Downing Street visit “routine”..

Whilst the Northern Ireland Executive grinds to a halt the DUP and Sinn Féin have been visiting Gordon Brown in Downing St. Separately, of course. [I’m sure he appreciates the timing – Ed]. NI First Minister Peter Robinson, and Culture Minister Gregory Campbell, dropped in yesterday. Today it was the turn of deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, MP, MLA.

The DUP has played down talk of deadlock at Stormont, while Sinn Féin described its Downing Street visit as “routine”.

Indeed.

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  • Prionsa Eoghan

    So what do you think is going on Pete?

    Or is it a free for all?

  • Peat Blog

    Since when was Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams visiting Downing Street routine?

    What a freak show and poor Gordo has real problems to deal with.

  • percy

    another negative, witless post

  • Pete Baker

    Eoghan

    As Peat Blog suggests, such ‘visits’ are, or should be, far from ‘routine’ now.

    percy

    Everyone’s a critic..

  • Comrade Stalin

    Prionsa,

    What’s going on is that the Executive is in trouble, but the two parties are trying to hide it, rather than doing what they did a couple of months ago.

    percy, looks to me like Pete is reporting fairly on the actual situation. The emperor has no clothes.

  • percy

    CS
    Indeed but as usual the finger points to SF.
    The DUP & SF are both responsible for the impasse

  • frustrated democrat

    Why is that all they can do? Concentrating on small sectarian victories instead of taking decisions on the big issues like health, education and jobs.

    I thought maybe they could rise above that level to actually work for all the people here but once again they prove they are still mired in the past.

  • Peat Blog

    “Indeed but as usual the finger points to SF.”

    Yes, the DUP finger points to SF and vice versa. Playground politics.

    I don’t understand why the other two parties in the Executive don’t threaten to pull out as they appear either imputent or irrelavant.

    Thinly veiled proxy battles cannot be masked by a few smiles and a smattering of conciliatory words.

  • percy

    peteb
    point me to one post of yours where you’ve critisised or shone the spotlight on the DUP for failing to reach agreement ( with their partners in Gov’t — that’s be SF for those who just don’t get it ) on P&J;or the Maze or ILA.

  • Comrade Stalin

    percy,

    It’s SF creating unilateral preconditions which is the problem here.

    I don’t understand why the other two parties in the Executive don’t threaten to pull out as they appear either imputent or irrelavant.

    Politicians find it awfully hard to let go of power, even when it would be strategically benefical for them to do so.

  • Greenflag

    The frog is getting tired of the scorpion on it’s back even though they have several miles left to cross river .

    Sonner or later the frog is going to dive for the bottom and as soon as he does the scorpion will strike the fatal blow which will demise them both .

    It’s only a matter of time . This ‘unnnatural ‘ coalition of opposites is a barely floating political corpse on intra venous feed .

    On to a fair and negotiated ‘Repartition’ and be done with another failed experiment in trying to bring accountable ‘democracy’ to an inherently undemocratic artificial state which would’nt survive more than five minutes if it were located anywhere else on the planet.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    The DUP are out of step with all the other important parties (Irish Govt, Engleze Govt and SF ) on Police and Justice. Grizzly should tell El Gordo that he has until the end of September to get Robbo in to line or he will pull the plug. As mentioned many times before ( on the same subject ) a few threats normally does the trick – papal influence from the South and pagan influence in the form of abortion from Britain ought to do it.

  • Pete Baker

    percy

    No matter how much you might wish it to be otherwise, the current situation is that there was no commitment to reach agreement on those issues within a set time-frame [May 2008]. Despite what some have said..

    But my analysis of the background to the current crisis is there to be falsified.

  • Peat Blog

    “papal influence from the South and pagan influence in the form of abortion from Britain ought to do it”

    You make it sound like the last days of the Roman Empire, except the Vandals and the Huns are within.

  • Greenflag

    frustrated democrat ,

    ‘I thought maybe they could rise above that level to actually work for all the people here but once again they prove they are still mired in the past’

    One of the physical properties of black holes in the universe is that once you are in one there is no escape. The same is true of the political’black hole’ that is Northern Ireland . Even if both parties had first rate political leaders who desired to ‘break ‘ free from the past there are is too much ‘gravitational ‘ power among the rest which will drag them back into as you put it ‘the mire’ .

