“As these dates came and went without delivery..”

In the Irish Times, Davy Adams spells it out for anyone not paying attention

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..

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  • West Belfast

    Im glad Davy doesnt think the threat to bring down the assembly will trouble unionists. That is where we are going and the only reason is that the DUP needs to be reminded that this is a powersharing executive.

    Unionists should not forget that nationalists are even more ambivilent to the assembly. In fact if the DUP makes it clear that they just cant really share power then lets bring down the house of cards.

    As we all know each time unionists come back to the negotiating table there is less on it. So my message to Davy and moderate unionism is start treating SF as the equals they are.

  • There was never a ‘deadline’ or ‘target’ date for the Irish Language Act. There was a promise by the British Government which they didn’t fulfill to introduce an Irish Language Act.

    Davy Adams should remember that the world or even NI doesn’t revolve around what he thinks the Unionist community is happy with.

    I don’t think anybody – who’s sane – thinks a return to ‘direct misrule’ is a viable option.

    The entire recent political drama has been around one main issue – with a few others as convenient coat hangers – that being the attitude of the DUP to genuine powersharing – they hate it and have made it clear that they are looking after their own constituency and no one else.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Pete,

    Its a pity the boy Davy wasnt a regular Sluggeronian where he might have caught Turgon’s excellent post of a few days ago and therefore produced a better analysis.(I have to admit I’m biased against the Irish Times for parting company with the boy Myers a few years back.)

    ps You need to time your posts carefully to ensure you dont publish one on the same day Robbo throws in the towel – you are probably safe enough until September.

  • kensei

    The current crisis is rooted in Sinn Féin’s overselling of the St Andrews Agreement to its own constituency.

    No it isn’t, for the billionth time. It is rooted in SF’s failure to negotiate what it wanted. There is a key difference here. the problem is not the “overselling”. The problem is the deal. It is not a superficial problem. It is a substance problem. Which is worse, but not what you are saying.

    And they will know that it is in no mood to sanction the devolution of something as critically important as policing and justice.

    Th last poll on the issue said otherwise: http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics/

    Every party has over 50% for May or earlier. Hardly “no mood”.

    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.

    Perhaps, but it would certainly leave things unstable, with no guarantee things would get any better for Unionism.

  • fair_deal

    CL

    “NI doesn’t revolve around what he thinks the Unionist community is happy with”

    Neither does it revolve around what the nationalist community is happy with. Hence a decade or so of process, two big agreements and multiple small ones.

    If SF wants something they have to offer soemthing.

  • interested

    Ok, ok, enough already…… I’m starting to agree with things that Davy Adams says!

    “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.”

    That’s about a succinct a description as I could come up with. Allister and the TUV have managed to put the focus on what dissent there is within unionism, which is usually louder anyway. In the meantime the problems which are besetting republicanism have all got away in the smoke. Republicans of course don’t tend to do the public soul-searching and back-biting that unionists do which also has helped reduce the focus on the internal problems SF have been having.

    “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.”

    Indeed – its made even more difficult for SF by the fact that Adams is really the only person making the calls. He comes away looking like the spoilt child who isn’t getting to play in the Assembly game and therefore wants to call the whole game off. Gerry’s only good for poor election results etc etc so he wants to rehabilitate himself and get back some of the spotlight which he so clearly craves.

    When McGuinness starts making any serious noises about collapsing devolution I might take a little more notice.

  • Dec

    If SF wants something they have to offer soemthing.

    I wonder what that would be…still the statement equally applies to the DUP.

  • Pete Baker

    Sammy Mac

    Nothing I’ve actually said would be affected if the DUP decided to ask for policing and justice powers tomorrow. Unless you’re basing your comment on something I haven’t actually said.

    Ken

    For the billionth time, yes it is.

    See, we can all do panto. ;o)

    “The problem is the deal.”

    That would be the “indigenous” deal that Gerry warned everyone against interfering with?

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Pete,

    if the DUP move it will be because of pressure – as the TUV and probably Wee Reggie will have a field day – they aint gonna do it voultarily. Agreed?

    That will mean SF have gambled correctly on this issue – they will have the transfer of police and Justice and be in power and your analysis about poor negotiation, fooling their supporters etc will be seen to amount to Jack.

    Equally, if the DUP dont move and SF collapse the assembly and the resulting fallout favours SF then the same will apply.

