Fears of a side deal with the DUP on the peace agenda are exaggerated. It requires cross community consent

So the DUP confidence and supply deal with the minority government will be delayed out of respect for the victims of the horrific North Kensington fire.  Mark Devenport has a credible analysis of the state of play. This leaves out saying anything definite about legacy matters that so spooked the political class over here when someone showed them the DUP’s 2015 manifesto.   The Guardian’s Home editor Alan Travis first raised the hare.

The 12-page route map sets out a list of 45 DUP priorities including an increased budget for Stormont, further cuts in corporation tax toward matching the Republic’s 12.5% rate and real-terms increases in health and education spending.

The list goes beyond the economic, to a demand to “strengthen the union”, including national events to celebrate the centenary of Northern Ireland in 2021, incorporating Northern Ireland prominently in UK branding, legal protection for displaying the union flag and new legislation on Orange Order parading.

But Henry McDonald who actually knows his beat, made the hare sit.

The DUP’s negotiating team will not be including demands regarding marching disputes such as Drumcree in their “shopping list” to support the Tories getting back into power. Instead these will be “parked” into the parallel talks at Stormont aimed at restoring a devolved power-sharing government to the region.

The DUP is seeking to exclude members of the IRA and other paramilitary groups who were killed in the Troubles being designated as “victims” in any deal on the legacy from the conflict. However, the party is not making it a precondition to back a new Tory government at Westminster.

In the election campaign the DUP will have been encouraged by the secretary of state’s artless complaint as long ago as January which they shared, that legal Troubles inquiries  were “ focusing too much on the army.”  Grist to that mill was added by the Commons defence committees’ report in March  favouring a virtual amnesty  for army cases. But this report went on to argue that a general amnesty to follow  might be considered and  so is doubly  too hot to handle

Thinking like this is very GB focused just like the alarm over the SoS’ impartiality after a DUP- Cons  deal.  None of the commentators noticed that before the election was even called, Gerry Adams had ruled out Brokenshire  as a mediator because he was a player  in legacy issues using the catch-all of national security to shield  the army from rigorous inquiry.

But the DUP know all too well what the extreme alarmists don’t, that most of legacy and peace process issues are in deadlock because they require cross community consent to solve. That automatically rules them out as part of a Westminster pact alone.   Hybrid Westminster and Stormont legislation would almost certainly be necessary to indemnify the army and the RUC.  Westminster I believe could proceed on its own account to fund the legacy inquests. This would be a good move to start trying to break the legacy deadlock after a return to Stormont .

Although it will be interesting to learn what if anything the final deal says in this area,  I don’t see how any of it  can be implemented as part of bilateral pact between the DUP and the government . The proper place for it is the Stormont talks because,  apart from anything else, law making powers are devolved. It looks as if Adams is now angling for a return to the Assembly,   avowedly  to examine the agenda of DUP –Cons deal.  Brokenshire should at last give a positive lead without looking for privileges for the army. If he does  that, Stormont is dead.

 

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  • Pang

    The peace process is built on the narrative that the IRA weren’t defeated (whatever your views on their actions). Surely in that case and for practical reasons to get this started before it is too late, legacy issues should be dealt with as events rather than crimes. Legal protection could be given to all those who give their accounts. Once the stories come out we can all make our own minds up on who was right and wrong, who the victims were etc.
    The truth will only come voluntarily.

  • Nevin

    Brian, you’ve ignored the role of that other partisan player, the Irish government.

  • Karl

    The GFA was a fudge to stop London getting bombed. Nothing more. Thats why 20 years after it was signed, we’re still talking about legacy issues. The guarantors want those that were directly involved either as protagonists or victims to die off as quietly as possible.
    It had nothing to do with building a future together and everything to ensure the City would not lose out to Frankfurt as the centre of European finance in the run up to the Euro.

  • mickfealty

    No one who tortured their victims for hours before killing will voluntarily confess no matter how easy we make it for them. Especially if they are now prominent in public life. T
    It’s not the conviction they’re worried about, it’s what it would reveal about their character.

  • Neonlights

    I hope that one thing which will appear is that Northern Ireland will have to come into step with the rest of the UK regarding the declaration of political donations.

  • Redstar

    I take it you understand such individuals are also linked to the party propping up the UK govt never mind an NI assembly

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Yes and after the powerful or public protagonists have died. The sense of justice restoration that we need in NI after the Troubles and the ambiguity of the GFA is a long way off. When justice does become as infallible as it needs to be then the public will have become largely detached from the past through natural life span.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Who don’t have public personas to protect.

  • SDLP supporter

    Nailed it in one, Mick. Possibly the most profound post ever on Slugger.

  • Pang

    Fair point. So we will never know ☹

  • Skibo

    It would be interesting to see what their role entails as most Nationalists think they have abandoned their role completely.
    It was only when Brexit raised it’s head that they were prepared to get their sleeves rolled up.It will be of interest to see who Varadkar appoints as foreign Secretary. Simon Coveney may relish the post if he felt he could make a difference,

  • Sliothar

    So the DUP confidence and supply deal with the minority government will be delayed out of respect for the victims of the horrific North Kensington fire…

    Pardon my cynicism, Brian, but if Arlene’s posturing over these last few days has anything to do with it, part of which is her gazing down her nose at we mortals and announcing imperiously that she and the DUP will act ‘in the interests of the nation’, it’s either a good day to bury bad news in that the putative agreement’s in trouble on their side or she wants another 5 mins in the sun, now that the cameras are temporarily pointed elsewhere. Downing St has already said that the delay did not come from there.

  • Granni Trixie

    I’ve already been told off for expressing such suspicions.

  • Sliothar

    Are you suggesting that I’m living on borrowed ti….

    😬

  • Granni Trixie

    From living here, I have become suspicious of politicians motives – I can’t help it. But I see the POV that says I am being insensitive in this case.

  • Barneyt

    I doubt you’ll get the chop for considering that politicians may use events to their favour. Always possible across the board

  • Barneyt

    Given the current exposure of DUP prejudice across the water is he perhaps keeping his powder dry…, varadkar not brian

  • Barneyt

    Damn it I thought mick posted this. But there are grades of crime I suspect alongside the hierarchy of perpetrators

  • Granni Trixie

    My suspicions were based on mood music post election along the lines of “we can do this deal with May v quickly” which has altered as the week went on. Now the awful fire is said to be the reason they have not finalised.

    That said, had they had managed a quick deal I would be asking why can they not use the same negotiating skills at Stormont where the pace is tortuous.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa
  • mickfealty

    The point of the GFA is that they’ve all let off the hook (albeit officially on licence).

  • Karl

    Are you suggesting that one group during the troubles who committed multiple murders should be above the law because of a political settlement agreed 20 years ago from which they were excluded, because of the British position that the army had nothing to fear from the rule of law?

    In addition, all other crimes were at least investigated by state agencies. British army killings were given a coat of whitewash and even in the most blatant cases, a couple of months ‘in jail’ and rejoining the regiment seemed to be par for the course.

  • Karl

    Only one side kept files. Should one bunch of murderers walk free because there isnt a counterweight of murderers from themmuns to prosecute as well. British justice still has one eye open.

  • Marcus Orr

    Both Mick and Karl are correct in their own ways. The British (John Major & Tony Blair) just wanted an easy way out, had already submitted to Billy Clinton and his Irish-American block back in 1994, and fudged GFA to get something (anything) up and running (it was a dirty peace, but who cared…they certainly didn’t). After settling GFA, with 2 years max. on offer for murder during the troubles, it was a clear sign that murder (during the troubles) was tolerated. Even the very worst of murderers like Michael Stone were released under GFA. Obviously GFA was wrong, in the sense that all the gruesome murders between 1969-1998 unsolved now have 2 years max. to serve in prison if they are resolved one day.
    Legacy issues are completely unresolvable as long as Sinn Féin will not allow direct questioning of Gerry Adams, amongst others (Martin McGuinness indicated that the executive could be collapsed as a result of Antrim PSNI’s questioning of Mr Adams in 2014 regarding the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1972). In that context, sadly the British govt. (ably supported by the DUP) advocate blocking the also very necessary process of examining and prosecuting British soldiers for their role in various situations during the troubles.

