Anna Chestnutt

We all have that one friend. They litter your news feed with inane chatter and yearn to discuss topics which are of interest to no-one. They post photos of their lunch, daily. We politely scroll on, in the vain hope they may one day stop.

Northern Ireland is that annoying friend that everyone wants to block. They endlessly revolve around the same topics. “The past.” “The IRA.” “No-one understands our problems.” The world has stopped caring because, frankly, it’s a headache inducing case of déjà vu.

It’s been two weeks since Peter Robinson stood down as First Minister of Northern Ireland in the midst of a political crisis. He found his position to be untenable and, with quite a drastic gesture, he exited the Assembly. By anyone’s standards, this is headline news.

Alas, David Cameron’s alleged sexual exploits with dead farmyard animals gained more airtime. Why? The simple fact is people are bored of hearing about Northern Ireland’s problems.

We have witnessed too many times the cycle of cynicism and hatred which festers over Northern Ireland. Politicians lock horns on issues which are in the past. No one wants to diminish the heartbreak of those who have lost ones as a result of the Troubles. The point is, it shouldn’t be the main use of everyone’s time and energy.

Every single topic is aligned with a political agenda. Every single issue must be allocated a “side” in order to be dealt with in the Assembly. Take the Israel Palestine conflict; the unionists and nationalists each picked a side. I find this farcical. Why is this the only way that politicians can meaningfully discuss an issue? Good government means uniting on the issues which matter to everyone and leaving petty partisanship at the door.

We will all wilfully turn a blind eye to Northern Ireland until they shake up their approach to politics. It can no longer be a case of sharing an office on a tense knife edge, waiting for the next “crisis” which will cause collapse. We are bored of that type of government. It’s outdated and ineffective.

Ultimately, we will be interested if something new happens. If the parties unite on issues such as the economy, welfare and education. If they all realised that the wellbeing of people is paramount, not bitter arguments about non-issues; not disagreement for the sake of it.

For now, we keep scrolling on.

Anna Chestnutt is from Belfast and is currently based in Manchester.
Her blog can be found here.

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