Our politicians need to examine their actions
Either Northern Ireland needs a devolved policing and justice ministry or it does not.
How on earth can First Minister Peter Robinson make the resolution of the parading issue (an issue that is largely only of interest to one 'side' of the community) a pre-condition for it being devolved?
At the same time, it appears that Sinn Fein is happy for the public to think it will pull out of the Executive, thereby collapsing it, if its demands for immediate devolution are not met. This surely calls into question the entire viability and, indeed, necessity for there to be any kind of devolved administration at Stormont.
If threats and baseless demands are frivolously made by our leading politicians, it is easy to reach the conclusion that the entire structure is there only to serve the politicians and not the people. Joint authority may well be preferable in the eyes of many.
Meanwhile, the recession deepens. There are now 58,000 unemployed. According to the Belfast Telegraph's poll, Mr Robinson has just a 7% public approval rating. Disillusion has seemingly reached such levels that Fianna Fail, the party which has systematically brought the southern economy to the brink of destruction, is increasingly turning its attentions here. Others are attracted by the prospect of a Conservative Government.
It is easy to dismiss concerns over politicians' pay as populist and ill-informed, but in these increasingly non-ideological times, politicians would do well to consider the public image created by the members of an Assembly, endlessly deadlocked and perhaps heading for collapse, effectively awarding themselves a pay rise while one-fifth of families live in poverty. Public disillusionment and alienation from the political process can only be deepened by such short-sighted actions.