As the great and the good of Northern Ireland politics past and present line up today to sip champagne, slap each other on the back and congratulate themselves on a job well done 20 years ago, the people here scratch our heads and look on in utter disbelief. Why are they congratulating themselves? Yes, they’ve all personally done rather well out of the devolution gravy-train in its current guise, but has Northern Ireland progressed in recent times?
Are the people better off? Aren’t we paying MLAs to do very little work when people are in pain waiting on hospital beds?
Plainly put; the beloved model of ‘Belfast Agreement Devolution,’ ‘St Andrews Devolution’ or whatever label you care to give it has failed Northern Ireland.
But it worked, they all got together, agreed and governed” they’ll tell us. Did they really ultimately ‘govern’ in the interests of the people here? The abiding memory of Devolved Governance in its current guise has been of two-headed carve-up, gridlock, indecision, scandal and buck-passing.
This week we’ll be lectured and patronised by those ‘great statesmen’ of our times – Blair and Clinton and we’ll be told that there’s a need to ‘return to the status quo at Stormont.’ They’ll take that opportunity to again blame our democratically achieved EU exit for absolutely everything. If past experience has shown us anything, it is this: When Tony Blair and Bill Clinton tell us that something is a really good idea; it is highly likely to be the exact opposite.
Twenty years on and its obvious to most people that this project and model of government that the great and the good cling to has long since passed its sell-by date.
The Secretary of State should do the people of Northern Ireland a favour. Pull the plug on a failing and antiquated system, consider new models of governance and most importantly – consult the people before establishing or re-establishing anything which would continue a vicious cycle of failure and disappointment.