Friday, 8 February 2013

And we say ‘Neigh!’
WHEN it comes right down to it there have been quite enough jokes about horsemeat, but the situation is now in the stable and soon to be put out to grass.
With the situation damaging the reputation of farming and processes throughout Europe, the only thing we confidently say is that we’re now worried about the tip we got a horse running at Chepstow in the 3.30 race – the horse’s name is Lasagne Lad.
Of course, one should have seen the unintended consequences of cheap burgers – horses, mechanically recovered meat etc, etc – it seems the vegetarians were right all along.
One very public political vegetarian is the vice chair of the Stormont heath committee, Jim Wells, who at least has no concerns over chomping down on Black Beauty’s pony cousin…
On the other hand that doesn’t mean that Mr Wells isn’t as much a predator as his much beloved raptors (that’s birds, not dinosaurs; birds like hawks and falcons).
What the horsemeat scandal did expose was the lack of joined up response from the Executive.
What was being said by deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and the agriculture committee and health representatives often seemed a little askew, and messages were blended like a horse’s hindquarters heading into the mincer.
While the message of ‘no risk to health’ has come across loud and clear, with the slight concern over some drugs horses might receive, perception is all.
Whether we like it or not, Norn Iron’s hard working farmer’s well-earned quality reputation has been tarnished.
With the beef sector a vital component in the agri-business chain, and with the European common agriculture policy negotiations ongoing, it was a time for the executive to support the agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill and form a common response.
While we learned this week from Assembly answers that the Executive has no role in the UK Government’s COBRA emergency cabinet meetings, there is no reason that Norn Iron’s Ministers cannot have a mirror structure to lay out a response, liaise with common interests across the regions of the UK and Ireland and address any misconceptions and produce a positive promotion of good quality Norn Irish, red-blooded beef.

Toastie time
WE like nothing better than a toasted sandwich. When the boss’s gaze is elsewhere we pile the fillings in, heat it up and munch away.
But who would have thunk that toast has so many protocols. We mean, do you butter the inside of the round, toast it a little bit and stuff the fillings in, or put the fillings in without browning the round a wee bit, or does it not really matter.
And, what about that whole protocol about when to raise the glass in a toast.
Should you even be present during toasts?
East Londonderry MP, self-styled scourge of Sinn Féin and radio hosts, Gregory Campbell was much vexed when Martin McGuinnes and a party colleague left the room at a London event when a glass was being raised in a toast to Her Majesty…
Whether anyone would have cared without Mr Campbell drawing it to our attention is another matter. But also, when does expediency towards constituents trump a ‘shared future’?
Frankly we don’t know – as long as the message to industry and the world is consistent.
And anyway Mr McGuinness may have been comparing scores in the Angry Birds mobile phone game – now doing that at the dinner table would have been rude!

Millions of reasons to stop
SO the ‘fleg’ protests over the Union Flag fluttering in the gentle breeze atop City Hall have cost the police £15m and dozens of injured officers.
And, while the number of disruptions have slumped to levels akin to a WI meeting there is still the potential for chaos on the fringes of the interfaces.
However, we are pleased to see that the Ulster People’s Forum is following the traditional route of unionism. Willie Fraser and Jamie Bryson fell out, began to go their separate ways and are now back together.
At this rate they’ll be mainstream quicker than you can light a petrol bomb (not that we’re suggesting you should!).
But it will cause much rumination amongst political observers, students and the commentariat.
Which, frankly have little to say but seem to spend a lot of air time saying it.
Meanwhile, a resolution seems no closer…

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