Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Tough Aras race, Martin? Wait until you see your to-do list

Some commentators have been predicting that defeated Irish presidential candidate Martin McGuinness might be glad to get back to peaceful Northern Ireland after the treatment he got from the attack-dogs of the southern media. Well, let's hope he enjoyed Derry City Council's Halloween Festival, because now the horror show begins.

Helpful to a fault, the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell sent me an e-mail listing the some of the daunting contents of the Deputy First Minister's in-tray.

"McGuinness is coming back to cuts, stalemate and failure," according to the SDLP enterprise spokesman.

That is rubbing it in, but there is no doubt that he has a harder job here than he would performing his ceremonial duties at the Aras.

First, there is the Programme for Government (PfG) to be agreed and implemented. That means taking painful decisions about public services which affect voters' lives.

Yesterday, Sinn Fein TDs walked out of the Dail in protest at the repayment of €700m to bondholders at the toxic Anglo Irish bank; here they don't even have the luxury of walkout. The imperative is to stay in government and - since they would need the DUP's agreement to raise taxes - administer whatever block grant is handed down from Westminster.

By comparison, the Irish presidency would be a walk in the (Phoenix) Park.

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