That Eamonn McCann is a deep humanising feature of politics will be obvious to anyone who watched Nolan last night. And from his column (will it be his last, now he’s a jobbing politician?) in the Irish Times today:
Here’s another thing we discovered: the right to choose can be a vote-winner in the North. And so can an assertion that – this was our mantra – “We are neither green nor orange but up for the fight.”
One television commentator spluttered these things couldn’t be true, that it was fantasy to suggest that our approach could draw support from, as we say, “both sides”. Eschewing both nationalism and unionism has always implied the mushy politics of the decent middle classes.
As far into the future as it’s possible to see, Northerners will know what community they came from. But this doesn’t have to be the sole or main determinant of political allegiance.
The consociational structure of the Belfast Agreement, disadvantaging members of the Assembly who designate themselves neither orange nor green, arises from this perspective. When it comes to the inbuilt blocking mechanism, the Petition of Concern – laying down that, essentially, a majority of each of the nationalist and unionist blocs is required to pass any measure regarded as vital by more than 30 members – simply disregards the presence of “Others.”
“Back in your boxes” is the message.
Do read the whole thing…
PS, kudos to John for only getting it wrong by one election.
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
Living History 1968-74
A unique, once-in-a-lifetime 10-week course at Stranmillis University College Belfast featuring live, in-depth interviews with leading figures from this tumultuous era in Northern Ireland’s cultural and political history.
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