Belfast Telegraph

Did no one tell David Cameron and Enda Kenny that Northern Ireland’s political leaders can only agree that they disagree about everything?

Once again Northern Ireland stands on the precipice of outright disaster, with temperatures plummeting, bitter winds, wintry showers and treacherous conditions….and that’s just the weather; the political picture is much worse.

The David and Enda show landed into town on Thursday as saviours, atop white chargers, full of largesse, promises and hope.

But in the mire they were dragged from their steeds; their natty suits covered in the mud slung from all sides and their advisers and train of acolytes left agog at the treatment afforded their masters.

The jesters of the leaders will now have to be put in the stocks for daring to predict such an outcome.

Did no-one do any research? Did no one tell David and Enda that Northern Ireland’s political leaders can only agree that they disagree about everything?

That the mood music beforehand was that the five Executive political parties were only close to agreement on one of the five issues; that they hoped to solve the other four issues in a day and a bit left many commentators incredulous, as they froze by Carson’s statue on the Stormont Estate as they told an increasingly disillusioned public that apart from nothing happening there was no tale to tell.

However, never say die…because the talks go on, and on, and on, and on, and on.

As David and Enda depart, brushing the mud from their suits, the political ‘leaders’ are once again ‘in talks’.

On Friday they were sitting down to bash through the issues, present papers, and in true form are probably still hunkered down in ideological trenches in the vain hope that the Christmas spirit will see them emerge filled with festive generosity…

So, where does this leave us a few short weeks from the end of 2014? In the words of the American GIs in the Second World War it’s SNAFU. That stands for Situation Normal, All….ach figure the rest out, it doesn’t take an Einstein to work out what the last two letters stand for.

And, it would take Einstein a lifetime to figure out the relativity equation for the land that time forgot; Northern Ireland.

We have the DUP saying that the parties didn’t push David hard enough on the money, Sinn Fein saying negotiations were “ham-fisted”, the SDLP claiming the £1bn financial package promised by the British PM was a loan, and the UUP and Alliance Parties shaking their heads in despair.

Should the parties fail to agree – yeah we know that would be a shocker – come the dawn of 2015, the bookies will be shortening the odds for an Assembly election this coming May; that is if the bookies were the remotest bit interested.

But perhaps of most concern is the financial kitty available to Northern Ireland plc. Already the NI Executive is in hock to the Treasury to the tune of £100m with penalties for not implementing welfare reform looming large and the prospect of getting corporation tax raising powers receding.  It would seem that the benefits of devolution are slipping through the fingers of our MLAs. Well at least they’re now off for their Christmas holidays. Maybe they can do some more talking in between their festive shopping.

There are reports that the weather might eventually improve….

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