Friday, 10 September 2010

Who would be a UUP MLA?

WHO would be a UUP MLA these days? No, it’s not a rhetorical question: who would be a UUP MLA?

You face potential de-selection, and then, if selected and fortunate to be elected you could have a party leader you neither agree with nor do you like.

Such is the background to the current turmoil in the UUP camp.

So much for modernisation! Perhaps it is time for a rethink all round, but there will have to be some serious sorting out over the winter lest the UUP be cast adrift by its already indifferent electorate.

I solemnly swear not to sit in Westminster!

THE Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, this week displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of Sinn Féin. Under pressure from the DUP to cut Sinn Féin Westminster expenses altogether, the SoS asked the Shinners to come up with an alternative version of the oath of allegiance, so that they potentially take up their seats in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’.

According to Sinn Féin dogma and doctrine, the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ is the bastard child of an imperial hegemony created in the blood of the colonies and seared with injustice on Irish people the world over.

The likelihood of Sinn Féin taking their seats in Westminster is so far-fetched as to be unbelievable. The only oath to Westminster they are likely to agree to, is one that swears to abolish Westminster when England acknowledges its place as a subsidiary county to the provinces of Ireland.

To make matters worse, they’ve put up the price of beer in the MPs bar!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

We are not amused

BEING amused is a charge rarely levelled at the level-headed Minister for Social Justice, Alex Attwood. And, he is less than amused – not even breaking into a half-grin – when talking about proposed reforms to the welfare system.

After a meeting with the visiting Tory representative for right-on, right of centre caring, Iain Duncan Smith, Mr Attwood harrumphed and said that we’re special over here. In some schools being labelled as ‘special’ can lead to bullying. In enlightened educational establishments being labelled ‘special’ means that you are provided with support and care to enable you to achieve...

So, is Mr Attwood arguing that we are the UK’s ‘Special Needs’ country, requiring a classroom assistant and someone to make sure we pay attention, even when our condition means we can't concentrate in classes like economics?

No-one is arguing that Northern Ireland’s situation is not unique in the UK (although the North East and many parts north of the Watford Gap could argue similarly). But by self-consciously arguing that we need special treatment there will come a time when it is argued that we no longer need help, with all the wailing and gnashing of soundbites from MLAs that is sure to follow

Also, the inevitable consequence is that we are seen as ‘drain on the public purse’, as a dependent state; dependent on help from Westminster, Washington or even, heaven forbid, the Dáil.

But, as every parent knows there comes a time when your dependent child must step up and fend for themselves economically. When will our turn come?

Cheap at half the price

SURE there’s no bargain quite like an entire country. And, the estate agents must have been licking their lips at the prospect of putting the For Sale signs up on Northern Ireland...

One journalist, tongue in cheek, we are led to believe, said that if Northern Ireland was ‘sold’ to the Republic of Ireland for a nice round fee like £9billion, then it would help reduce the Treasury’s mounting debts, do away with all those broad northern Irish accents in Parliament and give someone else a headache instead.

We on the other hand think that selling to the Republic represents a narrowness of vision that has too often afflicted the political elite.

Why just focus on the Republic of Ireland, and instead hold out for the highest bidder. Has not one member of the NI Executive ever pulled a sickie and watched Homes Under the Hammer? The concept is fairly simple. Someone turns up at an auction, buys a rundown property, spends a few quid doing it up and hey presto an estate agent tells them at the end of the show how much their renovations have added to the value.

Next we hope to pitch to Sky One, or a rival US channel, the concept: Countries Under the Hammer.

With Northern Ireland as the pilot show, the producers will invite countries along to an auction to bid to buy ‘our wee country’. The presenter will outline all the positives such as outstanding natural beauty, friendly folks, the annual pageantry of summer rioting, and wonderful views of twilight in Twinbrook and dawn over Derry’s cultural shoplifters.

We’ll let the population pick those countries we would want to invite to the auction, and almost everyone will plump for the US (except the TUV, who will denounce it as a republican plot until they realise Obama is a Democrat). But we’ll make sure it is countries that can afford to be there. China is a cert; they’ve the money. As has India. Iran may also be interested, as it will save on developing intercontinental ballistic missile costs, and we have a few ‘fixer-up’ sub-let properties with in-house skills in things that go boom.

However, knowing our luck we’ll end up being auctioned off to North Korea, and every day we’ll be expected to acknowledge an all-powerful leadership that demands respect, brooks no challenge, requires we exist to fund the ruling classes and regularly expects nothing much from the leaders. Question is, whether anyone would notice the difference?

Take yer f**k**g airport and f**k**g shove it up yer f**k**g...etc etc

WELL no-one ever accused Michael O’Leary of subtlety, but his rant over the George Best City Airport runway extension – or rather lack of runway extension - was exceptional even by his standards.

Mr O’Leary denounced the lack of decision-making on the extension to the runway and announced that Ryanair was pulling out of Belfast on October 31st.

Thereafter followed a raft of MLAs and even ministers of the executive queuing up on the airwaves to denounce the decision... There were even a few who took a pop at Mr O’Leary’s low-cost airline.

Indeed, at a time when our economy is, in the words of Minister Attwood on meeting Iain Duncan Smith, lagging behind the rest of the country, it did seem a bit churlish to lambast Mr O’Leary.

We do wonder, however, whether those self-same MLAs and ministers are ever forced to use a low-cost airline to visit loved ones, to keep business costs low, to see-off children to college or university, or even simply take a break from the doom and gloom pronouncements of the NI Executive.

We suspect few have.

Say what you like about Ryanair and Mr O-Leary (there now follows a space to allow you to say what you like within existing libel laws..._____________________________ ) but he did make a decision.

Yes, a decision. That’s a strange concept in Northern Ireland. For those of you not sure what a decision is, it is when someone decides to do something, rather than debate endlessly, call in lawyers, appoint barristers, take a judicial review, mumble half-heartedly about the other side, ask Assembly questions and waffle on every possible broadcast outlet.