“very little evidence to show they are getting anywhere..”

There are a couple of interesting points to note in this discussion on Stormont Live today and neither relate to the “Hell’s Angel of politics up here at Stormont”. First is the comment about the reticence of Sinn Féin and the DUP to talk publicly about what they’re talking about privately, and the second is the focus on what has already been conceded by Sinn Féin on the devolution of policing and justice powers. What’s not discussed is the reason for that ready concession.. Nor is how Sinn Féin expect to emerge from their newly manufactured stalemate with a commitment to an enforceable date for that devolution, which they had claimed was already set as May this year, when even the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, MP, agrees with the DUP on that previous negotiation..

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  • Steve


    tell us this isn’t 17 variations on a theme or as its better known

    Twinkle twinkle little star

  • Steve,

    As long as Sinn Fein use the May ‘deadline’ as their reason d’etre for their blocking of the executive then Pete Baker can legitimately highlight the reality of the situation and the fallacy of the Sinn Fein position.

    But that won’t stop you….

  • slug

    I think the point is that May 2008 was NOT a deadline in the St Andrews agreement.

  • joeCanuck

    Really Slug? I never got that!

  • john mcilveen

    I only usually read this site and i am just forced to post a comment…..

    We rrrrrrreeeeeeeaaaaaalllllllyyyyy get your point pete

    Please get over it and enjoy life man

    Shake it off big guy

    You have to be better than this


  • USA

    Peter Baker, when P+J is devoloved you should do the honorable thing and fall on your sword. Given the corner you have painted yourself into the only thing that can save you now is for Sinn Fein to walk and the whole experiment fall.
    Sinn Fein concessions? Are you referring to the Alliance possibly getting the nod for the position? If so, you are underestimating SF again, but that makes you feel better so underestimate all you like.
    Have a nice day.

  • USA

    For me the important news today on this issue was Woodwards’ statement that no Assembly P+J minister would have access to “informer” files. This seems to be placing a burdon on the ministry before it is even set up. Also, seems to be breaking the contract between government and governed. What good is a P+J minister who does not have access to all the information when needed about paramilitary and state killings.
    As usual the British government have claimed “national security” issues as the reason for non co-operation.
    Is that not something for discussion instead of continually harping on about how SF have messed up and how the DUP are so great.

  • Mick Fealty

    My excuse for still being up is that I’ve been working on a nice wee widget for Slugger: http://url.ie/tgw. With the kind assistance of ‘Matt Wardman’. If you have a blog you can embed it on your sidebar. And you can make your own!

    To keep you from falling asleep, here’s a wee story about “The Kit and the Kaboodle”: http://url.ie/ao9.

    On the matter in hand, there is only one thing outstanding: ie, the timing. Sinn Fein wants something that the DUP promised in their manifesto: ie, that they would not surrender (it has a ring to that word – ed) a pre-set timetable. The DUP promised devolution would be conditional on ‘confidence building’ in their community.

    The sham fight (if that it be) can hardly be having that effect.

    Does anyone else remember an old programme from the seventies called “Now get out of that”? That’s just what I’m wondering every time I read one of these posts.

    But don’t blame Pete. It’s hardly a situation of his making.

    Night all!!

  • Billy


    I don’t think that any Nationalist (at least none that I know) believes for 1 minute that there will be a total capitulation and P+J will be fully devolved anytime soon.

    If, as I suspect will happen, a timetable is agreed then I think most Nationalists will think it’s a good job.

    However, if the DUP continue to say no, the whole thing will continue in a stalemate and eventually collapse. I can honestly say that, in my opinion, Nationalists won’t cry too much as the DUP need to learn how to be real partners in govt or we might as well stop wasting time (and money).

    The DUP, however, have painted themselves into a real corner. Any sort of agreement will be viewed as a climbdown by them.

    However, if they continue to be intransigent, the UK govt will simply go back to Direct Rule and run the place with Dublin.

    I think that Sinn Fein are in the stronger position (more by luck than judgement).

    It’s all very well Pete continually quoting from the St Andrew’s agreement but, frankly, it hardly shows any great understanding of politics in the real world.

    Pragmatism is the only way forward. However, as I said, the actions of the DUP have ensured that any compromise will be viewed as a total climbdown by them but a successful negotiation by Sinn Fein.

