To those who do not share in my Britishness allow me some space and respect with these opening paragraphs .
In her Christmas Day broadcast to the Nation our Queen spoke of ‘the path being not always smooth and felt quiet bumpy‘. We Northern Irelanders would be correct in thinking that it is always pretty bumpy here.
Oh! how I wish we would take on board our Queen’s advice “ Small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long held differences and deep seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding “.
Problem is until all sides agree not to place in perpetuity, stalemate, we are a long way off harmony and understanding particularly when it is a unionist perception that nationalists/republicans have made it abundantly clear that they do not consider unionists to be their equals.
So here is the shakeout. There is not a hope in hell of a border poll resulting in a vote to satisfy Sinn Fein. Therefore fellow Northern Irelanders – where are we going and who is leading us there?
Both the DUP and Sinn Fein had a bad election. The SDLP could be on the come back trail. The UUP are a non- electable walking disaster. Alliance are close to being the third party. Yet none are capable to coin a phrase of punching their way out of a wet paper bag.
As the new decade arrives we must be asking ourselves, where do we want to be in 2020, 2025 and 2030? Are we so politically backed into a corner that we have lost the will and the skill to negotiate a way out? Are we really saying to our children and grandchildren that we haven’t a clue, we have not got a plan B for the next decade? If so, those who want our votes should be thoroughly ashamed.
The current political situation demonstrates uncertainty not stability. The people are not ready for an Assembly election. It would only increase tensions, re-run a sectarian headcount. What does the Secretary of State propose, should as is likely the MLAs fail to provide guarantees to form a lasting executive? Surely not keeping the payroll rolling for another three years!
The political landscape can only be about containment while readiness is being prepared. Its about time that what happens in the meantime is up to us – taking small steps looks good advice.
How about installing a ‘peoples panel drawn from business, the professions, academia, trade unions, communities etc.’ (excluding political nominees ) chosen by the Church leaders? How about refusing to vote until there is certainty of tenure at Stormont? How about throwing out all red line demands? How about a people’s panel rolling out a people’s charter? How about a people’s panel directing devolution for the next twelve months. Well how about making it happen?
Isn’t it really frightening to think that a people’s rebellion supporting a people’s panel might work and shock us all by lasting a very long time? How about it ?
No! Hong Kong hasn’t impressed me, nor am I thinking of a luvvie civic forum full of wets.