Is there a deadline (and an election), or not?

According to Gerry Kelly on the Politics Show, Francie Brolly put out a corrective statement following the Le Temps report of his remarks that Sinn Fein does not want to take a electoral hit on policing, saying he was misreported. If it was issued, it doesn’t seem to have been picked up anywhere yet see below. Alex Attwood confirmed reports picked up by Slugger that the British have been privately briefing to that effect also. Frank Millar has the latest word from the Sinn Fein leadership (subs needed):

Senior Sinn Féin sources confirmed at the weekend that the special ardfheis would be necessary to permit Martin McGuinness to accept his nomination as co-equal deputy first minister in the power-sharing Executive scheduled to be appointed on March 26th.

They also say the DUP would be entitled to regard the new pledge of office, enshrined in last week’s emergency British legislation, as amounting to an explicit endorsement of the PSNI.

The sources reiterated however that Gerry Adams would not move to call an ardfheis without DUP agreement on the modality of a new policing and justice ministry at Stormont, the timetable for the transfer of powers and a resolution with the British government of the vexed question of MI5 involvement with the PSNI.

The signs also are that without prior agreement with the DUP to form a government on March 26th, Sinn Féin leaders are likely to join a growing number of politicians on all sides questioning why the planned Assembly elections should proceed.

As you were then? That would merely seem to be the party’s pre St Andrews Agreement position re-stated [coughs on smoke, walks into yet another bloody mirror – ed].

The most puzzling aspect of the Brolly comments (misreported or not), is that they don’t stack up. If it concludes a deal, Sinn Fein may lose hardline support but it would also act as a bolster to waning confidence amongst the Catholic middle class that they ever had any intention of doing what they originally signalled they would do. And that is where the constituency battle is going to be fought: ie Brolly’s Limavady, not Adams’ West Belfast.

In truth, there is no serious electoral vulnerability for Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland. But there is a perspective within Sinn Fein that the pain being experienced internally has to be used to some effect. A pain that arises, possibly, from the fact that political activists (rather than just the Army Council) are taking part in a crucial decision for the first time in the movement’s history.

We await the dispersal of smoke and withdrawal of mirrors. But hardly with bated breath.

Update: Statement from Brolly in today’s Irish News (subs needed):

Speaking last night Mr Brolly said:”I want to make clear that I don’t know nor do I have any say over when a special ard fheis will be called. This is a matter solely for the party president and the ard chomhairle. The party leadership has set out what is required to bring an end to repressive and sectarian policing. And they are working to resolve the outstanding issues including trying to secure agreement with the DUP and other parties on the timetable for the transfer of powers on policing and the departmental model to be used.”

  • fair_deal

    Conor says on Friday it was a timeframe and form of the department needed sorted. On Sunday Gerry Kelly adds the precondition of MI5 too.

    Question for republicans, what are they willing to offer in return for movement on these issues?

  • Tkmaxx

    Mick
    I dont agree that there is is no electoral vulnerability for Sinn Fein. They (or we) cannot quantify the ‘stay at home factor’ within the Republican movement. That the mainstream and leadership of Sinn Fein will accept the PSNI – there is no doubt -but they can hardly capitalise on this and run on a law and order platform! But without a clearly spelt out route map -they are right to question to the purpose of elections as it is pointless having elections to an impasse. The side deals are irrelevant

  • Truth and Justice

    No Pain No Gain Sin Fein get on with it the World exspects you to support the PSNI.

  • fair_deal

    Is that the full text of Brolly’s statement? If it is he doesn’t deny making the comments.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s what the reporter used. The rest may have been in the original press statement, but I’m afraid we don’t have a copy of the original at Slugger Central.

  • Yokel

    Hain’s words in the media over the weekend and Blair’s on Friday suggest that the NIO line about Sinn Fein not pitching up until after an election on policing is not going to hold.

