Defining ‘the Shared Future’

The words ‘shared future’ have entered our parochial political lexicon in recent years, through official government policies and political statements from elected representatives across the board. Earlier this week, several Protestant clergymen in north Belfast spoke out about their concerns that the new Executive was failing to deliver on the promise of ‘a shared future,’ though their criticism of the Executive’s emphasis on equality immediately positioned them (fairly or otherwise) on the unionist side of the spectrum regarding the developing debate of where equality fits in with ‘the shared future.’

Today, the DUP in Limavady railed against attempts to make the civic offices in the borough a neutral working environment for everyone, arguing that such moves were contrary to ‘the shared future.’

As in the laboured discussion about the ‘war’/ ‘conflict’/ ‘terrorist/ liberation campaign,’ I’m convinced that ‘the shared future’ means something considerably different to people from across the political divide. Perhaps not…

All of which brings me to the question: just what does ‘the Shared Future’ look like to you, readers?

  • cut the bull


    I also remember the Parades Commission at the behest of the Loyal Orders throwing the term Shared Space into the ring.

    I think the Commission quickly withdrew this terminology, when they realised although it sounded good and looked good on paper, in reality at present it’s unworkable

    Would the Parades Commission’s idea of shared space go as far as supporting a parade if Nationalists and Republicans decided to gather in Belfast and march up the Newtownards Rd to Stormont to either protest or celebrate any matter relating to the Assembly.

    I tink thses terms should be fully explained before they are used by Government bodies and public authorities.

  • flaminglip

    “DUP MP for the area Gregory Campbell added his disgust.”

    I must be very easily amused, for I found this funny but I don’t really know why.

  • Citizen Anderson

    Echo! (from 2 hours ago)

    I liked the last line

    “DUP MP for the area Gregory Campbell added his disgust.”

    …and apparently that’s enough saidl!

    It seems to be Mr Campbell’s version of sending his blessings.

    Posted by Citizen Anderson on Jan 18, 2008 @ 11:28 PM

  • Garibaldy

    There has been a history of deliberately ambiguous or empty phrases. There was a discussion at the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation on what exactly parity of esteem meant, with little clarity forthcoming.

    Personally, I’d say it meant increasingly integrated schools and housing, the active criminalisation of sectarian statements and actions, and a commitment from the Executive to apply the principle rigidly.

    Fat fucking chance.

  • The Raven

    There is very little hope for any shared future if Martina’s wee piece is anything to go by. British Government this…old Stormont regime that… Such “old” language. The politics of blame. And yet very little forthcoming from Sinn Fein in terms of solutions.

    A Shared Future is much more than Catholic/Protestant, British/Irish. It takes in poverty, deprivation; emerging new communities; age; gender; disability; Section 75; it is about ensuring that everyone has a place and influence regardless of background or view.

    “It must be a top priority to get an agreed way forward on a shared future within the framework of our already agreed legal and policy commitments and this will not be brought about through simply endorsing administrative policy documents but through using the existing political process,” says Martina.

    What IS the answer, Martina? Isn’t this what we elected you guys for? You’re in a majority party. You saying you cannot effect change from within to ensure equal investment across the whole community? Are you saying that funding such as the Local Community Fund, Neighbourhood Renewal programme, Areas at Risk programme are not addressing infrastructural inequalities? Your party endorses all of these, Martina; all big cash aimed at the very areas and issues to which I THINK, in between all the party-speak, you refer. Perhaps it’s not the British Government that needs to re-examine its funding policies.

    But you’re missing the point – and the fundamentals that have to be sorted out before we even get to talking about this sort of thing.

    “The CRC strategy is underpinned by a notion which is inadequate to the task. It’s no coincidence that the British Exchequer’s preferred option is changing attitudes rather then changing lives.” says Martina.

    What does that mean, Martina? Do you mean direct conflict resolution funding? Do you mean the British Government hasn’t supported this at at all? I am not being belligerent here, but I have read this sentence three times; I still don’t know what you mean by it. If you are referring to underinvestment by the British Government in Northern Ireland, then say so but don’t hide it behind the usual “we don’t get on well, give us more money”.

    But again, you are missing the fundamentals that have to be examined before we even talk about equality.

    Martina, the fact that something like 95% of our public housing stock still being segregated, is NOT the fault of Government. Not any more. It’s an extension and continuation of the still-divided society in which we live.

    And *that’s* why the Community Relations Council focuses on the need to change individual attitude, why individual attitudes are at the core of A Shared Future. CRC, for all its faults, realises that real change will only happen when individual attitudes change Peoples’ lives will only change when individual attitudes are changed.

