’ can see that !

  • lib2016

    This is not 1973 and there will be no repeat of the UWC strike. Both sides have everything to play for in a dynamically changing situation.

    The DUP hierarchy recognise that they need to adjust to the real world and they seem to be able to lead their party in that direction.

    Sinn Fein have successfully moved their following from ‘not a bullet, not an ounce’ to the present situation where it will take a really incredibly bad move from the British for the dissidents to gain credibility.

    The fate of the Assembly and it’s Executive depends on the unionists realising that their most important task is gaining some credibility for the very concept of a NI entity. The DUP seem to have realised that at the eleventh hour.

  • Billy

    Realist

    I think you’ll find that the single largest loss of life was caused by the “loyalist” no warning bombs in the RoI so I wouldn’t say that the IRA “wrote the book”. They are ALL murderers and criminals.

    I am totally opposed to ALL violence from any source. I consider ALL terrorists to be vile and there is NO justification for their actions.

    It is clear from your post, especially the “forces of loyalist resistance” phrase, that you do not feel the same – at least about “loyalist” terrorism.

    I think you would be better off “debating” this with Ciaran Damery as you appear to be opposite signs of the same coin.

    I have no interest in “whataboutery” – as far as I’m concerned, you are either opposeed to terrorism or you’re not.

  • WindsorRocker

    “Our party policy states that the timetable must be fixed. The St Andrews proposals don’t provide that, hence they do not give us enough to go to an Ard Fheis.”
    Posted by Wednesday on Nov 06, 2006 @ 07:46 AM

    So how can Sinn Fein sign up, even partially, to St Andrews when they are against some of the basic provisions?

    It’s says a lot when Ahern thinks Paisley has sowed up his lot but Sinn Fein are still dithering. Hard Choice for Gerry and the boys for a change.