Shared Future: the international rules of politics?

A word count on the term ‘Shared Future’ in press releases from British and Irish political parties might produce some impressive numbers, but little or no hint of what it might actually mean in practice.Just glimpsing the parties’ responses to the document demonstrates just how far apart they are:

The Alliance Party, for instance, believes that “government, statutary agencies and, indeed, civic society should actively encourage de-segregation and communal integration, and develop the appropriate policies”.

– The DUP declined to make a response.

– The SDLP saw “equality of opportunity” as key, as well as commitments to fight poverty.

Sinn Fein saw it primarily as applying to ‘relations between the communities of people on the island’.

– And the UUP saw the best outcome of A Shared Future as “a pluralist society”, whilst questioning the value of past community relations initiatives.

Not much basis of a shared understanding there then?

Of course, all these matters are intensely political, requiring complex decisions about what are likely to be come scarcer government resources and which in practice should probably be left for politicians to fight over what is specifically in and what is specifically out. But the enormous gap in basic understanding between all these responses run the risk of bringing the concept itself into disrepute.

As with the apparent breakdown in the international rules ‘code’, it risks becoming a meaningless sound bite or marketing tool, if there is are not some effort to arrive at ‘shared understanding’ as to what ‘a shared future’ could functionally mean in practice.

,

  • Little Eva

    Mick
    I do sometimes wonder about your actual knowledge of and/or interest in Northern Ireland. Try checking the government’s Shared Future document, supposedly its map of the way forward and mainstay of organisations like the Community Relations Council. It might give you some idea of what is meant by the term.

  • Mick Fealty

    LE:

    As if to compound the problem, I’m not really sure I understand the point you’re making.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Sinn Fein saw it primarily as applying to ‘relations between the communities of people on the island’.’

    I made a comment lately that the unionists should grow up, and the same applies to SF.

    It’s about time they developed a confident attitude to Irishness. There are British people living on the Island, and there will remain to be British people on this island for as long as there is an island, and a concept of Britishness.

    A shared future means a British and Irish future on the Island of Ireland, and that means coming to terms with a GB influence.

    To think otherwise is an unrealistic daydream.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    One thing about the Shared Future document is that, to date, it hasn’t been made available in the Irish language, a language of a significant section of the community in the North. i’m not someone who wants every single item of government policy in Irish – but I do want the important bits. And if the Shared Future document as the governments tell us it is, they should make it in the languages of the people.

    This official reluctance to recognise the existence of the Irish language community in the north is part of the reason why an Irish Language Act is needed and is on its way.

  • Greenflag

    McGiff,

    ‘It’s about time they developed a confident attitude to Irishness. There are British people living on the Island, and there will remain to be British people on this island for as long as there is an island, and a concept of Britishness. ‘

    Full marks for the obvious :). However the question remains how is that British ‘presence’ managed in a political context which can work and be seen to work as a ‘normal’ democracy. It’s obvious that the present NI 6 county framework is never going to deliver a normal democracy even if the GFA is an effort in that direction.