What odds a deal?

What odds a deal today? I don’t personally see it happening, and as I argued in a piece last week, if a deal involves unionism succeeding in returning us to the Drumcree era, then we are probably better off without a deal at this stage.

Sinn Fein have handled the current talks process pretty faultlessly to date, with the arrival of the two Prime Ministers a signal that the pressure on Peter Robinson to deliver on a date for the devolution of Policing and Justice has been cranked up several gears. Gerry Moriarty in the Irish Times struck the right tone when he observed that the DUP’s lack of humility could be the final undoing of the current phase of devolution, a view confirmed by the very fact that the DUP are seeking to stir the pot over parades as a price for devolution (something condemned by UUP stalwart, Roy Garland yesterday.)

Time, as ever, will tell…

The pan-Unionist front talks have seemingly buoyed elements of both leading unionist political parties whilst at the same time leading to key figures in the local Tory front walking away, taking with them the already barely credible claims of a new post-sectarian politics.

Meanwhile, the award for ill-conceived (and timed) political initiative of the year must go to Alasdair McDonnell, whose front page Irish News call for a centre-ground alliance between his party and the UUP was blown out of the water by the subsequent Hatfield House talks. Mind you, given the Labour furore over those talks hosted by Lord Cranborne, the fall-out narrative may be one which holds a reckless and inexperienced Cameron leadership to blame for a careless intervention at a crucial period in the negotiating process.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sinn Fein have handled the current talks process pretty faultlessly to date,

    Come on, Chris. They keep making threats and then backing off at the last minute. That’s stupid.

  • Henry94


    As long as they are willing to pull the plug in the end there is no harm in going the extra mile to get a deal.

    I haven’t a clue how it’s going to turn out but I hope there can be agreement on as many outstanding issues as possible. However Sinn Fein can’t deliver an unconditional right to march. It’s not in their gift and it doesn’t exist anyway.

    If there is a better way to deal with disputed parades then I’m sure we would all welcome it.

  • Paul

    Sinn fein have being making threats to wreck the assembly for months if they don’t get there way they are pathetic little cry babies.

  • The British government and the Tory opposition have predictably, as with Trimble and decomissioning, made it easy for SF by backing their interpetation of the STA and heaping pressure on Unioinism to make a deal.

    Placing the Orange Order in the middle of the road to peace is not in Unionism’s or the Orange Order’s best interest but a deal is probably still on as it is the better of the two poor options open to the DUP, but Unionism need to play a cuter game than this.

  • tacapall

    Come on, Chris. They keep making threats and then backing off at the last minute. That’s stupid.
    Posted by Comrade Stalin on Jan 26, 2010 @ 08:54 AM

    It is the DUP who keep giving them conciliatory tones when when the Shinners are about to throw the towel in. Im sure before the end of these current talks that a date will be set for devolution of P+J, the proper formula just has to be found for the DUP to concede it which it will.

  • joeCanuck

    There is a reason that both Premiers are here, of course. It’s to let the DUP know that Plan B (there’s always a Plan B), while it may not be Joint Authority, it will be Direct Rule with a decidedly greenish tint.
    The DUP painted themselves into a corner; now it’s all about letting them save face slightly by throwing some sort of (chicken) bone.
    It would help a lot if Cameron would tell his junior partner to wise up and stop providing the DUP with some sort of cover.

  • I can’t see Brown having much sympathy for the DUP position.

  • O-REP

    I think the reason why the two premiers are going to have more time for SF’s position rather than the DUP is because the DUP have succeeded rather too well in giving SF fuck all to date. The Shinners actually need something now, even if it’s P&J with all kinds of Unionist safeguards tied around it.

  • Driftwood

    Brown is desperate to salvage something from the wreckage of 12 years of Labour incompetence and piss poor governance. Typical to simply offer huge sums of money and let the incoming administration pick up the tab.
    Hillsborough seems to be hosting quite a gathering of lame ducks this week.

  • Scaramoosh

    There will be a deal – signed, sealed and delivered this evening; with our two great statesmen Robinson and Adams hogging the limelight – expect it just in time for Newsnight.

    Deal – 1/3
    No Deal – 4/1

  • Driftwood

    yep Scaramoosh
    Lame Duck pressure cooked without the orange sauce. Plenty of Fudge though, and lots of gravy.

    A billion buys a nice big sticking plaster.

  • joeCanuck


    Wish I disagreed with you; might wager a few bob.

  • tacapall

    Well both premiers would not have wasted their time unless there was room for compromise, whats the chances of P+J and the Irish Language Act being conceded for the replacement of the Parades commission.

  • The fundamental issue with these talks and the entire process is the lack of respect of unionist politicians for the voters who support SF/the SDLP. Every time the DUP torpedoed a promise from the St Andrews Agreement – an agreement to which they signed up – they sang it from the rooftops as evidence that politics was working for them and their voters. This was the case for instance with the Irish Language Act – promised in the SAA but promptly axed by Edwin ‘Evolution did not happen’ Poots. While telling the Assembly that the promise had no prospect of getting cross community support so therefore he was axing it, the reality was that the DUP, though the party had signed up to the SAA, were dead set against any enhancement of the Irish language or culture within the North and therefore they had axed it.

