Why Northern Ireland Needs to Think Longer-Term.
As we emerge from the global pandemic, so much of Northern Ireland society is changing rapidly, in our more diverse demographic make-up and how we live and work, yet so much of our politics and public discourse remains static. For too long both have been plagued by short-termism, and action, or inaction, emboldened by lack of consequence between election cycles or sufficient incentive from British or Irish governments.
As a result, we find ourselves once again without a functioning Executive and without certainty as to when or if devolved government will return. Business and job stability, community relations and the hopes of a younger generation for a better, non-sectarian future for Northern Ireland are casually traded off as a price for political expediency.
It’s fair to say that the short-termist way in which our politics is conducted, with the lack of innovation in how Stormont’s institutions operate 22 years on from the Good Friday Agreement and the limit on citizen participation beyond election time, isn’t working. That the protest against the post-Brexit protocol arrangement which precipitated the DUP’s pulling out of the Executive continues to dominate local political debate while the western world responds to war on Europe’s doorstep says a lot about how little priority is given to Northern Ireland’s place in a changing world.
At Northern Slant we believe that while blame is often directed at politicians, civil society has a key role to play in helping us to move on from Northern Ireland’s past and reimagining our relationship with democracy for a more ambitious future for everyone.
Together, we need to think longer-term in our politics and policy-making, about how we view what it means to be a citizen in Northern Ireland and how we can respond and contribute constructively to changing events outside our control. The theme of this year’s Imagine! Festival, ‘road test your reality’, then, is timely.
This is why we’re hosting Thinking Longer-Term: The Future of Politics on Thursday 24 March, 7:00pm at the Dark Horse bar in Belfast. Joined by Ben McAteer (Northern Slant writer, and Research Assistant, Queen’s University Belfast School of Natural and Built Environment), Susan McKay (writer and commentator), Quintin Oliver (Director of Stratagem International) and Ann Watt (Director of Pivotal), we’ll explore how:
- Political parties can embrace Northern Ireland’s demographic, political and social changes.
- In a post-pandemic world, to what extent our public services are prepared to respond and adapt to multiple challenges that might lie ahead.
- We, as citizens, can reimagine our relationship with democracy and play a more active role in representing the interests of a place in transition.
- Post-Brexit, and as the heartbreaking conflict in Ukraine continues, we can shape what is and will be Northern Ireland’s place in the changing world.
If you care about the future of our politics and our place in the world, about how we can create better policy and more innovative public services for the challenges of the future, and about how we can promote more deliberative ways of governance than Stormont enables, we want you to be part of the discussion.
Help us – all of us – to think longer-term to achieve the kind of future everyone, now and in future generations, deserves.
Tickets are £5 – you can book online here. All proceeds will be reinvested in Northern Slant.