We are the Knights that like to say “NI”
FOR those that like a small slice of surrealism in their lives, political or otherwise Monty Python’s epic film of nonsense, The Holy Grail contains one scene where King Arthur is confronted by the Knights Who Like to Say “Ni”.
While Messers Cleese, Palin et al were not referring to political machinations of Northern Ireland politics, one cannot help but harken back to this scene as Mr McCrea and Mr McCallister launched the name of their ‘new’ political project in Belfast’s Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC).
The name of their new party, widely trailed in the media beforehand, is NI21. This is meant to build on the Northern Ireland identity; looking forward, rather than backwards to the 20th century.
Of course we welcome any political developments that open the debate around what Norn Iron plc stands for, but as we listened to the impressive speeches from the two MLAs and a number youthful types disenchanted with politics, we were reminded of that scene from the Holy Grail.
Unwittingly King Arthur caused the Knights Who Like to Say ‘NI’ terrible pain and discomfort by using a dreaded word. That word was ‘IT’, and that is the word that may cause some worry for NI21 – as in the question “What Is It?”
“It” may or may not be a new force in Norn Iron politics, but we can at least be assured that it won’t be boring...
REVELLERS and party animals know that 3am is about the time when the party really gets into swing, when there is one person holding sway as the conversation and rapport focussed towards them; the gathering in the kitchen gravitating to this individual.
Such must have been the thoughts of TUV leader Jim Allister, when his private members bill preventing those with serious criminal convictions being appointed as Special Advisors passed all its stages, following a late-night sitting of the Assembly.
Leaving asides the rights and wrongs, the vacillations of the SDLP, and the potential for a Sinn Fein appeal to some court or another, we want to focus on the ability of the collective mass of MLAs to actually debate something for so long.
Legislation affecting our home, health, wealth and our children’s care and future seems never to garner this much time in the Assembly, even when ‘big’ issues are before the house.
Ministers of all shades tend to prefer the announcements and pronouncements rather than the lengthy debates.
Whether these debates serve any purpose or not depends on your viewpoint, but the credibility of the chamber could be enhanced if the members were seen debating legislation issues concerning health, wealth and education into the early hours.
With the Marine Bill awaiting Royal Assent there are five bills progressing through the Assembly.
How many of these bills will see MLAs debating through to the early hours?
North West Whingers?
GREGORY Campbell this week went out of his way to defend fellow DUP member and Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster when she claimed that some people in the north west of Northern Ireland were whingers.
Following a robust defence of attempts by Invest NI to bring Foreign Direct Investment to the North West, Mrs Forster went on to (rhetorically we hope) ask whether investors wanted to come somewhere that has – so she claimed - more than its fair share of people who complain.
Whether they do or not (well they seem happy enough about yon City of Culture), misses the point.
Here in Northern Ireland we are Olympic standard whingers.
As temperatures rose this week, complaints that it was too warm overtook those that last week saw complaints about it being cold for the time of year, which had overtaken complaints about the rain.
If you should have the fortune (or misfortune) to listen to the Assembly on a regular basis [which we do stoically on behalf of our clients] then you will know that our MLAs are in an elite class of moaners.
But this does mean that we are only complaining because we know things can be better and can be done better.
That is the optimism of the whinger.
So, let us harness the energy of the complainer, let us listen to their hopes and fears. And then maybe, just maybe things can get better.
On the other hand we could all just ring into Nolan and Talkback and have a good wee whine about everything and anything...