Back in 1997 the love story of Jack and Rose (Leonardo diCaprio and Kate Winslet) transfixed the world, and the movie had a special significance in Northern Ireland, where the Titanic first touched water in Belfast Lough.
At the end of their story, as they waited in the freezing waters of the north Atlantic, they believed help was coming. They waited. Hundreds waited with them.
The help was there, but lifeboats full of the privileged classes waited too. They waited too long. And we know how that story ended.
More than a century on from the world’s most infamous maritime disaster, people in desperate need of help are waiting again. Rising energy costs have hit hard, particularly the most vulnerable in society.
A life raft has been thrown in their general direction by the UK government, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing £1.5 billion worth of measures to help the poorest in society, but it’s in danger of losing air before it reaches those in need.
There is no guarantee that a promise of money off heating bills for those who qualify — which the rest of the UK will receive in the autumn — will make it as far as Northern Ireland as there is no Executive in place to make decisions and oversee the scheme. The vaults at Stormont are certainly piling up the cash.
“The additional £14 million funding we will receive from the Household Support Fund cannot be allocated in the absence of an Executive,” said Finance Minister Conor Murphy, and we all know where the finger of blame is being pointed.
“This now means there is a total of £435 million which cannot be allocated to help families, workers and businesses with the cost of living and to support public services, particularly our health service.”
Cast adrift, the longer people wait, the more desperate they will become.
It also provides the UK government with a quandary. The Treasury has suggested it could make an exception with payments this time due to the political deadlock at Stormont. But will that have repercussions for those who already say there is too much intervention over the heads of local politicians, even though there are no politicians to go over the heads of?
Too many vital issues have been put on the backburner already and the longer the stand off goes on, the more the heat will be turned on politicians to get back to working for the people, and the more the heat will be turned off in homes as the cost rises.
And the people of Northern Ireland will not take kindly to be left out in the cold.