If Gerry *now* thinks Arlene is ‘innocent’ what’s blocking the formation of an Executive?

So one week till the deadline closes on the formation of the next Executive, or rather the appointment of a new First Minister and deputy First Minister. A new Executive (and that piece of comedic fiction, the Programme For Government) is another piece of work on top of that.

Gerry Adams said at the weekend there was no reason to doubt Arlene Foster’s innocence in relation to RHI: which may  or may not be a concession ahead of a final decision on whether or not to go ahead with his party’s threat to embargo Ms Foster as FM before next Monday.

The scale of the DUP’s loss of seats means that potentially the majority in the Assembly can now outvote the DUP capacity to block sensitive matters in the Assembly (there are some in the party who would gladly see matters like marriage equality taken out of their hands).

Looks like the SDLP is shaping up to make a proper response to the danger Brexit poses to Northern Ireland and its economy a red line. The UUP now back in the care of Tom Elliott is looking for more openness from government with victims over legacy issues.

Interesting comments from Stephen Farry that in spite of the obvious tensions [and one notable absentee who chose the $1000 plate dinner circuit instead – Ed] there seems to be momentum in the talks.

I’ll believe it when I see it. But neither would I bet against it. In bringing the DUP below 30, the petition of concern remains a possibility, but it cannot be used purely as an instrument of party control or power. The status quo has not quite gone, but nor is it what it was before the election.


  • Annie Breensson

    You’re over egging Gerry’s position, Mick. Acording to the BelTel link in your piece, GA said “there is no reason to doubt that AF may be innocent. The difference in emphasis is marked.

  • chrisjones2

    But he told voters she was guilty. He can’t have misled them

  • Jag

    Daithi McKay, the now “independent” commentator and an occasional contributor in this parish, says a deal this week is unlikely and predicts a new election with the DUP trying to capitalise on the UUP’s turmoil and the demographic fears triggered by the results a fortnight ago.

    The impression I get is, the DUP is less enthusiastic for a deal now than SF. It was interesting to see the SF statement last week after the South’s public accounts committee published its NAMA report, SF’s Conor Murphy called for a Commission of Investigation in the South, but there wasn’t a peep about continuing the NAMA inquiry at the Stormont finance committee.

    SF appears to be bending more than the DUP at this stage. Maybe that’s what’s behind Gezza’s softening criticism of Arlene.

  • chrisjones2

    Funny what happened to innocent until proven guilty?

  • Nevin

    Gerry is so misunderstood; he’s subject to secondary security screening!


  • burnboilerburn

    You apply that rule to Gerry himself then

  • Deeman

    Really? I can’t recall that? Can you give an example? I thought the message was that there was a “whiff of corruption”?

  • Deeman

    Another election would also benefit SF. Dissidents and their cheerleaders may see that politics can work. Green sdlp may lend their votes to SF.
    UUP may split to both the DUP and some to alliance which would be seen as weakening the unionist block.

  • Jag

    Can’t see SF doing much better than 28% in a second election,but you never know, maybe the fact SF’s base was energised and it was just 0.1% behind DUP might get more SF voters out, but I think it’s more likely there’ll be DUP/UUP pacts and a bigger pro-union turnout. Who knows though.

  • Mike the First

    Máirtín Ó Muilleoir repeatedly talked baldly about “corruption”, and indeed there’s a big SF poster still up proclaiming the very same at at Cromac Avenue / Victoria Street.

  • johnny lately

    “The UUP now back in the care of Tom Elliott is looking for more openness from government with victims over legacy issues.”

    Is this a joke Mick, is this the same Tom Elliott that demands the Irish government give victims access to files they hold in relation to Kingsmills yet ignores the fact that the British government and the MOD wish to hold back files they hold in relation to Kingsmills in the interests of national security.

    Why would the MOD wish to hold back files it has in relation to this atrocity, would that be because all the dots are lining up to a connection between Kingsmills and the Miami Showband attack and a certain upper class English accent being heard giving the orders in both attacks. That person with the upper class English accent has for many years been missing and believed to have been abducted and murdered by the IRA.


