To switch metaphors, it’s like three games of chess being played simultaneously: one short-term game against the clock, another medium-term, and a long-term strategy being played out on a third board.
So in the last week I’ve heard:
- Gerry Kelly challenge my defeatist attitude around the inevitability of welfare cuts if the Executive collapses (and the locally-tempered reforms are lost and the original Westminster version is implemented) and instead hold out for a Tory change of mind.
- Veteran republican Joe Austin state Sinn Féin’s support for anti-austerity mass demonstrations, adding “We’re not stopping anyone from blockading Stormont. We’re not stopping anyone from invading those powers, those bodies that have fiscal control. Lets do it. Let’s not talk about it. Let’s go out and do it …”
- Mitchel McLaughlin (who is the Speaker of one of the institutions Joe Austin would be happy to see blockaded) suggest that the unresolved constitution issue is a barrier to reconciliation: “the fault line that’s in our community is around the constitutional question which wasn’t and which couldn’t be resolved at the time of the Good Friday negotiation”.
- Sinn Féin wave a flag for their anointed UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn [Ed – perhaps Adams and McGuinness reliving their flights to Heathrow and trips out to Chequers to see the Prime Minister?], a politician who wouldn’t insist that his National Executive allow candidates to stand in NI, but would extend the 1967 Abortion Act to NI (which is not Sinn Féin’ current policy) .
- Martin McGuinness express his trust in the PSNI, sharing a platform with the chief constable in the heart of West Belfast and recommending that republicans cooperate with truth recovery processes that may shortly be set up.
- Meanwhile a further batch of acceptance letters have been dispatched from DFP to civil servants volunteering to leave … with the proviso that the Treasury stump up the necessary £200m loan to allow the exit payments to be made.
The Stormont House Agreement isn’t totally dead after all …
Yet we also have two elections on the island to further disrupt matters in the next nine months.
Crisis? What crisis?