Reassuring remarks from Sammy Wilson on direct rule

Morning View
Morning View

The comments by Sammy Wilson to the News Letter are of great significance and should be a source of reassurance to all unionists.

Sinn Fein has been behaving in a destabilising way since January.

It clearly thinks that issuing various red lines, leading to stalemate, will ultimately work to the party’s advantage.

There is every possibility that the party has calculated correctly. After all, senior British officials have been desperate to get devolution back on the road.

They show little appetite to withstand Irish officials, who have been agitating for the nationalist wish lists, and have suggested that direct rule is unacceptable to Dublin.

There is every possibility that this pressure would lead to a fresh range of concessions to Sinn Fein. It would probably have already happened if Tony Blair, for example, was still in power.

The difference now is that Theresa May is instinctively unionist, as was her predecessor in Downing Street, David Cameron. Even if the prime minister did not have those instincts, she and her party are dependent on DUP MPs for the government to survive.

Mr Wilson, who is one of the most senior of those MPs, has described the talks process as “a sham”, given the unrealistic demands of Sinn Fein.

Like Mr Wilson, this newspaper would like to see the return of Stormont.

But this must not happen on the basis of any reward – whatsoever – for Sinn Fein’s tactics. It would merely make the party think that it can always threaten collapse of the institutions, and then reap dividends.

Michelle O’Neill’s recent statement was an attempt to make it look as if republicans were being constructive, when of course the party is being the opposite.

Unless there is a Sinn Fein climbdown, we must move to direct rule.