    Sinn Fein are in no hurry to go back into Stormont and they nor the SDLP will enter any talks with an unrepentant deceiver and undercover DUP supporter like Brokenshire chairing those talks. Maybe its time for a new SOS, one that has the interests of all victims as the basis of moving forward and dealing with the past rather than engaging in creating preconditions that cover up the immoral and illegal actions of a government who’s ministers can be said to be economical with the truth or outright liars when it comes to Northern Ireland and investigations into the past actions of its state agents.

    Then again peddling the idea that the petition of concern is whats holding up moving forward is no different than what Brokenshire and the British government are claiming in regard to the PSNI investigations into legacy cases – An illusion intended to convince an audience that has made its convictions clear at the recent elections – No return to the status quo did not mean no return to the abuse of petitions of concern. We all know what no return to the status quo means perhaps its time to focus on that rather than dance around it.

  • Anon Anon

    I believe Reagan had the formulation of “Trust but verify”. It’d be terribly embarrassing if something did come out about Arlene, and SF had jumped.

    Almost as embarrassing as this talking point being pushed by two separate commentators in the last week.

  • Katyusha

    Because whatever Gerry thinks is irrelevant. We operate in a supposed democracy with due procedure, not somewhere where a kind of Godfather figure from outside the system can determine what happens and doesn’t happen at his whim.

    Arlene cannot retain any credibility as First Minister until she is cleared by the inquiry.
    Arlene cannot reasonably expect to remain in post as First Minister while an investigation into her previous conduct is ongoing, in case she influences the investigation through her position.

    “But Gerry said she might be innocent” is not tantamount to her being cleared by an investigation. That’s quite an ironic stance to take when people are very quick to condemn anti-democratic processes within SF, the appointment of Michelle O’Neill to the northern leadership being a recent example.

    Perhaps SF will back down in the interests of realpolitik and because they don’t really give a stuff if Arlene has no credibility or about the neutrality of the investigation. But her remaining in post as FM will damage the credibility of Executive itself (if Stormont has any credibility left at all, that is).

  • ted hagan

    ‘Appears to be bending’, ‘impression I get’.
    Where do you get these perceptions, I wonder?
    We can all play guessing games with absolutely no evidence to support them.

  • ted hagan

    That doesn’t mean he or SF were referring directly to Arlene Foster. In fact, legally, they would have been crazy to have done such a thing

  • Jag

    As above, an example for where I get these perceptions would be this statement from SF last week, remembering “RHI, Red Sky, NAMA and SIF” were the four horses of SF’s apocalypse galloping down the DUP.


    As far as SF in the North is now concerned, a NAMA investigation is something for the South.

  • ted hagan

    No, he said he had ‘no reason to doubt Foster’s innocence’.
    There is no ‘may be’ at all in his quotes.

  • Brian Walker

    With a broken-backed chair who’s driving the talks? I’ve kept a little tally of the very thin reporting which reflects little more than desultory conversations. Maybe I’ve missed something? The Shinners seem to be staying schtum. What do they mean by that? .

    The latest in the Newsletter is mood music from the slightly suspect Sammy Wilson which contrasts sharply from the earlier optimistic comments from fellow DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson who appears to be the party spokesman. Is Sammy even at the talks?

    20 March
    “Talks aimed at saving Northern Ireland’s power-sharing Executive are destined for failure unless Sinn Fein is prepared to “roll back” on some of their demands.
    That was the claim made by senior DUP MP Sammy Wilson, who said there was “virtually no chance” of a deal being struck ahead of the looming deadline next Monday”.

    The Irish News reports Jeffrey Donaldson dismissing Enda Kenny’s claim that the British and Irish governments have agreed that there will be no return to direct rule from London.

    “The Lagan Valley MP said he was not aware that the two governments had made any such agreement and claimed Mr Kenny was “pushing the boat out a little”.

