OFMDFM’s aspiration for the future – “why bother?”

In the Belfast Telegraph, Eamonn McCann picks up on the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust’s criticism of the “simplistic view” of culture and identity evident in the OFMDFM’s Cohesion, Sharing and Integration proposals. [added link]

From the Belfast Telegraph article

Policy could be aimed at bringing reality into alignment with existing aspirations, imagining what might be and asking: why not? The CSI document seems designed to bring aspirations down to the mundane here-and-now, asking: why bother?

Conventional politics are constructed around a communal identity, and that the DUP and Sinn Fein have gotten where they are today by presenting themselves as robust advocates of their ‘own’ community’s interests over the other side.

The CSI strategy might have been designed to confirm the present pattern of political allegiance. The message of the CSI document is that there’s no need to see politics any other way than the way they always have been seen.


As Brian said in April, there are alternatives to “to hell with the future and long live the past”.

I’ve quoted the poet Michael Longley before.  Here on “identity”.

And, via a related post, on the opposite of war.

Longley: “It’s how we interact with one another, civilization. On the one hand, I’m interested in how we avoid tearing one another to pieces. Peace is not that, peace is the absence of that, peace is the absence of war: the opposite of war is custom, customs, and civilization. Civilization is custom and manners and ceremony, the things that Yeats says in “A Prayer for My Daughter.” We have a vocabulary of how to deal with one another and how to behave, a vocabulary of behavior, as well as things to say to one another . . . and out of that come laws and agreed ways of doing things . . . and that in daily life are a bit like form in poetry.”

The question is, what “custom, customs, and civilisation” do the First and deputy First Ministers’ parties want all of us to share?

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  • Anon

    The question is, what “custom, customs, and civilisation” do the First and deputy First Ministers’ parties want all of us to share?

    Er, no, the question is why the hell you want the government to tell us.

  • joeCanuck

    That’s a good thought, Anon. Nobody can control anyone else’s thoughts. All we can do, through our laws, is ensure that people don’t act inappropriately towards fellow humans or sanction them if they do.
    Setting an example of the type of behaviour you would wish to encourage is a different matter.

  • Pete Baker

    Er, no, the question is why the hell you want the government to tell us.

    Er, no.

    The parties within OFMDFM are the ones producing a Cohesion, Sharing and Integration Strategy.

    In the circumstances, it’s not unreasonable to ask what the actual objective of that strategy is.

    Particularly if it turns out to be ‘equal, but separate’.

    But feel free to argue that they shouldn’t have a strategy in the first place.

    That was the point of your laissez-faire comment?

  • anon

    Wasn’t the purpose to satisfy the alliance for p and j? It’s less separate but equal than can’t be bothered.

    I don’t believe in laissez faire. Government should remove all barriers to people coming together. But that bit they got to themselves. It’s more like a regulated market.

  • Pete Baker

    Except that Peter Robinson’s recent call for a de-segregated single educational system, and Sinn Féin’s response, may help shed some light on who “can’t be bothered”…

  • Pete Baker


    It’s not about setting an example… and it’s not about “the government” telling us what to do.

    It’s about the objectives of the OFMDFM CSI strategy in light of their apparent “simplistic view” of culture and identity.

    A simplistic view that I’ve attempted to highlight through the references to the views of others, such as Michael Longley.

  • Anon

    Except a single system is a bad thing. Head to England and they are trying to introduce more choice into the system and more Catholic schools would be welcomed. The US is also looking to a more plural output.

    An attack on the Catholic schooling system. Yeah, tough one for the DUP.

  • Are the OFMDFM there to provide public leadership with the invention and implementation of new ideas and/or businesses and/or Intellectual Property or there to assist private leadership with such novelties, which will invariably be only the provision of seed funding from the public purse/myriad available grants and EU honey pots for such as may be proposed to them as being worthy of funding, ….. or just to arrange for the collection of taxation on new projects, should any necessary finance, which is usually all that any smart entrepreneur needs from a third party not actually working in their field, be privately arranged and supplied?

    All of which renders the offices little more than a protection racket extorting with menaces, taxation, which doesn’t make it an attractive proposition for any businessman unless funded by government, for then is the government’s “cut” fair and reasonable.