I had already written a piece , but having left it to scratch through the papers, I turned to find that the computer had decided to exit “sleep” mode , re-boot and update before I had a chance to save it , so I lost it all to the mad cosmic whirl of the universe. Its atoms , gone into that nether world of the hard drive to be re-assembled as photographs ,films , music and this new piece which might have some similarities but will never be the same . I’m back to square one. It’s a bit like the situation I was about to write about in the first place .Post election, we are all back to virtually the same situation we left too .That very situation and reason for having an election …our faith or lack of it in the institutions …was why we had the election in the first place . In this Kafkaesque world of Norneverland , most of us will not find that position so unusual at all.We are well-used to running around in circles , chasing our tails.
The election was called due to disrespect for the the political institutions and by extension ,disrespect to all of the citizens who had helped to set them up..The particular point of disrespect that finished the game ,was the fact that Arlene Foster had finally heard a buzzing bee in her bonnet that was whispering in her ear and telling her that she was actually running the entire show, on her own ,for “her community” alone and that she was actually the Boss. In her eyes , “her community” was not all of us ,but only the portion of it that voted for her party.Attempts were made to point out that this was in fact not the case at all and that she was “Joint First Minister” in all but name , for the entire community ,and as such , must be seen to be beyond reproach.
The fact that she was at the core of yet another particularly harmful financial scandal which the DUP had been involved in , namely RHI ,seemed not to have registered with her at all and she refused to step aside for a short while until investigations were made. To save the validity of the institutions there was little else to do.Any minister in a similar situation ,or anyone in the wider community ,working in any job anywhere , would have faced a similar experience ; from the humble call-centre worker to the CEO of an international company. There were precedents .It now appears that her party ,the DUP ,still do not believe that the institutions needed to be kept sacrosanct if they were to work at all ,so it is apparent that if such is the case and that is what they actually believe , then those same institutions would not be worth our investment at all.That appears to be Sinn Fein’s position and they are the DUP’s potential partners in any new government.
I’ve no idea how local government would ever work in the future if the DUP have no real respect for the actual working mechanics of it, but they seemed to manage for a lengthy period without having any respect for the agreements that had actually created those same institutions in the first place. They now appently simply want to continue post -election as though the election never happened at all. …still blind to why it happened, why they lost ten seats and why it can never , ever be like that ever again. It seems like a recipe for self-destruction.
The election brought the loss of the unionist majority for the first time since the state was artificially engineered to give them that majority in the first place, almost one hundred years ago, so critically , this current attitude does not appear to be providing ripe political fruit for unionism.There is currently only one seat of difference between Sinn Fein and the DUP in a proposed new government so you might imagine that everyone would realise just how politics are gradually changing. If unionism wants to grow , the only way it can grow is by convincing potential nationalist and republican voters that their unionist way is a better way ,but if this current position that they hold, is what they are offering , that potential scenario is never going to happen; if they continue treating everyone without this idea of “equality” from the bottom to the top of government , they simply do not understand what being “equal” means. It means that Arlene Foster would simply be treated in the very same way as that humble call-centre worker who would automatically go on “gardening leave” and should step aside while investigations are carried out. It is really as simple as that.Equality in action, seen to be being operated; one person ,no different than any other . That is what is required.
Famously Ian Paisley had told Martin McGuinness that the pair of them could run the place better than any Englishmen.His son Ian Paisley Junior conceded over the weekend that the Northern Ireland Assembly election marked “a bad day at the office” for his DUP party and unionism generally.He also said “I want local people, local men and women elected by the electorate of Northern Ireland running Northern Ireland’s affairs, and that’s where the answer to our problems is going to be.Otherwise, we will have just more chaos.”
You can see his point, but it makes you wonder with that in mind why he believes that the union with the UK is the best way to proceed , given that there is little or no real interest in our affairs there.
As the smoke clears , Sinn Fein appear to hold all the cards at the moment, if you can believe the pundits.On one hand the tin-hat conspiracy theorists of the far-unionist outreach have decided that their bete noir Gerry Adams has such a magnificent planet-spanning political brain that he planned every step of this election many months, or possibly even many years ago to bring us all to this Machiavellian turn of events. In this scenario , he is offering proof that his “Equality Agenda” has literally routed his political rivals and really is the veritable “Trogan Horse” he murmured of in the past, which would be their nemesis .There might be some truth in it but there might not be, too. Maybe it was simple opportunism for nationalism in the end , but Arlene Foster has literally “fostered” the concept of Adams as the arch political crocodile with the ability to eat them all up!The reality is that many older people voted for Sinn fein in a lifetime of voting SDLP and many more young voters felt villified and disgusted by Arlene Foster.
On the other hand there is the possibility that Sinn Fein wanted the politics to work properly , albeit as only a step to the eventual goal of stable Irish political and social “island unity” . Or there’s also the possibility too that it has finally proven and shown that the local politics can never work on this level because unionism does not understand what “equality” actually means and have voted in great numbers to sustain this sense of inequality as represented by Arlene Foster’s unilateral actions while in power. What were they thinking of? If they want in returned on the same terms she left then there might be no hope at all for fairnesslocal government and they have not even realised what is at stake ,even for themselves.; the very possibility that unionism might not be able to do real grown-up politics at all.
As things stand , Sinn Fein have all to play for ,should they abstain from local power for a time.It seems obvious that unionism has a greater desire to jump back into power immediately no matter the shape or size of it, whereas republicans have very definite ideas as to how it must work and that idea is based on the letter of the Belfast Agreement which many in the DUP do not even believe in.Republicans want to get all of that unfinished business that had already been agreed sorted out first.
In the aftermath of the election I decided to see what the consensus was across the board .With this in mind I bought the local “Irish News” and the “Newsletter”, but also “the Times”(London).I read all the other opinion pieces online from all the other diverse sources. The Irish News and the Newsletter are the two papers which are seen to be the traditional local organs of assorted nationalism and unionism and they were both filled with pundit pieces from various commentators as to the fine detail of the results. Pages were filled with various graphs and each county was finally picked over and assessed; all the winners and losers listed in “dispatches “, as if after a war and ,depending on the specific paper, editorials were written, slanted to suit the perceived readership’s hopes or fears .The assorted readership’s collective beating hearts were all beating for very different reasons. Nationalism saw the result as a vindication of the “Equality Agenda” and it proved to them that nobody …not even a minister at the top of the heap, was beyond the reach of the people or the law of the land.
Unionism , on the other hand saw the result as simply a call to battle for more unionist votes in the future. They endorsed Arlene Foster and her solo run, right or wrong.The undercurrent was that they badly needed to gather the disparate troops in future and possibly create one new monolithic unionism once again. You could almost imagine the future conversations in Orange Halls across the land.The question is , could there be an atavistic fear of the very “idea of equality” as measured against this” huge planet-spanning green -hued political brain ” presently consuming them , whose machinations they might seem to be in no way actually “equal ” to? In that respect they might never become “equal” to the task of “equality” , in any sense….
“The Times” (London edition) would be seen as a long- time well-established newspaper of the British Establishment . It was first established in the 1780s and has reported down the years on all the dealings of the Empire , right down to its eventual dissolvement and thereafter.There was a time when talk of “Ulster” would have stirred much headline noise .Not today. I looked to see how our exciting Election was reported on this Saturday morning .There was nothing on the first page at all about it. , but there on page two in a small square near the bottom of the page was a brief synopsis that the election had taken place . It was no more than the size of a small advert .That was the sum -total of the reportage from the eyes and ears of the the British Establishment.
I think that might actually say more about our relationship with the UK than anything else I might care to write.