“Democracy can be frustrating at times..”

BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport reports the DUP leader Peter Robinson’s response to the threatened sulk by his party’s partner in OFMDFM. [Full statement here]. From the BBC report

[Peter Robinson] said his party will neither submit to blackmail nor negotiate in a climate of blackmail. “I know it is hard for Sinn Fein to come to terms with the new circumstances in which they can no longer bully and browbeat in order to get their way,” he said. “Past governments and the UUP may have caved-in to those tactics but the DUP will not yield to threats about facing “melt-down” or “free-fall” if Sinn Fein is not mollified. “Democracy can be frustrating at times but constant whinging and threatening to sink the vessel they are sailing in seems more than a trifle unwise.”

Adds Another Sinn Féin place[wo]man warns of “free-fall”, and there are reports of more talks with Gordon Brown.From the full statement by Peter Robinson

Sinn Fein needs to know that ushering little known placemen out to speak to the media and issue threats of Armageddon will only delay progress. Any further threats will ensure negotiations are stalled. The DUP will not negotiate under threat. Sinn Fein should know what the consequences are as they tried this once before. It didn’t work then and it will not work now. If they are not committed to the uninterrupted operation of the devolved institutions and are threatening to bring them down if they do not make progress at their speed and in their direction then nobody will be interested in joining them in negotiations. An essential ingredient in these negotiations is the knowledge that those involved are completely committed to the process and to the existing structures.

This Sinn Fein tactic of arranging for one spokesperson to publicly breath fire and damnation and then sending out another to assure the public that what everyone plainly understood was a transparent and manifest threat was nothing of the kind is one they have used before. On the previous occasion they marshalled their leader in the Dail to utter deep forebodings and then they sought to assure us that he was not speaking for the party. They know that what is left afterwards is the lingering odour of blackmail and they hope that others will fear the possibility that the dark decree may be the reality. I will neither submit to blackmail nor negotiate in a climate of blackmail. The use of these tactics will bring negotiations to a halt.

The DUP are not only dedicated to making the existing arrangements work but are committed to improving them to ensure better delivery and improved democratic accountability. We are also absolutely determined to complete the devolution of powers to Northern Ireland by having policing and justice functions transferred. This is not, for us, a matter of whether those powers are devolved but of when and how. Already we have agreed the structures and a financial package has been offered by the Prime Minister. We are now considering the decision making relationship between a Justice Minister and the Executive and indeed trying to identify who the future Justice Minister should be. It then falls to all of us to ensure that the community confidence exists for the devolution of policing and justice functions. I have given my advice of steps that need to be taken in order to gain that confidence. If we are serious in our efforts to secure community confidence then we must be serious in tackling these outstanding matters.

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  • Sam Flanagan

    Did they not cave in to the threat of the dreaded, “Plan B.” ???

    Peter`s scalp is there for the taking, all IRA/MI5 have to do is cause an Assembley election.

  • joeCanuck

    Some people have boasted here that Robinson has played a “blinder” and that SF are on the back foot.
    I’m not a SF supporter but I think that the opposite is true; Robinson has painted himself ( with orange paint?) into a corner from which it is going to be difficult to extract himself. The power does not lie in Stormont but with the PM in Westminster, no matter who that is or is to be.

  • DC

    Of course Sinn Fein could do the decent thing and leave the executive and demand a cutting off of salaries till re-election.

    IF it never comes about, scrap devolution, opt for plan B and the monies otherwise spent on maintaining Stormont / assembly / ni executive civil servant adminstration / estate should be put into a pool for community projects.

    With applications administered under british and irish direct rule.

  • DC

    Basically, proper bottom-up community building by local groups, SF-led where applicable and cross-community as well with community relations council buy-in.

    Then people who are unionists can vote for the Tories here for Westminster and SF can build their project in the Republic; with no wars and hate and violence Robinson can go to hell and back to selling properties. Which Im hearing the market isn’t too good at the moment. Any luck send him and Allister back into unemployment.

  • Bigger Picture

    Sam Flanagan,

    Shut up with your constant idiocies. IRA/MI5? you must love them a s a bunch of brits now then? In which case what is your problem?