    Her Britannic Majesty’s Government has devised the ‘perfect solution’ for these malcontents . Neither can they go forward or backward but must forever rock to and fro over the same contentious issues forever and ever amen . You could call it ‘politcal purgatory’ but without a release mechanism . I hate to say this but it’s good enough for them and about all they deserve -based on previous performance of course 🙁

  • slug

    Everyone is in favour of devolution in principle but a lot of people must surely be wondering whetherr the current stalemate is a warning against devolution of such important powers as policing and justice for the immediate future?

  • observer

    point me to one post of yours where you’ve critisised or shone the spotlight on the DUP for failing to reach agreement ( with their partners in Gov’t—that’s be SF for those who just don’t get it ) on P&J;or the Maze or ILA.
    Posted by percy on Jul 23, 2008 @ 10:12 PM

    and please point us to where SF have made any move to reach a compromise on these issues

  • This is getting beyond a joke. The DUP/ SF axis is clearly unfit to govern. They’ve got everything behind them- international goodwill, cash and massive mandates, but still they are messing it up and failing to deliver for the people of the north. There’s nothing like sectarian murders or snarling parties biting at their heels unlike the UUP and SDLP had to deal with ten years ago. The UUP and SDLP need to step up to the mark and provide viable alternatives for the electorate.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Pete,

    Where I would disagree with your analysis of the present situation is in the significance of the SF leadership’s deception of their voters, and indeed everyone else.

    Yes, SF negotiated poorly and then deceived their faithful on the issue. That the DUP did not commit to the May deadline, however, does not thereby make it right that they should hold off until a time that suits them.

    It means that the two parties now have to negotiate an agreement without carrots and sticks for the first time. You are right to point to the SF tactic of threatening collapse as unacceptable; you would do better to, in tandem, point to the DUP refusal to engage with the inevitable negotiations and work on their grassroots.

    The electorate would then need to be convinced that the Assembly is capable of managing the department(s). Work to that end, then, should be ongoing currently.

    Not a falsification then, but rather a suggestion that you adapt your paradigm.

  • Peat Blog

    Should any significance be read into the fact that Campbell accompanied Robinson rather than Dodds?

  • slug

    Damian, wouldn’t you agree with me that holding up Executive meetings on routine matters such as those Margaret Ritchie had to advance is not a way to garner support for devolution of policing and justice?

  • slug

    “Should any significance be read into the fact that Campbell accompanied Robinson rather than Dodds?”

    Perhaps its something to do with the Maze and Irish Language Act?

  • slug

    It might be a request for money which would facilitate the emergence of a win-win from all of this wrangling, e.g. on issues in Campbell’s Department.

  • Pete Baker

    Damian

    “Yes, SF negotiated poorly and then deceived their faithful on the issue.”

    Quite.

    “That the DUP did not commit to the May deadline, however, does not thereby make it right that they should hold off until a time that suits them.”

    Except that it’s exactly what they said they would do. Despite the claims of others.

    “Not a falsification then”

    Indeed.

    As I said to percy

    “No matter how much you might wish it to be otherwise, the current situation is that there was no commitment to reach agreement on those issues within a set time-frame [May 2008]. Despite what some have said..”

    In those circumstances why should any party act to cover Sinn Féin’s blushes on this?

    Btw, my paradigm is to try to accurately describe the actual situation. What political parties do afterwards is up to them.

  • slug

    Pete – regarding what you say in point 24 I thought I should say that your attention to detail and your contributions to Slugger on this important issue have been very helpful to me in thinking about the present situation…and how the parties got here. Thanks.

  • Peat Blog

    “Perhaps its something to do with the Maze and Irish Language Act?”

    Slug,

    Yes, I had grasped that but, given that everyone else should have as well, it always makes me laugh how they try to tell us that they were just popping in for tea and shortbread.

    What does Campbell want, as all I seem to know is what he doesn’t want?

  • Pete Baker

    Thanks, slug.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Pete,

    I’ve no wish for SF’s blushes to be spared – I do have a wish for a devolved government to be capable of behaving like one.

    “Except that it’s exactly what they said they would do. Despite the claims of others.”

    We might also note what Peter Robinson said in his first speech as FM:

    “Yet, Mr Speaker, we must remember that it is only half the job. There is still so much work to be done… We will best succeed if we are all striving towards a common goal… There has probably been no point since the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921 that there has been more widespread support for both the political and policing institutions than exists today…

    But applying a veto is not an indication of strength or success. It is simply an indication of a failure to agree.

    Let me make it clear I did not negotiate these changes as a weapon to be used against other parties, but as a safeguard, for as long as it is needed, of the interests of everyone in Northern Ireland.