    If neither of these scenarios play out then I will throw my hands up an say – “that fecker Pete Baker got it right, better not log onto Slugger for a few months”

    Geddit?

  • Dave

    SF doesn’t have the authority of its own Ard Fheis to be in the Executive since its own [i]pre-condition[/i] was not met:

    http://www.sinnfein.ie/news/detail/17405

  • kensei

    For the billionth time, yes it is.

    No it isn’t. I’ll bet I can do childish better than you.

    That would be the “indigenous” deal that Gerry warned everyone against interfering with?

    That would be the one. Could you refrain form asking me the same questions repeatedly? Perhaps if you wnat an answer, you can just back link to it.

  • dub

    Kensei and Pete,

    Your arguemt is ridiculous are you are BOTH correct. SF did a bad deal in that there was not explicit obligation that the date for devolution of p and j had to be met if sf did x, y and z. SF did the x, y and z by misinterpreting/overselling (take your pick) the deal to their own aupporters. They should never have got themselves into this position.

    Fair Deal,

    You are right in general but you seem to forget that sf did their bit by getting their party to recognise and cooperate with the PSNI, by any standard a mammoth undertaking.

    Concubhar,

    Dead right. Could you or somebody else explain how what was a specific commitment by the British govt in the St Andrew’s agreement became something the Assembly had to agree on? And further why are SF going along with this charade of looking for the Assembly to deal with it when they should just be constantly pointing out British bad faith and telling Broon that if the British govt does not honour this commitment then sf will walk away? Puzzling….

  • percy

    I’d be suprised if the matter of P&J;wasn’t resolved by Xmas.
    The thing about a 3-legged race is both parties need each other to be able to stand up !

  • Seems a, Momentous Historic, Earth-shattering, Seismic, Substantial, Significant and Note-Worthy deal re-run of the, same old – same old, as practised by former majority psrties the Ulster Unionists and SDLP, all cept the copper-fastening.

  • Pete Baker

    dub

    Almost there.

    It’s true that the Sinn Féin leadership didn’t get what they wanted – what their Ard Fheis had told them they needed – at St Andrews.

    But by pretending that they did, they delayed the current crisis until now – which is the point that Davy Adams was making – and now they’re attempting to blame everyone/anyone else for that.

    If they had acknowledged that they hadn’t got what they wanted at St Andrews then, they would have had a completely different crisis to deal with.

  • fair_deal

    dub

    “You are right in general but you seem to forget that sf did their bit by getting their party to recognise and cooperate with the PSNI, by any standard a mammoth undertaking.”

    The DUP did there bit too. Ian Paisley power-sharing with Martin McGuinness was as much a rubicon.

  • Mark McGregor

    Pete,

    You are more than aware most that the conditions for even holding the special Ard Fheis on policing were never met, so why would you see the outcomes of that Ard Fheis and how it relates to the StAA as any real concern to SF (or at least their leadership)?

  • Pete Baker

    Mark

    I’m just noting what has happened..

    ..for the benefit of those not paying attention. ;o)

    Whether anyone in Sinn Féin (or even their leadership) is concerned about what has happened is another matter.

  • kensei

    Pete, dub

    No, the distinction is important. First up, take Pete’s statement:

    But by pretending that they did, they delayed the current crisis until now – which is the point that Davy Adams was making – and now they’re attempting to blame everyone/anyone else for that.

    Did SF “pretend”? Or did they genuinely believe they had got want they wanted? The distinction matters. In the first case, SF is guilty of either not reading the small print or not getting strong enough guarantees. That is a significant incompetence from seasoned negotiators, but it does mean that they did not knowingly mislead their support. In the second case, they walked out knowing they hadn’t got it but pushed it anyway. That is more than simply incompetence.

    Davy Adams stated that SF should know the difference between target dates and deadlines. Which is true. But that leads me to believe they thought they had got whatever commitments they needed at St Andrews, either by believing what’s the in the document was enough, or by informal guarantees. There have been hints of the latter – “there is a mechanism to go back to the British” and “It was Ian Paisely Jr what said it”. Pete thinks those “ludicrous” claims, but I reckon there is something in it. Enough to think SF might have believed they had guarantees, if not that they were actually given. So depends on your perspective.

    On this:

    The current crisis is rooted in Sinn Féin’s overselling of the St Andrews Agreement to its own constituency.

    It isn’t. The problem is rooted in SF not securing what they needed. This isn’t a completely different crisis to deal with.. It is the same crisis that would have occured if SF had signed up and admitted it was short. If they had not signed, that would be a different crisis.

