Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Enough is enough, find a solution now

Some people might argue that the apology on page 5 of this newspaper today is a flippant way to deal with a crucial issue.

We do not deny that the politicians should give careful consideration to devolution of policing and justice and any attendant matters. But even those politicians who have been discussing devolution for months — and intensely for the past week or so — do not argue that there is any great point of principle at stake. The crux of the discussions is merely one of timing, with the parties using parades and the Irish language as bargaining chips.

We believe that these talks should have been concluded already and that the power-sharing administration should now be concentrating on the grave economic and social issues confronting local politicians. The apology is simply a dramatic way of underlining the huge groundswell of public disenchantment with the political process and the failure of the governing parties to govern in the manner expected of mature politicians.

Ordinary people welcomed the restoration of devolved government to Northern Ireland, believing that local politicians would be more responsive to local needs than NIO ministers who had competing interests from their home constituencies. Most people want the final part of devolution — the return of policing and justice powers to the province — completed as soon as possible.

It is disingenuous to argue that these powers cannot be devolved until there is sufficient community confidence. Indeed, it is the protracted and sterile nature of the discussions that is doing most to erode community confidence, not in policing and justice, but in politics in general. The politicians seem determined to make a crisis out of a difficulty.

The current impasse only gives an opportunity for those opposed to change to hold progressive politics to ransom. The power-sharing administration is in an unnecessary state of paralysis and it is now time to conclude the policing and justice talks and get back to governing the province as it should be.

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