The SDLP must go it alone without big brother

Only a year ago, it seemed a merger/takeover was on the brink. Now Brian Cowen has hammered in the last nail on the coffin of any Fianna Fail-SDLP merger or a go – it -alone in the North. Although many SDLP members might not think so with all the party’s dithering on the issue, this is good news for politics. It forces attention where it matters more than ever, the internal affairs of Northern Ireland. A Fianna Fail North has nothing to offer Fianna Fail. It would further seriously unsettle political behaviour in the Assembly and entrench the “national question” at the heart of an Assembly system designed to move it to the edges. The clincher has to be that it’s clearly impossible for Fianna Fail the natural party of government in the Republic, to be at one and the same time one of two referees of the Northern Ireland political system as well as one of the lesser players inside it. The same goes for a Conservative government in London. The only thing that would revive the idea would be a full merger between the Ulster Unionists and the Conservatives. Mergers with metropolitan parties in London or Dublin are the product of wishful thinking, the dream of achieving the nirvanas of a secure Union or Irish unity by the back door – and in the short term dishing the Shinners or the DUP. All they’ve achieved so far is to cause left-right splits within parties that are still essentially communalist i.e. tribally-based. and if they have any sense, the metropolitan parties will avoid getting dragged into the mire. A Fianna Fail north would not necessarily win all battles against Sinn Fein in the north. That exposure could only boost Sinn Fein in the south. Both national parties have a far stronger interest in keeping the British-Irish relationship sweet and developing variable geometry for the region.

The SDLP should stop looking over its shoulder for the magic bullet. In the 108 seat STV system there’s room for two parties on either side. The desire to become proxies on each side of the unity question is an insult to the people who elected them and yet another distraction from the hard graft of making Stormont work. Their best hope is to concentrate on the people’s issues and co-operate across the divide.

  • Brian

    The SDLP decided to go it alone this summer when Durkan made his ‘SDLP is not for sale’ speech. see http://oconallstreet.com/2008/05/07/the-sdlps-future/.

    I believe many in the party and in the North will agree in generla terms with your analysis.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Is the Pan Naionalist movement dead?

  • Rory

    I must say that, on this question of a Fíanna Fáil/Sinn Féin merger, I have not yet heard such an absolute load of complete sense expounded. I have absolutely nothing to add except perhaps to express the hope that such clear-sighted, level-headed commentary does not become a regular feature on Slugger. It might confuse and frighten the natives.

  • Ned

    What a complete load of utter patronising nonsense!

    Yes, Brian, we must keep the natives sandbagged in their pre-historic little tribes. Let them continuously re-live the divisions of the 17th century, for the rest of us wouldn’t touch these oafs with a 40ft poll.

    That’s, from what I can tell, your atitude to Northern Ireland. Condescending wouldn’t be the word for it. If you are actually from here, then it’s even more unforgiveable.

    I suggest that you watch this space. The second merger that you it may well happen – and perhaps quite soon.

  • joedevlin

    This still doesn’t rule out some type of ‘Partnership for Ireland’ between FF and SDLP as far as I see it..

  • elvis Parker

    Yes Brian people in Northern Ireland should have no interest in dublin or London politics.
    Dublin has minor interest in NI via a few North South bodies but thats all.
    And as for London.
    No one in Northern Ireland is affecting by Pension Credits, Winter Fuel payments, Corporation Tax, income tax? What I load of rubbish Brian.
    You’ve obviously of the opinion that ‘the sectarian isolation ward’ attitude to politics must prevail so that people like you can look down disdainfully and offer comment on the shennigans of our small time politicians.
    Brian wake up many people here at sick of our local parties and if through mergers are whatever they are offered a wider CHOICE what could be wrong with that?

  • runciter

    distraction from the hard graft of making Stormont work

    The problem for unionists like Brian is that the nationalist appetite for “making Stormont work” was based on the idea that nationalism would be treated as an equal partner.

    Since the DUP have made it clear that their goal is to block nationalism at every turn, nationalist enthusiasm for devolution has rapidly dwindled.

    Let it fail, and let’s see what happens next.

  • Would an unalloyed load of nonsense. Ourselves alone, eh? Elvis Parker put it very well.

  • Big Bird

    Brian

    The SDLP decided to go it alone this summer when Durkan made his ‘SDLP is not for sale’ speech. see http://oconallstreet.com/2008/05/07/the-sdlps-future/.

