There are two points to note from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s comments on RTÉ today. The first is at the end of the RTÉ report here where he rules out a formal coalition with Sinn Féin after a May or June election, but does not rule out accepting their support in the next Dáil. The second is in the detail of this report where he calls for clarity, “I think that judgment has to be made in the next few days, it is critical that we get clarity in these positions.”From the RTÉ report
Mr Ahern also said it was still his intention to hold the General Election in either May or June.
He said if Fianna Fáil were returned to power, it would not be reasonable for his party to object to support from Sinn Féin in the next Dáil.
But he said Fianna Fáil would not enter coalition discussions or a pact with Sinn Féin, or create a Government with them on the basis of Sinn Féin’s policies.
And from the second report
Mr Ahern said: “Dr Paisley is a man that is simple in his words, he speaks clearly, and if he makes this absolutely clear that if we see a Sinn Fein ard fheis this month as we should and as I hope we will, then we have no more further difficulties in the DUP moving to power sharing and we can get on with the issue of devolution of policing in May 2008 as set out in the St Andrew’s Agreement.[added emphasis]
“I think that judgment has to be made in the next few days, it is critical that we get clarity in these positions.”
He added: “The words during the week were helpful but it does not give us all that we need to move forwards.”
As set out in the St Andrews’ Agreement
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]