On Thursday, we will elect 90 people to represent us at Stormont. Right? Wrong.
For one thing, we in the dear little stateen of NEI voted clearly against Brexit. But we got Brexited just the same. So while there will be some people heading to Stormont who re-present the views of some of the people (isn’t that what it’s all about?), the views of the majority of the people will not be re-presented. They’ll be set aside and forgotten. “Let’s move on” – isn’t that the catch-cry?
We also need to keep in mind what it is we’re electing people to. It’s called the NI Assembly (I know, Virginia, but geography was not the strong point of our stateen-namers), and we the people elect – and pay – people to sit in that Assembly and govern. Govern all of us, not just the people who voted for them. So the tight-lipped unionist politicians who won’t say if they’ll engage in governing should Sinn Féin receive the largest number of votes are very possibly getting ready not to govern. And, of course, being paid for their non-representation.
For people who are hot on history, especially the history involved in the last decade of the seventeenth century, you’d think unionist politicians would remember how keen the Catholic/nationalist people were that NEI be set up and that they be locked into it. We’ve been in that point-of-a-gun prison for over a hundred years now and a lot of nationalists/republicans are looking around for a better option than trekking out to that brutal building on the hill. It’s had more scandals than its Assembly chamber would hold, it’s been the coldest of houses for ‘Catholics’, and the entire building shouts “We are British and this is our Assembly, so if you don’t like it, get off our property now!”
As Arlene Foster said a few years before she was shafted by her own party, “Be careful what you wish for”. You may wish that no nationalist/republican should ever be allowed the title of First Minister, and you may act to see it doesn’t happen; but if you do, there’ll be a price. And that price will be the end of devolved government here. Nationalists/republicans never really liked it – too many bad memories, Virginia – so I don’t anticipate any mass Kleenex-buying should it never be resurrected.
The gaze of nationalists/republicans is already turning southwards to the creation of a parliament that will cherish all the children of Ireland (yes, Virginia, even the ugly ones) equally.
It’s a word that the curled lips of unionism find hard to say, let alone live with: I’m talking about democracy.