“before detailed steps can be taken to implement devolution of justice..”

With those words lingering in the background, the current US special envoy, Paula Dobriansky, was in Belfast today just as a depleted Assembly and Executive Review Committee set themselves a target date to complete their discussions on the devolution of policing and justice powers – it’s never been just about those dreary steeples.. Meanwhile Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey has been trying again to apportion blame elsewhere for the crisis kerfuffle tense time. He’s got one thing right though.

“The St. Andrews Agreement is very clear with regard to transferring these powers.”

Why yes. Yes it is clear, Alex. To anyone who’s read it and has been paying attention, that is. But not in the way you needed it to be back in May. “As you well know”, indeed.

“However, agreement between the political parties (as you well know) remains the key determinant before detailed steps can be taken to implement devolution of justice” – Martin McGuinness.

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  • conor

    Baker, why do you insist on taking such a blindingly obviously bigoted line every time? The DUP signed up to the St Andrews Agreement. The Agreement stated that it wanted policing powers devolved by May 2008. IF YOU HAVE READ IT. Now the DUP can’t simply sign up to parts of it, it either signs up to all of it, or none of it. And clearly devolving policing by the afforementioned date is part of it. The DUP cannot cherrypick from the Agreement, it has to implement all of it. Simple as that. I know that bigotry runs deep within the veins of the party and sharing power is, bizzarely, seen as a compromise. I always thought it was a right myself. But anyways they need to share power, they have to share power. And their whinging and posturising and excuse making does nothing to disguise the fact that sharing power is clearly an anethma to a party who fondly reminisce of the political slum and gerrymandered, filthy ghetto which their predecessors created and maintained by force and threat and execution of sectarian violence.

  • “The DUP signed up to the St Andrews Agreement.”

    Conor, I understood the SAA to be an agreement between the two Governments and the May date was on the wish list.

    “7. Discussions on the devolution of policing and justice have progressed well in the Preparation for Government Committee. The Governments have requested the parties to continue these discussions so as to agree the necessary administrative arrangements to create a new policing and justice department. It is our view that implementation of the agreement published today should be sufficient to build the community confidence necessary for the Assembly to request the devolution of criminal justice and policing from the British Government by May 2008.”

  • Billy

    Conor

    I’d agree with a lot of what you say.

    This pathetic mantra that Pete and the DUP are repeating is tiresome and pointless.

    This issue merely highlights the fact that the DUP have, from day 1, been cherry picking from the agreement and taken delight in kicking back anything that might benefit Nationalists.

    The truth is that, while this may play well to the DUP/TUV backwoodsmen, it is showing up the DUP for what they are to everyone outside NI.

    Gordon Brown was extremely plain about who he blames and, if even the UK govt are pressuring the DUP, the US + Irish govts will be even more strident.

    The fact that Unionists constantly ignore is that, on the international stage (particularly the US), they are seen as being intransigent and even bigotted.

    The Sinn Fein leadership are seen as having delivered – and faced down considerable opposition amongst their supporters.

    Neither side really wants the assembly to fail but, having said that, it’s a much bigger loss to Unionists than Nationalists.

    Successive UK govts (even Thatcher’s) have hardly
    been friends of Unionism. With today’s economic climate, the changing demographics within NI and the lack of support for NI Unionism in Westminster/the UK, I don’t think Nationalists have too much to fear from a return to Direct Rule. It’ll simply be another step towards joint authority.

    Although I’m not a SF voter myself, I think that they have gauged the mood of the Nationalist community just right.

    It’s not just about P&J;per se, it’s about the DUP being unwilling to treat Nationalists/Catholics as equals and truly particiapte in a power sharing govt.

    There are two ways forward – either the DUP can start playing fair or the assembly crashes (for which Unionists – not SF will get the blame internationally) and we will take another step towards joint authority.

    Pete and the other pro DUP types can keep reapeating their pointless mantra – it’s rather like fiddling while Rome burns.

    The truth is that, outside NI, the pressure is on the DUP. They have the most to lose and the least to gain from an assembly collapse.

    If it happens, SF will be seen as having tried to share power but been thwarted by intransigent Unionists who want little more than a return to majority rule by the back door.

    SF (+ the SDLP) are correctly and successfully ensuring that their message is getting out well beyond the 6 counties and exposing the DUP (who have very little or no international support anyway).

