Friday, 18 December 2009

Parade issue unresolved…

THE future of the Parades Commission has been secured for another year with the Secretary of State announcing he is to re-appoint the Commissioners.

With parading proving to be one of the DUP sticking points over the devolution of policing and justice, there’s unlikely to be any immediate joy on that front.

And with the post-primary education debacle still not set for resolution and establishment of the new Education and Skills Authority stalled, there is a collective sense of ennui over some of the moribund political issues of the day.

In other words, 2009 is ending with little big picture progress, lots of small achievements and 2010 begins with a backlog of issues for MLAs.

And with a general election looming, there is a fear that posturing will become the default position rather than seeking progress on the outstanding issues.

But until then have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous, Happy New Year!

Fair Faa ya Ulster-Scots

FAIR well Ulster-Scots with almost £2m spent promoting the dialect…sorry language of Ulster-Scots.

Value for money?

With the translations into Irish over at the Department of Education (including staff costs of translators) under scrutiny too, one wonders who will blink first in the game of ‘my culture needs money too’.

It is of course a worthy goal to preserve culture, traditions and the tongues ancestors used, but in cash strapped times (see Sammy Wilson for an explanation…) maybe, just maybe we don’t need to spend quite as much.

After all, if both are burgeoning languages then perhaps a year or two without dipping into the public purse wouldn’t do that much damage.

And if it does, then we’ll know they really do need support.

DUP cash payback secret

THE DUP has decided not to say how much their MPs had to pay back in Parliamentary expenses.

The SDLP, Sinn Féin and the Ulster Unionist MPs on the other hand have all divulged how much they’ve coughed up in re-payment of expenses.

Seven of the nine DUP Parliamentarians were asked to re-pay money in the wake of the Legge Review, but just how much each have re-paid has not been revealed.

One wonders why not? Conspiracy theorists feel free to fill any blanks…or call the Nolan Show.

No consensus on Troubles?

In a shock, nay a stunning moment, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said that there was no common ground here as to how to move on from the Troubles.

To quote Homer Simpson: “D’Oh!”

Cash crises

IF the cost of preventing climate change seems high, the cost to NI plc of not devolving policing and justice could soon prove very high indeed in these cash-strapped times.

Gordon Brown has warned that if we don’t get it sorted soon the ‘generous financial settlement’ may be off the table.

Trying to save the world is comparable to the trials and tribulations of our so-called political elite.

Gordon must be pondering whether that the £1 billion bonanza promised for policing and justice could be used to save a South Seas island from devastating floods rather than thrown down the political black hole that passes for democracy here in ‘Norn Iron’.

A wee tiff and a matter of perspective

SO the year draws to a close and at this time the thorny matter of devolution of policing and justice still manages to cause a prickly atmosphere between the First and deputy First Ministers.

Viewers were treated to a double act of awkwardness when Robbo and Marty faced the cameras after the North South Ministerial Council meeting in Limavady this week.

And then…ahhhhh it’s all too boring to rehash the episode again; you all know the arguments and the name calling and the so-called issues.

But it seems that we all need a sense of perspective now and again.

The issue has become so perplexing that Gordon Brown and Brian Cowen took time out of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to discuss the matter.

Yep, the future of planet Earth’s eco-system and the plight of nations across the globe up for discussion; the challenges of agreeing sustainable development and the two premiers had to speak on the devolution of policing and justice for a region with a population of just short of 1.8m.

When the ice caps melt, when Strangford Lough rises to consume Newtownards, when the entire county of Fermanagh becomes a water theme park and Newry canal becomes a route for cruise liners, our grandchildren will not be asking what our generation did to combat global warming. No they’ll be asking whether policing and justice will ever be devolved.