    Anyone who picked up Blair’s words on Friday could see there was a clear element of the order of things: Sign up to policing, get devolution.

    I’d agree with the Tkmaxx that Sinn Fein do face an electoral threat of some kind. Sinn Fein could have a peeling off of support over this issue though I believe the ex SDLP types will stay with it, its the harder fringe where the problem lies. The problem is where does the republican opposition go? Does it stay at home or does it have an objectionst alternative to vote for? All this talk about the DUP having internal issues is likely going to ensure that that elusive creature, the stay at home garden centre prod, will turn out in force come election time, thus securing a sound enough mandate for pro-StAA unionist parties.

    Sinn Fein could be in the opposite position with a stay at home brigade. That in itself is an electoral threat but I can’t see the ex SDLP voters switching from it so much as its harder core republicans.

  • kensei

    “Question for republicans, what are they willing to offer in return for movement on these issues?”

    Question for Unionists – why the hell is it an issue? Local powers over tackling crime is a good thing in dealing with those problems, and lately, it isn’t only Nationalists complaining about the behaviour of the PSNI. Moreover, the DUP can guarantee it has the Ministry every time if it wants, or question every single decision made.

    There seems to be no basis for this whatsoever, other than SF want it – we need to oppose it.

  • parcifal

    Reminds me of a tug-of-war with hardline DUPers rope-pulling “not in a political life-time” and SF rope-pulling “we need a date set out now for transfer of powers”.
    Both sides will lose some electoral support and the resolution to this tug-of-war will decide how much.

  • fair_deal

    kensei

    1. Local devolution does not always involve the legislative devolution on policing and justice.
    2. If Gerry Kelly sought a job in the policing and justice system he would be automatically barred from it. Such safeguards are there for a reason in the policing and ciminal justice system. People are being asked to ignore the most basic of safeguards to abuse of position and power hence a cautionary approach.
    3. The PIRA still exists, some members are still involved in crime and possibly some still armed.

    I have offered an answer to yours perhaps you would return the courtesy.

  • T.Ruth

    All Unionists hate like poison the idea of former terrorists in the Executive. Any party with sufficient support is entitled to be in the Assembly but mandatory power sharing with terrorists is anathema to Unionists.However we will have to endure that if we agree to the StA’s proposals.
    Supporting the rule of Law and the PSNI may be anathema for SF/IRA but it is a minimum requirement in a civilised society that parties wishing to be in a freely elected Assembly must accept the PSNI as the legitimate police service.
    Taking responsibility for P and J in an assembly ministry will on the other hand be contingent on public confidence being at an appropriate level for that to take place. The IRA is the organisation that can hasten the day by demonstrably moving of the radar and encouraging the development of the required level of public confidence.Sinn Fein will have to bite the bullet on policing.
    At a purely democratic level people of all persuasions would find great difficulty if for example a murderer,a sniper,a bomber,an assassin, a bank robber or a director of terrorism should get elected as Minister for Justice and Policing.For Unionist the “peace” process up to now has led them to see accommodation and strangulation as synonomous.Now the slogan is”No delivery on support for PSNI. No mandatory devolution.”
    Plan B should be about the institutions forging ahead without those who cannot submit to the purely democratic process.Why should those who want progress to democracy be penalised by the inability of the Republican movement to stand up without its bully boy army?
    Now the St.A’s Agreement offers Unionists the chance to control their own destiny every Unionist voter should show their gratitude by giving the DUP all possible support.the terrorists have lost the war. We will win the peace.
    T.Ruth

  • lib2016

    Unionism is visibly disintegrating leaving the Brits holding responsibility in NI and without any alternative to handing over power to republicans in the medium term.

    Let the unionist charade of producing precondition after precondition continue for another year or two and the game will be over at last. About time too – why should nationalists collude in forming a powersharing Executive with people who obviously ‘don’t want one about the place’?

  • kensei

    “1. Local devolution does not always involve the legislative devolution on policing and justice.”

