Well, all the choreography and political pantomine is now finished and it seems a deal has been done between Sinn Féin and the DUP which will see 'Power Sharing' in place in the 6 counties on May 8. As much as I hate using cliches, I think it is fair to say that in some ways, this was an historic day. The thought of Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams giving a joint press statement and announcing an agreement is quite historic. However, what should be interesting in relation to the Executive is how the 'normalisation' process works out.
Behind all the tribal rhetoric and nuances of the constitutional question in the 6 counties, what is effectively taking place is the establishment of institutions designed to cement the values of so-called 'liberal democracy' in the 6 county statelet. Under the structures, privatisation is ensured in the guise of the PFI/PPP programme. The rigorous committee system ensures that nothing too radical will see the light of day and the involuntary aspect of Government ensures that there is no real democratic accountability. In short, the executive is manna from heaven for those who seek the proliferation of global capitalism and the sham that is liberal democracy.
Progressives and radicals are left in a very isolated place by this deal. With all the main parties prepared to eat from the troth of power, all potential for radical change is seriously put on ice. The whole thing has serious echoes of the Free State after the treaty. Radicals and progressives, most importantly Socialist Republicans, have to work all the harder now to provide a real alternative for the people to the shallow socio-economic system that has failed the people of Britain and the 26 Counties for so long. It is all too easy to think of this as end game, indeed that is what the establishment want people to see it as. However, for those of us who see change as something more than mere photo opportunities, today is far from the end.