14/02/2017 Spotlight


Hard-hitting investigations on the stories that matter in Northern Ireland. Following the fall of Stormont, Jennifer O'Leary asks if power sharing there can ever really be stable.

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Political drama at the Mont. -- Stormont. I nominate Arlene Foster


to be First Minister. Today, Sinn Fein will not renominate for Deputy


First Minister. They will attempt to bring down the executive whenever


they don't get their own way. Again and again. For our part, we have


stretched ourselves to the limits to try to keep these institutions


working. The collapse not only caused a snap election, it also


raises questions about the fundamentals of our system of


government. Tonight, in the first of two programmes, we examined


power-sharing. Has a system designed to manage political tensions in


divided societies delivered for Northern Ireland? Can it work better


and can even be put back together after the election? And we go to


Kosovo to see how power-sharing is working there are.


In this village, women from across the community meet every Friday to


meet and chat. Many of them had great expectations for


power-sharing, but are disappointed at what has happened. What would you


like to see? Peace. They have to make it work. You have to move on.


The politicians will not move on and the political parties will not. What


does power-sharing mean? It doesn't mean an awful lot because they are


just going against each other. Whether it is health, education, it


just falls apart. It's not right. It is separated into any Unionist plot


and the Nationalist Bloc. Which it shouldn't be. I don't know of any


other way to sort it out. Some hardline rulers don't want to change


-- Unionist block. Ted Heath agreed with the Ulster


leaders. To set up a power-sharing executive in Belfast. We want


nothing to do with enforced power-sharing in any undemocratic


government in Stormont. The first attempt at power-sharing ended in


failure. I have never experienced a sad day in my life. It took 25 years


and the loss of over 3000 lives before an agreement was reached on a


deal for devolution, the Good Friday Agreement. Power-sharing forced


unionists and nationalists to work together. All of the major parties


could enter government and exercise control. There was never any


alternative to power-sharing, given the bitterness between the parties.


The unionists community would never have accepted Sinn Fein in the


driving seat. Or maybe even the SDLP. You had to get everybody


together in the tent in government together. The rules of power-sharing


were moulded to fit Northern Ireland's divisive politics. Under


those rules, every MLA in the assembly has to identify themselves


as Unionist, Nationalist or other. Laws may be passed by a simple


majority, but special power-sharing safeguards are in place to prevent


majority rule. The safeguards ensure that both unionists and nationalist


traditions are included and neither can act without some support in the


other community. In short, power-sharing Stormont is an


invented system of government. You can't have normal politics in a


divided society, which is artificially put together to get an


in-built majority. And that's the difficulty. The Ulster Unionists and


the SDLP topped the first election poll. But they soon began to lose


ground to parties further from the political centre. There was nothing


inevitable about power are going to the extremes. It was a mismanagement


from government. The long way to the IRA decommissioning... As people who


supported the centrist parties became disappointed, so the only


ways could punish the government was by not supporting the moderate


parties. The decline of the moderate parties goes right back to the


policies that followed in London and Dublin. My good friends and the SDLP


used to say, why are you spending so much time talking to Sinn Fein? We


are trying to deal with decommissioning and you don't have


any guns, so we have to do talk to the people have some influence, so


there was always that tension. In 2006, the St Andrews Agreement paved


the way for the return of power-sharing following its collapse


four years earlier. Key elements included a full acceptance of the


PSNI by Sinn Fein, as well as a commitment by the DUP to


power-sharing with Republicans. Tony Blair's chief of staff at that time


was Jonathan Powell. People say we gave in to the extremes and allowed


them to rule in Martin Alund. We started off the the SDLP and the UUP


we ended up with Sinn Fein. That is the way the people of Northern


Ireland voted. When the assembly returned to business in 2007, it was


led by the most unexpected partnership. I was up in the


balcony. I had been sitting in Ian Paisley's office when they were


telling jokes. I was still completely gobsmacked. If you had


told me some time ago that I would be standing here to take this


office, I would have been totally unbelieving. We know this will not


be easy and the role we are embarking on will have many twists


and turns. IR firm the terms of the Pledge of office. I affirm the


Pledge of the terms of offers. It was a feeling of, gosh, they can get


on. I was feeling pretty good. Power-sharing promise political


stability. But it has been a bumpy ride at times. We need real talks,


not pretend talks. We have run out of road. We believe it needs more


than a sticking plaster of a recess for a couple of weeks. We believe


you cannot stabilise these institutions by suspending them.