    There is a fundamental deceit at the heart of the DUP involvement in powersharing. They are in power but they have no intention of sharing anything. They are the Deceitful Unionist Party.

    As far as Sinn Féin is concerned, it knew this all along and was prepared to sell the DUP as its partners in government to the SF voters under the premise that they would put manners on the DUP. But SF was really using the DUP to bolster its own position with the electorate – ie when the Irish Language Act was axed, SF brought Irish speakers out on the street in protest, as if that would change anything, in order to portray themselves as the Irish speaker when the party was sitting on its hands at the Executive as first the Irish Language Act and then the Irish Language Broadcast Fund were torpedoed. It took blistering attacks on SF’s credibility on the Irish language in Lá Nua/Lá to force SF to use the Irish language once again, in May 2008, when the crisis of Peter Robinson’s election as FM occurred, to spur Gerry Adams to ride in on his ‘white horse’ to ‘save’ the ILBF they had earlier allowed to be thrown overboard.

    This latest drama at Hillsborough in which the unelected Orange Order has been given the role of stage manager is of course contrived to enable the DUP to act as the staunch defender of ‘unionist values’ and Sinn Féin to play the stalwart supporter of beleaguered nationalist communities. Both parties are watching the forthcoming elections so each set of individual actors can get their nose in the public trough once again.

    Do you see, neither party has an ounce of respect for the people who elected them…..

  • joeCanuck

    Can you imagine the headlines across the water if it doesn’t happen:
    Orange Order brings down the N.I. Power Sharing arrangement.

    Remember 1690. FTP.

  • soln

    i believe the current impasse is a sign of the new decade, time for 10 years of unionists taking the hard hits…

  • Mayoman

    So the DUP position is to demand replacement of the parades commission. IIRC, unionists are constantly squealing that only a tiny percentage of marches are contentious. Additionally, only a small percentage of the NI population is in the OO. So the DUP are going to bring down Stormont over a parades comission that affects only a small minority of the total population, and, by unionist’s own admission, who’s rulings affect a tiny minority of this small minority’s activities? Are they for real? Wow, that OO really does have some power! Or is that the DUP is finally and evidentially being uncovered for the anti-democratic bigoted entity that it is?

  • Marlaghman

    DUP give in and wee Jim for North Antrim

    Dose anyone realy believe that they , I meen them all, can work with P&J when they cannot handle what they have now.

    P&J when the prove that they are all mature enough to do the job on their plates at the moment

  • “returning us to the Drumcree era”

    Chris, didn’t GA bum that the PRM gave us the Drumcree era without acknowledging the assistance of other parties in the ‘pan-Nationalist front’? Wasn’t this just the PRM’s continuation of the war by other means?

    Whatever happened to Philip McGuigan, former SF MLA for North Antrim? He wasn’t ‘on message’; he was still playing the old PRM hand after the PRM leadership had done an about turn. Little wonder the PRM rank-and-file are confused.

  • Marlaghman

    One point though it was Gerry that let this dog loose (this did not happen by accident)so who else to call it back to the master but him, then maybe he is not the master any more?

  • danielmoran

    CD. That’s the point I made on another thread, the arrival of the prime ministers is very bad timing for the DUP, [you could see the frustration on Sammy Wilson, This will bring the real motive of DUP stalling out into the open months before the westminster election, which the srawman of the parades issue was meant to cover for. I’m surprised that with their experience, Brown and Cowen haven’t considered this, and apparently think the Derry example could be a way through. They seem not to have twigged the DUP motive for introducing it.

  • danielmoran

    Marlaghman. 18 If Robinson was halfway honest, [like Iris, for instance?] he would tell Brown and Cowen, that the date he wants for the transfer of P&J is may 7th, nicely tucked in after the elections, but swear the premiers to silence. The scales would fall from their eyes immediately. of course he won’t do that.

  • Marlaghman


    Robinson knows that he needs to get the parade issue sorted before the transfer of p&j as the cost of policing prades will fall on the assembly. sf are only looking over their shoulders at rira/cira and the pedo scandle that is about the rm

  • John Joe

    Its hard to see what sort of deal the DUP will get today if they make one. It’s all well and good to review their shopping list, but since McGuinness can resign and trigger an election in which they will lose an unknown number of seats, what bargaining chips to they have? The initial swagger over the secret talks with the Tories and UUP is beginning to look like a despairing attempt at finding a Plan B, any Plan B.
    A dangerous bottom line for the DUP is that, Brown might feel that an election will produce a clearer picture of the topography of unionist sentiment (plus some good PR for himself and possible damage to the Tories).

  • ooh aah

    “what odds a deal today”
    none, It’s to far gone. Any deal now will have the TUV shouting sellout and anything short of a ban on contentious marches, irish language act and a date for p&j will see the shinners walk, the r,c,ira have been whispering what martin has now publicly stated the obstruction by the Duppers has made stormount useless. With the tuv on peters back and r.c.ira on martins its hard to see any deal happening. On the unionist pact with the torys, how long before labours spin doctors ask cameron if he’s a creationist like the dup he’s supporting.