  • mickfealty

    Yes, of course. And the other side behaved carefully and according to the unaccountable and trademark codes of the underworld.

    But the pretense of wanting an investigation of the British is just one of far too many fake signals that the rest of us still take far too seriously.

    SF’s dependence on the British to keep biographies secret means they are compromised by the cover up of what they did to get access to power.

  • Karl

    When the DUP appeared to have gotten the upper hand on SF with St Andrews and subsequent side deals, your response was to say that that’s grown up politics. When SF appear to have worked a deal on early release for their prisoners and keep, with the help of the British narrative of ‘we’ve done nothing wrong’, British soldiers on the hook for past crimes, you want the rules to change.
    The Brits aren’t keeping their files secret as a favour to SF. It is purely out of their own self interest because for 40 years they purported to uphold law and order and be that ‘thin green line’, when in actual fact they were an active participant.
    Who would suffer more by the detailing their participation in a dirty, clandestine, murder fest against rules of the Geneva convention?
    The political wing of a paramilitary organisation whose role has been well documented and for the last 25 years have been working towards peace or the British govt as a signatory of said convention?

  • Casper

    I’ve covered quite a few miles today and saw a lot of new flags in the usual places in various towns pre-July but notably I didn’t see one single paramilitary flag. Hopefully we fall into step with the UK on that too.

  • mickfealty

    Ah, so you’ve been around longer than you seem t have been?

  • Karl

    I cited non delivery of st andrews and unionists reneging on deals for the collapse of stormont. Ive been around a lot longer than that.

    But you fail to address my point. Distraction? Diversion?
    Look! Squirrel.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    You are right,It is never going to happen all sides including State forces have to much
    to hide.Legacy issues are just for the optics,I may not be the right person to say it
    but it is time to move on.In another 10 years most of those involved wil have passed
    on or remember nothing. that applies to the thugs on the street to the highest office
    holders in the land.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Be honest, all sides play that game,Its called politics.

  • Madra Uisce

    You obviously weren’t in Newtownabbey larne or Carrick then

  • Madra Uisce

    You obviously weren’t in Newtownabbey larne or Carrick then

  • Granni Trixie

    Is it accurate to claim that all other crimes were investigated by the state? If so, why daily do we hear of past cases which either were not investigated or received only minimal attention. Perhaps this applies most to murders in 1972 the height of the troubles with over 300 (?) deaths. I have a friend who had a brother murdered in a tit for tat killing, She was shown a police file by the HET. It consisted of one page filled in each side. Unfortunately what she was told about what occurred made life worse for the family, not better.

  • Casper

    No, thankfully I wasn’t in those places you mentioned. But that doesn’t change the fact that the places I did visit seem to have made a decision not to fly any paramilitary flags, they fly them every other year so this is a little progress I just thought was worth mentioning.

  • mickfealty

    Just interested the name change, and was intrigued as to why you’ve turned up in another guise. You cited arguments I didn’t make so I didn’t see the point in responding. You come in good faith or not at all.

  • Karl

    I used to be CountEricBistovonGranules, I said my goodbyes on the basis of what I perceived to be the unfair treatment of some posters. I kept reading. Wanted back and given some of the conversations, used my real name instead. My opinions are consistent. My posts are polite. My predictions are irrefutably wrong. Nothing has changed.

  • mickfealty

    Welcome home. No more of that oul messing now. 😉