When Peter and Martin met David (and that letter)…

I just happened to be in Westminster this afternoon when first of all David Cameron breezed past followed shortly afterwards by a very sober looking Peter Robinson and a smiling, glad-handing Martin McGuinness as they made their way to the ‘putative’ Prime Minister’s official chambers… I managed to grab a quick interview with Owen Paterson shortly afterwards (of which more later).

First this letter from the PM to Sinn Fein and the DUP. Slugger understands that it was sent to the FM and dFM on Monday of last week, on condition that they could not share it until they had completely agreed a deal. Ever since the Tories have been jumping up and down saying that the letter should have been shared with the other parties in the Executive (see the beginning of Hearts and Minds last Thursday).

Paterson for his part is playing the ‘we’re playing a straight bat on this, in other words they we stand by a committment to fund any increased pull on resources in response to further civil unrest:

“We have always supported the final stage of devolution and endorse the main elements of the financial proposal. It is now to up the four party coalition on the Northern Ireland Executive to resolved the final details.

He was quite animated in wanting to hammer home this point about it being a decision for the four parties of the Executive, and not simply the two incumbents of Stormont Castle… In all other respects they are backing Labour. This is all endgame stuff for Labour, who are trying to manage the end of the Brown era by ‘redding up’ a few outstanding issues.

How Shawn Woodward thought he could exert pressure by telling them not to disclose the contents of the letter conjures just how much the Labour government seems to have ‘unlearned’ in the last few years about constitutional nonsenses.

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  • conjures just how much the Labour government seems to have ‘unlearned’ in the last few years about constitutional nonsenses.

    What?

  • Yeah, I’m with Chekov on this….wha?? They are always up to this craic. What, if anything, is surprising is that they think so little of their fraternity with the SDLP which obviously contrasts with the Tories new-found band of brotherhood with the Ulster Unionists. You’ll need to raise your game, Mick, with the Paterson piece.

  • Mick Fealty

    That was an attempt to invoke Hain’s words of on forcing people to have devolved powers which politically they don’t want. Telling the two parties not to share a document with their two other parties until they’d sorted everything out was both touching and pretty naive.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The substantive issue here is surely that El Gordo and the SOS (and Hain before him) have played an absolute blinder on this one – and still have not had any credit in the mainstream media for perserverance and skill in getting things to this stage.

    …and now it seems no OrangeCardery from the Tories which no doubt has pissed off Wee Reggie and a few other sundry UUP naysayers – who had been trying to get some sort of anti-agreement stance going in order to embarass Robbo.

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    As usual you get it all wrong:-

    Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson commented:

    We have always supported the final stage of devolution and endorse the main elements of the financial proposal. It is now up to the four party coalition on the Northern Ireland Executive to resolve the final details and timing.”

    You will no doubt note the endorsement is for the financial proposal only, and not how or when it is implemented. There is no change in the Conservatives position, they have always supported the devolution of P&J as have the UU’S.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    FD,

    But Wee Reggie was making funny noises a months back wasnt he ? he was roundly condemned by all including by the Alliance Party – so what have I got wrong?

    In relation to the Tories, for good historical reasons and the fact that have at times they party has been populated my mad-dog-right-wingers we here in Ireland sensibly view them with suspicion. If and when they play a positive role which they sometimes do e.g. admitting Britian has no strategic interest in Norn Iron or in the case of Churchill offering to withdraw form our country or more lately force feeding Unionism the Anglo Irish agreement they will be praised.

    Hopefully they will be worthy of praise in relation to the transfer of Police and so far so good. But best to keep a close eye on the feckers dont you think?

  • New Blue

    Sammy, just to clarify.

    Reg and the UUP highlighted the issue for the need for sufficient funding for the transfer of P&J, this was spun by some as a ‘no nay never’ move, but was anything but that.

    Good to see the First and Deputy First taking the warning of funding seriously enough, maybe they should listen to the UUP more often.

  • granni trixie

    As a non Tory supporter I hate to admit it but I quite admire the Conservatives for not making YET ANOTHER obstacle to the devolution of P&J.
    But I can see that Unionists will be quite pissed off. Doesnt bode well for their ‘Alliance’.

  • elvis parker

    Sammy and Granni. UUs have always supportive the principle but wanted more detail on finances and 4 party agreement. With the Conservatives help they have got the first.
    DUP and SF now have to grow up and seek all party agreement on the latter

  • CONOR

    looks like the reserve is going. Fantastic!

  • fin

    “We have always supported the final stage of devolution and endorse the main elements of the financial proposal. It is now up to the four party coalition on the Northern Ireland Executive to resolve the final details and timing.”

    How to say nothing in 40 words or less.

    Support on UUP/Tory terms (5 year delay)

    Main elements (we reserve the right to axe all the other finance)

    It is now… (not too sure what potential voters want to hear so we’ll continue to keep quiet, we do reserve the right to once again say nothing in 40 words or less when its all over – if we think it’ll get few votes)

  • frustrated democrat

    Fin

    You may not like what Paterson said but it is completley in line with he has always said.

    Personally I see the non operation of the Exec and the sunset clause in 2012 as the big stumbling blocks no matter who is minister, as everthing of importance will have to go through the Exec and it will all have to be renegotiated again.

    Just getting another set of stalemates ready.

  • fin

    “You may not like what Paterson said but it is completley in line with he has always said”

    FD, I didn’t say I didn’t like what he said, I said it was a non-sentence, ‘support’ is a very broad term and to ‘endorse the main terms’ again doesn’t say much.

    FD, Paterson is a very political animal, I neither like nor dislike his party’s policies because as with everyone else in the UK I’m still waiting to hear them, but I do enjoy his style, his prose is very much straight out of ‘Yes Minister’