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.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty