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Editor's Viewpoint

Public confidence in Northern Ireland ministers warranted

Editor's Viewpoint


Health Minister Robin Swann

Health Minister Robin Swann

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Health Minister Robin Swann

In the latest LucidTalk poll, no fewer than 68% of those interviewed thought that the Stormont Executive had handled the health emergency well.

This is a good result for an Executive that returned to power-sharing relatively recently, and to a somewhat underwhelming response.

While people were glad to see the the institutions working again, they were disenchanted by their absence for three long years.

The RHI Inquiry and the mutual sniping and buck-passing also had a bad effect.

When Stormont did reconvene no one predicted that within a few weeks Northern Ireland, like the rest of the globe, would be engulfed by the coronavirus emergency. Nevertheless, this helped to galvanise our politicians into working closely and constructively together.

There were contentious issues early on. They included the disagreement over the closure of schools and the failure over supply of personal protective equipment.

There was also the disquiet from Sinn Fein over the remarks of Health Minister Robin Swann that he would accept Army help if need be.

Despite this the politicians avoided the danger of being mired in these issues.

In fact the politicians may have been led by the people who, in the response to the pandemic, have shown once again how strongly and willingly they can work together.

As we have often stated here, no one wants to enquire into the politics of the medical and care staff looking after them.

We also saw a commendable public effort in the manufacture of PPE for medical, nursing and care home staff, underlying that they are all held in great respect.

Both First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill have also won respect for their appearances at Press conferences, where their approach has been largely collegiate.

Mr Swann has received high approval ratings of 71% in a brief that many other politicians would shy away from given the problems facing our NHS.

Mr Swann's sincerity and hard work have won him deserved credit.

The approval for the Executive's handling of the crisis has shown how keen people here are to see our politicians working together for the good of all. That respect has been hard won, and it should be built upon as we face the challenges ahead on the economy and other issues.

Belfast Telegraph