Do you remember everyone’s outrage at a DUP leader who treated the nationalist community with contempt by both words and actions? At her continual refusal to acknowledge her role or potential responsibility in governance failures that were costing tens of millions of pounds of ratepayers’ money? The lack of humility or good grace? 

Do you remember the election that sent a message that the nationalist community were glad the devolved government had been brought down over arrogance and lack of true cooperation in the sharing of power? Do you remember that now the days of unionist dominance are over?

Do you remember the British Government refusing to fund legacy inquests and their continual frustration of the efforts to put in place the legacy mechanisms of the Stormont House Agreement that just might deliver a measure of truth and resolution to bereaved families?

Do you remember the same government just side stepping the arrangements of co-guarantee of the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements?

Im not doubting anyone’s memory but it is worth remembering all of this because if you were to listen to half of the programmes on the television and radio, and in particular listen to DUP and NIO press moments, it is like none of that happened. 

There is a singular lack of self-reflection that what has gone before has created this moment of political hiatus. I have even seen some commentators revert back to talking about “politicians” and “vacuums” rather than just call it for what it is – a moment of political contest for Irish citizenship and equality in a post GFA context.

If there is no return to the status quo of devolved government,there most certainly has been a return of the status quo of commentary.

First and foremost is this line that the people need government. The people are interested in bread and butter issues like health and education. Of course, that’s true. As it has been true for the past ten years of devolution when operational governance was continually prioritised while Irish language speakers were promised their rights only to be insulted and sidelined. 

Fresh Start was the most salient example of this practice when bread and butter was prioritised and victims of the conflict were told they would once again be kicked down the political road.

The day after March’s election, stories of hospitals and GPs in crisis headlined the news. While politicians can’t agree, patients suffer, is the narrative. A way of putting pressure on those asserting their political rights to put them away. James Brokenshire standing in Antrim Hospital last week was another arm of this. It is a soft lens attack on the rights of Irish language speakers and victims of the conflict, and those seeking equality of citizenship overall. How could they be so selfish seeking something so small as equal citizenship when hospitals need cash? 

Don’t get me wrong I want devolution. I agree with Gerry Adams when he says the northern institutions working in the short term is the best way forward to achieving Ireland’s best future in the long term. But why would a post conflict society settle for managing a reducing health care budget while ignoring the same patients’ rights to speak their own language, or find out who was responsible for the killings of their loved ones? Why would we settle for managing budgets of gaelscoileanna but deny those children security to their language rights

We need to remember how we got here, the burning issues that meant when Martin McGuinness, God rest him, resigned, he received immediate, positive support. The people who say to me day and daily “they shouldn’t go back” remember those issues. We are the risen people who refuse to be sidelined any more.

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