Belfast Telegraph

From curried yoghurts to Trojan horses and MLAs' expenses...there's no end to messes political parties generate

By Will Chambre

BBC Northern Ireland has a comedy panel show, called ‘The Blame Game’ in which comedians joke and jape about who is to blame for local malaises. The subject of many a skit are the collective politicians in Norn Iron.

After much consideration and deliberation I have come to the conclusion that the show’s producers are in cahoots with MLAs, who seem to have agreed to provide much of the material. At times it appears that they are lining up the jokes.

What other reason can there be for such shenanigans witnessed this week?

Between rows over language (curried yoghurt, Trojan horses), MLA expenses, doomed talks and expletive laden comments it seems that there is no end of the messes that the political parties can generate.

For those of you yet to catch up, here’s a brief precis of what has been going on.

The DUP’s Gregory Campbell made an ill-judged joke about the Irish language. For this he was suspended for a day from the Assembly as Sinn Fein and the SDLP railed against his behaviour.

At the weekend, Mr Campbell mockingly made light of the same joke at his party’s annual conference and DUP leader and first minister, Peter Robinson, defended the jolly japes.

Then, the leader of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, was recorded using ‘bad words’ about others, and suggesting that reaching “out to people on basis of equality” was the “Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy” (I’m not going to explain Greek mythology, that’s too contemporary for many of our MLAs).

While all this was going on, another expenses row was breaking out, with accusations of money being diverted from expenses to party funds, employing family members, excessive office space, and allegedly fraudulent claims. The PSNI are considering the implications and calls are growing for a full investigation.

Amidst this, the politicians are meant to be having talks about a way forward on resolving divisive issues such as the divisive issues….

Secretary of State Teresa Villiers – with almost an exasperated tone – said hopes for such talks succeeding are slim. She is to report to Prime Minister David Cameron at the end of the month on progress.  I presume it will be a very short report.

There are at least three explanations for this week’s shenanigans…

Firstly, they are they are the starting pistol for the Westminster election campaign.

Secondly, they are part of a plot by the Official Monster Raving Loony Party to make it appear to be the most rationale political party.

Lastly, our political parties are so out of touch with public opinion that they have no idea how much the real work of our government is discredited, sullied and ignored, as they continue to hurl brickbats at one another.

Either that or our broadcasters are paying them lots of money for material for phone-ins and comedy shows….

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