Tuesday 8 September 2009

Deadlock previewed

Peter Robinson, speaking at the EvolveNI event in the Ulster Hall today: "Later this month my party will publish detailed proposals for developing devolution, but today I want to give you a preview."

Of course, 'developing devolution' is just DUP-speak for trying yet again, to frustrate Sinn Féin. Robinson's previewed development amounts to no more than the unionist holy grail of excluding Sinn Féin. "In place of community designation we propose the introduction of weighted majority voting. Where a cross-community vote is required by legislation or triggered by a petition of concern a proposal would require the support of 65% of Assembly Members present and voting to pass." In other words, Robinson is placing his hopes in unionism being able to persuade the SDLP to join it in excluding Sinn Féin - perhaps he too is anticipating a splintered nationalist representation if Fianna Fail should stand in the north. In such circumstances he may be hoping that an embittered and resentful SDLP rump may join with the unionists and the Alliance Party, presumably in return for some minor concesions, to exclude the bulk of the nationalist electorate from power.

He is in fantasyland.

Any party, SDLP or other, that would even consider such a thing would be history after the next election. For Robinson, and other unionists, to keep returning to this unattainable fantasy is demonstrable proof that they are unwilling to actually work the institutions that they have, and to make the concessions that they know must be made with nationalism. It is a residual unionist-dominance reflex, and shows that some unionists still haven't come to terms with the passing of their era.

Mr Robinson would be better employed seeking to explore with the leaders of nationalism areas of common ground, and issues on which they can trade. Because the days when unionism got everything it wanted, and nationalism got nothing, are over. From now on, if Robinson wants something, he will have to trade, and trade as an equal. It may be hard for him, but the sooner he starts the easier it will become.

1 comment:

Watcher said...

The Conservative Party have actually hinted that they'll look at this. Personally I couldn't care less if the assembly collapsed. The Belfast Agreement has already served it's purpose.