    Anyway in grown up world the problem for SF is that while they can threaten an election it is not without it’s problems for them. I’ll outline this with two very brief scenarios:

    Scenario 1.

    SF collapse the executive sparking an election. At the outcome of the election there is still a DUP first minister. What do SF do? Refuse to work the system? Or enter into the same negotiations currently ongoing with a potentially weaker hand.

    Scenario 2.

    Sf collapse the executive sparking an election. Only this time TUV takes enough of a vote to make McGuiness first minister. In that instance all unionists walk out and it is back to the negotiating table again with the DUP and TUV in entrenched positions and not exactly in the mood to work any form of government with SF/ a SF First Minister.

    As a unionist i do not see how playing the collapse card actually plays into SF hands. If anything it just bogs the whole thing down further.

  • DC

    Scenario this number 3) who cares?????

    So long as the government cuts the pay and allowances off – the Robinsons are renowned for the love of the green stuff – then that alone will sort them out as they head for the dole queue along with the many others.

    Let’s just get this over with, it’s been almost 3 years of this mucking about. There is a clause in St Andrews which brings the government intervention on the basis of a “failure to agree”; this time the climate is right to drop out of the executive but the money needs to be cut immediately to see this through properly i.e. making them scurry for the next election so as they can draw down money again.

    There scenario that.

  • Bigger Picture

    DC

    Well don’t i just love the well thought out debate. Yeah since you don’t care, doesn’t mean the government don’t either why else are they then keeping negotiations going.

    Pull your head out of your arse

  • Panic, These Ones Likes It Up Them.

    I suppose Sinn féin from a purely political point of view should do what keeps unionists as divided as possible.
    Keeping as much presure as possible on Robinson from what sources they can. Sinn Fein must make sure that the Americans, Irish goverment and the British goverment use what leverage they can on the delaying Unionists.
    It will be interesting to see what tactics Sinn Féin come up with.

  • Dave

    “It will be interesting to see what tactics Sinn Féin come up with.”

    You’ve already seen them. One party shouldn’t have a veto on the whole process. If the Shinners pull out again, then the rules should be changed to allow the other parties to continue to exercise their democratic mandate to govern in their absence. The Shinners have 26% of the vote, and that should carry a veto over the other 74%.

  • Dave

    Typo: “The Shinners have 26% of the vote, and that should [b]not[/b] carry a veto over the other 74%.”

  • Eyeless in Kilcooley

    Whereas Paisley made history; Robinson is confined to merely following it. If he does not get his act togther, and stop playing the part of “Mr 1970s Action Man figure” he will enter the histroy books as the man who tore Unionism asunder. The Shinners, who were quite prepared to cut Trimble loose, when it suited them, will happily watch as Robinson hoists himself by his own petard.

    You may act and think like it it is a game of Poker, Peter; but you and I, know that the deck is stacked against you.

  • The real deal

    Has anyone read the drivel from Jim Allister for his conference tomorrow. The man is whacky. I vote we give Michael McGimpsey more money to increase funding for mental health.

  • Dave

    Eyeless, if Stormont collapses, British rule will remain as the legitimised constitutional status quo and will be administered directly from London. The Shinners will no longer be able to tout (if you forgive the expression) their ability to share in the administration of British rule as vindication of their expired murder campaign. What was it McGuinness said? Something about Orange & Green rule replacing Unionist rule? It looks like the only thing replacing British rule will be British rule. That suits the DUP just fine. The Shinners, on the other hand, will be seen as dismal failures, having delivered absolutely nothing for their supporters bar their solid integration into the UK. Since the game was to let the Shinners play politics until it became impossible for tired old men who support them to revert to violent type, 14 years should have served that purpose. The Tories won’t care, and the Shinners are now fully expendable to the British government. Wee Marty knows that Stormont is the only game in town.

