Sinn Fein believes negotiations are now closed…

Good morning. Another week-end looming and still no deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein. The problem is this: as of now, come the first week in May Republicans can put on show as evidence of the transfer of policing and justice powers a justice minister at work and all the attending swearing-in publicity. The attorney general will be visibly seen assuming his office and essentially for Republicans another link has been broken with England, if only symbolically, with local control over policing and justice being the order of the day.Against this background what will the DUP have to show for all Peter Robinson’s negotiating skills? Herein hangs the tale. The DUP has majored “on getting parading right.” The question is what does this mean ?

The existing Parades Commission is a creature of government to remove responsibility from it for having to take charge at Executive level every year regarding where people can or cannot march. In other words the Parades Commission does the government’s dirty work for it.

The government is reluctant to undo this edifice because Sinn Fein/The SDLP/the PSNI/the Police Federation/and the Policing Board all want to retain the parades commission. The DUP is pressing to put an alternative structure or structures in place.

This is a rather difficult area in which to bring comfort to the DUP apart from being awkward. It is the rock however upon which everything could perish. About one third of the DUP’s elected members want visible ‘product’ up and running to coincide with Sinn Fein’s ‘goodies’ in May.

No deal is yet complete.

The DUP is hard-balling. That party wants Sinn Fein to make a concession not stated publicly yet. Sinn Fein is no mood for reopening negotiations. They believe they have been closed. Gerry Adams is adamant that no matter what emerges Republicans will not live with Orange parades marching in catholic/nationalist areas where they are not welcome.

The Orange Order historically marched where it wanted along what it saw as ‘ the Queen’s highway.’ We are all prisoners of folk memory.

One wag said of Irish history: “It is just one f…….thing after another.” Crude but accurate.