    There is a qualitative difference the accusation Pete is making, and the accusation of incompetence. It’s worth pointing out.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Let me get this straight. Your argument is correct because you can refer back to a previous thread (that you started) in which – and correct me if I’m wrong – you bring the gargantuan weight of a former RUC man to back up the dim-witted views of a (this is beautiful) former UDA man!?!

    Well, that’s me convinced. Faced with the sheer intellectual rigor of it all, I’ll certainly be voting for Davy next time out.

    Oh, wait. He stopped his political career when he got threatened. Threatened, that is, by the people into whose thinking he had that wonderfully “close insight” back when he was smug enough and undemocratic enough to glibly parrot the UFF/UDA mantra “our weapons are our mandate”.

    Yep! The game’s up for nationalism in the face of this collection of political giants.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Kensei,

    slugger me this one – as per your remarks below.

    “There is a qualitative difference the accusation Pete is making, and the accusation of incompetence. It’s worth pointing out.”

    What difference will it make whether they are promises, accusations, or so called incomepetnece etc if SF get what they want in the coming months ie Police and Justice and Power sharing or no powersharing and the DUP getting the blame.

    Surely this is pinhead dancing of a quality good enough for the quarefellah Flatley himself.

    The above debate is ONLY relevant if there is an inquest, things have gone clealry wrong and SF get the blame. With everyone except the DUP on their side we are miles away from that and no amount of spin by Pete or others is going to change that.

  • Mick Fealty

    BJR,

    If we were to judge you in precisely the same way we’d need to know who you are, who you work for and all your past associations. Thankfully, since we have a rule that says you should play the ball and not the man, we just need to know what you think about the issue and nothing about who you are.

    Now try to find the ball, and when you find it, give it a good hard kick. But leave the man alone. Trust me, it works!

  • kensei

    Sammy

    I’d guess that you’re right the powers will be devolved, possibly this year. But the DUP have extracted a price already, and may extract more. In the long run it won’t matter too much, but it contributes to SF being off an even keel.

    But in any case, even if you are 1-0 down and manage to grind out a 1-1 or 2-1 result, the smart teams analysis their mistakes anyway, because you’ll need get second chances every time.

  • Rooster Cogburn

    Purely out of interest, and leaving entirely to one sides the whys and wherefors of this particular instance (no matter how open and shut they seem to many of us …), a question for ‘Republican’ posters. Why are you all* evidently so pathologically attached to the peculiar notion that the Sinn Fein never have misled and never would mislead their supporters/base/activists? I’m puzzled chiefly because in every democratic, constitutional, truly political party ever, exactly this same phenomenon has happened. And will happen again. So tell me, do, why is that you claim to think Sinn Fein’s leaders never have and never will? (You’ll note my conceit is that you’re being sincere when you affect this belief).

    *And for what little it’s worth (and of course, speaking purely for myself), it’s precisely this seemingly robotic, monotonous, scripted and uniform quality (to Republican contributions, whatever the specific issue at hand is) that so quickly bores many of us off bothering to ‘debate’ with them. After all, what’s the point in wasting your time doing that, if literally all you’re ever going to get typed back at you is an undeviating, unblinking ‘party line’?
    I’m sure I’m hardly the only one who notices quite how quickly so many threads on Slugger in essence ‘self-segregate’ into being basically either ‘nationalist’ ones or ‘unionist’ ones, where nationalists drone unto nationalists, and unionists chunter on at just other unionists. It’s a pity, a great pity when that happens, but as I say, for myself, I freely admit, I can’t be bothered trying to engage with posters whose thought processes – as measured by their unblinking, doctrinaire ‘responses’ – would embarrass an especially unforgiving, ideologically rigid, Marxist android.

  • LURIG

    Two baldy men fighting over a comb this thread! The Shinners & (ex) No men will come up with a solution because let’s face it if either were going to walk away it would have happened before now. The sticking points of decommissioning, the word permanent, ‘weapons beyond use’, number of ministries, etc etc were all solved so why do people think that old grey men are going to let it go now. They ALL have too many vested interests and have grown used to the nice life up at Stormont. I can see another luxury weekend in a far off English castle to sort it all out sometime in September. It’s ALL RHUBARB RHUBARB RHUBARB……..

