Sinn Fein's duplicity damaging
The abrupt departure from the Northern Ireland talks on Friday by Prime Minister David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny was said to have taken aback the Stormont politicians who were holding out for more money.
The departure of the two senior players was an indication that times have changed. There have been austerity measures in the Irish Republic and in the rest of the UK that have not been experienced here, and it is time that the politicians and people of Northern Ireland took note of this.
The position of Sinn Fein deserves special scrutiny in this political crisis. No one likes austerity measures, and there are many taxpayers in the rest of the UK who would question the position of the Stormont coalition and its policies.
However, we are where we are, and for a long time have enjoyed benefits which others in the UK have not received. We do not have to pay water charges or other rates, and we have more spending per capita than most other parts of the UK.
Whatever government is in power, austerity is the measure of the day, and therefore Sinn Fein's demands for an extra £1bn last weekend lacked all credibility.
Sinn Fein's constant anti-austerity message might have some traction if it was the major opposition party at Stormont, but it is not. In reality it is one of the two parties which has a duty to make shared government work. Its failure to do so yet again raises fears among many people in Northern Ireland that we are only part of Sinn Fein's overall policy and interest, and that much of its financial and political posturing in the North is driven by its goals in the South. If this is true, it is disgraceful.
How can there be shared government with a party which has an agenda aimed at two jurisdictions? Sinn Fein has absolutely no right in trying to avoid a deal in the North just because it is expedient to its all-Ireland strategy.
People are not stupid, and they can see through the blatant political hypocrisy of Sinn Fein. This is a time for the Stormont parties to work together for the good of all, without being sabotaged by political agendas across the border.