“no point proceeding unless there is clarity”

Prime Minister Tony Blair, just off the plane, has issued a statement. Full text here Updated below the fold Updated againThe full statement

I have spoken intensively to the leaders of both the DUP and Sinn Fein over the past days. Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams have made their positions clear to me, on the two crucial issues of power-sharing and support for policing, justice and the rule of law.

So let me set out my clear understanding of these positions.

I need both leaders to agree to this understanding.

Both parties have already publicly agreed to power-sharing on the basis and timeframe set out at St Andrews.

On policing, justice and the rule of law Sinn Fein will propose to their Party’s Ard Fheis that Sinn Fein commit now and fully to support the PSNI and the criminal justice system and actively encourage everyone to co-operate fully with the police services in tackling crime in all areas as well as actively supporting all the criminal justice institutions. These proposals, if committed to, and acted upon amount to the support by Sinn Fein for the rule of law, police and courts that is necessary.

For their part, the DUP require that the Sinn Fein commitments to support for the police, the courts and the rule of law are translated into action so that there is real and tangible evidence of such support. It is delivery on those commitments that creates the conditions for devolution of policing and justice to take place. When there is delivery, there will be devolution.

On the above basis the Government is in a position to facilitate the timeframe set out in para 7 of the St Andrew’s Agreement, namely on or before May 2008, provided of course that the Sinn Fein commitments are translated into action within that timeframe; and the DUP undertake it will do nothing to delay or obstruct devolution of policing and justice when those conditions are met.[added emphasis]

My view therefore is that if there is delivery by Sinn Fein of support for the police, courts and rule of law within the St Andrew’s timeframe, then there should be devolution of policing and justice within that timeframe.

It is only on this basis and with this clarity that we can proceed to an election. I am confident that both parties want to see progress and will honour their commitments.

But there is no point in proceeding unless there is such clarity.

Update As Ian points out in the comments, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams has statedstatement here [Added link]

The West Belfast MP said: “The core of a motion I would put to a Sinn Fein ard fheis is accurately summarised in the British prime minister’s statement today.”

And in case you missed them, a reminder of previous posts on the differences between target dates and deadlines and conditions and commitments

More It’s worth remembering what Ian Paisley has already said “the sooner we have delivery, the better for us all.”

And What he has said today

In his statement tonight, Mr Paisley said he had made it clear to Mr Blair that upfront delivery was expected from Sinn Fein.

“Sinn Fein must deliver on policing in a real and meaningful way,” the North Antrim MP stressed.

“There can be no movement unless we have clarity on the need for everyone to support the rule of law.

“The Prime Minister is well aware that we are willing to make progress on a level playing field when there is full support for and co-operation with the police.”

He reiterated: “We have remained steadfast on the need to achieve full delivery and if confidence is to be built then it is up to Sinn Fein to match their words with deeds.”

, ,

  • That appears to be very clear.

  • Nationalist

    The question remains: “WHO Decides that what Sinn Fein and the Nationalist people in their support is enough?

    Will the call be made by the British Government or the DUP?

    How can Sinn Fein be held responsible if the people who actually know the events of future criminal events fail to respond to the request to trust the police?

    There will as has been demonstrated over the last few days be people who will never contact the PSNI – what will happen if people do not respond as the DUP would want and run of the doors pointing fingers at neighbours and shouting accusations?

    It still seems there is a lack of clarity in what is expected and from who, and also what the reprecussions will be if the Republican people do not deliver as requested by Sinn Fein within the time frame.

  • Pete Baker

    The question remains: “WHO Decides that what Sinn Fein and the Nationalist people in their support is enough?

    The IMC?

    Just a thought..

  • Ian

    “I need both leaders to agree to this understanding… there is no point in proceeding unless there is such clarity.”

    From the BBC:

    Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said Mr Blair had reflected in his statement the basic elements of the motion he would put to his party on policing.

    The West Belfast MP said: “The core of a motion I would put to a Sinn Fein ard fheis is accurately summarised in the British prime minister’s statement today.”

    SO, Gerry Adams has AGREED TO THE UNDERSTANDING and PROVIDED THE CLARITY required by Blair in his statement.

