First Minister Peter Robinson has a piece in today’s Belfast Telegraph, which pretty much I suspect outlines what’s coming next:
There are some politicians who believe that it taints the democratic process for politicians to engage in such transitional support activities.
I can respect that view but in real life that stance ensures nothing changes and the problem of the existence of paramilitary groups remains for another generation.
If we are to truly seize the opportunity before us we must collectively ensure that paramilitary activity is a thing of the past and those who refuse to leave it behind are dealt with by the PSNI and other agencies.
For the DUP to reconsider its present ministerial protest we need a report that categorically determines there is no organisational sanction for terrorist or criminal activity.
There has been some common ground in the talks about the shape and direction of steps to deal with the legacy of paramilitaries.[Emphasis added]
That’s an assessment which rather deftly lines up with what the PSNI have already said (before Robinson led his political troops out of Stormont). So, back to the Future then?
The elephant in the room though the persistent (and pervasive) doubts that in practice everyone really are equal equal before the law.
Robinson’s answer appears to be to try and kill it with a ray of unremitting positivity:
As we move through the gears in the next week or so we need to remember that we are working to save the process. Without a resolution of the outstanding issues the Assembly does not have a future. For my part I am determined to do all in my power to reach a successful conclusion – one that will ultimately cement the progress we have made over the last decade.
I firmly believe that the best interests of Northern Ireland are served by having our own local government making decisions that contribute to a stronger, more successfully country.
We have much to be proud of but now is the time to seize the moment and work to finish the job of moving our society from the difficult and devastating years of troubles and misery to a confident, prosperous, tolerant society offering hope and opportunity.
As I have argued before, narrative is not just what you say, it also constructed from what you do and what you achieve in your endeavours. The primary weakness in the Battle a Day narrative which dominates the OFMdFM duo, lies in their joint inability to deliver tangible goods.
That, and the reluctance of either party, but with regard to the ongoing effects of paramilitarism, Sinn Fein in particular, to make themselves publicly accountable.
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