Sticking my oar in with a few thoughts from afar on the shadow crisis that could become a real one tomorrow, Id say that the DUP conference is worth monitoring for hints of a possible breakthrough on the substantive issues.
..the BBC NI News website will be webcasting the DUP conference in Armagh from 11am until 4.30pm. The coverage, including the new leader’s speech, will be carried on BBC2 from 11.45am until 1.10pm (though thats BBC2NI only , exiles). This is the first time the BBC has covered one of the local party conferences live in this way.
The reason for the coverage will be undoubted news value not to appease the DUP.
Its almost too obvious to say that the heightened tension over parades and the revival of poppy neuroses are hugely aggravated by the deadlock issues, the devolution of policing and justice, the Maze stadium, the Irish language etc. This is the classic situation NI politicians have been warned about for years, that tension and potential violence will fill the vacuum created by an absence of politics. Does anyone seriously believe that if the Executive had been functioning even half -effectively, wed be facing the threat of rioting at tomorrows parade and all the corrosive speculation over each side’s motives that precedes it ? As theres now a glimmer of optimism or so suggests the Irish Times and the Guardian– what a pity the DUP conference wasn’t held a week ago.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London