    I believe many in the party and in the North will agree in generla terms with your analysis.

    Posted by Conall McDevitt on Sep 17, 2008 @ 10:38 AM

    Unless the Irish Labour Party steps in with a bid….!?

  • Ulsters my homeland

    The problem for unionists like Brian is that the nationalist appetite for “making Stormont work” was based on the idea that nationalism would be treated as an equal partner.

    Don’t make me laugh. You can’t be considered an equal partner if you continually want to force through issues which are seen as benefiting one party only, issues like the Irish language Act and the devolution of policing and justice. No ‘real’ partner would behave in such a manner, especially not publically.

    Let’s remind ourselves what the IRA/Sinn Fein green book says:

    ” To make the Six Counties as at present and for the past several years ungovernable except by colonial military rule. ”

    Partners my ASS!!

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “Is the Pan Naionalist movement dead?”

    It seems to be UMH, no doubt much to your relief. So you can stop going on about it now.
    No All-Ireland soccer league either, you’ll be happy to hear too!
    Next they’ll probably propose building a wall around NI, which I’m sure you’d agree with. The less association the better, says you.

  • Jer

    Labour’s focus is on building the party in the southern jurisdiction. They have some big challenges in building grassroots operations and preparing for a generational handover if they want to get out of their 10% rut. There will be no Labour move north.
    Moving North would cost money and time for parties. No one has that money to spend and generally Fianna Fail can reap the benefits by cyclically promising to move north so whats the advantage there either.

  • runciter

    Partners my ASS!!

    Fine, but be prepared to watch Stormont fall once again.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Jer, the Labour Party in the south have rather lost their way; they have lost the essence of what James Connolly espoused. They are way too middle class and are so out of touch with working class folk. With horrendous TD’s such as Joan Burton etc… no wonder their popularity has waned.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    “[i]Next they’ll probably propose building a wall around NI, which I’m sure you’d agree with. The less association the better, says you.”[/i]

    Neighbours is fine, we know our boundries, just don’t think you can knock down the adjoing wall, shit in my toilet and eat my biscuits.

  • Twilight of the Prods

    Brian,

    We may be doomed to be the mad tribal people in the state’s attic, squabbling over whatever slops are dolloped on the tray and pushed under the door, but do you have to be so happy about it? Rather than focusing on ‘the national question’, FF North might have started debates about the economy and social provision, oddball things like that, from a party used to taxing, spending and being accountable to an electorate. Who knows, it might have caught on!

    In any case, the ‘national question’ is only the tip of the communal political edifice here. FF North wouldn’t have exacerbated things that way,the history of FF is mostly about screening off partition behind liturgical republican verbiage. If anything they might have shifted debate away from the more in your face communal one upmanship.

  • “All they’ve achieved so far is to cause left-right splits within parties that are still essentially communalist i.e. tribally-based.”

    Surly anyone who truly believes in democracy as it is practiced in the rest of the west, would work to encourage left-right splits within these parties and an end of communal politics. But hold on, were that to actually happen, the grubby little sectarian northern statelet would be no more. Funny how the most sophisticated of middle class unionists often have a bigoted monster lurking within them demanding to be let loose.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “…..just don’t think you can knock down the adjoing wall, shit in my toilet and eat my biscuits.”

    ….kinda a rediculous anal-ogy UMH!

  • nineteensixtyseven

    This is a distraction created by FF and ended by FF. I’m sure many in the SDLP are glad it’s over.

  • Sinn Fein are having a great time of it at the moment.The british prime minister endorses their position on P/J and the plastic 32 county republicans in the south have to come clean and admit there just a bunch of posers.
    What next big Ian saying that he has come around to believing that the 32 county Irish republic is the only workable solution.Can it get much better than this.

  • Twilight of the Prods

    Blinder,

    Sinn Fein started showing up the plastic republicans of FF with the initiation of the glorious ‘painting postboxes green’ campaign. Underlining the ever present need to continue to think strategically, and go forward together as Republicans. To B&Q;.

  • Brian Walker

    Some of the above comment is quite beside the point. I am not precluding north-south or east -west developments of any kind for the whole NI community. I am opposed to these political party mergers as they appear to be a distraction from the more insistent and attainable needs of the community the parties concerned were elected to serve.

