Reinventing Government — a once-only opportunity
The Belfast agreement sets
Northern Ireland on a democratic adventure which has great potential but
contains many pitfalls.
When he visited Belfast some
months after the paramilitary ceasefires of 1994, the now director of
the London School of Economics, Anthony Giddens, spoke of two approaches
to political democratisation. One was what he called 'catching-up'—the
assumption, often applied to Northern Ireland, that 'backward' places
simply needed to catch up with the rest of the world. The other was what
he called 'leap-frog'—a recognition that everywhere democratic institutions
are under scrutiny and that the opportunity to move to the leading edge
of democratic thinking should therefore, including in Northern Ireland,
The political battles of recent
decades have not, however, prepared us well to make the most of this new
opportunity. Gerry Hassan's recent comments on the argument about Scottish
devolution could hardly be more germane: "Debate and discussion around
the Scottish parliament has focused almost exclusively on institutional
and political processes, to the exclusion of economic and social issues.
If this remains so, there will be a growing prospect of the parliament
changing very little and quickly disillusioning the high hopes of its
Yet the economic and social
challenges facing Northern Ireland are immense. Despite the £3bn-plus
annual subvention from Westminster, it continues to generate the lowest
gross domestic product per head of the 11 UK regions. It looks worse still
in a European perspective, for only one such region—the south-east of
England—now exceeds the EU average for per capita GDP. Politically sensitive
is of course the fact that the only other region in these islands to exceed
the EU average is the Republic of Ireland.
The availability of the Westminster
subvention, plus generous support from the European Union through the
structural funds and the special support programme, have created a climate
of soft budget constraint in Northern Ireland where there is an assumption
that the resolution of a problem is through additional expenditure, externally
financed. There is every reason to expect, however, that the Treasury
will, over time, tighten rather than loosen such constraints and that
other external sources will diminish, particularly as the transfers from
London to Belfast (and Edinburgh) become more politically transparent
to all. Medium-term savings on 'law and order' will in the short-term
be offset by transitional costs, notably of redundancy payments to RUC
officers. Maintenance of the 'parity principle' of provision with the
rest of the UK (see below) will severely constrain the room for manoeuvre
on public expenditure reallocation.
All the more important, then,
may be the resort to tax-varying powers contained in §50 of the Northern
Ireland Bill, to ensure real freedom of manoeuvre at the margin while
highlighting the responsibility to raise revenue if new expenditures are
to be undertaken. As has been powerfully argued, "Just as 'no taxation
without representation' was the battle cry of those who fought for American
independence, so 'no representation without taxation' is a maxim which
deserves equal priority."
But the larger lesson is that
the drift of recent thinking has been away from the scale of government
intervention towards the quality of governance in the round. Indeed the
term 'governance' has itself come into fashion out of a recognition that
both the business of government and the relationship between government
and civil society must be got right if government in the narrower sense
is to be effective.
The second aspect of governance—the
government/civil society relationship—is crucial in a context where the
nature of government is changing from the delivery of services itself
to the animation, regulation and co-ordination of other agencies and actors,
a change captured in the now-familiar phrase 'steering, not rowing'. As
Loughlin puts it, "'Governance' differs from 'government' in being
a system of governmental 'steering' involving a range of actors and networks
wider than those who are, strictly speaking, members of government institutions."
This relates to the question
of fiscal constraint: innovative policy directions, not entailing additional
government service delivery, may cost relatively little yet have considerable
impact. It is worth recalling that the dramatic turnaround in the republic
in the last decade got under way in the context of tight fiscal retrenchment.
It is in this context that
the structures for government in Northern Ireland should be explored—with
a sober recognition of the extent of the challenges and an associated
high ambition to meet them.
One of the most helpful innovations
in thinking about governance in recent years, very much germane to our
immediate concerns, is the concept of 'holistic government'.
This new thinking has come
in recognition that there is great disillusionment already out
there—in Northern Ireland as much as anywhere else—about the performance
of politicians in today's world. There is a clear discrepancy between
people's expectations of what government should be able to deliver
and its concrete, practical outputs. This is at least in part because
the economic and social issues of most immediate concern to 'ordinary'
citizens—unemployment, their family's educational achievement, their and
their family's state of health, crime in their area, and so on—are actually
not amenable to solution by a single government department delivering
Health, for instance, is not
just a matter of medical intervention under the auspices of a Department
of Health (that is treatment of illness), but is principally governed
by living standards, diet, lifestyle, housing, road safety, etc, in which
all departments, and the wider civil society, are implicated. It is for
this reason that such challenges have been described as the 'wicked problems'.
