Silent majority can no longer afford to look other way
Politics in Northern Ireland is different from anywhere else in the UK, or even possibly in most of the democratic world. Here no one is ever held to account when things go wrong. We just do sectarian sums and hope that our side outnumbers the other one.
But problems are brewing that we cannot ignore. Take the issue of the banned parade back along a short stretch of Crumlin Road at Ardoyne in Belfast on the Twelfth. The inclination for most of us is to let those directly involved get on with it. If the marchers or protesters clash with the police, well then it is nothing to do with us law-abiding people. It is up to the police to hold the line – and take the injuries.
However, we cannot keep turning the other cheek or closing our eyes to reality. If the current situation with deteriorating relationships between unionist and nationalist politicians continues, then there will be no meeting of the Stormont Executive next week.
Already our failure to come to any agreement over welfare reform is costing us millions as Sinn Fein stick their heads in the sand. No attempt at an agreement next week means no Drugs Fund, or the money required to get hospital waiting lists down or properly staff A&E departments or improve our classrooms.
Potentially what lies ahead is a period of even greater governmental dysfunction than normal. Unionists need to stop the showboating walk-outs and the nationalists/republicans need to get real on what being in government really means.
For too long they have been able to dodge their responsibilities and get by simply by blaming each other for inaction.
This time none of us can stick our fingers in our ears and wait until July is over.
We must all pressure our politicians to act for all of us and not just the minorities on both sides who hold this province and our elected members in their sway.
We must get real politics going here and tell our politicians that it is their responsibility and their job to make sure this small province functions properly.