Another deadline comes, another deadline goes and still Northern Ireland sits in limbo. In 1994 after years of conflict that led to more than 3,500 deaths with thousands more injured, the troubles of Northern Ireland came to an end. Paramilitary organisations put down their guns to herald in a new era of peace and reconciliation one where democracy instead of bombs ruled politics. In 1998 the Good Friday agreement was signed paving the way to a power sharing executive in Northern Ireland and with it came a new definition of democracy for the region.
Part of the sharing agreement meant that the largest nationalist and unionist parties would have to share power with the added power of being able to bring down the power sharing executive at a moments notice. This happened in January after a botched energy scheme was exposed and current First Minister (Arlene Foster), who launched the scheme, refused to step aside while an enquiry took place, this in turn led Sinn Fein to pull the plug before a budget had been put in place meaning services have been crippled.
On September 4th James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was quoted in one newspaper as saying the window for negotiation talks was “closing rapidly” but two months later that rapidness has turned into snails pace with the electorate left both frustrated and bemused as the political system in Northern Ireland turns into a mix of Groundhog Day and Fossetts Circus.
When will it end is the question on most minds, what the hell am I going to do is clearly the question on James Brokenshire’ mind. Were this to happen in Westminster or Holyrood a speedy conclusion would be inevitable or be front page news across the country and the world. In Northern Ireland though it barely makes the bottom right column of page twenty, unless Bill Clinton flies in for a few hours yet as much as a spectacle as this is for Stormont it is compared to the embarrassment it places at the doors of Westminster, why is that?
Well Theresa May has broken records saying “strong and stable government” while appointing an indecisive, weak individual to watch over one of the most unstable territories on her books.
If it is not a sign of a weak and unstable government, it is a sign of a government that has too much on its hands to cope with Northern Ireland, is it any wonder if this is the case that Sinn Fein see reason to call a referendum?
Wether or not such referendum would be successful is another question but if Westminster can’t handle the workload people will only naturally wonder if there are other options. For now though let’s just wait for the clown car to pull up with two ladies in it.