Only 'holistic government' can provide an effective response.
As Demos summarises the argument,
"The core problem for government is that it has inherited from the
nineteenth century a model of organisation that is structured around functions
and services rather than around solving problems. Budgets are divided
into separate silos for health, education, law and order and so on ...
To solve complex problems that cut across these boundaries, new approaches
are needed. Government needs to become more holistic, achieving greater
integration across the public sector. It also needs to become more preventive,
shifting the balance of effort away from curing problems ... towards
The focus therefore moves away
from the delivery of services per se to achieving concrete outcomes—for
example, not more hospitals but better health. There has been an inordinate
emphasis in the debate about health policy in Northern Ireland on the
number of acute hospitals. Where that emphasis needs to lie is with the
stubbornly high—and stubbornly unequal—morbidity and mortality rates.
Unfortunately, this quest for
'holistic government' is in its infancy, as everywhere the focus of public
management reform in the 1980s and 90s has tended to be on rendering service
delivery more 'efficient'—through agentisation, privatisation, purchaser-provider
division and so on. The fundamental problem of departmentalism has not
been affected (indeed co-ordination problems have been reinforced as government
The perils of the 'departmental
silos' run particularly deep in Northern Ireland, for two crucial reasons.
First is the fact that the EC will effectively represent a multi-party
government. It will contain representatives of four parties, of widely
differing views, specifically chosen as party representatives rather than
pulled together by the leader of government in conventional cabinet style.
On the one hand, they will therefore not enjoy the degree of trust that
a common partisan culture engenders between ministers in a single-party
government; on the other, their own partisan commitments may well prevent
the disciplines of collective responsibility from operating.
In sum, there will be every
incentive for ministers to treat departments as individual fiefdoms, to
be defended against any incursions from colleagues of different party
affiliation. This will be likely to become even more of a problem as the
next election looms: the EC will not go to the polls as a coalition, because
of the automaticity of its formation under the d'Hondt rule, and individual
members will inevitably be drawn into competitive briefing as they jockey
for electoral advantage.
The second reason is that Northern
Ireland faces, over and above all the 'wicked problems' instanced above,
one more 'wicked' than any of them—sectarian division. Not only is this,
at worst, likely to be reproduced within government between ministers
of different parties but, at best, it represents an enormous challenge
in every aspect of life in the region.
But unless Northern Ireland
develops into a normal, pluralist, non-sectarian civil society, then peace
will mean no more than the absence of violence (if even that) and the
stresses and strains sectarianism imposes on the lives of many more than
those touched by violence directly will remain. Moreover, the popular
desire for a less hasslesome and more relaxed life is reflected in overwhelming
evidence of a wish to see Northern Ireland move from separation between
the 'two communities' to sharing. And in the long term it is difficult
to see how any political arrangements based on power- and responsibility-sharing
could endure unless underpinned by co-existence and an absence of routine
tension on the ground.
Yet to move Northern Ireland
consensually from separation to sharing will not only require active non-governmental
participation but will also necessitate a co-ordinated drive across every
department. Segregation in housing relates to segregation in schooling
and work; sectarian confrontations over parades and at interfaces engender
further division and separation. What it will take to make it possible
to bring down the 'peace walls' which disfigure Belfast is a measure of
the problem; yet how could Northern Ireland celebrate itself to the world
as at peace while these structures mock the very idea itself?
of the agreement
If this seems daunting, the
opportunity of devolution nevertheless is a one-off chance to bring holistic
approaches to the heart of the government of Northern Ireland, as a nearly
clean sheet is there to be written upon. There has already been interesting
work in Scotland on how this might be done. As Leicester and Mackay describe
it, the parliament and its new executive "will have the freedom to
innovate, to improve policy-making, and to rethink and improve relationships
with local government, business, the voluntary sector, and the citizen".
One tendency favouring, however,
the collapse of government into departmental silos is the pressure of
day-to-day 'firefighting'. Given the severity and suddenness of crises
in Northern Ireland, that is not a tendency from which the new administration
is likely to be immune. What is thus required, as has been argued for
Scotland, is the protection of 'thinking capacity' in government against
such quotidian pressures.
This is also essential if the
new administration is to have an ability to monitor its performance across
the board, evaluate its successes and failings, and suggest policy adjustments
to correct mistakes or meet new demands.
The extensive discussion of
globalisation in recent years—especially the globalisation of the financial
markets—has sometimes been associated with a fatalistic belief that government
today can do nothing to affect real improvements in people's lives. Yet,
in fact, globalisation has been matched by regionalisation, as
regions have come to appreciate that their economic and social success
depends on inserting themselves effectively into this intensely competitive
international order. Conversely, this recognition must be sobering for
traditionally uncompetitive and dependent regions like Northern Ireland:
not only does the world not owe us a living, but we must also learn to
run even to stand still.
The positive response to the
challenge of globalisation is to recognise the opportunity it creates
for replacing dependency and mendicancy by autonomy and viability. As
has been well said of lagging regions in Finland, whose GDP per head falls
slightly below that of the UK, "The most crucial factor is how well
a region can adapt to the new situation and how competitive it is under
changing—and perhaps even turbulent—circumstances. In this sense, every
region is more and more the architect of its own fortune."
A useful starting point is
David Marquand's argument that the UK's economic decline, relative to
its competitors—including the 'Celtic Tiger' which has now surpassed it—has
fundamentally stemmed from the absence of "a 'developmental state'
capable of constructing and guiding a social coalition in favour of economic
change and of harnessing market forces to a long-term national interest".
Interestingly, Marquand believes that "the symbiosis of public and
private power which is the essence of the developmental state can now
be achieved more effectively on the regional or local level than on the
Paul Hirst agrees: "If
public bodies are now able to intervene effectively in the economy it
is in their political capacity, by promoting co-operation between
economic actors and by adopting policies that enable firms to create the
microeconomic conditions for competitive success. Increasingly the public
bodies able to perform these tasks are not conventional national states
but regional governments ..."
The opportunity of the agreement,
therefore, is to translate democratic power in Northern Ireland into developmental
Another buzz phrase of recent
times has been 'negotiated governance'. For if the role for government,
today is, as Ash Amin argues, as "strategy maker, coordinator, arbitrator
and consensus builder", the corollary is that it must "attend
to the equally important role of fostering a common frame of meaning and
action among relevant economic and social organisations." And Marquand
underscores the implications at regional level: "Local developmentalism
squares quite well, may indeed require, a public philosophy of dialogue,
power-sharing and negotiation."
This has been translated by
the Northern Ireland Economic Council as a need to elaborate a 'culture
of commitment'. Research it commissioned on successful economic regions
led it to conclude: "One of the themes to emerge from the case studies
is the importance of developing governance and institutional arrangements
based on co-operation and trust. These make it easier to develop a strategic
and integrated policy approach and they facilitate a shared culture of
commitment involving the public and private sectors as well as local authorities
and the voluntary and community sector."
The experience of EU programmes
and Making Belfast Work and other agencies has already rendered the idea
of partnership a familiar one in Northern Ireland. The point about it
is a recognition that there are major drawbacks to the alternative conventional
means of government delivery—'command and control' (since the 'man from
Stormont' does not always know best), or via market-based mechanisms (which
engender inequalities)—neither of which has the capacity to draw on the
talents and energies of those outside government to place their shoulders
to the developmental wheel.
Negotiated governance is therefore
about participation, legitimacy and mobilisation. It is here that a very
helpful synergy can be developed between the EC, and the Assembly more
broadly, and the CF, even though the latter has no executive functions.
What the CF can do is offer a role in policy formation for non-governmental
actors, the added legitimacy for government arising from such input, and
a vehicle for government to mobilise commitment to achieving agreed policy
In a more general sense, the
way forward clearly has to involve policy- rather than ideologically-driven
politics. Since this means an emphasis on pragmatism and problem-solving,
participation by all relevant actors and wider citizen involvement becomes
of crucial concrete value.
by policy goals
One step towards holistic government
is to turn the 'wicked problems' into their obverse: a set of policy goals
for government to achieve. These would have an important cohering effect
on government in two senses: politically welding the diverse forces in
government together by building trust and confidence in a mutually endorsed
project, and practically ensuring that different departments do not work
against each other and that difficult challenges do not fall down between
In the past, government in
Northern Ireland has only had spending priorities, rather than policy
goals—an example of the consistent tendency to reduce policy questions
to matters of public expenditure. Nor have these three priorities—'law
and order', 'strengthening the economy' and 'targeting social need'—been
particularly coherent or, except in the first case, particularly effectively
One way to move towards government
by policy goals would be for the FM and DFM to draft a 'mission statement'
for the new administration, for discussion with shadow ministerial colleagues,
and debate in the Assembly and the CF. The policy goals appropriate to
fulfilling the spirit of the agreement might be (not in any order of priority):
- easing intercommunal tensions
and fostering intercommunal sharing,
- ending residual paramilitary
violence and cutting other crime,
- eliminating intolerance
and stimulating cultural diversity and vibrancy,
- promoting equality of life-chances
and securing social inclusion,
- pursuing sustainable economic
development and reducing unemployment,
- reducing mortality and morbidity
and improving public health, and
- raising educational achievement
and skills attainment.
Such goals could usefully be
run past focus groups or indeed the latter could be asked to suggest the
objectives of government for themselves. As these illustrative examples
show, one advantage of government by policy goals is not only to make
what government does more comprehensible to sceptical citizens, but also
to identify clear performance indicators against which progress can be
monitored. In each of the above cases, objective statistical measures
and/or subjective assessment via social surveys are evidently available.
"Holistic government is judged by the results it achieves and what
it looks like to those on the receiving end."
Thus this simple process begins
to move government away from focusing on what services it delivers to
what results it achieves, and from the palliative to the preventative.
Negotiated governance dovetails
neatly with the idea of government by policy goals, rather than more narrowly
by administration of executive services. For the former, as against the
latter, can clearly not be delivered by government alone. To reiterate
the health analogy, the biggest improvements in mortality and morbidity
in Northern Ireland are clearly dependent on improving diet and exercise
and reducing smoking—cultural shifts which ultimately citizens have to
buy into themselves.
One particular advantage of
this approach in Northern Ireland is that it has the potential to end
a debilitating battle over issues of equality and social inclusion. In
the absence of a political settlement, this has tended to revolve around
activist NGO groups pressing government to toughen proofing mechanisms
against inequality or exclusion, such as TSN and PAFT, with officials
protesting the limits of what can practically be achieved.
In reality, little can
be achieved through such essentially negative mechanisms, which risk encouraging
purely 'paper' compliance by cynical officials, meeting frustration amongst
idealistic NGOs in turn. Much more important is a proactive policy
commitment to enhance equality and inclusion substantively. The achievement
of the agreement creates the possibility of a democratically accountable
executive committed precisely to such goals.
implications: FM and DFM
The thrust of all this argument
is towards a stress on the biggest single danger facing the new administration:
co-ordination failure. All the conceptual and concrete indications from
elsewhere are that the administration must be holistic in its operation
if it is to achieve its developmental objectives, and that there must
be a new relationship between political leaders and the 'led' if the required
culture of commitment is to be cultivated.
This clearly means that the
FM and DFM must exercise two primary functions. First, they must co-ordinate
the work of the administration as a whole—both internally in terms of
its departments and externally through the North-South Ministerial Council
with colleagues from the republic. (The fact that this paper is geared
to the internal dimension because of immediate political requirements
should not be read as indicating a downplaying of the importance of the
external dimension.) Secondly, they must act as the primary conduit in
government for relationships with civil society, in particular via the
CF (as the agreement sets out).
More specifically, government
by policy goals easily lends itself to the 'brigading' of ministers and
their officials around each policy objective, under the co-ordination
of the FM and DFM and with the support of a policy unit.
Such a unit, located in the
offices of the FM and DFM, would be essential to provide the 'thinking
capacity' indicated above. As has been argued vis-à-vis
Scotland, "It need not be large—ten strong as in Downing Street will
be fine—but it must be staffed with people of high quality. It should
contain a mix of civil servants—who understand the policy process—and
outsiders brought in to increase thinking capacity and, carrying as little
institutional baggage as it is possible to do ..., to manage the transition
to a new style of governance."
