Wednesday, December 14, 2005


'What If'? Wednesday - No Assembly

Big Ulsterman drew my attention to this article in the Belfast Telegraph detailing comments made by British Secretary of State Peter Hain on the BBC Politics Show where he threatened to scrap the Assembly in Ireland's north if a devolution deal is not worked out before the next election.

Mr Hain said there would be no point in the "charade" of electing politicians to an Assembly that does not exist.

As the Belfast Telegraph points out, the Secretary of State has effectively set a deadline for a successful conclusion to new negotiations on the restoration of Stormont and a power-sharing Executive this side of the next Assembly elections - due in May, 2007.

Mr Hain insisted: "We've really got to end this paralysis and get things up and running.

"We cannot have (the politicians) standing again for a suspended Assembly."

The Secretary of State said MLAs are doing constituency work but were not fulfilling the legislative function for which they were elected.

"It isn't a threat, it is a statement of fact," he told the BBC programme.

This is very interesting indeed! The British have been pretty dismissive of unionists in recent weeks and now they are threatening to bring down devolution. The tactic of the British government seems to revolve around the idea that if you make life under Direct Rule uncomfortable for unionists, then they will do their best to revive the devolved institutions.

On the surface of things, the end of the North's Assembly might actually seem worse for nationalists but the British have been very pro-Republican lately and I believe this move will prove beneficial for the nationalist community rather than the unionist community.

But the question must be asked - what if there was no Assembly? What would happen in Ireland's north?

In my own opinion, if devolution is not restored in the North, I think Joint Authority will be introduced as an alternative to Direct Rule.

I don't think it will be easy to justify it by any means, but I do think it will be introduced.


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