    This is a defining moment for the DUP/Unionism. They can face reality and start dealing with Nationalists\Catholics as equals or they can lose local control of their beloved ‘pravince’. The truth is that they may never get it back again.

    The bottom line is, that every time Unionism has to renegotiate, they go back in a weaker position.

    For supposedly intelligent people, they never seem to learn that lesson.

  • conor

    Nevin, the St Andrew’s Agreement was an agreement between all of the parties. And the DUP signed up to it. And the St Andrew’s Agreement set the date for the devolution of policing as May 2008. End of Story. And by the way, what exactly is the DUP problem with the transfer of policing to the North? What exactly is it that hasn’t been done? Surely not the army council disbanding? Sure Gordon Brown, Shaun Woodward, the Irish government and Hugh Orde have said they are satisfied that it has effectively disbanded. Whats the DUP’s problem? Bigotry is it?

  • conor

    Absolutely Billy. The issue is of course far wider than the transfer of policing powers. This is about the DUP refusing to acknowledge that they are in a power-sharing government. They said yes once, and no ever since, to paraphrase. The DUP must act as a partner in a power-sharing administration. They can’t hold us all to ransom with their nonsense about `guaging the mood’ of unionism. Its just a delaying tactic and a DUP imposed hurdle to power-sharing. The bigotry of the party beggars belief. Their refusal, for instance, to support an Irish language act, smacks of an 18th century penal law mindset. Who do these guys think they are? I am not a Sinn Fein voter myself, but I am sick and tired of the DUP’s bluster and bombast and their never-ending excuses not to move forward and to share power.

  • Norton

    Of course Pete was the kind of unionist extremist who insisted that Sinn Fein’s involvement post-GFA was dependent on the IRA decommissioning its weapons even though that was not stated in the GFA. I seem to remember unionists demanding – and getting – all sorts of side-pledges and promises from the Government post-GFA. Who remembers Tony Blair signing the poster? Sinn Fein could hardly be blamed for thinking that these agreements are really only the beginning of the negotiations.

    I’m sure Sinn Fein will be expecting the British Government to be as solidly behind the DUP as they were behind David Trimble. As solid as shite. When the economic storm has been weathered, GB will find time to tell Robinson that it’s being devolved whether he likes it or not. Now that 42 days has disappeared into the historical ether he’s little need for them.

    And as for generals being ahead of the troops Pete, have a look at the Fermanagh South Tyrone by-election result and see if that actually provides evidence for what you are suggesting. The alternative general didn’t too well down there did she? So let’s have some actual evidence rather than this innuendo.

    People like Pete have been waiting years for Sinn Fein to implode. It might happen some day but not while thousands of new, young nationalist voters flock to the polling booths to put their X beside Sinn Fein.

  • The Raven

    Probably.

  • conor

    The DUP under Robinson have went backwards. Look at the evidence. The tories said the DUP were too `toxic’ to consider entering a pact with, following Pete’s wife’s homophobic comments. A series of comments that were of course allowed to go ahead to placate the backwoodsmen and bigots in the party. The policing debacle is a fight which the DUP can’t win. Brown said it was `crystal clear’ that the IRA army council was no longer a threat. That is a direct quote. Shaun Woodward said the issue of army council disbandment `will not be revisited. It is final.” again a direct quote. Clearly there is a political consensus among the politicians who actually weild real power that the issue has been dealth with and Sinn Fein has delivered. The governments can extract no more on this issue from Sinn Fein. The DUP is pandering to the sectarian instincts of a lot of its members and supporters. But it is doing so at a cost. Clearly when the governments get time to focus, briefly, on Stormont again, the pressure will be placed on the DUP to move. The DUP is doing nothing to prepare its supporters and members for that eventuality. Quite the opposite. Their bigotry is blinding them to reality.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Right. Pete’s a big boy who can look after himself. So he can speak for himself.

    I find these posts as tedious as anyone else. But look at the detail guys. That last quote is composed of the DFM’s own words.

    I don’t begrudge anyone their angry response to other people’s politics, especially if they have personal experience of the intolerance of the 70s and 80s.

    But I am struggling with the line SF is taking here. It’s an unstoppable force meeting the immoveable object.

    John Coulter reckons (http://url.ie/sls) the Americans can force the hands of the DUP and that an alliance between the US the British and the Irish governments will do a reprise of their last game and work some kind of magical force on the DUPs.

    But I don’t see who, external to the local game, has the political collateral to persuade the DUPs to shift. Bush is a lame duck. Congress is out on the stump. The last thing Brown wants is for the whole thing to unravel just as he is about save the western world. And Brian Cowen’s got his own troubles seeking as soft a landing as he can manage for the Tiger economy.

    The downside for the DUP is, as I recently put it a party official, is that SF was using provisions the DUP insisted be inserted into SAA to paralize government.

    His line was that it was probably better to err on the size of caution and risk government malfunction than to leave themselves wide open to in-house politicking of the sort that made Trimble’s life hell.

    Speaking of whom (and I would welcome correction on this), it appears to me that SF is now in the same situation the former leader of the UUs once found himself in: ie, he’d been mislead (in this case by Bertie rather than Blair) into thinking he had deal that he didn’t actually have down on paper.

    Pete’s posts (on this subject) may be tedious. But then the line that is being continuously being pushed is not his. He’s simply reminding people of what’s already been said by others.

  • Mick Fealty

    Oh bugger. That was me btw!

  • percy

    Mick
    I’ll buy your Trimble line, and just wondered as that resulted in the collapse of the Assembly, is there any other outcome possible here?

    I read Coulter and he suggests the Gov’ts must set a dead-line, beyond which the thing is pulled.
    Again, do they have any other choice?

  • Mick Fealty

    Oh, and can I just emphasise that line “external to the local game”… By which I mean to imply that SF is the only local party with sufficient collateral to make a ‘new’ deal happen. We’ve already had the outline of a deal on policing and justice in early August. Then, nothing…

    Maybe there really is a factor that no one here has yet mentioned lurking unforeseen in the shadows. Such things do happen. But for now, the defining gap is the one between what the party leadership promised the special Ard Fheis and what is likely to arise from nearly five months of ‘failing’ bilateral negotiations.

    I’m really not sure how that gap gets closed.

  • DC

    Nevin, it seems St Andrews document has that third party narrative feel to it.

    The simple way to look at it is like this: Prior to St Andrews there was no devolution, return of devolution is linked to St Andrews. When that agreement fails so too devolution. However, there appears to be little appetite within either Sinn Fein or the DUP to argue or counter argue their respective opinions.

    The public is left to make its mind up based on an historical narrative given by the supporters of either side; however, you need only look back to two of the most fiercely persuasive characters in the peace process, Blair and Ahern, to see the low level ability of both SF and the DUP to really get things moving. I am thinking more so SF in relation to education in particular and Irish language generally but too with the DUP re stalling of policing powers and the Maze. It is like a void into which both parties could easily fall, a gulf between the MLAs unreasonable explanations and the public’s own reasonable ones appears to be opening up and disintegrating the belief in either parties being able to make necessary compromises through negotiating.

    Arguments here appear to be quite trite with statements produced that are high on emotional appeal, linked to old historic situations, but are actually quite low on evidence.

    The case for progression appears now to rest with the momentum at ground level, with the wider public willing on the closure of the peace process so as to be able to build on stability. Obviously stability overall is required to not just build up politics but economic reforms too and people require politicians to work together as a means to effect change where it matters most.

    I think there is an expectation of devolution of policing powers and delivery on the ground too based on better socio-economic policy – it is hardly a difficult sell. One of the problems in politics is that when politicians are pressed to listen to the people they usually say that the problem is that they don’t agree, but I get the impression everyone knows what is required of them and the wider mood is in agreement with the notions of stability linked to peace and a hope for that longed-for prosperity.

  • Mick Fealty

    DC:

    Another insider view from the DUPs: “Neither party has any intention of seeing this all fall off the edge of a cliff. But that doesn’t mean it won’t.”

  • Norton

    Mick

    Maybe Gerry Adams did buy the false promise of Bertie – but the question is whether he makes the same mistake as Trimble and caves in. I doubt it. Sinn Fein haven’t been out-negotiated at any point through this process and I don’t think they’ll start now.

    In many ways this is a side-debate. The real debate should be about whether after 30 years of revolutionary violence and politics interwoven, we’re suddenly supposed to believe that the republican movement have become constitutional plodders. Isn’t it in the nature of republicans to want to destablise these institutions? Aren’t they playing a long game to which stability is anathema?

