Breaking… Brokenshire gambles with high risk threat of a new election, cutting through opening party maneouvres

 

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“James Brokenshire warns parties must agree or face second snap election”

Oh well done James,  you’ve decide to open with the joker, He’s decided to match  Sinn Fein’s bottom line with one of his own – incidentally going against the advice of his predecessor Theresa Villiers  who called  for an extension of the three week period.

Theresa May has form, with hard ball as an opening move. Quite a gamble. Will anyone pick it up in time?  This is not Home Counties politics. We are not even Scotland.

Although provided for in law this an abuse of democratic process. Shortage of funds to fight another election, the usual deterrent in normal societies, would  be the least of the problems.  After the last  election there’d be a real risk that tensions would rise to peace- threatening levels and the gap between the parties – and the British government – would widen in parallel. If this chap wants to bring the house down for a generation he’s going about it  the right way.

In early reactions, all parties except the DUP  who didn’t respond immediately, were critical of the move, all of them complaining that the British government hadn’t lived up to their responsibilities (either).

This was – to say the least – an unexpected response to earlier manoeuvres  concentrating on putting pressure on the two governments.  On the face of it, Sinn Fein’s dismissal of their first post-election encounter with secretary of state Brokenshire as “waffle, waffle and more waffle” followed by an early walk-out, is discouraging. But Brokenshire is fair game for a shot across his bows. By sharing the DUP’s criticism of legacy investigations into army actions, he revealed an alarming lack of understanding of the impartiality required of him as an arbiter in Assembly disputes.  He may have thought –if he thought at all – that he would get away with it as Theresa Villiers  brokered the Fresh Start  agreement while holding the exact same views; but the stakes are higher now.  However he was right at this stage to postpone consideration of Sinn Fein’s demand to release the funding for inquests disgracefully withheld by the DUP until they all get round the table. That actually increases Sinn Fein’s leverage over a patently just demand.

“Special status” for the north in the EU and  joint British -Irish authority together with a border poll are likely to be raised  in some form if only  to put  pressure on the Irish government to make their position clearer. The first two are little more than slogans masquerading as solutions looking for a defined problem. Newton Emerson pulls them apart in the Irish Times today.   The divisive nature of a border poll is incompatible at this stage with the priority to restoring the functioning Assembly.

However Irish foreign minister Charlie Flanagan will want to find a way to recognise both the scale of the nationalist success in the election and demonstrate that he shares their deep concerns over Brexit. The problem is how?

While the Irish government will not want to break ranks with the British government, they need answers to plausible Sinn Fein charges in the Dail that they have nothing more to offer northern nationalists. They have zero enthusiasm for the responsibilities and expense of joint authority even as a doomsday threat against total breakdown.  Agitation  over enhancing the nationalist  position comes up against the reality eventually  that solutions are available within the GFA. Sinn Fein should be  asked if they intend to abandon it.

“Special status” is a different matter. At this stage of the Brexit process it is indefinable, as Dublin seethes with impotence graphically described by Stephen Collins in the Irish Times.  The eventual binary choice that Ireland could face between the EU and Britain he poses is one the Irish government is desperately keen to avoid. In the longer term – and presumably beyond the scope of any conceivable time scale for the current talks – it is a theme ripe for exploitation by Sinn Fein.

The only constructive version of special status is one without constitutional significance. It would assume the nirvana the UK is looking for, of paid- for open access  to the internal market with special arrangements between the two islands and with the  most of the cross border dimension administered by the north-south bodies. This makes the GFA structures all the more important with a functioning Assembly at their heart.

 

 

 

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  • Croiteir

    Ha. Priority of a functioning assembly? I do not see it as a priority, it hardly makes a preference. If the Assembly fails is it the confirmation of two things for me at least. That the whole concept of a viable Northern Ireland (sic) is a fraud and the British government policy since the ’70s at least, Ulsterisation, fails. Something else has to be tried, the fraudulent GFA sticky plaster has failed, based as it was on British policy since 1920.

    You are correct that the West Brits in FG and also the so called republicans in FF have nothing to offer, they have bought into the British solution. Nationalism does not need them, we can do this on our own and we can take the South as well.

