The DUP/SF regime is hardly the most oppressive in history, probably not even in the history of Northern Ireland. However, it is an alliance of populist incompetents marked by what is at best a dubious and at worst an outright hostile attitude towards the Rule of Law and equality for all. During its reign, Northern Ireland’s economic performance has declined despite the buffer of the large public sector; Peace Walls have remain steadfastly in place with money tossed away propping up segregated education rather than targeted carefully to move towards integration; and reform of everything from Health to Education has become gridlocked.
They get away with it because the opposition is incoherent, disorganised and unmotivated.
This is not the first time I have quoted the outstanding 1973 ITV documentary the World at War. I was struck by the self-critical attitude of someone identified only as “R M van der Deen”, a member of the Dutch Resistance from 1940, who said [direct quote]:
“We failed. Having a sense of protest is not the same thing as transferring it to relevant action.”
This was interesting because I also happened to watch the series The Man in the High Castle before Christmas, which for me poses the same question. It depicts a world in which the Axis won the War and occupied the United States; and it depicts a resistance which is much smaller than we might expect and also, more importantly still, much less effective – engaging merely in peripheral irrelevance.
The scale is of course totally different, but among all of us opposed to the continuation of DUP/SF misrule, I would suggest we need the same self-criticism and the same realisation.
Are we actually transferring our distaste for the leaders at Stormont into relevant actions to replace them, or are we just doing things to provide a pretence and make ourselves feel good?
Protest is one thing – relevant action may be quite another…