Over the next few days headlines will focus on the lack of funding the British government are giving Stormont which will provide public representatives in Northern Ireland an out. So long as the story is spun in such a way the real problems will remain.
The intransigence of the DUP and the myopia of Sinn Fein representatives removes the likelihood that the executive can function for everyone. Petty behaviour like Paul Girvan removing a small amount of funding to Irish language projects and Sinn Fein being less than gracious toward Unionists after the formation of the executive formed on the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement only re-enforces fears that Unionists and Nationalists are fighting a cultural battle. Consequently, the focus is removed from important cross-community issues. Healthcare, economic policy, infrastructure, education.
Cross-community issues are more prominent than ever. Public services are failing everyone. Crucially however, the promises outlined in the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ dealing with these cross-community issues requires leadership. A willingness to make tough decisions after careful analysis of the facts and figures. Something SF and the DUP have failed to do time and time again. Their attention focused instead on petty identity politics. Inevitably, when decisions are not made services are left to crumble in the face of a changing environment. How then, can it be possible to expect Sinn Fein and DUP representatives to fix public services considering the crises facing Northern Ireland are the result of their inability to govern?
For too long both parties have been able to act without consequence. The electorate has failed to punish them as yet so the Tories are simply putting their foot down to teach them a lesson. “Inadequate funding” is not the problem. “Inadequate representatives” are.