In case you missed it..

Given the current situation, and the apparent inability of some to recognise the reality of that situation, it’s worth recalling some of the inter-party discussions which were on the record.. and in particular a contribution from the Alliance Party’s Naomi Long in Hain’s the Preparation For Government Committee on 9th August last year. [useful things archives – Ed]From the archive

Mrs Long: For policing and justice powers to be devolved, the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister must put a motion jointly to the Assembly, which would be subject to a cross-community vote. The Secretary of State would then have to ensure that the appropriate conditions were in place, and a vote would be held in Westminster. That is laid out in the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006. Therefore, the powers cannot be devolved unless they achieve cross-community confidence.

Taking that as read, is it possible to set a target date by which policing and justice powers can be devolved? It is possible to suggest that conditions must be right and, at the same time, suggest that a target date should be set – those propositions are not mutually exclusive. Setting such a date puts down a marker – members are not saying that devolution of those powers will happen in two years’ time, but simply that it is their wish that it should happen then. It shows that they are prepared to commit to working towards it. That is important for those who believe that the issue of devolution is a key part of this negotiation process. Indicating at least a willingness to move forward does not mean that in two years’ time all the other locks can be unpicked. It is simply a matter of showing willing, and it is important that members are willing to set a date.

I do not want to set a prescriptive date or deadline. It would be pointless to suggest that if this issue were not cleared up in two years’ time, the entire matter should fall apart on that hook. However, it is important to set a target towards which we can work in respect of the legislative framework, and so on. At a certain point, the Secretary of State will also need to introduce legislation to allow for policing and justice powers to be devolved. A process must be entered into, and a two-year target is not an unreasonable one.[added emphasis]

And another reminder of the St Andrews’ Agreement text, paragraph 7, as discussed previously here

7. Discussions on the devolution of policing and justice have progressed well in the Preparation for Government Committee. The Governments have requested the
parties to continue these discussions so as to agree the necessary administrative arrangements to create a new policing and justice department. It is our view that implementation of the agreement published today should be sufficient to build the community confidence necessary for the Assembly to request the devolution of criminal justice and policing from the British Government by May 2008.[extra added emphasis]

That previously noted post also details the inclusion of the target date in the legislation.

And I’ve tried to point out how that confidence will be needed in order to proceed with devolving powers on policing and justice.

Another archive gem can be found in Mick’s reaction, in October, to Sinn Féin’s self-imposed conditions

None of this is disablingly specific. But if a similar motion were adopted for the party’s special Ard Fheis we might expect some vigorous debate around the precise meaning of the term ‘acceptable timeframe’. In the past, the DUP has argued that it is not a matter of time, but of judging the quality of Sinn Fein’s committment to the rule of law.

Intriguingly, the St Andrews Agreement does contain a timeline, albeit one that allows for considerable and unspecified slippage. But, it seems, devolution of policing powers to a local minister has been relegated to last place on the list. And oversight of MI5 would seem to remain with Westminster.

That’s the background as I see it. And the question reality again..

, , , ,

  • hh

    there’s an old saying: fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. question: what do you call a media that has been fooled by sinn fein using the same sham crisis tactics so many times in the peace process that it defies arithmetic? answer: the irish media. its really quite simple: who needs an assembly up and working and a place in government more, the dup or sinn fein? next question: why does sinn fein always create a crisis at a moment when movement is required? answer: because the media pander to sinn fein and there’s an idiot in downing street called blair who can always be guaranteed to reach in his desk drawer for more goodies for sinn fein. last question: what should sensible people do? answer: ignore it all!

  • parcifal

    peteb,
    could you put this picture on top of your thread, as it reflects the reality of what SF are being asked to do, also it reflects the reality of what many DUP spokesmen say will happen , just after SF make the first jump:
    there are 3 rings
    then you could delete this post of mine.

    http://www.myloupe.com/disp_thumb_images/1038/display/195779.jpg

  • parcifal “the reality of what SF are being asked to do………… just after SF make the first jump: there are 3 rings”

    Well at least jumping through ‘rings’ is a lot safer than jumping aside ‘rounds’ like a lot of folk have had to do for too many years.

