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Open letter to Stormont politicians from PSNI widow Kate Carroll


Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster

Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster

Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster

I'm writing this not only to you, but to all Northern Ireland politicians.

I hope you're all proud of yourselves. Here we are, at the start of one of most important years in our recent history.

A year when, according to experts, we will be the hardest hit of all UK regions by the repercussions of the Brexit vote.

It's also a year when the crisis in our health service simply has to be addressed; what other country would tolerate such shocking waiting lists?

We need to look after the victims of sexual abuse in our society, and protect our children from the dangers of online predators.

Major investment is also needed for our schools and roads, and - an issue close to my heart - we need unwavering support for a police force facing up to increased dissident activity.

But where are you when this most crucial of in-trays has to be dealt with?

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Preparing for a second Assembly election in just 10 months.

Reverting to tribal trenches, nailing your colours to the mast... indeed, showing your true colours.

How pathetic, and how regressive, that this election - the one nobody seems to want - is likely to see you - the people who supposedly run our country - reverting to the lowest common denominator over something that affects us all and has nothing to do with sectarian issues.

I'm no expert in politics, but my understanding is that all this came about largely because of a renewable heating scheme whereby the more fuel a customer burned, the more taxpayers' money they profited from.

Obviously, that couldn't be allowed to continue, and how ironic that a scheme which was meant to improve the environment ended up clogging our clean air with biomass boilers heating empty spaces.

It's clear that some person or persons got their sums badly wrong, and it's also clear that the culprits came from the Department of Enterprise, who launched the scheme a few years back.

Call me naive - and I'm well aware there is a potential loss to the taxpayer of tens of millions of pounds - but was this really enough to bring down our Government?

Individual heads will have to roll eventually and no doubt they will, but at the moment our whole country is rolling down the hill.

With all parties, bar the DUP, calling for the First Minister to either resign or stand down, something had to give. My worry, however, is that the only people who will end up paying for this mess are us, the public.

I understand there isn't even a credible Programme for Government put in place from the last election in May 2016.

So how long is it going to be before the country is running properly again after what looks to be another poll looming in two months' time?

Most of us thought the hard work had been done when a devolved, power-sharing Northern Ireland Government was set up a decade ago.

You lot agreed to work together, and that was fine.

However, did anyone ask if you were really up to the task?

Ten years on, the answer is no - at least not on recent evidence.

The proposed election will fall around the eighth anniversary of the death of my husband Steve. He was the first PSNI officer to be murdered by paramilitaries and I hoped he would also be the last.

Sadly, that proved not to be the case. I would be more comforted to know his dreams of a better Northern Ireland had been fully realised.

Our police will continue to do their jobs, continue to protect us from those who want to drag this country back into the mire.

It would be nice, however, if they knew they had a fully functioning Northern Ireland Assembly backing them every step of the way.

Instead, they have a Justice Minister who doesn't even know if she'll have a seat in a new, streamlined Stormont.

As a survivor of the Troubles, I have serious concerns around how my needs, and those of others like me, are now going to be dealt with.

We were promised a fresh start but instead we have been given a false start.

In the meantime, I'd love to take a removal van up to 'the Hill' and help myself to one of those magic sofas so loved by your Executive ministers.

Any time you need money, just reach down the back of them and all requisite funds will suddenly appear. That's magic!

If we all had one of those, we wouldn't worry too much about the collateral damage of RHI.

We can only dream.

So let's sit on our ordinary, non-magical sofas watching a packed House of Commons debate the issues that really matter, while that big white building in east Belfast - like so many cavernous barns around the country - remains heated and unpopulated.

Empty rooms, empty rhetoric, empty promises.

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