Saturday is Sinn Fein’s decision day for its Ard-Chomhairle…

Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Shaun Woodward will discuss the political crisis in Northern Ireland today. Both men are in Armagh city where ninety two year old Cardinal Cahal Daly’s funeral is taking place. President Mary McAleese and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will also be in attendance.

A DUP spokesman said Peter Robinson will not appear in public this week. He added: “He is staying at home taking care of family matters.” Later this afternoon Irish foreign affairs minister Micheal Martin is at Hillsborough Castle for in-depth talks with Shaun Woodward. Both men are attempting to work out how the two governments can help to keep the institutions of the Assembly afloat.Sinn Fein is currently viewing the future of the Assembly with a jaundiced eye believing that the DUP is in the business of driving a horse and cart through power sharing with Republicans. Martin McGuinness warned before Christmas in the absence of a date from Peter Robinson for the return of policing and justice powers to local politicians the institutions would be in “deep trouble.”

Mr McGuinness didn’t hear from the First Minister before Christmas and neither man has spoken directly since Iris Robinson announced her withdrawal from public life. Sinn Fein has made it clear this coming Saturday will be decision day when its Ard-Chomhairle meets to take stock of the merits and demerits of staying in an administration with the DUP.

The current assessment of Sinn Fein’s ‘kitchen cabinet’ is that the institutions are not sustainable if the Good Friday and St. Andrew’s agreements are not fully implemented.

The current very personal and private crisis enveloping the Robinson household will be factored into any Sinn Fein assessment but failure by Peter Robinson to engage Mr McGuinness directly on this matter could militate against any necessary understanding of Peter Robinson’s plight, on the day.

The penny is suddenly dropping at Parliament Buildings that a crisis is looming. It had been suggested in some quarters that Gordon Brown would touch down in Northern Ireland on Wednesday or Thursday to try and broker a deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein. It is now viewed as unlikely.

A DUP source who revealed that Peter Robinson is remaining behind closed doors at home all this week seemed to question the merit of the Prime Minister coming if Mr Robinson is out of circulation.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Numerous quarters are mumbling about “DUP leadership rumours” and it’s certainly very unusual that Robinson would be out of circulation at this critical time. There must be something going on as Sinn Fein seem to have been very quiet lately, although they have their own fish to fry at the moment.

    Does anyone want to spill the guts about what they are ?

  • granni trixie

    Whilst I tend to be sympathetic to troubling ‘family matters’, in this case I do not trust either of the Robinsons – leopards not being known for change their spots. There is some strategic reason for PR’s non show other than that he has reprioritised what matters ie his family (much as I would like this to be the case).

  • Stunning_Steve

    Step up Jeffrey Donaldson, the leadership is yours – man you can trust (lion, witch and wardrobe anyone?).

    It would appear that Iris has seriously malfunctioned and as with all disabilities it is the family that suffers.

  • Scaramoosh

    Crisis what Crisis? With or without we are stuck in a state of stasis.

  • Fair Deal

    “Peter Robinson to engage Mr McGuinness directly on this matter”

    Has GA given MM some authority to negotiate? If not no point. Or is this repeated emphasis on a quick chat being so beneficial really SF looking a fig leaf to get off the hook they created?

  • crazy fenian 32

    Give robbo a break for heavens sake theres snow on the ground.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Remember this is the party where the Docs life threatening illness is still a mystery and offically never happened.

  • Both Robinson and McGuinness know what is required to get the show on the road as they have been talking about it for months, the parties should now follow the advice of Owen Patterson and convene all party assembly talks and put their cards on the table and SF should defer any threats until these talks have concluded. If no deal can be made then direct rule should suit Unionists just fine.

  • Paul

    If the sinners have being threatening to wreck the assembly want to wreck it let them.They have being trying to bully and make threats for weeks with there pathatic childish antics.As for the first minster i salute him in being with his family at such a difficult time.I wish iris all the very best my thoughts and preyers are with the family.God bless

  • Paul

    the sinn fein motion at there meeting should be as follows.Which they will all vote for

    We a minority party of 27 MLAs wish it to be known that we will wreck the assembly and put out of work the majority of 80 plus other assembly MLAs.We have have made threats and tried to bully but it hasnt worked so we will now threw our dummy out of the pram and wreck the assembly because we Sinn fein cant get our own way.

    Signed Little cry babies = 27 Sinn fein MLAs

  • danielmoran

    msg 8 Moderate Unionist.
    I’m making this point from a natio nalist side of things, and to me there’s a conflict of interest on this matter of Stormont rulev Direct rule, between Unionist parties and the general unionist voters. The bulk of the unionist voting public would not feel they were losing anything if Stormont fell, as long as they thought the Union was safe, [which I judged you probably count yourself among those]. Unionist parties however see it very differently and would be much reduced in morale and relevance in a direct rule situation, as proved since the old stormont fell in ’72. that for me is the crucial difference.