  • parcifal

    Way Icit
    you might like to educate yourself by reading the thread:
    What is whataboutery
    http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/glossary_what_is_whataboutery/

  • Chris Donnelly

    the apparent inability of some to recognise the reality of that situation…

    Pete

    Glad to see you’ve clearly been wound up all day after reading my post.

    On the ‘reality of the situation,’ I stand by what has been already stated. There are two steps to be taken at this point to get us from deadlock to the breakthrough required for a return of the Good Friday Agreement institutions.

    1. Sinn Fein will have to endorse policing and justice structures, through an Ard Fheis.

    2. The DUP will have to commit to power-sharing to return this March and for the devolution of policing and justice by May 2008.

    You can surf the archives (and, as your posts repreatedly indicate, you spend a lot of time doing just that…) all you want for pearls of wisdom from Mick (apologies Senor Fealty) and/ or Naomi Long, but their relevance during a political negotiation, where the situation remains quite fluid, is questionable.

    Which leads me back to the comments by Martin McGuinness today. When he declares that republicans need Ian Paisley to state that he ‘agrees’ with Tony Blair’s position that devolution of policing/ justice should happen by May 2008, he is seeking the DUP to declare their support for May ’08 as a deadline, regardless of the waffle around community consensus- which is patently just that.

    Perhaps you’d be happy with a scenario in which the DUP determine when nationalists/ republicans can be responsible for policing and justice matters, but I can tell you that you’d be in a small minority within the broad nationalist community on that one.

    It is an important attempt to clarify the matter so that what Mick identified as potential ‘slippage’ does not occur.

    You may not be able to comprehend that- and for the life of me I can’t understand why not- but that is the ‘reality’ of the current position.

    Whether or not it is a case of republicans imposing conditions upon themselves is actually irrelevant: at various stages of the peace process, unionist parties- not least the DUP- have unilaterally drew a line in the sand around certain issues. It is a quite common negotiating strategy.

    Hope that clarifies things for you [look! didn’t even need archives- ED!]

  • Parcifal “you might like to educate yourself by reading the thread: What is whataboutery “

    I think you ought to read it again yourself and refresh your memory “Some define it as the often multiple blaming and finger pointing that goes on between communities in conflict.”

    You presume too readily that I am pointing the finger at one community – wrong. I am not a DUP supporter – never have and never will be, just trying to put your ‘rings’ into perspective. I too am a sinner!

  • hh

    while the betting has to be that this is one more sham fight one has to hope that this time it might go pear-shaped and that the people of northern ireland will be spared their own repellant version of the hitler-stalin pact and the whole pack of cards will collapse – another bonus is that it will deny that shiester blair of any kudos and, after the debacle of iraq and his romance with the other idiot bush, no legacy worth talking about! but i think not, unfortunately. but where else has sinn fein to go except to accept what is on offer? the dup doesn’t need an assembly. everyone is bored silly with the peace process, sf’s support is slipping south of the border and the ira is a dead duck, the blame game has run out of steam, nothing more to be gained. yawn! yawn!
    as for unionists drawing lines in the sand, is that why trimble is history?

  • parcifal

    fair enough Way Icit.

    bye the way is peteb affliated to any political party? He seems very anti-SF

  • Pete Baker

    Chris

    Thanks, but I’m perfectly clear on the reality of the situation.

    The reason why the archive is useful in this case is that we can refer back to when exactly everyone else acknowledged the difference between a target date and an enforceable deadline – and when that target date was placed in the public domain and, subsequently, the legislation.

    As I’ve previously tried to point out, it’s all about that crucial cross-community support in the Assembly. No-one, not even Peter Hain, can force those devolved powers, nor a Minister, on an Assembly without that cross-community support – it just isn’t possible… as even Peter Hain has admitted.

    And as the St Andrews Agreement acknowledges, there is a need to build community confidence.

    Demanding a pre-determined deadline, which is unenforceable, just encourages the idea that there will be no attempt to build that confidence.

    Which brings us to your point 2.

    2. The DUP will have to commit to power-sharing to return this March and for the devolution of policing and justice by May 2008.

    I realise this is just what Martin McGuinness is stating, but why do you suppose that anyone else will demand that the DUP commit to something beyond what the Pirme Minister Tony Blair has already stated is needed?

    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]

    Everything, everything, will depend on the conditions on the ground.

