Policing and Justice: In return for your flattery and three-ring circuses, make it stick…

There’s a really interesting set of piece on the vexed issue of P&J (arr, that’s what we call em in these yer parts Mairtin)… First up, Fionnuala reckons Robo has fallen into the Trimble trap… Although she gets right to the base of the problem when she remarks: “The deal was done long ago with flattery and three-ring circuses: the wretches should make it stick.” She concludes though:

Robinson says McGuinness’s attempts to call time on the stand-off are “bullying”. There may be a glimmer of popular awareness, on the contrary, that unlike the DUP man’s timidity in the face of his own party’s unreadiness to clinch the deal, the Sinn Féin man has tried to transcend his past and speak to, if not for, “the entire community”.

David Gordon in the Telegraph has this to say:

The public mood about devolution is already not exactly euphoric. More infighting and showdowns will only add to perceptions of a dysfunctional Executive.

Individual parties may complain that such a verdict is unfair. They can work away on “fashioning narratives” about how it’s all the other side’s fault. But many of “us plain folks” are likely to spread the blame around and simply say: “A plague on all your houses.”

It remains to be seen whether the Stormont political class will wake up to this fact.

Our own Chris Donnelly, in the same series of pieces, notes:

Having almost universally been acknowledged as having abided by the spirit of St Andrews and, much to the consternation of the DUP and their supporters, been widely viewed as having already been pushed to the limit by an unbending DUP, Sinn Fein should perhaps be aggressively seeking what Sepp Blatter of FIFA recently characterised as “moral compensation” as the price for continuing to indulge the DUP over the devolution delay. (The FIFA president was, of course, referring to another matter when he coined that phrase.)

What is required from the republican leadership is a clear strategy to force the British and Irish governments to outline the price to be paid for the DUP not playing ball.

A view clearly not shared by Fair Deal, the other guest writer in the Tele piece, who takes the opposite view to Fionnuala on the provenance of the David Trimble reference:

There are three curious things about the present problems.

First that SF has chosen to do a Trimble. It makes them look weak. In electoral terms it is unnecessary as they face no threat.

The second is the refusal to negotiate. The easiest means to get a date for policing and justice is to deal to get it. SF won’t do it and have been actually making it harder – eg backing off the cross-community Ashdown report on parades.

The final curiosity is that fulfilling their threat will only waste time, not change the issues. Sinn Fein may quit the Executive table, but when they return to the negotiating table the exact same issues will be waiting for them – regardless of the results of an Assembly election.

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  • Nothing really new here: Fionnula and Chris spin for SF and against the DUP and Fair Deal spins the other way.

    If folks continue to vote for extremists and London and Dublin continue to indulge extremism and mafiaism in these parts then I suspect we’ll continue to drift further apart.

  • Sam Thompson

    SF let Trimble hang himself by refusing to meet deadlines, it’s not so much fun when you’re on the recieving end, as they are now. If they walk out, they will take an electoral hit. Especially with the conservative-minded Catholic middle class that has expanded their vote in recent years just waiting for the opportunity to vote for the conservative Fianna Fail, should they take the step of standing here

  • loki

    Sam, in the meantime the conservative-minded Catholic middle class could just vote Conservative:-)

  • Sam Thompson

    and pigs might take to the air 🙂

  • Panic, These ones like it up em.

    Unionist insecurity lies at heart of the problem.

    When Unionist insecurities can be soothed and abated then we will have some progress.

    Any brainwaves to achieve this.

  • fair_deal

    Nevin

    “Chris spin for SF”

    Granted the claim that SF “abided by the spirit of St Andrews and, much to the consternation of the DUP and their supporters,” is amusing, considering they blocked executive business for 5 months. It is on message but the conclusion isn’t.

    In Chris’s argument there is an implicit admission that the Shinner position is weak. Hence he says SF needs the governments to develop a big stick – “the British and Irish governments to outline the price to be paid for the DUP not playing ball.” If they had a stick of their own they wouldn’t need one from the governments.

    Panic

    I disagree with the term insecurities as the right characterisation but when the DUP suggest things to ensure “some progress” they get accused of blocking.

  • Panic, These ones like it up em.

    Reply to fair_deal

    But the Dup have no major idealistic objection to the devolution of P/J.

    The blocking is just a question of tactics (transparent tactics at that)

    The DUP are insecure about Mad Jim Allister getting a grip on some of their electorate.