  • The real deal

    Legless in Kilcooley
    You don’t actually think the Shinners are winning this game do you? Never in their lives have they been more outpointed. If you knew anything about what is going on in republican areas you would know people are giving up on Adams & Co because they are not delivering for them. The DUP are scoring at ease.
    I don’t know where you work or drink but if you worked in a large office as I do you would soon realise that Robinson is recognised as being more than a match for the Shinners. Perhaps your party affiliations are too strong to consider the matter fairly.

    DC
    I don’t want to curb your imagination but if you are interested in facts the fall of the Assembly would not pose any suffering to the DUP MPs. None of them will be taking their Assembly salary after the Westminster election anyway.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    …and that was a Party Political Broadcast on behalf of the Democratic Unionist Party.

    Pete,

    will you be doing the SF one tomorrow?

  • pete whitcroft

    As long as SF don’t threaten to throw a ring of steel around Clontibret we will all sleep soundly.

  • DC

    The real deal,

    Whatever you say I doubt the gang up there would like all the money stopped. It will be like cutting off blood to parasites.

    It was supposed to be so great this concept of devolution, the chance to take up issues that matter, be excited about the opportunities of working across Britain and Ireland, new debates, taking on powers to shape politics and people’s lives for the better, apply a style of governing to fashion NI for the future, make it new, fresh, competitive and open for business.

    Instead it has been littered with deadlock, homophobic comments, threats and counter-threats and stasis during economic crisis. Anti-climaxing the American visit whenever it should have been seen as a really positive chance to sell NI to the world, market NI as having that special buzz after the new peace deal, the extremes working together making history – setting an example for other similar areas in conflict and in need of inspiration. The leadership from those purporting to lead Unionism has been woeful and bitter. Much like Trimble was but to fair his time was peppered with proper insecurities of processing decommissioning and dealing with a loosely cut deal and it was purposely cut that way. Robinson however has come to power with the IRA wound-up alongside completed decommissioning, SF backing devolution and power-sharing proper yet Robinson appears more spiteful and bitter than Trimble!

    The stardust was there in May 2007. Since then it has neither been a brave new world nor a battle a day but one big depressing smoke screen, unionist politicians killing time and drawing down big salaries playing let’s pretend politics with nothing really being done. The DUP have been mean-spirited and negative, lacking vision and intellectually dim on education not forgetting creationism nonsense.

    Frankly I’ll be glad to see it go and the monies once spent on top-down going into a pool for bottom-up community work to end division would be ideal, rather than wasted on such a thankless lot. Scared to take a short term hit in the polls for something of long term importance.

  • Panic, These Ones Likes It Up Them.

    Reply to Dave post 13

    British rule was not overly sucessful in the past.

    If devolution can work in Scotland and Wales then it does not look good for NI if it cannot be made to work here.

    There are dangers for Unionism if devolution cannot be made to work.

    Some people look at alternatives if what has been done in the past and the present have failed.

    Unionists may not like alternatives that are considered.
    There are dangers in devolution failing for Unionists.

    Unionists may need devolution to work more than they realise. Repeated association with failure is not good for anyone.

  • s

    Unless I have missed something, here’s my reasoning behind the current SF/DUP “disagreement”

    1. Both SF and DUP see themselves as being the “representatives” of their respective ordinary people/working classes.

    2. The “Barnett formula” for distribution of British Treasurey funding has favoured the North at the expense of Scotland/Wales and there are major demands across the water to abandon this formula which, if it comes about, will lead to a major cut-back in the Stormont budget.

    3. Both British Labour and Tory parties have more or less announced that they intend to introduce a 10% cut in public expenditure in the GB – which would be even higher in the North.

    4. Both SF and the DUP, as the “representatives” of their respective ordinary people/working classes, recognise that because of a review of “Barnett” and what those who intend to be the next British Govt have said in relation to budgetary cuts: both SF/DUP are faced with having to oversee the implementation of public service cuts plus a reduced budget vis-a-vis the Barnet formula – something that both parties know only too well will impact negatively upon their respective voters among their respective ordinary people/working classes.

    5. Realising that you can’t fight any election as a party which implements cuts in health, education, housing, training, job creation, etc,;
    it suits both SF/DUP to collapse the Executive/Assembly and put the blame for all these coming cuts on London.

