For those of you who can cast your minds back to the previous period of devolved government in Northern Ireland, there was an institution called the Civic Forum. This was meant to ensure a voice for a civic society that no-one was sure really existed.
The argument went along the line that during Direct Rule, a capable and experienced bunch of people within civic society had been working away filling the democratic deficit created by Westminster ministers who ruled with impunity. It was therefore decided that those considered to be the wise ones should be called forth to debate and report on ways that Northern Ireland could be a better place for all…
The DUP were less than happy with an unelected ‘second chamber’ – it’s not like the Lords of course, you didn’t get a title for being a Civic Forum member.
Now, led by Upper Bann MLA Stephen Moutray, the DUP is once again trying to kill off the idea of bringing back the worthy to the table.
While this week’s Assembly debate on Moutray’s motion, failed to sound the death knell for the Forum – which hasn’t met for seven years – pressure mounts to abort restoration before it begins.
The DUP’s Nelson McCausland has suggested that with the dawn of the digital age, discussions on the internet are a better way to engage civic society. Of course this means that we can look forward to the likes of Stephen Moutray launching his own You Tube channel, with musical contributions from party colleague Willie McCrea.