Secretary of State Peter Hain has made his speech on the Review of Public Administration, and released it in full online here [PDF File]. No doubt the intricacies will be digested in time, and probably over several posts, but I wanted to highlight one line in particular from Peter Hain –
“But if you believe, as I do, that Northern Ireland can truly be a world class contender, then the reforms I have outlined must take place.”[emphasis added]
Is that what Peter Hain really believes?.. it’s not quite what he was saying, to a different audience, last week..
In future decades, it is going to be increasingly difficult to look at the economy of north and south except as a sort of island of Ireland economy. We are deepening north-south cooperation in a number of areas. The Northern Ireland economy, though it is doing better than ever in its history, is not sustainable in the long-term. I don’t want the Northern Ireland economy to be a dependent economy as it is now, with a sort of UK, ‘big brother’ umbrella over it. It needs to be much more self-sufficient, so that’s what we’re trying to do.[added emphasis]
And it’s not what some commentators inferred from what he said to that audience. –
With Hain, both nationalist and unionist strategists can see which way the wind is blowing. If there isn’t a devolved power-sharing administration, there will be a steady drift towards shared decision-making with Dublin and cantonisation of local government. The economy will be trimmed down then plumped up, to make Irish unity more attractive both for the people of the province and voters in the republic.