The whole debacle regarding the Haass discussions encapsulates what passes for political debate in this part of the world and why it is disfunctional in terms of a broader political worldl .

The very fact that two respected diplomats had to be imported with the aim of achieving agreement between supposedly mature politicians speaks volumes. The fact that it was a failed initiative is an indictment of what passes for democracy in six counties of a remote island on the edge of Europe with a colonial recent past and an acute sense of history.

The discussions centred on three areas. 1.Symbols, including flags, 2. Parades and commemorations, and 3.the legacy of the past.

If I may here’s my take on it all (in brackets) in no particular order:


  • With rights come responsibilities. (Agreed)
  • It is the duty of elected politicians to uphold the rule of law in this regard. (Agreed- are you listening Nelson and Nigel?)
  • Let’s devolve responsibility for this locally. (Hmmm, is Stormont ready for this? although it does repatriate some powers)
  • There follows a lot of guidelines about how to adjudicate on contentious parades. (Good luck with that one)

Flags and emblems.

  • Flags and emblems are important to people but we couldn’t agree on anything. (Surprise surprise)
  • Lets establish a commission and talk it out in a couple of months ( Sweet holy mother…….

The Past.

The first mistake here was not actually defining the past due to the fact the definition ranges, as most readers will know, from anything in the past 800 to the past 40 years.  The second mistake was the inability to define a “victim”. 3000 “conflict related” victims are referred to. I would perhaps argue the figure is much higher and spread over a greater timeframe and geography.

The final part discusses cost. I will not dignify it with any response on my part.

There is no mention of the Irish language or equality of nationality or expression of that nationality. I cannot see a single thing here of benefit to the nationalist people of the North. Perhaps I am wrong?