Below is the text of a letter I had published in The Belfast Telegraph on 24 August 2017. It is time for supporters of true democracy in Northern Ireland to loudly demand the replacement of mandatory coalition devolved government with full participation in United Kingdom political democracy.
August 24 2017
Your Viewpoint, ‘It’s time for deadlock at Stormont to end’ (Comment, August 21), talks a lot about peace. Lord Hain is mentioned as warning of loss of peace funding and you talk of ‘the willingness of politicians … to yield some points in a common search for peace.’
It is high time that Northern Ireland abandoned this eternal quest for peace, which is stifling any political development and resultant economic expansion.
Since its drastic revision at St Andrews, without referendum, the Good Friday Agreement has been null and void. The institutions set up by that agreement no longer have any bearing on the situation here.
While violence and disorder rumble on throughout Northern Ireland our politicians have little influence on the situation. It follows that the Stormont institutions have no longer any relevance to maintaining peace.
So why must we continue to dilute proper democratic political activity in the name of an unachievable peace? I suspect I’m not alone in feeling acute embarrassment when a meeting between our Prime Minister and the devolved regions takes place. Scotland and Wales are usually represented by their First Ministers, while Northern Ireland has to send along Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.
Are we to continue to say to the world that we in Northern Ireland are not to be trusted to exercise proper democracy? Are we admitting that our political institutions are held at gunpoint by the threat of renewed terrorism? Is 19 years not a long enough time period to conclude a peace process?
It is high time that the unworkable institutions of mandatory coalition devolution were dismantled. The current impasse between the parties over restoring an Executive must be seized as an opportunity, not something to regret.
Already, some of our elected MPs are playing a role in supporting the Government of the United Kingdom at Westminster. Northern Ireland must stand ready to play its full part on the national stage. There is no need for a glorified county council to continue at Stormont.
Demos Direct Initiative
Belfast Telegraph Digital