  • Norton

    And another thing

    I just don’t buy this line that Sinn Fein need policing and justice in order to placate the Ard Fheis. I know it’s written down, but it only exists to inadvertently put pressure on the DUP to help out their partners in government. Anything the republican leadership wants, the vast majority of the republican grassroots goes along with. It’s been that way with MUCH bigger issues than this and will be with this in a quite straightforward manner.
    I feel that sometimes dangerous unionist extremists misjudge Sinn Fein because they’re blinded more by what they want to happen rather than what logic, history and knowledge suggests will happen.

  • Mick Fealty

    Norton,

    If he doesn’t cave in, and the Assembly collapses (and I’m unsure of the modalities of how that might happen), then he is precisely where Trimble was in October 2002. 13 months later, Trimble’s power and his party were dead in the water.

    Now there are conditions surrounding SF (not least its far superior state of political health) that make such a demise highly unlikely. But I am struggling to envisage it as the strongest move in the book.

    You could be right on that last point. But I tend to read these things at face value. Not least because there has been considerable investment in a younger generation of politicians and political operators in Sinn Fein, possibly more so than any other political party.

  • DC

    Mick – agree here is some background as to why that might be,

    In relation to Trimble, the DUP always had a significant undercurrent to sway opinion but it was the external actualities that really drove the nail into him and pushed Republicanism into the arms of the DUP.

    To explain – the things in DUP favour.

    In 2000 you had Florida.
    In 2001 you had Farc.

    9/11 2001 Happened – Farc antics cut across American foreign policy re terror groups with a view to domestic curtailing of drug use – a big no no.

    In 2002 you had Stormont-gate.

    But the ultimate hammer blow came about when even the Irish government wouldn’t consider SF as coalition partners. The game was up for Trimble. The swelling of the electoral ranks once in the UUP switched to the DUP – only the core remained.

    In 2003 – the choreography over decommissioning re inventory failed to transpire and that was the death of Trimble.

    2003 elections proved that.

    2004 Northern Bank – multi-millions into the hands of terrorists.

    2005 – McCartney Murder; Mid 2005 IRA wind-up

    Adams barred from the States – Republicans in the dog house.

    The war on terror approach coincided with DUP macho-ism with their own approach – it was all looking good for the DUP.

    Mitchel Reiss was on the case too with the British government.

    Come 2006 re St Andrews SF had to back the police, the position in the current climate appeared anathema to those State-side and with Britain now firmly its feet tucked under Washington’s table re Iraq – Provo-SF had really no more mileage left at all. Everything that was once positive to SF had now turned against it in terms of the old way and old arguments of how things are done in NI. But as to McGuinness’ brag about ‘leadership’ it only took him 10 years to bring all of this about – not least linked to those ‘external actualities’!

    All of these factors combined against the UUP – an incredible situation of accumulative circumstances against SF’s own settled world view.

    I think all of this leaves SF in a very tight spot politically, this is the reason why they can’t walk away, there is no common ground except making politics work. Both parties are playing for time, and both suffer from poor leadership however with Trimble the mood music changed driven by circumstances, I don’t think SF have any problems yet with similar circumstances that would place votes back into the arms of the SDLP.

    The combined US-UK war on terror that was a battle of democratic values against that of capos dictatorships was being waged and that affected SF in the end but Trimble in relation to his position as unionist peace-processor.

  • joeCanuck

    Sadomasochistic necophilic bestiality.

    I think everyone has got it by now Pete.

  • conor

    Mick, I think your `analysis’ and analogy with Sinn Fein and the UUP is garbage. The UUP had major concerns about power-sharing and the peace process in general from the very start. They came to the party very late. They most certainly didn’t see power-sharing as a central plank of their political strategy. David Trimble had led the party for less than three full years by that time. The unionist community in general was at best apathetic, at worst hostile, to the whole project. David Trimble consistently failed to face down his own dissidents. NONE of those very important factors apply to Sinn Fein. Furthermore you have convienently ignored the flipside to the UUP’s position vis-a-vis Sinn Fein and `broken promises’ at the time, which was of course for the British and Irish governments to apply pressure to Sinn Fein to make good on its commitments. And of course the bizzare spectacle of the PSNI collapsing the assembly!!!

  • Pete Baker

    “I think everyone has got it by now Pete.”

    You’d think so, Joe, wouldn’t you?

    “tedious” might be a bit strong, Mick. ;o)

    But I’d certainly be happy if I never had to point out the reality of the situation, in response to the fiction emanating from Sinn Féin on this, ever again.

