Friday, 10 July 2009

I fought the law and the law won….

WHEN it comes right down to it, there’s something about tangling with the law that evokes a deep concern within all: whether it be the law of the jungle or the long arm of the law, it makes everyone, deep inside, wonder if they’ve done something wrong.

Imagine then the feelings around the Executive table when the conversation finally came round to devolving policing and justice.

First Minister Peter Robinson must have had a nagging feeling deep inside that maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned the enabling legislation for devolving the powers.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness must have had a similar feeling about nipping over to London without making sure that Robinson had booked an away day to see the PM on the same day.

And so, come Thursday, no paper outlining the enabling legislation, which would pave the way for devolving the law to Stormont, came before the seated members of Northern Ireland’s cabinet.

The DUP said that everyone would see a copy before the end of July. Sinn Féin duly huffed.
But, in a show of short-sightedness Sinn Féin Minister Conor Murphy wondered why legislation that had been agreed with both parties was not being unveiled.

Perhaps it would have been timely for Murphy to check his calendar. This weekend brings us to Orangefest. DUP MLAs are not going to don sashes and discuss the devolving of policing and justice powers around the embers of bonfires or at the field, after a long dander.

Orangefest – it’s Mardi Gras time in Belfast

AS sashes are being dusted off for the March to The Field, regalia, banners and bunting are once again unfurled for the Twelfth, new Culture Minister, Nelson McCausland launched Orangefest on the Shankill Road.

Apparently with shops in the city centre set to open on the Twelfth (well actually the 13th this year…no Sunday marching when Lord’s Day Observing Nelson is about!). It will be a fun-filled family day out. Simply turn up, watch those funny looking men parade, then head along to Belfast’s shopping mecca for some discount bargains and grab a bite to eat.

Just make sure that you get all that done before the return parade, when the hangers on and occasional drunkard will be a bit more tetchy if you aren’t waving your plastic Union Jack in a jaunty fashion.

Hand it over!

But of course this year there will be far fewer drunkards. For the brave men and women of the Police Service will be confiscating booze from those seen quaffing in the streets during Orangefest.

They even launched their own campaign to make sure that those damnable nuisance drinkers will be stopped in their tracks. Amid the acclamation of Nelson and co, the police stood strong in their clampdown on boozy parade followers.

But there may be a coincidence at work here. New Young Earth Creationist Environment Minister, Edwin Poots has plans afoot to tax plastic bags. What do most people carry their beer and cider in before tossing them on to the street? That’s right, Plastic bags!

If the police seize all the booze, they’ll be seizing the plastic bags too. Remove enough of the blue plastic bags creates an immediate demand for them from off-licences and various licensed premises. Where supply is short prices go up. With the price for plastic bags higher, more of a levy can be charged, raising more money for Edwin’s party colleague Finance Minister Sammy Wilson to line the Executive’s coffers.

Speaking of economics…

The former Chief Examiner of CCEA ‘A’ Level Economics, and current Minister of Penny Pinching, Finance and Personnel, Sammy Wilson came to a briefly convened Assembly meeting on Tuesday to talk cash. Or at least that’s the polite way of putting it.

A more diligent and thorough columnist would outline in detail the budgetary outturn, the fiscal picture, the investment package and the other, err, interesting facts presented by Sammy.

But, let’s face it, the rows and fighting were much more fun! More money please for swine flu! No, you can’t have it! Make the school nurses jab the swine! Don’t be silly! Have some money for houses!

For one hour the duly elected representatives of the electorate of Northern Ireland arrived at Parliament Buildings. With a flurry of planned press releases all set to issue forth as soon as the statement was made, the row over the sow [flu] hit more of the headlines and then they all went home...but, presumably, not until they had completed their mileage expenses.

Giggling with the Minister for Fun

The new Minister for Fun…sorry Culture, Arts and Leisure Nelson McCausland won’t darken the door of a Roman Catholic church but he will hang out at the Gaeltacht in Donegal with Sinn Féin Education Minister Catriona Ruane.

Taking his Fun portfolio seriously Nelson was quipping away saying that just because he lived in a cul-de-sac didn’t mean he was a French speaker, and that while he didn’t know Tyrone were Gaelic Football champions, he also didn’t know who was the top dog in squash and lacrosse.

A shame and disgrace! Surely his officials should have briefed him on these sports. Handy hint…the websites are and now go and brief your minister properly!

‘Useful’ meeting

MEANWHILE a ‘useful’ North/ South Ministers’ meeting took place in Dublin with Peter Robinson, Martin McGuinness and Brian Cowen. No word as to why it was useful, other than to say that it was ‘useful’.

Ministers did however have a broad discussion of the economic challenges facing them and their respective responses to dealing with the downturn and its impact…

Cowen outlined various initiatives such as his intention to establish a National Assets Management Agency to dispose of developments that collapsed during the property crash, whilst Marty and Peter said they had just been to ask Gordy for more pocket money – a chorus of ‘please sir can I have some more?’ was said to have echoed from the halls of no.10.

The Republic’s government has promised a lump sum payment of £7.7 million towards the new A5 Aughnacloy to Derry and the A8 Belfast to Larne roads.

More crucially however we can confirm that a special meeting will take place soon between Dublin’s Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and our very own Sammy Wilson over the current financial situation – readers should not despair however – sure there’s no such thing as a recession anyway, eh Sammy??

So what does a lonely MP watch…

ALL alone in a hotel room, nothing to do? Above the TV is a list of films available to view. Blockbuster movies or ‘adult flicks’?

Safe to say that Lagan Valley MP, MLA and former Junior Minister, Jeffrey Donaldson assures us that he picked the blockbuster option, including the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

And, he’s even paid back the cash he claimed off the taxpayer for watching the Wardrobe Witch’s Wild Adventures…hold on that might have been one of the films he didn’t watch.

Breaking news – common sense outbreak stuns electorate!

DAMN! Two ministers suffered a common sense attack this week. First of all, First Minister Peter Robinson said any new Minister for The Law would be from the Alliance Party.

His impeccable logic…if the DUP pick a UUP MLA, Sinn Féin would veto the choice. If Sinn Féin picked an SDLP MLA, the DUP would veto the choice…therefore that left an Alliance candidate…

Alliance MLAs were heard to mutter about being the lesser of some evil, but they’re not sure which one.

In a second outbreak of common sense, DUP MLA, MP and former Minister for Fun, Gregory Campbell, said that MPs could live in the Olympic village after the 2012 elections, thereby saving taxpayers’ money and putting to good use the Olympic facilities.

The Health Minister, Michael ‘Ever Cheerful’ McGimpsey has senior medical scientists working feverishly to develop a vaccine against any further outbreaks of common sense amongst current and former ministerial colleagues.

‘It could ruin all our reputations if we were to act responsibly,’ he refused to say.