Today would have been Scottish Independence Day, had a quarter of a million people changed their mind upon entering the polling station in 2014.
Meanwhile, after the DUP’s predictable sectarian dog whistle that the First Minister must be a Unionist, we then had Sinn Féin’s predictable call for a “Border Poll”.
Yet this only draws attention to the fact that it was the DUP’s negotiating failure which made the First Ministership an issue; and that it is Sinn Féin which fails to come up with a strategy for any form of “United Ireland”.
In Scotland’s equivalent independence referendum, the SNP produced a document of over 700 pages explaining how an independent Scotland would operate. Where is Sinn Féin’s equivalent for a “United Ireland”?!
The 1998 Agreement, as amended ever so slightly in 2006, was an extremely delicate balancing act – the people of Northern Ireland’s British identity was reflected by remaining within the UK; their Irish identity was reflected through the right to Irish identity/citizenship and cross-border bodies; and their common regional identity was reflected by devolved institutions, themselves reflecting the traditional communal divide through power-sharing. Anything which tampers with this balance threatens the whole thing – like taking just one leg off an average four-legged table renders the whole table useless.
Removing the British aspect by leaving the UK would collapse the table. What exactly is the plan to restore the balance in its absence? How realistically could it be brought about? What precisely is the point?! (And all of this is before how we manage the legal implications, overcome the economic challenges, and establish new ways of securing the place.)
If the DUP wants the First Minister, let us hear precisely how it matters. And if Sinn Féin wants a “Border Poll”, let us see the detail.
Neither party is up to the challenge. Small wonder they deliver nothing but gridlock government. It’s time for change.