It’s the same Agreement, really

Life is binary and it can be mightily difficult to make it converge. Here I pick out comments below the fold about Sinn Fein after the Hillsborough Agreement. I could just as easily have selected DUP-centred references. I link to the full versions. From the horses’ mouth, the leaders speak out. Peter Robinson first, then Gerry Adams. Next, two authoritative commentators have very different takes on the same process, not contradictory exactly but asymetrical. If Henry Patterson and Brian Feeney select such different contexts and results from the same agreement no wonder the players found it so difficult to reach and probably will find it difficult to implement.

Peter Robinson writes
Devolution of policing and justice powers will occur on Unionist terms. There will be no Sinn Fein Justice Minister. Unionists have a veto on who will hold this post. The appointment of the judiciary will be free from political interference. No politician will have any role in the appointment of judges. This is a lie peddled by the TUV that has no basis in fact…. We have a manifesto commitment against the introduction of an Irish Language Act. This was due to be introduced by Direct Rule. There will be no Irish language Act. Yesterday was a good day for Unionism which will further cement Ulster’s place within the United Kingdom.

Gerry Adams writes
The agreement that has now been reached will not only see the transfer of powers on policing and justice in April, but also by the end of the year the transfer of responsibility from London to Belfast for dealing with the issue of parades. We have also agreed a process to progress the rights of Irish language speakers, clear the backlog of executive papers and decisions which are still pending, and advance the all-Ireland aspects of the St Andrews agreement.

Professor Henry Patterson
Sinn Fein’s project of using the structures and commitments of the Belfast Agreement as part of a transitional process to unity is in ruins and the party’s southern support base is shrinking. If ‘war-weariness’ helped create a basis for republicans settling for a partitionist fudge in 1998 Peter Robinson must hope that a similar ‘peace process’ politicking weariness and a desire for the stabilising banalities of a functioning Stormont to act as a protective buffer against the post-election onslaught of Treasury cuts will win out in the unionist electorate

Dr Brian Feeney
The Unionists could not understand why devolving these powers was so important to Sinn Fein. In 2007, the party had made the seismic move to recognise the new police service, the PSNI. That move was conditional on a Department of Justice for Northern Ireland being established. For Sinn Fein it was essential that it be seen to run all aspects of the state it had given its consent to for the first time. Policing and justice are such crucial aspects because Sinn Fein needed to fireproof itself against republican critics and armed dissidents who accuse it of administering British justice. After the Hillsborough Castle agreement, that accusation has no force.
There is suspicion that former IRA members have not changed enough to be trusted. To assuage such concerns, DUP leader Peter Robinson talked of a “clever device”, so far known only to him, to guarantee Sinn Fein fulfils its obligations.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Creative Ambiguity..
    Looks like Henry Patterson has his eyes on a seat in the House of Lords. But c’mon now Politics Professors from Norn Iron in the House of Lords? …thats just crazy talk.

  • John O’Connell

    Gerry Adams and Peter Robinson showing very different responses to their respective scandals lately. Gerry is concilatory as you would expect of someone deeply affected by a family scandal that implicated him. Peter is equally affected but unable to compromise such is the sheer shame he feels about Irisgate. Of course, that means that Gerry has less empathy than Peter because he doesn’t feel the shame of his role in his brother’s escapades.

  • Medillen

    John, I think you may need to go and lie down, you are now starting to post comments that actually make a bit of sense.

  • Life is binary and it can be mightily difficult to make it converge.

    It can be mightily difficult to make life converge? What does that even mean ffs!

    Every fecking post the man writes. Seriously! Is it just me? It’s like dipping your head in a vat of alphabet spaghetti.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    What can actually be done (if the political will existed) to either side if they fail to deliver on their commitments in the deal.

    Somebody (OH God Somebody) should play hardball if any one does not deliver on their side.

    That of course should be the electorate but thats not very likely given the way the electorate has voted up until now.

    Who then, and how then.

