The “Stormont House Agreement” was agreed yesterday – a Christmas Miracle!
It’s not, of course. Much of what was “agreed” was the only realistic option on the table. Nevertheless, I am more hopeful than I was – the section on Institutions is big step in the right direction; I personally am glad to see Welfare Reform implemented within 18 months; and the financial “ask” isn’t unreasonable.
There is still an awful lot, however, around parades and the past in particular, which has simply been kicked into touch. I was on BBC Talkback yesterday to emphasise two important further points:
- we are too focused on the political and not enough on the social – peace and stability are about interpersonal relationships and is thus built as much at a civic level as a political one; and
- the “deal” will not be binding or long-term because it shuffles off too many key points to Commissions or simply down the track (thus inevitably there will be similar talks, and indeed financial crises, even if these are [somewhat conveniently] delayed to mid-2016).
There are a lot of other issues of course – borrowed money must be repaid; issues not managed can soon come back to bite us; the fundamental point that parties have different narratives concerning the past and thus dare not let the truth get in the way of them…
Let’s not let the mind boggle too much – let’s focus on having a very Merry Christmas in the hope of a more prosperous New Year!