    I didn’t ask that. I asked why you didn’t want it.

    “2. If Gerry Kelly sought a job in the policing and justice system he would be automatically barred from it. Such safeguards are there for a reason in the policing and ciminal justice system. People are being asked to ignore the most basic of safeguards to abuse of position and power hence a cautionary approach.”

    Who says Gerry Kelly will be the Minister? The DUP have first choice, and SF could put any number of people in the role. And considering SF will be in Executive power in other Ministries, that point has been conceded.
    Also, this is something that could be dealt with at a negotiation – no one with a criminal record could take the post.

    “3. The PIRA still exists, some members are still involved in crime and possibly some still armed.”

    But the organisation has stood down and is effectively off the table. What is your point? What has this to do with anything?

    So… no actual basis, other than reactively against SF.

    “I have offered an answer to yours perhaps you would return the courtesy.”

    not entirely sure what SF has left to offer. voluntary coalition is off the table for very sound reasons, and I’m not sure what else it is you want. Perhaps if the DUP, wild idea here, sat down in face-to-face negotiations with SF they may be able to work out issues.

  • Yokel

    Lib.

    For Unionism to disintegrate it requires the disintegration of the majority of people of people in NI.

    Not going to happen, but hey love your dream…you keep on dreamin…

  • kensei

    “Supporting the rule of Law and the PSNI may be anathema for SF/IRA but it is a minimum requirement in a civilised society that parties wishing to be in a freely elected Assembly must accept the PSNI as the legitimate police service. ”

    Where on gods green earth did this nonsense come from. SF have one duty. To do what their electorate voted them to do. That is their mandate, and they don’t have to “do” anything else.

    Normally, parties that don’t accept the police force don’t do very well a elections, which is what enforces your statement. But with our special situation and history here, SF do well without that. You could say the duty is everyone else to produce a police force acceptable to the 25%ish of people that vote SF.

  • lib2016

    Yokel,

    “the disintegration of the majority of people in NI”

    Take a look at the state of all the Unionist institutions – the statefunded paramilitaries like the RUC and the RIR, the ‘Loyal Orders’, the political parties and most obviously of all the Loyalist paramilitaries.

    I rest my case.

    PS don’t forget the attempt to revive their fortunes – Luv Ulster!

  • Yokel

    Kensei

    As you correctly pointed out they can rightly get voted into the Assembly, on whatever platform, be it sheep shagging or freedom to fart in public with a microphone, if they can get enough votes.

    We should have moved on from the mandate question (bearing in mind who has the largest local mandate at the ballot box and I think we expectly rightly all parties to work to that mandate).

    We aren’t talking about the assembly anymore we are talking about government positions and your political party mandate starts to become less important as you govern an entire conuntry. In addition, the rules by which things are played are different when it comes to positions to power.

  • Yokel

    Ah behave yerself Lib, most Unionists werent in any of those. The idea that the Orange Order is a Unionist institution for start. It’s its own little whatever club and its welcome to stay that way. I’m not disintegrating, unionists I know aint disintegrating so I’m guessing its not going to happen.

    You can try the Josef Goebbels school of propoganda idea of ‘keep syaing it and they will eventually believe it’ all ya like but the only people who are going to buy it in are those already sold on it.

    By the way, little bit of psychology for ya, yer exclamation mark gives it away that not even you believe it. But bless ya anyway for trying. The result is more Mussolini than Goebbels…Alexi Sayle’s version of Mussolini..

  • Cahal

    “Question for republicans, what are they willing to offer in return for movement on these issues? ”

    Fair Deal, perhaps the DUP would know the answer to this question if they sat down with SF and asked them. It is called negotiating.

  • fair_deal

    kensei

    “I didn’t ask that. I asked why you didn’t want it.”

    1. You presented the devolution of policing and justice as something that is automatic.
    2. I never said I didn’t.

    “Who says Gerry Kelly will be the Minister? The DUP have first choice, and SF could put any number of people in the role.

