Friday, 23 September 2011

Unclean, unclean!

IT seems that we are determined here in Norn Iron to emulate the southern states of the US’s Bible Belt. At least that would seem to be the case as Health Minister Edwin Poots declared this week that the lifetime ban on homosexual men donating blood would continue.

Mr Poots may or may not be right in stating this was a rational course but, as they say in marketing, it is all about perception.

First off, one would not like to see this laid open to a judicial review – lawyers get enough money as it is. Second, what will this do to Norn Iron as tourist destination for the ‘pink pound’ of gay travellers?

Then there is the issue of need. As one commentator pointed out, we may need to erect a blood wall to prevent the blood of gay men in the rest of the UK being imported for life-saving operations…

Now, as Mr Poots rightly points out there are some states of the USA and parts of Europe that have persisted in retaining a lifetime ban on homosexual donors, but there are a few problems in this. What are the risks of someone telling a lie when giving blood? What about bi-sexuals? What about those who had one ‘encounter’ and then led a life of celibacy – oops that’s another story.

We wonder how long he can maintain this stance – we’ve moved from the enlightenment of scientific practice and evidence that screens all donations for diseases, to one of blanket bans…tricky times at the blood bank. We just hope we don’t have to make any withdrawals from said bank if shortages ensue…

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Doubles Game

THERE was once upon a time, a long time ago in a galaxy called election campaigns when the topic of double jobbing was much in the spotlight. Back then a euphemism was devised. It was: “dual mandate”.

Such was this euphemism, that it sort of explained everything and nothing all at the one time, because MLAs were representing the same people twice, but they were elected – presumably – by the same people, hence the ‘dual tag’. We still prefer double jobbing as you wouldn’t want your window cleaner trying to wash your upstairs windows and downstairs windows at the same time [You may wish to think about this metaphor for a wee while...]

Such was the ire of the people on double jobbing that it gave way quickly to boredom after a few politicians [sacrificial lambs?] did pick up their electoral beds and walk to one house only.

But yeah through the valley of media ennui walked 18 MLAs, who still are double jobbing.

We’ll spare them the embarrassment of naming them – also known as us being too lazy to type them all out – but hope that they will hang their heads in shame. Yeah we like a joke.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life – which once upon a time was known as the Committee on Expenses We Can Get Away With – has said Parliament should introduce legislation to ban such electoral double jobbing. If it did so our own Stormont Commissioner for Complaints could tut loudly until MLAs resigned a seat or two.

Until such legislation is introduced the Stormont Commissioner for Complaints can tut all he wants and the MLAs drawing down truck loads of cash (and if it’s not for themselves, think of all the expenses and office staff they can gain!) can continue on their merry gravy train.

But if we were members of the parties with members double jobbing we’d be a wee bit worried: because so long as they’re doubling up on electoral duties, what opportunities are there for new candidates to be blooded on the election trail, or at occupying a comfy seat in Parliament Buildings.