    All that remains is for Paisley, as the other leader, to do likewise, and it’s Game On!?

  • Ian

    And to follow on from my previous, if Paisley DOESN’T respond likewise, it’s pretty clear-cut which side the blame will fall on.

  • Which is precisely where we were, is it not Ian? In which case, why is the British PM coming home early?

  • Ian

    On the other hand, if Paisley does provide the necessary clarity, then can we ditch the notion of the St Andrew’s Agreement (St Andrews was at best a staging post), for say, the Post-Miami Jet-Lag Agreement?

  • Pete Baker

    I’d suggest that the question remains as to whether that target date is enough for SF given a promise of good behaviour from the DUP..

  • The West Belfast MP said: “The core of a motion I would put to a Sinn Fein ard fheis is accurately summarised in the British prime minister’s statement today.”

    Do we know the full wording of the motion?

  • Ian

    “Which is precisely where we were, is it not Ian? In which case, why is the British PM coming home early?”

    I guess to make a bigger impact on the national news. Perhaps Paisley might be more forthcoming with the required clarity if the national media are making a story of it. Maybe Blair still wants to look relevant – answers the question “Why’s he still hanging on?”

    Or maybe he had a fall-out with the BeeGee.

  • gerry

    The devil is in the detail, and the smell of panic from SF is quite enjoyable. Theres no getting away from it, a lot of this is due to panic inside SF.

  • fair_deal

    I can’t see how this statement particularly requires anything new to be said be said by anybody. Existing statements could be said to cover what is called for.

  • Ian

    “I’d suggest that the question remains as to whether that target date is enough for SF given a promise of good behaviour from the DUP..”

    Pete,

    I know you like to get into semantics about ‘target dates’ vs ‘deadlines’ but what’s the difference really? What political deadline has ever been immovable if one side shirks from it? A deadline is basically a target date that all parties agree on.

    The last few months of negotiations since St Andrews has been about getting the DUP to agree to the May 2008 target date, thereby making it to all intents and purposes a deadline (as much as any date ever is a deadline) and then getting SF to ratify the policing move at their AF.

    Paisley’s New Year speech came closer to agreeing the May 2008 target date (more so than media reports of the speech gave it credit in my opinion – no-one seems to have reported the following quote ** except the DUP website and Slugger via me pasting it), hopefully he just needs this final nudge to make a more explicit commitment and the deal is done.

    ** The DUP proposal [in the ‘changed context’ of cross-community vote for electing Justice Minister(s)], while acknowledging that the Assembly needs some time to bed-in, PUT NO RESTRICTIONS ON WHEN THE POWERS COULD BE DEVOLVED [my emphasis]. This is achievable with delivery [by SF].

  • Pete Baker

    Ian

    Your questions are answered, as best as I can, in the linked posts above.

    In short, a deadline is enforceable.

    A target date is dependent on conditions on the ground, “real and tangible evidence” – as referred to by Blair, “When there is delivery, there will be devolution.”

  • As I understand Pete’s defintion: IRA decommissioning by May 2000 was a target date; Good Friday 1998 was a (functioning) deadline.

    However, given how the DUP rode over 24th November, there has been some considerable blurring of that distinction in recent times.

    Note: I just misread progress76 for what it actually said: process76. Clearly, this is not the end.

  • Blair is the one who is in a panic.

    NI peace process and devolved govt is the only thing left for Blair to stop his entire legacy being one of sand through his fingers.

    The goal for Blair is to achieve some kind of definitve result before he leaves office, no matter if it falls apart after Blair is gone.

    Panic is a good thing in this senario because it shows the finishing line is in view.

    Never before have the DUP and Sinn Fein, as leading parties, been so close to reaching a settlement, no wonder both sides are showing signs of being spooked.

    In the words of the Irish lady from the Tax advert:
    “Go on, go on, go on, go on” make the deal.

  • John Donnelly

    I think that Sinn Fein should go ahead,have the Ard Fheis and put it up to Ian. Sinn Fein should stop worrying that Ian P will scupper things at the last moment. All we had today was a quid pro quo reassurance from Blair so that when Adams gets the go ahead Paisley will be in a bad position if he backs down at the last moment.Lets say Ian does back down. All Adams has to do is call another Ard Fheis and rescind any support for the police or put that on hold. Or even better ,flood the PSNI with so many Republicans that the DUP might be driven to conjure up another precondition

  • Ian

    The fact that Gerry Adams could respond immediately and with the necessary clarity to Blair’s speech, whereas Paisley has yet to do so, suggests it is Paisley who is feeling the heat most now. Discuss.