    The truth is that unless we can create a shared society we will not truly have turned the corner as a people.”

    Robinson changed the message, and now he needs to win support for his message. That is leadership. In any case, just because the DUP promised to deliver P&J;when they wanted to, that does not undermine the fact that that position is contrary to the spirit of constructive ambiguity and detrimental to the future of NI.

    “Btw, my paradigm is to try to accurately describe the actual situation. What political parties do afterwards is up to them.”

    Your paradigm appears to be to greet each development with a return to the SF deception. Your choice of links betrays the lack of truth in your closing comment – there would have been plenty better to give a complete picture than the ‘Indeed’ link in particular. The situation is more complex than that which you wish to present. If you wish to be taken seriously as an objective commentator on developments, I suggest you seek an extension of your remit and broaden the topics you approach.

    Slug,

    I don’t know what Margaret Ritchie had to present; I think my comments speak for themselves.

  • outsidegawkingin

    Surely the real problem here is that the system of Government is unworkable. A system where everyone is a partner and the opposition represents 10% of the people is not good government.
    90% of the people voted for those in government, this is true, however just think, SDLP controls departments while around only 20% of the people of Northern Ireland think that they represent them. There is just too many opinions and divisions in NI for a mandatory coalition to succeed.
    I know the DUP see this as a temporay move in the search for a longer term solution. However I think only majority rule or maybe a voluntary coalition will succeed. You can not mandatorily force opposites to think unilaterily. The very basis of fighting an election is to argue the merit of why your policy is better than the oppossing parties. Then 6 weeks later everyone is meant to sign off a programme for goverment together.
    Majority rules is the way to go.

  • Pete Baker

    Damian

    “Your paradigm appears to be to greet each development with a return to the SF deception.”

    If you believe that I have portrayed the current situation as other than it actually is then I suggest you argue that case.

    “In any case, just because the DUP promised to deliver P&J;when they wanted to, that does not undermine the fact that that position is contrary to the spirit of constructive ambiguity and detrimental to the future of NI.”

    If you wish to promote a “spirit of constructive ambiguity” then that is entirely up to you.

    Do not demand that others follow suit.

  • While policing is a major issue and while the target date wasn’t met, and the DUP claim they made no commitment re May 2008, there is one point which illustrates how the DUP reneged on the St Andrew’s Agreement commitments.

    In that Agreement, to which the DUP signed up, the British Government said “we will introduce an Irish Language Act (not bill). This very modest proposal was dumped by the DUP’s Edwin Poots with no great delay and it illustrated SF”s impotence on the issue and the DUP veto fairly ably.

    I know what value some posters here place on the Irish language – ie none – but I do think that the DUP didn’t do their long term prospects any good through this short term nod towards their grass roots. After all they’ve embarrassed the British Government – an embarrassment which has already cost that Govt. £6m between now and 2010 by making the fulfllment of that commitment impossible. We can argue semantics and pedantics[Where art thou o Willowfield!] all night but the politics of the situation dictate that on this issue at least, this minor issue even, SF can argue that this demonstrates the DUP’s lack of bona fides on powersharing.

    If this is about the blame game, that’s one chalked up to SF and the DUP winged. That’s my take on it, for what it’s worth….

  • Driftwood

    What was/is wrong with direct rule? It’s the de facto situation at the moment.

  • Damian O’Loan

    “If you believe that I have portrayed the current situation as other than it actually is then I suggest you argue that case.”

    I refer you to my previous posts.

    “If you wish to promote a “spirit of constructive ambiguity” then that is entirely up to you.

    Do not demand that others follow suit. ”

    That was the design of the GFA and St. Andrew’s – I think we can agree they have public support, indeed the ‘mandate’ you like to focus on. I would also say that a majority have expressed their desire that those agreements be employed as a basis for lasting peace. Now it is the job of both SF and the DUP to lead the way in doing so, not placing it at risk as they are both doing at present.

  • outsidegawkingin

    The points you make are spot on, as greenflag has already commented such a silly stitch up would not be tolerated any where else in the western world, it is not democratic, nor is it effective, thus it is worthless.

    The only thing SF and the DUP hate and fear more than each other it is their electorates, for they know if the penny drops, they will be seen for what they are, Emperors with no clothes. Thus they scheme, and negotiate in complete secrecy and then lie to their supporters about the outcome. In fact they probably also lie to themselves about the outcome.

    Ten years on there is no reason why a voluntary coalition could not be built to govern the north, if the Unionist parties decide to cling to each other then so be it, it would simpy mean Republicans and nationalist would have to look south again for their future.

