Junior, that shopping list and the St Andrews’ Deadline…

Jim Allister has released another end of Junior’s Shopping List saga, ie the government’s response. Despite the fact Junior has resigned his post, Allister now seems to be gunning for Ian Paisley Senior. A man now under pressure from more than one direction.From Jim Allister

On 9th November a memo was sent from OFMDFM to the Permanent Secretaries of DSD, DETI, DOE, DRD and DCAL saying that they would be “aware of the representations made by Ian Paisley Jnr” and informing them that David Hanson wished to provide the DUP MLA with a response which should be “as positive as possible”.

Interestingly it stated that “In the case of the Giant’s Causeway issue, it would be appreciated if DETI and DOE could agree a single composite response”. A copy of Ian Junior’s infamous St Andrews shopping list was included with this email.

But most significantly, departments were informed that Mr Hanson “wishes to write well in advance of 24 November and to meet this deadline, I would be grateful if your response could be forwarded to me … by close of play on 15th November”.

Do not forget that November 24th was the original deadline by which devolution was to have been restored, with the DUP required to give a response before then.
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It would appear to me, therefore, that instead of the DUP being focused on securing the best possible deal for the people of Northern Ireland and addressing the many shortcomings of the St Andrews Agreement surrounding the removal of terrorist structures, the absurdity of mandatory coalition, the joint office of First and deputy First Minister, the IRA’s ill-gotten gains, etc. the government believed they were more interested in securing progress on Ian Jnr’s wish list.

Why else would Mr Hanson have been so keen to write “well in advance of 24 November”?

This confirms to me that the DUP took its eye off the ball and wasted valuable negotiating leverage on Junior’s pet projects. As Leader of the Party, Ian Paisley Senior has to carry responsibility for this squandering of the opportunities at St Andrews. He has never acknowledged what he knew of Junior’s activities at St Andrews, but I’d find it very hard to believe that he did not know. Certainly, from today’s disclosure, it is clear HMG took satisfying Junior as satisfying the DUP!”

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