Without doubt, our long-suffering Minister of Health, Robin Swann, deserves the accolade 'Politician of the Year'. From the very beginning of his term in office, he was plunged into managing the greatest threat to public health that we have ever experienced.
Even without the terrible problems associated with the unanticipated Covid-19 pandemic, Swann deserves much credit for bravely taking up the Department of Health role, which was universally regarded as being a poisoned chalice.
Swann has performed well and steadily throughout the pandemic. In his own reassuring, personable manner, he has repeatedly informed the public about the dangers of the virus and the urgent need to exercise social distancing, the wearing of masks in public places and the washing of hands to limit the further spread of this malignant disease.
He has simply explained to the public the necessity of the difficult emergency measures that they have to follow to prevent the continuing spread of Covid-19.
He has refused, despite provocation, to enter into futile political arguments. He hasn't gone overboard with doomsday forecasts but has calmly and consistently reflected the scientific and medical advice that he has received.
If other politicians in the Executive had followed his suggested direction long before now, we probably wouldn't need this drastic six-week lockdown.
His natural skill at communicating the public health message clearly and without rancour is perfect for this unprecedented public health crisis.
He is a man that the public can trust and whose sole purpose is to defeat this awful plague, rather than indulge in self-promotion or to make cheap party-political points. The fact that Swann is an Ulster Unionist is lost on the generality of the public. He comes across as non-partisan. This is an incredible achievement for any of our local politicians. He is a true exemplar of partnership government.
His other great attribute is that he has risen above the party-political blame game between Sinn Fein and the DUP over how the pandemic is managed. Both Sinn Fein and the DUP have very publicly sniped at one and other and deliberately aired their criticisms of each other in a series of bad-tempered, unedifying exchanges that have done no good for partnership politics, nor dealing with the pandemic itself. Unlike Swann, they have brought no credit upon themselves.
Inevitably, there will be policy differences as to how you deal with this pernicious attack upon our society. This has been succinctly summarised as the choice between lives and livelihoods.
Therefore, hard policy choices have to be made, but those legitimate arguments should be made behind the doors of the Executive and not repeated in an unseemly street brawl after each meeting.
This does not inspire confidence with the public but degrades the level of public debate and brings discredit upon both leading parties.
To avoid such depressing squabbles, it would be better if all the Executive ministers voluntarily delegated their decision-making powers regarding this public health emergency and the strategic enforcement of public health measures completely to Swann as the Health Minister.
The other ministers should, as one united Executive, then undertake to endorse and fully support Swann and the implementation of his strategy on the ground. This deadly crisis is much bigger than party politics.
This, at least, would have the merit of countering the pandemic with measures based on the objective science that is available and would avoid the debilitating party-political tantrums between the First and Deputy First Ministers. Such a technocratic approach over the next few months would help us all to successfully emerge from this cruel ordeal.
The latest dispiriting spat between Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster over the conduct of measures to counter Covid-19 is a repeat needle-match between their two parties. Both leaders simply do not understand that the primary purpose of the power-sharing Executive is to create a healing process to bind the wounds of the Troubles. It is a conflict resolution process, not a conflict substitution process.
Until they understand - and attempt to achieve - that basic aspiration of the Good Friday Agreement, there will be no political progress in our politics.
They might like to reflect on the conciliatory approach of Nelson Mandela, the first black African president of South Africa, who, having spent 27 long and mind-breaking years in prison under an appalling racist regime, came out of prison preaching reconciliation and non-violence, not revenge.
Despite his personal suffering, which was unimaginable for any ordinary human being, his aim was to liberate his white political jailers from their own racist mental prisons.
He put himself into the insecure mindset of the Afrikaners and found a way of co-existing with them, thereby creating a process of healing for the people of that Rainbow Nation.