Friday, 6 November 2009

Double trouble at the Big House

SIR Christopher ‘Hatchet Man’ Kelly has brought his steely eye upon the Commons expenses ‘scandal’ © Daily Telegraph.

And while mortgage shenanigans have been outlawed, moat cleaning and duck houses have been declared expenses non gratis. Kelly also said double jobbing must end.

Which has left a number of difficult decisions to be made...Will the First Minister declare for Westminster? Will Gerry Adams pack it in as an MLA? Will Alasdair McDonnell who has ambitions to lead the SDLP continue as MP for South Belfast?

The confusion deepened when this week Sinn Féin’s north Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly declared that he is to stand for Westminster.

Either Kelly (the Gerry one) has written off his chances to overcome Nigel Dodds 5,000 plus majority and is only running for the sake of form; or he really thinks he can win it and doesn’t really like being called junior anything let alone junior minister.

But Kelly (the Sir Chris one) has given MLAs a partial get out clause. MLAs who are victorious in the General Election will be able to hang on to their Assembly seat until the 2011 Assembly poll…thus being able to earn a wee bit extra cash before settling for one mandate.

Rolling on and on

THE devolution of policing and justice saga has gone on for so long it nearly qualifies as a biblical epic...the Israelites wandered in the desert for almost as long as it takes Northern Ireland’s politicians to agree on devolution.

The only thing that has gone on longer is the education debate, which would qualify for an entire book in the Old Testament.

But this week the new PSNI Chief Constable (who knows a thing about Biblical matters) said the financial package promised by Gordon Brown was enough to be going on with.

At the same time Sinn Féin were saying that they were really, really annoyed and that the DUP and British Government were playing silly games, and that the DUP were looking over their shoulder at the TUV.

Well, sure begorrah I be sorry!

SPEAKING of the TUV…and we know you weren’t and you certainly weren’t in Irish…they’ve apologised for calling Gaelic a Leprechaun language in a press release…

Well that’s nice of them…but party vice-chair Keith Harbinson has said that the furore over name-calling has taken away from the row over expenditure on Irish. The language debate…it hasn’t gone away you know!

Harbinson said it was a ‘childish mistake’ to use the term ‘leprechaun’. Politicians admitting to being childish – whatever next?

Bye Bye Carmel

IT could be the first PR dominated selection battle, after long-standing south Belfast MLA Carmel Hanna has said she is stepping down from the Assembly.

It has already been widely trailed in the media that two candidates are seeking selection: a former Belfast deputy Lord Mayor and a PR supremo.

Who will have the better press release?

North West – No says the Assembly

THE Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson spoke passionately in the Assembly about making the North West officially an area in need of special economic interest.

After a long and boring point scoring exercise in the Assembly (in other words like every other Assembly debate) it was decided that the Assembly couldn’t back this.

Among the reasons not mentioned were: it has an airport, you can fly in aid like the Berlin airlift when the Glenshane Pass is snowbound; you used to nip over the border to get cheap petrol, now you’re not so happy; and finally…when you get passport control at Magherafelt set-up, you can claim to be really apart from the rest of Northern Ireland and not just pretending to be.

Right stuff

IN a shambolic voting debacle the unionists got their ayes, noes and maybes all confused during a debate about the Bill of Rights.

An arcane Petition of Concern also backfired on nationalists.

For those of you who could care less – i.e. most of the population – a debate saw the unionist motion fall, but not fall, a PUP amendment sort of pass, but not really and a petition of concern disappear somewhere.

Still, all lively stuff for political anoraks and the Bill of Rights consultation, once again, going nowhere quickly.