    Enda’s claim is hardly earth-shattering as it chimes with the UK government’s mantra – except in one respect – that the two premiers “ agreed” the position. Downing St felt it necessary to issue a buttock- clenched diplomatic rebuke after the St Patrick’s Day euphoria of Enda’s last hurrah in Washington, showing how poorly the current regime understands the mood. How helpful was that, to make a stiff little assertion of sovereignty to their Irish partner? It exposes a nervous assertiveness born of entirely predictable insecurity. Unfortunately the UK government seem stuck in the groove without any sign of traction for getting out. This does no augur well for good decision-making by the end of the week. Perhaps the parties will produce the magic bullet by their own wee selves?,

    19 March
    “Downing Street has insisted that political stability in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the UK Government, as Stormont parties prepare to enter a third and final week of talks to restore the power-sharing institutions.”.
    As Mick implies, it’s hard to see Gerry Adams’ remarks on the supposed crunch point as other than cynical as I noted last Thursday, when they were reported in the Irish Times.
    As Mick I think hints, it’s hard to interpret Gerry Adams’ casual statement on Arlene Foster’s innocence as other than cynical, as I did when the Irish Times reported it last Thursday.

    18 March
    “Gerry Adams has said he has “no reason to doubt” that Arlene Foster may be innocent in relation to accusations over the “cash for ash” Renewable Heat Incentive scandal.
    His remarks were being interpreted as an indication Sinn Fein might, after all, be prepared to allow the Executive to be re-established if a deal can be reached at Stormont in the next nine days.”

    The only sign of movement on content came from Suzanne Breen, inspired by the Alliance party

    17 March
    “Stormont sources foresaw a deal involving an Irish Language Act with capped costs, and the petition of concern being used in future only to prevent discrimination against one community, and not as a veto on issues like same-sex marriage.
    They believe that agreement on the past would involve British Government funding for legacy inquests. The DUP would secure a possible pension for victims and there would be an introduction of the Military Covenant to Northern Ireland, allowing Armed Forces veterans to secure priority medical treatment.
    The negotiations, which are effectively suspended for St Patrick’s weekend, will resume on Monday”.

    The rest is dross
    16 March
    Sinn Fein has said it is not for backing down over its refusal to endorse Arlene Foster for First Minister before the RHI inquiry report.

    15 March
    Plans for the first round table negotiation session at the Stormont talks to restore devolution have fallen apart.
    It is understood that both Sinn Fein and the SDLP objected to the round table session being chaired by Secretary of State James Brokenshire, who returned to the talks yesterday after being in London on Monday.

    14 March
    Back in Belfast, Mrs O’Neill said the need for an “Irish unity referendum” was urgent, and her party wanted to see it take place “as soon as possible”.
    But, speaking in the Great Hall in Parliament Buildings, she indicated a border poll was not a prerequisite for Sinn Fein going back into an Executive.
    Talks insiders last night suggested a choreography could be arranged to side-step the issue with Sinn Fein technically not supporting Mrs Foster’s nomination as First Minister in the chamber – but still nominating Michelle O’Neill as Deputy First Minister.
    Another political source suggested that the DUP leader may be open to standing aside as First Minister for a “token period” of a few months but not for a year – which is how long the RHI public inquiry will likely take to conclude.

  • Jag

    “Downing Street has insisted that political stability in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the UK Government”

    Love that line.

    Doesn’t “responsibility” equal “accountability”?

    So, if for example, the PSNI now faces a £20m cut because of “political instability”*, then that’s the responsibility of Whitehall. If “political instability” leads to the absence of full budgets in 19 days time and 25% cuts from education, health and policing budgets, then, that’s the responsibility of Whitehall. Enda Kenny will be breathing a sigh of relief!


  • Jag

    Or to Mairtin

    “Arlene Foster says Máirtín Ó Muilleoir should step aside
    DUP also asks PSNI to examine claims Daithí McKay involved in conspiracy to damage Peter Robinson”


  • Gavin Smithson

    Gerry Adams opinion of Fosters guilt or innocence is neither here nor there.

