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Golf fever in air but Stormont won't be swinging into action

By Noel McAdam

When the eyes of the world turn to Northern Ireland this week, they could be tuning in to see the Irish Open - but Stormont closed.

While golf fans from five continents will be delighting in the competition at Royal County Down, Northern Ireland's government could be languishing in the bunker. And while the chances of a hole-in-one on the fairways is slim, the hole opening up in Northern Ireland's budget cannot be missed - between £500m and £600m depending on who's talking.

Over the next few days, sports fans around the world will see the beautiful backdrop of the Mournes as golf's elite battle it out.

But by the time the winner emerges on Sunday, our devolved government could already have collapsed in on itself, or be limping on with little credibility.

As with the Giro D'Italia last year, Northern Ireland is putting on a show of its best and worst aspects at the same time.

Back then, it was the June monitoring round where a stalemate ended with a £100m loan from Chancellor George Osborne.

But now it is the entire Assembly Budget at stake.

If golf can be described as a good walk ruined, yesterday could be called a good opportunity for debate missed.

There was little real engagement between the parties, with each of them in turn, for round after round, and hour after hour, setting out their respective positions.

But it was all about positioning, with little respect for others' views, and little sign of leadership, or potential solutions.

Belfast Telegraph


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