Tuesday 28 October 2008

Time to compromise, Mr Robinson

Even the Irish Times, never a cheerleader for nationalism, agrees with the position of this blog. In its editorial today on The impasse in Northern Ireland, it states:

"The issues that have given rise to this impasse are surmountable, if there is a political willingness to compromise, while failure to provide the necessary leadership may threaten those community advances that have been secured with such difficulty." [...]

"In such circumstances, four months of Executive paralysis represents a political failure by Mr Robinson, Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness that premature elections would be unlikely to resolve. The issues of devolved policing and justice, the Irish language, education standards and use of the Maze prison site would remain. The only way of surmounting these difficulties is through negotiation and compromise. The sooner creative discussion replaces political posturing the better."

More than a year ago this blog believed that the DUP was too politically immature, and motivated by negativity, to co-govern in a fair and equitable manner. Events so far have proved us right. Now even the voices of moderate opinion are starting to say the same thing – the DUP's position of giving nothing is untenable, and they must compromise.

Having erected the issues on which they must compromise as totems, the climb-down, when it comes, is going to be especially painful for the DUP. This, amongst other things, is what makes that party look politically inept and immature. Sinn Féin have already made their compromises, and have very little pain to fear – the movement now must come entirely from the unionist side. Whether they like it or not, policing and justice will be devolved, and not after a 'political lifetime' as the DUP foolishly promised. The Irish language has not gone away, and will be given official recognition, to the fury of the DUP's bigoted supporters. Whether a stadium gets built at the Maze is uncertain, especially now that money is tight, but the remaining H Block is a protected structure and it is the GAA rather than Sinn Féin that would have to be persuaded to accept any alternative site. Other issues are less important, though others will arise. When they do, the DUP will know that they will not always get their own way. Slowly but surely they will be dragged into a system of genuine powersharing.

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