Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 24 May 2016

First ministers could show a united front here

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 08/03/2014

The First and Deputy First Ministers set off today for an important business trip to the USA, where they will present Northern Ireland as an attractive place for inward investment.

However, they continue to paint a different picture within Northern Ireland itself. Last night, speaking about the on-going OTR controversy, Peter Robinson accused Sinn Fein of stepping back from "the tentative forward steps that were beginning to emerge".

He told his party faithful at a Londonderry dinner that Sinn Fein's stance is "disappointing. It's a retrograde step and a failure of leadership." Such language is predictable at an annual dinner of DUP supporters, at which the First Minister also rounded upon other unionist parties, in the run-up to the European elections.

Even allowing for such rhetoric, there is no doubt that political relationships at the top have been strained by the long-running Union flag dispute, and more recently by the failure of the Haass talks and the still-bitter OTR controversy. Against such a background it is hard to judge whether the divisions at the top are as bad as they sometimes seem to be. There is no doubt that Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness will display a united front abroad. They are making an important visit to Los Angeles, the centre of the film industry to which Northern Ireland has already been making a significant local input.

They are also visiting San Francisco for the opening of a new office for Invest NI, and the importance of our political leaders working together to attract inward investment is incalculable. So too will be their presence in Washington jointly to celebrate St Patrick's Day.

Such symbolism is important, and the presence of Robinson and McGuinness in the corridors of US power cannot be overlooked, despite the failure of the Haass talks.

The people of Northern Ireland are used to such wheeling and dealing, but the ordinary voters here know their own politicians all too well. They could be forgiven for asking that a little more of this overseas unity is made more apparent back home.

From the web

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph