Political deadlock in Northern Ireland


A chara, – It is time to call a spade a spade in Northern Ireland. Devolution was a temporary success, but over time it has become clear that it actually compounds rather than addresses the North’s divisions. Rather than create an incentive for both sides to work together or indeed to foster a middle ground, devolution encourages extremism and pandering to fears and insecurities. The perfectly sensible Irish language measures, mirroring provisions in other parts of the UK (not to mention the Republic), have been seized upon and distorted to do nothing else but boost support for the more extremist views within unionism. Sadly the unionist leadership is so weak and incompetent that rather than stand up to the likes of Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister, they play along.

The Irish and British governments need to recognise this reality and stop pretending devolution will magically solve these issues. If local politicians cannot govern, there is an alternative, namely direct rule, albeit with a significantly strengthened role for the Republic. Only by proposing this can unionist politicians possibly be cajoled back to the negotiating table as it increases the cost of the Ulster “No”. Having said that, it might be better if they stayed away so that Northern Ireland can be governed by those who know better. If ever there were a situation to try a “benevolent dictatorship”, surely it is Northern Ireland. – Is mise,