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Only direct rule can fix the mess our self-serving political parties have made of Northern Ireland


The old saying 'where there's a will, there's a way' clearly doesn't apply to Northern Ireland politics.

Both Sinn Fein and the DUP continue with their blame games, while the Secretary of State, ever the boyish optimist, looks the other way.

There are important decisions ministers need to take which, in the present vacuum, any right-minded Secretary of State would have found the will to do.

But are we seriously saying that a returning Assembly and Executive is going to make right the run-down of our public services and transform our fragile economy when they have, for over 10 years, been the authors of this mismanagement?

It's well past time the Government imposed direct rule, not as a caretaker arrangement, but with the intent of governing for much-needed economic, social and public service outcomes.

We also need a government that is not afraid to tackle the growth of paramilitarism in our communities - something the past Executive was not prepared to do.

Mandatory coalition has clearly failed, and we need the space to ask if it can ever work after 17 years of trial and error. It should be an opportunity to radically address the Belfast and St Andrews agreements and the dysfunctional and costly machinery of government that underpins them.

In this, I include the largely unnecessary super-councils, where sectarianism is alive and well and which have been the seedbed of some of our most damaging community strife.

Our selfish political parties need to realise that more of the same won't do. They have had their chance, failed and do not deserve to return.

In the past eight months, they have sidelined themselves and demonstrated we can live without their self-seeking agendas. They need a lesson in humility - one that only direct rule can bring.

Why are we still waiting?


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