“It’s clear that some big political questions remain..”

The BBC’s Jim Fitzpatrick, ahead of Sunday’s Politics Show, provides a quick summary of the contrast between the image presented by the Businessmen of God On Tour in the US and in Europe.. and the reality on the ground here.. From Jim Fitzpatrick

But on the ground, the opinions are more diverse and the picture is definitely more complicated. It’s clear that some big political questions remain – not least the issue of resolving the past as we have seen this week. For victims and survivors of the conflict there is nothing past tense about their desire for justice. Their concern is that a political agenda fixated on being a “good example”, won’t countenance “horrible warnings” from the past. On the bread and butter issues we find a complicated picture too. Far from enjoying a peace dividend bounty the executive faces a slowdown in public spending over the coming years. Peter Robinson may have frozen domestic rates, but new taxes – such as water charges – are on the way. In order to meet public spending commitments Sinn Fein ministers will continue a privatisation agenda they claim to detest. Private sector workers face uncertain times, with the uncertain global economy already claiming many jobs. And in the public sector, pay freezes and job cuts threaten industrial unrest on a scale unseen for decades.

Adds As Mark points out in the comments zone below – It’s a limited [international] image being presented.

Although I should point out that I’m ambivalent about a posed handshake.. I’d rather see evidence on the ground here.

, , , , ,

  • Mark McGregor


    The reality can also be clearer but not part of our local narrative (shake hands for investment, no chance):


  • Pete Baker

    Fair point, Mark.

    And added below the fold.

  • Mark McGregor

    Interesting too that AP was billing it as a ‘thank you’ Europe visit, not a trade/investment mission.

    I can’t see any outcomes yet from any of their joint appearances.

    Have they become a globo-politico-travelling freak-show?

    Maybe they should just charge entrance money to look at the two-headed freak?

  • Mark McGregor

    Did I earn PC points for not mentioning they kept the bearded ladies at home?

  • perci

    my prediction is the norn iron GFA/Stormont Assembley will run for a while; until it just becomes utterly ridiculous not to join with the Republic.

    The speed of change is dependent on a number of factors.
    Firstly, The predicted economic global down-turn and credit crisis will speed up integration. NI is basically skint!

    Secondly, SF actually meaning what they say re ALL citizens endorse policing; that means the ex-IRA of South Armagh accepting the judicial process; Courts punish not crowbar gangs.

    Thirdly, there needs launching of a campaign to encourage unionists to feel more Irish. lol

    The latter point depends upon humour, if we can get the unionists to lighten up a bit, have a laugh at themselves, we might get em swinging and they’ll feel better about their Irish Identity 😉

  • lib2016


    It’s anecdotal but my experience is that a significant percentage of the next generation won’t be able to accept loyalism and have already dispaired of unionism.

    There’s a tremendous amount of insecurity about but it is slowly being dispelled…partly because the South is much more attractive as an economic partner now, partly because nationalists and republicans have had two generations of decent politicans firstly from the SDLP and currently from Sinn Fein and largely because unionists have not been able to modernise their identity.

    What arguments do we ever hear from unionists on this board which we wouldn’t have heard in 1969?

  • perci

    really good lib1016
    finding a way to harness the full potential of that despairing voice is a big challege, so “It’s clear that some big political questions remain”.

    on t’other side the voices of change who want the IRA off their backs in SA run into omerta, and the fear factor.
    I’d imagine many doubting loyalists feel the same fear of expressing their despair lest it appear disloyal, or lundyish, and instead hang on in quiet desperation; which is the English way ( Pink Floyd )

  • perci

    remember in the movie “Life of Brian”, when Brian was due for release from the cross, everyone yelled “I’m Brian”

    lib perhaps republicans could all change our names by deed poll to Brian Feeney, and wear BFeeney face masks, and imitate him across norn iron until unionists begged:
    ” I canna take it anymore… where do I sign to join the Republic” 😉

  • Perci:
    He is not The Brian Feeney-he is a very naughty boy!

  • abucs

    I’d say that if the DUP and Sinn Fein can carry through to the next Assembly elections and come out on top again, then that will open up the stage for looking at politics in an increasingly ‘normal’ way, for what is in the interests of the electorate as a whole.

    After that, i’d expect lots of major changes to be possible with regards to party alliances and existance and the political relationship NI has with its neighbours.