Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey spoke at the London Irish Centre last night.
I will have a full report on the meeting in next week’s Irish World. In the meantime, however, I will say it doesn’t look like there will be a resolution of the current crisis anytime soon.
Maskey suggested that the situation might not resolve itself until the next Irish general election, which is two years away.
I think that, as Brian Feeney suggested in the Irish News on Wednesday, the Irish Government are hoping that if they put enough pressure on, republicans will move unilaterally. I didn’t get any sense of that being on the cards last night though.
I think Sinn Fein believe they can still make progress politically without any movement in the peace process, and will hold out for another round of comprehensive negotiations. (Suzanne Breen reaches a very similar conclusion in this Newhound article from The Village.) A lot of eyes will be on the Sinn Fein vote in next month’s Meath by-election.
Maskey was very interesting on the DUP, suggesting that elements of the party wanted a deal in December but that ultimately they didn’t get the concessions they wanted on the workings of the institutions. (That does though kind of beg the question of why republicans didn’t call their bluff on the photographs issue.)
Specifically, he argued that:
-Peter Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson wanted the chance to get into Government while Paisley was still leader, which presumably would make it easier for Robinson to become First Minister when Paisley retires.
-Nigel Dodds and Gregory Campbell wanted to wait until the elections and finish off the UUP.
-Ian Paisley Jr didn’t want a deal at all.
All those divisions may be kind off irrelevant now though.