One group not mentioned behind Martin McGuinness’s shoulder was the activists within his own party. Those activists were the victims of a sleight of hand by the party leadership which enabled that leadership to finesse a previous Ard Fheis decision in order to comply with the governments’ requirement that the party support policing before the Assembly was restored in May 2007. That endorsement by Sinn Féin was conditional on the basis that the “Ard Chomhairle is satisfied that the policing and justice powers will be transferred. Or if this does not happen within the St Andrews timeframe, only when acceptable new partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday Agreement are in place.” The endorsement subsequently followed. Although, despite the bafflement of certain Sinn Féin MLAs, the only attempt to support that “satisfied” assertion was a short-lived attempt by Martin McGuinness to implicate Ian Paisley Jnr. There was some internal consternation when the “deadline” for devolving policing and justice powers by May 2008 passed. And we subsequently had the 154 day sulk which ended with an agreed process, but still no date for completion. Now that some within Sinn Féin have apparently decided that the DUP will not agree to devolving policing and justice powers ever – despite that party’s consistent position that the conditions on the ground will determine events – we now have another apparent “crisis” and Sinn Féin calling for interference in the “indigenous” deal.
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