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.

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