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Our woeful political class simply isn't up to the job of running the country without outside help

letter of the day: stormont shambles

I suspect that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson's prediction of a period of suspension for the Assembly and a return of direct rule is correct, but also a necessity.

The premise behind the Belfast Agreement was a devolved government which was composed of a broad, but mandatory, coalition of willing political partners, with various protection mechanisms to ensure balance.

That was always wishful thinking, as it required a political class with the maturity to step up to its obligations and put people before politics - something which no Assembly has so far managed to do.

What the Belfast Agreement did not envisage was the emergence of two-party dominance in the Assembly, which used the protection mechanisms (such as the petition of concern) to override the democratic will of the Assembly and, by extension, the electorate.

This has been emboldened by the arrogant belief that both the DUP and Sinn Fein will remain as a virtual government in perpetuity, without some seismic event to stop the rot. More than anything, it has proven Lord Acton's observation: "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The DUP, in that regard, have been the makers of their own downfall, but the RHI scheme is simply the mechanism. The faultlines were such that this massively arrogant form of government could not have prevailed much longer.

We need a period of good governance, with ministers unafraid to run our public services efficiently, tackle legacy issues and the toxic mix of criminal paramilitaries, flags and parades.

The coming election will not deliver these changes. Our political parties have already proven they are not up to the job. The British and Irish governments must step up and, rather than trying to breathe life into a corpse, they must deliver a truly fresh start. This cannot be left to our political class to develop behind closed doors and for their own ends.

The coming election should not be sidelined as a predictable non-event. This is a chance for all eligible voters to speak truth to power and demand effective government for Northern Ireland.

Please don't waste the opportunity.


Belfast Telegraph


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