    Our tails are up, with good reason. Why should we not play hardball.

  • Nevin

    “However Irish foreign minister Charlie Flanagan will want to find a way to recognise both the scale of the nationalist success in the election and demonstrate that he shares their deep concerns over Brexit.”

    In the just released ‘Ireland Connected’ policy, Northern Ireland and the North-South institutions don’t even rate a mention.

  • LiamÓhÉ

    Ireland has to mediate between the devolved NI, Westminster, and our partners in the EU. At this stage, it is probably difficult to take anything more than babysteps towards a platform for a new ROI/NI State within the EU with guaranteed representation for erstwhile unionists. Note there have already been events throughout the island on Brexit with support from the highest levels of office.

    Running a campaign now would be divisive, so it depends on events such as the recent election, changing sentiment in NI, and on the UK to start negotiations in earnest, which they have not done yet. No-one knows what will happen, hence cards are not shown in Edinburgh or Dublin/Belfast. Following the GFA, a border poll should occur when NI itself builds up a sizeable portion in favour of some sort of federal or integrated new Irish State.

    On the other hand, it is also possible to go full on with a unification dialogue while also stating that the UK-EU trade deal, if even feasible, will be vetoed unless it accomodates an all-island borderless single market. The UK Government of Brexit, naturally, will be using the border as a bargaining chip with the EU, and will also seek to undermine European unity.

  • chrisjones2

    “By sharing the DUP’s criticism of legacy investigations into army actions, ”

    Hes a British MInister and therefore required to take a view. The idea that he should be impartial is a fallacy.

    Was Blair utterly impartial when he handed out the secret pardons and get out of jail free letters? Indeed, was that not far worse as it was collusion to prevent the prosecution of suspected terrorists. Has there been an investigation?

  • chrisjones2

    will be vetoed

    By whom? So whats the veto – WTO Terms? Thats what the UK is assuming as its worst case anyway and if you do that it will destroy about 50% of the Republic’s agriculture …so good luck with that one

  • chrisjones2

    on 42%of the vote ….self delusion

  • Croiteir

    That’s all that needed to cripple any suggestion being enforced

  • johnny lately

    Chris like his fellow Unionists still dont get it that Stormont is finished forever, there will be no going back to the status quo.

  • Croiteir

    They fail to see that they cannot legislate 40 odd % of a population into aa constitution they do not want – but I hope SF and the SDLP soon correct that problem

  • johnny lately

    Even Elis O Hanlon accepts the reality that Brexit has changed the political landscape she claims that when Sinn Fein walk out of talks claiming the British are waffling we’re in for a long long period of talks and a renegotiation of the GFA. But im pretty sure it will be a Border Poll around the same time as Scotland having another referendum.

  • Croiteir

    I don’t want a border poll until Brexit has been negotiated and the terms start to be appreciated – another two years. If Stormont goes into abeyance until then so much the better, have a council, assembly and border poll all at one time.

  • Brian Walker

    On where do I start? The point is he didn’t need to make it when trouble was brewing in the Assembly. He has no powers to intervene in due process and he is by law obliged to be an impartial chair. You chose to misunderstand OTRs.

  • Brian Walker

    So you think Ireland would veto a UK/ EU 26 deal do you?. How many flying pigs can you see? .

  • grumpy oul man

    Ok so the chair of any talks need not be impartial.
    I wonder would you beso eager if he was impartial in favour of nationalists.

  • grumpy oul man

    Well you have to understand. Its bad enough that themmuns get to have a say at all but we have a goverment that wont do a bit of the old gerrymandering when the elections go wrong and now themmuns are objecting to having a chairman for the talks who is on our side.
    they will be wanting to speak Irish and expecting us to leep our word.
    Thin edge of the wedge thats what it is.

  • LiamÓhÉ

    No, of course not! I mean that it offers a degree of leverage in that the whole deal could be drawn out longer to accomodate us on both sides of the border. Enda Kenny said as much; that it will take longer than two years.

  • David Crookes

    Sharp one, Nevin! Real research beats oul wild talk every time.