Despite its challenges, power-sharing is increasingly viewed


as a means of resolving political conflicts in divided societies. I


work around the world on conflicts. Normally the answer is some form of


power-sharing. Stormont is marketed worldwide as a template for


power-sharing. There is a little cottage industry of trotting around,


explaining to people how to was done. Usually the accounts that


innocent foreigners are given are not entirely accurate. This isn't


really a good thing, but there we are. For some, power-sharing might


be best practice, but the struggles of making work are not unique to


Northern Ireland. There are many examples of power-sharing in


countries where ethnic division or conflict has made traditional


politics impossible. We travelled to Kosovo, to see how power-sharing


works in a country similar in size to Northern Ireland. Identity here


is divided along ethnic lines. Its population of 2 million is mostly


Albanian, Serbs are in the minority. Street signs are in two languages,


Albanian and Serbian. The country emerged from the Balkan wars,


following the break-up of Yugoslavia. Tens of thousands were


killed in the conflict in the late 1990s, when Serbian forces tried to


suppress the ethnic Albanian majority is and independence


campaign. Close to people fled their homes. The legacy of that brutal war


is still very much alive. In Kosovo, like Northern Ireland, when you're


driving along country roads, you see small memorials or flowers left were


some of the thousands of people who lost their lives in 1998 and 1999.


This is a formal memorial for some of the 1500 people that remain


missing. And like in Northern Ireland, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton


played a role in Kosovo's path to peace. Kosovo's crisis now is


full-blown. But there is intervention in Kosovo started with


Nato air strikes. Only firmness now can prevent later catastrophe. In


the capital city, Kosovo Albanians credit Bill Clinton with ending the


conflict in 1999. In his honour, this is Bill Clinton Street. This


statue is an expression of their gratitude. The gold that covered the


statue has faded, but the esteem in which he is held remains. Tony Blair


to is celebrated by Kosovan Albanians, but not with a statue.


During the Nato strikes, he visited refugee camps, including one where a


Kosovan refugee had just given birth to a baby boy. That baby is now 17


years old. And named Tony Blair. He is studying to become an engineer.


