For nineteen months, we in Northern Ireland have had no Government. Our MLAs are still paid – but they haven’t taken their seats in the Chamber for a year and a half. Whilst some hold out the faintest of hopes that our devolved institutions are somehow restored (unchanged) in attempt 376 at negotiations; reality has dawned for many and it is looking likely that the institutions (in their current guise at least) and the Agreement(s) that underpinned them all but disintegrated when the various deadlines were missed.
Even if extra strength super-glue is found in some emergency cupboard and applied this time; the parties would ultimately be back at logger heads, around another table again before long for a closed-door talks session.
Regrettably, our ‘non-legislating legislators’ have proven time and time again that they are ultimately incapable of workable, transparent governance in the long-term interests of those they represent. Even if they were capable of workable, transparent, long-term governance; they would be hamstrung by a system of Government that has long since passed its sell by date.
At best, we have been served years of carve-up politics, with a side-show of scandal and annual stuntery. At its very worst, it has been a two-headed jobs for the boys club. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Since the Belfast Agreement was signed, we have seen our police force neutered and watered down, unrepentant terrorists walk free, and the brave soldiers and officers who defeated them targeted in a political witc-hunt. There has also always been the Specter of a “rolling border poll” built in and used as both carrot and stick at election time.
Ultimately, the Belfast Agreement was a deeply flawed agreement. St. Andrews and the various “sticking plaster” agreements that rubber-fastened it were never even put out for public consultation. In truth – we have no real idea of what has been agreed behind closed doors at each stage along the way.
In future, if we are to return to a form of locally elected Government; it should be a , transparent and accountable system of Government form of it; not a bloated, overly bureaucratic, forced coalition government comprised of strange bedfellows.
In future, a model that focuses on locally specific needs and requirements would be more suited to Northern Ireland. (We have eleven ‘super authority’ district council’s already, counted they do the job?)
There should be a referendum on all future agreements. The people of Northern Ireland should have a say in our future. The last referendum was in 1998 and much has changed. We have outgrown the institutions that were initially spawned as a result of that referendum. It is an agreement from a different time.
For now, it looks like we heading towards direct rule. We have a beautiful parliamentary setting at Stormont, but sadly, the shambolic and chaotic nature of our politics has been unbefitting of such a setting.
If the end of devolved Government (at least in its current form) is in sight; we at UnMuted Media for one will not shed a tear.