    People are still CHOOSE to live segregated lives. Apparently, there have been more peace walls built SINCE the ceasefire than before it. That’s “peace time”, folks.

    From the Protestant Clergy: “It is the burial of the concept of sharing our future alongside the rapid gestation of equality, defined largely in legalistic terms that are so weak on human and social relationships.”

    And there is the crux of what A Shared Future is. It’s about examining, questioning, improving, normalising human and social relationships. It’s about looking at individual notions of where that individual “fits” in society. It’s about questioning where we came from, where we are at, and where we want to go to. It’s not about government funding or infrastructural issues. That comes later.

    It’s not about equality either. That also comes after the “where we want to go to” question is answered. I am not demeaning the place of equality. I am not even going to get into the usual arguments about who is or isn’t being discriminated against. I am saying that there are more fundamental issues which need to be sorted out before the “above-the-line” issues LIKE equality can ever be agreed.

    The Executive and the Assembly have failed to deliver a shared future strategy which can underpin everything else that falls out from it – equality, money, political and social development, etc. Until the Executive and the Assembly ask themselves some deep and personal questions about “where we are going to”, a shared future is going to be pretty much impossible to deliver.

  • The Penguin

    If unionists remove nationalist or republican symbols it’s called narrow-minded bigotry.

    When republican and nationalists remove unionist symbols it’s called “creating a neutral environment”.

    That’s a “shared future”.

  • The Penguin

    Must say the Limavady thing is as much about playing to the sectarian gallery in the wake of media reports and claims from disenchanted former members about the DUP running everything at Stormont, as it is about anything.

  • no nonsense

    Must say when talking about shared futures Chris the Limavady thing pales into insignificance when compared to the actions of sinn fein voters in south armagh who murdered young Paul Quinn beating him to a pulp for over half an hour while he screamed and begged for mercy.I really dont think that the dup members who railed are going to do that to anyone.

  • lib2016

    The Penguin,

    The point, which you appear to have missed, is that there were NO nationalist or republican symbols to remove.

    Nationalist and republican symbols have been refused permission and sometimes even criminalised for centuries.

    That cannot go on. The ‘Limavady thing’ is about highlighting the absurdity of reflecting only one side of a divided community.

    If it is wrong to refuse unionists a voice, and I believe it is, then surely it is also wrong to refuse republicans a voice?

  • no nonsense

    I suppose what i was saying was that no shared future for Paul Quinn due to the actions of twenty sinn feinn voters.

  • lib2016

    no nonsense,

    Would you prefer to swap atrocity stories or would you agree that helping to find a better way forward might be more productive.

    This is not to excuse in any way the murderers of the Quinn boy. I’m merely trying to point out that both communities have people capable of these offences.

    Is kicking an RUC officer to death on the street worse or better than beating Quinn to death in a barn? To me, that’s an unanswerable question.

    We have to find ways to ensure that neither happens again.

  • no nonsense

    Paul Quinn was slaughtered by sinn feinn voters and prominent republicans very very recently and as good republicans if gerry and marty were at a fund raiser they would still shake their hands.(They know who they are you know)and yes lib2016 you are excusing it you want it forgotton or you wouldnt be trying to make little out of my post.
    Irepeat no shared future for young Paul Quinn because of twenty of the good republican sinn fein voters of south armagh.And so lib2016 just in case you have forgotton in big Gerrys own words (they havnt gone away you kinow)they are still there so dont make little of young Paul Quinns murder please we think it stands out on its own in recent times. By the way when was that policeman kicked to death in the street?.

  • no nonsense

    By the way i am a catholic/nationalist and proud of it. But i wont under any circumstances excsue a bunch of republican sinn feinn voting thugs whose politicians and leaders want to also denegrate a young innocent man no way lib2016 save those silly analogies for your fellow travellers.

  • wild turkey

    just what does ‘the Shared Future’ look like to you, readers?

    It looks like an industry with great growth potential. Subs(idies) required

    just what does ‘the Shared Future’ look like to you, readers?

    It looks like acres of barren denuded land once covered with forests, but the forests were destroyed to make glossy consultation documents, conference reports and associated accoutrements

    just what does ‘the Shared Future’ look like to you, readers?

    It looks like an elocution lesson. Very polite and refined where we receive the proper inflection and pronounciation

    just what does ‘the Shared Future’ look like to you, readers?

    It looks like the proles and marginalized will be left to do the heavy lifting

    just what does ‘the Shared Future’ look like to you, readers?