    Better honest and open politics than what you now have, very expensive stagnation that only benefits the British governments and leaves the needs of the people in the north in limbo.

    regards

  • Pete Baker

    Concubhar

    “the British Government said”

    You know who to direct your complaint to then.

    Damian

    “Now it is the job of both SF and the DUP to lead the way in doing so, not placing it at risk as they are both doing at present.”

    Your wishful promotion of a “spirit of constructive ambiguity” is entirely up to you.

    Don’t demand that others follow your lead.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Pete,

    Deliberate misrepresentation.

    You quote:

    “Now it is the job of both SF and the DUP to lead the way in doing so, not placing it at risk as they are both doing at present.”

    and respond:

    “Your wishful promotion of a “spirit of constructive ambiguity” is entirely up to you.

    Don’t demand that others follow your lead. ”

    when clearly that sentence referred to preceding:

    “I would also say that a majority have expressed their desire that those agreements be employed as a basis for lasting peace.”

    I emphasise the word “also”. While you may not consider this relevant to your list tallying instances of influence of SF deception, I suggest the phenomenon you are analysing is less pertinent than an analysis of a more complex picture. That would include mutual responsibilities to electorates and the wider population regarding P&J;, as accepted by both SF and the DUP, and including the transition to a Robinson leadership.

  • percy

    peteb
    I’m not wishing anything, but I’m with Damian in what he says.

    Again I put it to you that you’ve downplayed the fact that both British and Irish Gov’ts have made it crystal clear they want to see devolution of P&J;occur as quickly as possible.
    Recently George Bush hinted at the same.

    The DUP are stalling, for reasons best known to themselves.

    Why is asking the major parties to deliver constructive ambiguity?

    Whom does this procrastination serve? No-one

  • Pete Baker

    Damian and percy.

    Feel free to falisfy my actual analysis.

    Regards, Pete.

  • percy

    Just to be clear, I’ve sympathy for the poster who alluded to SDLP and UUP.
    The concern is not who is in office SF or DUP, its that the issues get resolved, as that is the purpose of government.

  • percy

    well I have peteb,
    your analysis downplays the wishes of both Gov’ts on this topic and your fire is directed ONLY at SF.
    Do I misrepresent your position?

  • percy

    re Reg Empey
    Hugh Orde says he wants to see devolution of P&J;, and he’s spoken on the subject.
    He only happens to be in charge of the whole Police Force
    Is that falsification of your analysis enough peteb?

  • Pete Baker

    Your absence of actual argument, rather than assertion, is noted.

  • Greenflag

    Mick Hall ,

    ‘Better honest and open politics than what you now have, very expensive stagnation that only benefits the British governments’

    I’m not sure that even HMG benefits other than the ‘stitch up’ supplies political peace of a kind .

    ‘ and leaves the needs of the people in the north in limbo.’

    I’d have said purgatory without remission but I suppose that’s what limbo is or is supposed to be all about?

    An expensive House of Cards that will ultimately fold in on itself .

    Next up -it’s replacement – What are the short term -medium and longer terms options . Will Senator Mitchell be available for another 5 year stint of transatlantic peace making . Will Bertie be up for another round of Boyneside communal digging or will we all be so p**sed off – that nobody will give a damn one way or the other ?

    Drift and stagnation followed by stagnation and drift seems about the only ‘future ‘ possible for the present political dispensation .Hey look on the bright side folks it’s an ‘improvement ‘ 🙂

  • Damian O’Loan

    Pete,

    Provide an analysis for ‘falsification’. So far you have listed instances of P&J;related news coverage and related it exclusively to the SF deception that is a significant part of the picture, but not the complete picture. I have presented enough ‘evidence’ to back up this claim. Your tired and scarcely relevant list has no purpose I can see, except to attempt to stress SF’s negotiation mistakes and subsequent lack of honesty. It is not an attempt to analyse the present situation, let alone suggest a conclusion that may serve a purpose.

    Beware the Idols of the Cave.

  • DC

    Ah, I see it’s this old Pete Baker roundabout again…

  • Pete Baker

    Damian

    “Your tired and scarcely relevant list has no purpose I can see..”

    That you can see, perhaps.

    And yet there is no contradicttion to the initial analysis..

  • Rory

    What is this insistence on the sanctity of the cleverness of the DUP’s fooling Sinn Féin into believing that they had accepted a commitment to a May 2008 deadline when they had not but instead concealed their failure to acceot that commitment?

