After relatively few recent public pronouncements; Adams has delivered his speech at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis. He is being reported as saying that he has concerns that power sharing could collapse. He has urged the DUP to stand up to those he believes are in its ranks but opposed to the current dispensation. Mick has indirectly mentioned the DUP annoyance below.Adams has also amusingly announced what looks to me like unionist engagement mark 2. Since Mr Adams seems to think that (according to the Belfast Telegraph) many unionists now accept an end to British “engagement” in Ireland “may be no bad thing”. As such we are to have a high powered taskforce to drive forward a new road map to a united Ireland. Fortunately as guides on this road we have Gerry Kelly, MEP Bairbre de Brun, Kerry North TD Martin Ferris and the party’s representative in America, Rita O’Hare. Usefully unionist engagement Mk2 will also look for support across the world including to the Irish Diaspora. That is probably as well since I suspect Mk2 unionist engagement will be as popular with unionists as Mk 1 was. Also of course excellent cross community persons have been chosen. Who could be more popular with unionists than Gerry Kelly?
Turning back to Adamss thesis about the DUP: personally I suspect Adamss analysis is incorrect and it is unlikely that the DUP will collapse power sharing without very significant provocation. Adams may not understand that. However, much more likely is that he does in which case; this may be a way to rally his own troops and point out to them that many in the DUP are highly unhappy with what is going on. That would help with any dissent about the fact that SF seemed to believe that policing and justice had to and indeed would be devolved by May and now that is not going to happen. A sort of look they are even more unhappy than you lot. It will also help explain to SFs grass roots why their leadership may not make a huge fuss when the deadline passes without being implemented. Unionist engagement mark 2 could also be seen in the same light; keeping the grass roots happy with more Mao-esque Great Leaps Forward.
This claim that the DUP could collapse Stormont may also be a coded warning to his friends in the IRA not to cause any further trouble at this time. A further IRA murder or such like might force the DUPs hand and indeed actually make them (in my view against their will) collapse the executive.
Indeed I would suggest it is even possible that we could see a minor downgrading if the Army Council in the future. I very much doubt it will be the disbanding or anything similar of the only legitimate government of Ireland as is demanded by the DUP; that would be too much like a humiliation. Instead we could have some sort of reviewable indefinite suspension of activities. That might well be enough to make it much more difficult for the DUP to demand further concessions and would allow the governments to redouble their demands that the DUP agree to the devolution of policing and justice. It would also allow Adams to gain the limelight and pronounce himself a statesman, and allow SF to say that future IRA murders were nothing to do with them. They would not have gone away you know but the DUPs fox could have; if not shot dead, been injured.