“It is like a terminal illness…”

“The days of sitting at the back of the bus are over.” The defiant words of a senior republican who fears the DUP and its leader Peter Robinson are determined to wreck the architecture of the Good Friday Agreement and the principle of power sharing. The source added:

“They are wilfully corrupting power sharing. Slowing everything down to make it look as if the structures aren’t working. The DUP have disengaged with us from last December. The Euro election changed so much. They went into Euro election mode and haven’t changed since. The Euro election result has damaged Robinson.

We came here on the basis of the Agreement. If the Agreement isn’t working why would we stay here? Martin (McGuinness) said if we don’t have agreement on the transfer of policing and justice by Christmas we are in trouble. It (the administration) is losing credibility with the Republican base and with the broad nationalist community. No one had a good word to say about the place in Downpatrick.

(This is a reference to the recent Assembly Road Show in which the Executive was repeatedly slated for the endless mudslinging and failure to agree on big issues like equality, education and policing and justice.)

“The Review of Public Administration was the first big challenge. We gave way on Councils but equality must be at the heart of the councils. Legislative powersharing and protection of miniorities – all minorities have to be at the heart of local government. The DUP takes the view that the administration is unworkable because of vetos. A source said: “Everybody sits with a veto. Everybody exercises a veto. The perception is if one side wins the other side loses.”

Republicans are not buying this thesis arguing that the ethos of the DUP is such that each minister acts out of selfish party interest rather than for the common good. The Republican source continued:

Breaking point will not be spectacular. If we haven’t a date by Christmas or an indication of a date for the transfer of policing and justice powers I have no sense the place can survive. We are quickly reaching the stage where the drudgery in which we are involved with the repeated efforts to negotiate under, is coming to a natural end.

It is like a terminal illness. I don’t think it is going to be popular outside the Republican base. We have been patient.

We are dealing with a volatile situation on the outside. We have to be sure our actions will not make it worse. Storming off in a strop is not a constructive way. Perhaps what is needed – politics needs to be refreshed. If the administration collapses the government would have to call an election.”

A DUP insider told me recently an election would not be to another Assembly but to negotiations. The Republican attitude to this assessment is:

“Government has to call an election – It should be to a new Assembly and Executive but will probably be to negotiations. Will the DUP negotiate before a Westminster election ? “

The same source said:

“We are not going back to less than we have, in any negotiations.”