Belfast Telegraph

We've Agreement on one thing: our own A-Z of piffle

By Lindy McDowell

Fifteen years on from the Agreement, and the politicians of Northern Ireland are still talking ... still talking in that odd mix of cliché, euphemism and flannel that has come to epitomise political dialogue here.

It's a language they've made entirely their own.

And despite being criticised for their "gobbledegook" some months back by the founder of the Plain English Campaign (after she'd been shown some examples of official documents by this paper) it's a gobbledegook they have chosen to cling to.

In an inclusive and cohesive manner aimed at maximising the extent and reach of their verbal communications.

This is a brief A to Z of some of the worst of Stormont and peace process piffle and jargon ...

Accommodation: no, not a house, flat or a five-star hotel room in Brazil but an agreement on working together. As in "to reach an accommodation". Or "unable to reach an accommodation". Which tends to be more common here.

Bigots: A general term which is widely used to describe people whose views you don't like. People with whom you are unlikely to reach an accommodation.

Community funding: Funding which doesn't necessarily reach the community.

Desist: One of those weird words only ever used by paramilitaries. When they want to say, "stap!"

Engage and embrace: What politicians demand the other side must do.

Fury: What politicians react with when the other side fail to engage and embrace.

Generosity: What all politicians claim to have shown.

High Moral Ground: What all politicians claim to inhabit.

Incumbent: Another of those words paramilitaries feel it is incumbent upon them to use in every statement.

Jeopardise: What you do to the peace process if you desist from giving paramilitaries community funding.

Kneejerking: How paramilitaries describe valid criticism of their demands for funding.

Laundering: Major post-Agreement industry. Northern Ireland has become a global powerhouse of laundering. Money, fuel... you name it.

MLAs: As in Stormont MLAs. Not to be confused with Stormont malaise. Obviously.

North of Ireland. Or Northern Ireland. Nationalist/unionist terms for here.

OFMDFM: The Odd Couple. And their considerable teams of staff.

Process: Still on-going. No obvious end in sight.

Quest: As in, the quest for peace, the quest for jobs, the quest for stability... the process is big on quests.

Reaching out: What all politicians claim to do with regard to the other side.

Seeking investment: Justification for OFMDFM foreign jaunts.

Transparency: Stormont staying schtum about costs.

Unhelpful: Anything the other side suggest.

Vision: What all politicians claim to have shown.

War: Word increasingly used to describe the Troubles. It wasn't.

Yous: Another stalwart of the paramilitary lexicon. As in, yous have been warned.

Zero tolerance: no change there then.

Belfast Telegraph


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