NOBEL Prize winner David Trimble made a key point when he discussed the success of the Northern Ireland peace process. The former First Minister said it had endured because it had been driven by local communities.
This is a lesson that both the Government – and the European Union – need to heed as Theresa May’s shuttle diplomacy over Brexit takes her from Belfast to Brussels for talks with Jean-Claude Juncker. If politicians here, and across Europe, are to win back lost trust, they need to pursue a ‘bottom up’ approach to policy-making.
It is why the people of Northern Ireland are just as likely to come up with a solution to checks on trade – the sticking point over the so-called backstop – than legislators.
It is why farmers are probably better-placed to reform the Rural Payments Agency, and the distribution of farm subsidies, than some politicians because they have to deal with a system and the hardship caused by late payments.
And it is why Dan Jarvis, the Sheffield City Region mayor, is ahead of the game with his decision to involve young people in decision-making.
These are three examples – there are many more – but they shouldn’t be discounted when the current ‘top down’ approach is so broken and politicians here, and across Europe, so mistrusted by the people.