    Let’s face facts – there is absolutely no way that Sinn Fein will go back without some sort of deal being struck on P+J. The 3 govts want a deal done – they have made that clear.

    The DUP can’t be forced to devolve P+J so, if they remain intransigent and maintain the current stalemate, they will force an eventual return to Direct Rule.

    However, what Pete studiously ignores is the PR element. The DUP are widely perceived by the 3 govts and outside NI as being largely responsible for this and perception IS reality.

    So, either the DUP can effectively bring down the assembly and take another step towards joint authority, or they can compromise with Sinn Fein and be accused of a climbdown by the TUV.

    Not an enviable choice for them but one entirely of their own making.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    The DUP are just playing a bit of hard ball lads – relax. So long as they have a mechanism to ensure SF can’t get the P&J;seat then they will face no significant damage at the ballet box. No doubt, they have a wish list of their own and are just waiting on the appropiate time for a bit of negotiation. Since the DUP have been in power, unionists have done fairly well with regards to negotiations so I’m happy enough just to sit back and watch how things pan out.
    At the end of the day it’s as much to do with letting SF know they can’t make threats and everyone will jump. For the time being, they’re letting SF dig their hole.

  • slug

    The basic point Pete makes – namely that the May 2008 was only a target date and not a deadline – is relevant. Clearly, devolution of policing and justice by 2008 was not required under the SAA.

  • Mick Fealty


    “I think that Sinn Fein are in the stronger position (more by luck than judgement).”

    It’s always hard to know what role political committment plays in these discussions. Things may be the way they are simply because you believe them to be that way. It’s a conceit I believe we are all (yes, including me!) potentially vulnerable to.

    But it would be good to hear you tease out your reasoning behind this intriguing statement?

  • dub

    People arguing with Pete are wrong. He IS right about there not being a deadline in the STAA. He has been making this point for a long time now. He appears also to invest a moral significance into the whole situation, ie that SF are being bad for asking for something that was not agreed. He ignores the fact that there is no morality in the game of politics, it is a game after all. Whether this is desirable or not is another day’s conversation, but it is the reality. People like Billy are being wound up by this moral judgementalism in Pete. One might legitimately wonder whether Pete supported the Provos over decommissioning, a aimilar letter v spirit argument. I very much doubt it, which shows that one’s own political persuasion colours these matters, again something which winds up Pete’s opponents and which Pete himself appears to be in denial of.

    As to this post, i think sf are trying to make the dup look as intransigeant as possible before world public opinioin, or rather britain, the republic and the usa. They are doubtless succeeding in this. Strategically they are trying to hollow out the DUP just like they managed to do to the UUP. When i made this argument before, somebody said but then they would have noone to talk to… but they would, they would have the british govt, a pleasant interlocutor for them. Its a vicious game, and probably this is what Pete, from his political position, rightly senses, and is appalled by. The peace process is just war by other means. Unfortunately it cannot be other in the communal contest that is ni politics. sf’s great strength is that they understand what ni is and what it isn’t. For slow learners, just a clue, what it isn’t is a normal democratic state.

  • Briso

    I don’t think this is very difficult at all really. The Shinners got the British and Irish onside for devolution of P+J but they didn’t get a deadline and they didn’t get DUP agreement to one. (The DUP have always been in favour of P+J though, don’t forget that. Nevin, as usual, flagged up the interesting part of that regarding Nigel Dodds and his relationship with Robbo. Still a little more to be seen there too.) Anyway, the Shinners decided that they’d got enough and they could always play hardball with the DUP if they didn’t pony up. Robbo decided he was going to play hardball too and here we are. Both parties want the executive up and running straightaway and both want P+J as long as on their own terms. They’re both in a battle to get as good a deal as possible, but a deal they will get as so much of what they want is in common. Of course, for every Robbo and Nigel, there is also a Marty and Gerry…..

  • slug

    The DUP need a wish list.

  • Steve


    they have one


  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    I expect Obama – to very unfairly ignore Pete’s analysis/pin head dancing – and tell the DUP to get a move on as well.

    I appreciate I am indulging in the dreadful practice of futuring – the same futuring (heavily critised by Mick and Pete in May/June)that led anyone who follows events in Norn Iron closely to conclude some months ago that the Engleze and Irish governments would pressurise the DUP on their funny locking system.