    Sinn Féin clearly came away with clear understanding that such an understanding had been reached between all parties and were allowed to make such assurance to their party in conference without either the DUP or the British government demurring.

    If either the British government or the DUP or both now wish to play the same old hollow treaty game as ever in our tragic sad history then Britain will have once again broken faith.

    The consequences of such a blatant breach of trust are yet to be seen but the clear immediate beneficiaries will be those republican dissidents who can now argue that the SFA/GFA has been reneged on by the British government and therefore any agreement to its provisions by the Irish people now fall. That would not be a good thing.

  • Dave

    “… another failed experiment in trying to bring accountable ‘democracy’ to an inherently undemocratic artificial state…” – Greenflag

    Must you bring the EU into every discussion? 😉

  • kensei

    Pete

    In those circumstances why should any party act to cover Sinn Féin’s blushes on this?

    Because ultimately the DUP have for better or worse hitched there wagon to SF. Stating that this is the action you are going to take is all fine and well, but then you need to be able to live with the consequences. It may well be that the DUP can do so, but governments can only go on so long being dysfunctional. Given SF’s apparent absolute insistence that certain issues be resolved, then either the DUP must yield or plug the plug, which won’t necessarily be to their advantage.

    I would suggest that if it was SF that had given an obviously meaningless metric such as “community confidence” as a barometer, you might well have turned your “Baconian method” towards examining that. Particularly if there was a string of violent crime here where having even a limited ability to set policy might be able to have an impact.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Damien,

    Cast your mind back ten years to the decommissioning debate. This was when Trimble didn’t want to start the Executive moving until decommissioning was in progress. At the time, Sinn Fein said that the Good Friday Agreement did not set a deadline on decommissioning, and that other parties setting preconditions upon it would in fact delay decommissioning and damage confidence in the process. SF were correct; the agreement envisaged a timeframe but it did not tie the parties down to it. It did not stipulate that disarmament would have to commence before the executive was established.

    This is exactly the same as what is happening now, except the shoe is on the other foot. My opinion back then was to agree with Sinn Fein; let’s get the government up and running, and delivering on day to day matters for the electorate, and in parallel we can sort out the other outstanding issues – I think that was the SDLP position as well. My opinion on this has not changed and I advocate the same approach today. What has changed is the attitude of republicans, who have now decided that Trimble-style preconditions and ultimatums are the order of the day. I know that Sinn Fein have shed most of their principles, but I did not expect them to turn into Trimble duplicates.

    I think there is a nastier truth to all of this. Sinn Fein are crap at governing. Catronia Ruane is especially crap; Conor Murphy just regurgitates whatever his department tells him; and the rest of the ministers are just poodles to the DUP. Sinn Fein want to find a way out that allows them to blame someone else. As I have said before, my inclination is to go ahead and let them resign from the executive. We’ll set up a new one based on a weighted coalition. I hope the Stoops rue the day that they ever came up with that stupid d’Hondt idea, which is what got us into all this mess. In any normal democracy, two parties which could not agree and form a government would not be able to take office.

    Surely what experience has taught all of us is that walking up to the other parties, putting a gun to their heads (metaphorically speaking) and demanding certain things does not lead to progress; in fact it leads to delays.

  • we weren’t at the meeting so how can we comment?

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Comrade,

    there is a good paralell with decomissioning – in fact made by myself in reply to another of Pete’s posts on this subject. The political pressure is NOW on the DUP as it WAS on SF to deliver – failure to deliver is creating instability just as it did then and may ultimately lead to collapse – which wont happen if Robbo acts after having a kick up the political Jacksie ( threats etc ) from El Gordo.

    There is an element of truth in what Pete says ( repeatedly) on this subject but he mentions this at the expense of the greater truth which is that the DUP have a veto which is not in their own interest to exercise for much longer – more Rome rule etc.

    A tenner bet – loser gives to Slugger – I say Robbo throws in the towel (agrees to transfer )before January and a fiver bet says he does so before September. Both bets open to first comer.

  • I’m not one for reading election manifestos as I hold such a low opinion of politicians, but presumably the north’s political parties stood before the electorate with a platform of policies that they claimed, if given the power they would legislate on and thus according to them make peoples lives better.

    it would be interesting to know what percentage of say the DUP and SF manifestos has passed into law and whether people believe their lives have improved due to this.

    Clearly two of SF main election planks have not yet passed into law, policing and the ending of selective education. Perhaps slugger should set up a thread on this so we can get an idea who the winners and losers are politically.

