Confidence, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and the NI Protocol…

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has threatened to pull down Stormont and said the NI Protocol is undermining confidence in devolution, but how can we define this confidence?

Confidence, in general, is a mysterious commodity. One minute we seem to have it in abundance and the next – just when we need it the most – seems to melt away like a Mr Whippy on a scorching hot day.

If we want to increase our self-confidence we might want to obtain some expert advice or in addition, consider the three simple steps that I have outlined below.

The first was magnificently demonstrated this weekend by the Tyrone GAA team in their victory over Mayo in the All-Ireland final and, also, by Emma Raducanu in her amazing victory over Leylah Fernandez in the US Open tennis championship.

This is to excel at the things we do best or love the most whether this is in sport or any other aspect of our lives. Certainly, the resilience, skill and determination shown by Emma Raducanu, at the age of 18, was simply mesmerising and teaches us a valuable lesson.

As the final game came to a dramatic end at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York we can only imagine how many hours she spent perfecting her mental and physical abilities.

The second step involves images and reflections. If, for a moment, we consider our minds to be like the inside of an old television set – the internal image that we project onto our screens has a huge bearing on our self-confidence. This internal image then influences the image we present externally to others.

Like fine-tuning the image on the old cathode ray tubes we need to create a positive picture of ourselves. Possibly as a happy, successful, healthy and helpful person to boost our confidence.

The final step is linked to how we view others. If we look for the good in other people and see all their skills, talents or abilities – that they may not necessarily see in themselves – then this reflects the good in ourselves, thus boosting our confidence.

Like a young swan seeing its reflection for the first time and realising how they have grown and matured.

So, if we accept that the above might be useful in building our self-confidence, could this also be helpful in assessing the level of confidence in something as complex as Northern Irish devolution?

Devolution is the belief that self-governance will improve everyone’s lives by bringing decision-making closer to the local level.

Therefore, maybe we need to understand the bigger picture in addition to any impact that the NI Protocol may or may not have on devolution. This is not to say that there aren’t problems with the protocol – clearly there are and these need to be resolved as soon as possible.

But should devolution as an entirety, including any threat from Sir Jeffrey to collapse the institutions, be judged on one issue alone or through consideration of a wider range of issues?

For example, if the level of confidence in devolution was viewed in a similar way to our self-confidence, everything we decide would enhance our strengths and natural abilities. It would improve the image we hold of ourselves and the image that is portrayed to the outside world.

This is especially important for encouraging inward investment, creating jobs and selling into export markets.

Finally, despite all of Stormont’s shortcomings – like that young swan – maybe through devolution we have been able to see the good in other people and from that have seen a greater good in ourselves.