  • Harry J

    To assuage such concerns, DUP leader Peter Robinson talked of a “clever device”, so far known only to him, to guarantee Sinn Fein fulfils its obligations……….

    not sure why brian feeney cant graps what Robo means: the parades issue will have to be dealt to the satisfaction of the DUP in February long before any vote on a justice minster is taken

  • Chris Donnelly

    Harry J
    Precisely. Which is why this ‘deal’ has merely succeeded in postponing the next point of crisis by three weeks.

    Not a bad return for Robinson, who will be confident that the next spate of protracted crisis talks will further overshadow the on-going media spotlight on Iris and the unfolding property deal scandals. Still, odds on him surviving remain short. And, in my opinion, odds on devolution surviving the year even shorter…

  • joeCanuck

    He has an array of cunning stunts.

  • John O’Connell

    Chris

    Still, odds on him surviving remain short.

    Care to express an opinion on Gerry Adams surviving the next crisis which is expected to be the publication of Darkie Hughes’ book?

  • joeCanuck

    And now Alliance are playing hard to get. I’ve got some sympathy with that; Robinson and McGuiness need to sip of the poisoned chalice first.

  • Chris Donnelly

    John

    I don’t actually believe there’ll be the adverse reaction some of Adams’ detractors clearly would like there to be. Obviously not knowing the content of any book, suffice to say it will be hard to add anything that has not already been alleged in other books- and elsewhere- on previous occasions.

  • Driftwood

    The silliest comment on friday was Mcguinness claiming this could see politics ‘coming of age’ here. Must have been sleep deprivation.
    Still cannot figure where Brown is going to find the Billion pounds to fund this charade. Can he just ask the Bank of England to print it?

  • John O’Connell

    Chris

    I think he’s toast anyway. After the family scandal and the worst part for him was the revelations about his father’s abuse he lost his magic for many. The public take time to digest these things and I think that soon enough he will succumb. The book will be different from other accusations as it comes from someone who actually knows what Gerry did. But we’ll see…

  • Medillen

    John 666, I know you think you are doing God’s work in your pursuit of Gerry Adams, but I think this keyboard obsession, says more about you than him. Darkie will confirm, no doubt, what you already know that Gerry Adams is the anti christ.

  • John O’Connell

    Medillen

    Darkie will confirm, no doubt, what you already know that Gerry Adams is the anti christ.

    I hope he’ll do that for many more than me. They may not put my word on it but they may think it is apt.

  • Scaramoosh

    John O’Connell

    As a man who sees the Devil in the detail, could you please give us your thoughts on the agreement in the light of the following religious comment;

    “I am made All things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

  • Marcionite

    I asked the question in a previous posting, how could OFMDFM give support to and promise of implementation of findings of the forthcoming parading report that itself is yet to be written let alone published?

    Can they really give such a carte blanche to such a report in advance?

    For SF, would Martin McGuinness not feel personally insulted at Peter’s statement/boast of no SF Justice Minister?

    Will the Justice Minister ever be subject to the normal allocation of Ministerial posts after future Assembly elections or is it forever to be, a Ministry by Job Application?

  • John O’Connell

    Scaramoosh

    Keep on topic.

  • Alias

    Henry Patterson wins that one. Feeney’s version is pure PP (peace processing) codswallop. It makes no difference to the constitutional status of Her Majesty’s police force if it is administrated from one part of the UK (Belfast) or from another part of the UK (London). It exists to enforce British law and defend British national security interests – if in doubt, see the extensive role that MI5 have in using Her Majesty’s police force to defend the realm.

  • John O’Connell

    Scaramoosh

    It describes the Agreement perfectly. I would suggest that those saved will be those who stand up for social democratic compassionate values. The rest may perish.

  • joeCanuck

    Marcionite,

    I thought the words were that they would support and implement an agreed process. We’ll see if they can agree in 3 weeks time.

  • joeCanuck

    Medellin,

    Sometimes sense evaporates quickly.

