I really do wonder if the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 can survive. Arguably it has been so undermined by inaction (Victims, Irish Language, Bill of Rights) or the way that the Irish and British governments withdrew support from the UUP and SDLP and built up the DUP and Sinn Féin. No doubt, the governments acted on the advice of their “spooks” that this was the best way forward.
We have technically a five-party coalition. DUP-SF call the shots. Alliance, the creature of the DUP-SF comply. UUP and SDLP are marginalised.
DUP and SF NEED each other. They are demonised by each other and paradoxically and hypocritically benefit from their core vote believing that they can stand up to the other tribe.
I believe that eventually Stormont will fall. It is just too full of contradictions.
But as unionist commentator, Alex Kane noted on BBC NI last night, DUP and Sinn Féin “despise” each other and just as importantly DUP and UUP “despise” each other and Sinn Féin and SDLP “despise” each other. I think this is a very dangerous state of affairs.
Clearly, the governments and SDLP and UUP were the prime movers in the Good Friday Agreement. But there DID seem to be a genuine air of “goodwill”. Tony B Liar felt the “hand of history” and all that. And even when that initial experiment stallled and the Chuckle Brothers, Paisley (DUP) and McGuinness (Sinn Féin) took over there seemed an unlikely coming together for the Common Good.
It might be said that in 1998, the politicians were ahead of the people. The politicians had the goodwill and had to convince distrusting voters. There has been an odd turnaround. The people seem to live in harmony, happily ignoring the politicians on “The Hill” ….but it is the politicians who have lost any respect for each other.
The Good Friday Agreement institutionalised some things….Peace, a new Poliice Service…but an Agreement cant survive without goodwill. All has been wasted. All we have is attrition and point scoring. It cant survive.