Ireland would do well not to take democracy for granted
Stephen Collins: State’s early years avoided tyranny but Sinn Féin stance may pose threat
Road sign in front of Parliament Buildings at Stormont: political parties must have a concept of the common good as well as their own self-interest. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne
It is truly depressing to consider that 20 years after the signing of the Belfast Agreement we are once more looking at a breakdown in a tortuous set of negotiations aimed at restoring the powersharing institutions in Northern Ireland. It remains to be seen whether they can be put back on track.
To put that in some sort of context, it is worth recalling that by 1941, 20 years after the Anglo-Irish Treaty, independent Ireland was a functioning democracy in a world engulfed by war and dictatorship.