They think it’s all over, it’s not quite…

JUST watched Gerry Adams’ presser after Sinn Fein’s ard chomairle on News 24, in which the SF leader said Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson should meet urgently. Martin, he said, would have a “very specific brief”, suggesting things won’t be allowed to drag out much longer. “It will be a critical and defining engagement,” he said.

However, his call for the British and Irish governments to act as guarantors, rather than referees, suggests that even failure at this meeting won’t be the end of matters. I would think the prospect of hothouse (all-party?) talks involving the governments later makes it less likely for any SF-DUP talks to succeed beforehand. Perhaps of more concern is Adams hint that if policing and justice powers are not devolved, the political institutions as they stand “beome pointless and unsustainable”.

Adams’ full statement below the fold.Adams statement:

The Ard Chomhairle has been meeting throughout the day and Martin McGuinness and I have been briefing colleagues on the detail of the recent discussions with the DUP.

It would have been our hope when the Ard Comhairle was originally put back two weeks ago that we would have had something positive in terms of a resolution of current difficulties to put to this meeting. Unfortunately we are not in that position despite my very firm view that with the necessary political will all of these matters could and should have been sorted out before now.

Within three months of the St Andrews Agreement, Sinn Féin had held an Ard Fheis on policing and had fulfilled our obligations.

That was three years ago and we are waiting on the DUP to honour theirs.

The failure thus far by the DUP to honour this St. Andrews obligation is symptomatic of a much bigger problem – their refusal to work partnership government, and in particular to work the office of OFM/dFM properly.

The only agreement worth reaching is one which deals with this core issue. The political institutions can work and can deliver – but only if they function on the basis they were established. They are not sustainable otherwise.

Equality and partnership are central to all of this.

Our negotiating team has been given a very specific brief. Martin McGuinness will be seeking an urgent meeting with Peter Robinson.
This will be a critical and defining engagement.

The two Governments have been in touch with us last night.
The Governments, who are the guarantors of the St Andrews and Good Friday Agreements, are also in default in outstanding issues. Particularly equality issues like Irish language rights and North/South structures.

The governments need to set a date for transfer now.

Martin spoke to the British Prime Minister and to a senior official in the Taoiseach’s Department. But let me say, the governments are not referees in this; they are guarantors with responsibilities and obligations. We will of course meet them but it is in the context of them coming forward with a date.

Much of the commentary around this issue has been characterized by talk of Sinn Fein collapsing, or forcing an election. This is not about Sinn Fein hyping things up. This is not a game of poker. If the institutions are not working and not delivering – then they become pointless and unsustainable. What we are about is fixing the problems and returning to the basis upon which these institutions were established – Good Friday Agreement and St Andrews Agreement.

If that is not possible then no self respecting public representative or political party would want to be part of what would be nothing less than a charade.”