Friday, 25 January 2013

Polls apart
WE want a border poll says Sinn Féin. We don’t want a border poll says the DUP, but then does a volte face and says we’ll hold a border poll to call Sinn Féin’s ‘bluff’.

Then the Secretary of State, Teresa Villers says she has no plans to hold a border poll.Following us so far? If you are can you please help us, because we’re not sure if we’re following any of these to and fro debates on the border poll at all!

And, to add confusion to the chaos that the ordinary fleg protestor may be feeling about any future border poll, we ask you all to consider asking our cousins in the south of Ireland if they want a say.
As one correspondent put it: “Bejayssus and begorrah do ye not tink we have enough feckin’ problems without you lot!” Okay, our correspondent was Mrs Brown after she conducted a poll of her ‘boys’, but leaving stupid cultural stereotypes aside the debate over a border poll is rather one-dimensional.

It is almost like the headlines for Prime Minister Cameron’s pledge to hold a referendum on the EU, saying it would be an in/out poll, which frankly made it sound like a big version of the hokey cokey…”You put your europhiles in, you put your sceptics out, in, out, in out and you shake it all about.”

Therefore we believe that the border issue should not be settled by a poll, but by a series of playground games, with younger voters contesting it on Xbox.

That way the participants are not likely to ever be troubled by the deep meaningful issues about consequences, constitution, currency or economics.I know I put that money somewhere…

I know I put that money somewhere…
MINISTER for Finance, Counting and Personality…sorry we meant Minister for Finance and Personnel, Sammy Wilson, this week found himself dispensing largesse, but he was not too happy about it. In fact he was rather miffed.

You see the Minister found that has pockets were bulging in December, unlike city centre traders. This was all because departments throughout the Executive had not spent as much as they said they would.

In a rational world this would be a cause for celebration – money has been saved, let’s all party because Sammy has been telling us to save money and we did it!

But this is not the rational world of government accounting. Nope – we enter a parallel world.

In twilight zone occupied by Whitehall Treasury mandarins and the bean counters at Stormont, when you are going to spend a billion you damn well spend a billion! Spend a penny less and the centre wants it back.

Now there may be many reasons why a department may or may not be able to spend their allocated budget. Perhaps a new development has been running behind schedule. Perhaps people have not been as sick as you had planned. Perhaps there is a judicial review on your road plans.
No matter the cause, you are handing back the unspent dosh in what is rather ominously called a ‘monitoring round’.

And then, like this week, Sammy finds himself with his cupeth overfloweth and needing to get rid of it quick before the men in the pinstripe suits from the Treasury come knocking.

So Sammy was able to hand the Department of Regional Development almost £18m for a new set of 42 buses and road maintenance, which translates in plain English, as a lot of roads being dug up in March.

And if you’re sick, fear not for £10m is going towards accident and emergency services.  But who was named and shamed by Sammy Wilson for not spending enough. Well it just so happened to be the Housing Executive and Social Security Agency, who are parts of the Department of Social Development…

We need Bob the Builder! Stat!
RIGHT Bob the Builder, John O’Dowd has a few wee jobs for you and you need to get to it right away.

Yes, magic mathematician, Education Minister O’Dowd has been once again proclaiming the pressures on his educational budget and announcing £220m worth of building projects for schools across Norn Iron, with an offer of £40m for schools that missed out on the current bonanza.

We should explain that day-to-day running of schools, teaching sums and speaking proper English and Gaeilge comes from a different budget than the budget for building – known as a capital budget.

Which is why the magic mathematicians around O’Dowd can put the contracts out for Bob the Builder and all his talking machinery friends to start talking to planning, environmental and other consultants  about building new schools? Whether there will be enough money to actually build or run the schools…well that’s another story.

Mr O’Dowd said it was “good news for the construction industry”. Hooray! Especially in a week when the number of benefit seekers has not seen any real reduction over the past 12 months and may indeed be creeping up.

The conundrum therefore is, despite the potential impact of welfare reform, there is likely to be a steady creep in the number of claimants leading to further financial spending squeeze on capital projects such as school building.

But hopefully Bob the Builder can get to work, once the Chancellor’s announced what Norn Iron’s going to get in the next spending period!

Salvation is at hand!
FORGET all our woes, the end is in sight!

Yes, there may be more than 500m barrels of oil in the sea floor near Rathlin Island, so we can expect Ballycastle to become a boom port and Portrush and Portstewart to become residential centres for oil barons.

US forces will parachute in to keep warring factions apart, and the Union Jack and Tricolour will be flown at interfaces by fur coated wearing women and Armani suited men.

The Assembly will vote to let Norn Iron to become the next state in the United States of America, and we will become members of OPEC and enjoy regular visits to the Arab gulf states on private jets, before nipping off to see our oil rich overlords in Texas.

The fact that the exploration company bears the same name ‘Polaris’, as a nuclear armed missile system is surely only a coincidence and nothing to do with any armed takeover of Norn Iron…well we hope it’s not, but recently there have been a lot of American accents to be heard around our tourist attractions on the north coast.  Again, surely only a coincidence…