Monday, January 29, 2007


"If you jump, I'll jump"

Well the votes have been counted and the right result has emerged. No, I'm not talking about Shilpa Shetty winning Big Brother, but rather Sinn Féin voting to support the PSNI.

Much has been spoken of and written on this already. Today we've heard NI's Secretary of State Peter Hain claim he is "convinced that Ian Paisley is ready to be first minister on 26th March."

There is still a lot of trepidation however between the DUP and Sinn Féin. The DUP maintain that Sinn Féin still have to deliver on their words. Sinn Féin maintain that they need assurances from the DUP that they want to restore the devolved institutions.

The whole thing reminds me of an episode from my childhood. Me and a friend of mine used to climb up on this big wall that overlooked a green. This wall was pretty high and one day I dared my friend to jump off of it. "You do it", was his reply. "If you do it I'll do it," I responded. He agreed to this suggestion so we decided to do a countdown. "OK after 3", I said, "1...2...3!"

Neither of us jumped.

The mistrust between Sinn Féin and the DUP is still very much there and the fact that they STILL can't meet each other face to face is very sad indeed.

I fear that this whole "We'll move when you move" approach will keep the North in a state of perpetual misery. The onus is now on the DUP to offer out the olive branch to Sinn Féin. Time to be grown ups, folks.

With regards to how this relates towards Irish reunification, Gerry Adams told his party members:

"You have created the opportunity to significantly advance our struggle and you have seized the opportunity to further our primary objective of a united Ireland through the building of greater political strength."

I don't think the decision by Sinn Féin to support the PSNI will have any beearing on Irish reunification. It does show, in my opinion, that Sinn Féin now accept the existence of Northern Ireland as a legitimate entity. Some in Sinn Féin have reacted angrily to this but seeing as the party signed up to the Good Friday Agreement, I don't get why they are finding this so hard to deal with.

I feel Adams' comments are best looked at with a view to the General Election that is imminent in the Republic in a few short months. Gaining power in the Dáil is one of the party's objectives and the decision by Sinn Féin to support the PSNI will go down very well in the south. We're still not clear on Bertie Ahern's thoughts regarding entering a coalition with Sinn Féin and seeing as, God knows why, his party leads opinion polls here, I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility that Sinn Féin could hold ministerial positions on both sides of the Irish border this time next year.

A lot now depends on whether or not the DUP are willing to move on and face up to the fact that Irish nationalists deserve to have their views represented in an Assembly in NI. I hope that progress can be achieved.

Me and my friend did eventually jump off the wall together after a few false tries. I recall the landing was a bit sore. But we were OK in the end.


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