“they still aren’t learning the political lessons.”

Interestingly, the latest Sinn Féin interjection on the prospect of the devolution of policing and justice powers comes from a non-public representative, the party’s national chairman Declan Kearney. According to the iol report

Mr Kearney said: “The DUP and NIO (Northern Ireland Office) have played fast and loose with these negotiations. “Their introduction of the parades precondition may not necessarily mean they are opposed to the transfer of power – although it might. “But it demonstrates they are considering the reckless scenario of pushing transfer of powers beyond next year’s Westminster election. “And the DUP may still plan to raise new and more preconditions.”

He added: “It is likely, for different reasons, that the DUP, NIO, Woodward, and Brown are basing short-term, tactical expediency upon three mistaken assumptions:
“One: That Sinn Féin will be weakened the longer they can play out delivery of transfer of policing and justice powers.
“Two: That Sinn Féin has invested so much in the achievement of transfer, we will simply roll over.
“Three: That Sinn Féin is so committed to the political institutions we no longer possess, or will want to use any effective political leverage in this situation.”

Remember the “indigenous” deal, Declan? “Let no-one interfere with that”? And why Sinn Féin have been so exercised about this particular issue? But what are you going to do? Sulk? Again? Adds From the BBC report

However Sinn Fein junior minister Gerry Kelly said that did not amount to a threat to collapse the Executive. “We are not suggesting that at all,” he said.

It seems appropriate to re-quote the DUP’s Iris Robinson.

While it would seem foolish for republicans to accept the outlandish boasts and rhetoric of the Sinn Fein leadership when playing to their base and not see through them, it would be even more foolish for unionists to fall into the trap of believing them.

Here’s that “indigenous” deal again from 2006.

As I’ve said before, the Secretary of State may set a target date, and may hope to achieve that date, but the current mechanism for devolving powers on policing and justice already set out, in the NI (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, grants both holders of the offices of First and Deputy First Ministers a veto on whether that goes ahead.

Unless the government is now going to say that, in circumstances where one of the parties holding those offices do not agree that the confidence within the community exists for the devolving of those powers by March 2008 – they are then going to force through devolving powers on policing and justice by May 2008 whatever happens between now and then, the target date remains only a target date and not a commitment.

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  • Seamus Friel

    I’m sorry but those 3 assumptions look pretty well based given SF’s abysmal performance in standing up to the DUP so far. Declan did the last election results tell you nothing. If you continue to roll over ( and I don’t even know if by now you realise that you have been rolling over, but commentators like Fionnuala O Connor and Brian Feeney point it out regularly) you are going to be taught a sorry lesson at the next election. Many people who have always voted Sinn Fein seem to be saying NO MORE, we will not vote for the humiliation of Nationalists!!!!
    Declan and his strategic thinking buddies are so out of touch with opinion on the streets that it’s frightening. Everyone spends all their time in Stormont and no one is active in their constituency areas!!!! It’s coming baby!!!

  • fin

    the humiliation of Nationalists!!!!

    fuck me guess you weren’t around for the 80’s when unionism could demand a nationalist body count and the cops and army asked ‘how many’

    if you think this is humiliation you must have been in a coma since the 70’s

    It’s coming baby!!!

    Another fucking peacetime warrior

  • The only people concerned about the devolution of policing and justice are S/F…

    Ordinary working-class people couldn’t careless. We’re more concerned about where all these promised jobs, prosperity and a United Ireland are hiding?

    Maybe Declan and his comrades would be kind enough to let us know?

  • Billy


    I think anyone rational would concede that SF handled things badly at St Andrews – we get it!

    It’s also true that the DUP cannot be forced to devolve P&J if they don’t wish to.

    However, your DUP cheerleading is every bit as inappropriate as some of the comments from SF.

    The time, effort and money that the UK govt have put into this in the middle of a global economic crisis shows that they want this done. Posh Boy Cameron has already said that he will not alter the financial arrangements if (i.e. when) he becomes PM.

    Hilary Clinton took time to come here and show how much the US govt want this done – and the DUP took yet another opportunity to show themselves and Unionism up on the world stage.

    The DUP demand for the abolition of the Parades Comission is a sick joke. No UK (or US) govt will agree to it and IMO the vast majority of Nationalists would rather not have P&J devolved than submit to blatent sectarian blackmail.

    While SF have played this badly, the fact is that they delivered on support for the PSNI – a fact that has been applauded and acknowledged around the world.

    You seem to think that the DUP have come out of this smelling of roses – they haven’t!

    They are under severe pressure from the UK + US govts. They have had their concerns about SF support for the PSNI + a financial package (both totally legitimate) answered in full.

    The ludicrous Parades Commission demand simply shows them up as being either sectarian blackmailers and/or not being genuinely interested in making devolved govt work.

