Waugh’s new approach to agreement…

ERIC Waugh has become increasibgly disillusioned with the Agreement, and here, he says a new approach is needed next tmie round. He identifies three problem issues – a lack of trust between parties in a form of government where trust is essential; lack of local experience at being in government; and mechanisms that promote divisions, rather than bridge them.Pointing out the benefits of a stable voluntary coalition over an unstable enforced executive, Waugh writes:

In any other corner of the world, the escape road from the current imbroglio would be quite clear and straightforward. In any democracy suffering the collapse of its government with no single party commanding the necessary majority to mount a new one, a general election would follow.

That election having failed to produce an overall majority for any party, a coalition would be negotiated which, by setting out a policy for good governance in the interests of all, would command a majority.

That is democracy. But in its classical simplicity it is not for us. Our history has impaled us on the fork of inclusiveness. The snag is that it is unlikely to work for very long.

The existence of any coalition depends upon compromise. But compromise is a foreign concept on this island. (That coalition works in Dublin is due largely to the absence of the normal left-right division between the major parties in the Dail.)

In Northern Ireland, though, when you add to the need for compromise the harnessing together of those who support the existence of the State and those whose associates hoard guns and explosives to destroy it, you get our imbroglio.