Yip. New Year’s Eve approaches and there might be quite a few hoping that they stay upright.
However, as you have probably guessed, this is not what interests me.
The consociational model that created the structures that eventually built the current political framework in Northern Ireland was basically a top down or vertical model. Put basically; we have reached a stalemate; let’s knock some heads together and arrive at a different destination by encouraging those within the stalemate to secretly, by proxy and, eventually, publicly discuss a suggested framework that may move things on, based on three separate strands; within Northern Ireland, within Ireland and across all of these islands. Thus, the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement was born and after many twists and turns from St. Andrews to Stormont House, a residual understanding that we have progressed incredibly from where we began, has underpinned a joint inter-community understanding that this must succeed, despite the politics of this and that, that coloured the welfare debate. It has been an incredible success and we, as a society, should celebrate this more.
Nevertheless, I am interested in the ‘horizontal’ relationships. When do we move, as a society, to a point where we remove the physical barriers of division, such as the the peace walls, and then begin to work together to eliminate the community notions that fear reintegration into a different society? When do we deal with the legacy of the conflict? When do we move to a Government that isn’t orchestrated and held together by the dictates of the initial peace, towards an inter-community negotiated Government versus a cross-community voluntary Opposition model?
I know that there have been important discussions on all of the above.
As far as Northern Ireland is concerned, I think that it is absolutely essential that we move from the vertical to the horizontal.
That is what I hope for in 2016!
Let us celebrate how far we have came on New Year’s Eve and contemplate how far we could go. Let us be both vertical and horizontal in our horizons and imagine that this is possible.
Happy New Year!