Not now, Not yet, Not Never
As we wait for a decision by the DUP on the future of devolved government – or whatever alternative is decided on by the British and Irish governments – this issue focuses on some of the significant impacts of wishful thinking by many of those involved.
The DUP and many others in the unionist community appear to be set on an objective that everyone else thinks is unachievable. The idea that either the Tory or a new Labour government are going to abandon the Windsor Framework and reopen serious conflicts with the European Union to meet the DUP’s seven tests is clearly wishful thinking. All that can realistically be achieved is some meaningless legislative or governmental commitment to ‘protect the Union’.
There are also some wishful thoughts in other parties to the current Assembly talks. Like the other devolved governments in Edinburgh and Cardiff they face demands from London that they raise more from regional taxation and charges than they have become accustomed to. And they have very few arguments to deploy to avoid what has been put out for consultation on regional rates and water charges.
Waiting for a new Labour government may seem more attractive. But the mood music at Westminster does not promise a much more accommodating Treasury position or indeed anything different on prioritising relations with the European Union. There is no-one in the Shadow Cabinet with anything like the interest in Northern Ireland of Tony Blair’s New Labour.
The interviews in this issue with six leading Irish politicians with aspirations for unification reveal a similar lack of realism on what may be needed to achieve any immediate progress. Like people in Great Britain they are not really interested in what happens here or in making any significant changes to their domestic agendas. ‘Not now, not yet but hopefully sometime’ might best describe their views.
Overall there not much to look forward to other that a more realistic appreciation of what can be achieved to restore a measure of political and financial stability in the next few years.View Issue 492