Alex Kane: Belfast Agreement should be given last rites
Unionism and republicanism can never be forced to reconcile. Let’s stop pretending
Parliament Buildings in the Stormont Estate, Belfast: long-term direct rule is not an option because the British and Irish governments, singly or together, do not want responsibility for running the place. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA
Just a year ago, Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster signed off on a joint article in which they boasted: “We firmly believe that a devolved Executive, with ministers working together effectively and collectively, is in the public interest. Imagine if we had followed the example of others and decided the challenges of government were just too daunting. That would have opened the door to years of direct rule – Conservative ministers ruling over us without a mandate. Rest assured, this Executive is not going to abandon you to that. We are in this for the long haul. There is much to do, but we are proud of the achievements to date.”
Fifty days later, the Executive collapsed. On November 1st, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, finally admitted that a resolution to the impasse seemed unlikely. And, judging from speeches at Sinn Féin’s recent ardfheis, Gerry Adams’s stepping down will not make a button of difference to breaking the impasse.