Friday, 18 November 2011

PfG2 - The Delivery Begins!

DEEP in the bowels of Parliament Buildings, Stormont lies a darkened room.

Occasionally a door opens letting in light, causing the denizens of this secret cabal to blink and shrink from the glare.

The rare times it does open is to admit a pizza delivery, or multi-packs of stimulant drinks.

Here lies the geek.

Here lies the programmers; that secretive bunch of nerds who crouch and stoop as they bend over their keyboards, using their programming skills to shape and adjust the figures and avatars flitting across their screens.

Here they are ready for their latest release, with a fanfare almost as big as any Xbox 360 release, dripping with the same hyperbole PlayStation3 games the nerds let loose their latest product “Programme for Government 2.0 – the delivery Begins!”

Players of PfG2 are immediately faced with the first challenge, controlling rival speakers as they bore endlessly without tripping up, or worse still, disagreeing.
Next navigate a host of media interviewers were reporters shoot barbed jibes and awkward questions.

Finally beware the end of level boss: earn experience points from ‘Da Speaker’ before facing the End of Level Boss – The Allister.

Pass by The Allister and you’ll move on to Level Two, where you must extract the secret elixir called ‘Money’ to deliver your Level One Promises into the strangest yet of environments. It’s called the real world. As yet few MLAs have passed that level consistently for more than a few fleeting moments.

The programmers of Pfg2 – The Delivery Begins promise four years of gameplay before the ultimate stage ‘The Election’. Before then thrill with your ‘Sword of Cuts’ as you slash into the bloated dragons of Local Government, reducing their numbers until you can manage them; and discover the secret hoards of gold hidden in the mysterious caverns called ‘Monitoring Rounds’.

Less advanced PfG2 players still have the option of downloading a player guide in hard copy where you can join in by picking a page and rolling a dice to see whether any Programme for Government promises can be met.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Collision course

THE prospect of closing schools seems a nice wee idea for saving money, although no-one has yet explained how this will be achieved as there is unlikely to be a queue to buy old school buildings, but at least they’ll save on the costs of those pesky teacher’s wages.

So, while we’re all welting away thinking about what the Education Minister, John ‘High Tower’ O’Dowd’s audit of schools will result in, some schools in the South Eastern Education and Library Board area are already ‘earmarked’ for closure.

One such school is Knockmore Primary School in Lisburn, an integrated school with a special needs unit. Who should pop up there on Friday, but Health Minister Edwin Poots. And the Department of Health’s press release duly issued a press release with much made of the speech and language work done there.

But surely it could be construed as inappropriate for an Executive Minister to visit a school while its future is being decided. If he was visiting as the constituency MLA then fair enough, but then the gathered press officers would not have needed to pull together a few well honed phrases and issue the release via the Executive Information Service.

Has a nod been tipped to ‘Big John’ or will this see mutual huffing?

Nothing like a crisis to get us all motivated

NORTHERN Ireland’s politicians have adopted the motto of the Boy Scout movement to “Be Prepared” by planning for a crisis over the next Justice Minister six months in advance.

For those of you too bored to pay attention, Alliance took on the mantle of the devolved Justice portfolio in April 2010 after much faux brinkmanship between the DUP and Sinn Féin. But that deal will end in May 2012.

Who will then become Justice Minister? Sinn Féin quite fancy a shot at it, but the DUP will not look forward to facing their core electorate with that in place, so are suggesting that the number of executive departments be reduced so the posts can be doled out to prevent such embarrassment. Either way we could be see D’Hondt run again (Oh, go and look that up on Wikipedia because we’re not going to explain it again!).

Alliance leader and current Justice Minister, David Ford said he would willingly step aside to make sure that the devolution of justice would not fall.

And, an agreed way forward? We can’t be having that! Otherwise there would be no sense of crisis to work towards in May. After all we’ve no election to get worked up about!