My qualified no: the explanation Part 4

On a thread about the DUP St. Andrew’s consultation I mentioned I had submitted a qualified No and was asked why. Here is the fourth of six parts of an article explaining why. What are my problems with the St Andrews deal? (continued)

Confidence building and equality

Second, the specific proposal for Irish and lack of reciprocal proposals highlights the broader failure to deliver on the “confidence building measures and equality agenda for the Unionist community”. From the community and political grapevine it is clear that a series of pet republican projects or demands are being delivered upon e.g. cutting funds from other festivals to boost spending on three nationalist Belfast festivals, public advertising in the ATN, the Gaeltacht Quarter and the redevelopment of Conway Mill (with public money and a senior civil servant reassigned to ensure delivery) but apart from the Victim’s Commissioner it is virtually a blank page for the DUP. In a sad attempt to take the bad look off this the NIO has told DCAL to pull the Ulster-Scots Academy out of the hat AGAIN.

Similarly, the extra powers to the NIHRC and Equality Commission would cause me little concern if it weren’t for the fact I have to play spot the Unionist with their Commissioners or in the EC‘s case look at an organisation with a growing under-representation of Protestant employees. This under-representation at a board level has occurred twice and the EC’s staffing issue remains unaddressed.

Martin O’Muilleoir recently claimed that there was no need to be concerned about whether the deal would fly as “Unionism can be bought off”. The evidence so far is the NIO aren’t even bothering to try.

But what about policing?

While I take note of what an agreement requires others to do it is not the defining issue for me. The argument that “It’s causing the Shinners problems you know” or “We made them do something they didn’t like” leaves me cold. I want an agreement to be sold to me on how it addresses the interests of Unionism not to be told to take some sort of sectarian comfort from republican unease. Also the “Take this issue to symbolise something else” will get little but a derisory laugh from myself.

As regards rates academic selection etc though positive they were largely manufactured concessions.

(I will be unable to respond to comments because I have important domestic matters to attend on Thursday followed by a romantic week-end. I will reply as best I can upon my return. The remaining pieces are timed to appear at 9.00am and 2.00 pm each day.)

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