    I realise that doesn’t chime with Motion 395, but that brings me to another point.

    The reason why that particular motion is significant is that it was Sinn Féin placing a condition on Sinn Féin holding the Ard Fheis to decide on policing.. an Ard Fheis which there is still no confirmed date for.

  • Pete Baker

    parci

    “He seems very anti-SF”

    Feel free to argue against the points made in the original post.

    In other words – Play the ball, not the man.

  • Doreen

    HH.

    I heartily agree with you. This is a complete and utter waste of taxpayers’ money, a sham that should be over.

    Question: how many gathered here have ever attended a debate in the Assembly?

    Another question: look closely; do we really want that lot to govern us. Are they capable of it, “fit for purpose”, to use a modern idiom?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Everything, everything, will depend on the conditions on the ground.

    Pete

    Not true. Who interprets ‘conditions on the ground?’ Gregory Campbell’s interpretation of those conditions would seem to suggest we’re back to ‘not in a political lifetime’ from the DUP.

    Failure to secure a public commitment by Paisley and the DUP to the May 2008 date will mean that it will be the DUP who hold the whip hand in that regard- a scenario nationalists will, naturally, wish to avoid.

    Thus, what is required is an explicit acceptance of the timeframe by Paisley at this moment.

    Of course, he could always theoretically back out of such a commitment some distance down the line, but he- and the DUP- would suffer a severe credibility loss in the process and the British government would come under pressure, in such circumstances, to force their hand.

  • ingram

    Chris.

    Martin McGuinness is merely singing a song to his diminishing flock. The British PM has made it clear only this week the terms for a potential deal.It clearly was not a message either you or your leaders appreciated but Eh thats life.

    Sinn Fein have to move FIRST. That is a price to be paid in part for taking the P**s out of the UUP a few years ago.

    Republicans word is not trusted by all parties . The date for any devolution of limitted powers is SUBJECT to a number of subjective conditions .

    You and Sinn Fein might not like it but that is not Pete`s fault.

    He is merely pointing out to everyone the public positions adopted at different points in time by all sides.It seems that he is picking upon Sinn Fein? he is not , he is just accurately reflecting the number of back flips Sinn Fein have peformed on this issue.

    What seems to annoy you is Pete`s use of the archives to back up his points. I think that is a positive in Pete`s postings and I for one congratulate him on his diligence in these matters.

    It is time you took a chill pill and gave Pete a well deserved pat on the back for a long series of in depth and accurate appraisals of what are by design complicated issues.

    Whilst we have your attention, could you explain the current Sinn Fein situation regarding MI5 involvement in policing Republicans and the IRA OTR issue.

    Thank You

    Martin

  • Pete Baker

    Chris

    “Not true. Who interprets ‘conditions on the ground?’”

    While Martin may be provocative at times, he’s fundamentally right on this – thanks by the way Martin.

    It’s not about which party’s version of events dominates, it’s just about trying to get at what everyone is actually signing up to.

    In this case, everyone else has set out their stall. And that stall is one of a target date to be worked towards… not an enforceable deadline.

    And for the very good reason that no deadline would be enforceable without cross-community support.

  • slug

    Pete Baker

    Thanks for an excellent comment (number 9). You have clarified this whole thing very well.

    In particular the following point you made is key:

    “Demanding a pre-determined deadline, which is unenforceable, just encourages the idea that there will be no attempt to build that confidence.”

  • ingram

    Pete.

    I was looking forward to Chris giving us an update on the current position of Sinn Fein on the OTR and MI5 issue.

    It seems he is not available at the moment. When he finally reports back would you be so kind to archive the response for further use.

    Thank You.

    Martin

  • parcifal

    right pete, in your thread,
    why didn’t you highlight this bit?

    But if a similar motion were adopted for the party’s special Ard Fheis we might expect some vigorous debate around the precise meaning of the term ‘acceptable timeframe’

    Is it not clear that what’s been happening on Sluggers recently is
    a “vigorous debate” on what is an “acceptable timeframe”.

    And this in advance of a possible motion.

    What do you think will happen after that motion comes out?
    A clue:
    A vigorous debate around the precise meaning of the term ‘acceptable timeframe’

  • Pete Baker

    parci

    You haven’t thought that point through, have you?

