So, they’ve only gone and done it. SF & DUP in government together. As someone who grew up in NI, I have a range of thoughts/feelings on this. Firstly, it’s something that few really believed would EVER happen. If it couldn’t work with the moderates, it would never even get started with the extremists. But here it is, unbelievable.
There are obviously many people who are deeply hurt by this move ‘forwards’. I can only imagine what it must be like to have lost someone in the troubles, never mind having to deal with this as well. But the majority of Norn Irish seem to feel that it doesn’t matter who’s in there as long as people stop being injured and killed.
And what about education? Last time round Martin McGuiness (SF) was Education Minister and I seem to remember everyone being pleasantly surprised with how well he performed in this role. SF have education again this time in the form of Caitríona Ruane and it remains to be seen how she will perform. Their education policy does contain quite a few contentious issues such as the scrapping of grammar schools, the promotion of Irish-medium schools and the creation of an all-Ireland education system. The Irish-language issue has already come up in the Belfast Telegraph.
I think the way the NI Assembly is designed is that if one lot has a Ministry, then the Assembly committee is chaired by a representative of the other lot. Although this ensures both sides are represented in each area of power sharing, it’s bound to set up some whopping great arguments. People often say, as long as they’re arguing over education instead of actually fighting, we should be happy. But what effect will these arguments have on the schools and pupils of NI? Will there be a consistent improvement to education, or ideological point scoring?
As a voter, I know which of these would impress me.