Three Years - a long time in no politics

09 January 2020 - by Gráinne Walsh

Following a December which included an unprecedented nurses’ strike, the publication of the EU Withdrawal bill and a bruising general election for some, it definitely feels like we are at something of an inflection point.

Good Morning Ulster’s outside broadcast from Stormont this morning was the better for the very limited political party input. With the exception of Sinn Féin, the parties didn’t participate which is usually a signal that participants are still focused on negotiations.

With the message from the DUP that they are less worried by an election than Sinn Féin (well they would say that wouldn’t they), we are reaching peak negotiation speculation - what will be in the final agreement in terms of concessions and sweeteners to help the medicine go down?

Based on the premise that past behaviour is the best indication of future behaviour, there is a working assumption here that we will break the deadline set by the Secretary of State. We are, if nothing else, committed to our traditions here. 

Let’s fast forward and assume we get over the line, how creative or brave our elected representatives will be upon their return to government and the Assembly, will not be totally dependent on individual characters – our politicians operate within a particular administrative, electoral and financial systems.

While we can expect some changes in response to the RHI inquiry report and the outcome of the current negotiations, what our elected representatives hear on the doorstep, radio waves and from organisations who operate and invest locally,  does have an impact.

Our team here in Belfast know that the organisations who have continued to invest in political engagement and public policy development in the last three years are playing an important role in shaping how we solve some of the biggest and interesting challenges ahead.

The opportunity for us all is to move beyond the immediate, the soundbites and short-termism.  For all us interested in better public services, a thriving economy and environment, there are lots of conversations to be had and decisions to be made in 2020.  So, we will be following every statement, every meeting, tetchy or otherwise over the next few days. Let’s get Stormont done.