COMPROMISE, compromise, compromise. The Belfast Agreement was an appalling compromise of democracy and the rule of law by the law-abiding, democratic majority to the IRA terrorists to persuade them to stop their murder and destruction. It has worked – but only partly, since I doubt the 'dissidents' are that separate from the IRA.
However, it has also brought about a fall-off in voting, as under the agreement there has to be a compulsory coalition government, meaning that the electorate may be able to change the balance of parties in government, but they cannot change the government fundamentally – it must always contain members of the IRA.
Imagine how the electorate of the rest of the UK would react if told that, no matter how they voted, the Lib Dems must always be in government? (At least they are not terrorists.)
That is not democracy. Neither is it democracy if convicted murderers are allowed to stand for election. We are told they are legitimate, because people voted for them. People voted for Hitler.
The Belfast Agreement compromise is not enough for republicans; they will never be satisfied, they will always want more. They deliberately stir up controversy – particularly over flags and children's play parks. And they will go on doing so until the British and Irish governments and the decent, law-abiding citizens of Northern Ireland stand up to them.
BARBARA A FINNEY