    I suppose the poor man is used to being judge, jury and executioner (figure of speech of course 😉 but he needs to realize that his opinion matters not a jot. It’s the due legal process of inquiry is what matters

  • hugh mccloy

    Of course he is saying this now, the sell out continues. RHI was always going to burn out that is why there is a different narrative at the talks now. The holding up of forming an executive is not about RHI is it ?

  • Dan

    Sinn Fein are on a hook over their red line.
    DUP would be crazy to help them off it

  • johnny lately

    What about the DUP’s own red line Dan of “There never being an Irish language Act while they are in Government” Do you think Sinn Fein or the SDLP would be crazy to help them off theirs or should they lie down and accept being second second class citizens in the unionist version of the loyalist utopia they believe is the protestant homeland.

  • Anon Anon

    It’s irrelevant. It’s an objection that is disarmed in a single response. “I didn’t want to preempt an inquiry, we should all follow appropriate process and that’s what SF told it’s electorate. Martin and Peter followed that, and so should Arlene”.

    Gotcha gone. The argument this is a thing actually makes my teeth hurt.

  • ted hagan

    An inaccurate quote is hardly ‘irrelevant’. Words matter.

  • the keep

    Did he step aside?

  • burnboilerburn

    What’s blocking the formation of the executive? Is that serious question or have you been away on holidays the last three months? There are a rake of outstanding issues to be agreed including the Irish Language, Bill of Rights, legacy Issues and much much more. The parties need to get agreement on these issues before an assembly can be formed. Normally, a gentleman’s agreement would do the trick and the detail could be worked out as government progresses. Unfortunately Unionism has shown itself to be bereft of integrity and respect when it comes to non ‘red white and blue’ patriots. So Stormont will have to wait until such time as Unionism accepts it has a duty to al NI citizens.

  • Jag

    Did he f**k!

    And better, when the matter of investigating Mairtin and any link to the coaching (denied by Mairtin it should be said) came before the Assembly standards committee last November, the DUP joined forces with SF in ensuring there was no investigation.


  • Redstar

    Well it’s obviously all just speculation at present. I certainly know many who give SF the benefit of the doubt on promise of a much tougher line who would not be inclined to show that faith again if they bottle it.

    Meanwhile with voting patterns, demographic changes and population forecasts we all look forward to unionists new “hug a taig” outlook to try and push back the inevitable

    Cringeworthy and doomed to failure of course but will be great entertainment to watch!!

  • Deeman

    Lots of anti SF republicans did not vote in Newry, west Belfast, Derry, lurgan etc, very difficult to quantify this group of people.
    A polarised them versus us election will always flush non voters out which should feed the DUP and SF machines.

  • Dan

    If demanding a fkng useless expensive piece of legislation is the sum total of what Irish nationalism is about, then no, the DUP should refuse it. Enough money is wasted here without that guff.

    No one is discriminated over Irish. If people want to learn it, there is ample opportunity to do so in many a setting. We can live without it on road signs.

  • AntrimGael

    I get the impression Sinn Fein are prepared to row back on some of their demands and are wavering a bit on the Arlene must go line. However I don’t think there will be a deal because the DUP want a second election. They are itching for another chance to put a bit of daylight between themselves and Sinn Fein and strengthen their hand electorally. They will continue to play the Sinn Fein bogeyman/sectarian scare card and mop up transfers from the UUP to secure another 3 – 5 seats. The DUP are still obsessed with the numbers game and dominating ‘themmuns’. If Sinn Fein are seen to be giving way the Nationalist electorate will let them know in a second election.

  • Redstar

    Agree very much with that. Plus let’s not kid ourselves- another election will indeed most probably give an extra 6/7 seats for the DUP-but what good is it really?

    If SF stand their ground and say a b and c already agreed must be implemented, it’s quite academic really whether Dup are ahead by 2 seats or 9 seats.