  • cynic

    Sinn Fein must absolutely prefer this speculation and discussion to the magnifying glass placed on their so-called internal democracy and the ongoing dissent/attrition! Well played, SF!

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Ian,

    it is clear that in such matters Adams deals directly with Blair and Powell. I would assume he replied so readily because he and Blair have been in constant contact and are already in agreement. Blair has returned to deal with the DUP.

  • Pete Baker

    It’s worth remembering what Ian Paisley has already said “the sooner we have delivery, the better for us all.”

  • John Donnelly

    Look, there is going to be considerable panic on both sides. 30 years of mistrust does not disappear overnight so it demands calm heads all round. I await the DUP statement and pray it will be measured and conciliatory.Goodness gracious the Dup have got so much recently with St Andrews and more preconditions etc.. it is time for a conciliatory approach and less of the gaming techniques!

  • Rory

    Yes. Pat McLarnon’s reading of this latest development seems the simplest and most credible given the information we have to hand. Blair has come back to whip Paisley back into line as he believed he had done at ST Andrew’s where Paisley looked a most chastened man.

  • parcifal

    What would constitute a “positive statement” from Paisley;
    I am confused as to exactly what SF want the DUP to say?

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Mr Blair came home a day early from holiday in Florida to try to revive hopes of devolution returning to Northern Ireland by the end of March.

    So reported the BBC – it’s the 4th of January and the British PM, the second most powerful man in the world (or the dogsbody for the most powerful?) – was still on holiday.

    What planet does he live on?

    As for the policing question, this should be thrown into sharp relief tomorrow when an Irish speaker comes before the court in Laganside to answer charges of ‘drunk and disorderly behaviour’ arising out of an incident in which she merely spoke Irish to a PSNI officer.

    The PSNI like to don the GAA togs – but when it comes to An Ghaeilge, they’ve got a bit of a blind spot.

  • fair_deal

    Cynic seems to have got it bang on, get attention away from the crisis in SF by creating a general crisis.

    “at ST Andrew’s where Paisley looked a most chastened man”

    Hmmm, “chastened” was not a common description of his press conference performance at St Andrews

  • lol

    I am confused as to exactly what SF want the DUP to say?

    No more sackcloth and ashes, boys!!

  • John Donnelly

    Paisley and Adams both have the jitters. No wonder Blair came back from a holiday. It wasnt necessarily because Paisley had problems. Adams had his doubts about DUP commitment which initiated a Dup response from Dodds this morning etc…This translates into DUP reactionism which of its very nature is nervy. get it right guys!

  • John,

    I’m willing to be convinced. But the trail that dumps this at the door of DUP is either not there, or I am just not seeing it.

    If Adams is simply asking for more time, then he should say so.

  • Dualta

    Pat McL said:

    [i]it is clear that in such matters Adams deals directly with Blair and Powell. I would assume he replied so readily because he and Blair have been in constant contact and are already in agreement. Blair has returned to deal with the DUP.[/i]

    You’ve hit the nail on the head Pat. GA wants assurance that the DUP will follow.

    That said, I’m really not sure that they will. If they do, they will bolster SF, if they don’t they could cause GA serious damage for even taking this as far as he has.

    There’s no doubting that this is causing concern within SF ranks. If nothing comes of it in terms of devolution then the pain currently being suffered by SF may well have been for nothing.

  • parcifal

    Paisley speaks:
    http://u.tv/newsroom/indepth.asp?id=79059&pt=n
    Does this fall short of what SF want?

  • Dualta,

    I am pretty sure it will not be for nothing. If past experience is anything to go by, this is not the end, and possibly not even be the endgame.

  • fair_deal

    Parcifal

    It seems from GA’s reference to his policing motion that SF want the DUP to say

    “The DUP haven’t seen SF’s motion nor has it been passed nor acted upon but the DUP promise they will do whatever SF want on this issue. The DUP will give SF a deadline on the devolution of policing nor object to a side deal on OTR’s etc etc.”

