Belfast Telegraph

It's time politicians added substance to their agreement

Now that the Christmas and New Year breaks are over, it is time to return to the realities of life in early January.

This is particularly true of politics, and our public representatives need to apply themselves to the art of the possible - which politics is said to be - and to add substance to the details of the Stormont House Agreement .

At one stage it seemed likely that there would be no agreement, so the politicians deserve credit for snatching success from what at one stage appeared to be the jaws of failure.

The immediate reaction to the agreement was mixed, and rightly so. There was relief that the collapse of Stormont was averted, because the institution would not have survived otherwise.

There was also recognition that the politicians were prepared to agree on a budget that was workable, but there was disappointment that a comprehensive agreement was not reached, and a fear that the unsolved problems associated with flags and marches, and other issues, would still haunt us.

In the aftermath of the Christmas break there may be a temptation for the politicians to lessen the momentum in trying to find a lasting agreement, particularly as they are not under the same intense pressure.

There is also the great danger that their eyes will be diverted from what should be the job in hand, and that they will begin their grassroots preparation for the May elections. Electoral survival is high on every politician's list, but it would unwise for our local parties to make this their main priority.

Northern Ireland urgently needs political stability if we are to grow the economy and to implement the agreements outlined before Christmas. Even those issues which were put on the longer finger should not be ignored, and background work needs to begin right now.

The Stormont Agreement, while welcome, was not the end of a process, but the beginning of a crucial period which will fully engage the politicians until real achievements are made. The public, which has been disappointed so many times in the past, deserves nothing less than success this time.

Belfast Telegraph

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