Jude Collins

Friday, 22 January 2010

Sauce, geese and ganders

So – deal or no deal? It could go either way, if you read the signs. Both the DUP and Sinn Fein are making noises that they want a deal but it’s the other lot’s fault.

The DUP says blame the Shinners, they the DUP were up in Stormont yesterday waiting for republicans and they didn’t show. Sinn Fein says Martin McGuinness explained on Wednesday that SF would be conferring with its officers and there’d be no meeting. Are the two parties merely engaged in tactics, jostling for a position on the inside rail, or busy telling plain lies? This morning, Gregory Campbell was on radio insisting repeatedly that the DUP had given no commitments on policing and justice devolution in the St Andrews Agreement, while John O’Dowd and last night Mary Lou MacDonald made it clear that the DUP, in the St Andrews Agreement, committed themselves to the devolution of policing and justice. As to unionist community confidence, all the surveys show it’s there. So either Gregory Campbell is telling a lie or John O’Dowd/Mary Lou McDonald are telling a lie. I wonder which?

Certainly the DUP have now tied their agreement on devolution to a demand for parades renegotiation. What this means, essentially, is that the Orange Order can march in areas where it’s not wanted, like on Portadown’s Garvaghy Road. In yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph, Chris Donnelly had an interesting article. He was all for negotiation, which I disagree with. But then I came to the bit in his article which goes to the heart of parading here (daft bloody tradition anyway – personally I’d ban the lot). Young Chris says that providing unionists accept republican marches in predominantly working-class Protestant areas, then of course nationalists must likewise look at loosening up their areas for Orange marches. That’s the test, of course: are unionists willing to accept parity and equality, or must freedom of expression be confined only to those who wear an Orange collarette and thump a bloody big drum?

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