Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 7 October 2015

British, Irish and US governments should oppose DUP gunboat diplomacy

There's no more negotiating 'fat' left in Haass process

By Declan Kearney

Published 06/03/2014

On the Hill: British, Irish and US governments should oppose DUP gunboat diplomacy
On the Hill: British, Irish and US governments should oppose DUP gunboat diplomacy

Make no mistake, the real story this week is not about a lack of information over on-the-runs, but rather the volume of public information on the scheme.

The reality is everyone, from the two governments, to the DUP, Ulster Unionists, Northern Ireland Office, PSNI, Policing Board and many others, all knew.

That fact will continue to be revealed in the coming period.

As a result, the DUP, with the UUP following behind, tried to orchestrate a bogus crisis.

The DUP was trying to deflect a growing focus and building pressure on its refusal to embrace the Haass compromises. And, both it and the UUP manufactured an opportunity for some cynical pre-election posturing.

Instead unionist parties have hugely overstretched themselves and politically miscalculated.

Once again, the DUP particularly, has put the peace process and the power-sharing institutions under pressure.

Political unionism can choose to walk out of the political institutions, but if they do, they’ll end up having to walk back in again. And if that happens, they will be coming back to the same issues; because they won’t change.

Those issues include the inevitability of having to properly share power with republicans; implementation of the Haass compromises; and, the urgency of developing reconciliation and healing.

That is what needs to be done, and it will require real leadership from the DUP and UUP, which is not being provided.

Meanwhile, the political impasse has deepened. The potential for a vacuum has become stark.

DUP gunboat diplomacy is unacceptable, and the British and Irish governments need to be saying that.

There’s no more negotiating “fat” left in the Haass process.

It’s time for real leadership, and to implement the Haass package. The British and Irish governments must fulfil their responsibilities as co-guarantors of the Peace Process.

Next week our political leaders travel to Washington.

US political administrations have invested massively in the peace process here. The work of Clinton, Bush, Mitchell, Haass and others, has been vital.

George Bush famously said outside Stormont Castle in 2010, it was time to get the transfer of policing and justice powers done.

The message from all three governments now must be to get Haass done.

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