    “Pete’s a big boy who can look after himself. So he can speak for himself.”

    And if there’s an evidenced attempt to falsify what I’ve said I will respond.

    Norton

    “Of course Pete was the kind of unionist extremist..”

    Yeah, me.. along with Patrick Murphy and Eamonn McCann..

    Btw, how do you square this line – “Sinn Fein haven’t been out-negotiated at any point through this process and I don’t think they’ll start now.”

    With your other statement – “Maybe Gerry Adams did buy the false promise of Bertie..”?

    In other situations, of course, there was a hidden hand at work..

  • percy

    typical nonsense peteb,
    thread up another agony aunt post, run away from the debate, pop back at midnight for a few trite words along the lines of

    “blah blah …. pay attention… blah blah …you’ve not read the St.Andrews.. blah blah”

    Buggers off, to catch a glimpse of the full moon via garden telescope, and/or other orbiting planetary bodies.

  • Mick Fealty

    conor,

    Okay, I follow most of that. Though I’m not sure what you mean when you say ‘broken promises’.

    There’s a certain amount of revisionism within unionism that muddies the waters somewhat on its position on power-sharing. But this was Trimble talking to Frank Millar looking back in 2004:

    “…what I did say was that I was going to make a serious effort to political progress and that I was not going to follow in the pattern of sitting back and being defensive. I made it clear that I’d go anywhere and talk to people and take quite a different approach to Molyneaux. Progress in 1995 meant doing a deal because our declared policy from 1986 onwards, under Molyneaux, had been to seek an alternative to and replacement of the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement.”

    The precise parallel is that Trimble collapsed the institutions with regard to matters over which he had no direct control. If Sinn Fein collapse these institutions, it will similarly relate to matters that, according the the DFM, they have no direct control.

    Both, IMHO, constitute irrefutable admissions of political weakness, even as both may feel/have felt that they have no choice. At its simplest my argument here is that externalising the problem won’t work for Sinn Fein now as it did back then when Trimble was carrying the can.

  • Mick Fealty

    Good strong debate so far. Please keep it going! But I am going to have to retire for the evening.

  • Comrade Stalin

    And clearly devolving policing by the afforementioned date is part of it. The DUP cannot cherrypick from the Agreement, it has to implement all of it. Simple as that.

    Conor,

    Is it that simple ? Sinn Fein signed up to the Good Friday Agreement which envisaged that decommissioning would be completed within two years. It actually took a total of nearly ten years. If it’s OK for Sinn Fein to drag their heels, why not the DUP ?

    I know that bigotry runs deep within the veins of the party and sharing power is, bizzarely, seen as a compromise.

    Are you talking about Sinn Fein or the DUP here ? I don’t think either party has power sharing as it’s ultimate objective.

    I always thought it was a right myself.

    Power sharing isn’t a right, both SF and the DUP have a veto over it. SF are exercising theirs right now. And no, I don’t like that situation. It would be much better to create a mechanism where the executive can function despite the SF boycott.

    But anyways they need to share power, they have to share power.

    It’s in everyone’s best interests if powersharing works, but our politicians (and those who elect them) have no established precedent of understanding what is in their own interest, never mind that of other people.

    In terms of the way the cards fall right now, Sinn Fein will hurt most if the assembly collapses. That’s likely to be the DUP’s main reason for stalling; they’re trying to hurt SF.

    And their whinging and posturising and excuse making does nothing to disguise the fact that sharing power is clearly an anethma to a party who fondly reminisce of the political slum and gerrymandered, filthy ghetto which their predecessors created and maintained by force and threat and execution of sectarian violence.

    Can you clarify which party you mean ?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Mick,

    I seem to remember you forcefully supporting Pete’s ever repeating line on this – at least for the first couple of months.

    The DUP will toe the line as soon as El Gordo has gone back to the phone box and changed out of his superman outfit and calls Robbo into Downing Street and whispers “Rome Rule” in his ear. Works every time – just ask the big fellah.

  • doctor

    “But I’d certainly be happy if I never had to point out the reality of the situation, in response to the fiction emanating from Sinn Féin on this, ever again.”

    So how about starting now and make everyone, including yourself, happy? Because otherwise its just a tad bit silly to feel the need to retort every single time someone from Gerry Adams down to the tea boy at Connolly House makes a statement on the issue. Surely you can find other topics where you can italicize a lot of words, cross out others, and end with “indeed” to show everyone your sophisticated sense of humour?

