Letter of the day: In a landscape full of political jokers, perhaps Donald Trump could make Ulster great again
WHO is steering Northern Ireland? The Secretary of State seems pleasant but as unwilling to take control as her predecessor was. Perhaps that is the instruction from Westminster, concerned not to upset the DUP on one hand and Sinn Fein and the Irish government on the other.
Our two major parties and their leaders watch each other in a sullen, hostile deadlock, neither willing to trust the other. The leaders of the smaller parties appear from time to time, like extras in a play, to deliver their practised lines and then exit the stage again. There is no perceptible movement.
The spads - those mysterious figures seemingly appointed by a nod and a wink, untroubled by competitive job interviews - are powerless at present, because there are no ministers in place through whom they may exert their influence on political affairs. Remember, though: "Ministers come and go, but spads remain."
Civil Service officers are doing their best to keep things ticking over, but whether the Civil Service should make significant political decisions is open to legal challenge.
So, in reality, no one is in charge at present. Should Donald Trump be offered stewardship of Northern Ireland, in the absence of any progress?
He might find our mid-20th century conservatism to his liking, along with the toxic political in-fighting. He could be offered the big white house on the Hill as his occasional Belfast residence and play golf in the grounds.
He could be invited to march with the Orange and again with the Hibernians. He might enjoy the regalia - he apparently enjoys parades. In return, he could promise to Make Ulster Great Again.
Fanciful? Probably. But politics in Northern Ireland is a sad, tired joke, anyway.