Sunday, 10 January 2010

Who Governs the Six Counties?

I'm sure that Shaun Woodward the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is asking himself this question this weekend as are senior politicians in Dublin. The Sinn Fein/DUP leadership in the Northern Ireland Assembly were already at loggerheads over the devolvement of Policing and Justice to the NI Assembly with Sinn Fein in favour and the DUP being their usual sceptical selves especially Nigel Dodds the Deputy Leader.

What has come out following the Spotlight programme on BBC Ulster can have done nothing to stabilise good governance in Stormont; Iris Robinson's affair with a 19 year old was already news but her undeclared financial dealings was not. What became apparent was that her husband the First Minister was aware of these financial dealings but he had taken no steps to report these prejudicial dealings to the relevant authorities. This has resulted in him authorising an enquiry into his own actions but how can he remain First Minister whilst this enquiry takes place? Lord Trimble ex Leader of the Ulster Unionists calls for Robinson's resignation and that he should clear his name from the back benches. Sir Reg Empey the Leader of the UU is equally as lukewarm towards Peter Robinson.

The most interesting aspect to all this is how Sinn Fein will play it from now on? Will McGuinness just pull the plug on the whole thing or will they wait for the DUP to force Robinson out and possibly appoint Nigel Dodds as First Minister and will that be acceptable to Sinn Fein especially as Dodds is cooler towards Police devolvement than Robinson. Gerry Kelly on Radio Ulster this morning was totally non commmittal on Sinn Fein's tactics.

What we don't know is what damage the Robinson's have caused the DUP and whether it will result in a split with defections to the more hardline TUV (Traditional Unionist Voice). Could the Unionist vote at the General Election be split 3 ways leaving Sinn Fein as the single largest party especially as the SDLP are going through a leadership election following Mark Durkan's departure.

Interesting times ahead in the North of Ireland!


alanindyfed said...

On ITV (Adam Boulton) today Alex Salmond very diplomatically offered his sympathies to the Robinsons, but there is a feeling that events are conspiring to push the six counties ever closer to uniting with the Rebublic in the south.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

be some blood letting before that happens...I wonder if the dissident Republicans will up the terrorist ante now the Unionists are all over the place!

alanindyfed said...

I concede with a fair amount of trepidation that the unionists will not give up without a fight.
(Remember the Battle of the Boyne, and all that)