The current crisis is rooted in Sinn Féin’s overselling of the St Andrews Agreement to its own constituency. What were mere target dates for the introduction of an Irish language Act and the devolution of policing and justice were represented by them as being copper-fastened agreements on timescale.
As these dates came and went without delivery, and the reality of St Andrews gradually dawned on the republican electorate, Sinn Féin began to panic, accusing the DUP of reneging on solid commitments and, latterly, threatening to bring down the Executive unless they get their own way.
It isn’t as though anyone seriously believes that Sinn Féin can’t tell the difference between target dates and firm agreements: they were clear enough in the past where target dates for IRA decommissioning were concerned.
While Gerry Adams accuses “certain DUP members” of being opposed to the very concept of powersharing, his own party is shedding disillusioned members with monotonous regularity (hence the repeated call for the DUP to “show leadership” – in other words, ignore your own constituency to placate ours).
And he goes on to say
The republican calculation seems to be that the DUP’s own hunger for position and power, along with pressure from the two governments not to allow the Executive fall, will be enough to ensure that Sinn Féin eventually gets its way.
However, regardless of external pressures and career considerations, there can be no doubt that the DUP will be paying proper regard to the views of that vast section of moderate unionism that Sinn Féin conveniently ignores. And they will know that it is in no mood to sanction the devolution of something as critically important as policing and justice.
Not with the Executive having thus far proved incapable of dealing with even the most mundane aspects of everyday governance and, most especially, with republican involvement in the murders of Robert McCartney and Paul Quinn still fresh in the mind.
Whether Gerry Adams realises it or not, his threatening to bring down the Executive if policing and justice isn’t devolved doesn’t sound like much of a threat at all to the unionist community.
Those threats are also a continuation of a flawed top-down process..