  • Ned

    “Some of the above comment is quite beside the point. I am not precluding north-south or east -west developments of any kind for the whole NI community. I am opposed to these political party mergers as they appear to be a distraction from the more insistent and attainable needs of the community the parties concerned were elected to serve.”

    Not an argument that stands up with the remotest bit of credibility, I am afraid. By this totally insane logic, we should indefinitely abstain from meaningful involvement in issues such as tax levels, defence and foreign affairs, business regulation, the European Union, immigration etc. Sorry, but these are all at least as important as the competencies devolved to Stormont. Why you think allowing our local people to get involved with them whist of course simultaneously progressing devolved government is, quite frankly, bizarre.

    In any case, we are certainly not dealing with an either / or scenario.

  • bob Wilson

    ‘the more insistent and attainable needs of the community the parties concerned were elected to serve’

    The more insistent and attainable needs of the people these days are the issues controlled by Westminster. Fuel duty, etc.

    You seem to be one of those people who say Northern Ireland citizens should be deprived of the right to get involved in the politics of the UK – the politics that effect their daily lives for fear it will offend nationalists.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Brian,

    An interesting post, but I think you have gone too far. If a party is seeking constitutional change, there is an inevitable period of confusion when the harmony that democracy provides between the individual and national interests is upset by the existence of two competing national interests.

    It is, however, possible to minimise this conflict. The proposed mergers that exist clearly require different approaches. The UUP-Tory deal will require a denial of the conflict of interest at all times, giving it its own difficulties. Any North-South merger would require enough balance to maintain support in both jurisdictions until a re-unification. This would mean balancing the gains of the constitutional position against losses on more everyday issues.

    Your analysis seems to suggest that this final balance is never in the interests of people in Northern Ireland. I would suggest that there are those on both sides of the border who would disagree, notwithstanding SF’s difficulties in the last Southern elections. As regards the SDLP, you can find their attempt, aside from the merger discussions, in the policy document ‘North South Makes Sense.’ This was a large influence on the Republic’s National Development Plan – http://www.ndp.ie

    I’d be interested to hear your opinions on both and how they correspond to your analysis. For my part, I think you’re implying too great a contrast between the two interests. As ever, most conflicts can be resolved by a perspective more comprehensive in scope, no matter the point of departure. I think the SDLP-FF policies were very close to their respective visions, and would be of economic benefit in a fairly short time-frame to all involved, North-South/East-West.

  • Rory

    Wouldn’t it be more “natural”, if the SDLP seek an all-Ireland identity, to merge with the Progressive Democrats who today find themselves where the SDLP are likely to find theirselves tomorrow, after which those with the neatest haircuts can take up more comfortable positions as “nice catholics” in the Alliance Party.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    “[i]…..just don’t think you can knock down the adjoing wall, shit in my toilet and eat my biscuits.”

    ….kinda a rediculous anal-ogy UMH!”[/i]

    Maybe not Greagoir. While the good will of the Ulster people welcomed the removal of a checkpoint border, the Republic started to send over hundreds of tonnes of illegal waste into be N.Ireland. Meanwhile the Irish dignitaries crossed the border uninvited by the Ulster people, and unashamedly spent our hard earned tax on their own invite. Gatecrashers

  • DC

    “An interesting post, but I think you have gone too far.”

    Re the merger, don’t shoot the messenger take it up with Dermot Ahern – it’s game over for the moment as decided upon by FF, the Northern tail shall not wag the Southern dog, etc.

    Right now Ireland needs to react in its own particular way to the problems occurring at the moment and people shouldn’t look for an out whenever consent is the actual way in.

  • Reader

    Mick Hall: Funny how the most sophisticated of middle class unionists often have a bigoted monster lurking within them demanding to be let loose.
    So do you think nationalists should set an example – by dismantling their parties of communal politics? Then will Alliance and the Greens build your new Ireland?