    Unionism is clearly showing insecurity in that a small section (at least for now) is actualy turning to Mad Jim Allister.

    Why should Unionists actually be afraid of devolution of P/J as we are all aware if things go pear shaped then everything will be taken under direct rule as is deemed necessary.

    I suppose it comes down to the thing politicians actually hate; Elections.

    They can come around at the most in-opportune for politicians and when you have two parliaments then there is more chance of the inconvenience (for politicians) of elections.

    If the DUP were safely inside the first year of Westinister and Stormont parliaments then there would be progress but thats not the way it is.

    It is certainly not worth losing what has been achieved but sometimes these things and events just take on a momentum of their own.

    It will take a degree of good management and good luck to steer a course through these difficulties. I hope we have both.

    The British and Irish goverments are pre-occupied as is the US goverment.

    Its a pity a bit of Obama gold dust(while he has it) could not be added to the situation but the Nobel peace prize winner has shown no sign that he wants to make any personal input into The NI situation.

    Perhaps he should show an interest as it has been (until now at least)a mostly successful peace initiative. These sadly are few and far between and why would a Nobel peace prize winner not want to associate himself with a relatively sucessful peace deal.

  • fair_deal

    Panic

    Your comments are trapped in the standard analysis. The standard analysis of the DUP was wrong before and it is wrong still. If it had been right then St Andrews and subsequent devolution would never have happened.

    “the Dup have no major idealistic objection to the devolution of P/J”

    No it doesn’t. It has a manifesto commitment to do so provided a number of issues are satisfied.

    “The blocking is just a question of tactics”

    Nope it’s about meeting the test that was agreed – community confidence.

    “The DUP are insecure about Mad Jim Allister getting a grip on some of their electorate.”

    As I argue in the article the TUV aren’t the problem on P&J – the problem is average Unionist isn’t impressed by devolution so far and thus doesn’t see any sense in giving the devolved system more.

    As regards the TUV a good deal on P&J suits the the DUP – they have chosen the insider track as opposed to the outsider track proposed by the TUV – if they show inside works it helps them.

    “I suppose it comes down to the thing politicians actually hate; Elections.”

    A year with an election is almost as common as one with.

  • Panic, These ones like it up em.

    fair_deal said

    “Nope it’s about meeting the test that was agreed – community confidence.”

    How many people outside of the DUP beleve the DUP on this. Pretty much no one.

    fair_deal said

    “As I argue in the article the TUV aren’t the problem on P&J – the problem is average Unionist isn’t impressed by devolution so far and thus doesn’t see any sense in giving the devolved system more.”

    Applying more frost onto devolution is not exactly going to show anyone that devolution can be made to work.

    Perhaps as others have said if their could be some system where a viable opposition could be established in Stormont then this would force the parties in control to actually get things done. As it stands at the moment there is no great need for the controlling parties to actually do any thing.

    If for the good of NI the CUNF and SDLP were to designate themselves as the opposition then we would see if the other parties were capable of making it work.

    Longer term this might well be the better road to take for both the CUNF and the SDLP. It would take courage from both of these parties but sometimes that is what is needed.

  • fair_deal

    Panic

    “Pretty much no one.”

    And? A lack of belief doesn’t mean the assessment is correct. Crowds can get it wrong too especially when caught in groupthink.

    “Applying more frost onto devolution ”

    They didn’t apply more frost they put out ideas to improve the system. People may be willing to engage with the idea of expanding the system if it islinked to reform of the system. The frost is coming from the Shinners on this one.

    “Perhaps as others have said if their could be some system where a viable opposition ”

    This is something the DUP supports and has advocated for some time.

  • Panic, These ones like it up em.

    Reply to fair_deal

    If it was down to you and me I would think that we could make a fair deal 🙂

    I hope others can also make a deal.

  • fair_deal

    Panic

    Probably true but it helps that both of us are willing to deal 😉

  • Delta Omega

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – If the only issue is community confidence then ask the people. Put this to a referendum and ask the people of Northern Ireland if they want P&J devolved – Simples!

  • joeCanuck

    Not that I think that anyone cares, but one of the main reasons that I left N.I. was the seemingly complete inability of the main parties to agree on anything.
    And that was the UUP and the SDLP.
    I didn’t want my children to grow up in a divided dysfunctional society.

    Ha! Submit word is “peace”