The distrust between Northern Ireland’s political parties remains a legacy of the conflict and cannot be wished away or ignored, says DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson. He adds that the events of the Bobby Storey funeral and commemorations of dead members of the Provisional IRA mean that the Troubles remain a continuing source of tension between the largest parties. He was speaking in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast.
Jeffrey argues that not only are the British government’s legacy proposals unacceptable, but that addressing victims’ unresolved trauma and anger in relation to Troubles’ events is essential to make political progress.
He discusses public services reform, indicating the DUP’s support for the Bengoa health care proposals. He believes that a consensus between the main parties on health care reform is possible, even though it will lead to significant changes in the roles of some local hospitals and health facilities through the centralisation of some specialist acute services.
Jeffrey is more cautious in relation to reform of the school system, restating his party’s strong support for grammar schools. He suggests that more support is instead needed for non-selective schools to raise examination and skills outcomes. He indicates support for the sharing of facilities and teaching between schools, rather than educational integration.
While Jeffrey supports the use of citizens’ assemblies, he stresses that their role must be to assist politicians as they make decisions, rather than to replace politicians’ decision-making role.
The interview with Jeffrey can be heard here.
The Holywell Trust Forward Together podcasts are funded by the Community Relations Council’s Media Grant Scheme.
Disclaimer: This project has received support from the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council which aims to promote a pluralist society characterised by equity, respect for diversity, and recognition of interdependence. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Community Relations Council.
Paul Gosling is editor of ‘Lessons from the Troubles and an Unsettled Peace’, author of ‘A New Ireland’ and ‘The Fall of the Ethical Bank’ and co-author of ‘Abuse of Trust’, the story of a child abuse scandal in Leicestershire. He is engaged by the Holywell Trust charity on peace and reconciliation projects and is Parliamentary Assistant to Sinead McLaughlin MLA, the SDLP’s economy spokesperson.