Northern Ireland’s small pond

Jim Dee is wise to point out how Hillary Clinton is not likely to pay much attention to the travails of Northern Ireland, in her new role as US Secretary of State. (“Hillary could find her Ulster experience a useful asset”)

During the peace process and the multiparty talks, it was understandable, if somewhat excessive, to have Northern Ireland politicians feted so much. But it was worthwhile, with resulting improved relations.

But like so many other aspects of Northern Ireland livelihood, we’ve become too accustomed to others’ willingness to reply to our cries, demands, and expectations.

Only last week our First Ministers came back from Downing Street with a £900m package to kick-start devolution. Welcomed, indeed, but this surely is a one-off deal.

I am glad that President-elect Obama will keep the position of US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, after earlier in his campaign saying the post was unnecessary as the crisis was over. That initial stance indicates the his own expectation that we should be moving on with our own affairs.

The new US Administration will wish us well, and provide encouragement and support where they can.

But what is required is for us to demonstrate our own leadership: politically, economically, socially.

It is hard to say what a President Obama St Patrick’s Day celebration will look like. But instead of flying over with any begging bowls, I think it would be more impressive to show just how we are moving forward.

Indeed, that could prove more useful for the new US Secretary of State amidst her global affairs.

Yet there’s much for us to do, just to be able to say we’ve started.

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