Over the last few months, especially since the meeting at St Andrews, the most Ian snr has done using his own words is hint at the possibility that he is willing to share power.
Until Monday when he accused the British prime minister Tony Blair, of ‘misrepresenting’ his party’s position, he permitted others, including the Assembly speaker Eileen Bell and Tony Blair to interpret his intentions in the most favourable way.
It could be argued that this was the DUP’s version of ‘creative ambiguity’, a formula they denounced when it was used by others at various times during the peace process to remove road blocks of one form or another.
However, creative ambiguity has a limited life span. It is only credible if the underlying intention of those using it is to move the situation forward or to allow those who are having difficulties with moving forward time to come around.[emphasis added]
This, indeed, is the crux of the blame game. However, it is hard to find where the ambiguity lies in Jim Allister’s conditions for accepting the devolution of policing and justice powers. Given SF’s own unwillingness to help Trimble in the past, a helping hand from the DUP is unlikely to emerge voluntarily. And given the shape of the deal already hammered out, it is hard to see how they can be compelled to help either.
At the moment, it would appear that, the only thing holding up power sharing is SF’s insistence on the pre-approval of one single aspect of those powers.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty