“By merely daring to gaze into the future..”

In the Guardian Henry McDonald makes some good points about the difficulties in discussing the “ugly scaffolding”, and hints at why the [long-term] conversation about it is worth having.

In essence, the criticism, much of it venomous, directed at Durkan illuminates the power of tribal politics in Northern Ireland. By merely daring to gaze into the future and hint that perhaps one day there could be sufficient respect and trust to produce a government of volunteer parties Durkan faced accusations that he was not only naive but in addition disloyal to his own tribe.

The tidal pull of tribalism makes it perilous for politicians to even float the idea of a voluntary cross-community coalition. Because they will inevitably face charges from cynics and sceptics within their own tribe that you could never trust the other side to willingly enter into a power sharing arrangement without compulsion.

In that sense leaders such as Durkan are as much prisoners of history and memory as those residents on either side of the so-called “peace walls” who have consistently said in opinion polls that they would like the barriers to come down but are so fearful of the “other” that they will remain huddled behind them for decades to come.