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