ballon deflated  1

Politics are a joke in Norneverland . If that simple fact wasn’t evident during this past few days it’ll never be again. Theresa Villiers , the  Secretary of State  has begun making noises as we near Christmas time and people are distracted with shopping and planning for family re-unions, Christmas parties, charity raffles and pantomimes ; not to mention the coming of one Mr Claus to our children and grandchildren.The year’s elastic band is winding down.

She’s, just now,  poked a small hole in the balloon of “the Talks” {Remember them?} and is gradually letting  the air of expectation out  incrementally , like a slow silent fart.You know how stale air in an old tyre stinks? That’s the kind of stale foul odour she wants to sneakily emit while we are all otherwise distracted.We could have told her that the Talks circus would come to nothing, just as the political body of Stormont has failed to deliver proper politics. It  is a simple fact that no matter how many salaries have been paid out to ministers and their various busy little teams of paper- shufflers that there has been no true engagement .It’s like hiring a team of painters to finish painting your home within two weeks , only to find them still sitting drinking tea and having a smoke when you come back ….Except that these ministers  been paid already by us.They’ll be paid whether or not they do anything.

The DUP were never going to engage in any viable talks .They would rather take the money and sit on their hands than cobble out a compromise with nationalism or anyone else . Politics is the art of  compromise . They’ve never been good at this game ,so there’s nothing left for them to do but sow seeds of confusion and distraction and pretend they are actually working.The Haass talks ended with him throwing his hands in the air in total bafflement .He wasn’t baffled by their fantastic eloquence or their crystal minds .He was confounded by their lack of credible engagement and also by the stupidity and truculence of some of their followers.They’d consulted with Jamie Bryson  and Willie Fraser , for gawdsake! That was  like bringing in Daffy Duck and the Teletubbies  to debate..The company they kept wasn’t with intellectual giants after all.. He knew that their hearts weren’t in it anyway because they had to appeal  to a very unsophisticated political base, many of whose political and social  ideas had not developed beyond the sixteenth century .How was he ever going to cover those four hundred years? .He just didn’t know how he could help them to learn the game for the 21st century. There would never be enough time.

Here we are a year later , pretty much in the same place  that we were this time last year except with even more additional bitterness in the mix.. In the intervening months  much time has been spent sowing poison as a further distraction; anything at all to hold back social progress and waste time and money. Promises and deals had already been reneged on as the Irish and British governments looked away and allowed it to happen, even though they were co-guarantors for much of it. .  It began with flags and parades but it soon evolved into tirades against foreigners, Muslims , Irish speakers, Irish culture and homophobia. There were the usual attacks on Sinn Fein , of course , but that’s only to be expected.They are the bete noir  after all and every opportunity to give them a kicking will never be missed.Gerry Adams is fair game but he’s fit for it.He’s proven that many times, so at least he’s consistent.

I may have missed something else .Oh yes, there was also the attempt to censor a play, wasn’t there?. All of that goes against the grain of a modern British or Irish society so the wonder is that unionism , especially the more virulent sort in corners of  the DUP, actually wants to be British at all. It is a conundrum, like much of life here..

The year is closing as a pantomime  Punch and Judy show. A daily tit for tat of insults that have ground politics to a stop. One minister stands up at a conference and  insults some half of the population and is joined in applause by his companions . Some twenty four hours later another minister conversationally refers to some of those companions as “bastards”.

I don’t believe anyone was really surprised. Do you?


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