Stormont needs to do much better

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Subject to ratification this week by an SDLP Convention, Councillor Gerard Diver is to replace retiring Foyle MLA, Pat Ramsey at Stormont.

He will also contest the assembly election in May. Councillor Diver has big shoes to fill.

Pat Ramsey was a champion for Derry, particularly in the field of education. And, we’ve had a succession of excellent mayors but even by their high standards, some years ago when Pat was mayor of Derry he made a particularly positive contribution to community relations. In this society that can’t be overvalued.

Despite the best efforts of Pat Ramsey and other Foyle representatives it has to be said that devolution in the North has under-achieved and particularly so for the North West.

Compared to devolution in Scotland and Wales our experience has been disappointing to put it mildly. Despite an enormous political establishment with an ever growing number of quangos, special advisors, press officers and miscellaneous staff, the pace of change has been agonisingly slow. Peter Robinson used to put this sense of disappointment down to “negativity” by the media. Then he slowly began to accept reality and admit that Stormont, “wasn’t fit for purpose”. Is it now? We’ll have to wait and see.

Gerard Diver is an articulate politician with an excellent track-record. He’ll be committed to this constituency, but given the not-unfair level of cynicism that exists there’s a desperate need for the Assembly to deliver something of real value.