    I certainly agree SF will not get the same vote again if they back down

  • johnny lately

    Thats your opinion Dan but fortunately for those Irish citizens from Northern Ireland who also pay taxes who dont share your viewpoint extending legislation to Northern Ireland that Scotland and Wales already enjoys is simply bringing northern Ireland into line with what other parts of the UK enjoy, is that not what good unionist like yourself would want. Although Im sure those other members of the union dont get grants to buy wood in order for it to be burned on bonfires like loyalists do in Northern Ireland nor would they be allowed to cause massive damage to public and private property on an annual basis with the costs to repair being paid by the taxpayer.

    Perhaps the DUP should refuse to fund such a fkg useless and expensive culture that creates not only division but destroys our environment and results in massive damage to public and private property every single year.

  • Anon Anon

    Words sometimes matter. In this case, they don’t really. There is little of substance that can’t be spun as needed.

    That’s the thing with Gerry, he’s very good at saying a lot and bugger all at the same time.

  • johnny lately

    No doubt with Tom Elliott at the helm there will be a Unionist pact so the best option for nationalists would be to form one of their own by agreeing “What you have you hold policy” and boycott any threatened election by Brokenshire and May. We have already had an election, the British government and unionists know whats needed to move forward another election wont change that.

  • Redstar

    Can see where you’re coming from but do not believe in a million years Sdlp in particular would boycott elections

  • johnny lately

    If they thought and lets not deny it could be likely, they would be wiped out by Sinn Fein in any new attempt by unionism and the British government to turn back the clock in order to change an election result they dont like, they just might be persuaded by self survival.

  • hollandia

    Hmmm. I think the opposite. I think SF are dangling another get out of jail card in front of Arlene, á la Martin McGuinness’ asking her to step aside without predjudice. It’s evident to a blind man on a galloping horse that Arlene is guilty of incompetence on a grand scale, given her ownership of the scheme at its inception. And I suspect that SF know that there is more to come regarding RHI, and are offering the DUP an opportunity to get off the hook cleanly. As is often the case with NI politics, it’s like jazz – it’s not the notes they are playing, it’s the ones they aren’t…

  • AntrimGael

    SDLP will never enter an electoral pact with Sinn Fein. I do believe Brokenshire, at the DUP behest, will call a second election to strengthen Unionism’s hand. This Tory administration are out and out Unionists and the two Nationalist parties must stand up to them.

  • Redstar

    But Johnny if SF boycotted ( and I don’t think they would) SDLP wou,d have a completely clear run

  • Dan

    Don’t assume i support money being given to bonfire groups etc. Not a penny in my opinion.
    You see, opposition to wasting money applies across the board with me. I’m not interested in the petty gripes of whether unionists/nationalists get their fair share of scarce finances to waste on their little sectarianism hobby horses. I want someone with courage to cut it all.

  • Gavin Smithson

    Prhaps Arlene will change her name by deed poll thus allowing her to take office and Sf can then tell the world that a person named Arlene Foster is not the FM therefore satisfying their demands

    We’ve al seen fudge in NI over the years

  • Redstar

    I think the Shinners missed a trick by not insisting on the top post being a joint position as part of reforming the sham on the hill

    Not only is that in the full interests of equality but you would then see the colour of unionists money in that many of us firmly believe that unless they are clear top dogs they would not participate

    Certainly at council level their track record of sharing top posts with ALL parties is woeful

  • I thought the Irish language belonged to all and was not to one side of the sectarian divide. That’s the line i’ve been told a million times.

  • chrisjones2

    Tom Elliott at the helm …..that’s a cracker

  • chrisjones2

    “This Tory administration are out and out Unionists” – proper order innit, this is the UK after all

  • chrisjones2

    Sadly we have to – despite what all his old comrades in the movement have said

  • chrisjones2

    …so we should discriminate aginst the Poles and the French then?

  • chrisjones2

    …… yes …sadly there was no fuel in the end

  • Redstar

    Now now Chris. You need to change your attitude if you want the soon to be majority look kindly upon you unionists!!

    Less Snarlene, more reasonableness.