    They are also under pressure from within Unionism i.e the TUV.

    There is a lot wider world than NI, Pete. SF have upset some of their members by negotiating badly -that’s a fact.

    However, in the wider world, the DUP and Unionism in general are being seen as intransigent and bigotted. Since Drumcree, there is very little or no support for the OO outside NI. People in the UK and further afield know that this is not related in any way to P&J and is just blatent sectarian blackmail.

    It also speaks volumes about the DUPs “desire” to have any sort of functional local govt.

    No-one can make them devolve P&J but, make no mistake, outside the small world of NI Unionism -the DUP are rightly seen as the cause of this problem.

    Once again, by playing to their backwoodsmen, the DUP have tarnished the already abysmal image of NI Unionism in the real world.

    Your frequent comments about SF and their bad tactics at St Andrews are accurate – I’m not disputing that.

    However, your implication that the DUP have played this brilliantly and are sitting pretty is plain nonsense.

    Outside the tiny world of NI, the vast majority of the blame and associated bad publicity for this delay is going where it belongs – at the door of the DUP + Unionism.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The basic politics of the St Andrews deal remains the same – the DUP either sign up to what everybody (3 governments, the SDLP, the Alliance Party, the Police etc ) want or SF pull the plug and the Unionists get blamed for stopping progess. The rest is DUP spin – though to be fair I think Robbo has played a blinder in squeezing money out of El Gordo. (British guilt regarding their historical role in Ireland appears to be very lucrative).

    But in the upside-down-world of Unionist logic it is the really bad STA tactics of SF which would probably now deliver them as the largest Assembly party and the really excellent STA tactics of the DUP (including agreeing to change the Stormo rules to allow SF to become the larges party)which has resulted in them losing a quarter of their votes. SF must really consider themselves, just as the DUP election manifesto promised – to be well and truly smashed.

  • USA

    Absolutely correct. The only thing I would say differently is that I believe the pressure on Robinson will force him to move. Hillary didn’t stop in Belfast for the fresh air, US investment wont’ happen till this deal (GFA) is completed. Brown is now pissed at Robinson and Cameron is on board with the GFA and all it entails. Its a wider political world, an international agreement in which the Irish government also has a large role to play. Robinson is flapping around looking for a way out, he is deathly afraid of his right flank collapsing more than it already has, and all he doing is making the situation worse. For the big boys the GFA is the only game in town,
    London knows it, Washington made it clear that they know it, Dublin knows it….everyone knows it, but some poeple just like to hammer away at their own petty little agenda.
    Look on the bright side, at least Peter Faker has stopped going on about Gerry Adams every day.

  • USA

    Not sure about all the talk on here about Robinson being such a great leader. If this is the case why is he still working the well worn furrows of sectarian politics? Many years ago the a leading figure in the Irish republican movement in the US told me that part of the SF strategy was to split the unionists. I told him SF did not have the ability or influence to achieve such a thing, this was approx 10 years ago or more; he was right. I was wrong and it was a great eye opener for me that they had been considering this move for some time.
    I would not be suprised if SF were that far ahead of Robinson when he tried to wipe their eye at St. Andrews, with the demand for the biggest party nominating the first minister. SF may have weighed the options, looked at the numbers and felt that a section of the DUP would split over sitting in government with SF. Add to that the end of the Paisley personality cult and the inevitable power struggle between DUP groups such as the flat earthers, career politicians, the Jim Alister backwoodsmen, divisive dwarfs like Jeffrey Donaldson and hey presto….we have a deeply divided unionism. Remember this “great” negotiating team included wee Junior who was running around trying to get constituency matters addressed at the negotiations. God only knows what the British thought of their delegation, the lack of focus and understanding of the gravity of the matters at hand.
    Wonder what SF got in return for being so patient.
    If SF get their transfer of P+J and then turn their attention to taxes (which their base must be wondering about by now) then they are the ones playing a “blinder”.
    Everyone is still in the game, SF may have missed a couple of good opportunities, but the DUP are have everyone behind the ball and can’t get out of their own half.

  • joeCanuck

    the vast majority of Nationalists would rather not have P&J devolved than submit to blatent (sic) sectarian blackmail

    This is in reference to the abolition of the Parades commission.
    While not a party to any of this, my talks with “nationalist/catholic/republican people would tend to support this contention.

  • Billy


    Yes – I no longer live in NI but I still have many friends and some family there. All of these I would classify as moderate Nationalists but the overwhelming feeling is that we would rather not see P&J devolved than submit to blatent sectarian blackmail from the DUP.


    I agree. During the last “standoff” in the assembly, the DUP had the advantage. Sinn Fein were seen rightly as suffering from their own poor negotiating at St Andrews.

    However, the situation has now changed.