  • parcifal

    you’re making assumptions peteb; perhaps if you could liberate yourself from your archives I think you’ll find that the point I’m making is very salient.
    Both Hain and Blair have said they are working towards the acceptable timetable of March 2007 ,
    and May 2008. SF are satisfied with this, we’ve yet to hear from the DUP if indeed this is their understanding, in simple clear words.
    Then the process can move on.

  • Pete Baker

    parci

    “Both Hain and Blair have said they are working towards the acceptable timetable of March 2007 ,
    and May 2008.”

    Working towards… as in a target date.. not an enforceable deadline.

  • ingram

    Pete.

    You can bring the horse to water BUT you cannot make it drink.

    Martin

  • The Sunday Times January 07, 2007

    DUP sets further tests on policing for Sinn Fein
    John Burns

    A DEMOCRATIC Unionist party MP has created a new hoop for Sinn Fein to jump through before the parties can share power in March.

    Gregory Campbell, the East Derry MP, says that after Sinn Fein endorses the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) at an ard fheis, the DUP has a series of tests to make sure its commitment to policing is genuine.

    This would include Republicans helping to bring criminals to justice, assisting with the investigation of the IRA murder of Robert McCartney in January 2005 and providing information about the “disappeared”.

    “After the ard fheis we have a series of things to put into practice to test them to see if their support for policing means anything,” Campbell said. “If they do go ahead and support the police, that is good and proper, but when criminal activity continues they have to play their parts as everyone does in bringing people to justice. That would be a practical out-working of the decision they took.”

    Campbell said that, in particular, Sinn Fein members could not “turn a blind eye to criminals because they are former colleagues”.

    Raising the bar for Sinn Fein adds to the problems of Gerry Adams, who is facing unrest in his party after the DUP failed to respond “positively” to the calling of an ard fheis to support policing. Adams has sent Alex Maskey, a senior republican, to America to drum up support for Sinn Fein’s policy change.

    “There can be no certainty about what way the ard fheis will go,” Adams writes in this weekend’s Village magazine. “Predictably, and wrongly, most of the media will assume the Sinn Fein leadership has the ard fheis in its pocket. I think we are going to have a very rocky few weeks. I have every confidence that we will stay united. Most of us have been through too much to throw it away at this stage.”

    One sign of the strain is that five assembly members have said they will not seek re-election or have been stood down for the proposed election in March.

    There is also unease within the DUP over the prospect of sharing power with Sinn Fein. Four of its nine MPs have said they do not believe power sharing can be achieved by the deadline of March 26, or that policing and justice can be devolved.

    Ian Paisley, the DUP leader, “welcomed” an assessment of the political situation provided last week by Tony Blair, but did not say that he agreed with his road map for moving forward.

    Add to these new hoops the DUP require Lord Lucan to arrive at Stormont riding Shergar before they will share power.

  • Mark

    Recently Mr Baker spent a day trying to downplay Shiela’s entry on the SF Ard Chomhairle meeting, today he spends the day attacking Chris’ reading of events.

    Why can’t you just blog your own thing and leave us free to read the other bloggers’ opinions without a challenging/competing narrative of their position? They afford you that respect.

    Though the idea of an internal blog bun fight is interesting but it isn’t much fun when it’s always the same Bugsey throwing buns at his fellow bloggers.

  • ingram

    Art Hostage.

    It seems Mr Campbell was reading a slugger exchange between me and Miss Fitz of last week.The case of Mr McCartney was an example discussed in those exchanges.

    The McCartney murder was always going to be a card to be used by the DUP. Adams admits to holding an inquiry and speaking to those IRA man involved.The IRA offered to shoot those Republicans involved.

    The family from their conversations with Adams say he knows who killed Robert.

    He is in a position to show leadership and make that information available to the police, now that he recognises the British criminal justice system.Let the police judge what material/information is and is not of evidential value

    Miss Fitz did not agree with me.

    It seems the DUP from the above reporting does. That said it aint rocket science and was always likely to be used by the DUP to provide a ” Handy” acid test of Republicans committment to the police.

    Thanks for the piece Paul.

    Night.

    Martin

  • ingram

    Mark.

    Grow up and debate the point with him! if you have one?

    Ding Ding

    Martin

  • Mark

    Ingram,

    The points and differing views are being discussed, I’m enjoying reading them – even Peter’s.

    I read many blogs and this is the first one I’ve seen where fellow contributors (well one) devote time to countering the blogs of others rather than just presenting their own view.

    It seems a very weird one-sided internal bun fight and I thought I’d mention I personally find it strange yet interesting but annoying.

  • Pete Baker

    “Recently Mr Baker spent a day trying to downplay Shiela’s entry on the SF Ard Chomhairle meeting, today he spends the day attacking Chris’ reading of events.”

    Actually, what Mr Baker did was not to comment in any way on the thread you referenced.

    Instead he just updated an earlier thread to complete the story noted there

    I think that qualifies as leaving you “free to read the other bloggers’ opinions”.

    You obviously disagree..

  • Mark

    Pete,

    Well, your own link does show you commented on Shiela’s thread and then started a competing narrative.

    But if you disagree…well look at page two and then look at when you started the competing narrative updates (Shiela’s thread had no narrative)

    I’m not begrudging you your opinion. Just pointing out the strangness of bloggers (well you) using your entries to compete with or challenge members of the site team. A strange blog phenomenum.

    Never seen it before.

  • Mark

    Pete,

    Maybe you can’t get the comments on Sheila’s entry the one you said you had no input to the one where Sheila describes your intervention as ‘condescending shakes head crap’.

    It seems to confirm my view of a one sided internal competitive bun fight.

    But you can disagree…

    And this blog does start with a challenge to a co-blogger.

    I’m just mentioning the weirdness of it………

  • Pete Baker

    You’re right Mark, I had commented on that thread.. I had forgotten.. my bad.

    Let’s look at what I actually said.

    “I added this to another thread, but it seems appropriate to this discussion too

    It’s worth noting the criticism by Peter Robinson of Gerry Adams’ speech

    The DUP deputy leader said, “I do not think unionists will be convinced by Sinn Fein giving support to the PSNI and the British courts in Northern Ireland that it is in real terms a step towards a united Ireland.”

    “Most people will recognise he is attempting to put a gloss on it for republicans.”

    “It would be far better if people were to recognise that in a democratic society you could not have people in government who do not support the police and the courts.”

    “That support is an essential step for anyone who aspires to be in government.”

    And that the debate on the target date relates to conditions Sinn Féin set for themselves.”

    I reserve the right to argue the actual points made by others on this blog.

    If only everyone would do the same.

  • Mark

    Pete,

    We all make mistakes. We all love blogs. I’m not trying to discount your opinion but as a regular reader of blogs I thought it interesting that a site has bloggers that will not only record their opinion but counter the opinions of other contributors.

    Very unusual. Unique? To me annoying. That may be just me. I enjoy your entries, Chris’ and Shiela’s. I don’t enjoy your habit of trying to attack your co-contributors views and using blog entries, as above, for what surely is just a comment?

    No point in going any further with this, it’ll dilute the content of your thread – which was just an attempt to dismiss Chris?

  • Pete Baker

    Now that you’ve finished your general critique of my blogging style, Mark..

    When you get around to actually addressing the points made in the original post – which you’ve yet to do – I’ll reply.

    I’m sure you do have a criticism of those original points.

  • Mark

    Pete,

    I do disagree with your assessment but do you expect a discussion on this thread that is designed to attack a co-blogger?

    Sorry. No thanks.

  • Pete Baker

    The supposed attack you refer to, an actual criticism of the points made there, is a confection of your own making.

    The points I’ve made remain.

    If you disagree then argue against them.

  • Mark

    *shakes head*

    This entry is about attacking a co-blogger. Nothing new.

    *walks off, thinking what a tit*

    nite.

  • ingram

    *wakes up and the tit is still moaning*

    If you have a point about the substance of the issue then make it! if not move on and stop badgering bloggers who take time to get the facts about a subject and deliver the information in clear and simple terms.Maybe that is why you and the other shinners dont approve .

    * resumes his breafast*

    Ding Ding

    Martin

  • slug

    I think Pete is to be praised for analysing carefully the exact wordings of each stage in this.

    I find it hard to keep up with the twists of the process and the one person I can rely on for attention to detail is Pete. I appreciate what he does.

    Moreso than any journalist or any other blogger.

