While there is widespread acceptance in both parts of Ireland of the need for this change, experience of the intransigence of Unionist politicians suggests a more cautious approach is required if there is to be any hope of significant advance at the negotiating table.
Terrorist organisations thrive in the political vacuum created by the absence of any consensus among those opposed to violence on the way the North should be governed. That simple fact has eluded Unionist and Nationalist politicians, and to throw away, for example, changes in the Irish constitution or the Anglo-Irish Agreement without reciprocal agreement on structures in Northern Ireland which are widely acceptable to both communities would set back prospects for a settlement by decades. Such change can only come about as part of a wider agreement.
Local tribal politicians will not produce or agree reasonable proposals for self-government without the existence of some incentive or pressure from outside. Without the existence of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, regardless of its shortcomings, there would have been no incentive on Unionist politicians to move from their inflexible position.
Alliance Party of
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