Sunday 22 October 2017

SF is back playing 'wind up the Prods'

Gerry Adams's recent activities are upsetting republicans as well as unionists, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

What is Gerry Adams up to? In theory, he should be striving to consolidate the power-sharing deal at Stormont. Are republicans not supposed to be delighted that Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness seem to be getting on so well that they've been nicknamed the 'The Chuckle Brothers'? Yet Adams's recent activities are so undermining the delicate relationship between the DUP and Sinn Fein as to have the potential to blow it apart.

There are plenty of contentious issues that the Executive can resolve only with the utmost goodwill. The two parties are fundamentally at loggerheads over, for instance, an Irish Language Act, the Sinn Fein demand for a national stadium on the Maze site with a hunger strikers' cosy corner and the choice of a new victims' commissioner. Even more important is the chasm between the parties about the devolution of justice and policing to Stormont: SF want it to happen next May; the DUP want a guarantee first that their colleagues in power are truly wedded to upholding law and order and the State that pays them.

So you might think that Sinn Fein would wish to reassure unionists of their peaceable and honourable intentions. Was that not the purpose of setting up Unionist Outreach almost two years ago -- even if they rather spoiled it by appointing a convicted terrorist, Martina Anderson, to be its frontperson?

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