  • Rubicon

    Pete & Chris – we can debate the semantics of ‘target dates’ and ‘deadlines’ until the cows come home an gain little understanding of the current problem. Martin McG. Is asking for Rev. Ian to agree with the PM’s assessment. To repeat (from your post 9, p.1), does Rev. Ian agree or disagree with:

    “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.”

    In his radio interview M.McG. was clear that he understood the DUP conditions in being able to realise the May ’08 date.

    Between March ’07 and May ’08 the SF and DUP can spin their own interpretations as to whether the conditions have been met. Mr Campbell (and others) have already started.

    The question that remains in my mind is, why can’t Rev. Ian say he agrees with the PM’s statement?

    To nationalists it sounds like lack of intent or ability to deliver. To unionists I suspect it could be due to SF having dropped Trimble in the shit before and Paisley almost falling for it after the Leeds Castle / Northern Bank affair.

    It is rich Martin McG. being the one asking for straight talking. It is also a little demeaning and/or hollow for SF to be demanding a fair wind from their political opponents.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m getting a real impression that Paisley is losing control of his party. First you have Donaldson – probably speaking for the party leadership – saying that he expects there to be powersharing with SF in 2007, and that we’ve lots of work to do so let’s get on with it – all good stuff. Then you’ve got Campbell, practically on the same day, listing a whole load of new conditions to test SF’s attitude to law and order.

    With SF the leadership has obviously made clear the direction they are going to go, which is why people are resigning instead of briefing against the party from inside.

    I think Paisley’s going to have to grasp the nettle and either confirm or refute the comments made by Campbell.

  • slug

    Rubicon – a good analysis.

    I suppose for unionists they remember having to jump so many times to enter the executive and being told that Sinn Féin couldn’t expect to deliver on decommissioning until the conditions were there. They were told (by President Clinton) they could walk away from the Executive if Sinn Féin didn’t deliver. Now unionists are saying they wont agree to devolution of policing until conditions are there. It seem there is a lot of scope for getting round this; after all I believe the DUP believe in principle in devolving policing and they have won the argument that the minister will be acceptable to both unionists and nationalists. Thus its really a question of how soon this devolution takes place and it may be fair to say that the DUP never agreed a target date of 2008.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    CS,

    it was not just Campbell, within a few hours of the Paisley response to Blair five senior figues in the DUP issued statements that ran contrary to the Blair take on the reality within the DUP.

    If within a few hours 5 senior SF figures had issued statements contradicting the Adams take on Blair then the media autopsies would still be in full flow.

    I do not know if Paisley has lost control of the party but the once all powerful, dictatorial position he had in the past seems to have gone.

  • TAFKABO

    We could be optimistic and realise that the angry noises from both the Snn Fein and DUP camps are precisely because there is now leadership which is taking people into difficult territory, and that’s what true leadership is about.

    I think that both leaderships are going to take a few hits, but ultimately triumph. All credit to both Paisley and Adams/McGuinness.

  • Rubicon

    Pat – once you allow any gap to occur between accepting the PSNI/criminal justice system and it being devolved (as Gerry Adams has) you have accepted the necessity of confidence building being a precursor. As Pete has pointed out (repeatedly), the StAA is explicit on this – a cross-community vote is required.

    Having accepted the principle of confidence building why is SF running shy from the challenge that presents? SF constantly reminds us of their representative basis and their clever negotiating strategies in the past. Even many unionist supporters reluctantly acknowledge this – causing more than a few to switch support to the DUP.

    Where are the ‘SF smarts’ now? If the DUP are found wanting it is not beyond SF’s capacity to cause the conditions that would dissolve the Assembly and bring about an election. If the unionist electorate return a united DUP opposed to the devolution of policing and justice then the confidence simply has not been created yet.

    I’d agree with you that the DUP is showing some serious fractures. This surely makes them more vulnerable in the future – so much so that their future unity could be thrown in to question. If you accept your own analysis – what extra confidence can republicans get from an “I agree with the PM’s statement” from Paisley Snr? The PM’s statement is conditional, Martin McG recognises that and the St.AA is explicit.

    Ultimately, SF are causing themselves damage by asking for more from Paisley – it shows them to be weak and I expect it’ll not be long before the SDLP start pointing this out. If SF have confidence in their leading position within nationalism – a crucial position required to make the institutions work – it’s time for them to demonstrate that confidence – and not to loose their nerve and look for a hand-up from Paisley now.

