The Good Friday Agreement Is Restraining Northern Ireland

Problem solving is a requisite skill for the majority of employment positions. It is a ubiquitous skill yet the ability to solve problems depends on the information someone has. Furthermore, this information determines what problem is identified.

Politics can be a very myopic business. Issues that arise are tackled on an isolated basis because they are treated as problems rather than symptoms. Unemployment rates have never been as low in the UK but working poverty, homelessness and food bank use has never been as high. In addressing unemployment as a problem, further problems were created while the underlying issue remains.

Similarly, in Northern Ireland public services were left to rot and because there was no executive this was diagnosed as the problem. However this neglects the fact that services were declining throughout previous executives. Now the executive has returned but the need for drastic reform in public services remain. By misidentifying the problems any subsequent solutions can hinder if not cause damage.

Northern Ireland has a serious problem which will not be solved until the underlying cause is identified and fixed. The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement provided a basis on which to build a power sharing executive. A symbol to erode division and show that we can co-operate without the world ending. NI is undoubtedly a less divided nation thanks in part to the GFA but tension remains among unionist and nationalist thanks in part to the GFA.

Not the GFA per se rather the executive derived from it. Because Stormont was designed along unionist and nationalist lines this inadvertently encourages voting based on identity rather than policy. Consequently, poor representatives are shielded from the very thing democracy was designed to encourage. Accountability. This has led to some pathetic representation not to mention corruption among the executive. Now the nation is suffering. Preventative healthcare may not exists while schools can barely provide toilet roll let alone a solid foundation in life. Blame the voters, blame the politicians but ultimately blame the executive formed by the GFA.

If we are to tackle these serious issues that affect nationalist and unionist alike we must move beyond our sectarianism. We must move beyond our divisions. It is time to consider a new framework to govern.


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