Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: We must move on from tribal politics

All this week the Belfast Telegraph is featuring a major debate to move politics forward from the traditional tribal head count in Northern Ireland, and to encourage the politicians and the people to make bread and butter issues a priority.

It is a tall order, but we do not shirk from issuing the challenge. Our political life has been dominated by the tired old border issues, and the outbreak of the Troubles demonstrated that one-party government by the Unionists simply did not work. After four decades of bitter violence it was clear that the way forward was through politics, and not violence.

The recent political progress has been painful, and at times imperceptible. Indeed some would argue that the Assembly's achievement so far has been mainly its ability to survive.

This is not good enough. At Stormont too many decisions are not taken or are fudged, and the politicians continue to look over their shoulders at the grass-roots.

This shows insufficient leadership, at a time when the economy is in dire straits, and the best talents of the politicians and people on all sides are required to tackle the severe challenges which face us.

This newspaper is strongly opposed to sectarian politics, to sterile pacts and to election campaigns which are run largely to determine which tribe will produce the First Minister.

As Professor Wilford indicates in today's newspaper, large numbers of voters are disillusioned and are crying out for a new kind of politics. A significant move towards the centre ground is long overdue, and whatever the obstacles, the Belfast Telegraph will continue to strongly back those who want a non-sectarian province for all the people.

Let that debate now begin in earnest.

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