    SF have delivered (and been seen to deliver) their end – support for the PSNI.

    The UK govt have delivered their end – an adequate financial package.

    The DUP, true to form, are not delivering their end. Instead they insult everyone’s intelligence (especially the UK + US govts) by linking “community confidence” to a demand that advances the cause of the blatently sectarian OO.

    Don’t they think that, since Drumcree, people in the UK and abroad are well aware of exactly what the OO is? Do they really think that they are fooling anyone with their pathetic attempt to link this to “community confidence?”

    Given that the overwhelming majority of British people don’t give a shit about NI and have extremely little, if any, sympathy for NI Unionism – I’m sure they were well pleased to see the govt allocating even more millions to the “spongers” in NI.

    Now they see the DUP impeding progress again by engaging in blatent sectarian blackmail. I’m sure this simply reinforces the already extremely negative viewpoint that most British people have of NI Unionism.

    Frankly, given that the current assembly is pretty ineffective, I personally am not too concerned about it’s future.

    However, the longer that the DUP indulge in sectarian blackmail, the greater the repercussions are likely to be locally and could well lead to the collapse of the assembly.

    One thing is clear however. The blame for any repurcussions, including an assembly collapse if it happens, will land clearly at the door of the DUP.

  • Savant

    We’re more concerned about where all these promised jobs, prosperity and a United Ireland are hiding?

    A United Ireland is hiding behind a civil war, UN/US intervention, and a consociational arrangement like we already have, imposed by force. Learn the lessons of Bosnia and Cyprus. A United Ireland may technically come, but it won’t be unitary state. Anyone with half a brain can see that.

  • Pete Baker

    Adds From the BBC report

    However Sinn Fein junior minister Gerry Kelly said that did not amount to a threat to collapse the Executive. “We are not suggesting that at all,” he said.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Some light futuring.

    El Gordo will head of to Stormo for crisis talks in early new year – usual stuff.

  • Billy


    Gerry Kelly would say that wouldn’t he?

    Sinn Fein may have been out-negotiated at St Andrews but they have mostly played the assembly game much better than the DUP.

    They have delivered what they promised – support for the PSNI.

    They have kept the assembly running despite the frequent provocation from the DUP and their refusal to rise above blatent sectarian gestures and acting in the interests of only 1 side of the community.

    Whether you like it or not, it is the DUP who are simply reinforcing the widely held view of NI Unionists as bigotted and intransigent.

    The likes of Iris Robinson, McCrea and Campbell are hardly respected figures at Westminster anyway.

    The fact is that the UK govt have provided an acceptable financial package and both they and the US govt want this deal done.

    The DUP are simply showing themselves (and Unionism in general) up as sectarian bigots with their ridiculous demand for the abolition of the Parades Commission.

    Outside NI Unionism, people now know exactly what the OO is and there is miniscule support for it.

    Your hatred of Sinn Fein seems to be clouding your judgement.

    Unlike St Andrews, it is SF who are playing it smart and the DUP who are painting themselves into a corner.

    I believe that SF probably do want to keep the assembly running and, more importantly, they are being seen to do so.

    The fact is that Declan Kearney is right – the DUP seem to think that Nationalists want the assembly so much that Unionists can demand anything they want.

    My interpretation (and that of all the moderate Nationalists I know) is that Nationalists will do everything they can to keep things going unless ridiculous sectarian demands fronm the DUP make it impossible.

    The fact is that the DUP are now indulging in blatent sectarian blackmail and being seen to do so by the UK + US govts.

    IMO all Gerry Kelly is doing is playing clever politics and the DUP are being stupid (a bit of a role reversal from St Andrews eh?).

    However, you dress it up – it is the DUP who are getting the bad publicity for this. Nationalists are being seen as trying to make local govt work but Unionists are making it impossible by reneging on deals and indulging in sectarian blackmail.

    The DUP can prevent P&J from being devolved as a result of St Andrews but that was then and this is now.

    If they continue to block the devolvement of P&J they will get all the blame and ensuing bad publicity for any repurcussions. Given their already abysmal image outside NI, this is hardly a wise move.

    I think it’s known a a pyrrhic victory.

    Frankly I think you should move on from crowing about poor SF negotiations at St Andrews and deal with the situation that the DUP are currently in.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, they’re losing.

  • fair_deal

    There there declan have your dummy back.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    I’m not sure how you reconcile “Sinn Fein may have been out-negotiated at St Andrews ” with the fact that the DUP conceded to Nationalism and to Sinn in particular in those STA negotiations, the right to be First Minister – this was a spectacular own goal and sharp, pointy stick for Jimbo TUV – to relentellsy ‘Prod’ them with. The fact that there will not be a SF Justice minister is more than compensated for by the fact that were wont be a DUP one.