There seems to be a presumption that the withdrawal of the UUP was purely in response to the muder of two men and the unstated relationship to those killings to the sill existing commandstructure of the IRA.
Micheal Martin’s statement yesterday provides deeper context:
“The decision of the UUP to withdraw its minister from the Executive is deeply regrettable. It confirms Fianna Fáil’s concerns about the seriousness of the situation facing the Northern Ireland institutions. This latest development comes following a series of escalating problems. It follows the failure of parties to implement the Stormont House Agreement, very serious allegations about the sale of NAMA’s loan book in the north, the vicious murder of two people in Belfast and the confirmation by the PSNI Chief Constable that the Provisional IRA continues to maintain a command structure and that members of the PIRA may have been involved in the murder of Mr McGuigan.
“Fianna Fáil rejects Sinn Féin’s repeated slur that those who raise questions about their behaviour are motivated variously by anti-peace process sentiment, electoral consideration or assorted other negative agendas. We have been raising these issues consistently over recent years and warning of mounting problems because we believe passionately in the peace process and we are determined to hold those who threaten it to account.
“Too many people have put too much into the peace process over too long a time period to allow the Northern institutions to simply unravel. The peace process belongs to no individual parties, but to the entire nation. It is important therefore that the Taoiseach move quickly to give a statement on the situation and to confirm an urgent meeting with the British Prime Minister David Cameron.
There was talk yesterday in Dublin of this kind event being ‘priced in’ as regards Sinn Fein’s future with the voters. Past victims like the Quinn and McCartney families have been left by the wayside as a necessary price for securing the peace. But few seemed to have priced in the possibility that someone would, like Mike Nesbitt just has, refuse to continue to play along with the misleading idea that stability in society requires stablity in Stormont.
As I noted yesterday strictly speaking going into opposition should mean that people have a means of voting against someone. But it should not be apocalyptically compared with the events of October 2002 when parties left the Executive and the Assembly.
Nesbitt now has clear grounds on which to fight the next election (whenever that is going to be), and having almost crippled DRD in the last budgeting round it can roundly attack its partial treatment at the hands of both the DUP and Sinn Fein.
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