The Stormont talks: is there a way out?

Talks, eh? Is there a people anywhere in the world that’s done more talking than people here? I’m not talking (that word again) about yarns in the pub or in the back room or on the street: I’m talking about political talks. Who won’t talk to whom, who insists on talks about talks, before they’re prepared to, um, talk, people who talk and then walk away, people who talk and talk because it’s better than war, war.

At present, I’m told, the Stormont talks are in a very deep rut. The DUP are finding it hard to adjust, following the election. Their approved version of the recent past is that Martin McGuinness “pulled down the institutions” (shades of Samson in the Temple) in order to force an unwanted election, because Sinn Féin figured, and figured correctly, that they’d make electoral hay. Now that the election is over, let’s get the Executive up and running, back to business again. The people expect no less.

If what I’m told is true, then the DUP are still trying to process the grief  they have suddenly been plunged into. Not over the death of Martin McGuinness, but over the death (or imminent death) of unionist hegemony at Stormont.

Will the institutions be re-established? An Acht na Gaeilge might seem a major stumbling block, since Arlene has said there’ll be no such thing “under her watch” (wouldn’t you think spin doctors would learn to get a bit more variety in their imagery?). But since we know that Arlene and Co have suggested that there could be an Act that’d cover Irish, Ulster-Scots and the Military (no, don’t ask me how that works), the DUP are clearly open to the idea of Acht na Gaeilge: they’re not opposed to the notion, it’s just the form it should take.

Legacy problems (I am weary of the word “issue”, even though it suggests the suppurating sore that the past is) are essentially the problem of the British government: are they prepared to produce the documentation that would tell the true story of the deaths of so many people? Or are they going to go on hiding their private bits behind the threadbare cod-piece known as National Security?

Sinn Féin say all they are looking for is the implementation of previous agreements. The DUP say that the Shinners are marching in with new demands besides. So here’s a way to solve it, lads and lassies: let the DUP and the two governments establish a timetable for the implementation of commitments made in all earlier agreements. With that out of the way, then look at any new demands/suggestions that either nationalists/republicans or unionists have.

Alternatively, let the youthful and ill-equipped Mr Brokenshire call another election: I’d feel reasonably confident that Sinn Féin would emerge from such an election as the north’s biggest party.

As for direct rule: both governments have agreed, some years ago, that if the parties here were unable to establish an Executive, then it would be the responsibility of both governments to run our little North-East Nest. Which in most people’s language comes out as two truly terrifying words for unionist politicians: Joint Rule.

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17 Responses to The Stormont talks: is there a way out?

  1. Sherdy April 11, 2017 at 2:12 pm #

    ‘Is there a way out?’
    Yes, by the front or the back door!
    But since the election I have noticed that Arlene doesn’t seem to be allowed in front of a microphone to do any solo interviews.
    Nigel Dodds seems to be there beside her every day doing the talking on her behalf, whether she welcomes it or not.
    Maybe they don’t want any more crocodiles running/swimming around Stormont!

  2. giordanobruno April 11, 2017 at 2:58 pm #

    Have you heard anyone mention whether Arlene standing aside is still a red line for SF or not?
    I asked the other day under Declan Kearney’s piece, but to my utter astonishment no-one replied.

    • Michael April 11, 2017 at 3:04 pm #

      I’ve heard M’ON say it.

      • giordanobruno April 11, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

        Was that recently?
        I can’t say I’ve heard any mention of that since the election.

    • fiosrach April 11, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

      Procrastinate until judicial enquiry is over then all should be ok.

    • Sherdy April 11, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

      While ‘negotiations’ continue SF would certainly not drip feed any such concessions, and until the DUP grandees would decide that Arlene should move sideways, they will be saying nothing.
      So, the short answer is, nobody’s saying nuthin’!

