Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

If some are to be believed Haass will teach us how to behave and live happily ever after

'The Haass Show is in town'
'The Haass Show is in town'

'Kicking the can down the road' is a phrase frequently invoked to describe contemporary politics. Problems are rarely resolved; instead they fester until the problem becomes greater. It is then kicked a little further down the road.

Parading is one such ‘problem’. Since Sinn Fein invented it, it’s been repeatedly fudged and left to fester. Fifteen years after the Good
Friday Agreement, it remains unresolved. But now, the Haass Show is in town.

Despite council and assembly representation, UKIP was not invited along. But if some are to be believed, Mr Haass will teach us
how to behave and we’ll all live happily ever after.

The reality will be much different. Haass requires Sinn Fein consent for any agreement, immediately putting the Loyal Orders on the back foot. A Sinn Fein endorsed agreement will be less ‘generous’ to the Loyal Orders than the status quo.

Aware of the DUP’s weaknesses, Sinn Fein won’t be able to help themselves from seizing their moment, to win another battle against those of us who have the ‘audacity’ to disagree.

The resulting agreement – yes, there will be an ‘agreement’ – will be a sugar coated, if poisonous pill. An outbreak of backslapping is assured; the applause will be punctuated only by the sound of champagne corks popping. Ahead of a European election, the DUP – with its internal splits - will then have to sell this agreement to the electorate.

The agreement will unravel; A similar process will then be instigated and the issue again kicked a little further into the distance.

Whilst depressing, this outcome is wholly predictable. Our past demonstrates that politicians cannot grant freedoms but can only take
them away.

To move forward, Mr Haass and his cronies must break with the past. They must defend hard won liberties, rather than conspiring with the enemies of freedom to compromise them. Only then can they contribute to the development of the truly free and shared society for which I like so many yearn.

 

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