Nigel Dodds: “Sinn Fein’s problem is that they can’t take a decision within their own party”

Sometimes it is hard to know whether to laugh or cry when dealing with NI politics. [Might be better if you’d just stick to walking the dogs? – Ed]. Ah, so. Here’s Nigel Dodds riposte to Martin (just remember, there’s a war an election on):

Sinn Fein’s problem is not that they can’t reach agreements with unionists but they can’t take a decision within their own party.

On the introduction of the National Crime Agency to Northern Ireland, there are some within Sinn Fein who see that taking a practical and necessary step to combat drug smuggling and human trafficking is the right thing to do. However they are being held back by other elements within that Party who simply refuse to accept the realities of life in government.

Similarly with the introduction of welfare reform there are some more rational and sensible individuals within Sinn Fein who recognise the policy is not a creation of Stormont, but comes to us from Westminster. Beneficial amendments have been sought and granted thanks to the work of Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland.

However, despite some within Sinn Fein privately making it clear that they know the hugely detrimental impact that not proceeding with welfare reform will have, there are others holding them back because they are not prepared to act like any other normal political party.

It is very clear that for some time dissenting voices within Sinn Fein and within republicanism have been growing louder. The increasingly hysterical comments lashing out at anyone within unionism appears to be Martin McGuinness’s way of reassuring a troubled base that all is well in the project towards a united Ireland.

Instead of directing these tirades at unionism its time that Sinn Fein admitted to their own ranks that decisions on things like welfare reform and the National Crime Agency are the new reality. Unfortunately however, unless a decision has some direct bearing on a small republican clique what little ability there was for some within Sinn Fein to take sensible decisions appears to have been all but removed.

The decision on the Maze centre has been taken and Sinn Fein’s attempts to ‘out-green’ dissident republicans last summer ensured that it could not proceed. It is interesting that the development of the Maze is still the only issue they can point to, but also ironic that it was Sinn Fein’s own actions which ensured that community confidence was eroded and decisive action had to be taken by the First Minister.”

That will no doubt raise a rye smile amongst those who’ve observed the slow progress around Haass. But for all the fevered talk of potential splits and dirty dozens, Sinn Fein, spread now over two jurisdictions, have by far the more complex structure.

Not least in that judging by the lack of any vital signs in the party’s policy life in Stormont, the top man there has difficulty signing up to even the most mundane of joint tasks (click on to 7.55 if you get bored):

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