Alistair Campbell is to appear just up the road from the Yes! to Fairer Votes offices in Belfast today to speak to students at Queens about his new book People and Power. Speaking in today's Belfast Telegraph he says Northern Ireland’s peace process was "one of the most compelling" issues of his Downing Street career.
Whilst for Alistair it is compelling for those of us who are living with the new threats of security alerts all over the province in recent days it is still ongoing. Admittedly what Campbell's boss, Tony Blair, enabled here in Northern Ireland has taken us a great distance, the people are wanting to live in a shared present (something that some of our political class have yet to realise) but there are still some resisting this is a violent way.
Some people only know objection as a armed conflict here. They seem unable to articulate their argument in a sensible non-threatening way. Others are still so obsessed with the past that they cannot look beyond events and actions in the past and work with those whom they historically were opposed to to move things forward.
Of course as in 1998 the people are ahead of some of the politicians once again. The recent Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) draft programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration was widely slated for being a management of division and not a programme to eradicate it. The fact that it only focused on sectarianism and racism and ignored other 'excluded' communities within Northern Ireland, in fact putting those other needs unto a back burner, showed a lack of vision.
There is plenty of talk about a 'shared future' in Northern Ireland but what the people want is a shared here and now, a shared present. So while the work of Tony Blair for Northern Ireland may well have been compelling to those who witnessed it firsthand it is as yet unfinished. It is up to the politicians in Northern Ireland to bring that task to such a natural conclusion. It may well be up to politicians that have yet to rise up and be counted, however what Northern Ireland needs is to be normal, not some unruly young nephew that is confined to the corner almost out of sight at parties.