It's Time to Call on the Saggers: Shinners Must Save Stormont
Bring back the Saggers to save Stormont!
Saggers? 'What?', I hear you say. 'Is this some secret neo-Masonic cult dreamt up by the Brits?', you might ask.
The Saggers was a nickname given to a group of Assembly members who comprised the Speaker's Advisory Group, which kept Stormont afloat when the Assembly went into suspension during the David Trimble era.
The Saggers were all MLAs from the Stormont Commission, which is the Assembly's inner circle.
These Sagger MLAs considered material and documents, then made a series of recommendations which were given to the Assembly Speaker, who in turn passed them to the Northern Secretary.
The Saggers team also linked up with very senior Northern civil servants. Sounds like a complicated system.
But it kept Stormont alive and prevented the Assembly from being dumped into mothballs like its original 1972 predecessor.
Even the Shinners gave support to the Saggers' work. That's why it's now so vital the Saggers be re-activated if the current Northern Secretary is forced to suspend Stormont again as relations between Sinn Féin and its DUP hit rock bottom.
The Shinners also need to realise they need to retain Stormont if they want to become minority government partners in the next Dail.
The Shinners have realised that the only route to Irish unity lies through Dublin, not Belfast or London.
The DUP isn't worried by a Stormont collapse as its MPs take their Westminster seats so they can do a deal with Brit PM Dave Cameron.
As Sinn Féin still operates its outdated abstentionist policy on Commons seats, a dead fly would have more influence in the Commons chamber than Shinner MPs.
Sinn Féin has a massive image stereotype to overcome if Louth TD Gerry Adams is to emerge as Tanaiste after the South's general election next year.
Banging the anti-austerity drum may get the Shinners a few extra TDs, but it won't propel Adams into that office.
But if the Shinners can save Stormont using the Saggers, it will help convince Southern voters the party can be trusted in government in the Republic as well.
And what a mountain Sinn Féin has to climb to get those voters to move on from the past.
Would you vote for a party which snubbed thousands of republicans who went off to fight Kaiser Bill in 1914?
Would you vote for a party which organised the doomed Easter Rising in Dublin while those thousands of republicans were being slaughtered in the trenches?
Would you vote for a party which brought the wrath of the Black and Tans upon the Irish people in the War of Independence?
Would you vote for a party which didn't accept the Treaty and condemned the island to months of slaughter as republican butchered republican?
Would you vote for a party which pussy-footed with Hitler's Nazi scum during the Second World War?
If Sinn Féin wants the keys to the Tanaiste's office, it must first use the Saggers to unlock the Stormont logjam.