Weeks later…or is it months now? This “Cash for “Ash or “Soot for Loot ” scandal ,as our own Perkin Warbeck so succinctly and colourfully put it , seems to have been running forever now . We’ve chewed over all of the details and masticated every nuance and slippery phrase until it has been rendered pablum .A child could understand it all now .You pay £1.oo and the government gives you back £1.60 and there’s no limit .It’s free money and it was all presided over by our now First Minister !! Surely that’s easy enough for everyone to understand?
…and yet….and yet …. , it is only now , months later ,that outsiders beyond the plexiglass dome that covers the gloomy church steeples of the lost Land of Norneverland, Ireland have actually caught wind of the very latest of our ludicrous affairs.Messages borne on ravens claws have finally reached out beyond the realm , cawing loudly that all is not well with the governance of this tiny realm .We’ve been taking Westminster’s money and handing it out to a selected bunch of our citizenry while also bleeding our own people of resources for the next twenty years.All this at a time when we cannot build enough hospitals or pay our teachers and nurses a decent wage; all this when we cannot get money to build roads or even spare a few thousand pounds for the Irish language.Billions have been mentioned , but we take such waste for granted anyway , running separate micro-economies for the differing tribes ,as we do. Further afield this may not have been known or properly spelled out before now.The citizens of Lancashire and Yorkshire or closer at hand in Dublin and Cork, no doubt had no notion that we enjoyed burning our master’s money or filling the pockets of our friends with it .Either way it works out much the same. There is more money spendt per head of the population than there is in any county in england or Wales.Do yo usuppose they know that over there? I wouldn’t think so , because if they did they’d drop us like ahot spud. Maybe someone should inform them of the fact….some whistleblower, eh? That’s the vogue word of the moment.
Until now, barely a word was heard about this latest scandal other than in the local broadsheets or in the songs of strolling minstrels. There was one probing interview on BBC Radio 4 but generally the public further abroad have little idea of the incompetence and /or the corruption at the heart of this or if the do know something, they are being very quiet about it.Our First Minister took to the airwaves on Sky News but used her time to talk about anything but her competence or otherwise.Now that news of the possible demise of our local government has begun to be heard, there is a flurry of catch-up activity in the neighbouring lands . Local editions of the imported “Sunday Times” from London/Dublin are now carrying this old story of ours as a front-page news item .Some might say that the editor may have deigned to look closely a little too late. In a newspaper known usually for its vitriolic attacks on northern nationalists, what advice or critique could possibly be given at this late hour, when it is those same northern nationalists who are in the right this time , while their unionist counterparts have proven to be either insanely incompetent or possibly a cabal of criminality ?Well …we all know the kind of mischief that has been our daily bread ever since the St Andrews Agreement was signed. At every step the great idealism of a shared future has been carefully hollowed out like a Halloween lantern until nothing is left but some insanely grinning face with a flickering fire gleaming behind the mad eyes.
The scandal could never have been avoided, but the crash of government might well have been ,had the First Minister taken advice from far wiser heads than hers. The lowliest drone working in a call- centre could have told her that if there was only the slightest sniff of impropriety in the outworkings of his job, that he would have been suspended from his post while investigations took place.He would have been put on “gardening leave”. The First Minster has obviously lived in such a rarified mental state for such a long time that she believed that she was above such menial considerations as potting- up plants or weeding the cabbages ,but those rules apply for the lowliest to the highest in every job and in every walk of life right across society , so why would she think she was beyond such considerations if she was not already insane?

The insanity appears to be the key . The stress of her position has finally made mulch of her thinking.In the meantime the Deputy First Minister has had his own misgivings and has offered sage advice which she has chosen to ignore, so it is likely that he will be inclined to step down himself .His own health is a consideration now too. When he does step down , the most likely scenario will be that the men with strait jackets will be obliged to enter the Executive and section the First Minister who appears to have assumed the dimensions of the mad queen in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Where all of this leaves our neighbours on the verge of fraught Brexit negotiations as to their own futures, is anyone’s guess, but they should have been paying a little more attention to the chicanery in front of their noses.Had they done so , they and we might have avoided this unecessary complication.