One of at least nine Kosovan boys named after Tony Blair. Do your


parents talk about how you came to have the name Tony Blair? Yes, they


told me. They said I was named after Tony Blair because he said he would


give the people hope. My father believed that. They named me that


after I was born. His father told us through an interpreter what the name


Tony Blair means to him. TRANSLATION: So happy to have the


name of Tony Blair, the great statesman who helped our country so


much. I believe you got to meet him? Hello, my name is Tony Blair. He was


really generous. I think he was really feeling good. What are your


dreams for this country? My dreams are to have the young people of


Kosovo have jobs, and make Kosovo are better place. There is a key


difference between power-sharing Stormont and hear. Positive


discrimination. Ten out of 120 seat in the assembly are reserved for


Serbs, ten for other ethnic minorities, mostly former. But like


Northern Ireland, there are also in-built safeguards. Laws affecting


minorities require the agreement of a majority from minority


communities. I have come to meet the director of the Kosovan branch of


the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to find out


how power-sharing works here. Up until now Kosovo Serb


representatives have participated in every government since 2008. We see


good cooperation on some issues. What are the stumbling blocks? It is


a new state. It is a state that is being formed, its people are trying


to figure out what is this creature? So there are a lot of issues there,


issues from the past, issues about power-sharing. Went to include, how


to include, why to include. Because of power-sharing deal also


guarantees that at least one government minister has to be from


the minority Serb community. One such miniature -- minister is this


man. Power-sharing should be something that as a result gives a


better conditions but what we have is mistrust and trust is the key


word. We are trying to build the trust, trust between the people, two


different people, Albanians and Serbs. Unfortunately, we do not have


that, we need peace and we need to work together. Kosovo remains a


deeply divided society. Serbian, Albanian, Kosovan flags, Serbian


Orthodox churches and mosques set areas are part and like parts of


Belfast, interfaith areas are a source of tension. I have left


Pristina and I am heading north to another city, this remains a flash


point for Albanians and Serbs. It is literally a divided city. From afar,


this bridge does not look significant, but instead of


connecting two communities, it separates them. The minority Serbs


live in the north and in the majority Albanians in the South. The


river separates the two worlds. I wanted to find out that the next


generation believes that the two communities are working together.


What is the population of the city? It is more than 90,000. This


remembers any majority Albanian enclave on the south of the river


and thinks that power is being slowly delivered here. I think there


are groups here which cooperate with the Kosovan government. I see the


willingness from some political parties, Serbian ones, to try to


help the process of integration. Hubble, eager. I am Jennifer, lovely


to meet you. Either is Serbian and lives on the other side of the


bridge. Power-sharing as he sees it as yet to deliver. Kosovo


politicians are talking about integration on an international


scene but not too ordinary people. You yourself are served living in


Kosovo, as the government here delivered on education, health,


employment, things like that, could you recognise an independent Kosovo?


Emotionally, Serbs will never accept it as a separate country and that


this something that is very clear. Albanians and Serbs are learning to


live together, but tensions often spill over in Parliament. There have


been a number of occasions when a tear gas was set off in Parliament


and at one stage, a security measure was brought in to prevent the


smuggling of father canisters. In the capital Pristina, I met


government minister and detail. Has power-sharing delivered for Kosovo?


I think in the conditions that we have operated within, it has


delivered quite well. I think it is rather challenging. However, all


politicians who want to serve the future of the country understand


that power-sharing is the essence of functionality and democracy of any


state, including Kosovo. We have to struggle for consensus and that is


not easy in any political context. In any society. But what is the


alternative? Here, in Kosovo, I believe the alternative is conflict.


And I do not think that conflict is a good thing for any community. As


in Northern Ireland, growing mutual trust between two communities here


is slow. The optimism and ambition that came in the wake of PC in


Kosovo has, it seems, yet to fully emerge at a political level because


it is still emotionally charged identity politics, characterised by


a high level of mistrust. And the big question for politicians here


is, how was it possible to find common ground in the face of


opposing positions on key issues? Sound familiar? Trust is also a


major issue at Stormont and it was clearly missing on the day


power-sharing collapsed last month. But opinions differ as to why this


was the case. Power-sharing is essentially, if we are ever going to


make these institutions work. Where I am critical of the two parties


that have been in the castle for the last ten years is that there has not


been a mutual effort to build proper trust and that is reflected in our


community, where the two traditional haves have yet to build trust and


are looking for leadership to build that trust, and that is the solid


foundation on which we can build political progress, and it is still


missing, now 19 years after the signing of the Belfast agreement.


