Sinn Féin would be mad to sign up to Stormont deal while DUP has leverage at Westminster

Posted By: June 14, 2017

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. June 14, 2017

On the face of it, Monday was déjà vu at Stormont with groups of MLAs and newly elected MPs trailing down the staircase in the Great Hall too, doughnut round, a party spokesperson speaking to the cameras.

To deepen the tedium the same proconsul was sent back after a year of failure matched by the return of the same minister from the south. Proof if it were needed of the law of physics, ‘horror vacui’, that is ‘nature abhors a vacuum’. Sadly, it seems the new Taoiseach isn’t going to replace the invisible Charlie Flanagan – not yet anyway.

Anyone hoping for a London satrap with a personality was severely disappointed. Our returning proconsul is a Theresa May -clone from the same robot factory as she is, programmed to mouth meaningless mantra. Unlike May, he didn’t even need to have new circuits installed or be re-programmed last weekend. You might have been unlucky enough to hear him on Radio Ulster on Monday morning – speaking from London of course – not answering any questions at all, just as his leader exasperated the British public during her dreadful election campaign.

No ideas, no vision: instead meaningless assertions endlessly and shamelessly repeated. Exactly like the hologram of Princess Leia R2D2 projected in a loop except in this case motionless. Unlike his failed leader he can get away with it until she bites the dust because he has no votes here, nor could he get elected to anything, anywhere in The North. You’d think that might induce some sense of humility. No, sorry, humility not included in the software. Programmed to carry on as if nothing has happened. ‘Getting on with the job’, is the loop to repeat.

The fact is everything has changed. His forlorn leader has no credibility. She’s the prisoner of her party to be held captive until they agree a suitable time to turf her out, preferably after devising a way to do it without an election. In the meantime, she’s propped up by the DUP so that it’s self-evidently ridiculous, an insult to the intelligence of people here, for her re-appointed clone to propose to chair all-party meetings when the government he’s in depends for its existence on one of the parties. C’mon. Peddling that preposterous balderdash to interviewers invites having them laugh in his face.

The first evidence of dependence for including guarantees for farmers whose income will be ruined by Arlene Foster’s disastrous decision to back Brexit. They wrote it all out in 2015 when they thought there’d be a hung parliament. They just got the year wrong.

Now those sort of demands present hugeScotland will want the same, will have to get the same. By an interesting coincidence,  the DUP give May a working majority of thirteen given that Sinn Féin abstains. In other words, she’s not just beholden to the DUP, but to Scottish Tories, too, and Ruth Davidson hasn’t been behind the door telling her.

Now back to Stormont. Sinn Féin would be nuts to agree to a deal while the mess at Westminster gives the DUP enormous leverage. Arlene Foster’s MPs who in many ways still dominate the party, know from experience this is a one-off chance and that taking advantage of it as they must, will incur intense loathing from the Conservatives.

At the same time, they know it would be a mistake to invest too heavily in another leader in a fix, considering the trouble Arlene has caused them. So they want cast iron assurances – now.