Thursday, May 11, 2006

Needs clarification

There was a cryptic remark from Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain in evidence to the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs committee on Wednesday, as reported by (subs. req'd):

he blamed "spin from some elements in Dublin" for a misinterpretation of plans for a "joint stewardship" if agreement cannot be reached between Ulster's [sic] parties

Hain's previous remarks had left the distinct impression that Dublin would have a substantial role in making decisions about NI's future if the "Hain Assembly" cannot establish an executive by November, and this indeed seemed to be part of the incentive to get Unionists to agree to something before then. It now seems that he is retreating from that stance, although the sliver of explanation above does not provide the context of the discussion or specify who exactly he is accusing of spinning. Irish Times journalist Frank Millar is doing a series of interviews with key players in the stalled peace process (Dermot Ahern and Gerry Adams (subs. req'd) already interviewed). Assuming he's planning on chatting with Hain, this would be an issue worth fleshing out.

UPDATE: Millar interviews Hain for Friday's Irish Times but the question of who in Dublin had hyped joint stewardship did not come up. Hain did claim that he doesn't think the reformed local government is that good a fall-back position for the Irish politicians, even though it's little different from what Scotland and Wales had before their assemblies. Also, here's a Slugger O'Toole link on the earlier Millar interviews. Slugger updates here.

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