NI’s new political establishment continues to drift from meaningful engagement with the wider citizenry…

So Sinn Fein will not be recalling the Assembly [aw come on lads, everyone else has done this summer! – Ed] over the now apparently wrecked peace centre plan. Speculation has been rife over how long Peter Robinson will stay leader of the DUP. By Saturday Sammy Wilson had finally denied reports of substantial disagreement with his party leader, after Nolan had publicly discussed said row on Friday morning

As Brian notes, most of what’s passing for news at the moment is little more than spin.

Larry Sabato on a visit to London recently made this observation:

In the age of Twitter and blogs and personnel cutbacks and a dozen deadlines everyday, every single thing that happens publicly gets reported in some detail. But we drown in details.

It’s almost as though everything is the single most important thing that has ever happened until it’s replaced by the newest most important thing.

What’s lost in the media coverage is fundamentals. Boring constants that tell us far more than the latest gaffes from a candidate ever could.

So what are the constants here?

One is that both parties promised delivery at the beginning of their latest tour of duty at OFMdFM, and whilst there’s been some useful work going on at departmental level there’s been little to show from the Executive table.

Two, in lieu of something more substantial developing in this space, the leeching of political action from Stormont hill to the streets (where Sinn Fein is notably the only Stormont player with direct skin of their own in the marching game) is quietly sapping public faith in the power sharing institutions.

And, three, the failure of one party in this political alliance is the failure of both. You may pick and choose whom you think is the prime cause, but it is clear that neither have been able to keep up to the pristine ambitions of six years ago.

For what it’s worth, I’m inclined to agree with Newton Emerson that this was a cute tactic move from Robinson (despite some misleading opinion, it’s not a turn as since that implies a prior direction of travel), though not one that brings him into any usefully open space.

Sinn Fein has been notably cautious in citing any northern political ambitions publicly. Indeed it is very likely that beyond awaiting the much anticipated success of its current southern strategy, it has none.

Better to make the press ‘guess’ what you might be thinking. Better still, what you don’t put in the open cannot be destroyed in the endless (and seemingly fruitless) negotiations between the ‘Castle’ parties at Stormont.

The drift from meaningful engagement of a wider citizenry is palpable. In the short term such a drift can only be debilitating to the once vaunted ‘indigenous deal’ ‘put together by Sinn Fein and the DUP’ and could, if unabated in the longer term, prove dangerous by dragging us back by the ‘suck’ of our post conflict fatalism.

blackadder-the-war-explained from Niels Hilbrink on Vimeo.

  • Charles_Gould

    Red Lion

    Are you involved in NI21? Because I wouldn’t want to contradict you if you were, but I believe that NI21 will be slightly left of centre on economics: concerned about inequality, poor educational outcomes, investment in public services etc. Not socialist by any manner of means, but more mainstream social democrat. Certainly that’s where the gap in the unionist market is, as UUP, NI Conservatives, TUV, UKIP, and DUP are all right/centre right.

  • Red Lion

    Charles, ha I am a nominal member which means I completed a form on the internet but haven’t done anything else nor do I think I would get the time to. I think the emphasis is the word slight, and also centrist. I think they will attract people to both slight flanks of the centre. They’ll definitely focus on the issues you mention. I think they’ll also have an pro-business/investment agenda also.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I wouldn’t pin any hopes on loyalists adopting any new cross-community flag. They’re still flying the flag of the Government of Northern Ireland which was prorogued in 1972. They want a flag which emphatically represents “us”, and not “them”, and I’d say there are republicans who feel the same way.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Reader and CS

    Alas, I’d have to agree with the pair of ye.

    Even if NI21 liked my brain fart of an idea their mere endorsement would put a lot of people off it.

    I imagine the fact that I conceived of the idea would put people off too “is that gobshite ranting again! the Ulster Fleg/Tricolour is good enough!…”

    Back to square one.

    Comrade Stalin

    To highlight what you say, if you have time to murder, check out the comments at the bottom of my rant, it’s quite depressing:

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    Fleg-fatigue is a common enough condition on slugger.

    Anyway, it was just a thought, it covered all bases: People got their tricolour, their Unin Flag and a new flag plus it pissed off a fair whack of the themuns.

    All boxes ticked.

    Ho hum.