At the start of the week, Danny Morrison delivers an ‘almost time to panic’ post to Eamonn’s blog… Next he’s on Nolan filling out what he means:
This sort of rhetoric has been streaming out of that quarter for weeks. But as Ken Reid noted last night, there is little evidence of any crisis other than a threat by Sinn Fein to send the EU money intended for the Maze site back to, erm the EU, if there’s no agreement on the Maze:
Not a strong negotiating position.
By end of week, Martin McGuinness’s ‘look, honestly, no one’s really panicking‘ statements coincide (unfortunately for him) with the announcement that the former Derry based US call centre company Stream is coming back to Northern Ireland with a thousand jobs. Unfortunate, because it’s Belfast rather than Derry.
Much to the chagrin of Sinn Fein’s Foyle MLA Meadbh McLaughlin. It prompted Mark Durkan – not the most aggressive MP in the world, it has to be said – to pen a deft reproach:
“Employment creation by Stream – even if pre-planned by an acquired company – should be welcomed. However many questions are being asked in Derry given Stream’s history.
“Stream’s management consistently testified to the performance quality of the North – West workforce. Market conditions were emphasised as the reason for the last big run-down from 300 in 2011 and the preceding redundancies.
“Obvious questions now occur as to whether Stream might have considered restoring some jobs to Derry.
“Stream must now indicate if there are realistic prospects in the future of locating additional jobs in Derry. People in Derry are rightly interested in Stream’s future consideration of our city where it has a strong history’.
Just the sort of meaty policy bone a modestly reviving SDLP could do with a few more of. And the sort of hostage to fortune given away when a team is over focused on matters other than tending the home farm.
The final blow of the week came in today’s loss of the Seanad abolition referendum.
Now referendums are tough for all political parties, not least because as Quintin Oliver has pointed out “they encapsulate issues and ideas in theory, rather than people and personalities”, making them tough to judge or play.
There was banter earlier on Twitter suggesting that they leapt onto the huge early lead for the Yes campaign in the polls (74%). But the scant evidence we have is that the party’s Ard Comhairle spread an intense discussion over several weekends trying to determine which way to go on Friday.
In the end we understand, Mary Lou lost the argument for reform, and Pearse Doherty was given his head. For the second time in a row Sinn Fein found themselves on the losing side. Yet unlike the fiscal compact, there may be serious constitutional business to follow the Seanad referendum.
However the real elephant in the room all week has been the party leader’s oddly underreported post trial predicament. Just as the NSPCC details a systemic failure of courts to handle victims of child sex abuse, Gerry Adams is confronted with damning public evidence of his own attitudes on the issue.
What’s surely occupying minds high and low within the party is not what’s just passed, but what’s to come . And Dail Eireann rather than the Northern Ireland Assembly is the likely arena in which these matters will most likely be played out.
Niall Collins stated the bleedin’ obvious to the Irish Daily Mail on Friday:
“…the issue that Gerry Adams appears to have done nothing to ensure the safety of other children at risk until he spoke to police in 2009. Unfortunately we have seen too many times in this country what happens when the reputation of organisations is put above child safety. Deputy Adams needs to explain the reasons for his failure to act on the information he had.”
Last time Mr Adams apologised to the Dail it was for the killing by IRA operatives of Garda McCabe. On that occasion he was listened to by TDs in a sullen, if intense, silence.
Next time, given the implications for a public issue of rising concern, deputies may not feel compelled to be quite so restrained this time, not least in applying Sinn Fein’s own, seemingly protean, standards for others in society to its own leader.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty