Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Now Sinn Fein must put flesh on the bones

Declan Kearney
Declan Kearney

Declan Kearney's decision to quote the Queen and Colin Parry is hardly coincidental.

He is making an effort to show that he has listened to what the British establishment and IRA victims have to say and that he wants to find common ground.

He writes of the need to agree "the practical meaning of equality, respect and parity of esteem" for both orange and green traditions. He then answers his own question by saying they rest on "compromise and accommodation agreed through engagement and dialogue".

One vehicle he suggests in the Civic Forum. It cost about £500,000 a year to run and its restoration is opposed by both main unionist parties.

They will be waiting to hear Sinn Fein's proposals. Who, for instance, would be on it? Would the loyal orders be represented?

And could a permanent consultative body actually save money? As UUP leader Mike Nesbitt found, the Department of Education alone spent over £280,574 on consultations since 2007. Could such exercises be carried out more independently and effectively by a rejigged forum?

Could a united voice from a forum provide reassurance for politicians fearful of compromise on issues like parading, the past and flags?

Sinn Fein now needs to put more flesh on Mr Kearney's words.

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