    Perhaps, I’m wrong.

  • igor

    What’s interesting about Robinson’s statement is the clear inference that the deal on P&J isn’t yet done. There are still negotiations to be done ie we have pocketed what’s on offer but want more concessions and we are not afraid to say it

    The entire tone is one of self confidence. He has a grip on SF where it hurts and is squeezing.

    So what so the Shinners do? Walk and say to the dissidents, “fair dos boys, youseuns was right”? Just where does that leave them?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    igor,

    “The entire tone is one of self confidence. He has a grip on SF where it hurts and is squeezing”

    Are you serious? He has lost a third of his vote to the TUV and negotiated away the bar on SF supplying the first minister and is now trying to hand political control over parades to SF.

    Robbo is suggestive of an aggressive and not particulalry pleasant little chap, dancing on the same spot on the street whilst snarling and throwing punches at passers by as he simultaneously threatens them to give him more and more money.

  • Cahal

    “Robbo is suggestive of an aggressive and not particulalry pleasant little chap, dancing on the same spot on the street whilst snarling and throwing punches at passers by as he simultaneously threatens them to give him more and more money. ”

    Yes, we know he’s an estate agent.

  • Pete Baker

    Adds

    Another Sinn Féin place[wo]man warns of “free-fall”, and there are reports of more talks with Gordon Brown.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    More money for the ever-greedy-Robbo in another Brown envelope?

  • Jud

    Dave – the north is not a normal democracy. The veto you mention is enforced powersharing. I don’t like it, but its better then the one party rule we enjoyed for so much of the last century, and is the closest thing to democracy the north will ever enjoy in its current form.
    The core of the new agreements mean that there will be no return to a one party ruled state. No British government will have any interest in direct rule in its previous form either. Things have moved on too much for that. Failures of the assembly will inevitably move things closer and closer to joint sovereignty, especially where the cause of the failure is seen (rightly or wrongly) as being down to unionist intransigence.

  • kevin barry

    I think Peter has definitely put himself into a corner on this one and is in a lose-lose situation.

    In my humble opinion, there is no hope of him getting some of these concessions such as keeping the Police Reserve or scrapping the Parades Commission. The clock is ticking quickly towards the Westminster elections and his party stands to lose ground to the TUV and the UU/CP (who, btw, I’m not entirely convinced that they will have as large a renaissance that some are touting, but when you’re starting from nothing beggars can’t be choosers).

    Now that he’s laid some of these matters out as prerequisites for building confidence in the unionist community, anything short of getting this and he’ll be seen as a Lundy by the hardline, North Antrim supporters et al.

    Unfortunately for him, instead of having a frank debate with his supporters on governing in NI with your former nemesis and trying to leave the past where it belongs, the DUP are engaging in churlish name calling and not focusing on what people really care about; how we’re going to create new jobs.

    Instead of concentrating on the hardliners who may/will defect to the TUV, if he gets J&P correct he may even retain votes lost to the UU and stay as the largest unionist party.

  • Dave

    “The veto you mention is enforced powersharing.” – Jud

    No, the veto I referred to is the veto that one political party has over the political process, not the veto that either community has. Powersharing between the two communities would not be effected by changing the rules to prevent one party from either community vetoing the process by withdrawing from it. The SDLP are no longer the self-sacrificing facilitators of the Shinners’ political ambitions, so they would not follow the Shinners are throw their toys out of the pram too. Ergo, powersharing between the two communities would not be changed.

  • Billy

    Kevin Barry

    That’s pretty accurate. The DUP got an additional payment for ex-members of the Reserve – fair play to them but that’s it – there is no chance of it being retained.

    As has already been commented on in this and various other threads – the Parades Commission demand is just laughable. It’s ironic that Robinson is whinging on about blackmail while he and his party are indulging in blatent sectarian blackmail on behalf of the sectarian OO.

    If they (or any other other Unionist) think that this demand won’t be seen by the overwhelming majority of UK people as an unacceptable sectarian demand (and totally unrelated to P&J), they are as usual living in a dream world.

    There is no way that this will be conceded – most Natinalists IMO would rather not have P&J devolved than bow to sectarian blackmail.

