“commitments and obligations which have to be honoured..”

With Sinn Féin’s desperate threat hanging in the air, and the BBC’s Mark Devenport was getting mixed messages from the party at the weekend, party leader Gerry Adams has decided to issue a statement – not about the threat.. but about other issues.

The St. Andrews Agreement set out a number of commitments and obligations which have to be honoured. These include the transfer of powers on policing and justice which was to be concluded by May and an Irish Language Act. These are key issues of democratic accountability and equality.

Except, St Andrews didn’t set out a commitment to devolve policing and justice powers by May. As Northern Ireland’s deputy First Minister appeared to acknowledge recently – “as you well know..” Perhaps this is the response to his party’s Ard Fheis motion..

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  • observer

    Sounds like the shinners are panicking.

  • El Paso

    We’ll see what comes out of tomorrow’s meeting with Gordon in No 10, but it looks like the honeymoon is over for Peter.

  • Dick Swett

    SF = bunch of whingers.

    They’ve played the victim card for so long now.

    But then again, I dread to think what the next renegotiation of the Belfast Agreement will turn out. The Drematic U-turn Party will screw up again, just like they did in 2007.

    Role on Euro June 2008.

  • This will take some explaining by SF to the electorate given their commitment to the DUP – SF axis over the past year. They agreed to a Programme for Government which many felt was too right wing for them, accepted a fudge on victims, supported the Review of Public Administration and rowed back on an independent environmental regulator without blinking. As partners in government go they have been a model of consistency and support, even if this meant changing their own policy on important issues.

    Yes they have good reason to be irked at the DUP’s entrenched position on policing and justice but this particular threat could well backfire. The electorate will little thank any party for reintrodusing instability to our shared institutions and particularly a party which has made a virtue of bringing stability to Stormont

  • BonarLaw

    Dick

    but surely SF are whinging because the 2007 renegotiation was not to their liking?

  • percy

    peteb
    I’m not sure if its right to ascribe SF’s name to this supposed “desperate threat”, even though it was Gonzo’s choice, you have repeated it here.

    There’s no evidence SF made a threat, just journalists making headlines based on rumours.
    Runours I’d suggest Gerry Adams dealt with today.

    Can you clear that one up.
    Have you any evidence SF made a threat?

  • Dick Swett

    but surely SF are whinging because the 2007 renegotiation was not to their liking?

    Oh no. They are whinging to see what else they can get out of the DUP.

    Sinn Fein were able to turn ‘Dr No’ to ‘Dr Oh God Yes’ with relative ease. They see this as a new chance to screw with the DUP. They know the last thing Robinson wants now is an election so they are messing with their minds, and this is where the DUP lacks serious political capability.

  • observer

    Given that the disbandment of the Army council was Allister litmus test for having republicans in government, what new line will he trot out when this happens, in return for the devolution of P+J

  • BonarLaw

    Dick

    I take the opposite view. Any election with SF moaning about how their agenda was being obstructed by the DUP could put paid to the TUV once and for all. It might even get as good as the SDLP “Stop the DUP” campaign…

  • CS Parnell

    Conall, but are the nationalist electorate more likely to respond to the SF call for either/or “one more heave” or “stick up to the orange b*s”.

    In a rational world nationalist voters would realise how little they get from Sinn Fein and would begin to switch back to the SDLP – after all a bit of competition would not do anyone any harm.

    But we’re not in a rational world. The chucks need to keep the air of crisis going. The last thing they want is for the election to be about real issues like Catriona’s inability to negotiate her way out of a paper bag, so they have to play the orange card every time.

  • Sounds like the shinners are panicking.

    Sounds like the Shinners are trying to use the one tiny bit of leverage that’s come their way after 15 months of being comprehensively outmanoeuvred by the DUP on every issue from water rates to the Irish language to the 11-plus.

    Do you really think the Shinners are going to walk out of government on Thursday and force an August election? Neither does Peter Robinson.

  • truth and justice

    I feel this will only make the Unionist Electorate realize that the DUP have out manovered SF in the whole process and they are only adding to it by threatening not to nominate it is all very silly and they need to get on with government and stop being childish.

