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Would anyone notice if Stormont vanished?

So, the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and others have opted to form a de facto Opposition. Well, that augers well for those involved and those who accept the partitionist entity of Northern Ireland and the administration of British rule.

A real Opposition, which will scrutinise the policy and performance of our regionally devolved Assembly, will gain admiration and votes when the incumbent, d'Hont-enforced coalition of the unwilling fails - as all governments invariably do.

Those not involved in the failures of the outgoing cabal will sup on the teet of discontent and gain votes, seats and influence at the polls.

As someone who stood for the Assembly as an Independent Socialist, offering an alternative to the Assembly's austerity programme, I'd like to ask: what is the rationale for having a devolved Assembly with no real powers, which acts only as a kind of super-super-council, dispensing the block grant.

The only role Stormont Mk 2 performs is to allow republicans and unionists a vehicle to address their needs - not the public's, nor wider society.

Devolved democracy in action, or a sticking plaster over constitutional inaction? Would any of us notice if Stormont simply went back into mothballs? The threat that a political vacuum would increase political violence is - as always - overplayed.

Do we need Stormont? Or does Stormont Mk 2 need us?



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