Agreement review officially commences

Today the Review of the Agreement officially commenced. A busy day, but a good “day in the life of a political party policy officer” day.

Learnt of the SDLP farce over its anti-racism motion in Belfast City Council, where agreement on an amended version was sandbagged by others within the SDLP. So, instead of a broad consensus, what was proved was that the SDLP was trying to score party political points against loyalists (as well as against Sinn Fein on the policing issue). This tactic fabulously blew up in their face, and no motion was voted upon. Worse, the SDLP have crucially undermined its esteem on anti-racism.

I mention this because all of the body language I’m reading by SDLP representatives is of depression and fright. The SDLP is still in denial about the situation it, as well as the rest of us, find ourselves in.

Had my lunch in the canteen in the basement. It was crowded, and almost felt like a day in which the Assembly was actually in session. *Almost* being the operative word.

At 2 pm, the round of party pieces to the media began. My party boss’s is short and to the point: “Reform or die.” Martina Purdy asks, “What if you reform it to death?” Reply: “If you don’t reform it at all, it will die anyway.”

Late tonight was an announcement by BBC NI that John Hume was going to retire his European Parliament seat. This opens the field for nationalist candidates in this June’s European Parliament election. Just to make this annus more horribus for the SDLP.

Speaking of Hume, on tonight’s Spotlight programme on the career of Dr Ian Paisley, he said that Paisley may make a deal on devolution work in Northern Ireland, especially if it meant that Paisley would become First Minister. I do agree, but found it remarkable that Hume made the comment. Adds more mystery to why the SDLP ran a “Stop the DUP” campaign (if in your heart you think the old man would make devolution work).

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