Brown’s speech

Just listening to Brown and Cowen speaking at Hillsborough and something strikes me: Brown’s language is all about the “people of Northern Ireland”. Standard issue political rhetoric, of course, but it reminds that in 1997 the prospect of a permanent end to conflict did create a genuine public enthusiasm, perhaps euphoric, but popular nonetheless. Of course, today people still want peace and are perhaps used to having at least no conflict. On the other hand, it seems to me that the political machinations are more divorced from the public than ever.

I spoke to Dawn Purvis MLA for a news story on the (lack of ) agreement last week and put it to her that people are, on the whole, sick of the whole thing (meaning endless negotiations, brinkmanship etc.) She stated quite plainly that the politicians were aware of what the people think of them.

Is the disconnection between the public and the parties any more significant than normal or does it just seem stronger at the moment? One could argue that it’s easy for people to complain about politicians but that someone has to hammer out some kind of agreement. On the other hand, the Hillsborough talks were pretty ugly and off-putting.


Update: I expanded on this theme for a short article in forth:
One group left was out of the new agreement at Hillsborough
No, not the Ulster Unionists, it was the public

  • Henry94

    Jason

    I suspect that the people have already moved on mentally and they are wondering why the politicians are taking so long to catch up.

  • st etienne

    The recent ‘storm’ over the Tories nascent attempts to give NI a decent alternative and hope for a way out of this shows both a political arena and mainstream media entirely wedded to the business of sectarian deadlock.

    Small seemingly inconsequential steps to a progressive way of life here cannot be shouted down by the bigots, both transient and gregarious, who wish people to look through the lens of green or orange ad nauseum.

    The long process of unwinding the inherently sectarian structures has begun. The GFA is a work in progress, it’s original meaning will change over time.

  • Critical Alien

    Brown did his ‘smile’ when Peter did his ‘light-hearted banter’ part on the olympics. That’s so creepy.

    Marty’s joke went down well. Um… He did the pause for laughter, but it didn’t quite take. Cameras failed to cut to Peter’s no doubt smiling face. Ahem.

    Couldn’t bring myself to listen to Cowen, sorry.

    Peter doesn’t look well.

  • JohnM

    Out of the four of them, Martin is the only one that seems to be comfortable speaking.

  • I think we’ve seen a level of cynicism and opportunism in Northern Ireland’s politics that you would struggle to find anywhere closer than Italy.

    If Chris was right yesterday about the way that the Presbyterian Mutual Society bailout was mooted as a pre-condition…..

    Mick’s piece in the Guardian as v cynical by his standards, but it nailed the inevitability of this deal – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/14/dup-northern-ireland

    The simple truth is that it wouldn’t have happened without Irisgate. SF saw the chink in the armour and went straight for it.

    And SF – and Adams specifically – seem to have had a story that would destroy him – soft-pedalled by the media for reasons that would be hard to understand anywhere else.

    I hope Dawn Purvis is right about the level of contempt that the public hold them all in, but I suspect that she isn’t and that it won’t be reflected that much at the next elections (except that I suppose that the Unionist split that this deal has postponed will emerge).

    As long as Northern Ireland’s politics is dominated by this preposterous petty sectarian point-scoring and not-an-inch brinksmanship, the question of good governance (surely the most important one) won’t even make it onto the agenda.

    Whatever else Jason may surmise about Brown’s speech, I bet the loop playing around in his head is something like “what*a*shower*of*utter*tossers.”

  • Henry94

    The simple truth is that it wouldn’t have happened without Irisgate

    Irisgate may have influenced the timing but it was always going to happen.

  • An Lorgain

    Peter has just explained an answer Jason 🙂

    Dealing with life and death issues.

  • Critical Alien

    John M

    Oratory’s not being revived this morning, that’s for sure though. Brown’s a bleating gollum of some kind. Peter’s a poorly constructed first generation android. I’m not sure what Cowen is. I’m not sure. Given that lineup, Martin could stagger out with a few sherries on him and still be Isocrates, at least relatively speaking.

  • You know what Henry94, I like to think it would have done. But – given the fact that the dogs in the street knew that it was checkmate more then three weeks ago, there is no end to the pantomime – and as Mick says in his Guardian piece “something may turn up” – and it could have done.

    And it’s not the politicians fault either. If people keep voting for sectarian parties, they will have to get used to having a pantomime for a local assembly.