  • Comrade Stalin

    Rooster,

    Too right. I remember back to the GFA, when the proposed document was eventually released (I think Trimble might have leaked it a day or two before planned?). The SF representatives (outside of the top leadership circle) all came out and began criticising it. Then, as if by magic, a week later, they were all united in their support for the document, and all spoke of how the onus was on the British government to secure it’s full implementation.

    The same thing happened with the Patten report. Alex Maskey came on TV on the shortly after it was published and rubbished it. I specifically remember him saying that it wouldn’t be acceptable because it did not ban plastic bullets (he obviously had not properly read it). A number of days later, Sinn Fein had once again adopted the line that the Patten report was the minimum standard and that they would look for it’s full implementation.

    It really is a top-down party which appears to be governed by dictats coming from a small committee at the very top. No wonder people are figuring this out and leaving. I can’t imagine that there’s any serious room for debate or dissent within it.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Flippin’ hell. I thought it was fair enough to judge a politician’s comments in the light of what he has previously said and done. Again, on a political website that posts arguments and opinions and then asks for comments. Weren’t people free to judge Iris in a similar way on this site? *shrugs*

  • kensei

    rooster

    Purely out of interest, and leaving entirely to one sides the whys and wherefors of this particular instance (no matter how open and shut they seem to many of us …), a question for ‘Republican’ posters. Why are you all* evidently so pathologically attached to the peculiar notion that the Sinn Fein never have misled and never would mislead their supporters/base/activists?After all, what’s the point in wasting your time doing that, if literally all you’re ever going to get typed back at you is an undeviating, unblinking ‘party line’?

    I’m sorry it bores you. You could at least stop boring me, by posting about it.

  • kensei

    CS

    The same thing happened with the Patten report. Alex Maskey came on TV on the shortly after it was published and rubbished it. I specifically remember him saying that it wouldn’t be acceptable because it did not ban plastic bullets (he obviously had not properly read it). A number of days later, Sinn Fein had once again adopted the line that the Patten report was the minimum standard and that they would look for it’s full implementation

    The difference being that SF was not responsible for either of those, and their failure to back them was highly unlikely to kill them. The GFA is also a particularly bad example, because it by nature had to be leadership led. When SF decided to back it, it meant compromise and it had to be the leadership that sold it down, and in those circumstances message discipline is not a bad thing.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Kensel Re GFA: “When SF decided to back it”

    Decided to back it? They negotiated the effin’ thing. It remains one of their major achievements. The term decided to back it suggests an element of reluctance, IMHO.

    Just sayin’ like.

  • Peking

    “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).”

    Loved that line.

    And he is absolutely right about the Shinners over-selling St Andrews and the chickens now coming home to roost – even the most glazed eyed Shinner supporter was going to catch on sometime that reality almost always pans out totally different to how the leadership describes what it has achieved.
    The SDLP, who incidentally were the actual negotiators of the GFA along with the UUs, were pointing out how badly SF had done almost from the start.
    They, and not least the DUP, knew that British and Irish government target dates and vague promises meant little at St Andrews and amounted to shit all just as soon as devolution was re-started and the centre of gravity moved back to Stormont.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Kensei,

    Fair Point.

    I reckon the Maze/Bobby(Sands)Bowl will we a swap at the same time – otherwise why did they get rid of Poots – surely it would have been better to let him deliver the bad news (if there was any )and then boot him out.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    anyone care to explain what powers IRA/sinn Fein would have if policing and justice become devolved?

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Ulsters my homeland

    Surely you mean DUP/IRA/sinn Fein? It is a coalition afterall.

  • kensei

    BJR

    Decided to back it? They negotiated the effin’ thing. It remains one of their major achievements. The term decided to back it suggests an element of reluctance, IMHO.

    The SDLP and the UUP led the negotiations. SF got a lot out of it, but they weren’t in the lead. Plus, context of this comment – CS is talking about a leaked copy being released before final agreement. Of course grassroots are going to criticise the bits they don’t like. At some point during the negotiation SF had to decide to back it or not,a nd once they did, it was incumbent on the leadership to dell it down the line. It remaisn a bad example.

  • cynic

    “the difference being that SF was not responsible for either of those” (GFA and Patten)

    Kensei

    You need to get with the programme. Do you seriously believe that the first time SF saw the Patten report was when it flashed up on TV?