  • ingram

    Chris Donnelly.

    You seem to have forgotten to replied. Would you be so kind to update us upon Sinn Fein`s current postion as outlined yesterday regarding MI5 and the OTR issue?.

    Thank You.

    Chris.

    Martin McGuinness is merely singing a song to his diminishing flock. The British PM has made it clear only this week the terms for a potential deal.It clearly was not a message either you or your leaders appreciated but Eh thats life.

    Sinn Fein have to move FIRST. That is a price to be paid in part for taking the P**s out of the UUP a few years ago.

    Republicans word is not trusted by all parties . The date for any devolution of limitted powers is SUBJECT to a number of subjective conditions .

    You and Sinn Fein might not like it but that is not Pete`s fault.

    He is merely pointing out to everyone the public positions adopted at different points in time by all sides.It seems that he is picking upon Sinn Fein? he is not , he is just accurately reflecting the number of back flips Sinn Fein have peformed on this issue.

    What seems to annoy you is Pete`s use of the archives to back up his points. I think that is a positive in Pete`s postings and I for one congratulate him on his diligence in these matters.

    It is time you took a chill pill and gave Pete a well deserved pat on the back for a long series of in depth and accurate appraisals of what are by design complicated issues.

    Whilst we have your attention, could you explain the current Sinn Fein situation regarding MI5 involvement in policing Republicans and the IRA OTR issue.

    Thank You

    Martin

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Rubicon,

    there has not been one voice in the the DUP hierarchy raised in support of the May 2008 deadline on devolution on policing and justice. That is an uncomfortable fact that the MMcG statement alludes to and contradicts the Blair take on things.
    Regardless of the winks and nods this is fact.

  • Mick Fealty

    Pat,

    Just to keep this coherent (for those of us struggling to follow the detail), can you provide us with the relevant quotation from Blair?

  • Rubicon

    Pat – at best, the SF position (as stated through MMcG’s acknowledgemetn of the conditionalties required) is that May ’08 is a target. Fair enough, SF are asking for a DUP statement that the target not be put off without good reason and some in the DUP are playing to these SF fears. A few questions may be worth asking:

    Should SF be fearful though?
    What does a DUP statement of conditional intent mean to nationalist voters?
    Given its likely lack of worth in nationalist eyes, is asking for such a statement demeaning?
    In the absence of support for policing can the SF project sustain an electoral hit (particularly in the South)?
    If your own analysis is correct and there are fractures in the DUP, what problem is it to SF if unionism is split 3 ways?
    Could the likes of Dodds and Campbell be playing the role of lightning rods for internal DUP management reasons?
    If there is something SF can get from the DUP at this time could it be in borrowing its strategy (whether deliberate or not) and appointing its own lightning rods to minimise splits?
    Could it be that MMcG has just taken on that role?

    I simply remain unconvinced that SF genuinely seek to convince Irish voters that their inability to endorse policing rests on either disunity in the DUP or the absence of a statement of conditional intent from Rev. Paisley. If you think selling policing to your own AF is hard – try building electoral growth on convincing the Irish electorate of the former!

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Mick

    it was in the interview with Ken Reisd on UTV live at 6 o’ clock last Thursday.
    While attempting to explain his take on things he stated that if the AF was held and circumstances on the ground created confidence the DUP would accept the devolution oh justice and policing under the timeframe of the SAA.
    It is in the UTV archive for the news, first item.

    Rubicon,

    my take is that if the AF is held then SF want the May 08 date confirmed not simply as a target date.
    There is no positive outcomes from a split in unionism as far as I am concerned. From a SF point of view it is all about movement in the process. A split simply prolongs the stasis we are now in.
    I believe the long held belief that it was the DUP who could deliver unionism to a deal is now under the microscope.

    The statements of most DUP spokespersons are at variance of what was agreed at St Andrews. The statement from MMcG is not.

  • Rubicon

    Pat – MMcG does seem to be asking for more than is in the St.AA. Clearly, the DUP are goading SF – and/or are split- but I can’t remember reading anywhere in the St.AA anything that said the DUP would whip their votes to deliver devolution of C&J powers by May ’08. but do so in Jan ’07.