The policy unit could contain
a number of dedicated individuals working specifically on two key policy
goals: equality and social inclusion, and intercommunal reconciliation
and sharing. These will be the crucial barometers in the popular mind
of whether peace has 'bedded down', whether trust is being built, and
old grievances finally laid to rest. While there should be ministers in
the EC with dedicated briefs in these two areas (see below), because they
do cross departmental boundaries a challenge function by superiors will
be required to ensure progress. Hence they must ultimately be the responsibilities
of the FM and DFM, whether separately or jointly, supporting the efforts
of the ministers in this regard.
A further task of the FM and
DFM would be the setting of priorities between competing ministerial demands,
as all the policy goals of the new administration, however cogently defined,
can not be realised overnight.
In what follows, the opportunity
is taken to start afresh with the designation of departments. Clearly,
the Assembly would have to legislate to this effect, but if, after debate,
the Assembly were to pass a resolution endorsing some version of departmental
arrangements, these could begin to operate in shadow form in advance of
going 'live' in February. The status quo therefore does not have
to be taken as the starting point. On the contrary, a decision to start
with the status quo would become increasingly difficult to undo
over time. This is likely to be a once-only opportunity for politically
courageous decisions to be taken. To mix metaphors, if the nettle is not
grasped now, the new administration will start off with one hand tied
behind its back.
The proposals are clearly only
a first stab, but they should be judged against how they could be improved
upon, not against the status quo. They are doubtless by no means
the last word. But they do embrace the crucial reorganisation of government
around policy goals. This involves a reallocation of functions and a changing
of names; hence also the renaming in terms of what they are for.
The opportunity is also taken to establish new departments consistent
with the size of the executive committee, rather than (as in 1974) giving
ministers nominal titles for want of more imagination and initiative.
The putative list follows:
Dept for Regional Development:
This department would implicitly follow in the pecking order below the
FM and DFM, crucial as it is to the developmental strategy, without jeopardising
financial prudence. The change of name from 'economic' to 'regional' is
not just to reflect a hopefully new common purpose of advancing Northern
Ireland as a region. It stems also from a recognition that economic development
can and should not be divorced, as currently, from broader social and
environmental considerations: while per capita GDP does give a rough-and-ready
index of living standards, recent research has found that people's own
sense of their 'quality of life' may stagnate or even fall despite GDP
growth. A key role for the department would be to develop a broader set
of meaningful indicators for sustainable development in Northern Ireland
and to consult widely on a strategic regional plan to achieve them.
Agriculture (and fisheries)
would come under this department, rather than having a separate departmental
existence (given it contributes just 4 per cent of GDP), under the banner
of rural development more generally. But the scale of the department would
require two ministers to be allocated to it, with perhaps the 'junior'
focusing on rural development. With the involvement of agriculture, and
given the business community's extensive north-south relationships, this
department would be the power-house of day-to-day north-south co-ordination,
its ministers being particularly likely to be present at NSMC meetings,
after the FM and DFM.
There is also a role for a
regional development agency, as recommended by the business community,
based on international best practice. The aim of the RDA would be to translate
the developmental effort into concrete operational activity, coherently
organised—as against the current fragmented structure of the DED family
of agencies—engaging the knowledge and commitment of the social partners,
via representation on its board, in that effort.
Dept for Education, Skills
and Lifelong Learning: Education should be brought out of its exile
in north Down, where it has been captured by church 'producer' and middle-class
'consumer' interests, and become organically linked to the developmental
tasks of government and the elevation of the economic and social life-chances
of all individuals, particularly in addressing under-achievement. This
combination of functions would remove the subordination of vocational
to academic education, encourage real progress on pre-school provision—whose
effect on life-chances is now so clear—and allow lifelong-learning opportunities
to be developed. The training functions of the T&EA would be transferred
to this department. An early question would be to address the future of
the education and library boards in the new context.
Department for Equality
and Inclusion: The DED has had responsibility for the agencies addressing
equal opportunities, whereas the DHSS has led the way on TSN (and now,
it is suggested, PSI) and CCRU has been responsible for PAFT. With the
prospect of an Equality Commission subsuming the FEC, EOC, CRE and the
putative Disability Council, all these concerns should come under this
new department. This is partly to avoid an awful bureaucratic mess but
it is also because there is actually little scope for further progress
on a narrow, legalistic, equal-opportunity basis, and the greater need
now is for more effective and proactive structural interventions to enhance
life-chances for disadvantaged individuals and groups and to engender
social inclusion. The Employment Service would be brought under this department
and given a more dynamic character. So would the Social Security Agency,
so that benefit provision could be linked to active labour-market measures.
Department for the Environment:
The department currently is a sprawling one, covering planning, local
government, roads, transport, water and sewage, urban regeneration, conservation,
etc. The hope must be that, in a new political context, local government
in Northern Ireland will be able to assume additional functions, including
responsibility for local regeneration and improvement schemes; the department
could bring forward ideas on how some of its functions could be hived
off to local government in a manner consistent with the sharing of power,
perhaps in the context of a reduction of the number of district councils.
It is in any event desirable that the department's policing function is
not tainted by the pursuit of property and other development for urban
regeneration reasons; this could be transferred to an independent environmental
protection agency. The department should acquire the additional responsibility,
however, for leading the effort on crime prevention, which is not appropriately
the job of the police (whose job is detection) and which relates to issues
such as estate and transport design.
Department for Health and
Social Well-being: The integration between health and social services,
unique to Northern Ireland, should be retained, allowing as it does an
interrelationship between all aspects of care individuals may require.
But it should be clear it is social well-being, not social service, that
the department is about. The compact with, and strategy for support of,
the voluntary sector should be built upon to devolve care provision, where
appropriate, from the 'public' to the voluntary sector—not to save money
but to improve care. A key task would be the promotion of public health,
including in conjunction with other departments and in partnership with
groups on the ground. An early question would, as with education, be to
address the future of the boards.
Department for Reconciliation
and Cultural Expression: This new department would take over the functions
of community relations and the arts from the existing Department of Education.
It would forge a dynamic link between the promotion of cultural diversity
and intercommunal reconciliation. The department would explore innovative
ways to promote integration in education, employment and housing, in conjunction
with the relevant ministers. The role of victim support would come under
this department. The reference to culture rather than 'the arts' is to
stress the breadth of the former, including broadcasting, sport and other
popular forms, including those of ethnic minorities, as well as taking
into consideration the economic and social benefits of cultural vibrancy.
Department for Financial
and Human Resources: This department would be transformed from the
negative keeper of the purse strings into the developer of the financial
and human-resources infrastructure of active government. It would engage
in iterative dialogue with other departments on how resources might be
found to realise policy goals, within the overall budgetary framework
for government as a whole set by the block grant (+ any additional regionally-raised
revenue), and within the priorities set by the FM and DFM. On the basis
of those priorities, DFHR would draw up a detailed rolling budget with
three-year horizons, with the next financial year to be agreed by the
Assembly as per the Northern Ireland Bill.
A key role would be to develop
innovative ways of delivering 'smarter' (rather than bigger) government,
especially in the arena of new technology, and in particular in translating
government into 'one-stop shops' on the ground. Training of public officials
to develop more entrepreneurial ways of working should also be a major
objective. The department should pursue avenues to 'fast track' outside
talents into government, to give officials opportunities of external breaks
through secondments and sabbaticals, and to ensure cross-fertilisation
within government via the sensitive movement of personnel between departments.
This should be linked to new systems of financial accountability within
government, devolving control over budgets where possible to lower levels
to allow the financial space for innovation.
Department for External
Relations: A prime function of this new department would be to assume
responsibility for relations with the EU, with a view to maximising the
scope for 'subsidiarity' to pursue a distinctive regional agenda with
the union institutions. While the FM and DFM would have overall responsibility
for the north-south relationship, this department would explore the potential
for co-ordination in an EU context. It would also have a wider innovation
role within government, using policy networks across these islands and
beyond to feed back ideas on best practice—so that the new administration
could make an à la carte choice, within expenditure constraints,
as to which, if any, to follow in transferred matters. The 'parity principle'
would thus be replaced by the 'best choice' principle. It would liaise
with the policy unit in this regard. The department would also co-ordination
the 'rebranding' of Northern Ireland abroad as a society leaving behind
its violent and sectarian past and moving towards an attractive future
of peace and multi-culturalism, with a view to improving business, tourism
and the in-migration of skilled and professional labour.
