Reflections at 2506 April 2023 - by Gráinne Walsh
As we head towards Easter 2023, many people are in a reflective mood. Beyond the numerous discussions about the negotiations and subsequent referendum campaign, there is a conversation to be had about where we find ourselves and how we position ourselves for the next 25 years.
A quarter of a century on from the great constitutional experiment initiated by the Labour government, the recent SNP leadership change reminds us that devolution is an experience that we share with Scotland and Wales and more recently the English regions.
Many of the challenges we currently face are all too familiar to politicians, policy makers, and the public across the UK and Ireland, we just do it slightly differently here. What makes us different? Some of it is design - the institutional arrangements constructed as part of the shuttle diplomacy of negotiations - and some of it is by default. It’s the default position and relationships or ‘neuro pathways’ if you like, of a divided society that has failed to deal with fundamental aspects of conflict legacy, never mind look to an agreed future.
As an organisation that shares our birthday year with the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, the Stratagem team has evolved alongside the institutions and the 100s of organisations we have advised since 1998.
From the first study of health inequalities across the Island of Ireland to the policy framework that has powered our renewable energy industry, particularly the onshore wind industry, the breadth and depth of our policy expertise is matched by our legislative experience in Westminster with the securing of Daithí’s Law, that enabled the implementation of soft opt out organ donation legislation. This follows legislation to ensure a redress scheme for the survivors of historical institutional abuse.
In the week that a south Dubliner, Mary Lou McDonald announces a reshuffle of the Sinn Féin front bench in the Dáil and that Jeffery Donaldson received the report of the eight person panel appointed to consult on the Windsor Framework, the two current largest parties, one in expansive mode, the other in more defensive mode, face their own challenges.
While the emergence of newer parties locally will be interesting to track particularly in the forthcoming Local Government elections in May, our attention is not solely focused on Northern Ireland. Part of the Connect Group since 2019, our team of 50 has broadened our reach and impact across the five jurisdictions on these Islands.
From supporting the EV industry and to securing sports investment across Northern Ireland as part of the Levelling Up Fund, our team supports investment in key areas of our built and social infrastructure.
The next 25 years offer the opportunity to continue to redefine our story and identity. The scale of the ambition is evident from the recently launched People. Planet. Prosperity - Our Giant Ambition by the NI Bureau.
Take the time to watch the video - it will inspire you to think differently about this place we call home.
Source: NI Bureau