History is complex. Legacy matters.

A newly published paper takes a look at the issue of ‘rewriting history’reformulating the past to present political agendas, and concludes that in respect of matters of Legacy in Northern Ireland this has resulted in a scandalous sanctioning of a narrative that ignores the entire purpose of which murder and bombing was a part, but not the whole story.

The paper suggests that the issue of the moment is not that ‘history’ is being ‘rewritten’. It is that the past (the recent past a nebulous idea of ‘memory’, the distant past a story of ‘oppression’) is being recruited to serve an agenda and historical thinking dismissed if it prevents one – and only one – moralising political whippet winning the race and becoming the undisputed champion.

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‘big picture’ and politicking

Yes to infrastructure, but foundations first before grand schemes…

In recent days the News Letter has picked up on a small piece of legislation being rushed through the Northern Ireland Assembly. The bit that has peaked interest is what seems a modest change that will have the effect of placing more power in the hands of Ministers to take action unilaterally, without reference to the Executive.

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Talk of economic transformation impossible without dealing with the fundamentals.

World Technology Background.

In recent years I’ve been involved in business discussions around the technology and infrastructure of optical fibre – the foundation of broadband connection to homes and businesses across the country.

Too much of investment in fibre upgrade is piecemeal; an approach wholly inadequate towards making a step change that would transform the potential of a region such as Northern Ireland.

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Positive steps on Legacy

The Government’s approach to legacy as outlined by Secretary of State, The Rt. Hon. Brandon Lewis on 18th March was a positive step in addressing legacy issues in Northern Ireland. The House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has posed a number of questions on the Government’s most recent proposals and has held a series of sessions to gather evidence, as well as accepting a number of written submissions.

The original Stormont House Agreement proposals on ‘legacy’ excluded any review of decades of terrorist destruction and consequent trauma, removing context and trying to write past conduct as if present reality.

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New Government. Same old approach.

Time will tell whether Micheal Martin is a new approach to relationships with the UK generally and Unionism in particular. He’d struggle to be worse than the Leo & Simon show.

There is a long on detail short on substance Programme for Government that has been agreed between the three Coalition Partners in Dublin, but time will tell if that is the basis of stability or a huge fallout in due course. The Greens are the newbies, with it often forgotten that there has been a relationship between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail for the past few years with Fianna Fail providing Confidence & Supply to Leo’s Government.

We explore what the new Government might mean for relationships North/South and East/West, but posturing on the EU/UK negotiations on Brexit is over. Ireland is just one of 27 and it has most to lose.

Of course the three Party coalition means that Sinn Fein become the Official Opposition in Dublin. Perhaps ‘opposition’ is what it does best as it is making a total mess of its role a principal (mandatory) coalition partner in Belfast, particularly with its performance in Belfast this past week around the funeral of dead terrorist Bobby Storey.

It is not as if there aren’t big issues to address within Government. Stories this past week on the Charity Commission and LandWeb have echoes of RHI, and raises issues of whether the public sector is capable of reform or just not fit for purpose. Given the state of the relationships within the Parties at Stormont at this point in time, is there any interest or imagination to bring in the scale of reform that is clearly required.

This week MLAs voted to take charge of their own expense regime. What could possibly go wrong?

Discussing all of this with @3000Versts

Ireland has a new Government, finally.

It has taken months. A new Government for the Republic of Ireland has been agreed among three principal coalition partners, with a detailed Programme for Government (PfG – 126 pages).

Each of the three Parties required their respective memberships to endorse the PfG Coalition. The approval could be fairly described as emphatic – 74% Fianna Fail (FF), 76% Greens, and 80% Fine Gael (FG). That is a conclusive enough endorsement to suggest that the PfG and Government might well hold for a good part of what remains of the five-year term.

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Aer Lingus lacked ‘common sense’​ approach

The first thing for a business to do in a crisis is to stay calm, review operational processes and mitigate and manage with steady and measured common sense action – let the public see a company doing its best in difficult circumstances. Sadly, this headline was avoidable: “Coronavirus: Robin Swann ‘shocked’ at images of packed flight.”

Why on earth did Aer Lingus think that simply taking fares was the priority? It wasn’t good enough to claim, as the company did, that it needed direction from Government; giving the appearance it could do nothing more. This was a communications #fail that could have been avoided.

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An uncertain legacy

Julian Smith has left the building.

Politics is often remembered by the moment, the big event. For Julian Smith that would be the return of the Stormont Executive. Focus on the moment and forget the consequences?

Fact is we are left with spending promises (or demands) but no idea of the basis of a future budget at Stormont, and there remains perverse plans to deal with the legacy of the past. Getting the show on the road might well be followed by keeping the show on the road, but whether that means much as changed or this iteration of the Stormont Executive is any more stable only time will tell.

A long look at the Southern Election and the impact of Sinn Fein significantly increasing its presence in the Irish Parliament is the subject of the post below. It is likely that PoliticalOD may be visiting that topic in the months ahead.