Friday, 22 January 2010

Oh for goodness sake!

SHE said, he said, he said, she said…it goes on interminably, one minute cautious optimism, the next allegations cast back and forward.

The Great Hall at Stormont echoing with breathless political punditry and the radio waves of ‘our wee country’ are filled to the brim with MLAs and party officials all keen to toe the party line.

It is, of course, the great political drama that isn’t so much a drama as a farce. Yes, the devolution of policing and justice.

The blogosphere is filled with claim and counter-claim, twitter is filled with tweets from commentators, and where exactly are we…nowhere.

Of course, by the time you read this, it all could have been resolved and mutual begrudgery will see us through to a new dawn in Northern Ireland, but don’t hold your breath.

Policing and justice will be devolved sooner or later. Whether it will take the collapse of the Assembly or a sudden outbreak of common sense amongst politicians, no-one knows. And frankly no-one outside the corridors of Stormont really cares.

For the proverbial man in the street, when he is stopped for speeding, he will care not one iota where the legislative basis for the speeding ticket lies. For the officer issuing the ticket, he will not care whether it is a Stormont Minister or an imported Secretary of State with whom power resides. He has simply to protect other motorists and collect his pay packet for doing his job.

And, come the summer there will still be parades. And there will still be protests against parades. It will be a long time before we have a happy dawn when each ‘side’ can relax and let ‘community tensions’ ease in their own sweet time, no matter what structure is in place.

But, when the MLAs gather in party groupings, or sit staring suspiciously at each other over coffee, buns spread on the negotiating table, let them also consider the PSNI officer recovering from dreadful wounds. Let them not forget the young man struggling to walk after a ‘punishment’ attack. Let them not forget the drugs being pushed on the street.

Let them not forget they have responsibility.

One fears that responsibility in politics may be a distant dream of the more idealistic political student.

One hopes that it will suddenly dawn on MLAs that their job is one of responsibility, representation and decision-making.

So, to all shades of opinion, hue of party flag, for goodness sake make a decision.

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