“Politicians get back to work!” And last week the local parties did what they were told going back to the Assembly on the back of a document produced by the Irish and British governments. A document that spoke to people from across society. Promising language rights, living wages, legislation to deal with legacy, investment in infrastructure, pay awards forhealth and education professionals. There was something for everyone in the audience. The promise of a new dawn, if “the politicians” just sat down together and played nice.
So, by Saturday morning in Stormont Arlene relaxed the shoulders and spoke about the picture in her room that says,“Ní neart gur chur le chéile”, she didn’t use the Irish language but referred to it with warmth. It’s a welcome change, and welcome changes have to be, well, welcomed?
Michelle made it clear that this going back to the Assembly will not be a contradiction to advocacy and planning for a United Ireland. This assertion of the growing conversation on a New Ireland probably jarred a little from the internal settlement context, but everyone will have to get used to that.We’re in a new context with Brexit (remember that) happening, em, in a fortnight. And then she too spoke of reconciliation and better relationships. Everyone is determined to make things better.
Then on Monday in flew the British Prime Minister. The implications of the “Deal” and the explicit British commitments before Christmas of “not being found wanting”when it came to needed resourcing for an underfunded, disinvested economy had commentators speaking of Johnson bringing “Wheelbarrows of money”. Instead, he came with arrogant bluster and both arms the same length. He gave a hames of a press conference by nearly proclaiming that he could see a hand of the future. More like a nightmare with a claw of realisation. Perfidious Albion bucked the good mood, by arriving and proving that they were found monetarily found wanting after all.
And then the recriminations started. The very same people screaming for a return to Stormont blamed “the politicians” for going back into Stormont without written fiscal commitments to tie down the New Decade, Same Old Bad Faith From Westminster Agreement. Not an auspicious start for the lads and lassies trying to foster good will, blow fair wind, and build relationships. But let’s face it they did what was asked and the public is getting what the public wanted. A local government. Politicians “back to work”.
And what of the other co-guarantor? Remember Simon Coveney urged all the “politicians” to get back to work on the basis of this Agreement. Well. What of him? Not seen since. Not holding Britain’s feet to the fire. And off campaigning for his own seat in Cork.
Oh, and what of the EU who we were told would also be investing in a new government? Brussels seems far away now lads.
And that’s real politics at work. It ain’t easy. Far from it. London didn’t bring largesse to Ireland. Iontas mór, tá fhios agam.
So, what can we do? Well, support the people trying their best for us locally, and keep agitating and planning for politics on this island. Because it really looks like this experience once again reinforces the wisdom that our future and interest really do only lie in a New Ireland.