    1. He has been named on a number of occassions as their preferred nominee.
    2. Wrong the DUP only has first choice whenever d’hondt is run not when a new department is created.

    “And considering SF will be in Executive power in other Ministries, that point has been conceded.”

    As the last form of devolved power did not include policing and justice I am afraid the point hasn’t been conceded.

    “Also, this is something that could be dealt with at a negotiation – no one with a criminal record could take the post.”

    SF reject the idea of those with sheduled offences records being a bar to ex-terrorists from taking jobs. The SAA contains a measure on this very topic. An interesting suggestion none the less.

    “the organisation has stood down and is effectively off the table”

    It still exists so it is not off the table. Its members still engage in crime so it is not off the table. It is possibly still armed so it is not off the table.

    “not entirely sure what SF has left to offer. voluntary coalition is off the table for very sound reasons, and I’m not sure what else it is you want.”

    Just some suggestions (in no order of priority) take your pick
    1. IRA disbandment
    2. As you said no to voluntary coalition how about mandatory multi-party coalition not all-party
    3. Parades
    4. A default mechanism
    5. Getting off their arse to call an Ard fheis now.
    6. Living with a sensible Irish Language Act (not some sort of republican wet dream possibly even a languages act to take account of US and minority ethnic groups) plus a few new measures for Ulster-Scots and Ulster-British forms of expression.
    7. Reform of the NIHRC and EC so you don’t have to play spot the Unionist or be a NIWC member.
    8. Allowing the IICD to release a full report on PIRA decommssioning the amounts methods of destruction etc.
    9. Policy issues – How about not opposing the maintenance of academic selection in the controlled sector? Significant reductions in the number of departments? Cutting back on the North-southery?

    “Perhaps if the DUP, wild idea here, sat down in face-to-face negotiations with SF they may be able to work out issues.”

    They are both participating in the Committee for Government which is to look at these matters. So that old dog doesn’t hunt.

  • Yokel

    Parades..now there is a throwaway negotiating tool.

    Any unionist getting hung up on that as a point of principle needs to be hung up….

  • lib2016

    Yokel,

    The British need powersharing because they need institutions in place in order to get out in an orderly way, as they have previously done right around the world and as they are currently attempting to do in Iraq, for the second time.

    Sinn Fein want powersharing because they will be charged by the emergent nationalist majority with the responsiblity of managing the British handover. Civil disorder is in no-one’s interest now, as unionism learned from the Luv Ulster debacle.

    Unionists who can count realise that the nationalist vote is steadily overtaking the unionist vote. They want a deal now because their majority is being steadily eroded. Given the fact that the unionist population is older that erosion can only increase.

    We’re left with a combination of those unionists who are in denial of easily checked facts and those who see a tactical advantage in denying those facts. They succeeded in destroying the UUP and are in the process of destroying the DUP. I salute their eagerness to emulate Masada by political means….very Biblical of them.

  • Yokel

    So ya say………….maybe youd best try to persuade some panic merchant, like DUP members who get jumpy at these kinds of things.

    No sale.

  • fair_deal

    lib2016

    If you honestly believe what you say then why bother coming on to a debate site? You can just sit at home content in the knowledge it will all come your way.

    Anyway the more nationalists think they don’t have to do anything to get unity the better as far as I am concerned makes Unionism job a lot easier. People who think they don’t have to earn or fight for a political outcome are the best type of opponents.

  • kensei

    “We aren’t talking about the assembly anymore we are talking about government positions and your political party mandate starts to become less important as you govern an entire conuntry. In addition, the rules by which things are played are different when it comes to positions to power.”

    Wrong. The Conservatives weren’t automatically booted out of power because some Ministers get up to illegal activities in the 1990’s – individual ministers were removed. Similar story for Labour in the past 10 years. It is up to the electorate to punish political parties.

