Friday, 9 March 2012

Do you wanna be in my gang?

ADIEU Monsieur Elliott as the Ulster Unionists bid a sort of fond-ish goodbye, farewell to you after your not-so-long reign as their divine leader.

It’s been fun and all that. Well for the rest of the parties it has been, even if it has been less than a barrel of laughs for you and your colleagues.

Being briefed against, caught with off-the-cuff faux pas, heading off rival factions, seeing MLAs defect and publicly slate you – it has been a politically bruising period for you.

As you shuffle to the backbenches we wonder who will take your place as the UUP supremo. More to the point, who would want what you must have felt, was a poison chalice with a bitter after-taste of bile and invective.

Will it be that whipper-snapper McCrea up for a second go in the ring, or will we see someone perceived as a ‘safe pair of hands’ such as Minister Kennedy.

And, more importantly will it be someone who will take the decision as to whether to go into opposition? And will they have the confidence in themselves to recover from the bitter electoral reverses of 2011.

Are they, like you Tom, truly a believer?

Have they a vision? Will they survive the winds of misfortune that battered you? And, vitally, will anyone care?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Research into the bleedin’ obvious published

IN an attempt to provide a reasonable piece of evidence for the one foot forward, two step back theory of Norn Iron politics the Community Relations Council has published a research paper in the bleedin’ obvious.

The Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report’s conclusions will probably only surprise the more insulated residents of Cultra, Crawfordsburn and Cherry Valley in north Down. It says there are more peace walls, 90% of social housing is delineated by religion and just over 90% of children are educated in schools that are perceived as green or orange.

Homer Simpson might say: “D’oh!” having failed to notice this since the birth of Norn Iron and throughout the so called ‘Troubles’….

Once you move through the highways and byways of Belfast, the divided nature of the Greater Belfast area is clear. True there are less colour coded pavements than in the past, but you are rarely in doubt as to which flavour of resident you are a fellow road user with…and as for buses, you can be pretty sure about your fellow passengers on the Metro by which stop they board.

However, it is easy to dismiss reports with headlines in the media such as the BBC’s “14 years after deal NI ‘still divided’ new report suggests”.

What we should be thinking about is not the headline but the society – political and cultural – that reinforces division.

Oh, we’re not talking about social engineering, nor are we putting down the report author’s valuable outlining of the issues surrounding why we are still a divided society.

The real people who should be hanging their heads in shame at having to read this bleedin’ obvious material are the politicians, community leaders and other worthies who pollute our airwaves telling us, the great unwashed, why the prod/catholic, nationalist/unionist, republican/loyalist view is right/wrong. At this point authors usually say ‘delete as appropriate’. We say get on with deleting division.

[Editor’s note: We have now turfed the author of this piece off their high horse so we can satirise their polemic in a time and manner we see fit!]