‘Stormont has failed Derry and always will’

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At a recent Council meeting a motion by Colr. Eamonn McCann urged more strident efforts to secure a properly functioning university for Derry.

It was prompted by the comments of a British Baron, the Labour politician Andrew Adonis, who blamed institutionalised discrimination over the years for the lack of such an educational facility.

During the debate much mention was made of the deep frustration and cynicism of the people in the region of ever securing substantial improvements to existing educational infrastructure. But as it evolved an even deeper cynicism was evident. That which is at the root cause of the discrimination alluded to is still seen by some as the only source to resolve this and many other similar problems.

In the Brexit debates we have heard calls for positions and agreements to be ‘tweaked’ to achieve forward movement. But can any rational perspective remotely make the case that the ‘Six County’ statelet, and its institutions (sitting or not), are not beyond redemption?

The very provenance of the ‘Six Counties’ is the crucial identifying factor for the source of its continuing failure. When the dominance of unionism on the island became unsustainable, they drew a circle around themselves and called themselves a majority within it.

Even Edward Carson, the revered unionist leader, was moved to address the reality.

“I believed all this. I thought of the last thirty years, during which I was fighting with others whose friendship and comradeship I hope I will lose from tonight, because I do not value any friendship that is not founded upon confidence and trust. I was in earnest. What a fool I was. I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power,” he remarked.

“And of all the men in my experience that I think are the most loathsome it is those who will sell their friends for the purpose of conciliating their enemies, and, perhaps, still worse, the men who climb up a ladder into power of which even I may have been part of a humble rung, and then, when they have got into power, kick the ladder away without any concern for the pain, or injury, or mischief, or damage that they do to those who have helped them to gain power,” was Carson’s conclusion.

Almost 100 years on aren’t we witnessing the outworkings of this scenario again? Isn’t this Tory power irrespective of the price the Irish people will have to endure? And can’t we also set aside the notion that no matter who sits in Stormont, or not, will make a blind bit of difference to decision making in the corridors of Whitehall.

We witnessed the fall of Stormont after Sunningdale when what were perceived as moderates couldn’t make it function. And in a bitter irony we are witnessing the failure of those political forces who were accused of destroying Sunningdale who now reside in that house on the hill. But isn’t it the ultimate irony that a motion on improving education within the ‘Six Counties’ fails to educate on the abject failure of that which it seeks to improve?