PARTIES FACING TALKS DEADLINE
Ian Paisley's DUP is likely to give only "a conditional response"
the St Andrews document next week in tactically stating they will only
go along with a political deal on power-sharing government if certain
demands are met.
With Sinn Fein also unlikely to simply reject the proposals published
by the Dublin and London governments following negotiations in Scotland
last month, it appears that the November 10 deadline for the parties to
indicate their support for the proposals will pass without a crisis.
However, British Direct Ruler Peter Hain has insisted that his
government will not allow deadlines to slip.
"I need to know from the parties on Friday next week whether they
up for the St Andrews agreement or not," Mr Hain said.
"We have, of course, since the St Andrews talks, been clarifying
and negotiating with the parties.
"However, the decision must be made next week.
"They need to tell us if they will remain on board the train, if
want to get off it or derail it.
"As far as we are concerned the destination is devolution by March
next year and along the way there will be the nomination of first and
deputy first ministers on November 24.
"Now they can either have that or the dissolution of the assembly.
is a simple choice."
The Deputy leader of the DUP Peter Robinson said there were people in
the party who had concerns about the St Andrews proposals and "those
people are amongst the leadership of our party. Ian Paisley has
concerns, I have concerns and other officers have concerns. That's why
we are saying there is no done deal, there are still issues to be
resolved. We have been pushing those matters since we came out of St
Andrews with the [ British] government."
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the British and Irish governments
must not allow the time frame for power-sharing in the north to slip.
"Our concern is that the time frames set by the two governments have
"They should not be allowed to slip," he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Adams said that he would be getting feedback from Sinn
Fein party members and supporters over the next two days on their
all-island consultation on policing.
Up to 60 meetings have been held and Mr Adams is due to get a report on
Meanwhile, grass roots DUP activists have been attending internal
meetings on the St Andrews deal and it is understood that there has
been a mixed response to the proposals.
It is expected that the DUP may call an executive meeting in advance of
making their response to the governments next Friday.
DUP leader Ian Paisley again insisted this week that Sinn Fein needs to
fulfil its obligations and to fully support the police, the courts and
the rule of law.
The rapid transfer of policing and justice powers from London to
Belfast is a key demand for Sinn Fein and considered essential by
republicans to support the PSNI police and Six-County justice system.
However, Mp Paisley also said there was no question of any transfer of
policing and justice powers until there was "confidence in the
community". DUP colleague Nigel Dodds went further and suggested
week that the devolution of policing and justice was not likely to
happen "in a political lifetime".
Meanwhile, SDLP leader Mark Durkan has come out in favour of a
referendum on the St Andrews Agreement, saying it would enable the
British and Irish governments to 'put it up' to the DUP.
"The way to get the DUP to move is to put them under pressure,"
the Foyle MP. "That's what worked at St Andrews. Faced with a firm
deadline and a tough bottom line, the DUP were forced to shift
"But since then, the governments have given the DUP the impression
they are back in control. So, it's no surprise that the DUP now believe
that they can push further and get more."