    In the meantime, Northern Ireland will remain economically dysfunctional with a massive – largely useless – civil service that aren’t accountable to anyone.

    What a mess.

  • daisy

    People are worried about losing their jobs and not losing their homes. We just can’t afford the luxury of this debate at the minute. I’ve yet to speak to one person who thought it was a worthwhile exercise. We have no investment and are facing record cuts in our public services (and let’s not forget the Finance Minister’s refusal once again to implement water charges because he’s thinking of votes, not necessity). This was not the time for a 2 week sabbatical to argue over things which could have waited.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Has the deal been published on the Net yet.

    I have to give it some consideration.

  • Critical Alien

    The dysfunctional nature of the political process here is largely why it’s divorced from the psyches of the general public. Low voter turnouts are genrally ascribed to apathy. Here, though, a large number of people aren’t apathetic in the sense of being non-caring or disinterested. People here genuinely know that the options are limited and low in quality. Furthermore, no matter what any manifesto says, the political juggernaut will proceed on its own rails as defined by a poorly executed theoretical debate on speculative history. ‘Your lot did this’ the mantra of each side. There is a frustration at the same old faces and the party agendas being so clearly trumpeted that anyone with a vote knows their various civic needs and desires will always be marched over in a system where the party line will always be pursued at any cost, and generally to the appeasement of a vocal minority.

    Our political lot are like a glove manufacturer who relaises it’s cheaper for them to produce four-fingered products, and so regardless of the voters’ five-digited nature, makes the four fingered variety. When the voter is understandably irritated by their inadequate gants the politicians glibly recommend they shed a finger. The glovemaker’s books come first.

    Another way of saying it would be that there is a critical syndrome of solipsism in this local political system that sees the deformation of an established lifeworld for the sake of system imperatives.

  • iluvni

    Did Robinson really bring up ‘sane people’ during the press conference!

  • iluvni

    Did Robinson really bring up ‘sane people’ during the press conference!

  • st etienne

    “In the meantime, Northern Ireland will remain economically dysfunctional with a massive – largely useless – civil service that aren’t accountable to anyone.”

    The civil service is a symptom of a system of governance that encourages handouts and crutches. It is not a cause of the underlying societal problems here – to throw blame at it is simplistic and merely expresses a need amongst certain personalities to tar things with the same brush.

    Granted, there are specific points within the civil service that need improving. The unquestioning herd-like behaviour in following NIO agenda would surely result in investigation in any other Western society. It is not the job of the civil service to advance a specific scenario of peace here.

    The exact same criticism can be levelled directly at the media.

  • “a massive – largely useless – civil service that aren’t accountable to anyone.”

    Paul, if our public representatives and MSM won’t take up the challenge then the plain people with the aid of FoI requests, blogs and the legal process will have to do it themselves.

    Are Civil Servants now officially spending time monitoring blogs? Some folks in NICS on one day recently averaged 4 hours apiece on NALIL blog.

  • Paul Doran

    Jason Put in well or should I say Dawn Purvis.
    The people in the North are fed up to their back teeth with this whole Fiasco, while people are out of work, can’t pay their mortages, These bloody fat Cats are milking the system for its worth. The Sectarian nature of the North won’t go away just yet. The Education system has seen to that, when our kids are taught that Prod or a Taig are no different than a Black or a white person, but their different politics are acceptable nature of life then we can move on.
    The North is full of religious clap trap, bit like the South 20 years ago.

    They need jobs,Jobs, Jobs,decent housing, good estates where their kids can play in. good community centres,etc

  • st etienne

    Paul Doran, with respect, people in glass houses…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8437460.stm

    the chief difference between here & the Republic in terms of religion in public life is the Republic’s singular religious affiliation.

    We have nothing to learn from them because they are not dealing with the same challenges.

  • Paul Doran

    st eteinne,The people in the North are still “tipping their hat to the religious” I believe in the South that aspect is no longer as strong as it was.Of Course the South is a mess in terms of all that, but most certainly it is further ahead of the North.

  • st etienne

    I don’t judge because it is impossible to say what ‘ahead’ means without revealing your own bias.

    If like the Republic NI had a population emanating overwhelmingly from a single community do you think we’d have arrived at a 50-50 power sharing executive, an institution which is at the constitutional heart of perpetuating religious polarisation?

  • Critical Alien