For all the wishful headlines, and accompanying hopeful quotes at the British Irish Council meeting, neither the Northern Ireland First nor deputy First Ministers mentioned the actual deadlock. From the First Minister,
“I hope we will have two meetings next week, it’s important that we do,” Mr Robinson said. “I think it will be very hard to explain to people in Northern Ireland that Northern Ireland politicians can sit around a table in Edinburgh but they couldn’t sit around one in Belfast. “So let’s move ahead with all of the institutions, get everything in place and get down to work.”
And the deputy First Minister,
Mr McGuinness spoke to reporters separately but insisted he had a good relationship with Mr Robinson and shared common goals. Asked if a north-south meeting would go ahead next Friday, he said: “I don’t see any reason why it can’t go ahead. “Given that today’s event went ahead, we can reasonably expect that the North-South Ministerial Council will take place next week.” And he said it was an “absolute priority” for an Executive meeting to be held on Thursday next week.
The First Minister said he would not be pushed or bullied into moving on policing and added that such powers would not be placed in the hands of a Sinn Féin minister.
What we need to do now is not to blockade the Executive but to use the agreed processes and seek to reach agreement and build confidence in the community for this to take place. There is one certainty Sinn Féins harmful obstruction of Executive business is eroding confidence not only in devolving new powers but in the devolution we have already achieved.
Adds According to the BBC update
A Sinn Fein spokesman said the DUP leader needed “to make it clear whether he supports the St Andrews Agreement, because that was the basis on which the institutions were resurrected”.
Mr Robinson was addressing supporters in Fermanagh, where the party won a by-election victory over Sinn Fein earlier this month.
On policing, he said devolution was a unionist ideal.
Our terms are unalterable. We will take our decision based on content not the calendar.
We want devolution to take place, and it will but only when the essential conditions have been met.
The other key condition for us is attaining support and confidence from the community in the structures and in those who will operate them.