Normally, the printing of press releases without comment would be considered lazy churnalism. In this case I’m declaring upfront that that is what I’m doing with the last two Pressers we’ve received from Jim Allister’s office, largely be cause it has a certain journalistic merit all of its own. It maps the shift in Jeffrey Donaldson’s stance yesterday, when he first went hard and then soft on the issue of the PSNI Reserve:First this from late last night:
This morning (9th November) on Nolan Jeffrey Donaldson, on behalf of the DUP, gave this firm undertaking:-
If the Full Time Reserve is disbanded do I think that policing and justice devolution will proceed? No. I dont believe that it will because not only will the DUP not agree to it but the public confidence will not be there to make it happen. That is absolutely clear. That has been our position.
Just 5 hours later on Stormont Live, Jeffrey Donaldson had backtracked entirely from the full retention of the Reserve being a pre-condition to the totally different and pathetic ground of merely looking to accommodate those Reservists who dont want to retire; saving the Reserve had been abandoned in 5 short hours:-
We need to work with the Chief Constable to look at ways in which those officers who want to remain ŅŅ.. who want to continue making a contribution to policing whose presence and experience we believe is essential.. . we believe that those officers should be retainedŅ.what we meant was that those officers who have a valuable contribution to make want to make should be allowed to.
So much for Jeffreys bluster on Nolan, sadly that was all it was as he is now ducking and diving to sell out the Police Reserve. No one who has watched DUP treatment of past solemn commitments should be surprised, but it is a shameful way to play fast and loose with such a vital issue.
And then this morning:
TUV Leader Jim Allister, who at the weekend exposed the DUPs complicity in the legislative change which allows Sinn Fein to become First Minister (Section 8 NI St Andrews Act 2006) and their refusal to vote against the change an act which he described as the DUP handing over the Unionist title deeds to the First Ministers office has today challenged the DUP to confirm or deny that a DUP spokesman has told journalist Eamonn Mallie that Peter Robinson would not serve as deputy first minister and neither would any other Unionist.
I trust this is right, said Mr Allister and, therefore, I call on the DUP, without equivocation, to publicly confirm this is correct and to follow through with the logical and inescapable conclusion that the present arrangements are built on sand, including the sand, which they helped shovel into place, of the possibility of the obscenity of Martin McGuinness as First Minister.
The present collapsing shambles is inevitably leading to fresh negotiations; the sooner we have elections to trigger such the better.
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