  3. paddykool April 11, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    Yes , why can’t they sort out the fundamental deals that either the British or maybe even the DUP made way back when and serve up a time-table for their implementation .That might get the creaky old bus started again ,at least .We’v e plenty of time before we snap it into at least first- gear and get the thing gently rolling sometime maybe in a year or two …and By Jimininy, if there’s one thing we know how to do in Ireland , it’s knowing how to waste and count time.Twenty years of prevarication? Pah!!! We did that standing on our heads.What age is Mr Brokenshire? Not old enough to remember what we’ve already forgotten three times over . He’d have been a babe- in -arms when the last session flared up in the late 1960s so he’d have plenty of catching-up to do before he makes up his mind.We’ll wait for him to catch up.

    • Joe Nolan April 11, 2017 at 6:20 pm #

      Believe it or not, James Brokenshire, the right honourable MP for Hornchurch, is 49 years old – much older than either Arlene Foster or Michelle O’Neill,

      • paddykool April 11, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

        Yes ,but he was born in January 1968, so it’s not as if he has first-hand experience of the intricacies of the Norneverland Troubles to fall back on.

  4. paddykool April 11, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

    When Mr Brokenshire realises that what is required is actually incredibly very simple, he might scratch his head and turn to the DUP and ask ….well what exactly is the problem with a language act that respects the native lingo? Isn’t this Ireland? What exactly have you got against a bill of Rights for one and all ?

    • Sherdy April 11, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

      It would be a simple matter if Brokenshire was anything like an honest broker (though I suppose Jude wouldn’t like me referring to him as a dishonest broker), but he’s Tory through and through, and if Theresa May falls on shaky ground during the Brexit negotiations, she may want to keep on the sweet side of the DUP, if she can find it!

      • Jams O'Donnell April 11, 2017 at 6:23 pm #

        “the sweet side of the DUP” – aye, you surely like a joke.

  5. paddykool April 11, 2017 at 4:07 pm #

    As for another election .? I don’t know if it is cut and dried whether or not the parties might poll well again. There might be election -fatigue in play and then there are the holidays coming up. It’s a bit like selling houses, it’s best done in the Springtime when birdies like to build their nests. A Summer election might well be a damp sqib….Who knows ?Then again , you might be right ,Jude, Sinn Fein might grow even bigger on the strength of that last punt and younger supporters might jump into the boat to join the game. The DUP are already attempting to bond with the UUP even though they are really sub-species of the same original beastie.(Or is that vice-versa?).They’ll not get too many votes from nationalists in any case but it will be interesting to see what their election tactics might be this time around , given that the last “crocodile” jibe and their “Gerry” fixation did them no favours last time.Will they choose to go all cuddly now and play the nice-guys instead ? Will anyone heed them at all

  6. michael c April 11, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

    “not on my watch” seems to be the by word for a certain type of politician.The highly charismatic Margaret Ritchie used to shriek the same line when trying to impress.!

  7. Eolach April 12, 2017 at 1:43 pm #

    The DUP, UUP , SDLP etc are career politicians….financial gain is their driving force !

    Unionism made commitments and agreements which they ( as usual ) refused to honour or implement ..if they want another payday they know what’s necessary….i

    An Acht na Gaeilge threatens nobody … may even enhance their lives if they attempted to learn a cúpla focal .

    A proper Bill of Rights also threatens nobody and who knows , it may offer them protection in the future it doesn’t seem too complicated to get the show on the road again , nothing is being conceded ….only equality.

    • Argenta April 12, 2017 at 3:45 pm #

      Are you implying that Sinn Fein M L As are not career politicians?How come they are the richest party in Ireland!!

  8. Eolach April 12, 2017 at 5:27 pm #

    Argenta , I didn’t know you were privy to the accounts of Sinn Féin…. I would have thought one would have to in the inner sanctum to acquire that knowledge …..or are you reliant on press speculation and propaganda ?…and no I’m not implying….I know…..If one was a career politician ,why would one choose a party that is constantly censured , vilified and denigrated to launch your career….that wouldn’t compute as the wisest move !