‘Uncomfortable Truth’ – by Earl Storey

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A few years ago I toyed with the idea of going to a coach. A short bout of illness had prompted me to re-evaluate how I wanted my future to develop. Getting the services of a coach seemed like a way to plan some new things ahead – or so I thought!

I looked around for someone whom I thought would fit the bill, without great success at first. Looking back, I realise why! What I had been looking for in a coach was not for someone to help me rethink some things. What I really wanted, without admitting it to myself, was someone to do it for me – someone to present me with the future, to do the work that I didn’t feel up to doing at that time.

Recently I listened to someone describe the role of a coach like this – it is to help a client find the resources within themselves to solve a problem or to create something new. I realised that what I had been looking for all those years ago was someone to rescue me rather than to help me find the where withal within myself to create something different.

Had I found what I was initially looking for it would certainly have been easier in the short-term, but not to my ultimate benefit. Happily, the situation was brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

A few weeks ago Senator George Mitchell visited Belfast again. His visit was a reminder of the extraordinary levels of help we have received in Northern Ireland. We have had the skills of the most talented and the attention of the most powerful as we try to make our painful journey to peace.
Senator Mitchell’s visit prompted talk of who would facilitate our political leaders in negotiations after the elections.

Globally we are living in extraordinary times. One of the things we are discovering is that there is not an inexhaustible supply of international attention or energy available to be devoted to our search for lasting peace.
We are glad for the attention and help we have received but recognise others have their own issues to face and future to create.

A facilitator has a job to do. It is to help our leaders to find the resources within themselves to do what they need to do. Our leaders have their own job to do. One part of that is obvious.

It is to solve immediate problems. Yet it is so much more than that. It is to create something new – a way of finding reconciliation and a better future.

Gaining political power is not for the fainthearted. Neither is the exercise of it. It is hard because our road to reconciliation means dealing with the past, present and the future.

Political leadership is something most of us have an opinion about, but a task few would envy. Yet, to paraphrase one leadership expert, “We need more in leaders than just the ability to gather a following.”

Seeking help for the task is more than reasonable.

Yet, whatever help our political leaders seek, it should not now be for someone to rescue them – to do it for them.

As with the job of a coach it is help for them to find, within themselves, the resources they need to make the hard decisions. Upon such does our future depend. It was ever thus.

Earl Storey

Journey in Self-Belief Project

Maynooth University



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  1. The problem most do not see about our problem here in da nordth/the north/NI etc is simple really.
    Even those who consider themselves experts keep missing the real point. This is not about real Politics.

    Its about huge loss and huge gain.

    Nearly 100yrs ago Nationalists lost something very Important to them all – to different degrees of course – but they all lost it. They lost their ID & their nation.
    At that time Unionists gained something which at first they did not really want – but then they got to play with it and enjoyed the power. It meant they kept their ID & gained a State.

    Today Nats are 50%+ of the population with a Voting Maj expected in 2023.

    Everything is different now. Someone has to sort it out.
    It will not be sorted by the 2 teams on each end of the Tug-o-War rope. Neither can topple the other to the ground yet – at times they each manage to get the other across the chalk line, then they are reversed.

    So there is a huge emotional context to our situation.
    It has never been addressed properly – and as Nats were the big losers that loss must be addressed in a way which the GFA was never able to do. Unionism must take cognisance of this as a first step. It is in their interests to do so. Blank cheques to them from UK can no longer be a barricade they hide behind.

    A generation- enduring end to the Tug-o-War is the only solution which will endure and allow normal politics to proceed.
    Something which must be as radical as Partition was. All else just condemns all of us to a long Tug-o-War until the Nats team gets more members a quick jerk will topple Unionists.

    All else is more of the same.
    Brexit gives all those willing to grasp the nettle a chance to offer
    generation- enduring change which will give all a break from this perpetual pulling.

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