Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bloggin' Reg

Congratulations go to the Ulster Unionist Party for blogging the St Andrews devolution talks currently underway. Great to read the progress in real time from the horses' mouths (as it were).

Regulars here will know I don't align myself to any one party but prefer to applaud and criticise them all on issues which are central to creating a bright future for Ireland's northernmost province.

Sir Reg Empey's two-pen'worth this evening (logged at 6:49pm) makes encouraging reading. I'm not talking about his opener, "We started this morning with a breakfast in our St Andrews hotel. The accommodation is excelllent." Frankly I'm not too worried about the state of Reg's poached eggs (or the state of his spellling); what interests me is his view that "Republicans are definitely closer to taking an historic and defining decision on recognition and support for policing than could ever be imagined" and his take on the DUP who he says "are closer than ever to taking a decision to support powersharing with SF in the Institutions of the Belfast Agreement". Since the IRA decommissioned these have been my top two wants, and each of them respectively requires a certain softening and rapprochement.

Despite my pot-shot at negotiating tactics this week, negotiation is actually about securing bits of what you want and giving the other guy bits of what he wants. The more balanced this give-and-take is, and the bigger the respective bits are, the more successful the negotiation.

Another pleasing thing is that Reg recognises the shift Sinn Féin has been undergoing: "My concern is that the rightful anger and distrust of SF by unionism ... blinds people to the huge benefits and dramatic shift in republicanism to a position of acceptance of the State. This can only be in the long term interests of unionists". I can sign up to that. Sinn Féin rightly understands that even though it wants rid of British sovereignty in Ireland it has to recognise the present authority and legitimacy of the State if it aspires to govern it and, using the democratic process, change it if it can.

Update: Reg and his party have been told off by Tony Blur for blogging the talks. Blur says it goes against the spirit of confidentiality. What has he got to hide? And what are we not worthy enough to hear?


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