Tom Kelly argues that a touch of realpolitik is precisely what Northern Ireland needs and that those who criticise Peter Hain for his threat to cut the Assembly members off without a penny in the absence of any legislative work from them are themselves seriously out of touch with a more that is highly popular with the larger part of the NI population.
Some of the public representatives in these parties seem to make much publicity (if not careers) out of highlighting waste in public spending when it’s a lunch for possible inward investment prospects or a dinner for cross-border departments. Meanwhile, they remain splendidly blind to the financial log in their own eye of being paid for a job not being done. Trying to get some of them to see the irony in their own situation is like trying to eat soup with a fork.
Mr Hain is right to threaten to close down the entire operation before all public faith is lost in the political process. Not all political players are equally culpable for the loss of faith in politics or for the lack of progress but all will bear the brunt of public apathy. More and more middle ground voters are being turned off politics completely and yet the converse in true for the supporters of ‘politics militant’.
The British and Irish governments have a responsibility to people on this island to have a Plan B. The all-elusive inclusiveness of current set-up penalises all parties and is based on securing over arching agreement at the pace of the slowest player. Try translating that formula into other walks of life and we would probably be fully paid up members of the Flat Earth Society who are still waiting for the wheel to be invented. It is high time that the ‘hand of history’ got clinched and punched a bit of sense into the body politic. After all as every good slimming guide says – ‘No Pain – No Gain’. Or maybe that’s ‘No Hain – No Gain’.
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