Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Only thing Executive seems to be sharing is ability to delay

Few people have noticed it, but yet another deadline has slipped for the production of a Cohesion Sharing and Integration (CSI) strategy for a more integrated society.

Last month, Martin McGuinness, deputy First Minister, told me: "It would be very wrong for this to trundle over into the early part of next year, so I hope it will come out before Christmas."

A few weeks earlier, Peter Robinson (right), First Minister, waved a draft document at me, saying it would be out soon. Now he says, in his New Year statement, that he hopes to have one "in the course of 2013". To be fair, it hasn't been entirely in their power; the flag protests blew up after the interviews and blew things off course.

Yet this CSI issue has not just trundled past Christmas, it has been trundling for the best part of a decade.

The failure to agree a more integrated society, with shared spaces and procedures is one of the reasons why we have the flag protests blowing up seemingly out of nowhere.

If every symbolic issue continues to be judged in terms of victory, or defeat, then the future is bleak.

We have got to move beyond a political system in which two communities jostle for sectional advantage, instead of co-operating for the common good and a shared future.

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