“This Ard Fheis mandates the Ard Chomhairle to set out, in public..”

Northern Ireland’s deputy First minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA, had claimed that no-one had contradicted him on his claims that commitments had been given to meet the May 2008 target date for devolving policing and justice powers.. but in today’s Newsletter, the DUP’s Iris Robinson, MP, MLA, gathers together some very familiar quotes and references to do just that. The article ends with this point

While it would seem foolish for republicans to accept the outlandish boasts and rhetoric of the Sinn Fein leadership when playing to their base and not see through them, it would be even more foolish for unionists to fall into the trap of believing them.

It’s a point also made in the Irish Times by David Adams [subs req]

Despite what Gerry Adams has been intimating, there is no danger to the Executive from anyone within the DUP.

In fact, it seems more likely that Sinn Féin itself is under some pressure internally and from its grassroots.

Whenever republicans are feeling the strain, their first instinct is to try to settle nerves by shifting the focus and rattling unionists.

This was the likely reasoning behind the recent ardfheis declaration of a concerted push for a united Ireland, and attempts to hold a commemoration event at Stormont for deceased IRA member Maireád Farrell.

Likewise, Adams’s mischievous and wholly unfounded warnings to the DUP about picking sham fights with Sinn Féin, and republican talk of instability if policing and justice is not devolved by the St Andrews Agreement deadline of May.

It is instructive to note how calmly the DUP and broad unionism have reacted to Sinn Féin’s antics.

There was a time when they would have been up in arms, but not any more.

Unionists are now far more relaxed about the Assembly and the Executive: and little wonder.

The DUP has Stormont sewn up, and both the unionist and republican electorates know it – in the latter case, to the obvious unease of Sinn Féin.

Any sign of a response from the SF leadership to that Ard Fheis motion?

“This Ard Fheis mandates the Ard Chomhairle to set out, in public, the party’s position in relation to our involvement in the current policing structures should the British Government fail to devolve policing and justice powers by the 8th May 2008.”

Adds In the comments zone, Chris tells me that the party’s position isn’t to be set out, in public, until that May date passes.

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