Stuff to look forward to…

IN a grumpy assessment of the policing debate, Eric Waugh expresses doubts about the long-term success of devolution. After all is said and done, the purse strings are still held by Westminster, and Waugh reckons the very limited form of government Stormont provides (where agreement on bread and butter issues was often difficult in the past) will be ineffective. Given our politicians legendary ability to avoid real politics, will a weak government be better than none if the big issues are avoided, others turn into sectarian headcounts and everything else is in permanent consultation? Wouldn’t you love to be surprised, like that time the Policing Board sorted out the new PSNI badge in a flash?Waugh pessimistically wrote:

There is one grave drawback to this preening of his green credentials by an ambitious politician. It describes an inoperable theory of government. Northern Ireland remains part of the British state. Its taxation and administration are, and after devolution would remain, in the ultimate, British-controlled. Vitally, it is the same with the police. It is British law they enforce. Anyone whose memory goes back as far as 1968-69 can be in no doubt where ultimate sovereignty resides in Northern Ireland; and – even under devolution – it is not at Stormont.

This is why the police thing is so delicate. For Sinn Fein, acceptance of the police involves acceptance of the British state in a new, broader dimension. By backing the police, they back the agency whose principal remit is to maintain British law and order in this part of the United Kingdom. That is why I remain pessimistic about the long-term prospect for resumed devolution under the current Agreement.

There was another similarly downbeat offering from Tom Kelly in the Irish News last week, but I couldn’t find it. In a not dissimilar tone, he was bemoaning the negative impact the peace process had on politics. But mustn’t grumble too much.

  • Pete

    Due to the ongoing saga that seems to overhang the so called “peace agreement”, both Good Friday & St Andrews, should it not be the case that the public should have a collective viewpoint pt over. For example: self initiated public referendum to vote Paisley and DUP out, vote Sein Fein ( who have a leadership who can`t make decisions) out, aand install normal, understanding people to stand for what is best? Things like returning Britishness to N Ireland, ( culture and identity), that Trimble AND Paisley have progressively agreed to diminish. Time is now to return Britishness to Ulster.

  • Crataegus

    I have always been of the opinion that you needed virtually complete devolution of all powers to NI and can sympathise with the thrust of Waugh’s argument, but if NI is a virtually independent entity the same problem pertains. If people continue to pursue their self interest and their own view of reality and chose to make the state not function how do you govern?

    A second problem is the structures of governance that are meant to include maintain minority vetoes and are offensively sectarian. These structures mean that progress can be derailed at any time, they are unworkable if there is no will to make them work. The structures are perhaps unworkable and exacerbate the problem

    The third problem is the experience and ability of many of those elected; to put it bluntly most of them are not fit for purpose. If you were managing a business would you employ any of them? I know there are very few that I would consider. Many are by nature and training utterly divisive. They create problems where none should exist and highlight difficulties rather than opportunities, they blame rather than accept responsibility. Could you trust them?

    Yet the one hope there is in this is that it is undoubtly in everyone’s interest to make the place work, provide good Health cover, care for the elderly, teach the young, and it does not matter if you are Unionist or Nationalist your opinion and position is only strengthened by building trust and that can only be achieved by cooperation, within NI, within Ireland and within Britain. Many of the issues need to be depoliticised and common sense policies adopted. To view say energy supply or transport networks on the island of Ireland as a whole does make sense, but of course that does not mean that we ignore connections to Britain. It makes sense to accept that are inextricably linked with both Britain and Ireland. Both Republicans and Unionists have to come to terms with reality there is no point in denial and develop the will to run this place to our collective interests and maximise opportunities.

    It is simply a matter of accepting reality and accepting personal responsibility and instead of complaining about what someone else is not doing start addressing those issues that you yourself can do something about.

    On that SF seem to be slowly moving forward on Policing and for me that is to be welcomed. The way they have dealt with the obvious internal differences I would disagree with. On something that is so sensitive to many you don’t try and out manoeuvre by so doing you are seeking to deny other views a platform and secondly when you seek to justify be denigrating they former role you simply degrade the organisation you yourself are in.

    I am perhaps an untypical voter but I prefer political parties that have divergence of opinion. What is important is how that divergence is managed, to have the honesty to accept difference and the character to accept that others can disagree but collectively manage a common position. If then some leave fine, wish them well and every success. Agree to disagree why turn former friends into bitter enemies?

  • Aaron McDaid

    Didn’t I read somewhere that devolution of policing and justice powers will mean that even the creation and modification of criminal law will be exclusively done by Stormont?

  • Pete

    Policing and Powers?? Well why not have devolution? They have decommisioned, stopped punishment beatings, stopped criminality. Let`s go for it. Sign up to Government with Sinn Fein?IRA.

    Well that is if you are happy that they still have guns, ( adams` bodyguards have them. Have they been vettedd as in normal procedures for criminal records before being allowed to carry a firearm??), is every member of PIRA monitored to ascertain 100 percent that none are involved in ciminality?, have they gave the go ahead to the RIRA and INLA and CIRA to do the punishment beatings and shootings instead?? Who can answer these with certainty that PIRA is finished?

    You can answer that?? Go for it then. Share power with them.

  • Pete

    Oh I forgot this one. Known IRA member was seen waving a handgun about a few weeks back in the Short Strand district. This was reported in the media.

    Decommisioned?? Yes the border weapons but not the city ones.

  • aquifer

    So if Provos don’t want to feel british they should stay out of trouble. An irish solution to an irish problem.

    And if the Unionists want rational taxation they should join the republic and have the republic join the commonwealth. A british solution to their irish problem.

  • Pete

    Just highlighting something. Decommissioning didn`t happen “fully”. How can their word be taken, how can they prove they have stopped criminality??

    Proper solution to the real problem? Anyone wishing NOT to be British should leave. Our money is good enough isn`t it?? How many from the nationalist communities claim job seekers, income support and DLA? They don`t get giiros in euro do they?

  • BeardyBoy

    I agree.
    “0ur money” should go to keep “our” loyalist working class in drugs and out of school – they cannot get wee handy numbers in the Yard or Shorts now because of them fenians. Sure they will not need jobs anyway with all “our money” going to “our people” instead of the fenians, then we could get “our police” to give the fenians a good kicking when we march past them to make sure that they know their place in “Our wee province” and if they don’t like it they can always go to the priest ridden Free State.

    It all the fault of those fenians before the fenians started it all this was the best place in the world – I can remember the nice Cat-o-licks coming out with cups of tea for the marchers – (we did not put their windys in, just the bad ones), sure wasn’t it great, everyone knew their place then.
    I don’t know why people cant live in piece anyway.