    The point is that the accepted viewpoint (outside NI Unionism) is that both SF + the UK govt have done their part.

    The legitimate demands of the DUP (SF support for the PSNI and an adequate financial package from the UK govt) have been answered in full.

    The DUP are being viewed as putting obstacles in the way of progress by throwing in blatent sectarian demands that the UK govt will never accept.

    There is very little support for NI Unionism outside NI (and particularly in either the UK or US). The DUP are simply reinforcing the correct and widespread view of them as bigotted Ulster Nationalists.

    The DUP can indeed prevent the devolution of P&J if they wish. However, the consequence is that they are running up a lot of political bad will in the US + UK (as well as tarnishing the already abysmal image of NI Unionism even further).

    SF, on the other hand, are being seen as having delivered on their promises and really trying to make local govt work.

    Anyone who thinks that the DUP have played this one cleverly and/or that they are in the driving seat is living on fantasy island.

    It is Robinson who is under pressure on this – from the UK + US Govts on one side and the TUV on the other.

    The worse that can happen to SF is an indefinite delay in P&J devolution. That’s a pity abut it’s not really keeping too many Nationalists/Catholics that I know up at night.

    On the other hand, the DUP + Unionist image/support in the UK and further afield is worsening every day. At the end of the day, Robinson will have to devolve P&J – he won’t have got the Parades Commission abolished – and he’ll have done a lot of damage to the NI “Unionist” cause outside NI (and it was already a basket case).

    This hardly fits the definition of “playing a blinder” that most people would use.

  • PaddyReilly

    If you knew anything about what is going on in republican areas you would know people are giving up on Adams & Co because they are not delivering for them.

    I don’t know where you work or drink but if you worked in a large office as I do you would soon realise that Robinson is recognised as being more than a match for the Shinners.

    An interesting analysis relying on anecdotal evidence which is not borne out by the psephological data.

    SF 1st pref vote 2004 = 26% 2009 = 26%
    DUP 1st pref vote 2004 = 32% 2009 = 18%

    The SF vote is so far rock solid, while the DUP one is in free fall.

  • Dave

    “SF, on the other hand, are being seen as having delivered on their promises and really trying to make local govt work.” – Billy

    Seen by whom? The reason this is such a big deal to the Shinners is because they promised their extraordinary Ard Fheis in January 2007 that delivery would occur by May 2008, and that this ‘deadline’ was agreed between the parties at St. Andrews. It turns out there was no agreement and the Ard Chomhairle hoodwinked their Ard Fheis into approving the Shinners’ motion with this false claim of an agreed timeframe for the devolution of policing and justice to the Assembly. The Ard Fheis’ approval of the motion was explicitly conditional on devolution by false date, so the Shinners are in violation of the terms of their own motion.

    So far, the sheep have not bleated too loudly in public about being hoodwinked into approving the motion on the basis of false statements, mainly because the Shinners subsequently lied to them about lying to them, insisting that there was an agreement and that the DUP reneged on it. It is possible that the sheep are simply too stupid to care about being hoodwinked but the urgency that the Shinner shepherds now attach to the transfer suggests that enough of them are bleating privately about it.

    In regard to “really trying to make local govt work”: well, the sheep were also promised that their internal settlement was transitional, with the purpose being to establish a united Ireland rather than to make their internal settlement work and thereby make unity a threat to their successful internal solution. Most Shinner voters, I guess, approve of the internal solution, having no qualms whatsoever about formally renouncing their former right to national self-determination and accepting the legitimacy of British sovereignty. In that context, I can’t see why it matters to the Shinner shepherds if a few sheep start bleating about the terms of a motion that most voters either won’t have read or won’t remember reading – and don’t care about in either case. But is obviously does matter. Maybe it only matters because those sheep know where the bodies are buried?

  • Billy

    Dave

    I have already conceded (as IMO have most rational people) that SF played P&J badly at St Andrews.

    However, despite Pete Baker and yourself trying to pretend otherwise, time and events have moved on.

    SF voted (rightly IMO) to support the PSNI – there’s no going back now.

