Belfast Telegraph

Stormont's ministers lose drive to deal with juggernaut

By Noel McAdam

Most of the media had come dressed appropriately – in black.

But the only colour coming out of Stormont Castle yesterday was grey – and more grey.

The nearest we got to black was the mood of the two Alliance ministers, Stephen Farry and David Ford, as they left the Executive meeting in disgust.

Most of the other ministers left without speaking to waiting reporters.

Indeed as Executive meetings go, it was among the shortest – just over 95 minutes – so ministers could have hoped to get home in time for the end of Deal Or No Deal.

There was no deal on the table, in the offing or waiting in the wings, so Black Thursday looked like tumbling into Bleak Thursday. The sense coming from most ministers as they emerged was 'crisis, what crisis?'. Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy, who had just left the table, said there was a need for parties to get round the table.

One by one, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Environment Minister Mark Durkan and new Health Minister Jim Wells got into their official cars without speaking. Then came the heavy hitters, First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who at least gave us a wave.

And although they remain vehemently opposed to anything approaching a spending cut, the Sinn Fein ministers John O'Dowd, Caral Ni Chuilin and Michelle O'Neill showed signs of prudence by getting into the same vehicle.

But it will take more than car-sharing to get the Executive out of this one.

Belfast Telegraph

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