If two ministers were to be
allocated to the proposed DRD, that would mean there would now be eight
departments with nine ministers. This would leave a minister without portfolio
in the EC. It might be thought politic, given the context and the challenges
of sorting out the complexities of the DEI as suggested, that an additional
minister be allocated, at least initially, to that department.
If the challenges it faces
are grasped and adequately addressed in the short-to-medium term, Northern
Ireland has the capacity to realise a benign scenario, in which real change
takes place, led by a political class (assisted by officials) which thinks
strategically and innovatively, addressing the blockages on Northern Ireland's
transformation into a non-sectarian and dynamic society, with the full
and active involvement of civil society in that co-ordinated effort. If
they are not, on the other hand, a no-change scenario is conceivable,
in which the opportunities of democratic power are not taken, politics
continues to focus on ideological concerns, the 'permanent government'
continues to hold the reins, there is popular disempowerment and disillusionment,
and sectarian division and paramilitary violence remain enduring features
of the landscape.
Far from being a merely technical
matter, deciding the structures of government for Northern Ireland is
a key moment in determining which of those scenarios prevails. As indicated
earlier, pusillanimity now will be extremely difficult to remedy later.
- Anthony Giddens, 'The new
context of politics', in New Thinking for New Times, Democratic
Dialogue report 1, Belfast, 1995, p17
- Gerry Hassan, 'Scotland's
Parliament: lessons for Northern Ireland', Democratic Dialogue discussion
paper, September 1998
- Regional Trends 33,
Stationery Office, London, 1998
- According to the Economic
and Social Research Institute, it is forecast to attain 111 per cent
of the EU average by the year 2000; see Duffy, Fitzgerald, Kearney and
Shortall, Medium-Term Review: 1997-2003, ESRI, Dublin, 1997,
- a point noted by the former
head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service at a recent Democratic Dialogue
round-table on policy needs in the aftermath of the agreement
- A both substantively and
symbolically valuable instance would be the 'solidarity tax' to address
social exclusion recommended in Social Exclusion, Social Inclusion,
Democratic Dialogue report 2, Belfast, 1995.
- David Heald, Neal Geaughan
and Colin Robb, 'Financial arrangements for UK devolution', Regional
and Federal Studies, vol 8, no 1, spring 1998, p28
- John Loughlin, 'Autonomy
in western Europe: a comparative approach', paper delivered to Democratic
Dialogue/Northern Ireland Economic Council/Eastern Health and Social
Services Board round-table on policy autonomy and priority setting in
- Indeed the point was made
by a leading Dublin economist at the round-table referred to at note
- Perri 6, Holistic Government,
Demos, London, 1997.
- ibid, pp 9-10
- Tom Hadden, Colin Irwin
and Fred Boal, 'Separation or sharing? the people's choice', supplement
to Fortnight 356, December 1996
- A senior NATO representative
who attended a Democratic Dialogue round-table in March on security
and human rights in Europe was appalled by the many 'peace walls' in
the city still standing, nearly a decade after the fall of the Wall
in his native Germany.
- Graham Leicester and Peter
Mackay, Holistic Government: Options for a Devolved Scotland,
Scottish Council Foundation, Edinburgh, 1998
- ibid, p6
- Hannu Tervo, 'European
integration and development of the Finnish regions', in Alden and Boland
eds, Regional Development Strategies, Jessica Kingsley/Regional
Studies Association, London, 1996, p235
- David Marquand, The
New Reckoning: Capitalism, States and Citizens, Polity Press, Cambridge,
1997, pp 27-28
- Paul Hirst, From Statism
to Pluralism: Democracy, Civil Society and Global Politics, UCL
Press, London, 1997, p29
- A Amin and D Thomas, unpublished
- Marquand, op cit, p28
- Successful European
Regions: Northern Ireland Learning from Others, Northern Ireland
Economic Council, Belfast, 1996, p xxviii
- Leicester and Mackay, op
- ibid, p21
- ibid, p20
- Robin Wilson, 'Economic
governance: international experiences—a new direction for Northern Ireland',
Democratic Dialogue paper commissioned by CBI NI, Belfast, March 1998