“There is a difference between being friendly and being open..”

In the Irish Times, Quentin Fottrell, has some thoughts on the verbal innuendo and private sparring at the recent US investment conference..[subs req] and those questions and answers at the press conference in particular.

And what about Paisley, who said that he’ll miss “the rough and tumble” of government? Paisley said he and McGuinness try ironing out their differences in private, and that the political situation wasn’t perfect or entirely democratic. I guess that’s what happens when you have no opposition and work in a circular parliamentary chamber.

Looking back, Paisley said he had negotiated the best deal for government that he could for his party. With reference to McGuinness, he added, “I suppose it is the best my friend here thinks that he has got.” People laughed, but it made me uneasy. McGuinness smiled – a tight, choreographed smile – and his face reddened, perhaps glad he will no longer have to play Laurel to Paisley’s Hardy.

Later, McGuinness added: “We friends have to leave for Hillsborough Castle.” Given recent behind-the-scenes mallarky, both “friend” remarks seemed loaded with sarcasm. With good reason. Sinn Féin and the DUP are like two magnets, bouncing off each other if they get too close: there will forever be a space between them.

He’s also picked up on the deputy First Minister’s temporary blindness..

Only last week, McGuinness called on the DUP to fulfil its promise to devolve policing and justice powers and said of the IRA Army Council, “I do not know if it does exist or not.” More worrying ambiguity for the visiting delegates. Americans are open and direct. We are not. There is a difference between being friendly and being open, or being direct and being passive-aggressive, and we have mastered it.

I don’t know how high-flyers like Michael Bloomberg might feel about this private sparring, public chuckling or verbal innuendo. It could give them the heebeejeebees or, worse, persuade them to hold on to their wallets, and quietly slip them back in their pockets.