What an extraordinary predicament for the UUP!
I’ve just listened to Basil McCrea setting out the party’s position on policing and justice on Stephen Nolan’s radio programme. It was difficult to disagree with a word he uttered. Even Nolan seemed to be bereft of an attack route. At one stage he seemed to be arguing McCrea’s case for him.
The party insists that it has not had input into the deal on policing and justice, it is not privy to what is on the table and therefore it will not endorse it, without clear evidence of progress, when it is put to a vote.
The DUP, which alongside Sinn Féin has excluded smaller parties from the nitty gritty of the decision making process, has indicated that it will not proceed without Ulster Unionist backing!
No doubt, should the UUP vote against devolution, or abstain, the Dupes will blame Ulster Unionists for wrecking the deal. It is a thoroughly preposterous situation and it is 100% indicative of the DUP’s selfishness and cynicism. It takes a special type of one-eyed idiot not to realise what they're up to.
If that party wants Ulster Unionist backing, it should start addressing some of the concerns which the UUP, and the SDLP, have about executive function and the detail of policing and justice.
If it believes that its deal is a good one then it should vote accordingly, with or without UUP support.
Ulster Unionists do not object, in principle, to the devolution of policing and justice. The difficulty is devolution to an executive which Sir Reg Empey describes as a ‘huckster’s shop’.
Hucksterism is no more in evidence than at the current time, with an attempt to browbeat parties into backing an agreement which they haven’t formulated and which clearly includes side-deals to which they are not privy.
Yet the DUP is intent on directing public fury at the dysfunctional executive towards a party which insists that its performance must improve.
Very cunning I’m sure. But also dishonest and thoroughly bad for Northern Ireland.