    It looks like a sterile gray padded asylum cell with everything, utterly everything, removed so no offense can be taken or harm inflicted

    just what does ‘the Shared Future’ look like to you, readers?

    It looks like a memorial shrine to 9/11 that does not distinguish between those who died in the twin towers and those who hijacked the planes

    just what does ‘the Shared Future’ sound like to you, readers?

    “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner

  • no nosense

    “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner.thank you for that wild turkey its a very humbling thought.Now i want all you shinner spinners to think on that and then think about what your glorious leaders said about the young innocent man Paul Quinn that was slaughtered beaten to a pulp by the good republican sinn fein votersd of south armagh. Why dont you deep thinkers speak to those ahem men to done the vile crime and explain to them that its very very wrong and get gerry to ask slab to ask them to turn themselves in so that mr and mrs Quinn can have closure.

  • Garibaldy

    Speaking of symbols people find provocative, a whole load of memorials have been built to dead Provos without planning permission, often near where people were murdered by those commemeorated, or near Protestant churches or whatever. Are we going to see these removed to create a neutral environment?

  • RepublicanStones

    no nonsense it seems there is a few keys stuck on your keyboard, either than are your a parrot !

    oh and this gem

    ‘Paul Quinn was slaughtered by sinn feinn voters’

    so a party is responsible for the actions of its voters, the DUP has alot to answer for then !

  • joeCanuck

    Whatever it is, it doesn’t look like we’re going to get it anytime soon.

  • The Dubliner

    “All of which brings me to the question: just what does ‘the Shared Future’ look like to you, readers?”

    Two Siamese twins who live north of a welcome border with completely opposite tastes in everything, including coloured toilet paper, food (despite sharing one stomach), and boyfriends.

    If it ever has a meaning south of the border, it will relate solely to discussions about minority rights law, and will not stray into irrelevant economic , cultural or political issues, thereby disappointing the socialists and assorted hangers-on who see unity as an opportunity to advance their respective agendas.

  • no nonsense

    RepublicanStones you talk to the dup all you want old son sin fein took many ordinary people and buissness men in newry to francis street romper room usually four men in a car with the victim in the middle in the back seat to seperate him from his hard earned money after a little chat he usually ooops always made a donation to the cause.

  • RepublicanStones

    thats funny….you using the term ‘romper room’…that is funny !

  • no nonsense

    it wasnt so funny foe the poor people summoned or brought. Please tell me what you find funny about fear and extortion.

  • lib2016

    There seemed to have been some very strange, even foreign, attitudes to gun laws expressed here lately, not to mention the sudden emergence of a few new identities. Could it possibly be? Oh, surely not.

  • no nonsense

    lib2016 you talking like wild west atitudes like in bandit country like south armagh attitudes lololololol ho ho ho ho ho.

  • RepublicanStones

    rubber room quick !

  • no nonsense

    lololol poor ol RepublicanStones thats all he can come up with what age are you what part of the north you from.

    (rubber room quick ! Posted by RepublicanStones)
    manys the a good catholic/nationalist man and child you so called republicans put in a rubber room and a coffin but then a wee smart mouth with no feelings wouldnt be bothered by that at all .

  • RepublicanStones

    the mind boggles…. !

  • no nonsense

    the mind boggles…. !

    Posted by RepublicanStones

    Thank god im getting through at last.

  • RepublicanStones

    no sense c’mere and i’ll give ya ahug….i think you need one !

  • no nonsense

    no sense c’mere and i’ll give ya ahug….i think you need one.Oh my i wonder if you were in the position is that what you would have said to young Paul Quinn you sad little boy.

  • iain

    why don’t SF and SDLP just leave all the Unionist stuff and move in a load of nationalist stuff and vote through building a statue to some nationalist form the area? there’s nothing to gain from banning Uniouist tat!

  • iain

    scratch that. i see you’ve discussed this on the other thread. BTW, tat refers to mug/papers weights which i presume offend nationalist’s sense of taste. I wasn’t referring to certificates form the Royal Legion etc.

  • In my opinion a shared future is exactly that, a future that is for every one. The Stormont executive would have you believe that a shared future is a neat little pie divided 50/50. A country is not a pie.

    For a me a shared future is an end to whataboutery, to stop dwelling on the past and casting up who did what to whom when. For me a shared future is about getting services to those who need it.

    Sadly the majority of the parties in the Assembly seem content to wallow in the past and take part in a carve up of the country.

  • Citizen Anderson


    I agree. My thoughts;

    1) For too long the tricolour has seemed like an INLA/IRA logo to people who don’t go south much. It deserves better and I’d like to see it flown alongside the Union flag outside all civic buildings in NI all the time.

    2) Alongside this I’d like the people of northern Ireland to share in the election of an all-Ireland president who would in turn share responsibility with the Queen or a new Governor for approving NI bills. This is “joint sovereignty” without “joint administration” and I think it’s the way forward. It’s similar to the position in the co-principality of Andorra (highest life expectancy in the world btw).

    To my mind “sharing” is what happens when everybody orders what they want but gets to try a bit of other peoples’ choices. It isn’t about everyone having to order a boring old korma or jealously protecting their peshwari naan whilst looking aghast at the other guy’s Sag Aloo. Similarly a “shared future” should mean more overt and accepted expression of identity, not less.

    That also means removing threat or degradation of identity. Once we’re flying the tricolour and the union flag outside all our town halls (and at all our sports grounds?) let’s have a zero tolerance policy to unauthorized displays and get all the ugly Brits-Out/Sniper graffitti off our walls and the tatty rags off our lamposts.

    3) While we’re at giving people a choice I’d like to see the automatic issue of both an Irish and a British passport for all applications made in NI. By all means throw the one you don’t value in the bin if that’s what you want but many people are more than comfortable with the idea of dual nationality – do they need to be made to choose? For parties it may turn out that a commitment to people of “dual (or multiple) nationality” is a more useful and ambitious idea than what might seem a defensive “united community” position.

    That’ll do for now.

  • The Dubliner

    I’d quite like the UK taxpayers to cut their subvention to NI to zero, thereby encouraging wistful northerners to reacquaint themselves with reality and the old adage about beggars not being choosers. If you want a Utopia, have the dignity and self-respect to earn it and build it from your own enterprise, instead of expecting enterprising others to finance it for you.

  • Citizen Anderson

    Was that for me Dubliner?

  • The Dubliner

    To all the dreamers, Citizen. It seems to have escaped the attention of the Utopia-builders that public spending is already a staggering 71.6% of GDP and rising – not to mention the attempt to inject positive rights (socio-economic policies masquerading as rights) into the proposed BoR which, if granted, will have the effect of increasing it further. Are you going for a Guinness Book entry of 100%? The reality is you are wholly dependent on the charity of others, and should not be making any demands other than related to forcing your Executive to cut public spending and stimulate private sector investment. If you become self-sufficient, you are then in a position to negotiate with your de facto keepers about what type of society you’d like. As it stands, you’re not. But don’t let reality get in the way just now: the UK has already committed 50 billion (which amounts to a lot of toil by UK taxpayers), so that’ll keep you are dreaming for the next ten years, anyway.

  • Citizen Anderson

    I’ll not post my tax return Dubliner but I’ll reserve the right to dream thanks. How many northern educated people currently contribute to the southern economy. Woud you object if they assigned their taxes to the jurisdiction that raised them?

    You’re right that NI must become self-reliant but to talk of “dreaming” given the distance already travelled makes you sound inexperienced rather than worldly. You don’t seem to understand the rate of change in the real world.

  • The Raven

    Naturally, the Dubliner conveniently forgets that part of the problem is the fact there was so little investment – in comparison on a per capita basis – for so many years by the government.

    He also conveniently forgets that the amount of funding given by the European Union which actually got his part of the island to the stage it’s at now.

    Certainly our public spending is outrageous. And certainly aspects of it will increase as infrastructure is improved. But I predict a rosy future. Latest business start figures are on the increase – ask any enterprise agency in the North. Tourism is up – and we can only benefit as tourists turn from the overpriced South, which frankly is starting to look a little jaded in the brochures. Unemployment here is a it’s lowest for years, with many boroughs below the 5% level which is usually the benchmark for full employment. Access to services is improving. It can only get better.

    There’s only 1.7m of us here in the North. We can never really be a net contributor to the UK. But to agree with Citizen Anderson, Dubliner’s post pretty much reinforces my belief that he is “yesterday’s man”, and really shows what little grasp he has of the changes here in the North.

  • cut the bull

    look at the Short Strand and explain to the people in that community the concept of a shared future.

    That district is surrounded by peace walls. Some of the concrete and brick vaiety while others are more user friendly and pleasing to the eye, the large planted areas along the Albertbridge Rd and the Short Strand.

    The people who live in the Short Strand are in fact living in an open air prison hemmed in by the above mentioned shrewdly named peace lines and constanly under surviellance from the CCTV cameras which cover every entrance and exit point.

