[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.”
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.