Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Don't give in to the Twin Nationalisms Axis' bullying.

The character of the Stormont Assembly and particularly the Northern Ireland Executive is being fascinatingly exposed bit by bit and the picture which is emerging bears no resemblance to a democratic or accountable institution. Finance Minister Peter Robinson has been fulminating at SDLP / UUP dissent over the draft programme of government and budget proposals.

In response Reg Empey accurately described Robinson’s comments as “a thinly veiled threat” to collapse power sharing arrangements and presumably to lay the responsibility at the feet of the two moderate parties.

In the DUP / Sinn Fein carve-up debate is inimical and the two parties wish to impose their will on the smaller members of the executive whilst being fire-walled from the electoral consequences of their policies by forcing their opponents to assume joint responsibility. The most basic concepts of democratic accountability are being undermined.

The most encouraging thing about this Stalinist display of authoritarianism from the Twin-Nationalisms Axis is the extent to which it is providing common ground between the UUP, SDLP and even the Alliance Party. Oppositional traits are emerging within the Assembly and within the Executive itself. It now falls to the leaders of the moderate parties to face down the bullying threats and if necessary to resign their places at the Executive table. If the cost of involvement in government is being implicated in slashing the health budget and failing to properly fund Social Housing, then that cost is not worth paying.

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