YOU really know when an election is in full swing! It’s when parties can make a whole series of empty promises. Yes, roll-up, roll-up to hear how all the problems of Norn Iron can be solved by just voting for the party that promises the most!
This week we have the DUP saying there will be no increase in student fees and no water charges. Sammy Wilson may be the prophet of economic doom before the election, but largesse seems to have been found somewhere.
We do wonder what sort of cuts elsewhere will need to be made to pay for this, and whether his future party colleagues will agree to these.
And, Sinn Féin is in on the act too now. They’re promising a referendum on a united Ireland, knowing full well that it will not gain the necessary cross-community backing. That’s not to mention aiming for an all-island health service free at the point of delivery, despite knowing that the Dáil will need several months of cutting everything to be able to afford a fraction of the cost involved in realising this. An unlikely scenario, given the crippling debt repayments the country is having to make thanks to the profligacy of its banks.
So, if you believe these promises – along with the bright shiny talk emanating from the other parties – we urge you to remember the last Executive. Round that big table at Stormont Castle parties had difficulty agreeing and taking decisions on a number of big ticket issues; the future of our children’s education, local government reform, ending double jobbing... When a prospective MLA comes round your door, don’t ask them their policies or promises. Instead ask them if they think they can get their coalition colleagues to agree with them. Expect a fudged answer at best.