    Or are Stormont politicos as many feel, all on perpetual standby, waiting for the British and Irish governments to continuously dig them out of the hole which is of their own making.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Mick Hall,

    remember the troubles ? Well this is a PEACE process as well as a political process to ensure we dont have a repeat of this. The last part of the PEACE process which is agreed between violent nationlism and the Englezes is not yet in place – namely the transfer of Police and Justice to Irish hands.

    For “dig them out of the hole which is of their own making” see ensuring the Englezes deliver unionism in order to cement the peace process – that is what the GFA/STA was all about – suggesting this problem is an ‘indigenous’ or relates solely to the SF ad the DUP either misses this point or is being disingenuous. Unioninism has had to be brought kicking and screaming to get them thus far – one more push from El Gordo should do the trick.

  • Comrade Stalin

    there is a good paralell with decomissioning – in fact made by myself in reply to another of Pete’s posts on this subject. The political pressure is NOW on the DUP as it WAS on SF to deliver

    Whatever makes you think that ?

    – failure to deliver is creating instability just as it did then and may ultimately lead to collapse – which wont happen if Robbo acts after having a kick up the political Jacksie ( threats etc ) from El Gordo.

    What exactly can Gordon (who is likely to be reliant on DUP votes to get troublesome legislation through in the Commons between now and the next General Election) do to apply pressure to the DUP ?

    The Executive will not collapse. It will be reconstituted without Sinn Fein in it. I see no reason why power sharing should be denied when everyone supports it except for one party ?!

    Do the republicans really want to send out the message that the IRA’s disarmament and move to stand down was a complete waste of time ?

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Comrade,

    Whatever makes you think that ?

    Firstly, they are out of step with all the main players Engleze & Irish Govt and SF.

    Secondly, because of the fact they are out of step most blame will be attributed to them for any collapse.

    Thirdly the British government has been implicitly threatening them with greater papal influence from the South – listen to Robbo’s speech when he became First Minister. There will no attempt by the British to re-constitute Stormont without police and Justice this has to do with the PEACE process – which is an agreement between the Provos and British.

    Fourthly, plunging Non Iron into constutional crisis will not suit those who like to pretned that it a normal part of the UK.

    My bet is that Robbo will jump before September and certainly before January – that will be the proof of the pressure he is under as having SF running Police and Justice will be very politicaly dangerous for the DUP. Whats your bet of wheh he’ll do it?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy,

    I’ll make one final attempt to get you to snap out of this weird delusion you’re occupying.

    Firstly, they are out of step with all the main players Engleze & Irish Govt and SF.

    How on earth do you imagine this ? Why do you think Gerry Adams ran to Downing Street, and not Dublin ? Because Dublin told him to fuck off and stop whining. Do you really think that if SF decide to pull out, the British, Irish Americans, and everyone else will blame the DUP ? Robinson will shrug his shoulders and say “I tried to make it work” and SF will be shown as a party unwilling to work with realpolitik.

    Secondly, because of the fact they are out of step most blame will be attributed to them for any collapse.

    As long as Gordon Brown has a marginal majority in the Commons, the DUP point of view will be the one which takes precedence at Number 10.

    Sinn Fein have no trump cards left. They cannot force the hand of the British, the Irish, or anyone else.

    Thirdly the British government has been implicitly threatening them with greater papal influence from the South – listen to Robbo’s speech when he became First Minister.

    That won’t happen, because the executive will remain in existence and the structures will continue to work. Just without Sinn Fein there to annoy everyone. Sure, they might turn up and hand-deliver a letter at Stormont, but everyone will just point and laugh. I’m looking forward to it.

    In any case, I don’t think this scares the unionists as much as it used to. There’s been a lot of good work done over the last five years to improve the relationship between the unionists and the Irish government. You even had Turgon on here saying that a form of joint authority would be preferable to government with SF.

    There will no attempt by the British to re-constitute Stormont

    Stormont’s gone for good, everyone knows that. However an executive comprising the unionists, Alliance and SDLP is entirely reasonable, just as it was in 1974, 1982 and 1992. There’s nothing to say that SF must be in government. In fact it is becoming increasingly clear that everyone would be a lot better off without them.

    without police and Justice this has to do with the PEACE process

    I frankly don’t see why you’re so hung up about it. Everyone agrees that it needs to happen, so why don’t we just shut up and get on with it ? I can’t think of a precedent in Northern Ireland politics where an arbitrary deadline ever achieved anything.

    – which is an agreement between the Provos and British.

    What agreement is that ?