As even the slowest of learners are now beginning to appreciate, a Devolved Government based on mandatory coalition and institutionalised “Two Community” politics has as much chance of working as I have of winning the modern decathlon in the next Olympic Games. Here in Northern Ireland we cannot go back to the same old tired system which has limped from crisis to crisis since the gunpoint referendum on the “Good” Friday Agreement in 1998.
Writing in the Belfast Telegraph on 28 March, columnist Ruth Dudley Edwards correctly suggested that Gerry Adams and his underlings in Provisional Sinn Fein are bent on destruction of the Devolved Institutions in Northern Ireland.
However, Unionists should see this is no bad thing for the strengthening and preservation of the United Kingdom. Devolution in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and London has proved disastrous for the stability and economic good of all regions of our great nation.
The day has long arrived for devolutionary structures to be dismantled throughout the UK. This should be a priority for post BREXIT governments. A gradual withdrawal by Westminster of financial propping of the devolved institutions in tandem with increasing their responsibilities to raise their own revenues would be both justifiable and productive in raising demand for dissolution of those institutions.
In the same article Ms Dudley Edwards was perceptive to point out that “… if you’ve ever voted for a party committed to sharing power with Sinn Fein, you have to accept that this was bound to involve many upsetting compromises.”
That is indeed true but it puts voters of all complexions in a quandary. They cast their votes for the parties of their choice every polling day But then these parties wave goodbye and take their votes away to horse trading sessions behind closed doors. The Northern Ireland Act and the increasingly outdated Good Friday Agreement demand this and also give power to one or two individuals to bring the whole edifice crashing down as two of Provisional Sinn Fein’s Northern Ireland leaders have done within two months of each other.
The leadership of the two main Unionist parties in Northern Ireland and their Irish Nationalist Counterparts are presently vying with each other to win the Game of Seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the Unionist leaderships that, far from seeking to represent only one of the so called communities, they have a golden opportunity to assertively seek support for unionism in all communities of Northern Ireland. The former First Minister, Arlene Foster, chose on occasions to describe herself, not as First Minister, but as the “Leader of Unionism.” Unfortunately, the Unionism she was claiming was that of the “Two Community” type.
Unionism should be for all of the people of Northern Ireland and effort must be made to persuade those who cling to the nineteenth century notion of Irish Nationalism to come into the fold. This is especially relevant as BREXIT is forcing the people of the Republic of Ireland to rethink their Commonwealth membership and some are now daring to voice their wish to re-join the United Kingdom.
Northern Ireland needs a huge injection of Direct Democracy. This can only be introduced by a radical pan-UK Party uninterested in preserving the Two Community basis of Government. With the recent self immolation of UKIP there is a need for such a party in Northern Ireland. – a party whose manifesto declarations are its bottom line and which won’t bargain away the votes of its supporters. Work is urgently ongoing to see that such a party will soon be in place here, initially to contest elections under the present structure but, from the start, to work to fully re-integrate Northern Ireland and the other devolved regions