  • Peter Fyfe

    Alias

    Feeney is alluding to why this is impotant to Sinn Fein not the differences between a minister being based in belfast or dublin. It is more about the illusion they can present as Feeney appears to be pointing at. I don’t see where he is wrong here.

  • David Crookes

    The French composer Darius Milhaud wrote two distinct string quartets which may be performed either separately or simultaneously (in the latter case so as to create a string octet). I reckon that the FM and the dFM will need to exercise the same kind of contrapuntal skill.

  • Paul Doran

    Mental Reservation is needed among us all

  • iluvni

    10.And now Alliance are playing hard to get. I’ve got some sympathy with that; Robinson and McGuiness need to sip of the poisoned chalice first.

    Posted by joeCanuck on Feb 07, 2010 @ 08:35 PM

    I thought I heard that. Alliance saying they’ll not be rushed into accepting anything, but that might change by the morning….

    David, we’re offering you the job…
    Not so fast, I want more on a shared future before I’d consider it….
    David, if I hang up, the jobs off the table…
    OK, I’ll take it.

  • slug

    Can I ask a question?

    Will the devolution of P&J bring high quality jobs to Belfast from London?

    As I understand it, there is no current NICS Justice Ministry. (In contrast to the situation in Education, Agriculture, etc). These P&J matters – are they currently done by Civil Servants in London mainly. So there will be some high-quality civil service responsibilities done by people in Belfast rather than London?

    If so then this is something positive for the economy and for careers in the legal part of the civil service.

    All in all the Executive is being given a lot of responsibility and this should have an impact on politics – one would hope a positive one. These are quite responsible jobs that the Ministers have, and the Executive will be busy.

    I don’t think our present establishment – media, academic, policy, political – are used to thinking about detailed social and economic issues and they will need to start for the sake of good government.

  • Framer

    No ’tis largely done in Belfast.

    Slug – you are being pretentious, we will never need to think about complicated issues any more than Northamptonshire.

  • slug

    Framer its just that I am hearing of people within the civil service being earmarked for the new ministry of Justice, so it sounds like there are new jobs in the legal profession in NI.

  • wild turkey

    ‘Still cannot figure where Brown is going to find the Billion pounds to fund this charade. Can he just ask the Bank of England to print it? ‘

    Driftwood,

    no, Northern Bank does the printing. its worked before.

  • Framer

    Most people in NICS and NIO are trying to position themselves for redundancy not get new jobs.

    The extra £20m for legal aid is indeed a mystery, and must hve been insisted upon by the National Union of Nationalist Lawyers.

  • Munsterview

    Professor Henry Patterson
    ” Sinn Fein’s project of using the structures and commitments of the Belfast Agreement as part of a transitional process to unity is in ruins and the party’s southern support base is shrinking “.

    Yes the progress of Sinn Fein in The Southern State has stalled and there are serious matters to be addressed if the party is to maintain its present level of public representation, never mind expand or grow.

    It is however a mistake to attribute all of Sinn Fein’s low standing in the Southern State to perceived ineffectiveness at delivering the goods from the Northern Peace Process. It is no doubt a factor but one that will mainly impact on the committed Republican supporters. The real reasons are far different.

    Martin Ferris Sinn Fein T.D. for Kerry was seen in the background as part of the Sinn Fein negotiating or advisory team in the recent talks. Unless otherwise informed, I will give Martin the respect that he is due and take it that he was there for some purpose other than optics !.

    Last week in Martins Constituency yet another young man took his own life due to drugs. He had been a hard worker who with two other young friends in particular, who worked all the hours they could get in the Building Boom. They worked hard and played hard and that included using recreational drugs use. The young man was a follower, over the past three years his other two work companions had accidentally over dosed on cocaine and he was adrift

    This young man lost his job and became a dealer. For a known dealer he seemed to be leading a charmed life as far as attention from the Gardai were concerned. The conclusions were obvious!
    By last week he had outlived his usefulness, his dealers supply was seized and squeezed between the suppliers and the Gardai he went out and hanged himself.