  • Jollyraj

    Hahaha

    I certainly wouldn’t complain if he was ‘Impartial in favour of nationalists’

  • grumpy oul man

    fair enough. Shows how little that you understand how talks like the ones we are talking about take place.
    Well done bif that wasn’t trolling then its a whole new level in stupity
    Read this twice.

  • chrisjones2

    I am sorry Brian can you point me to the legal requirment to be an impartial chair? May that not conflicit with his own oath of office?

    As for Blair we must disagree. His own Lord Chancellor advised him that what he was planning ran the risk of undermining the basic rule of law. He went ahead anyway. The Billy Wright Inquiry defined collusion as :

    “For our part we consider that the essence of collusion is an agreement or arrangement between individuals or organisations, including government departments, to achieve an unlawful or improper purpose. The purpose may also be fraudulent or underhand.”

    Blair colluded in secret underhand deals to pardon convicted killers and bombers and end the possibility of investigations into the crimes of many others.

  • Brian Walker

    ‘A viable Northern Ireland” has been voted for five times by Sinn Fein supporters including on 2 March. Read the messages There are different ways of putting it but only now is it in doubt.

  • Brian Walker

    Gosh! Ourselves alone..

  • Croiteir

    And their vote fell until their supporters had enough and forced them to change tack

  • Croiteir

    Gosh – our wee country

  • Nevin

    David, it was a simple lap-top exercise; I just googled Charlie’s activities during the past week!

  • chrisjones2

    Yes…my point is that he is first of all a BRITISH Minister – an example is Gay Marriage – he may push for that from a simple UK Perspective as it risks the UK being in default on international treaties. Same on Abortion Rights – the DUP need to be told to grow up

  • chrisjones2

    …but there is a timetable …we leave in March 19. Period

  • chrisjones2

    Great…then we get rid of all the graft and nonsense …schools with 12 pupils ….hospitals that cant be clsoed becasue they are for oursuns ….money for the UDA fronts, the SF fronts, bogus businesses an charities jobs for mates , two commissioners because we need one linked to the DUP and one to SF, …etc etc etc

  • David Crookes

    Aye, Nevin, but you took the trouble to perform that exercise.
    Good example to all of us.

  • Nevin

    David, I’d appreciate your assessment of some digging I’ve done into RHI and the Belfast Deficit. I suspect a looseness in governance requires a modification to the 1998 Agreement so that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Independent members sit around the same table when key decisions are taken.

  • The Irishman

    There is no alone in the translation Brian. It translates as ‘we ourselves’ or just ‘ourselves’.

  • David Crookes

    Nevin, many thanks for supplying me with this link.

    It is often said in the trade that 80% of all intelligence work draws on publicly available sources of information. What is not so often said is that the quality of the draught depends upon the diligence of the operative.

    The excerpts which you print are appalling. What impression do they make on one not-terribly-bright reader? That the play-school governance of our country is sloppy and slipshod in its thought, in its written expression, and in its execution.

    I can’t imagine anyone in the private sector getting away with such nebulous blitheness.

    For the last thirty years an imbecile notion of ‘accountability’ has involved all kinds of hardworking people in hellish orgies of unpaid out-of-hours form-filling. Where is the accountability here?

    Your own word ‘looseness’ says it all.

  • aquifer

    The DUP did a blatant disregard for the rules of office and SF colluded by excluding other parties from influence in the Executive. People need a lesson about agreed rules, so another election is fine by me. Who would pay a price for polarisation and some disorder now? SFDUP broke it so they own it all.

  • johnny lately

    So all that rigmarole in Westminster about those letters of comfort you are talking about being, not worth the paper they are written on – Was Theresa Villiers deliberately deceiving the Northern Ireland select committee in your expert opinion ?

  • Nevin

    Have a look at this!

  • David Crookes

    I’m gubbed. Well done, Nevin. Diligence again.

  • Nevin

    I stumbled upon one such ‘curiosity’ a few years ago and now I occasionally do a check when I suspect research has been superficial or partial.

  • Cadogan West

    A second election this is hilarious. Why not have a referendum on the question do you wish to continue to have devolved government in NI, yes or know?