  • Redstar

    According to Snarlene it’s not worth a stuff.

  • Jollyraj

    “Any new attempt by unionism and the British government to turn back the clock in order to change an election result they dont like”

    Hmm… we’re seeing a lot of this rewriting of what’s actually going on this morning from a number of you Republican fellers who seem to all have exactly the same opinion.

    SF, by threatening to refuse to form a government, is the party that’s likely to force a second election. – not the DUP, and not Brokenshire.

    Last week it was ‘bring it on’ re: the second election. Most of you were sure SF would make further gains. This morning it’s a DUP ploy.

    Dear, dear, dear….

  • Jollyraj

    At the DUP behest?

    Why? The DUP aren’t refusing to form a government.

  • Redstar

    I think you’re taking your eye of the ball completely.

    Let’s say we have another election-I fully understand the unionist psysche that they need to be top dogs to participate in anything-so let’s have a rerun

    I have no doubt- because these things ebb and flow-that DUP would do a lot better, let’s say they are top dogs by 8 seats.

    What’s does it change? They STILL need to get their head around the fact that things have to be on an equal basis. They cannot have their Cash for Sash disgraceful grants, they cannot just deny minorities ( LGBTetc) their rights etc etc

    They need to get it through their throw back supremacist skulls-it’s equality regardless of how many seats they have in that punch n Judy show on the hill-or nothing.

    Many of us Nats/Rep couldn’t care less if they or SF have the most seats-what we do care and will no longer put up with is that the society is run for EVERYONE. If that means changing laws, getting rid of outdated practices etc, so be it.

    Unionists need to get their head around the fact that having more seats up at Stormont means nothing

  • The Irishman

    And he says or implies that where?

  • The Irishman

    I’m pretty sure that Gerry, as omnipotent as he is, can’t declare someone innocent in the eyes of the law, so the enquiry still has to go ahead.

  • The Irishman

    More baseless nonsense…

  • chrisjones2

    I will of course foillow the exaple of Republicans over the last 50 years and doff my cap at all suitable points

  • the keep

    You think they would be consistent for at least one day.

  • chrisjones2

    why should irish have a preferential position where we have more polish and as many french speakers

  • chrisjones2

    And to Michelle whose Department so well promoted the RHI scheme – look at the take up by all thsoe farmers and forestry companies

  • chrisjones2

    Crazy is as crazy does

  • chrisjones2

    What baseless nonsese are you on about now

  • The Irishman

    Obviously the post it was attached to.

  • The Irishman

    Because even if you are in denial, we still live in a part of Ireland, not Poland, and not France. It will be the last time I engage you on this subject as we’ve been over this in 2 or 3 other posts already.

  • Reader

    johnny – are you and your upvoters nearly ready now to condemn Kingsmill in the strongest possible terms and demand that the perpetrators be hunted down and do time? Or do you still want to hedge your bets in case the SA-RAF was just a cover name for the South Armagh IRA?
    And what about all of the republicans who have appeared here on Slugger in the past, keen to put the Kingsmill massacre in “context” as a tit-for-tat killing; and one (present here) who struggled to even call it murder?
    If they have any sense they will be hoping your smoke screen blows away quickly, as it has no long term future.

  • AntrimGael

    As the song goes “……but not for long……there’s a uniform that’s hanging in what’s known as father’s room….”.

  • AntrimGael

    As the poor old frog said to the scorpion as he stung him while carrying him across the river.. “Why did you sting me?……..” “Because I’m a scorpion”…. he replied “and it’s what I do”.

  • johnny lately

    I would not condone the murder of any human being Reader but rather than accept another McGurks bar initial response as to who actually carried out the attack I will continue to wonder just why the MOD and British government wish to withold information they hold on the attack from their own courts in the interests of national security. Rather than attempt to deflect and create your own smokescreen maybe you could answer that question rather than demand I condemn murders I had no part of.

