Spare a thought for our Stormont politicians... Not words you’re used to reading in this newspaper.
Executive ministers have been unusually visible this week — in spite of the Government’s advice that we should all work from home, where possible.
Education Minister Michelle McIlveen was a guest at the Association of School and College leaders’ Northern Ireland conference and managed the heroic tally of visiting seven schools in two days.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon almost beat her record, going to Waterways Ireland’s headquarters in Fermanagh’s lakelands, as well as Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s offices and two schools in one day.
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey went to the opening of Back Path Park in Divis, First Minister Paul Givan attended the Women’s Aid conference and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots turned up at the Royal Ulster Premier Beef and Lamb Championships.
To round it off, Health Minister Robin Swann rocked up at the Northern Ireland Local Government Association conference in Bangor and Finance Minister Conor Murphy was photographed with multi-Olympic gold medal winner Sir Mo Farah at the Northern Ireland Chamber’s president’s banquet.
So far, so Stormont. Mixed messaging. Do as I say, not as I do. Bunch of hypocrites, the lot of them. But, really, we can’t have it both ways.
During both lockdowns, ministers were criticised for not making themselves available for interrogation on the Executive’s Covid strategy (or lack of one).
Robin Swann and the-then First and Deputy First Ministers, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill, were near-constants at the podium — at least until Bobby Storey’s funeral. The rest were nowhere to be seen. Working from home? Aye, right.
Now, they’re attracting criticism for doing precisely the opposite: carrying out their ministerial duties and trying to maintain some sense of normality. We need to decide what we want from our political class, or we invite the very accusation — that of double standards — that we would hurl at them.