Northern Ireland

I am very disappointed to learn of the events today which may lead to the collapse of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland. And I say this as a Unionist who voted against parts of the legislation in 1998.

I can understand the concern which the Unionist parties have in dealing with people who are not committed to wholly peaceful and democratic means. However, if that is what they are understandably recoiling from now, it is puzzling because it is what they have been doing for a number of years, and in most senses nothing has changed.

I am also confused as to why people who prefer devolution to direct rule would wish to bring the Assembly down. There is no logic to that stance. If the Assembly goes, there can be no certainty about if or when it will be restored. If - and it is a big if - it were restored in a broadly similar form, then where will we have gone, what will we have achieved, what will have changed, why should it work on that occasion?

This is what people in Northern Ireland need to understand - it is a choice between the devolved institutions, flawed as they are, and direct rule.
As an avowed Unionist myself, I would have preferred the former, and feel that this is a sad day for Northern Ireland. I'm sorry to say that the people have been let down by the politicians.