  • Mick Fealty

    I should have gone to bed, but been sorting a technical problem.

    Sammy,

    I will drop the least scintilla of ‘support’ for Pete’s line, if someone (for once) could just show me how and where he’s gone wrong. Until then, the burden of proof lays more heavily on his ‘critics’.

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    If someone produced an evidenced falsification of what I’ve actually said I’d be prepared to reconsider my own position on the reality of the situation.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Pete,

    there is no “evidenced falsification ” of what you have said. You are just continuously emphasising something which has limited and declining relevance.

    Do you not accept that the DUP are under political pressure to move on Police from both governments?

    Both governments know what the DUP did and didnt say in the STA agreement and they STILL want them to move – what is important NOW is simply the fact that the DUP are saying NO.

  • lorraine

    PETE

    you have flogged this ad nauseum. o.k. lets agree you are right and the dup out-manoeuvred the shinners (a la triple lock mechanism ) at st. andrew’s.

    BRILLIANT ! ONE UP TO BIG IAN! EVEN BRILLIANTER!

    now lets get down to business: power SHARING, no war, nobody dying, nobody traumatised by the pain of conflict, just the boring frustration of boring politics.

    lets cease playing with a formula of words. i don’t want to move back in time, i want to move forwards. but if you are serious about forcing us back to one-party rule (a-la stormont of old ): what do you seriously think the consequences of your actions would be? indeed, would you accept the consequences of your actions? the words of smart asses on slugger is one thing, their consequences within society are quite another.

    i don’t mean to sound alarmist or hyper pete, i actually enjoy following your science postings, and your arguments as a dup stalwart, but what honestly is your angle? what is your true agenda?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I suspect Pete’s agenda is to cut through the spin and bullshit that conor and others clearly believe. It’s simply incorrect to argue that the SAD nailed down devolution of justice, even if the DUP are acting in bad faith. And when it comes to ‘bad faith’, you’d think the Shinners understood it better than anyone.

    So in a sense it must be quite gratifying for unionists to say ‘slap it up them – we’re just using the exact same arguments they used over decommissioning’.

    But unionists should remember that republicans DID move eventually, and in a major way. Nor is the impasse impressing the average punter.

    Perhaps the DUP’s 9/11 will be the deteriorating economic situation. Who knows – but I do know that I am bored to the back teeth with this yawnworthy row. Clearly the situation cannot continue ad infinitum – even if it’s only to release us from the tedium of Pete’s single transferable blog!

  • Billy

    Mick

    Fair enough to a point. There is no doubt that Pete is right when he says that the DUP never guaranteed that P&J;would be devolved in May and that they are not obliged to do so under the St Andrew’s agreement.

    However, the feeling in the Nationalist community is that SF delivered (quite rightly) on support for the PSNI and the DUP never had any intention of devolving P&J;.

    This nonsense about “community trust” effectively gives the DUP a veto on this for as long as they want.

    The trouble with Pete’s “analysis” is that it begins and ends with quoting the St Andrew’s agreement.

    However, life is not that simple.

    It is very clear from the reaction of the Prime Minister that the DUP are viewed as acting outside the spirit if not the words of the agreement.

    Also the actions of the DUP both in the assembly and at Westminster have hardly showed any effort at true partnership govt or made them any friends.

    The assembly was only ever going to work if both sides were prepared to compromise and negotiate.

    The plain truth is that, to date, the DUP have been blocking pretty much anything that comes from the Nationalist community.

    So what would happen if the assembly starts meeting again?

    Even as a moderate Nationalist I feel that SF (+ the SDLP) would be justified in blocking DUP proposals and therefore the whole thing becomes a waste of time.

    P&J;cannot be viewed alone and simply quoting selectively from the St Andrew’s agreement is not an analysis.

    The truth is that P&J;is simply the latest and most high profile example of the DUP not being interested in compromise or negotiation.

    And, despite Pete’s and the DUPs attempts at ignoring it, the perception outside Unionism is that the DUP are intransigent and that they pay only lip service to power sharing.

    The real pressure is on the DUP to show they are serious and start working with Nationalists.

    If they aren’t up to the task, then we might as well stop wasting time and money at Stormont. If this does come to pass, Gordon Brown has made it clear who he thinks is to blame.

    Nationalists are much more likely to get a better deal from the UK (+ Irish) govts than we’ve got from the DUP to date.

