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Stormont diary: Axe practice for ministers on Games Of Thrones set

By David Young

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness were wielding the axe behind closed doors last week.

The First and Deputy First Ministers weren't jumping the gun ahead of the Executive's budget, just getting to grips with some film props during a secret visit to the Belfast studio where US medieval TV drama Games Of Thrones is being shot.

The spending cuts metaphor was all too obvious, but one Sinn Fein insider was still keen to put his own spin on the scene.

"Peter had a big axe, while Martin's was only wee," he pointed out.

"That's how they'll approach the cuts too."

The public will be able to judge for themselves when the official photograph from Thursday's tour of the HBO set is eventually released.

The delay is down to some ultra-cautious HBO executives in Los Angeles who have apparently demanded pre-approval of all images amid fears of a plot leak.

The level of security around the clandestine event, which was also attended by members of the Assembly's Culture Committee, shocked even the most hardened Stormont veterans.

Not only were the media excluded, but MLAs weren't even allowed phones inside the Paint Hall studios in the Titanic Quarter. They were also told in no uncertain terms that what happened on set should stay on set.

Even the usually effusive Culture committee chairman Barry McElduff was tight-lipped as he emerged from the shoot.

While praising NI Screen's efforts to bring the big-budget production to the city, he wasn't for giving details.

"I have signed a solemn oath of omerta," he joked.

"I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you!"

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