    Maybe that person with an English accent was actively encouraging tit for tat murders and was involved in attempting to create the conditions where civil war would break out, its not like the British haven’t done so before and indeed are still doing it today in the Middle East remember Basra and the two British soldiers dressed as Iraqi’s who were caught with a massive car bomb.


    “Mr Frazer said. “They said someone very close to the workmates had to have been involved in setting them up.

    “We suggested that the man with the English accent could have been (English soldier] Robert Nairac and they said they would take it on board. They did not rule it out.

    “They said they had suspicions about another individual, but we have never heard of an IRA man in this area who spoke with such an accent.”

    A UVF gang which slaughtered the Miami Showband in July 1975 near Banbridge was also led by an English soldier, a survivor has told the News Letter, but no clear connections have ever been made.

    Mr Frazer said they did not wish to find Capt Nairac implicated in Kingsmills but that there were also many questions as to why the security forces took so long to arrive.

    “The HET investigators were quite open that there were many unanswered questions,” he said. Police took 25 minutes to arrive and Bessbrook army base was very close by, with a quick reaction unit.”

  • mjh

    Neither SF nor the DUP are likely to want another election – so it is hard to see that either would deliberately sabotage the negotiations in order to bring one about.

    First the DUP:
    1. All the UUP seats have healthy first preference vote shares. There are none realistically vulnerable to the DUP. This is even more true of Alliance.

    2. The unionist parties would need either the nationalist turnout to fall or their own to increase substantially in order to take seats from nationalist parties. But as the last election proved, efforts to whip up your own supporters also bring out your opponents.

    3. In the improbable event that the DUP succeeded in pushing up unionist turnout sufficiently to capture numbers of nationalist seats it would be the UUP which would benefit. In Mid Ulster, Newry & Armagh, South Down and West Tyrone the UUP is the closest placed unionist. Only in North Belfast is the DUP the principle challenger.
    4. A DUP/UUP pact could not in itself deliver any of these seats. Nor could improved transferring between those parties.

    5. Theoretically a pact could improve the chances of UUP gains in Lagan Valley from the SDLP, and from the Greens in South Belfast. But in practise the high risk of a pact dislodging a section of the UUP vote is especially strong in those constituencies.

    The best prospect for the DUP is that the UUP resumes the gradual disintegration which had been halted during the last five years.

    SF face the same question. Where would further gains come from?

    While it is possible that SF could cost the SDLP a seat by running a third candidate in South Down, they would not win the seat. Elsewhere there are no SDLP seats that are realistically vulnerable to SF. The closest is East Londonderry – but even that is a long stretch.

    Realistically SF would need a collapse in unionist turnout to secure further gains from unionist parties. And that is something they have no control over.

    The last election put them in a very good position. There could be more risk of slipping back than of advancing.

  • chrisjones2

    “it could be likely, they would be wiped out by Sinn Fein in any new attempt by unionism”

    Well we shall see.

  • chrisjones2

    Well if the discusssion collkapse into another election we shall see what happens and shall know that it was SF that precipitated the collapse

  • chrisjones2

    I agree…but then lets just have direct rule

  • chrisjones2

    If they werent physically prevented from electionneering for example …by the rightous anger of the nationalist people that is and not by any campaign of organised intimidation ….oh no

    But that wont happen for one simple reason …Stormont is worth say 28 MLAs at £140,000 pa to SF – almost £4m a year. They have been funded by the Brits for years and cannot afford not to be

  • chrisjones2

    and you still dont listen

  • the keep

    If I was Mairtin I would be very careful there are many property developers in Belfast who are interested in bringing him to book.

  • Katyusha

    It is, which makes the DUP’s refusal to legislate for it, which was part of the St Andrew’s Agreement, all the more unacceptable.

  • Katyusha

    Because we live in Ireland, Chris, not France or Poland.

    Having said that, if the French want to adopt the north, I’m game.

  • Katyusha

    They must be annoyed that he joined SF and not Fianna Fáil, and therefore isn’t in their pocket and can’t be swayed by thick brown envelopes.