    “1. You presented the devolution of policing and justice as something that is automatic.”

    No I didn’t. I presented it as something desirable.

    “2. I never said I didn’t.”

    In which case, why the argument.

    “1. He has been named on a number of occassions as their preferred nominee.”

    Could be solved by negotiation. SF aren’t going to forgo the whole thing over Gerry Kelly.

    “2. Wrong the DUP only has first choice whenever d’hondt is run not when a new department is created.”

    Negotiate again, or run the timing along with an election. Millions ways that this can be solved. Where is the principle?

    “As the last form of devolved power did not include policing and justice I am afraid the point hasn’t been conceded.”

    I am afraid it has. It’s just another Ministry, when it comes to it and if you are going to run with the whole “terrorists in government” nonsense, why are we even here?

    “It still exists so it is not off the table. Its members still engage in crime so it is not off the table. It is possibly still armed so it is not off the table.”

    Members of the DUP may commit crime. Indeed I think there has been the odd incident recently. If it’s not controlled by the centre, you haven’t got a point.

    “1. IRA disbandment”

    I’d give it. It’s meaningless, unverifiable and already basically done. Then they can set up “Ex Volunteer’s Old Boy club” and we are where we started.

    “2. As you said no to voluntary coalition how about mandatory multi-party coalition not all-party”

    Nope. This place can’t handle anyone being excluded right now.

    “3. Parades”

    Reform the OO and we’ll talk.

    “4. A default mechanism”

    Stupid, anti-democratic and impractical. The SDLP couldn’t survive a single election in such an event.

    “5. Getting off their arse to call an Ard fheis now.”

    Unconstitutional while matters around devolution of powers are unresolved. Again could be solved by face-to-face negotiation easily.

    “6. Living with a sensible Irish Language Act (not some sort of republican wet dream possibly even a languages act to take account of US and minority ethnic groups) plus a few new measures for Ulster-Scots and Ulster-British forms of expression.”

    I’d go for that, but again, who am I talking to? British Government is happy to give me everything.

    “7. Reform of the NIHRC and EC so you don’t have to play spot the Unionist or be a NIWC member.”

    Sure.

    “8. Allowing the IICD to release a full report on PIRA decommssioning the amounts methods of destruction etc.”

    No triumphalism thanks. Maybe in 10 years.

    “9. Policy issues – How about not opposing the maintenance of academic selection in the controlled sector?”

    System fails too many people. Should definitely be talking about a new system though, and looking at the best education systems in the world as a basis.

    “Significant reductions in the number of departments?”

    May be a good idea, but how many Turkey’s do you know that vote for Christmas?

    “Cutting back on the North-southery?”

    Er, Nationalism likes it and is a key reason we are swallowing the whole thing?

    “They are both participating in the Committee for Government which is to look at these matters. So that old dog doesn’t hunt.”

    The DUP leadership insists in not being involved, and face-to-face negotiations behind closed doors could sort a lot of the stuff that doesn’t cover out. It’s nonsense it hasn’t been done.

  • lib2016

    FD,

    “..why bother coming on to a debate site?”

    1/ Because I find the topic interesting and because I like to inform myself about how others see it, particularly when those others are unionist and I no longer meet unionists regularly.

    2/ INHO the reason why things are as they are is because of centuries of republican resistance to oppression. I still believe that the French and American Revolutions were a good idea but that it is too early to claim success for democracy.

    3/ The sun allegedly never set on the British Empire because it didn’t dare take it’s eye off the B…..ds. Most Irish republicans could empathise with that point of view.

  • Yokel

    Kensei

    We are not talking about London we are talking about here. Whilst individuals may flout the law, entire governing political parties as a whole generally do not and at least on paper, sign up to the support of the basic law & order system.

    Lets not get legalistic and start hammering on about Iraq or whatever else. Bottom line, governing parties in democracies are expected work within the existing law & order system and support it whilst they may want to reform elements of it.

