>> 22 Sep 2004

Twelve Angry Men

Talks aimed at reinstating devolved government in Ulster broke down last night in acrimony according to Auntie Beeb. Whilst it claims the bones of contention included 'accountability' and 'the election of a First and Deputy First Minister', we in the real world know that confrontation came because nationalists cannot reconcile themselves to new political realities.

For six years pro-Unionism was represented by a man well versed in granting a whole smorgasbord of concrete concessions in return for virtually nothing. In this new dispensation, the Unionist majority is fronted by those who will not (on evidence so far) bend to an essentially nationalist agenda. Thus, nationalism is going to have to undergo a major culture shock in the weeks and months ahead as it struggles to adjust itself to the new environment.

During the Civil Rights era, a common accusation levelled against Unionists at Stormont was the retention of a 'what we have, we hold' mentality. My, my, how nationalists have stolen that mantle in their contemporary political posturing. Never mind, if the talks fail, several years of stable governance under Direct Rule beckon. For me, and doubtless others, there is no governmental arrangement with the imprimatur of nationalists as good or as wholesome as one where they are outside the loop.


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