SF plan Ard Fheis decision on policing for post-election date

While the fudge today continues to be examined, and not withstanding the other drama, word arrives of a case of perhaps too much candour, for his party’s leadership, by SF MLA Francie Brolly. Speaking to a journalist for the French-language paper Le Temps, apparently before today’s events, he revealed what had been suspected. Sinn Féin appear to have decided they will not move to support the police before the March election and, perhaps, not until the summer – there doesn’t seem to be anything lost in translation btw.

“It [SF Ard Fheis on policing] will take place quickly if we obtain a good result in the elections but perhaps only during the marching season.”

Translated from the original article in Le Temps by Eric Albert

A Political Agreement Possible but Fragile

The Northern Ireland Assembly has to meet again exceptionally on Friday. The British Government wants it to designate the two first ministers that will share power: Ian Paisley the elderly leader of the DUP (unionist), and Martin McGuiness the chief negotiator of Sinn Féin (republican). But these nominations will be conditional, suspended until recognition of the police by Sinn Féin. On Thursday the DUP threatened however not to proceed to these conditional nominations, preferring to wait for an official gesture from Sinn Féin.

The political wing of the IRA has to convene a special conference to recognise the police, but for at a still unknown date. In principle it should happen before elections, anticipated for 7 March leading to a coalition government on 26 March. Francie Brolly Sinn Féin assembly member revealed to The Times that it is possible that the meeting of his party would not take place until after the elections, “It will take place quickly if we obtain a good result in the elections but perhaps only during the marching season.” Such a scenario risks the failure of the whole process.[added emphasis]

In the accompanying article Francie Brolly also pointed to recent polls predicting a 18-19% loss of party support when the move comes.

“A recent poll suggests that we would lose 18 to 19% of our support if we recognized the PSNI”, continued Francie Brolly.

So much for target dates and commitments – or deadlines and conditions for that matter.

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  • Bob Wilson

    So I’ll put me election prepartions on hold then?
    If there is no movement on policing there will be no election?

  • Ian

    There’s got to be a mis-translation there somewhere. What is the logic from Sinn Fein’s point of view of holding the Ard Fheis during the tensions of the marching season?!?

    Holding it after another successful (relatively peaceful) marching season might have a degree of logic to it. Maybe that was the intention of the quote?

    It mightn’t necessarily be a mistranslation from the French to English – maybe Francie Brolly tried to give the interview in French and it was his translation into French that gave rise to confusion?

    Anyway, Sinn Fein’s stated position in English doesn’t link the Ard Fheis to either the election (which they didn’t want in the first place, they just wanted to get on with things) or the marching season, but to agreement with unionism on how and when devolution of policing and justice powers will occur.

    I’d rely on the policy statements and interviews given by Adams, McGuinness and Kelly over an article by Brollie in a French language newspaper.

  • exuup

    ok , so SF/IRA dont want to move , fine let the others move on without them. Call the election and nominate ministers who have to swear an oath to support police and the rule of law

  • michael

    exuup, i was under the impression, and i may be wrong, but was it not that SF were willing to support the police etc. before P&J powers were devolved with the understanding that this would happen by 2008 a la the comprehensive agreement.

    the DUP then started talking about political lifetimes and the whole thing went pear-shaped??

    if im wrong, please enlighten me?

  • fair_deal


    The SAA has a target date not a deadline similar to decommissioning in the Belfast Agreement

  • exuup

    until theres confidence in the community there will be no P+j ministry, and lets face it who trusts SF?

  • Henry94

    Once Christmas is over we’ll all be in election mode. Sinn Fein have two elections to fight and I don’t see the sense in pulling everybody off the campaign trail for an ard fheis.

    Let the party get a feel for what their supporters are saying on the door steps and then move to make a political judgement as a party in the summer.

    I think it makes perfect sense.

    I mean it’s not as if the DUP are in a hurry. Summer will be plenty of time to move on to the next pre-condition.

  • Truth and Justice

    If Sinn Fein dont move on policing before March, then no executive can be formed after an election there fore Sinn Fein have defaulted on their agreements and will be responsible for bringing down the St Andrews Agreement the ball and pressure is now firmly in their court! The DUP dont have to do anything from hear on in the pressure is all on Sinn Fein with even the primeminister stating they have to move on Policing1

  • On the marching season thing I would guess the confusion arises out of the French word pendant, which means “during”, but can obviously be easily confused with “pending”.

    Although, as Ian says, the party has not signalled any intention to wait until then for the Ard Fheis.

  • So, SF will hold off on a policing move until after the election, presumably in anticipation that people will vote for them to give them that ‘extra push’. Surely the key reason that the polcing move should be made ought to be that it will benefit the people (in which case it should be done immediately), not whether SF can gain electoral capital out of it. Can SF really justify such a delay, or are they just operating solely to benefit themselves in a party-political sense? I should hope that they would show leadership and bite the bullet (so to speak).

    The DUP and SF seem to be producing fudge at a rate of knots these days- they should go into business together as confectioners. After all, they’re practically mirror-images of each other already, so such a move would only be logical.

  • Mick Fealty

    Good points on the translation. ‘Pending’ certainly works for me. Yet it takes nothing away from a fascinating insight just the same. Why should we take a press release more seriously than the reported words of an MLA?

    SF may simply be following the DUP in putting it up to the S of S over his widely perceived weakness. Or, possibly, taking tactical advantage of it. Brolly’s candour over hits the party would possibly take in the wake of its recognition of the PSNI is refreshing.

    But it also begs the question as to what degree the concern over policing is one of principle or just psephological neuralgia.

  • Pete Baker

    “But it also begs the question as to what degree the concern over policing is one of principle or just psephological neuralgia.”

    Well, Mick.. as long as you ignore the reference to – “A recent poll suggests that we would lose 18 to 19% of our support if we recognized the PSNI”.

    If you ignore that influence then it’s purely one of principle..

  • Cynic

    And now we get to the core of the problem.

    On one side a signifcant part of the population will not support policing per se (not just the police), no matter how reformed, how impartial, how accountable or how well controlled by a local assembly the police force will be.

    On the other side, a substantial part of the elctorate either won’t trust the other side unless they commit to doing so or are using that as an excuse to not share power with them because they dont trust them per se.

    On both sides, the bulk of the electorate is well ahead of this in looking to the future. They are tired of all this ‘yah sucks’ politics and just want a way forward. Sadly, in the absence of a real centre party, there’s no-one to vote for, so why vote for anyone? Perhaps 70% in the middle is held to ransom by 15% on each extreme

    Why not then just call it a day? NI has too much politics and too many politicians for the size of the place. Why not just scrap the lot, get the new councils working and devolve more and more down to them? They can either start to take some real responsibility or argue over the colour of the bin lorries and we can all get on with our lives. We all need a rest from this lot!

  • T.Ruth

    In fairness the DUP position is the more credible. No one should expect to be included as of right in the Executive level of a devolved responsibility sharing Northern Ireland government who cannot support the PSNI,arguably the most accountable police service on the planet-much more accountable than the GS down south.It is abundantly clear that 80 per cent of the population wants to work together. Sinn Fein leadership is being politically paralysed by its paramilitary wing(s) and the criminal godfathers.
    The DUP will share power with any party which can demonstrate that it consistently holds democratic credentials and ambitions.Its time for Republicans to put up for peace or fade off and let the rest of us get on with building a better future for us all.

  • Gonzo

    This was reported in the Observer today. Nice one Pete.