Belfast Telegraph

Scottish referendum: Northern Ireland's leaders should show maturity

Editor's Viewpoint

When Prime Minister David Cameron signalled the devolution of more powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the wake of the Scots rejecting independence, he pointedly remarked that we in the province would have to ensure that our devolved administration worked efficiently.

This was a direct call to our politicians to get their act together.

For as we noted in the immediate aftermath of the Scottish vote, our fledging democracy is not yet robust enough to handle a large increase in power.

Even our First Minister Peter Robinson admits that it would be a mistake to hand the politicians Scottish-style devo max until they can make the existing processes work better.

Predictably Sinn Fein takes a contrary view. The two main partners in government seldom agree on anything these days it seems. Martin McGuinness wants more power at Stormont and also the holding of a border poll. That is a side issue.

We all know that the majority of people within Northern Ireland want to remain within the UK rather than an united Ireland and a poll now would only deepen divisions and possibly destabilise the existing power-sharing arrangements.

As this newspaper has argued previously, we believe that one power which could safely be devolved to Stormont now is the ability to vary the rate of corporation tax. It has long been our contention that lowering the rate to something approaching that of the Republic would be a positive lure to inward investors and a method of rebalancing our economy which is too reliant on the public sector.

We could also look at streamlining the Assembly which has too many members, creating a properly funded opposition and modifying the political processes so that roadblocks such as the current one over welfare reform could be by-passed.

That would require the politicians here to show the same maturity as their Scottish counterparts on both sides of the independence debate, who even attended a joint church service yesterday.

Yes they have a lot of baggage from the past to overcome, but the will of the people is that they try a lot harder.

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