Belfast Telegraph

2010... it's just so predictable

The Insider team is back from its Christmas break raring to go, but sadly a collective 11 stone heavier than last week. As a festive treat we bring you our traditional look at next year's news. Come with us, then, on a trip through the headlines of 2010 (note to libel lawyers: it's all made up and there is no suggestion of any of this being true)

January: After intensive talks at a stately home on the Isle of Man the Stormont stalemate on policing and justice powers is finally resolved. "It's a secret deal but you'll be able to read all about it in our General Election manifestoes later this year," one source says.

It transpires that a Policing and Justice Minister has been appointed but his identity will not be disclosed and he will not take any decisions. He attends the Stormont Executive in an observer status, with a blanket over his head. Powers have therefore been devolved, and not devolved, at the same time.

February: Nigel Worthington pens a new contract to remain as Northern Ireland manager. It's a performance-related arrangement with payments based entirely on results. "We expect to make significant savings," the Irish FA says.

March: Details of the Stormont deal start to emerge, including a pact between the DUP and Sinn Fein on dealing with parades. "We were inspired by the past agreement on a Victims' Commissioner," a source explains.

The Parades Commission is replaced by four new Commissions.

April: BBCNI chiefs defend their summer season plans, rejecting claims that forthcoming programmes are just recycled local versions of network reality shows.

The new line-up for Northern Ireland viewers includes Husband Swap, Big Sister and I'm A Celebrity... Get Me To Aughnacloy.

Also included is a welcome return for Gary Lineker and wife Danielle Bux, who will be visiting the province's finest landfills.

May: It's General Election time and the Stormont parties comment publicly for the first time on the policing and justice deal. The DUP manifesto says the Union is safe, while Sinn Fein proclaim a major advance for nationalist Ireland.

The views of the SDLP and UUP are not recorded, as nobody bothers turning up at their Press conferences.

June: The Duke of Edinburgh provokes outrage on a visit to the province, laughing out loud when referring in a speech to "the city of Lisburn".

July: The four new Parades Commissions meet to discuss disputed flashpoint marches. After 16 hours of wrangling they agree to disagree.

Downing Street hails the announcement as "a perfect example of the new Northern Ireland in action".

A later Press release explains it meant "inaction" and apologises for the typing error.

August: Stung by recent criticism BBC Northern Ireland commissions a major new series. Drawing inspiration from the acclaimed Northern Ireland WAGS, the show will provide an in-depth look at the local interior decor scene. The working title is Northern Ireland SWAGS.

September: After a disappointing start to the European Championships qualifiers Nigel Worthington asks for a re-think on his performance-related contract. So far he owes £1.3m.

October: Stormont is back in crisis again when the blanket covering the Policing and Justice Minister is removed to reveal a glove puppet. Sinn Fein MLAs vow to stand on one leg until the problem is sorted out.

November: UTV resolves the devolution crisis by allowing the secondment of Julian Simmons and George Jones to the Executive.

December: There is excitement over a new competition to twin UK cities with suitable celebrities. Belfast is disappointed when it lands forgotten X Factor winner Steve Brookstein.

Explaining their decision, judges say: "Belfast and Brookstein - they were famous once but we're struggling to see the point these days."


From Belfast Telegraph