My qualified no: the explanation Part 2

On a thread about the DUP St. Andrew’s consultation I mentioned I had submitted a qualified No and was asked why. Here is the second of six parts of an article explaining why.What are my problems with the St Andrews deal?

Constitutive v Instrumental

First, there is the nature of the agreement itself. It is another instrumental agreement. As I have often outlined on slugger there are two types of peace deal, instrumental and constitutive. With an instrumental deal a number of key issues are agreed but others are left to be sorted out later. The belief is that the progress on the initial issues and the development of relationships will be enough for outstanding matters to be addressed. In a constitutive deal, everything is agreed with the timetable and responsibilities of each of the parties clear.

The Belfast Agreement was an instrumental agreement as were the various patch-up jobs that followed. All of them broke down. St Andrew’s continues this approach. Its vagueness, caveats and issues like On-The-Runs, how to examine the past and the future of paramilitary groups omitted means it continues in the instrumental vein. A DUP campaign leaflet once quoted Einstein saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. The madness of continuing with an instrumental approach seems to be infectious.

Although, I accept the shifts by the PIRA made in the past 18 months and the lack of a credible home for Unionist dissent to go to may give instrumentalism the space it needs to succeed.

Lessons from the Comprehensive Agreement and afterwards

Second, the St Andrews Agreement bears a close relationship to the Comprehensive Agreement. However, there were two key lessons to be drawn from its failure and events afterwards. The DUP got a first hand experience of the duplicity of the Republican Movement. As one section was negotiating its places on a policing board its brethren were planning a bank robbery. The tenet that the PIRA Army Council is in fact the legitimate government of Ireland leads to an arrogance and selfishness in its actions that anyone seeking to make peace with them ignores at their peril. This experience should also have come as little surprise as they did it to the UUP repeatedly and the DUP criticised Trimble and Co for falling for it.

Also the Whiterock riots provided a harsh lesson on why the parades issue need sorted. The DUP aim of stable devolution won’t be achieved if the parades issues continues to fester and spread.

(I will be unable to respond to comments because I have important domestic matters to attend on Thursday followed by a romantic week-end. I will reply as best I can upon my return. The remaining pieces are timed to appear at 9.00am and 2.00 pm each day.)