Jude Collins

Monday, 14 December 2009

Big talk in a small town

Stand by. Big important meeting due today in LImavady. Brian Cowen is coming up to meet P Robinson and M McGuinness to, among other things, attempt a resolution of the DUP-SF stand-off that’s threatening the collapse of the Executive. It seems Robbo won’t move before Christmas (how could he and still get support from the DUP backwoodsmen, some of them MPs?). But the word is that something will be happening shortly after New Year, which will allow Robbo to save face and at the same time bring about the required devolution that will please Sinn Fein. I suppose that’s a more or less satisfactory outcome for all, but it may lead the DUP to conclude that when SF says ‘There must be movement before Christmas’, it’s OK to defy them. I think even SF and certainly a lot of the wider public would be surprised and dismayed to know how many republicans (and nationalists) are fed up with the DUP stonewalling and how widespread is the belief that the GFA has got FA for nationalists/republicans.

As if by way of evidence for this belief, Brian Cowen has declared in advance of the meeting: “The North-South Ministerial Council has its 10th anniversary this month and the meeting is an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved in those ten years”. There’s a temptation to fall back on the couch and emit screeches of laughter. What has been achieved through the N-S Ministerial Council in the last ten years? Not bloody much. Not anything. You think of anything? I can think of nothing. Yet Cowen can say that with a straight face and no one jumps up and shouts ‘Boiled bunkum, Cowen!’ We were told – by Sinn Fein – that the GFA was a vehicle that would take us towards a united Ireland. Either the wheels have come off or it’s travelling so slowly movement is imperceptible to even the sharpest naked eye.

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