  • Cynic2

    As a Unionist if it collapses and I get Direct Rule (or Even a Strongly Green Tinted Direct rule) what is the downside? It will be a lot more efficient than what’s there now

  • regimental 1912

    Martins attempts at bullying and threatening have benn laughed out of the political arena.He set a date for serious consequences to happen,well Marty old bean,it has passed and you have been made to look a dickhead,over to you booboo.

  • “A DUP source who revealed that Peter Robinson is remaining behind closed doors at home all this week seemed to question the merit of the Prime Minister coming if Mr Robinson is out of circulation.”

    FFS …. Who thinks it is a good idea to have a country held to ransom by anyone who is not fit and readily available for the job. Are the DUP a one man band?

    And yes, I am sympathetic to Iris’s depression, and applaud her bold decision but would now be wondering if hubby has been “playing away” and if that is the real cause for it, for ….. “A DUP spokesman said Peter Robinson will not appear in public this week. He added: “He is staying at home taking care of family matters.”” ….. is a strange way of putting things.

  • regimental 1912

    amanfromuranus,I fail to see why old Broonie is coming over at all,the bold Marty has made his statement,there was no date set by HIS deadline,so the next mave is up to him,ne requirement for further meetings at this time,all will be well when the conditions are correct.

  • danielmoran,

    I agree, but the political class is often to be found in a different location from those who vote for it.

    amanfromMars,

    Robinson’s non appearance may be an indication of something more troubling than his wife’s illness although it may well suit him to leave Mc Guinness dangling for another week.

  • Kevsterino

    From what has been reported in London, Dublin and Belfast I have gathered that if the assembly and associated institutions collapse, what will follow will not be a return to direct rule in the fashion of pre-1998.

    Something new will be put in place that I’m sure will be objectionable in part for all.

    Allah wept. (I stole that line from another poster, damn but that cracked me up)

  • joeCanuck

    Anyone know if an Ard-Chomhairle gathering requires a vote of confidence in the leadership?

  • [quote][i]Robinson’s non appearance may be an indication of something more troubling than his wife’s illness although it may well suit him to leave Mc Guinness dangling for another week.[/i][/quote] ….. Posted by Moderate Unionist on Jan 05, 2010 @ 08:47 PM

    And if that be Mr Robinson’s and the DUP’s best leadership move, then that would definitely confirm that they are unfit for Future Good and Great Political Purpose. And the idea of slippery Jeffrey Donaldson being suitable replacement leadership material is as laughable as it is lamentable, …… [quote][i]Step up Jeffrey Donaldson, the leadership is yours – man you can trust (lion, witch and wardrobe anyone?).[/i][/quote] …… Posted by Stunning_Steve on Jan 05, 2010 @ 09:56 AM …. for he appears to be pathologically predisposed and incapable of giving a straight direct answer to a straight direct question and pontificates on the media even more so than the Big Brother Waffler-in-Chief, Peter.

    Although to be honest, I can’t make up my mind as to whether Stunning_Steve’s post is meant to be sarcastic and a mischievous tongue-in-cheek wind-up

    And as for regiment 1912’s implied question of the Glorious/Inglorious/Vainglorious Leader ….. [quote][i]I fail to see why old Broonie is coming over at all …[/i][/quote] ….. a faded old wannabe leader junkie, with sad delusions of renewed grandeur, desperately looking for a kind positive media fix answers that question.

    Although, and this is a Quantum Leap Game Changer if ever there was one, if he’s coming to enquire of and engage with NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT Source, I will eat those words gladly and be rightly forced and thoroughly enjoy, by virtue of truth, to sing a completely different song and rewrite what has been written to make IT even more unbelievably Good ……. which for Britain, would be Great, with even Better and Ever Better AI Betas to Follow.

    And that is an interesting Live Quantum Communications BetaTest of the Best of National/International/InterNetional Intelligence, which may or may not be Barracked in Palace HQs and Loughside …… http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/06_09_HSM_March08.pdf …… And also one of those New Fangled, Entangling Thread CyberSpace Field Exercises for Civil CyberIntelAIgent Security Command and Control of Computers and Communications in the Live Operational Virtual Environment with Advanced BaseICQ Cloud Development and NIRobotIQ Spatial Awareness Research Pioneers.

    Although I do realise and accept that some of that ESPecialised Program, will only be and can only be presently entered into, by a Select Few who would be Working in the Total Information Awareness Systems Field and ITs Virtual Terrain Team Territories of Realised ARGs and AIMMORPGs.

    Although that should be as no surprise to all here, for much was earlier shared on Slugger, Posted on Jan 03, 2010 @ 07:23 PM … http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/does-first-ministers-silence-on-daly-suggest-lack-of-leadership/
    [quote][i][b]In some extremely MKUltra Sensitive Fields, believe it or believe it not, does Northern Ireland lead the World and would be Light Years ahead of any Competition and would Export ITs Digital Expertise around the Globe.[/b][/i][/quote]