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Without pragmatism, the protocol will poison Northern Irish politics | Peter Shirlow

While loud voices demand unyielding political conviction, the majority’s hopes for jobs and investment in the wake of Brexit are ignored

The historian Alexandre Koyré once said: “The mob believes everything it is told.” Too often in Northern Ireland, it is the politicians that believe everything the mob tells them. Propagandised loyalist bloggers and social media activists have unmerited impact. As do those who state Irish unity is just around the corner despite surveys, conducted since 1998, showing support far below what is required to actually make it happen.

When I speak to people offering these perspectives, I am depressingly informed evidence “doesn’t matter”. The reactive party politics we are again witnessing in Northern Ireland is conditioned by the mood of those who demand unyielding political party convictions at the cost of acting reasonably. It’s a case of the angry wheel that squeaks the loudest receiving the oil. Such political short-termism is out of kilter with the majority who have moved on from sectarian divides, and who await an equally impassioned response to their desire for jobs and investment. Reactive demand, in Northern Ireland, still trumps rational hopes.

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