    Cocaine, Heroin and other such hard drugs are readily available in Tralee, in fact the town and its environs has a problem on par with the worst areas in Dublin during the Height of the crisis two decades ago. Martin was Mr. Anti Drugs in Tralee before he was elected. When was the last time Tralee was brought to a standstill by a protest organized by Sinn Fein regarding the Drug Crisis despite the devastation caused?

    Sinn Fein are playing the Constitutional game and are careful to be seen observing the rules, yet in their communities drug-dealing gangland anarchy is seen to be the order of the day. Unless and until Sinn Fein T.D. and Councillors give real leadership on the streets in fighting the drug problems, including being prepared to go to jail for their activities, to these beleaguered, drug devastated communities they are no different to the other ‘talking heads’ parties.

    The reasons for the decline of and disillusionment of the working class public ( its natural growth area ) is obvious to all concerned in the South. It has everything to do with local issues and has little to do with Northern Issues!

  • USA

    If Patterson is indicative of the quality of teaching available at the University of Ulster then the place must have a curriculum only slightly more rigourous than that of an inner city secondary school. His piece could have been written by a second rate hack from Ballymena tech. Pattersons position is obviously influenced by a combination of his own political preferences and ignorance.

  • [quote][i]Peter Robinson writes:
    Devolution of policing and justice powers will occur on Unionist terms. There will be no Sinn Fein Justice Minister. Unionists have a veto on who will hold this post. The appointment of the judiciary will be free from political interference. [/i][/quote]

    Err …. what Peter Robinson writes says the exact opposite surely, for is there not rampant and naked political interference evidenced ……”will occur on Unionist terms. There will be no Sinn Fein Justice Minister. Unionists have a veto on who will hold this post.”

  • [quote][i]Still cannot figure where Brown is going to find the Billion pounds to fund this charade. Can he just ask the Bank of England to print it? …. Posted by Driftwood on Feb 07, 2010 @ 08:42 PM[/i][/quote]

    It is even simpler than that, Driftwood, for with a few clicks of the mouse are fortunes electronically transferred and credited to accounts, which the Bank can only hope nowadays that the people in charge of the credit will know what to do with the instant wealth, rather than squander it on themselves and dodgy sub prime moves, the way that bankers do and business in tow and in the know, have done.

    Nowadays IT is all about Leverage and for the Capitalist System to Survive in its Present Parlous State is it Vital that it Pays ITs Danegeld to those who do not Crash it, but who Can with nothing more difficult that a few click of a mouse highlighting a section of Illuminating Text/Enlightening Dialogue.

  • iluvni

    Is today’s announcement by Poots about the Maze site, the first of the side deals to be slipped out?

  • Neil

    Scaramoosh

    Keep on topic.

    Posted by John O’Connell on Feb 07, 2010 @ 09:10 PM

    Hahaha. Lol. Rofl. Etc. Irony overload. I suppose, John, there have been about 500 threads regarding your thoughts on Gerry being the Antichrist, for you’ve mentioned it that many times. Let me check.

    My goodness John the results are in. No one’s ever posted a thread on the subject of Gerry and Ian being the Antichrist yet somehow you managed to bullshit on about that pet theory many many times. Maybe you should learn to keep on topic. Or put another way, as so many Christians fail to do try following your own advice.

  • John O’Connell

    Neil

    I made a New Year’s resolution to stay on topic. I don’t want to be blamed. Honestly… Would I lie to you?

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Joe C

    I had to read that bit 3 times about the DUP being full of cunning stunts.

    Anyhow the DUP tactics of long slow agonising retreat really all that unionist voters are after? Were voters really as put off as the news media alluded to during the last drawn out negotiations? Not if the DUP feel like another round they can’t be.

  • ardmaj55

    Brian Walker. Robinson is playing the same game with his voters as he played before conceding transfer of P&J. He knows that it doesn’t matter which politician holds the Justice ministry because it’s under the FM/DFM, and as PR declined to mention, if he has a verto on who holds the post, so has marty. He might find out very soon what his voters think of his tactics after last week’s humiliation.