Belfast Telegraph

Let's end the posturing and threats to walk out... politicians should do what they were elected for: reach agreement

By Liam Clarke

People have to talk tough going into negotiations - that is one of the prices of not secluding them in an English stately home, as used to happen. We have had enough of this posturing and from now on we expect the politicians to do what they were elected for - reach agreement and work for their constituents.

It was disappointing yesterday to hear Martin McGuinness predict breakdown if the security report due next month disappoints his expectations. Mr McGuinness may step back a little on this. His main concern is that Sinn Fein should not be thrown out of the Assembly by an unelected body appointed by the British to keep the DUP on board.

As a democratic politician he will have to get over this attitude. He is certainly right that there should be no expulsions, unless links between Sinn Fein and a functioning IRA, or the criminal underground, are conclusively demonstrated.

That isn't a reason to start challenging the report before it comes out or to prepare for failure.

He talks of people going to the police with information but does not do it himself.

The DUP takes an equally strong line, and have reacted to the Kevin McGuigan murder before the facts are really known. A man shot in the street in what seems to have been a blood feud between former IRA men is a tragedy, but so is the collapse of power sharing.

It could be expected to produce more violence, destabilise Sinn Fein and allow central Government to legislate over our heads.

This is not something you should do on a gut feeling or if your blood is boiling - you have to have facts that you can defend.

We need to wait for the result but there may be something to be said for making the monitoring body permanent.

If it produces a report indicating that paramilitary structures still exist and are fuelling crime or violence then we will need a crackdown such as has been suggested by Theresa Villiers, though she is a bit shy about being specific over money. She shouldn't penny-pinch too much.

A programme to dismantle paramilitary structures would be more effective if it were monitored. The PSNI are under so much pressure that it might be no harm having someone to "mark their homework" and report on progress. Semi-secret bodies like MI5, the NCA and HMRC would be involved, the Secretary of State has suggested.

It would be a help to have something like the monitoring body, which could make more security information public and reassure people that this problem is being tackled, not just talked about.

It would also remove any incentive by unionists to walk out in protest.

Belfast Telegraph


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