  • Brian Walker

    Damian, Thanks for the opportunity for a genuine debate with an actual player. First, I’m amazed how unselfconsciously ( unconsciously?) one sided you are over this, if I understand you rightly. You say: ” The UUP-Tory deal will require a denial of the conflict of interest at all times, giving it its own difficulties.” And you think a “north-south merger wouldn’t? Its sauce for the gander, Damian. To continue the point: “Any North-South merger would require enough balance to maintain support in both jurisdictions until a re-unification. “Until”? Two things wrong there. One, this is a determinist view that might not happen – I know this is embarrassingly basic but it is a point I truly make objectively ; and two, the internal political structures require almost dead balance to work for a long time to come – and they have barely started. What balance do I mean? Between the two sections of the community, not between either community and its emotional hinterland. And where does that balance lie? A little off centre to the right so to speak,in favour of majority unionism at the moment. For nationalism, parity of esteem yes, but not quite co-equal governance. This is a description of the state we’re in, slightly asymmetric to achieve balance. OK, you’ve a right to try to redress the balance by going outside the immediate polity but by doing so you risk upsetting the very delicate balance at the present time. That’s what I mean by the illusion of unity through the back door. ( Incidentally if you don’t get it, what does your electorate think? I’d leave that route to SF). A wider north-south agenda can operate in a myriad ways better than through party mergers, all-island economy, expanding the remit of the ministerial council, EU cross border regional status, all sorts of organic development. The advantage of this route is that it is more transparent and accountable to the wider pulbic in a way internal party structures are not. And here we find an asymmetry which may be more to your liking. All unionists need in order to be unionists is the union, in my view. Nationalists need north-south intergovernmental, interpersonal inter-all-you-can-think of short of traditional political sovereignty. But its a logic that benefits all. That’s the way to unity if at all, not through enclosed political party structures.

    It would be a good deal if you or your children could get it,Damian. You won’t get it through link-up with FF,the stereotype is too strong even under the most emollient leader.Cowen (“hollow out the Britishness”) lacks that particular attribute and is too ruthlessly focused on his own polity to try at the moment and I suspect, for a long time to come..

  • Damian O’Loan

    Brian,

    Thanks for your reply. I’m an ‘actual player’ only in the sense that I don’t hide my identity, no actual involvement though.

    To take your point on the one-sidedness, I deliberately didn’t look at the UUP-Toy situation because I don’t feel too qualified to comment on it. I could add, for balance, that it does strike me that it is the Tories who would define the relationship, and who, primarily, would have to defend the accusations of divided interest. That is simply because I’d suggest there would be greater sympathy in the Southern electorate than the British. The problem for the SDLP-? could be just as tricky, given a hospital location near the border to be decided, for example. I merely think they would benefit from slightly more latitude. They may have some issues harmonising certain areas of social policy, and how it is spun. But generally they would have much more to unite them than divide, and I think the merger would be less complicated than the choices facing the SDLP. The resulting coalition would be infinitely preferable to live under than a DUP as majority for a nationalist, and I suspect, unionist. That’s still brief, but perhaps more clear.

    I gave ‘re-unification’ its article to show that, obviously, re-unification isn’t a given whatsoever. But I didn’t labour the point as I was looking at the situation from their joint perspective. So we’re agreed on the basic point. And to a great degree on your second.

    I do feel, though, that on a five- to ten-year basis, the situation should be stable enough to include a merged SDLP, and so those negotiations need to be ongoing at the moment or very soon. The need for stability is the immediate priority, but I think the situation can withstand the talks and processes in the meantime. What those talks led to would be critical in justifying the risk though.

    And there your left-right analysis becomes relevant. It does not seem certain to me that there is any real force for left-wing politics in the Assembly, and that the public stance on this axis needs to be more clearly exposed. I would suggest that we are a long way to the right of where you say we need to be, but I’m not sure that isn’t close to what most voters want.

    That worries me because at a year zero phase, I think long-term vision and investment in education are the no 1 priority, and this would be more associated with the left. I found the Budget to be disappointingly short-term. But it represented the Westminster position with a few tweaks, and the Westminster and FF’s Dublin visions are really not radically different.

    Which means that your focus on institutions is far from mis-guided. I think our positions are rather closer than you might want to hope. I simply think it should be done transparently, with a clear statement of ambition to secure trust in the long-term. I think that the shape of any merger is crucial, and the post-election timing was not ideal in this respect, in part relating to your concerns, but also because it was too weak a negotiation baseline.

    I commented before on how the last election marked the ascendancy of economic conditions over the constitutional question. I think the comments this week in the Chamber testify to that. That will decrease the emotion at stake when the constitutional question is raised. It means a convincing economic argument will have to be provided. These things will become possible, it is a question of deciding when could be appropriate for it to be given priority. Institutional focus is more effective, but at some point it also has to be open.

