Stormont ‘tit for tat’ will put off investors…

In the wake of the Mairead Farrell commemoration event at Stormont on Friday, which seems to have drawn all hands on deck (to the point of stretching the party’s full time staffers extremely thinly on Friday), there have been protests and counter protests. The Assembly imposed a ban on filming within Parliament buildings to prevent the proceedings there being filmed and have inadvertently banned BBC cameras from Monday’s Assembly plenary. Gerry Adams has is not impressed:

As we work during the next few months to persuade US investors and others to attend an investment conference in May, which is about creating jobs for people, picking sham fights will only serve to dissuade business people to come here”

Garrett FitzGerald had an interest and informed perspective on this angle in his Irish Times column this weekend. It was highly critical of Unionists too, but for entirely different reasons:

I can recall meetings with parties in the North at which I endeavoured to alert members of different parties to the catastrophic decline in that area’s share of our island economy – but evoked only blank looks from both sides. I had hoped that when the time came in the mid-1990s for these parties to sit down together to seek a settlement of their differences, they might at last consider addressing crucial economic issues.

Perhaps it was too much to hope that Sinn Féin/IRA, which had spent a quarter of a century seeking to destroy the Northern Ireland economy, would at that stage start to reflect on the extent to which their activities had succeeded in throwing up a huge new obstacle to progress towards Irish political unity. But, unhappily, in that negotiation unionists of both varieties appeared equally uninterested in serious economic issues.

It’s a familiar theme from FitzGerald. Last year he laid out in great detail just how badly the IRA’s war against economic targets debilitated the potential for political union with the Republic. Meantime, the ‘sham fight’ seems to be turning into a game of reactive aggression, with the first play being negative, and spiralling downwards.

Adams may be right in essence, but as FitzGerald notes there have been two players at this mutually self destructive game for some years.

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

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