    Unionists, on the other hand, are not.

    Pete is not “wrong” strictly speaking. However, his coverage is selective and deliberately ignores the bigger picture as it doesn’t fit the unrealistic scenarion that he portrays.

  • Mick Fealty

    Billy,

    Just managed to wipe out my long and considered reply (damn that Google Chrome, Firefox at least has an undo function).

    To be brief. As Gonzo has said, given the relative powerlessness of the new office the DUP are probably being unreasonable.

    But I suspect they are playing this as zero sum one, because they can (they did actually shaft SF on this in the so-called ‘indigenous deal’), and two, because appointing an ex IRA man to the post in the foreseeable is as unwearable for them as it is for SF to hold office in a devolved administration when an English Minister controls the civil police force (MI5 of course was removed from this difficult equation).

    On the point about Pete and his agenda, please be my guest tell me where he’s misleading people or selectively quoting from St Andrews! Or maybe he’s just telling it like it is?

    My own suspicion is that we, the Plain People of Ulster, are being played for idiots on this issue. And that Pete is just pointing out that the Emperor is running about the streets without a stitch to cover his embarrassment. And getting repeatedly clattered about the head for daring to do it quite so publicly.

  • Eire

    I wonder are (almost) all those who think Sinn Fein at fault for current impasse of a unionists/protestant persuasion? I further wonder are (almost) all those who think DUP at fault for current impasse of a nationalists/catholic persuasion? Is this what is going on underneath here? I think it might be, sadly enough. Though an explicit debate on whether or not this issue is just the newest in a long line of dividing lines between the communities might be welcome on slugger.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Mick,

    “On the point about Pete and his agenda, please be my guest tell me where he’s misleading people or selectively quoting from St Andrews! Or maybe he’s just telling it like it is?”

    His concentration on the letter of STA is the issue here – not that he is “misleading people or selectively quoting from St Andrews”. Even if there was no STA at all El Gordo could still tell the DUP to set a date for the transfer of Police. They could still say ‘NO’ because the elusive ‘confidence’ of the Unionists people is missing.

    This is a fairly simple point and your apparent failure to grasp it may suggest laudable loyalty – but hardly moves the debate past this continuous stumbling block in the discussions.

  • ulsterfan

    Why should we always expect politicians to act in a reasonable and logical manner despite what they promise us?
    They are like the rest of us, each carrying hopes, prejudices and at worst hatred of opponents or at least the arguments which they espouse.
    SF enjoyed baiting Trimble and UU and indeed played an important part in his downfall.
    The DUP have no respect for SF and they are now in a position to take advantage of SF’s weakness and make life difficult by refusing to devolve P&J;.
    To see the opposition squirm and wriggle has it own rewards.
    One group is as bad as another and both full of the worst attributes of humanity.
    Lets not blame them for everything for we are no better and we get the politicians we deserve

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Sammy,

    We know where ‘Ulster says No’ took previous leaders of Unionism. The fact that they say no is not the problem. It is that they have the force of law behind them, in the form of the triple lock mechanism.

    I agree it’s a pretty poor deal for radical nationalism, but surely that’s what the five year hiatus behind closed doors was supposed to have been about?

  • Dub

    Pete,

    I take it you were a strong supporter of the republican movement over their stance on decommissioning of their weopons vis a vis the Belfast Agreement? If not, could you explain why not, given your current privileging of the letter over the spirit as it were?

    Mick,

    Sf destroyed Trimble by doing enough to just about satisfy the 2 govt’s while never doing enough to satisfy Trimble. They have done one better by doing EVERYTHING they were meant to do in relation to the demands made by Paisley that they support policing. The DUP seems to have thought they would not be able to fully cross this Rubicon. They have done so, extravagantly even. The 2 govt’s are well beyond being merely satisfied and the dup is emabarrassed at having what it hoped were impossible demands being met. The DUP is left with “community confidence”, They look stupid and isolated and a far greater distance has now opened up between the 2 govt’s and the DUP than ever between the 2 govt’s and the UUP. SF have put themselves beyond criticism. SF have thus sharpened the tactics they used to destroy Trimble.

  • ulsterfan

    Dub

    If SF destroyed Trimble and UU do you think they will do the same to DUP.
    If they succeed they will be very lonely with no one to talk to.

  • doctor

    “It is that they have the force of law behind them, in the form of the triple lock mechanism.”

