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An ominous scenario if Assembly collapses

OVER the past year, we have seen both unionists and republicans threaten the collapse of the Assembly.

First, we had the on-the-runs scandal, then the arrest of Gerry Adams, followed by the debacle of the Ardoyne parade and, at the weekend, Adams saying the political process and institutions are in trouble because of welfare reform.

None of this should shock anyone, because what we are seeing is the DUP and Sinn Fein setting the narrative for the next Westminster election. Imagine the scenario if the Assembly collapsed in October. From then until May, Sinn Fein and the DUP would tell the public this election is about mandating who they want most in negotiations in the follow-up talks because the Assembly collapsed.

The public must then ask themselves if they really want to mandate Sinn Fein, or the DUP, in the future of Northern Ireland talks.

Have the DUP worked hard to bring jobs to the Protestant working class since 1998? Or have they just jumped to the demands of the Orange Order around parading and ignored paramilitary control in working-class unionist areas?

Have Sinn Fein worked hard finding the truth for victims of IRA atrocities and improved the living standards of the people they claim to represent? Or have they just circled the wagons when republicans are questioned?

Civic society must realise that negotiations shouldn't be about protecting their own, but finding a way forward that is fair.

GERARD McDONALD

Belfast

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