Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Let's wipe smiles off the faces of the clowns at Stormont circus

Health farce: Edwin Poots

If only we had a Ukip here ... . Not the actual Farage party per se. But, oh for any oul collection of clowns (as Ken Clarke might say) who could offer us a viable protest vote option against the three-ring circus that is Stormont.

For what a mess they've made of this place ...

A health "service" that is seemingly incapable of catering locally for children requiring heart surgery. And is seemingly unmoved by the added misery this will inflict upon families already undergoing the horrendous pressure of trying to deal with a desperately sick child while looking after the rest of the family.

A "care" system that glibly announces it's chucking elderly inmates out of care homes en masse. Farcically, under the auspices of something called "Transforming Your Care."

A health minister who reacts to this like a rabbit caught in headlights until – belatedly – putting these plans on hold.

But not before the full shameful impact of the uncertainty and the distress the initial announcements have caused are summed up by one frail target of this bureaucratic callousness.

One woman in her home, the little old lady confides to an interviewer, had spent the previous night praying to God to take her.

Pretty much the nuclear option in transforming your care there, Mr Poots.

And while we're on the subject of ironically named initiatives ... .

We also have Belfast on the Move which has consistently brought Belfast to a standstill.

Not to mention a Peace and Reconciliation Centre that has caused ructions and division.

We've also spent a blue fortune on a road to nowhere – literally. Millions have been pouring into a proposed A5 upgrade which has now been shelved because a full environmental impact study wasn't carried out.

Around £800,000 will go to compensate farmers for land which will now be returned to them. It would be comical if it wasn't tragic.

And millions and millions have been spent on consultants' fees.

You have to wonder just how many paediatric cardiac consultants that could have paid for.

How many little old ladies it would have enabled to see out their days in the security of the place they call home.

On the plus side however, there is money in the pot to insure MLAs for libel bills and just about everything else short of nuclear attack. (Why not nuclear attack? Just to be on the safe side.)

Meanwhile as befits Belfast's grim new rating as one of the UK's most congested cities, even our hospital car parks are at a standstill.

As a report in this paper earlier this week reveals, visitors and patients are being held for so long in queues for a parking space that appointments are being routinely missed.

How much is this in turn, costing the public purse?

Never mind the worry and aggravation caused to people concerned.

In education, post primary selection remains rutted in its now familiar quagmire of confusion. No movement there.

No bold new initiatives on the jobs front either. Despite the considerable sums spent on civil servants and MLAs circumnavigating the globe in their selfless fact-finding capacity. You could go on and on ... .

And up at Stormont they do.

Year in, year out. Election after election. The same old faces. The same old rows.

Oh, for the opportunity to vote for an option that would put the wind up the lot of them. Like that Farage balloon now casting its shadow across the Westminster landscape.

But "fruitcakes and clowns", you might ask, who'd vote for that?

Looking towards Stormont, I think we know the answer. . .

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