Sir Hugh Orde isn’t particularly concerned that groups of heavily armed republicans can roam border areas and patrol roads, unhindered by an emasculated police force which has neither the resources, nor the political backing, to do anything about it. I cannot agree.
However Northern Ireland’s outgoing police chief also believes that a lack of political commitment to the ‘shared future’ strategy is retarding progress towards a normal society. His officers are at the sharp end of this failure. He has a point.
Bobballs observes that Alliance, the UUP and the SDLP all acknowledge a need to resuscitate the imperative of integration, whilst Sinn Féin and the DUP’s ‘ourselves alone' coalition stand opposed. Fittingly. After all, the Programme for Government developed by the two parties shelved the ‘Shared Future’ initiative in the first instance.
A mythos has grown up around the Northern Ireland ‘peace process’ that its completion could only be achieved, can only be achieved, because of the political ascendancy of ‘extremes’. Our institutions are said to be more robust because they are based on a coalition between hardline parties.
This accepted wisdom has become a lamentable self-fulfilling prophesy. DUP and Sinn Féin preside over a communal carve-up. That is the basis on which their authority rests and it is in their self-interests to maintain that basis.
The fact that the two parties’ unholy alliance actually perpetuates division, and leaves untouched the root causes of sectarianism has not been addressed. We have been too busy congratulating ourselves and attempting to export the ‘Northern Ireland model’ to blighted trouble spots across the globe.