Colin Harvey argues that a lot of the fear for the future of the Belfast Agreement is based on a fundamentally misreading its capacity to thoroughly transform the political landscape in Northern Ireland. It is, he believes, a robust document which has the capacity to ride out the political changes of recent times.Critics, he believes, are accusing the NI electorate of having a bad dose of false conciousness:
Whether ‘simply British’ or ‘simply Irish’ or ‘simply both’- it does seem to matter. But it is wrong to see this, as many appear to, as failure or the impoverishment of politics. People are opting for political representatives who will forcefully articulate their concerns. Political parties like the DUP and Sinn Féin are moving to where the people already are. They are not taking them places they have no wish to go. Tempting as it might be, it is unfair, and a bit condescending, to label this as intensified ‘tribalism’. Yet the dominant policy response treats people as if their voting patterns reflect an irrational false consciousness from which they will wake with appropriate re-training. Who is guilty of wishful thinking here?