    The UK govt have agreed to a massive financial package – in these austere times that shows you how much they want this done. Even Cameron has said that if (i.e when) he is elected, he will uphold this deal.

    As to your views on sheep and an internal settlement, most Nationalists that I know realised that an internal settlement was always going to happen.

    Whether it’s transitional or not depends on whether or not Unionists can convince Catholics to support the Union – and please don’t quote this mythical 25% of Catholics support the Union crap.

    At the minute, given the economic situation in the RoI, a lot of people would stay within the UK because there is more chance of financial support.

    That’s called pragmatism – it doesn’t mean that people stop being Nationalists. Frankly, if it takes 10 years for the effects of the GFC to subside then so be it.

    Let’s face facts, the “Union” between NI + GB is hardly likely to stregthen between now and then is it? In case, you hadn’t noticed the entire Union of GB is under pressure. Also, a lot of British people may care about the Union between England\Scotland and England\Wales.

    The overwhelming majority don’t care about the “Union” with NI – most wouldn’t care if it ended tomorrow and the majority of those who do care want rid of NI and it’s sponger mentality.

    Also, despite Unionists on here trying to deny it – the demographics are still moving in favour of Nationalists. Fair enough, not at the same rate as before, but still in that direction.

    The way Unionists are going (especially the DUP), the amount of Catholics that you’ll persuade to support the Union will be miniscule. Do you really think that, even moderate Nationalists such as myself, are blind to what the likes of McCrea, Wilson, Campbell, Allister etc really think about us?

    There may be possibilities for the UUP/Con alliance but I can’t see them getting many seats.

    The point is that SF made their P&J mistake at St Andrews and have taken their share of pain. However, despite what Unionists try to claim, it is now the DUP who are under pressure and being seen as the problem.

    Frankly, as a moderate Nationalist, I’m enjoying this. The tension between the DUP + TUV while Robinson tries (and fails) to fend off the pressure from the UK + US govts is wonderful.

    Like I said, the DUP can pander to their own backwoodsmen and the TUV by preventing P&J being devolved. However, ultimately they will lose, and bringing in unrelated pro OO demands only shows them up as the bigotted Ulster Nationalists that they are.

    It’s interesting how many Unionists like to pretend that SF are in big trouble, internal strife etc while the DUP are just sailing away.

    As someone else pointed out, only months ago SF topped the European poll – pretty impressive for a party full of sheep and in total disarray isn’t it?

    The DUP lost a significant proportion of their vote – hardly plain sailing is it?

    Instead of trying to exaggerate the diffulties with SF, if I were a Unionist, I’d be more interested in analysing the corner that the DUP + Unionism in general have painted themselves into.

    The worst that can happen for SF is further delay in devolving P&J – frustrating but a price worth paying.

    In the end, the DUP will be forced to devolve P&J. They certainly won’t get the Parades Commission dumped so (although they’ll try and dress it up as a victory) all they’ll achieve is a delay.

    The price for this will be antagonisng the US + UK govts and tarnishing the already woeful image of Unionism outside NI.

    While SF may have difficulties over this, the plain truth is that it is the DUP who are under all the pressure and the cracks are appearing in the Unionist facade not the Nationalist one.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Billy,

    although I agree with most of what you say, being the arguementative type I’m afriad I will have to challenge yor assertion that “SF played P&J badly at St Andrews”

    How can you measure that contention? Well one way is by seeing how the 2 main negotiators did at the subesquent polls – did their base hold or slip away – and we know the answer to that.

    You have to also consider the fact that the DUP negotiated away Unionism’s right to have the first Minister and that probably (not sure here) was not even a key SF demand but was a way they thought they could ensure that they remained the largest party by frightening Unionists into not splitting the vote. That spectacualrly backfired.

    But the substantive issue remains that SF couldnt guarantee that the DUP would meet the deadline/target date but relied on the slightly risky strategy that the 3 governments would put pressure on the DUP if the DUP dragged their feet (which they were doing unitil November 2008) or started to put up false arguements under the umbrella of Unionist ‘confidence’ which they are currently doing – and accepting that events have not played out yet, SF seem so far to have called it (negotiated) about right at the STA.

