Could measuring progress (or lack of it) make the Social Investment Fund a popular instrument of peace?

Good column by Newton Emerson asking how we are expected to believe there’s any transitional process relating to the indirect funding of paramilitaries if no one is outlining (or tracking) the expected changes:

If Stormont wanted to measure the success of transitioning, there are plenty of indicators available. The peace monitoring reports from the Joseph Rowntree Trust and the paramilitary activity charts from the Detail website put numbers to, among other things, murders, shootings, punishment attacks and people forced from their homes.

It might seem facetious to propose these for a government dashboard, but given that Stormont is happy to include something as trite as internet speed, perhaps it is more facetious not to.

Even if political squeamishness means such a dashboard will never be created, it remains a useful thought experiment. We may not like the chief constable’s pragmatism but most of us seem to wearily accept it. What would we like to see measured in that vein, and would visible progress make us more accepting? If the indicators for threats and violence went down, might support for SIF go up?

This last point is a killer in fact. But we should remember that the SIF was set up by the then OFMdFM because the previous SDLP Minister for Social Development could not be trusted after closing down funding to CTI on foot of the misbehaviour of loyalist paramilitaries.


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