  • Keith

    I don’t disagree, but it’s a bit fanciful to think that the DUP are the only party obsessed with numbers. One could argue that SF triggered the election, seeing an opportunity to reset the numbers when the DUP were weak.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    How about an investigation that will establish beyond all reasonable doubt her guilt or innocence?

  • Reader

    johnny lately: Basra and the two British soldiers dressed as Iraqi’s who were caught with a massive car bomb.
    “massive car bomb”? Fake news.

  • Reader

    johnny. Here are two more quotes from the article you linked:
    “the IRA gang involved has been ballistically linked to at least 35 other murders…”
    “Two republicans captured using some of the same weapons some years later…”
    So once you decide that Kingsmill was a British false flag operation, you have pretty much identified the South Armagh IRA as a British flase flag outfit! Still, once you decide Frazer is a convincing analyst I suppose it becomes possible to swallow just about any comforting story.
    By the way, here on Slugger, I have seen republicans argue that Kingsmill was a successful tit-for-tat massacre that saved lives in the long run (or Catholic lives at least). Are you really willing to give the Brits credit for that?

  • johnny lately

    Once again you’ve conveniently danced around the issue of just why does the MOD and the British government want to withold files relating to Kingsmills in the interests of national security, Im sure Freddie Scappaticci used weapons linked to the IRA too but that doesn’t absolve British intelligence or RUC special branch from culpability in allowing him to murder up to 60 people no more than it absolves them from culpability in the murders of all those innocent victims murdered with weapons they along with their state agent Brian Nelson imported into this country with the help of the DUP formed Ulster resistance. By the way I never said Kingmills was a false flag you added in that yourself I simply stated that a person with an upper class English accent was involved in both the Miami showband murders and Kingmills and dismissing Willie Frazers assumptions on the basis that he is a crackpot is laughable. That same person who usually froths at the mouth at suggestions of security force involvement in anything and who’s victims group caters for only one section of the community – Murdered security force members is even pointing the finger at that same British soldier as the man who set up his father who was an RUC officer.

    What is it with unionists and blaming others of fake news, didn’t they same the same about collusion for years and now they are left looking like apologists for state murder, which they are but anyhoo’s –


  • johnny lately

    Why dont you do something different for a change Chris and actually back up what you claim with facts, not your own opinions or assumptions but actual facts like links to independent sources that would back up what you claim. Prove there is more Polish and as many French speakers in Northern Ireland than or as Irish speakers. Making a fool out of yourself is a trait you cant seem to shake off on these threads.

  • AntrimGael

    I don’t think that was their main motivation. Sinn Fein were coming under a lot of pressure from their grassroots and the electoral numbers game didn’t really come into it. They had to be seen to be doing something against DUP intransigence.

  • AntrimGael

    I think the DUP and British government want an election for this very reason. Sam McBride of the Newsletter said that the DUP want to take advantage of a weak, leaderless UUP and only a second election will make this happen. The Tories will do the DUP’s bidding, we are heading for another election.

  • Gopher

    I think that election proved beyond doubt that nobody knows what the electorate are going to do with regards turnout and its effects on results. SF did not know otherwise they would not have inserted the absurd red line Arlene must go to hedge their bets in case of a bad election. If there is another election there will be three obvious changes. 1/No Red Lines 2/ Martys Legacy and 3/ The vote will no longer be about RHI but actually about the border.

    The less obvious changes reside solely within unionism and are whether or not they have the sense and courage to implement them.

  • Jag

    With Gerry Adams’s speech today in Newry, it seems SF has blinked first and is dropping its demand for Arlene to stay away from First Minister office whilst the RHI inquiry is ongoing; this follows the statement of Michelle O’Neill first thing on Monday which also didn’t address Arlene/First Minister. This follows last week’s positioning by DUP, expounded by Jeffrey Donaldson, that DUP would see direct rule rather than bend on Arlene/First Minister.

    Will SF get away with abandoning what many thought was the central demand behind this election, after all, it’s what was to the fore of Martin’s resignation in January.