Tue 23rd Sep 2014
Sept 14: No vote brings emphatic change all the same…
So the votes have been cast and counted and the dust has settled on the outcome of the Scottish referendum. The result was perhaps more weighted in favour of a ‘No’ vote than was predicted in the days leading up to the poll. The nature of the debate around devolution and how far it can be extended to the regions, as well as the energy with which almost the entire population of Scotland and the UK embraced the debate, will have far reaching impacts on the future of Governance in the UK.
It is very clear that how we are governed – all of us – is set to change, dramatically and permanently. How can that be made work to the advantage of Northern Ireland? That is the challenge facing our politicians.
The reaction to the poll and the high level discussions which have already started between Scottish political leaders and Westminster opens the door for further discussions between Stormont and Westminster as well. The high profile issue of Corporation Tax is firmly on the table but as Scotland secures a more expansive range of devolved powers, which they will, then we too can make a serious claim for a Northern Ireland version of ‘devo max.’
Such changes may mean concessions and commitments on budgets and spending ability, it may mean more fiscal powers and the ability to shift our drive for economic sustainability on to a higher level. In embracing these challenges and opportunities, the most important thing is that Northern Ireland speaks with a single unified voice alongside a single unity of purpose, especially in relation to the economy.
The Scottish question has become a UK question, and it has changed the parameters of political discourse in 2014. That change of dynamic requires a shift of gears by the Stormont parties. In embracing these challenges they are entitled to our collective support and that means the business community, the third sector, and all of civic society. Scotland’s campaign has opened the door of opportunity for Northern Ireland in our dealings with the London Government. We must seize the opportunity and say ‘Yes’ to a more positive future for Northern Ireland.