  • Brian Walker

    It may be a truism but one of the things that strikes me very forceably in Slugger comments generally is the almost pathological depth of distrust between the (sometimes excessively) politically articulate on both sides. In my younger days, when everybody was being hit by the big shocks of the Troubles every day, there nonetheless seemed to be quite a large if unfocused centre who mightn’t agree on much but shared something of a common language and an experience in adversity. Much of that seems to have evaporated. Paradoxically it may be more difficult to rediscover that common language in “peace time”.

    New shocks may now the order of the day. Is it now seriously dawning on SF that they’re not after all on a rollercoaster to unity by 2016 or thereabouts? Can it be that they ever really thought so in their hearts? Slugger comments in this thread accuse me of denying the people a way ahead, as if unity were quite obviously the only recourse, with it taken as read – no argument! that unionists will always want to deny them the good life and nationalists are innately untrustworthy. From my reading of history, this resembles the atmosphere of the early 1920s when the rough beast of partition was being born.

    I can see that in what is really an atmosphere of despair how an opening to cross-border party mergers might be a strategy of hope.

    But on the other side, it is incontestably in the narrow interests of unionists as well as the whole community to work the system properly, to develop the NI public sphere, and radiate beyond it. Cynics will say this is buying off nationalism but that is a hopelessly passive attitude on their part.

    Now that “the war is over,” the three stranded system pretty well insulates NI from undue pressures from either Irish or British nationalism and metropolitan exploitation, even under minority or coalition governments in Dublin to London. Self-serving London and Dublin political pressures will tend to cancel each other out.

    Now that the big negotiations are over, local party leverage is limited to the zero sum game to pull the plug. There are very few cards left in it. Maybe that’s why the DUP are clinging on wistfully to the J&P;card and SF to their insistence on a strict timetable.

    On the economy its firefighting time and there may be a time lag before NI is hit hard because of the size of the public sector. Ideally, they should use the time to make savings like the marginal costs of sectarianism but I can’t see that happening quickly.

    No, it’s small steps, take it day by day. If they can lift the road blocks on proxy issues of distrust like P&J;and start drawing up road maps for others like secondary education, the atmosphere could change quite quickly.

  • This constant wishing for, even expectation of a deus ex machina coming in from elsewhere to save us from ourselves is another sign of this society’s political immaturity. At the end of the day, there’s only one person who can’t run away from one’s own problems.

    I’m also curious how a catch all, non-ideological party, largely defined by the side its members’ great-grandparents fought on in the Irish Civil War, can bring non-tribal politics here.

    If people here wanted left-right politics, they could have voted for it at any time since the introduction of the mass franchise. They haven’t, even when parties from outside contested elections in Northern Ireland (remember, the UUP were part of the Tory Party until 1972) it didn’t exactly bring non-tribal, left-right, politics, did it? What about the Irish Labour Party running Newry and Newcastle for decades?

    If you want left-right politics, go and set up a left- or right-wing party and start looking for members and votes. There’s nothing stopping anyone, is there?

  • runciter

    This constant wishing for, even expectation of a deus ex machina coming in from elsewhere to save us from ourselves is another sign of this society’s political immaturity.

    What is delusional is that the idea that NI is some kind of independent entity, charting its own course into to future. NI can never be independent of outside forces, due mainly to the fact that it was designed from the outset to be a vassal state.

    Furthermore, it is perfectly reasonable – and sensible – for nationalists to develop links with the south in whatever ways they can. Even if this upsets the unionists on Slugger.

  • NI can never be independent of outside forces, due mainly to the fact that it was designed from the outset to be a vassal state.

    Nowhere can be independent of outside forces. It’s 2008. What’s your point?

    Furthermore, it is perfectly reasonable – and sensible – for nationalists to develop links with the south in whatever ways they can. Even if this upsets the unionists on Slugger.

    You are completely misunderstanding what I’m trying to say. There is nothing stopping people forming political links in any direction they want. Sinn Féin are organised on a, you know, all-Ireland basis already. Has this stopped tribal politics? No. So why would an FF takeover of the SDLP or a Tory take over of the UUs be any different?

    Northern Ireland has always been a place apart – since before it was Northern Ireland. Maybe that’s a bad thing, but that doesn’t make it any less the case. If people really wanted ‘left-right politics’ then they would vote for it. They don’t.

  • DC

    “On the economy its firefighting time and there may be a time lag before NI is hit hard because of the size of the public sector. Ideally, they should use the time to make savings like the marginal costs of sectarianism but I can’t see that happening quickly.

    It goes back fundamentally to the GFA and the stance of the DUP when they constructed vacuous political propaganda of this hoped for ‘fair deal’. But in doing so they ripped hard apart the most modernising parts of unionism, Trimble’s perplexed nature of leadership scuppered gains to be had from modernising with integrity.

    10 years, feel-good factor years, wasted by going in so hard, too hard, in order to pop themselves into power using the blow back from that party’s unfounded and falsely constructed criticism – given where they now are – it is admittance that they got it all wrong really. That 10 years could have been used to build confidence and gain traction in terms of reforming the structures, not just governance but public sector pay structures and balance of private and public enterprise, and indeed building up confidence towards reconciliation.

    Today the DUP are part and parcel of why unionists have a certain antipathy to the PSNI and if justice is that glue in society the DUP, knowing full well then that the PSNI couldn’t be removed still went in hard, too hard again, on that GFA issue. Poor leadership. Of course Sinn Fein have a clear list of failures both inter-personal and distasteful politics at times re certain conflict issues, but are they or will they be anything else other than prickly and dry with unionists given unionists own narrow view of the conflict and its associated politics. Yet Unionists see themselves as doing a great job.

    While the prolapse of capital is happening it is important to state that all analysis must be ‘in context’ so when you look over the last 10 years and see where the DUP have ended up, faced right now with challenges requiring serious political and economic innovation, it would be fair to say that the DUP fucked people about for nothing other than intra-bloc power games; failing the people of NI overall. This writing of a bogus story built on improper fear was done to suit political survival – it was personnel not politics – 10 wasted years. This is testiment as to why I believe Unionism cannot serve with integrity in Northern Ireland post-98. We don’t need a party that is just about describing a political arrangement we need a party that puts people first, all people.

    And it is very important because to get to where you want to go internally Brian all this will need mammoth efforts to overcome this intra-ethnic hostility let alone inter-ethnic, sadly the DUP have no one else to blame other than themselves. Progress will be slow with these existing elected actors, particularly given the roots thrown down by the DUP over the last 40 years and indeed 10.

  • Brian Walker

    DC, There’s a lot in what you say as a back story. But we are where we are. The dynamic tension of the internal structures is now being stretched, but somehow not to the extent of the old decommissioning days. We all feel that this is not the breaker, don’t we? It may just be a maker. We’ll see…

  • runciter

    Has this stopped tribal politics?

    Tribal politics will exist as long as NI exists, since the former is a symptom of the latter.

    The dream of ending tribalism with internal “solutions” is unionist-flavoured wishful thinking.

  • Runciter,

    so it’s all themmins’ fault? Great analysis. Good luck ending tribalism with that sort of thinking.

  • jivaro

    The great triumph of the isolation of Northern Ireland from the broader politics of the UK which took place in the 1920s has been the emergence of a deracinated provincial political class (mostly, but not entirely Unionist) which imagines that the frozen sectarian/nationalist political divisions of Northern Ireland are in some ineffable way ‘superior’ to the left/right political divisions found elsewhere.

    O’Neill’s crowd were the apotheosis of this tendency. Their flight into sectarian flag waving (ad worse) at the rise of the NILP in the 1960s is the clearest example of this.

    But the provincial and proud of it tendency remains influential to this day.

    The present structures of devolution – like the previous ones – was explicitly constructed to freeze political thought and action into sectarian forms.

    It has plenty of friction, but no dynamic.

    It is a sectarian carve-up of administration, not government, as it is not a government, merely a new theatre for the old conflict.

    I’ve always thought it curious that the part of the UK which is, by dint of the antiquity and vigour of own internal tensions and animosities, the most ill-suited for self-government, should have devolution thrust so relentlessly upon it.

    Scabs don’t heal if you keep picking at them – but the form of devolution Northern Ireland is blessed with simply guarantees the continuation of the same old friction and conflict.

  • runciter

    SM: so it’s all themmins’ fault?

    Are you confusing me with someone else?

    jivaro: the form of devolution Northern Ireland is blessed with simply guarantees the continuation of the same old friction and conflict.

    It is not devolution which guarantees conflict, but rather demographics. NI doesn’t work because it cannot work. The sectarianism is built-in – it is not a bolt-on, an accidental side-effect or a temporary aberration.

    Expecting NI to develop a non-sectarian government is like expecting a fish to sprout legs.