But to do the problems at Stormont go beyond issues of trust? Is there


a flaw in the design of our political system that makes genuine


power-sharing and impossible task which two is it the case, as some


have argued, that the changes to the Good Friday Agreement at Saint


Andrews Pond power-sharing into the sharing out of power? After the Good


Friday Agreement, the DUP, Sinn Fein and the British government got


together and eroded the principles of power-sharing, that is why they


are in the situation today. For me, power-sharing is not just some kind


of construction, where people have to work together, the spirit of


power-sharing is where people should work together and that is why


parties like my lawn and other parties on the size of the divide


want to work together. I am absolutely committed to


power-sharing and so is our party, we have struggled for a long time to


get power and put it into place but it has been eroded. Writer Mick


fealty is the founding editor of one of Northern Ireland's leading


political blogs. The system itself is rigid and it has been made more


rigid since the St Andrews agreement. What we have is an


embedding of power and what is now called the Executive office and


which was OFM, DFM. It invested awful lot of power in the two


parties that all two offices. The first and Deputy First Minister 's


were originally collected by all MLAs. But under a change in the St


Andrews agreement to are now nominated separately by the largest


and second largest parties. It has given them no option than to see


themselves as adverse arrays. The classic phrase from early, early


days in 2007 was a battle a day. And that has been taken so literally


that neither of the major parties wants to be seen in the pockets of


the other one that it has led to complete stasis. The ability of the


two main parties to block one another has prevented progress and


has taken away some of the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement which was


about cooperative work and consensus government. Instead, what we have is


if we do not both agree, no one moves forward. We must move forward.


Despite the ups and downs, power-sharing has enabled unionism


and nationalism to work together, but some believe it has achieved


little else and is actually strengthening the divide at a


political level. Take any subject, with whatever hospital services,


waiting lists. Out of control and yet, we do not even have a budget


from the 1st of April, so we cannot tackle any of these things. This


Stormont has had its day. No surprise to me, I have always said


that one day it would fall because it was built upon sand and I believe


that that he might have now arrived. The problem with power-sharing in


the North is that it freezes the sectarian situation in the North.


The Good Friday talks and all of the rest of it does not consist of


establishing a different form of politics that both parties can


adhere to, the technology is the difference, it requires the


difference in order for it to work. There is no way that you could


describe Northern Ireland as a classic example of classical


democracy. It was, from the very beginning, a construct. It has been


described as having the ugly scaffolding of democracy, and that


is partly because it has been an enabling mechanism, it was felt


necessary at the very beginning to create this stable condition. Is


there something about power-sharing that polarises politics? I think in


the terms that we have, it is clearly a polarising, because we


have the designation system. What it creates is an incentive for people


to flag up the nationalism or their unionism as their primary political


quality. So, to some extent, yes, it has copper fastened the tribalism of


Northern Irish politics. It was inevitably flawed because it was an


entirely artificial form of politics. It was necessary and I


still think it is necessary and for a while it will remain necessary,


but it is not a natural construct. For some, the collapse of


power-sharing at Stormont stems from a lack of genuine effort in trying


to make it work. I think the spirit of power-sharing has been lost quite


a number of years ago and what we have increasingly seen over the last


number of years is a division of power and carving up of power rather


than a genuine sharing, where they have shared values, shared ambitions


for Northern Ireland society and try to deliver them together. That has


been exacerbated in some ways by the institutions, you cannot put this


down to institutional failure alone, there is the lack of goodwill and


generosity. Has it worked within the spirit it was intended to? No, it


hasn't, if it had, it would not have collapsed. We would not have seen


the arguments that we have seen in the past months. Can it work? Yes,


the agreements are the upon which it can work but there must be a change


of attitude in terms of how political unionism adapts and works


with the nationalist and republican neighbours. Northern Ireland needs a


stable government. We, as a party, have done all that we can to


maintain government in the Northern Ireland Assembly so that the real


issues like health, education and Brexit are addressed. But instead of


trying to work with us, as we have done so many times in the past with


Sinn Fein Omagh they have chosen to pursue political self-interest. They


did not like the election result last May and therefore they are


looking to have another go at the election. The collapse of Stormont


has coincided with momentous political uncertainty. Brexit has


profound implications for Northern Ireland and its border with the


Republic of Ireland. Growing political tensions within the


republican also cast a shadow over Stormont. Next week, Spotlight asks


how and if power-sharing can be put back together, or has the delusion


as we know it runs out of road?


After the fall of Stormont, Jennifer O'Leary asks if power sharing can ever really be stable here and travels to Kosovo to see how it works there.

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