Northern Ireland deserves better from our politicians at this crossroads
At a time when the power-sharing institutions at Stormont are in real peril, it is not unrealistic to expect our politicians to behave with a modicum of maturity. Instead this week has been an unedifying spectacle which has done more to poison the atmosphere surrounding the vital all-party talks than advance the prospects of a settlement.
Earlier in the week there was the astounding sight of serial flag-protester Jamie Bryson making unsubstantiated allegations against First Minister Peter Robinson at the committee hearing into the sale of Nama assets in Northern Ireland.
Would he have been allowed such free rein in any other UK forum without producing some credible evidence? SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell did little for his image as a statesman by accusing the DUP of not wanting a Taig (Catholic) about the place at Stormont.
He may have used stand-in First Minister Arlene Foster's earlier ill-advised comments about rogue and renegade nationalist ministers as an excuse, but it only added another bitter twist to the political narrative here.
Mr McDonnell's remarks smacked more of the thought processes of a street-level political brawler than of a leader capable of reviving the fortunes of his party.
That inveterate tweeter Gerry Adams has again managed to offend in very few words, saying it was easier to get out of Long Kesh than get a plane out of Northern Ireland.
Given that a prison officer died and 20 others were injured including one shot by his colleague Gerry Kelly during the Maze break-out by IRA prisoners in 1983, this was a crass comment by the leader of a party seeking power on both sides of the border.
It was hurtful to the families of those killed and injured in the mass escape and a contemptible analogy.
We expect better from our politicians who cannot continue simply to appeal to the basest elements within their parties.