    At this point MMcG is asking Rev. Paisley say he agrees with Blair’s assessment which clearly identifies SF commitment AND delivery. SF have yet to get to commitment but seem to be arguing DUP delivery is now due. According to the St.AA it is not due – unless you can point to something I’ve missed.

    Yes, some of the DUP representatives are making statements at variance with the St.AA. You’ll not put pressure on the DUP to deal with that this side of an election and I can’t see it ever happening while the ball is in SF’s court and the ‘jury’ still awaiting commitment.

    Being in-line with the St.AA means acceptance of the cross-community vote provision. You’re surely not suggesting that such a vote should be delivered irrespective of the conditions on the ground? If SF believe devolution should follow acceptance of policing – then why not demand March ’07?

    As we know from NI politics, even deadlines given legislative expression are invariably broken. It is the conditions of the time that move events forward and the most vocal proponents of that line of argument in the past have been SF. It is a statement of a political truth much like gravity is a physical truth. It doesn’t go away by wishing it were so.

    A failure from SF to deliver on policing cannot be rationally explained by reference to the St.AA – particularly not using the very principles allowing for movement (or excusing the lack of it) that SF have espoused in the past.

    Sure – it’d be nice for Rev. Ian to give MMcG a helping hand right now. Can you point out where in the St.AA does it require him to do so?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Sure – it’d be nice for Rev. Ian to give MMcG a helping hand right now. Can you point out where in the St.AA does it require him to do so?

    Rubicon
    Right here:

    It is our view that implementation of the agreement published today should be sufficient to build the community confidence necessary for the Assembly to request the devolution of criminal justice and policing from the British Government by May 2008.

    Implementing the agreement = Sinn Fein endorsing policing.

    The text goes on to state that this “should be sufficient to build the community confidence necessary…” in other words, that move will be enough to proceed ahead with devolution of policing and justice by May 2008.

    The nonsense mentioned earlier in the thread about ‘conditions on the ground’ is just that: and furthermore, leaves the whole thing open to re-interpretation of what constitutes “sufficient community confidence,” the dangers of which are evident in Gregory Campbell’s latest rantings.

    Some contributors- and indeed posters- may not like that, but it remains the reality of the situation, as Bertie Ahern has declared again today on RTE.

    There remains two steps necessary for progress at this juncture:
    Sinn Fein to endorse policing structures through an Ard Fheis.

    DUP to publicly commit to overall devolution in March 2007 and devolution of policing/ justice by May 2008.

    Those wishing to dance on a pinhead over what makes a deadline/ target are actually missing the point (and, most likely, intentionally at that.)

    If Ian Paisley is brought to the point of publicly backing the St Andrew’s Agreement timeframe, then he will be the one who will look weak and come under pressure if the DUP reverse their position in the interim period between March 2007 devolution and May 2008 policing/ justice devolution.

  • Rubicon

    Chris – personally I’d prefer devolution of policing as soon after SF accept the policing & justice system. March ’07 I’d have found preferable – so I’m in no way trying to dance angels on pins by semantics discussing when target dates are deadlines.

    The St.AA timetable is conditional – not least on condition of a cross community vote. MMcG in his recent radio interview explicitly recognised the conditions.

    You say the St.AA definition of implementation is, “Sinn Fein endorsing policing”. Para 6 (the paragraph immediately preceding the one you quote) spells out the implementation to be,

    “We believe that the essential elements of support for law and order include endorsing fully the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the criminal justice system, actively encouraging everyone in the community to co-operate fully with the PSNI in tackling crime in all areas and actively supporting all the policing and criminal justice institutions, including the Policing Board.”

    You may understand implementation to be the passing of a motion at a SF AF but if that were so para. 6 would have been a good deal shorter.

    Any political party that delays the devolution of P&J powers deserves derision and exposure to sharp criticism from all – irrespective of political hue. The effectiveness of the P&J system here is appalling and parties responsible for limiting accountability contribute to that problem.

    I’m hoping SF is not intending to bring about delay. The DUP are winding SF up right now. It’s infantile but not surprising – but nor is it a political platform that can endure. SF bear some of the responsibility. The St.AA does not define implementation in the terms you would prefer and contains the risk you allude to.