Belfast Telegraph

A very poor show as rugby bid is launched

Editor's Viewpoint

When David Sterling takes part in the all-Ireland bid to host the 2023 rugby World Cup in London today he will be acutely aware that his presence will send out a poor image of Northern Ireland.

It is nothing personal, but the fact that a civil servant rather than a politician is representing the province is proof positive to the world of the failure of our devolved government.

It will be the clearest evidence that politicians here cannot work together, that we have no functioning devolved administration, and that civil servants are having to run the country in the absence of any proper political direction, either locally or from Westminster.

By contrast, the Republic's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Sports Minister Shane Ross will be headlining their element of the bid

Of course, there are even more serious consequences of the current political impasse which affects the day to day running of the province including essential services such as health, education and infrastructure, and the toxic legacy of the past.

In that context we continue to look for any signs of encouragement that the political parties, particularly the DUP and Sinn Fein, are willing to enter meaningful negotiations on getting Stormont back up.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams appeared to offer a glimmer of hope that the deadlock can be broken when he addressed a republican gathering in Belfast yesterday. As is his wont, he used the occasion to emphasise that his party is fully committed to restoring devolution and would seek a deal with the DUP. That party welcomed his comments.

Yet both sides were still keen to claim that it was the other who is holding up progress. That is only to be expected, and is part of the political posturing that passes for real politics here too often. Any change in attitude can only be incremental given the poisonous atmosphere between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

What is important is that both are now publicly committed to a common goal - the restoration of devolution. Getting there will not be easy, but the public wants the politicians to make a real effort.

The issues confronting the political parties - never mind the poor image of Northern Ireland that is going out to the world - makes it imperative that we have a functioning administration as soon as possible. The current stasis serves no one's interest.

Belfast Telegraph

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