    You know thats how it goes, I know thats how it goes. Sinn Fein will have to cross that bridge and looking at Tony Blair’s (for it is he who matters most) statement on Friday its coming before an election and devolution begins.

    Everyone can see that both Sinn Fein & the DUP are in corners and they both have nowhere to go and they will go.

  • joeCanuck

    A lot of people seem to be terrified at the idea that a SF member might end up as Minister responsible for P and J.
    Why? Operational control of the police will remain in the hands of the Chief Constable under the oversight of the Police Board.
    What’s the problem folks?

  • fair_deal

    kensei

    I’ll take that as a yes to 1, 6 and 7 and at a stretch a couple of partials/maybe. Interesting and I hope SF is as open. PS I appreciate you taking the time to offer an answer, the only republican to do so, so far.

    “Maybe in 10 years.”

    BTW presently the release of that info depends on the loyalists doing it which will hopefully not take 10 years.

    “Er, Nationalism likes it ”

    You can’t blame a guy for trying 😉

    “The DUP leadership insists in not being involved”

    So what is Peter Robinson the deputy leader doing there?

    Lib2016

    I get it now cheers

  • horace rumpole

    ah, but the justice ministry will have power to appoint judges, and general powers of development of the criminal law- y’know, like -say a general amnesty for ciggie smuggling

  • Yokel

    Everyone prefers their incomptents compared to their opponents incompetents Joe..its a matter of principle….

  • joeCanuck

    The days of the likes of Bill Craig ordering the Chief Constable to do certain things and the Chief Constable meeking complying are long gone, never to return, thankfully.
    Any proposal by the Justice ministry to change the law will be subject to a parliamentary vote – The justice minister will not be King.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    You have to hand to that pesky SF lot they decimated the UUP and are now fractionalising the DUP. If they continue like this we will have about 10 unionist parties all with marginally different viewpoints.

    Maybe that was the plant all along divide and conquer……….maybe Jeffery D wishes he had stayed where he was and united the UUP.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    plant = plan

  • Yokel

    Frustrated..no one is that clever to have such a strategy completely planned out (other that japanese car makers maybe). People just are not THAT smart.

    I am, however beginning to think that Mark Durkan wasnt far off with his idea of the DUP vetos. Looking through the NI Act rushed through parliament, the DUP do have a lock on so many areas. Whilst Sinn Fein can also have the same lock, I’m not sure the DUP give a fiddlers on that score as they don’t want things to change so much, Sinn Fein do.

    What I’m guessing will happen is that the DUP will privately say 2008 as a suggested time to put the idea in the chamber for devolution of justice powers……….then scupper it anyway. A private statement that it would go forward in 2008 wouldnt hurt anyone, but whos to say the DUP would carry all their own MLA’s..tragic. But hey thats democracy…

    See Frustrated, thats a simple conspiracy plan.

    This looks more and more like a holding situation until the next election and very possibly the Labour government being kicked out.

  • I wonder…

    ..does anyone else get tired of the endless one line repetition from previous posts with a one line comment which then leads to a one line comment on the one line comment on the one line comment that was posted earlier….people don’t talk like that, neither can they relate in that format.

    I find that expression in traditional sentence and paragraph format somewhat more cogent and natural. Its down to having an English Language “O” Level I guess. 🙂

  • kensei

    “We are not talking about London we are talking about here. Whilst individuals may flout the law, entire governing political parties as a whole generally do not and at least on paper, sign up to the support of the basic law & order system.”

    Bottom line is that parties in democracies put their positions to the electorate and act on them. If the electorate vote SF in on a platform of non cooperation with the police then that is what they are duty bound to do. And if the electorate don’t like it, they can remove their support. But it is dishonest to stand on one thing and do another.

    You’re right. It isn’t London. Parties there make manifesto promises they break, violate the principles they stand on and generally ignore the electorate. That’s why people are apathetic and cynical.