I remember my father telling me a story about a republican giving a political speech in Strabane. He was promptly arrested by two policemen, new to the town, and marched to the police station, chest out, head erect. When the sergeant saw him coming he ran out shouting, “get that man out of here, do you want to make us a laughing stock”. It was a different era, but a genuine police assessment of the republican movement of the time. Who would thought then that a later police assessment would threaten to bring down a “government”.

A Pandora’s box has been opened and all sorts of vile creatures have been released. There is no point walking away from the mess in the hope that someone else will sort it out or that the various leopards in our communities will change their spots. It is even more reprehensible to seek political advantage out of other people’s misfortunes. People who do this need to explain how they will make things better rather than stating it as their aim.

It’s almost one hundred years since partition and no credible polity has been established on this part of the island. The GFA was supposed to provide space to do this and get us to a situation were everyone felt comfortable in their identities. Political unionism has failed to convince us that Northern Ireland can work to the advantage of everyone. They have the same mentality as the two policemen in Strabane all those years ago, even though they are dealing with a completely different animal; one I might add of their own making.


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