Belfast Telegraph

Gerry and Gregory's remarks not just depressing but belong in the gutter

By Joanne Sweeney

While our politicians have nothing better to do than talk about toilet paper and Trojan horses the rest of us are trying to get on with our lives.

Listening to Gerry Adams and Gregory Campbell over the last couple of days is a pretty powerful indicator of why so many people are now turned off by politics here. Gerry and Gregory might not have done themselves any harm with their own supporters, but for the rest of the people in the middle it is a depressing reminder of how remote our political leaders are from us.

While we're thinking about Christmas, how to make ends meet, the future of our health service, there is Gregory holding up a yoghurt. How silly. How tawdry. It's little wonder former US Senator Gary Hart hasn't been seen here in weeks.

The remarks that both have made over the last few days belong only in the gutter.

They do not reflect incisive political debate, let alone resolution, in the midst of all-party talks on the divisive issues of flags, parades and the legacy of the Troubles. And an exodus of our most capable young people is exactly what will happen if our politicians do not begin to show some genuine leadership.

While they and their allies bicker and snicker at another blow successfully landed against the other side, Northern Ireland is sliding into decline and our people are really hurting.

Our health and social services are crumbling away, our children's right to educational opportunity is being curtailed, our businesses are still trying to recover post-recession and we have a real problem with poverty and social inequality.

They are turning off the switch of bright hope that our young people hold of not living the divided lives that people of my generation and my parents sadly know only too well.

I am not an overtly political person, I'm just one of the hundreds of thousands of Northern Ireland people who work, pay their taxes, observe the law, and overall, try to do no harm.

But people like me are in despair over these antics and frustrated at the lack of real political progress. Note to Peter and Martin - instil some discipline and respect in your ranks and sit down and work out this mess.

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