Wednesday 13 December 2017

Changes must be made to Good Friday Agreement to keep the 'process' alive

Last week's crisis prompted shrugs of disinterest in Dublin and London. But in Belfast the tribal dog whistles are sounding

THE HISTORY BOYS: Stormont Castle, Tuesday May 8, 2007, when the Rev Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness were sworn in as First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland. From left, Martin McGuinness Ian Paisley, former British PM Tony Blair and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern share a smile. Photo: Paul Faith/PA
THE HISTORY BOYS: Stormont Castle, Tuesday May 8, 2007, when the Rev Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness were sworn in as First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland. From left, Martin McGuinness Ian Paisley, former British PM Tony Blair and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern share a smile. Photo: Paul Faith/PA

Eoin O'Malley

A Northern Ireland government collapsed last week - and no one really cared. Although RTE despatched Bryan Dobson to Belfast, the latest crisis didn't sustain interest: Dobbo was back in the comfort of the Montrose studios the following day.

The paltry turnout in the House of Commons for a debate on the North showed that the British are no longer interested.

We might interpret this as a good thing. It's a sign that Northern Ireland is a bit like politics in "normal" places. No one expects a return to violence, and the collapse was ostensibly about the reaction to the Renewable Heating Initiative (RHI) policy. This appeared to be a crisis of the common or garden variety, a far cry from the usual Northern crisis subjects: flags, marching, guns.

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