“A cursory glance at the St Andrews Agreement..”

With the, apparent, non-negotiations at stalemate, Sinn Féin have wheeled out their favourite fire-fighter, John O’Dowd. But he needs some new lines. Here’s what he’s said to the BBC

John O’Dowd from Sinn Fein argued that 1 May 2008 was the date agreed at the St Andrews talks for the transfer of powers. “A cursory glance at the St Andrews Agreement clearly shows that the date mentioned for transfer was May 1st 2008. “No amount of selective reading will alter that fact and the more important issue that the DUP are in default of that agreement,” he said.

It’s a line other party members have tried before. But try a close reading of that agreement, John. Rather than a “cursory glance”. And didn’t your party colleague Mitchel McLaughlin tell us that

In any event, the issue of whether the DUP agreed to the May 2008 deadline for the transfer of policing and justice powers, or indeed subscribed to the introduction of the Irish Language Act, is a red herring.

That was because, as Eamonn McCann had pointed out in September 2008

The statement by the two governments which the party [Sinn Féin] is now relying on — “It is our view that the implementation of the (St Andrews) agreement published today should be sufficient to build the community confidence necessary for the Assembly to request the devolution of criminal justice and policing from the British Government by May 2008” — falls a semantic mile short of a deadline.

We know why Sinn Féin have created this crisis, again. Maurice Hayes identified it as the “main element in [their internal] bill of sale”. But are they prepared for the potential political vacuum?