I’m sorry to miss an important speech from Gerry Adams in London tonight before what I expect will be the usual captive audience of the far English and Irish left who remain among his greatest admirers. According to a supplied text, the SF president will make his familiar claim that the GFA and St Andrew’s are all part of the long term plan to achieve ” a new all Ireland Republic”; and he will make his usual appeal for not only Westminster opinion but sympathisers in the London, Welsh and Scottish devolved bodies to become “persuaders” for Irish unity. No news yet though on how the heralded campaign is to be organised. The familiar hot and cold rhythm of an Adams speech was in evidence. First, devolution with Paisley and now with Robinson is not going badly
Sinn Féin has recently entered into a negotiation with the DUP and the two governments. We do not envisage this being a long process.
Then came the complaint:
The devolution of policing and justice powers away from Whitehall and into the hands of Irish political leaders is not an optional extra for the DUP. An Acht na Gaeilge is not an optional extra. The outstanding issues from St. Andrews including the Irish Language Act can be sorted out if there is the necessary political leadership and resolve. But let me be very clear. The rights and entitlements of citizens cannot and will not be subject to the whims of the most right wing or reactionary elements within political unionism. We will simply not allow it.
Finally, the vague threat:
If this process is not delivering for citizens than it is failing and we may need to return to the drawing board. believe this process can deliver. I believe the institutions can deliver. But only if there is political will on the part of the DUP leadership to do that and if not then there is an onus on the two governments to fulfil their obligations under the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreement.
What price on a deal for devolving Justice and Policing by the summer?
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London