By Robin Livingstone (for the Andersonstown News)
There is no-one seriously arguing that republicans are to blame for this deal not being struck this week. Those who are making that argument are doing so for political reasons, that is, because it is in their interests to damage Sinn Féin: unionists, the British government, the Irish government, the usual media suspects. Interesting how things that nobody ever heard of before have a habit of taking centre stage with a swiftness that takes the breath away. And it’s interesting, too, that all these things that came out of left-field came from the unionist side: permanence; decontamination periods; apologies; decommissioning; statements; photographs. Examine each of these and it’s clear in hindsight that the amount of time and energy it took to get them out of the way was in inverse proportion to their importance in the great scheme of things. In other words, they were carefully selected to put back as far as possible the day when power-sharing is finally put in place in the north. How many of them have to be notched up before that much becomes clear? The pictures issue is at the same time the most laughable and the most worrying of them all.