In praise of devolution….

The Newsletter editorialising on the potentially valuable job that can be done by MLAs. And hints at way out of the impasse.It firstly attacks the British government’s position as being way too close to Sinn Fein’s:

The credibility problem for Mr Hain and his Government is that they have paid far too much heed to the narrow political demands of Sinn Fein-IRA and ignored the measured analysis and the desire of constitutional unionist and nationalist parties to form an administration which unequivocally spurns violence and the threat of violence, from all quarters.

It believes that much public discourse undervalues the potential for local democracy:

Random public perceptions of our 108 Assembly members very often ignore the valuable amount of constituency work which the majority of politicians do on a daily basis, assidiously looking after the interests of voters at a local level. This work would come to an abrupt halt if MLAs were laid off and there was no proper mechanism to replace it with. Certainly, none of 18 Westminster MPs could cope with the extra workload which would come their way in the event of this happening and neither do the 550-plus district councillors across the Province have the necessary resources to assume this mantle.

It reckons Hain’s tough talking is misplaced:

Setting absolute deadlines for political progress comes somewhat belated from a Government which dithered for eight years while the Provisional IRA refused to dismantle its illegal armoury even though a raft of political concessions were made to the terrorists’ political allies. A year is a long time in politics and Mr Hain must first test out the various parties to see if devolution is a realistic prospect.

But suggests a way out of long term stalemate:

The Independent Monitoring Commission must also verify the IRA’s declared commitment to put all of its weapons beyond use, not just in a month, but over a more sustainable period. Of course, the scene would change completely if the IRA decided to disband its entire organisation.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty