Friday, 25 July 2008
Martin McGuinness has confirmed what everyone knew – the Executive is deadlocked. He admitted there is a ‘stalemate’. The Executive failed to meet again this week. This came as a shock to some but as the First Minister Peter Robinson was heading off to America on Tuesday, the reality is that there was never going to be a meeting this week. One hopes that the First Minister has an enjoyable holiday and will come back fully recovered and no longer need a wheelchair to get around at Westminster. Mrs Robinson is probably looking forward to a break too.
Nearly 40 pieces of legislation or papers that require rubber stamping by the Executive have been delayed by the current differences between the two main parties. About half a dozen were approved by emergency procedures but these were largely those relating to non contentious technical issues.
A range of important issues remain unresolved, however, despite noises from Sinn Féin, it is probably inaccurate to say that we have reached crisis point. There are probably a few months before that might occur. Sinn Féin need something to keep their ‘troops’ happy but it still remains to be seen what incentive there is for the DUP to move. If Shaun Woodward, the Secretary of State, threatens to introduce an Irish Language Act through Westminster and if Sinn Féin were to signal that they would accept an Alliance Policing and Justice Minister, there could yet be a resolution of the impasse.
Should things drift into winter, the DUP will worry about devolving policing and justice in what would essentially be the run up to the European elections.