    As a New year bonus they would also like “The DUP will gladly ignore that under St Andrews we don’t have to do these things because we are feeling generous and giving political movement away for free goes down well with our voters. The fact that on the day of St Andrews (and since) we told SF and everyone else that DUP movement was dependent on delivery was just a little jest between non-friends. We also agree to sit in the corner and be quiet little boys and girls and wait for the inevitable 32 county socialist republic.”

    Caricaturing aside, Blair’s repeated references to delivery mean the DUP can couch anything they say with “subject to delivery” and Ian has already pointed out IP’s position to devolution in May 08 is an open one.

    The cross-community voting takes the sting out of the tail of the devolution of policing and justice powers with the ‘test’ period for Sinn Fein effectively to 2011.

    “No more sackcloth and ashes,”

    I wondered when that would make a reappearance which statement will be latched onto this time?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Dualta,

    rather than bolster Adams I would see it as weakening Paisley. The vultures have been less than subtle hovering around the Doc.

    As for the ‘pain’ in the SF ranks, this matter had to be addressed and post GFA SF stated that it would, if certain conditions(discussed elsewhere) were met. I heard that being said on hundreds of occasions but apparently some SF members did not.
    Clearly Adams (at least) believes this to be the occasion and has decided to face it now.

  • Dualta

    Mick,

    You could well be right, but I must say that SF is having a torrid time in public. Is it possible that the DUP would be happy to drag SF along in this process to exacerbate their internal difficulties and then not commit? This is what Paisley has said:

    [i]”If we are to see further political developments, then it must be in the context of full and final delivery from republicans.”[/i]

    Does that mean that action must be taken on other issues that the DUP has repeatedly flagged up such as criminality, the IRA’s cash and even the IRA’s structures, i.e. the continued existence of the Army Council.

    If they do then Adams will be made to look like he’s being led by the nose, just as SF made Trimble look. It has been said already that the DUP may well be playing the same game with SF that SF played with the UUP, seriously damaging that party.

    Does Paisley see an opportunity to finally smash SF?

  • DK

    From the UTV link – this is what Paisley said:

    “Sinn Fein must deliver on policing in a real and meaningful way,” the North Antrim MP stressed.
    “There can be no movement unless we have clarity on the need for everyone to support the rule of law.
    “The Prime Minister is well aware that we are willing to make progress on a level playing field when there is full support for and co-operation with the police.”

    It would be helpful if Sinn Fein indicated what they want to hear so no-one is left guessing as to whether the above Paisley statement is enough. Unless, of course, there is no intention of proceeding no matter what is said.

  • Dualta

    Pat

    [i]Clearly Adams (at least) believes this to be the occasion and has decided to face it now.[/i]

    Pat, that’s for sure. Adams is a strong, determined leader. I also see your point regarding the internal machinations in the DUP. If the Doc does move into a devolved administration with SF it will hurt him severely. It will then be him suffering the internal splits.

    I don’t think he’s going to jump this time. Of course Blair can threaten him with whatever, but might Paisley consider whatever moves are made towards the implementation of Plan B as being the lesser of two evils?

    Having Martin McG as a deputy would split his party whilst the implementation of Plan B would galvinise it.

  • John Donnelly

    There will be a deal.No matter what.Adams has come too far and Paisley as well believe it or not.If his party bring up another precondition after this issue, Adams will be in a strong position.

    What is wrong with supporting the rule of law anyway? If you flood the Psni with Nationalists who gives a monkeys whether it is old British Law or Northern Irish law or whatever?In the Irish republic we have the same model of law believe it or not!So everyone needs to cool their kecks and remain rational whatever camp you are supporting.
    Adams, go for policing !Ian lets get devolved!

  • Yokel

    So all Paisley has to do is say ‘I think the PM’s remarks are fair’ and make refernce to the issue of verafiable delivery. At the end of the day the STAA talks of 2008 as the hoped for date, black and white and the DUP know it. Its easy for Paisley to say that it would good if the situation on the ground was verifiably transformed enough for devolution to go ahead.

