28 March 2006

GFA dying and no one really cares

Daily Ireland


In the days before well-off parents began buying Chopper bicycles, PlayStations and iPods for their children, pampered youngsters would sometimes receive a wooden rocking horse to play with. Although the timber toy couldn’t pull a milk float or win the Derby, it kept children occupied while grown-ups got on with adults’ business. When you think about it, the old rocking horse shares similarities with the non-executive, shadow assembly that Britain is offering the Six Counties.
This assembly will sit without either power or purpose. Lacking an executive, the gathering will not have a remit to administer and if it cannot administer, what function has it got apart from keeping the participants busy playing at politics?
Nobody, after all, really believes that the DUP will join an administration with Sinn Féin in the foreseeable future. Last week, Peter Robinson sat in the BBC’s Hearts and Minds studio repeating ad nauseam, his party’s condemnation of republicans. His performance was informative because, without offering one piece of evidence to support his position, he remained resolutely rejectionist.
For those still unsure about the impenetrable DUP mindset, party chairman Maurice Morrow speaking on the same programme, removed residual doubts. He made the incredibly contemptuous claim that few people in the North now remember the effects of discrimination in the allocation of public sector housing. Mr Morrow, MLA for Fermanagh/South Tyrone appeared ignorant of the fact that Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on housing, Michelle Gildernew, is the niece of a family evicted during the now famous Caledon sit-in, 30-odd years ago.
It would be naïve to think that the British prime minister is unaware of unionist intransigence. Tony Blair’s difficulty, though, is that he is now marking time before Gordon Brown replaces him in Number Ten. With Iraq in chaos, an education initiative requiring Tory support to get through the Commons and his party’s funding in tabloid scandal zone, this premier wants to leave office without also adding the Good Friday Agreement to his list of failures. By imposing this squabble-shop on us, Blair is simply buying time to make good his escape.
Meanwhile, the NIO is pressing ahead with its alternative to a power-sharing executive as Peter Hain abolishes quangos and moots restoring housing allocation, among other powers, to proposed supercouncils. The Good Friday Agreement is dying, Brown won’t be bothered reviving it and republicans would be better off looking past it, and to the future.
Tommy McKearney is a former member of the IRA and now works as an organiser for the Independent Workers’ Union.

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