Belfast Telegraph

Why we’ve had enough of all the party games

By Gail Walker

By the time you read this, the chances are that Peter and Martin will have stumbled out of Hillsborough Castle announcing ‘Peace In Our Time' or ‘The End of Civilisation As We Know It'.

And apart from politics junkies, nobody will care. We've had enough: expenses, jobs for the boys, London flats and now these shenanigans. I’ve never known people to be so contemptuous of their leaders.

In their absence, ordinary members of the public have not been earnestly debating community confidence in the new justice ministry or grounds of potential compromise on the parades issue. There’s been no metaphorical gathering of the people, expectant at the Castle gates waiting for the puff of white smoke. No, that's that job of journalists and pundits.

If the talks are mentioned, it's in a Are-They-Still-At-It? kind of agog way. The edge of incredulity and hostility is unmistakeable. For most, the all-night-ers are noteworthy for their ridiculousness. The spectacle of our leaders making an utter spectacle of themselves has fascinated and appalled.

Politics has been reduced to a special edition of It’s a Knockout. Why don’t they just don foam body suits and throw sponges at each other? Why not get the legendary Stuart Hall to provide expert commentary with Mark Davenport?

(Indeed, Davenport has proved heroic. The BBC man has been forced to endure hours, nay days, standing in the cold trying to read Sammy Wilson's body language. Let’s start a campaign NOW to make sure Mark's next assignment is covering the Barbadian parliament. The poor bloke deserves it.)

Adding to the boiling broth of contempt has been the ‘efforts' of the two PMs. Gordon Brown and Brian Cowen's intervention was a strange reheat of the classic Blair/Ahern landings but proved a poor sequel. The two men are struggling with shocking poll figures in their own jurisdictions and — surely against their will — were forced to confront their own inferiority to their predecessors again, this time at the scene of Blair and Ahern’s greatest triumph. Everyone saw through it. People spoke about ringing Daddy and Mummy and how inadequate the Executive was, that it had to seek the parent powers to sort out what are really minor disputes. Compared to hospitals, schools, jobs, it’s small beer.

None of that is Gordon and Brian's fault, of course. It's the fault of ‘our' politicians. It's hard to make a donkey go up stairs.

Let’s face it, Sinn Fein were prepared to pull down the Executive on the issue of policing and justice. There seems to be some impression that controlling P&J in Northern Ireland has been some longterm goal of the republican movement. Had Gerry and Martin consulted Eirigi and 32 County Sovereignty Committee, sharing the tarmac with them at the Bloody Sunday commemoration, they’d have learned differently. The IRA struggle wasn’t to put David Ford behind an oak table in Stormont.

The DUP brought down Terence O'Neill, James Chichester-Clark, Brian Faulkner and David Trimble. They promised to ‘Smash Sinn Fein'. Now Peter’s been sharing power with former Provo Martin .

Martin and Gerry used to promise that 1971 would be the Year of Victory ... They made crystal clear that the end would involve British lackeys scrambling on the last helicopter taking off from Hillsborough Castle. Just like Saigon. Nothing more, nothing less.

Now, they administer the ‘failed six counties statelet' and worry more about who gets what ministry than what Pearse would think of it all. Gerry Fitt was ‘Fitt the Brit' for being Deputy Chief Executive under Brian Faulkner. And Martin is ...

Both pretend to be parties of the utmost moral and ethical consistency.

News for you, boys, you’re both a long way from Kansas. Or maybe you haven't noticed what’s been happening. But we have. And that's why we never want to hear from you again. There is nothing left to disagree about in this ‘I’m taking the ball home’ way. Let’s have no more talk of “unionist veto” or “sharing power with terrorists”.

Get on with it, whatever it is. The only people who can work up any enthusiasm for any of it are those who still have their guns.

Remember them?

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