    I suspect something will be forthcoming from the DUP to that effect shortly.

    Maybe the truth of the situation can be seen from this headline from that well known DUP rag…

    http://politics.guardian.co.uk/northernirelandassembly/story/0,,1982943,00.html

  • John Donnelly

    Having MmcG will not necessarily split his party. That is fear mongering nonsense! Speaking to RTE’s worst reporter, recently, IP said he would “do whats best for the country” in a conciliatory manner. Sure the DUP have to work with SF in City Hall in Belfast for goodness sake! The deal is very possible and we shouldnt be negative

  • Ian

    Parcifal,

    I think at this stage it’s not so much a question of what SF would like Paisley to say, but what Blair has required of him, i.e. a very simple yes or no response to Blair’s statement.

    Blair laid out his understanding of what the agreed way forward is, having had discussions with Adams and Paisley about their respective positions. He simply requests that both leaders agree that his understanding, as detailed in his statement, is a correct interpretations of the two leaders’ positions.

    Adams gave an affirmative response almost immediately. All that is required is for Paisley to follow by saying Yes.

    It all comes down to that one little word. But can Paisley change the habit of a lifetime and say it?

  • Cynic

    It seems we now have 2 Cynics!

    Two Cynics in NI on this issue. Amazing!

  • Dualta

    John,
    It could even split his church.

  • eolas

    Don’t people get the fact that the DUP were supposed to state something in their sequence but only half said it on New Year’s Day? There was more that was unsaid but should have been. Just listening to Reg Empey letting the cat out of the bag.
    This is certainly not about internal SF difficulties but about the DUP not stating what is needed. I hope that they will now state it so everyone can move forwards.
    The notion that SF do not want to move into policing because of internal difficulties is wrong. The leadership have clearly decided to do so and are focussed on that objective. If the DUP do not step up to the mark – the ball will be in the British Government’s court to finalise the deal on Policing as they have on other issues e.g. CRJ and MI5.

  • kensei

    “It seems from GA’s reference to his policing motion that SF want the DUP to say

    “The DUP haven’t seen SF’s motion nor has it been passed nor acted upon but the DUP promise they will do whatever SF want on this issue. The DUP will give SF a deadline on the devolution of policing nor object to a side deal on OTR’s etc etc.” ”

    Or how about, you know, what Blair said?

    That if SF sign up to policing, then policing powers should be devolved assuming normal caveats and the talk of “Generations” was just hot air?

    You know, what was meant to have been agreed?

  • Yokel

    His church isn’t his party.

    Sorry lads the DUP has already got what they wanted, the cross community voting method. The truth is that the DUP just don’t want Sinn Fein to have it and Sinn Fein want it. On that score, with the cross community voting idea apparently being accepted, the DUP have the whip hand.

    Fair-deal, who I have no idea if he is involved in the machincery of the DUP or not, is probably right, Paisley can just say that the PM’s statement makes sense and thats what he hopes for. I theorised ages ago that maybe the DUP were wiping a few eyes, stirring pots and making plenty of statements, some soft some hard.

    Gerry, bless him, needs love but he’s looking in the wrong place, its in his own party where the issues lie that he is trying to deal with.

  • BoxtyChamp

    If you remove the Press Association journalese (“threat…. deadlocked… uncompromising… tough statement…. etc”) from the u.tv piece, this is what you’re left with: “The time for action from Sinn Fein is now. If we are to see further political developments, then it must be in the context of full and final delivery from republicans. On this there will be no weakening. Sinn Fein must deliver on policing in a real and meaningful way. There can be no movement unless we have clarity on the need for everyone to support the rule of law. The Prime Minister is well aware that we are willing to make progress on a level playing field when there is full support for and co-operation with the police. We have remained steadfast on the need to achieve full delivery and if confidence is to be built then it is up to Sinn Fein to match their words with deeds.”

    For every doomsayer in the North, there’s a naive optimist like me who can’t see where IP departs substantially from anything in the Blair statement.

  • eolas,

    What was it they were supposed say?

  • Ian

    Latest at the BBC, the NIO have apparently accepted Paisley’s statement as satisfactory, but now Dodds has stuck his oar in:

    The Northern Ireland Office in a statement said: “It is positive that the leadership of both Sinn Fein and the DUP have accepted and welcomed the prime minister’s assessment as set out in his statement today.

