Nigel Dodds now looking for institutional reform as a precondition for Policing and Justice…

And here’s a little thing to think on for the weekend… It’s an extract from Good Morning Ulster earlier in the week in which Nigel Dodds appears to lay out another pre condition for the ‘downloading’ of Policing and Justice… Institutional reform… It’s a small detail (and Mr Dodds is not leader, Mr Robinson is), but it is worth noting that it eluded the entire Northern Irish press corps for the three days it took me to overcome various tech problems to isolate the particular quote… If Sinn Fein keeps to their position that 2015 is their only date for institutional reform, they may have that wish granted…

Of course, this could all be a positioning maneuver… A rattling of swords in the background… But it seems to me that the DUP’s so-called ‘dirty dozen’ is no longer in panic mode… and is passing strategically useful notes from the ‘back benches’ so to speak, to their man at the front… Meanwhile, Adams and Co now ‘strategically’ find themselves in the position David Trimble once found himself in, when they bled him dry on decommissioning…

It will not serve the DUP well to follow Adams’ example, for current circumstances aptly demonstrate how overplaying an moderately strong hand can land you in a politically weak position… But neither will it serve them well to be seen to be generously to them when Sinn Fein has effectively used the St Andrews Agreement against the DUP to jump them into producing the keys to that notorious triple lock mechanism…

This side of the UK General Election it is hard to see who or what can exert the pressure, other than events, dear boy, events…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty