Friday, 19 November 2010

Make Northern Ireland normal...

SECRETARY of State Owen Paterson has suggested that, with a wave of the legislators’ deathly hand, Norn Iron can be normalised.

Mr Paterson has said that he is seriously considering a ‘Normalisation Bill’ that would with all sorts of legislative garbage that has been left over from various agreements, side deals and unseemly delays that led to an unseemly rush to make laws.

But there is one thing that troubles us. When has the root word of normalisation (that would be ‘normal’ for all those struggling to keep up!) ever been used in connection with Norn Iron.

The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, may have said that our towns were as British as Finchley, but then again she didn’t get out much from behind the layers of security. Paterson, one would have thought, should know better.

We’re the country that introduced colour coded kerb stones for those not sure which sectarian enclave you were stumbling upon.

We’re the country where for a long time 10-year-old boys could determine a rifle calibre from the distant sound of a gunshot.

We’re the country that has many of its middle-aged people complaining that riots aren’t just as much fun as they used to be.

We’re the country that has managed to elevate benefit collection to an art form.

We’re the country that has had more public enquiries than the rest of the Europe combined, and probably has more lawyers per capita than any other region apart from the US.

And therein lies one particular rub. Mr Paterson, it turns out may not be quite as daft as he seems.

In talking about the idea of a story-telling to sort of wrap the whole Troubles thing up, he said: “Historians might just have more appropriate skills than lawyers in helping to resolve the past."

That may be the case, but it certainly is the case that they charge a helluva lot less than the battalions of barristers and legions of lawyers who hang round the gates pondering the next thousand pounds or so of legal aid fees they can charge, or wonder wistfully when the next public enquiry is to get underway.

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