WHY ARE THEY BACK?
The DUP have basically agreed to rejoin the Executive today and partially bring the current political crisis to an end. Why? Well they have received the independent report on paramilitary activity and according to them they are accepting the reports conclusions that Yes, the IRA army council does still exist but it is committed to achieving a united Ireland through peaceful political means. It appears that this is all the DUP needed to hear to rejoin.
Today's events betray much more choreography... and panic. Statements were quickly released and decisions made quickly to get the ball rolling again - no matter how slowly. In reality, it could be argued, that the DUP have been severely wrong footed by their recent actions. They took a principled stand on a dubious issue - the 'IRA' murder of an ex IRA man. They stepped outside the Executive partially - thus causing a political crisis. What they got however was a storm of criticism. Ministers were half in half out ; Ministers were also still getting paid it seemed; Meanwhile the health service was cracking and groaning over the ministerial inaction. A barrage of calls from medical and patient groups was making public airwaves bristle It seems the DUP was desperate to get back into the fold and quickly!
WHAT ABOUT SINN FEIN?
Sinn Fein haven't got off either. This will have political implications for them North and South. Firstly, it is highly likely a deal has been done on Welfare reform. It is a massive thorn in the Assemblies side and requires action to stop the daily hemorrhage of money to Westminster- paid in fines. Look out for announcements over the next few days.
Secondly, the revelation that the IRA army council still exists will hardly make a ripple in Belfast but SF is now an important all Ireland party and looks as importantly to the South as the North. Elections next year loom in the Republic and SF have been talked up as a potential king maker (coalition partner) The one thing that voters in the Republic are wary of about SF is the tinge of previous violence in the north and the links with the IRA. This announcement will not ease those fears.