Belfast Telegraph

Oh, how I long to hear what they never said ...

By Barry White

Words I would like to hear in 2007 (but probably won't).

In Northern Ireland

Ian Paisley: Maybe we went a bit overboard in St Andrews and, personally, I hate the thought of having to share power with Sinn Fein by the end of March. But it's the best we could do and, as democrats, we have to deal with parties that have the most votes. Now that republicans have decided to support and join the police, helping them with investigations, we'd all like to see policing and justice powers back in our own hands. Just to be safe, we could delay the transfer until 2008, after the marching season... Oh yes, and I'm retiring to the church, where I belong, and Peter's taking over.

Gerry Adams: I've been thinking, and maybe I'm asking too much of the DUP to agree to a fixed timetable for the transfer of policing powers. First we have to get over this Ard Fheis about the police, without splitting the party, and then we'll see how the power-sharing arrangements work. I know we're an all-Ireland party but, apart from the rhetoric, our people want to see some political and economic progress here, in their own lifetimes. I wonder am I too old to be a policeman?

David Hanson: Pity about the Maze site, because it's free, but I really think the new sports stadium should be in Belfast. We could start reclaiming some neutral land from the sea near the Titanic quarter, if Ormeau Park isn't cross-community enough. We'll still preserve an H-Block as a Post-Conflict Holiday Inn (Cells £69 a night) and, for anyone who wants to visit, there's a shuttle bus from the Europa at £50 return.

Peter Hain: All right, I haven't been straight with you. (Don't laugh.) I've been trying by every means to get agreement on devolution, using threats, persuasion and sweeteners. We've even tried to get the middle classes interested, raising their rates and introducing water tax, but it's not working. You still trust each other less than you trust me, and that's saying something. Forget all those deadlines that are never kept; I'm shutting down Stormont and my door will be permanently locked. And by the way, I'm leaving by the window.

All Ex-Terrorists, speaking from the dock: OK. We're guilty. We're really sorry. It was wrong. We have no excuse, except that we believed it was right at the time. Never again.

UDA/UFF/UVF: We've kept everyone waiting long enough. We're giving up our guns and drugs and going back to an honest day's work, if we can find it. That way, maybe we can help make something of a country that paramilitaries have ruined. No more empty commemorations of wartime heroes, or ancient battles, until we've got some integrity back.

Bob McCartney: It's too easy for me to rubbish the Government's plans for Northern Ireland. They never work, because unionists and republicans want vastly different things. But if I'm serious about wanting a better future for this place, I'll have to give more thought to what's possible, in this divided place, since it can't be either total integration with Britain or the Republic. Then maybe people will not only say I've been right all along, but perhaps I'll be able to give them a positive lead.

In Britain

Tony Blair: Let's see now. I didn't want to go until I'm guaranteed a big job in America and, of course, a book deal, but I can't get out of it. So what will be my legacy? Iraq's a disaster, Afghanistan's not much better and all I get from Muslims are handshakes, though they like me in Israel. Northern Ireland? I could arrange another house of cards devolution settlement, sell it to the British electorate and resign quickly but what's the point? I know... Hello, Gordon. Would next Monday suit?

Gordon Brown: Oh dear, I was relying on Tony to solve the Northern Ireland problem before I took over. Just like Iraq and Afghanistan. What am I to do? I keep writing the same cheques to Stormont, and telling them it's extra money, but they don't believe me. I must have a word with Bertie Ahern. He seems to be able to wash his hands of trouble, even more easily than Tony.

In Ireland

Bertie Ahern: Sadly I have to admit that while just smiling and being affable works wonders in Dublin, those politicians up North won't learn from me. They're always arguing about constitutions, and worrying about who's the head of state, while we just get on with running the country and making money. And if you steal enough from the public purse while you're doing it, we'll give you a state funeral.

In America

George Bush: I now know what my biggest mistake was: giving up alcohol. Since I went back on the bottle for the first time since the 1980s, everything looks far better. Don't tell anyone, but we're planning to cut and run in Iraq and we'd never risk taking on North Korea, let alone Iran. In Baghdad, the only thing we fear is that Tony's soldiers will try to get inside the Green Zone and find out we've gone. I'm getting so much help from Daddy and his advisers, do you think anyone would mind if I went back to Texas?

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