Monday, 23 January 2012

Down to business

THERE is an inclination to criticise the good members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, as they compete for air time on talk shows and other festivals of slagging each other off.

It is, therefore, rare that we get the opportunity to focus on the real business that the 108 worthies get down to.

This week the Assembly will be debating matters as weighty as pupil’s poverty, the protection of Strangford Lough’s environment and economy, while the first minister and deputy first minister will be interrogated by members on issues ranging from victims, child poverty, and foreign direct investment.

With all this hard work and devotion to weighty matters one has to wonder how these esteemed members can find the time to bicker about issues that most of us could not care two wits about.

Which leads one to ponder over who sets the agenda for such bickering about the past? If the MLAs are so determined to do real work, while having a pop at each other in public across the airwaves then it hardly sets an example of leadership.

In the coming months and years there is much to be celebrated and commemorated. No doubt the broadcasters will be seeking the drama of division as we look back on the history of the signing of the Ulster Covenant, the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising.

Wouldn’t it be a nice change for our collected MLAs to sit down and welcome these historical anniversaries rather dragging events from 100 years ago into contemporary contretemps that will entrench divisions rather than celebrate the diverse history of these islands?

In the meantime I can’t wait until the debate on the A24 Ballynahinch by-pass.

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