Friday, 18 September 2009

Best Facebook post award goes to…

CARRICK councillor Stewart Dickson said of councillor Ian Parsley’s defection to the Conservatives: “All the night in the rain for that [expletive deleted].”

Other Alliance members have been a little more temperate in their language in public, but privately…!

Strangely Parsley seems to have disappeared off Councillor Dickson’s Facebook friends list…

Other news…

Devolved policing no nearer despite the obvious need…DUP and Sinn Féin fighting over who’s a victim and who isn’t…UUP and SDLP publish policy documents and no-one notices…majority of population continues to despair at our politicians.

White van riot

THE idiots want to take over the asylum. More pointless wrecking and rioting have once again taken place in Lurgan. White vans burnt out, drivers left in terror, masked gunmen compensating for a lack in the trouser department by waving phallic weapons in the air and acting all macho.

Revolutionaries? Republican freedom fighters? Dedicated guerrilla soldiers? Or just plain idiots?

After careful consideration of the options…yep plain, stupid, ignorant idiots. And that’s a more sophisticated political analysis than they will ever come up with.

The harshest cut of all

IN case you haven’t noticed, times are tight. And it looks like they are about to get tougher. The Conservative Party and Labour say there will be cuts in public spending. The Ulster Unionists and SDLP say there is hole in finances of NI plc. The DUP warns the block grant that the Treasury hands over may also be cut.

El Presidente…sorry First Minister Peter Robinson, says that this a golden chance to cut down bureaucracy.

His party’s plans to cut back on Government departments will never receive cross-community backing in the lifetime of this Assembly, which leaves him – and all in the Executive in a bit of a quandary. When, rather than if, the block grant is cut where to make the cuts?

The Review of Public Administration has already cut away some unnecessary layers of public service. Cutting or merging any more so-called quangos would at best save a couple of million pounds a year, and demands on the public purse are not likely to ease.
That leaves…front line public services. Across Northern Ireland most are already subject to three per cent cuts year on year. So what’s left? Health and social services: it’s the biggest, but as the population lives longer thanks to the doctors and nurses costs can only be cut by cutting services. And making doctors, nurses work ever harder…

Education: A rare phenomenon in western Europe here is that statistically births are increasing. This means that the planned cull of schools may be a little premature. The option open to the government here is therefore bigger class sizes and fewer teachers.

Without labouring the point the only realistic cuts in these straightened times will be among front line services.

Somehow Northern Ireland’s political classes believe that the Orange Green axis of voters will ignore all this and just keep voting them in.

But, they can perhaps make, at least a gesture towards showing that they care; a display of empathy even.

Every politician could agree to take a 10% pay cut. Equally, every public or civil servant earning more than 50k a year could take a 10% pay cut. Every politician, public or civil servant earning more than 100k could take a 20k pay cut. It wouldn’t stave off economic meltdown but it would show that they care.

The likelihood of said people ever taking such a pay cut? As likely as a resolution of the post primary school transfer mess happening before hell freezes over.

Libya and irony…important lessons

PARIAH states sometimes become good mates. This is a fact of international diplomacy that seems to fly in the face of logic, reason or even the ability of a reporter to understand.

Libya is likely to be a case study for future studies of the paranormal in politics.

To recap: Libya once was a ‘bad country’; Libya stood accused of being behind the Lockerbie plane bombing; Libya pays compensation to victims of Lockerbie; Libyan man convicted of said bombing released from jail in Scotland because he was dying; Prime Minister accused of dodgy deals on release of bomber; victims groups in Northern Ireland want compensation over Libya arming IRA in the 80s; and UK and US oil companies vying for contracts in the north African state.

And now, to complete the ever winding moral maze of relationships it emerges that PSNI officers have been helping training Libyan police officers in the UK and Libya.

Cue unionist politicians’ outrage and disbelief…which underscores the irony of not having policing and justice devolved. Had these powers been devolved, a Northern Ireland Executive Minister would, at the very least, have been informed of the location of deployed officers seconded to the National Police Improvement Agency.

Irony point number one: Libya which used to back paramilitaries who killed Northern Ireland police officers now has its police force being trained by Northern Ireland police officers.

Irony point number two: Sinn Féin, who used to care about such things don’t even raise an eyebrow at these conundrums.

Irony point number three: Nobody outside Northern Ireland cares about any of this, and no-one in the United Nations will notice.

School marm Linda chides the children

SOMETIMES there is a moment on radio that is simply too priceless to ignore. Linda MaCauley, sitting in for Nolan on Thursday of this week, had the task of mediating between the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson and Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson.

Repeatedly she told them to ‘stop’ mid-rant, compared them to children and berated their refusal to let the other ‘child’ have their say.

The “Biggest Show in the Country” was generating the biggest laugh in the country as the hapless politicos tried to make out that the ‘other side’ was telling porkie pies.

The subject of the row…well it was about how everyone in Northern Ireland should work together.

To keep it simple (for any politicians who may be reading) Sinn Féin published their proposals on a way forward for a better, happier Northern Ireland. The DUP said that this wasn’t the way forward for the better, happier Northern Ireland that they wanted.

What is not in dispute is the fact that if the DUP and Sinn Féin ever agree their ‘Cohesion, Integration and Sharing Strategy’, it is unlikely to have much of an impact on Jeffrey and Martina.

Testing times

THESE are testing times for Northern Ireland…especially for the 12,000+ P7 children about to sit ‘unregulated’ tests for 8,000 grammar school places.

Against a backdrop of bickering politicians, burning vans on the front pages of newspapers, a recession, and the prospect of harsh cuts in public spending, anxious children and their families are occupying their times in the final push of revision and associated nerves.

Applied mathematicians are currently calculating the probability of common sense breaking out in the post primary transfer debate.

They are basing their calculations on the number of years the fiasco has been going on, the number of pointless statements being made by both sides, the acreage of Scandinavian forests cut down to meet newsprint demand for pointless re-treaded arguments and the capacity of a Northern Ireland politician to make sense in two consecutive sentences.

It is anticipated that the mathematician who cracks this puzzle will be in line for a Nobel Maths prize…and a well-earned break.