Seamus Mallon on RTE’s News at One yesterday had some interesting views here. I’m picking it up from just after the headline quote above:
Northern Ireland itself, it’s political structures have been a series of conveniences, if you like to put it that way. The state itself was formed under a contrivance with the creation of the border. We paid the price for that over the years.
The Sunningdale agreement was a very firm agreement for the nationalist community: that was another contrivance, brought down, incidentally, by the two parties who are bringing this administration down. So they are no strangers to that.
And of course, the Good Friday Agreement is a contrivance. And it’s a contrivance because you cannot have the type of normal politics where people could respect each other.
It simply is not going to be possible in the north of Ireland that we have as of now. If anything the DUP and Sinn Fein have proved that. They have proved in many ways that we are not ready for democracy.
And the ball is now in the court of the two governments to ensure that what happens here is done in a way which is absolutely compatible with the objectives of the Good Friday Agreement – that internationally binding agreement laid by two sovereign governments – where we are looking for not just another contrivance and not just another incidence, as we have seen in the past, of buying people in.
It is no coincidence that the two parties who were bought in to the political process here, were given very high stakes and yet they could not agree themselves to properly implement the aims of the Agreement. So we have to be very careful.
Whatever happens, the Good Friday Agreement is the only type of arrangement upon which we can move forward. I say that because, very often, people forget that there was constitutional change in the Republic of Ireland in relation to Articles 2 and 3 to facilitate this type of Assembly. It was also the way in which the whole question of ultimate Irish unity was specified in the Good Friday Agreement.
If we are going to have guidelines, let’s go to the core of this problem. Let’s not have another series of interminable discussions which are only indulging the people taking part.