Assembly: reviewing the breakdown

David Ford looks at the reasons for the current breakdown:

1. “…the straw that broke the camel’s back was the failure of the republican movement to create sufficient confidence in the process by clearly demonstrating that it had made a firm choice of democracy over violence …the Agreement provides solely for sanctions against Ministers and parties with Ministers. There is no scope for sanctions against loyalists at present, although this might be examined in a review.”

2. “Four years ago I think people could accept the notion of an imperfect peace provided that the imperfections ceased over time. But what they cannot accept is an imperfect peace that is allowed to become less and less perfect.”

3. “…the deep divisions within unionism and the half-hearted leadership from the Ulster Unionist Party have not helped matters. Unionists got a good deal on Good Friday, a fair compromise.”

4. “…pro-Agreement parties need to articulate and defend a shared vision of the future, not least through accommodating each other’s concerns.”

5. “…the Agreement has institutionalised sectarianism in the workings of the Assembly …a consequence of this is that signals are sent out that people should see themselves in terms of ‘them’ versus ‘us’ rather than as part of the same united community.”

And finally:

“Is it any wonder that we have conflict over territory and resources, and an ongoing blame game? Only collective action now, to reaffirm the principles of the Agreement and review the practical problems, will enable us to overcome this negative form of politics.”