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Just read this tweet on Wednesday evening from PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton:



Those three words that he uses as his end thought – “some day perhaps?!” – say it all in terms of how difficult it will be to resuscitate or revive the politics of this place.

Hamilton is just one of the many getting weary – tired in the waiting for something to happen; waiting in that purgatory somewhere between devolution and direct rule.

Policing is a casualty of the political fallout; still waiting for the Policing Board to be reconstituted. Everything has been diverted into the slow lane of Stormont politics.

On its twitter account, the DUP has been posting reminders of the number of days without government – referencing Sinn Fein “red lines” and urging that party to end its “boycott” of the Executive.

It ignores, of course, the DUP’s  part in this mess, as did party leader Arlene Foster’s recent reference to pushing for “good governance”.

Are they sitting with their fingers in their ears as the “word pellets” fire  out of the RHI Inquiry? Are they not listening – or learning?

This is the stuff of ‘Arlene In Wonderland’.

PUP councillor John Kyle tweeted – “Irony is NOT dead….”

Almost two years into this political standoff, new questions – serious questions – are now being asked.

Will Arlene Foster ever return as First Minister?

Will there be a functioning parliament on the political hill at Stormont at the centenary of Northern Ireland?

As part of the February draft agreement, which can be read in full on this website, Foster would have been First Minister, but the DUP walked away from that deal and then denied its existence.

There is no certainty that Foster will be given another chance.

Next time round, the bar will be higher – not lower.



On Thursday, Secretary of State Karen Bradley again called on politicians here to work towards getting the devolved institutions back up and running at the earliest opportunity.

It is a tired line – inserted at regular intervals into speeches. This time in Washington.

It ignores the Tory-DUP arrangement. Ignores also that the Northern Ireland Office is a hostage to that arrangement; that it is part of the problem. Ignores the fallout of Brexit.  There is no political strategy in the NIO.

If there are to be new talks, then an independent chair will be needed as well as  wider participation, including loyalist involvement.

Brexit is taking us at quicker pace into a new phase of politics – that of Union versus Unity. In this battle, Stormont could easily become incidental – certainly not the major part in the political play.

There has been a sleepwalk towards that crossroads referenced by my colleague Eamonn Mallie elsewhere on this website.

What next? the answer is, Who knows? – and the longer the waiting in that political purgatory, then there is the danger of the answer becoming: Who cares?


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About Author

Brian Rowan

Brian Rowan is a journalist/author. A former BBC correspondent in Belfast, four times he has been a category winner in the Northern Ireland Press and Broadcast Awards. He is the author of several books on the peace process. His latest book (published by Merrion Press) POLITICAL PURGATORY – the battle to save Stormont and the play for a New Ireland is now available at www.merrionpress.ie


  1. Have you not just hit the nail on the head with your reference to ‘the Centenary of Northern Ireland,’ approaching?

    Sinn Fein’s Sole aim is the destruction of Northern Ireland, so to hold firm and fast to their continuing position, along with the approaching chaos of Brexit, the ‘Centenary’ plays right into their hands as proof positive that Northern Ireland ‘doesn’t work.’

    Milking every penny they can out of the British Exchequer brings a broad smile to their face, along with control of Policing, Judiciary and the Media. The Unionist political class are too blind, playing short term gain, not appreciating the long term pain and destruction their short sightedness will result in!

  2. A sound assessment to the negligent, listless, remiss that prevails in regard to Stormont and Governance for the Citizens of our tiny place of land mis-named Northern Ireland or as many simply prefer “home”.

    An indictment of those who bray “the Union” yet present a patchy, short-sighted, deluded, stratagem that lacks any sustainability in convincing anyone that the Union actually delivers for all Citizens of our home.

    As a citizen watching the latest revelations unfold in the political scandal of RHI I’m minded of the worlds of difference between actual ethics & rhetoric. The Arcadia of twisted language huge yet ethics none. Behaviours revealed as if Stormont was just a perverse game of privilege and power.

    Education, health, housing, trade, the economy, inward investment, infrastructure, farming, public services all casualties to the deceit of some who choose privilege, nepotism, power, self righteousness & in some cases religious supremacy over their duty to deliver fiscally responsible Governance to all Citizens of our home.

    It will end in tears.

    The paradigm shifts of the populace mindset is happening: people want accountability & Governance that delivers on their quality of life.

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