    Read Powell’s book and look at what was going on generally. There was always a huge amount of choreography behind the scenes with negotiation and counter-negotiation directly and through proxies. It’s now clear that the Shinners and all the rest were up to their necks in this, had substantial visibility on what was about to happen / be announced and were helped along in managing their constituencies in the aftermath.

    Deals done in the background did not always match up to the righteous posturing in public after the event, be it SF on rubber bullets or the UUP on RUC reform. Each side knew the battles it would never win but was pre-warned and primed so it was able to manage its response and not to get itself into a position it couldn’t get back out of.

    Of course all this showed a total contempt for the electorate who were manipulated through the process at every stage …… but hey, if that’s what it took, that’s what it took.

  • cynic

    “While Gerry Adams accuses “certain DUP members” of being opposed to the very concept of powersharing …….”

    And his party’s stance on education is a shining example of what SF consider ‘powersharing’ to mean

  • cynic

    “It really is a top-down party which appears to be governed by dictats coming from a small committee at the very top.”

    Comrade

    Well those that haven’t spotted that before must be slow learners.

    it used to be called the Army Council didn’t it? And didn’t the Green Book define that SF was subordinate to the Council?

    When the GFA originally came out, for example, the party / movement arranged meetings for volunteers and members to discuss the new direction. At these they offered and encouraged completely free and open debate but, at the end of each meeting, anyone who took up that opportunity too vigorously had a short chat with some of the security team to remind them of what Party and Army ‘discipline’ meant and the penalties for transgressing it.

  • kensei

    cynic

    You need to get with the programme. Do you seriously believe that the first time SF saw the Patten report was when it flashed up on TV?

    Did I say that? I don’t think I did.

  • PDallas

    The big difference between the likes of the GFA/Patten and St Andrews is that the the first two could be and were sold as mere building blocks or way-stations to something else. The time it would take to get to the “something else” never had to be specified, “piece of string” etc.
    St Andrews, on the other hand, was sold as specific issues having been won – they were already signed and sealed and just awaited delivery within a specific timeframe.

    It was bullshit and the rep community have twigged.

  • cynic

    Kensei

    Sorry if I misunderstood you but let me make my point clear.

    At every stage SF negotiated and had then to decide if had got as far as it could and whether what was on offer was acceptable. In reality it always was because the negotiations always dragged on to that point where SF could be accommodated! What then followed was huff and puff and bluster to help them position or reposition themselves and sell that to their electorate. The Unionists were going the same thing but perhaps less successfully initially as they had less leverage (i.e. no Army).

    As time has gone on the strength of the SF position has weakened. There is no army anymore. There is a real sense of a widespread desire in the whole nationalist community to move on so SF can’t just trot out the ‘totally unacceptable to my community’ line. Also, they are now totally bound into the process… committed so deeply they cannot get out, despite what the Great Leader threatens. To try to go back now would be political suicide besides being terminal for so many senior egos and bank balances.

    I think that’s simply why they have done less well in the negotiations. The DUPs realized that SF needed them as much as they wanted an agreement.

    Now this impasse still doesn’t have to be a zero sum game. They can all lift it out and all gain from it. They just have to negotiate and compromise. Any bets on that though?

  • Comrade Stalin

    billie-joe:
    Decided to back it? They negotiated the effin’ thing. It remains one of their major achievements. The term decided to back it suggests an element of reluctance, IMHO.

    Kensei is right to point out that SF did not, in fact, negotiate very much during the GFA talks.

    The talks had been in progress for approximately a year; SF were admitted after the 1997 general election following the IRA’s decision to reinstate it’s ceasefire.

    I hope that one day the story of what went on inside the talks gets written, because I think a lot of people would have their eyes opened. It was so bad at one point that I remember John Alderdice calling for cameras to be brought in so that the public could see the silly farce that was being acted out behind closed doors. SF’s contributions to the talks consisted primarily of Martin McGuinness standing up for ten minutes at the beginning of each day and complaining about the usual list of chuckie grievances, top of the list being David Trimble’s refusal to shake hands with Gerry Adams. Then he sat down and SF remained quiet for the rest of the day and everyone else got on with it.

    SF’s strategy isn’t clear to me, and I don’t think at the time of the talks it was clear to them either. They clamoured for all party talks since the IRA ceasefire in 1994, I don’t think they had thought much about what they were going to do when they eventually happened – I almost think they were hoping that they would not happen so that they could “prove” the irreformability of the Northern statelet. Likewise they have stressed the need for powersharing, but haven’t thought about what they would do with power once they had acquired it.