  • kensei

    Sammy

    Do you really think the Shinners are going to walk out of government on Thursday and force an August election? Neither does Peter Robinson.

    Part of me wants to see them do it for the comedy. It’s getting too boring around here 😛

    It might be worth it though, if you gamble Robinson doesn’t want the August election either and will make a concession to avert a poll. Big, big, risk, but if they could turn a bluff called election campaign into a referendum on PandJ they might hold their vote and get away with it. If FF moved in for the election they’d be stuffed, though.

    My gut still says you’d need to prepare the groundwork for a move like that. There is a good argument for P&J;, and good ones for ending the 11+, and a few worthwhile hits on the DUP with Nationalism for dropping the ILA in any form. But SF hasn’t been making any of it, going for a love in strategy that has backfired badly. SF are getting restless though, and there is a backlash coming, I feel.

  • Part of me wants to see them do it for the comedy. It’s getting too boring around here 😛

    Get stuffed. I need a summer holiday.

    It might be worth it though, if you gamble Robinson doesn’t want the August election either and will make a concession to avert a poll. Big, big, risk, but if they could turn a bluff called election campaign into a referendum on PandJ they might hold their vote and get away with it.

    It’s a high risk strategy for little potential reward. Even if it worked in electoral terms, they would still have to go back into government with the DUP in September.

    And I’m not sure it would work electorally. By and large, people are happy with peace and stability. The devolution of policing and justice, as opposed to the practice of policing and high crime rates in working-class areas, isn’t a big enough issue weighed against risking peace and stability. Sinn Féin would risk a big middle-class backlash against playing a high stakes game with the future of the country at a time of enormous economic uncertainty, without gaining anything on their radical fringe. It’s not a risk I would take.

    and good ones for ending the 11+

    No doubt, and even the DUP are preparing the ground for a deal. Only the UUP seem determined to follow Ken Bloomfield and the AQE into the dustbin of history. But Catriona has screwed that one up, because even people who support her in principle have no confidence in her capacity to deliver and not leave a train wreck. People like Catholic primary school teachers, who are kind of important to SF when they want to hold on to a 26% vote share.

    SF need to do something for the urban base drifting into disenchantment in large measure due to living in socially fractured, high crime, areas where SF’s grass roots organisation in atrophying, but at the same time not scaring off the middle-casses. It’s a tall order. While I don’t blame them for trying to use a rare useful piece of political leverage they can’t push this tactic right to the wire. They know it, and Peter Robinson knows it.

    They need three years of stability and growth in the teeth of a global recession, plus actually pushing the PSNI into a more aggressive policing stance (one that, ironically, they’ve often argued against in the past), plus something on the 11-plus (the Catholic Church may deliver for them as far as the Catholic sector goes), plus some red meat for the base on something like the Irish language. They don’t need an August election. If I know this, Martin McGuinness knows this, Richard McAuley knows this, and Peter Robinson knows this.

  • Dick Swett

    Any election with SF moaning about how their agenda was being obstructed by the DUP could put paid to the TUV once and for all

    So do you believe DUP aren’t at risk of losing any seats?

  • Comrade Stalin

    kensei:

    If FF moved in for the election they’d be stuffed, though.

    This is something I just can’t get my head around. There is no precedent since partition for a political party coming in from outside the NI state and making any kind of impact. What makes you think FF will be any different ? Sure, I can see a few votes around the border regions, but no more than a tiny smattering of assembly seats, and most of those at the expense of the SDLP.

  • Steve

    Comrade Stalin

    I can definately see your point because wouldnt nationalists ask the question what have FF ever done for me? Answer: sweet f*** all, they abandoned the northern nationalists to the english security aparatus before, during and after the troubles

  • Comrade Stalin

    Steve,

    That’s the way my granny would have talked. You may or may not be aware that people have moved on. You should too.

    No, FF will be defeated because they’re not from here. The same way the Tories got defeated even though the North Down gold coast would, in any other situation, be a safe seat for them.