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Coalition of 'Others' could be the future for Northern Ireland

Trevor Ringland's letter (Write Back, March 8) noted that the "middle ground" parties and independents together make up 35 seats - a larger bloc than either the DUP or Sinn Fein.

What if they were prepared to come together, not as an Opposition, but as a "coalition of the willing" to form a viable third option to the stalemate of the DUP and Sinn Fein?

As Mr Ringland notes, to come together as one grouping would require an Assembly redesignation of all concerned to "Other", but would that be such a bad thing? Clearly, each party would retain their identity and focus, but the prospect for a new, consensus, middle-ground politics to emerge is tantalising.

Even more intriguing would be the question of whether the DUP and Sinn Fein, in that scenario, would take seats in Government, or go into Opposition, which they worked hard to neuter by watering down the enabling legislation.

The fear for middle-ground politics is that a shift from DUP and Sinn Fein would merely produce a "mini-me" version of stalemate politics, but there is much that binds the parties and independents which make up this grouping. Compromise would have to be the order of the day.

Mr Ringland's proposition is, indeed, worthy of more attention and, if the parties and independents concerned were also to give this serious thought, it just might herald in a Government whose attitudes and policies are more in tune with the electorate than the sectarian headcount which is our default position at every election.

Throw this proposition into the talks mix over the next two weeks and let's see how the crocodiles and dinosaurs of the "Big Two" parties waffle their way around it.

INTRIGUED OBSERVER

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