Stormont Must be Saved: Direct Rule is Worst Option

John Coulter with this week's Irish Daily Star column which featured on Newshound. Dr John Coulter is a radical right wing unionist writer and an evangelical Christian. He is also a columnist at the Irish Daily Star.

Stormont needs to rekindle the Spirit of '98 to combat the clamour to axe the Assembly!

Now by '98, I'm not talking about the Presbyterian-inspired doomed United Irishmen's rebellion of 1798, but the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

It's not Stormont as a working parliament which needs fixing. The parties must focus on re-capturing the excellent spirit of reconciliation which led to the Belfast Agreement, the referendum landslide, and the original Assembly in 1998.

Robbo's Dupes and the Shinners are only indulging in pre-election brinkmanship over welfare reform.

The original Assembly had the ethos of 'putting people first', but the latest Assembly is facing increasing calls for it to be scrapped and Direct Rule from London imposed. This would be a socially fatal move for every section of the Northern community.

The Good Friday Agreement was based on a vision of getting something for everyone in Ireland.

That honourable ethos has been severely diluted with both the 2006 St Andrews and last year's Stormont House Agreements. To survive long-term, the Assembly must return to its 1998 roots.

Since the British and Irish governments decided on the crazy notion of ensuring the political extremes – namely the DUP and Sinn Féin – ran the Assembly, the core ethos of the peace process has veered off in a dangerous tangent.

It was this toxic mix which resulted in the equally daft St Andrews and the act of desperation known as the Stormont House Agreement.

And Northern voters bringing back the Stoops, or the election-battered Ulster Unionists is not the simple solution.

The bottom line is that Stormont must be saved. If Direct Rule returns and English-based Minsters start running affairs from Westminster, these folk who are not elected by Northern voters will make austerity ten-times worse than anything the welfare reforms will dump on Ireland.

Essentially, the DUP needs to grow up, and the Shinners need to prove they are genuine in wanting democratic government for the North.

Does the DUP want what is best for the Northern people, or does it want what is best for the DUP alone? Which would be the worst for Unionism?

As for the Shinners, they must clearly show they are not living in 1916. How can the people of Ireland trust a movement which is still committed to the revolutionary overthrow of the island?

Even in the early years of the Assembly, the institutions survived the alleged Shinner spy ring and the DUP walking away from the power-sharing Executive.

The prophets of doom are constantly yapping about Stormont expenses and how the current Stormont needs to be collapsed.

Do these 'nay-saying' assholes really believe the 11 super councils which go 'live' in a few days' time will run the North any more smoothly or efficiently?

The real way forward for Stormont is for all the parties to make a pledge before they go on their Easter recess that they will regenerate the enthusiasm the people of Ireland gave to the Good Friday Agreement.

St Andrews and Stormont House both threw the process into disarray.

If voters want to outfox the austerity package about to hit Ireland like an economic tsunami, then they must come out in their hundreds of thousands on General Election Day – 7 May- and give their 'X' to candidates who will pledge allegiance to the vision of the Good Friday Agreement.

1 comment:

  1. The spirit of 1998? I remember it well. Promises of full employment, international investment, sunset walks on the beach and guest appearances from Trimble & John Hulme at concerts hosted by Bono. 'Wouldnt it be great if it was like this all the time?'
    Newsflash for the gullible, that optimism was engineered not for our own good but to smooth the space for Multi-Nationals to come in and make a quick buck on the back of a people used to emigration for a living.
    Dont take my word for it, listen to the Pro-business lobby group the 'Portland Trust' and how they remember 1998.
    “Leading business organisations and businessmen formed the Group of Seven
    (Irish G7) in 1996 to argue the economic merits of peace. Without ever
    explicitly calling for a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum that ratified the Agreement, the G7 ensured, through conspicuous public advocacy, that voters understood the Agreement would be good for business.”

    Celebrating how they managed to get people here to work for less than non-former war zones, they continue.

    “To take one example, in January 2005 Citigroup chose to locate one its IT
    centres in Belfast, promising an investment of $100 million over five years and 375 new jobs. Citigroup was drawn to Northern Ireland by a workforce that, while possessing world-class technical skills, earns wages some 30% lower that its counterparts in England or the Republic of Ireland. Invest Northern Ireland (formerly the Industrial Development Board or IDB), the governmental agency that promotes inward Investment, provided $12.6 million to support the project"