Barry White identifies a problem with the Peace Process™: ie the way in which it has infantilised our political classes. His experience of the dearth of political engagement with civil and business society accords with my own (albeit limited) experience:
Risks will have to be taken on all sides if we’re ever to get out of the present impasse, and the first move must be to speak to each other. If we don’t and just communicate through the media or officials, there is no prospect of a lasting power-sharing executive being achieved. Meeting in Stormont committees is a start but it isn’t enough.
It’s strange but, three years after the DUP and Sinn Fein were voted the top parties, they are still in the margins when leaders of opinion, business etc meet. In the run-up to Christmas, I meet all sorts but, in groups of 50 to 100, I couldn’t identify more than two or three supporters of those parties. They still aren’t mainstream, confident of their place in society, but they want to govern us.
There’s a mismatch here, which will have to be overcome if we’re to make progress politically, economically or – thinking of those tragic figures for loyalist-area schools – educationally. Either we do it ourselves, developing some common purpose together or we’ll stay in our rut, never maturing.
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