    And similarly, it gives Sinn Fein the power to block executive meetings to infinity and beyond. It doesn’t make it right, but hey, it’s the “law”. So in that case, is it invalid to complain about “real business” being prevented from taking place because of the Sinn Fein blockade? They’re merely exercising their own use of the veto, aren’t they? Why not have a million threads quoting the appropriate legislation to back up that side of the equation?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Mick,

    “It is that they have the force of law behind them, in the form of the triple lock mechanism. ”

    That is not relevant beyond a legal discussion of the STA. The politics of the situation are what is relevant and that is the fact that the 2 governements think the DUP should no longer exercise their veto.

    You could argue that Uninonists need not have signed up the GFA because they had in writing the exisitng legislation regarding the governance of Norn Iron – but they had to move for exactly the same reason as they have to move now – the would get an even worse deal if they refused to sign up and Triple or quadruple locks dont alter this.

    It would be interesting to get some clarity from Posh Boy Dave Cameron and the Neo Cons on the party position. I suspect there may be some clear water between them and Wee Reggie’s lot on this.

  • DC

    Sammy,

    You are right about the letter of the law re St Andrews.

    I have pointed out, as you probably are aware, that there is a clause ensuring dissolution of the Assembly based on ‘failure to agree at any time’ within the executive.

    Now, as much as Pete wants to focus on his part of St Andrews, I actually believe there is much more strength in the dissolution clause and that that argument is far stronger than that of his own. As the wording is extremely tight and am surprised this failure to meet for 4 months hasn’t precipitated the dissolution of the Assembly, based on the inserted wording of St Andrews.

  • Billy

    Mick

    Fair point – I think “selectively quoting from the St Andrew’s Agreement” was, in retrospect, a poor choice of words.

    My disagreement with Pete is that he bangs on constantly about a single issue (P&J;) and deals only with the parts of the St Andrew’s Agreement that deal with it.

    As I said, he is not technically wrong. However, his view seems to me to be very simplistic.

    If the executive fails to meet and the assembly collapses, Pete seems to think that SF will get all the blame and people will think well of the DUP.

    I think yesterday’s comments in Parliament disprove that.

    After scoring points over SF, Mark Durkan then did point out that the SDLP want P&J;devolved (or at least a timetable established).

    The SoS pointed out that, while the UK + US govts would like the assembly to meet, they also view the DUP as acting outside the spirit of the agreement.

    The key point that exposed the DUP was Woodward’s remark about Unionist confidence not being used to indefinitely delay P&J;devolution.

    Politicians in Westminster are not blind to the DUPs motivation and agenda.

    The fact is that the DUP are being seen as intransigent and there is a lot of pressure building on them.

    Dodd’s rather ham-fisted attempt at getting the SoS to put the blame squarely at SF’s door didn’t work.

    If the assembly does collapse, it will reflect very badly on ALL the politicians involved.

    Pete is attempting to portray a scenario where the DUP will be seen as decent and honourable and SF as wreckers.

    As we both know, that is not and never will be the case.

    The efforts of SF in getting, quite rightly, support for the PSNI and facing down their opponents has been recognised by all 3 govts.

    The attempts of the DUP to use “Unionist Confidence” as a poor smokescreen for a Unionist veto are all too transparent.

    Quite frankly, Pete constantly quoting 1 or 2 paragraphs from the St Andrew’s agreement while the situation moves along around him is similar to Neville Chamberlain waving his little “peace in our time” document.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Billy,

    have you seen Pete’s new thread on the parliamentary exchanges – yes you’ve guessed it -he’s off again.

  • ??

    All this is about SF still trying to bully unionists into doing what they want. Theyve not got the guns so now it the assembly they threaten with.

    Once the DUP give on P+J, then it`ll be an ILA, then the MAZE, then Education,then god knows what else.

    We are consistently being told that SF will get all they want from Gordon Brown should stormont fall, PLEASE THEN JUST GO. We are all sick and tired of listening to their mopery. Go to Gordon and let him give you what he wants to, although P+J is one thing that will stay in the hands of the brits.

  • ulsterfan

    Have the DUP brought a list of demands to the Executive table.
    I am not aware of any. They are resisting the requests of SF.
    All politics is about compromise.
    What have Sf to offer DUP for P&J;. It is a case of give and take.
    What do DUP really want? They are very bad at setting out their Stall.
    When this is sorted out we will be one happy family.