    But I think Robbo should not be underestimated and has played a diffcult hand well (since the STA) as he seeks to fend of pressure to move from just about everybody bar the the TUV and pressure not to move from the TUV iteslf.

  • Billy

    Sammy

    I understand what you’re saying. My point is that SF (or at least some SF representatives) did portray the May date as an agreed deadline. It wasn’t – or at least not an enforceable one.

    The DUP don’t have to agree to devolve P&J and that’s a fact.

    However, despite all the wishful thinking from Pete et al, Unionists have managed to balls this up too.

    As much as Unionists like to ignore it, the DUP (and Unionists in general) have painted themselves into a corner.

    They will either have to back down on P&J or stay trapped in the corner while evryone else moves on.

    SF certainly have some internal pressures on this.

    However, as we have noted, SF topped the Euro poll while the DUP vote dropped. Doesn’t quite fit with Pete’s view of the world where the DUP are universally loved and respected and SF are in disarray does it?

    The DUP have massive pressure from the US + UK govts on one side and the TUV on the other. I know who is in the worse position.

    I slightly disagree about Robinson. I think he played his hand reasonably well until fairly recently.

    However, promoting Wilson and bringing in McCausland really showed the paucity of DUP “talent”. The demand about the Parades Commission was a political disaster – outside of the TUV + DUP backwoodsmen, it really showed the DUP up as bigotted Ulster Nationalists.

  • Dave

    Billy, the “sheep” I alluded to are the ones at the Ard Fheis. They feel that it is important that Her Majesty’s police force and her judiciary are administrated within the British unitary state via a devolved parliament, as this somehow makes them feel that P & J are not part of the British unitary state. It’s a comfort blanket of sorts, and not much more.

    Also, I don’t think it matter one iota how the US or any other external actors view unionism, since the GFA makes any change in the constitutional status of NI dependent on internal actors only (i.e. the citizens of NI). If all hell breaks loose, so what? Nobody can argue for a united Ireland as a solution since neither the Irish government nor the British government can promote this within the terms of the GFA. If they want to interfere, then they must address their interference to the citizens of NI. Those external actors were only relevant when the two governments retained the option of changing NI’s constitutional status. Admittedly, the British unitary state can repeal the Northern Ireland Act and both governments can set aside the British-Irish Agreement, but that can’t happen under the existing arrangement. In reality, nobody is going to change the present arrangement, so the power to change the status of NI will always reside with its citizens, making external actors and their impressions irrelevant.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Billy,

    re. “My point is that SF (or at least some SF representatives) did portray the May date as an agreed deadline. It wasn’t – or at least not an enforceable one.”

    I dont disagree with that – the question is whether tactically that was a good idea and what the alternatives were? Arguably better to have the DUP half in the tent and get a tacit agreeement from the British (and Irish and Yankee) governments to back the SF position to push them over the finisihng line than having them outside completely – so far tactically they seem to have called it right.

  • asd

    Why would anyone eithin Sinn fein blame sinn fein if policing and justice is not devolved – it’s clear the problem lies with the unionists.

  • Billy

    Asd

    That’s exactly the point. It’s amazing, despite the amount of threads that Pete et al have on this topic, that they always focus on the SF performance at St Andrews years ago and ignore all the events since.

    Any reasonable person can see who is under all the pressure now – and it certainly isn’t SF.

  • BonarLaw

    Billy

    “Any reasonable person can see who is under all the pressure now – and it certainly isn’t SF”

    Then why the threats of “freefall” and “meltdown”? The fact is that only one party is threatening to walk and it isn’t the one you claim is under all the pressure.

    Sinn Fein don’t seem to be able to take the heat in the kitchen…

  • Pete Baker

    Billy

    I don’t discount the electoral pressures on individual parties.

    But my posts aren’t about those pressures.

    They’re about what has, or has not, been agreed between the parties.

    Who is it that continually references “commitments” made at St Andrews?

    It’s not the DUP.

    If SF want to opt out of that agreement they should say so.