    So much for a shared future, such a laugh

  • joeCanuck

    We can never really be a net contributor to the UK.

    Possibly true, Raven, but if you start out thinking that you cannot succeed, you most definitely won’t.

  • joeCanuck

    Maybe the shared future will involve both sides tearing down those physical walls, ctb, along with the mental ones which are badly in need of demolishing too.

  • Citizen Anderson

    Cut the bull,

    You’re right. I took a German supplier down the Newtownards Road last year and as I tried to explain the local demographic geography to him he looked at me in shock and said “but that’s a ghetto!”.

    It’s a scar on all of us and even more ridiculous when you consider the amount of friendly mixing that’s going on in other parts of Belfast.

    Any practical ideas?

  • cut the bull

    The Short Strand is a very fibrant area which could be described as an urban village and it has the potential to become exactloy that.

    Your German friend was right to describe this district as a ghetto, which it is, but not by choice of the residents but by carefully crafted and purposely planned design by securocrats.

    Simimlar planning has also been used throughout the world in South Africa the Apartheid governments used a systemknown as corallment, where they closed of black townships from the rest of the city and put security and cameras around the entrances and exits.

    The sad thing I think is that younger kids and many teenagers and even people in their early twenties actually see these fences, barriers and multiple security CCTV as a normal way of living.

    This district would’nt be more than two miles from Stormont and its a sad indication that this area has infact been remilitarised with walls and cameras as opposed being demilitarised like many other areas.

  • George

    He also conveniently forgets that the amount of funding given by the European Union which actually got his part of the island to the stage it’s at now.

    Ah, the convenience of forgetting. Northern Ireland got three times as much EU cash per capita as the Republic (and didn’t have to hand over hundreds of billions in fishing rights in return). The difference is NI wasted it.

    That’s before we even talk about the handouts from the British fairy godmother.

  • DK

    Well if it is to be a shared future, then it has to be something that is shared, so the ideas by Citizen Anderson of every thing duplicated does not really meet the concept of “shared”.

    Ultimatley we really need some sort of shared concept of the North East part of Ireland. The term “Northern Ireland” while used by pretty much everyone isn’t really shared as to many it still has evocations of discrimination and British oppression – never mind the sih to get rid of it altogether.

    But working within the parameter that we are different from the rest of Ireland and the UK (in terms of accents if not much more), we do need some sort of shared “Ulster” identity. And this is unfortunate for Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan; as they cannot share this identity (same difference as for the poor Canadians, who aren’t really “Americans”).

    So – new name for the 6 counties: “Ulster”; new flag (that yellow one with the red cross and the star and hand on it); new anthem (fecking Danny Boy – learn to live with it).

    Something we can all share?

  • Briso

    For me a shared future means me getting on with my life and Alliance shutting up about it.

  • Citizen Anderson


    You seem to be of the “make something everyone can eat” camp. I’m more of a tapas man myself. A little bit of everything. I’ll share your British/Irish identity if you share my Irish/British one and soon we’ll all be distinctly northern Irish (small “n” see).

    Regional pride is a good thing though.

    The Ulster Flag already stirs the blood amongst the Ulster Rugby fraternity and the GAA. I don’t remember a star on it though. Happy to use that. That other one with the crown is pretty ugly.

    What about also using the assembly motif with the six flax flowers? Isn’t that the “agreed” symbol of our democratic settlement.

    That tune is the Londonderry Air. No-one in their right mind would demand that it’s changed to the Derriere. So we can remember that name in our regional anthem (and also use it for the walled World Heritage Site) whilst letting the bogsiders drop “London” from their municipal council name if that is what they wish.

  • DK

    Citizen Anderson – It’s a deal. Now how do we persuade everyone else (or do we just need 50% +1)

  • eranu

    ‘shared future’ would be things that both traditions can identify with. not ‘their stuff’ and ‘our stuff’.

    the best example is the police. we now have a badge/emblem that represents NI. all the little icons round the st pats cross add up to a representation of NI. one badge and one force that everyone can be happy with.

    now you make a list of other things that both sides can identify with. then a list of things both sides dislike about the others ‘stuff’. then work from there.

  • joeCanuck

    “Poor Canadians”.

    Wash your mouth out.

  • Citizen Anderson


    One symbol on the PSNI badge is a crown. Its symbols are a mixture of “their stuff”, “our stuff” and classical (torches, olive leaves, scales) shared stuff.

    In vixillological terms the equivalent might be;

    Tricolour + Union Flag + Assembly Flag

  • Citizen Anderson



    Tricky new big word.

    And too lazy to preview.