Anyone who thinks direct rule is a good deal should watch this morning’s NI question time (so long as the link is live). All NI business over in a flash, with barely time for NI MPs to nod assent/dissent. Still, as the Times points out this morning in its top leading article, all of the increases in Northern Ireland’s quality of life have continued in spite of the political deadlock. Time for our political classes to make some fundamental decisions about what they exist (and take public money) to achieve?
All this will continue if the St Andrews negotiations are deadlocked and if the November 24 date for a deal proves no more of a barrier than many other “lines in the sand” have been. Northern Ireland does not need devolved institutions in order to evolve. Direct rule is, nevertheless, plainly an anachronism and even those who exercise it concede its legitimacy is threadbare. It would be better if Ulster’s leaders assumed control of the economic infrastructure, social services and cultural development of their community. The opportunity to end the impasse now exists. The political class has to move beyond the rhetoric of “No surrender” and catch up with an ever-increasing number of its voters.