The real priority – a future still unshared

Behind the political bellwether issue of policing and justice lies the far more fundamental one of a shared future. Is the Executive going to adopt an integrationist approach or not? Robin Wilson, an acute observer of the theme, gives his bleak analysis. The default position remains one of mutual apartheid. The DUP and Sinn Fein are into yet another round of the blame game. The DUP’s Building a Better Future raids the basic analysis in the Harbinson report and deploys fine integrationist rhetoric but says little about how to bring about action. For instance, what incentives can each side offer the other? The DUP’S Jeffrey Donaldson accuses Sinn Fein of standing out from a growing consensus.( document attached to news release). Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson insists the DUP’s version amounts to little as it fails to declare respect for other “cultures”. SF’s own document Rights and Respect stresses “ cultures” plural and contains not a word about integration . Both documents are innocent of self criticism. £28.7 million has been set aside as an add-on budget. But any Shared Future programme must be integral to policy at every level. Both parties proclaim that strong leadership is essential but neither is offering it. A deal on P&J could break the logjam. Without it nothing will happen. Why is this basic topic accorded such low priority in wider political debate?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London