Editorial: ‘Leaders must unite to win jobs and defeat terrorism’
Northern Ireland has now been without a government for two years. It holds the world record for the longest period without a sitting government, which it passed after 589 days.
Even if all was rosy, this ought to be a source of shame for any politician who has made a commitment to representing constituents. But given the scale of challenges and tensions simmering, it is unconscionable.
And the dark clouds have just become considerably darker with the news 4,000 jobs are at risk at Bombardier. Whatever the political differences are there must surely be common agreement that a functioning economy requires the machinery of government to support it.
At a time of economic and political crisis, the North is relying on civil servants and rapidly depleting resources to keep it running.
The loss of 4,000 jobs would be a hammer blow to any economy, but for the North to absorb such a shock is devastating. Nonetheless, the global aerospace firm now appears determined to sell off its entire operations in Northern Ireland.
The current talks aimed at cranking up the devolved executive and assembly simply must succeed. When Westminster was forced to pass a temporary budget back in 2017, that was intended to be an interim measure.
Alas, the sense of responsibility and urgency needed to restore power since the plug was pulled has been scandalously missing.
The death of Lyra McKee became a catalyst to reawaken a sense of moral obligation.
Outrage was channelled into knocking heads together. Sadly, misfortunes are seldom singular. And things have taken a further sinister turn with the emergence of pro-IRA graffiti splattered on walls only metres from where the journalist was shot in Derry. The message was intended to be a chilling warning to the community against helping the police find the cowardly killers. That such a vile threat should appear on the eve of this World Press Freedom Day tells its own story.
But if the writing is on the wall for anyone it is for the terrorists. No one else has such reason to fear the truth. They thrive in the dark, especially where there is a void in power.
It is critical therefore for leaders to speak out with one resounding voice. They must insist they will not be silenced by gunmen who wish to reverse a tide of progress. Having made it into the ‘Guinness Book of Records’, surely even the DUP and Sinn Féin have run out of excuses.
Should it require a mediator to be brought in from outside these islands to find some unanimity of purpose, so be it.
This political paralysis merely serves the twisted agendas of the physical-force troglodyte.
The North needs jobs and security, and both require political stability. The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but building the new. Socrates made this observation in 400BC, but with wisdom in short supply it still echoes.