Belfast Telegraph

Suzanne Breen: No public thirst to watch Northern Ireland politicians let hair down

Karen Bradley
Karen Bradley
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

Assembly members sipping G&Ts at a Stormont summer drinks reception hosted by the Secretary of State and paid for with public money.

I can’t think of an image that would enrage the ordinary person on the street more. Karen Bradley’s tenure here has hardly been impressive, but this has to be her dumbest idea by far.

Apparently, the event was aimed at improving relations between the party representatives while their leaders conduct the top table talks.

Opinion is divided in Northern Ireland on who is to blame for the current political impasse. But I can guarantee that you’d struggle to find any unionist or nationalist, loyalist or republican voter who thinks that the answer is a free buffet and booze for our MLAs.

Let’s remember they are still enjoying their salaries and expenses two-and-a-half years after power-sharing collapsed.

This is against a backdrop of our already broken health and education services crumbling further day by day.

Some people believe that devolution will never work.

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But those who still retain hope don’t want our politicians coaxed, with vodka and vol-au-vents, into doing the job they’re still being paid to do.

‘Lock them in a room together and don’t let them out until they hatch a deal’ is more in line with the public mood.

Sinn Fein was first out of the blocks to say it wouldn’t be attending the summer drinks party. Once it nailed its colours to the mast, all the other parties were effectively bounced into saying they were boycotting the reception too.

Either Mrs Bradley didn’t run her idea by the parties first, which seems unlikely.

Or else some have given the thumbs up in private, only to take cold feet when they realised just how bad it would look.

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