The other day on his blog Ian Parsley looked at what being considered “normal” is for Northern Irish politics, following on from Platform for Change’s AGM. One of his observations was:
"You cannot force Northern Ireland’s voters to adopt the English party system, which is the inherent logic of what most of those advocating “normal politics” are suggesting. Identity plays a part across the board, and we should not be too surprised that it is Northern Ireland identity which determined the Northern Ireland party line-up."
Yet Ian sees no issue in forcing parties to fit into a preconceived idea of what a Northern Irish political party should be, either Green or Orange. That surely is a dichotomy. There is a problem with Northern Irish, or should we say Assembly politics. Enshrined in the Belfast Agreement is the following clause in the safeguards under Strand One of the agreement about key decision making in the Assembly:
(d) arrangements to ensure key decisions are taken on a cross-community basis;
(i) either parallel consent, i.e. a majority of those members present and voting, including a majority of the unionist and nationalist designations present and voting;
(ii) or a weighted majority (60%) of members present and voting, including at least 40% of each of the nationalist and unionist designations present and voting.
Problems do arise for any party that doesn’t fit into either a unionist or nationalist designation
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