“the chemistry already has changed”

Unconnected to tonight’s BlogTalkRadio discussion, Do we have a deal, or not?, but Vincent Browne has a timely follow-up to his Sunday Business Post article with an appearance today in the Irish Times where, provided there is more than a provisional acceptance of the police, he argues that[subs req]

It hardly matters now whether there will be powersharing next March. The key issue was acceptance of the police.

His argument might not be fully accepted by Sinn Féin who have been at pains to avoid publicly acknowledging the implications Browne points to of accepting “the authority of the state, as represented by the PSNI.”

It was because a sizeable proportion of the nationalist population refused to accept the authority of the RUC from the outset that there was conflict in the North – or at least the refusal of a sizeable proportion of the nationalist population to accept the authority of the RUC was indicative of a general refusal to recognise the state, which was at the core of the conflict.

It was always the case that if the authority of the police force could be accepted across the communities there, the conflict would be resolved, or would be resolvable. Without acceptance, the conflict could not be resolved, would not be resolved.

Now there appears to be an acceptance of the authority of the state, represented by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). If this transpires to be so, the Northern Ireland conflict is resolved. The end of violence or of the “armed struggle” did not signal the end of the conflict, it might have been only a deferral.

The acceptance of the PSNI as a legitimate police force, as signalled most vividly by the remarks of Gerry Adams on Monday, represents the acceptance of the Northern Ireland state by the vast majority of nationalists.

But he’s probably right when he says

It hardly matters now whether there will be powersharing next March. The key issue was acceptance of the police.

Powersharing will follow some time – maybe it will take a few years and if that prediction is correct, it will defy many previous predictions (including some of my own), who thought it might not happen for a generation.

Sectarian tensions and animosities are still very raw, and how could it be otherwise given the scale of the slaughter that was perpetrated for a quarter of a century up to 13 years ago? But the chemistry already has changed.

Although there is still the question of whether the apparent damage done by The Process™ is irreparable

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