    “We believe that the parties can move forward on that basis within the timeframe of the St Andrews Agreement.”

    (I’m not sure how the NIO arrived at that conclusion on the basis of the BBC/UTV quotes – does anyone have access to Paisley’s statement in full? It’s not on the DUP site yet, unlike Adams’ quote on the SF site. It’s possible the BBC/UTV might have missed out a crucial phrase like they did with Paisley’s New Year speech.)

    However, the North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds, said that the 2008 target date had not been agreed by his party and would not be.

    “The DUP has made it clear consistently that there will be no timetable for the devolution of policing and justice powers agreed by us,” he said.

    “Such a timetable or target date is a purely republican demand only. It was not required of us at St Andrews and we are not about to renegotiate something on which our party’s position is well settled.”

    (Dodds obviously didn’t pick up on Robinson’s recent statement to the effect that objections to early devolution of justice powers would evaporate if cross-community consent was built into the mechanism for minsterial appointments – more trouble in the pipeline for the DUP camp?)

  • Dualta

    Boxty,

    IP’s statement leaves room for more preconditions, such as criminality, IRA cash and the continued existence of the IRA army council. The DUP could drag this out for ever and a day. SF seem to want more clarity.

  • fair_deal

    Kensei

    “Or how about, you know, what Blair said?”

    Already been said hence the strangeness of SF’s creation of a ‘crisis’.

    Yokel

    “who I have no idea if he is involved in the machincery of the DUP or not,”

    Nope I’m not.

  • Pst Mc Larnon

    Dualta,

    clearly we are at the stage where the ability of the DUP leader to deliver is moving centre stage. Failure at this juncture would call into question whether what is left of the institutions envisaged by GFA can ever be implimented.

    In that event Adams could take the special AF to Blair as part of a enhanced plan B.

    Nationalists / Republicans would then have to go through a period of reflection /internal negotiations on the best way forward re future talks.

  • kensei

    “Already been said hence the strangeness of SF’s creation of a ‘crisis’.”

    Really? Dodd’s statement above would tend to say otherwise.

  • Ian

    Pat:

    “clearly we are at the stage where the ability of the DUP leader to deliver is moving centre stage.”

    Let’s see whether he slaps down Dodds for his latest inflammatory statement.

  • Dualta

    Pat,

    Good post. I think we may well be seeing such a scenario unfolding.

  • Ian

    Pat:

    “clearly we are at the stage where the ability of the DUP leader to deliver is moving centre stage.”

    Let’s see whether he slaps down Dodds for his latest highly inflammatory statement.

  • confused

    Why has Adams given himself as hostage to DUP? His future actions re policing are dependent on the expressed reaction of his political opponents.His support of policing or otherwise stands or falls by the application of his Republican principles.

  • John Donnelly

    Dodds is hammering out a well known position. This time however he wont be able to stop the tide for devolution -even if it takes until Jan 2008. Devolution is going to happen folks and it would be madness to bet against it

  • eolas

    Mick,

    When Paisley missed that line out in Stormont that day. He had to clarify/reiterate later. He’s under internal pressures on all of this. Everytime the British stop leaning on him he reverts only to have to go back again when they come back to lean.

    Re-read Blair…

    “It is delivery on those [SF] commitments that creates the conditions for devolution of policing and justice to take place. When there is delivery, there will be devolution.”

    “On the above basis the Government is in a position to facilitate the timeframe set out in para 7 of the St Andrew’s Agreement, namely on or before May 2008, provided of course that the Sinn Fein commitments are translated into action within that timeframe; and the DUP undertake it will do nothing to delay or obstruct devolution of policing and justice when those conditions are met.”

    Blair said that: “I need both leaders to agree to this understanding.”

    Also, if you want go back to Annex E of the Comprehensive agreement of 2004 – the DUP were meant to state:

    There is a recognition that policing and justice functions should be devolved just as soon as the community confidence exists. We will dedicate ourselves to reach agreement on how such powers could be exercised.

    I hope that this clarifies somewhat…

  • John Donnelly

    I copied the DUPs view on devolution below but before that let me say this. It is up to Sinn F to deliver.They have to be committed to the basics of any democracy. They need to deliver and deliver they will on this final hurdle which is policing.If there are any preconditions made by DUP after such a hurdle then they will have behaved honourably.The public will see this clearly and Ian P will be to blame if he doesnt deliver.
    Furthermore
    If Sinn Fein had been a democratic party from the first ceasefire there would have been ample time to build up trust.Problem is, looking at it from a proddy angle,would you be willing to trust those who have been quite manipulative of the system ,ballot box and armalite etc?It is this position of mistrust which still lingers in the minds of men like Dodds,who still remembers the violence of the IRA.That is still his problem and his unforgiving heart always finds him out. Paisley is a better man for all that.

    Nevertheless why do SF always have to be behind instead of being ahead. Get rid of the physical force activists Gerry( I believe you are doing this)and come fully into the democratic forum-clean!!!!You have everything to gain.

    VOLUNTARY COALITION

    The DUP contends, as it did in Devolution Now, that a Voluntary Coalition is the best form of devolution for Northern Ireland. Parties should be able to coalesce with those who are willing and legitimate. The DUP is willing to work with all democratic parties who pass the “Entry Conditions”.

    As Northern Ireland’s leading and largest party we will put our energy into establishing a coalition from those parties who want to have a future free from violence, criminality and guns.

    If, at present, there is not sufficient support for forming a Voluntary Coalition, we believe an interim option could be designed which, on a pre-determined date, would “go live” with executive devolution on a Voluntary Coalition basis with those parties permitted and prepared to participate.

  • John Donnelly

    I just copied the new year address from the Doc himself. If Gerry Adams cant see what is required then he is blind. I dont believe many nationalists have read what I have copied below and they need to-instead of listening to biased media reports. OK so it is not totally conciliatory but there is enough meat in there for Adams not to have reacted in the last 24 hours.Or,perhaps he himself didnt panic .Maybe his party members encouraged him to react to the speech.I dont know.Here it is…..

    “The DUP, with characteristic bluntness, stated the obvious, that we could not envisage a situation in the foreseeable future where community confidence would exist for a Sinn Fein minister of policing and justice. Our candour disturbed some. The Government and the DUP already support the police, and want to see devolution in the proper circumstances. The Government and the DUP are already creating confidence in policing and urging people to support and cooperate with the police. Sinn Fein needs to act to create the corresponding confidence.

    As a consequence of our proposals for policing and justice we have changed the context of the debate on when policing and justice powers are devolved by proposing that the minister be appointed by a cross-community vote rather than by the d’Hondt system. This would ensure that only someone who has widespread support and enjoys community confidence could hold the post. Consequently, only someone whom we support can be chosen for the post.

    The DUP proposal, while acknowledging that the Assembly needs some time to bed-in, put no restrictions on when the powers could be devolved. This is achievable with delivery. Sinn Fein must honour their commitments. It is action not words that count. When they do so the DUP will not be found wanting. If the Government believes its timetable is achievable, they would do well to press with us on Sinn Fein to deliver in a real and meaningful way.

    The DUP is keen to see real political progress, but it must be sound, condition-satisfied, credibly tested and quality-assured certainty that will prompt any advance. Northern Ireland cannot afford in 2007 an Assembly that stutters and sputters from crisis to suspension. What matters most is that we get it right. People want us to ensure that it is stable and built to last, and when built, that we make it work for the benefit of everyone.”

  • Keith M

    OC “The PSNI like to don the GAA togs – but when it comes to An Ghaeilge, they’ve got a bit of a blind spot.”

    One piece of info. is missing from this irrelevant little rant, was the person not able to speak English? If they were then they should have the book thrown at them.

  • Rory

    “The DUP, with characteristic bluntness….”

    always with the old charteristic bluntness, eh! Wherever would they be without it? Unfortunately bluntness simply will not cut it on this occassion. What is required is clarity. Let us all hope that this necessary transformation of style does not prove too difficult for the blunt men to manage.

  • gerry

    What of the suggestion tonight by ken reid on utv that there could be another AC before any decision on an AF or anything else? A second AC might allow wriggle room from the appeasing shinners?