WELL summer’s over and while you were away sunning yourself, our beady wry eye was closely watching the political machinations unfold here in Norn Iron.
Despite the Assembly being in summer recess, there was still enough drama to stop us getting bored, with many an unusual event unfolding over the past few weeks.
First – you may have thought that the sunshine in Spain was great, but we actually had several days when the temperature rose here as well. Tops came off, people went red, and MLAs hid in their constituency offices, frightened of the strange yellow ball in the sky and trying to formulate a policy response.
Then, in a shock reversal of trends, July’s riots over parades and protests went completely AWOL. Personally, we blame the Euro 2016 football thingy, where both teams in green put on a show for their fans and everyone was jolly for a while. Either that or the hardened rioters were too busy laughing at Iceland beating England to take to the streets!
Things were much less jolly up in Stormont when the latest episode of the NAMA scandal took to our screens.
The mess caused by claims that Daithí McKay helped ‘coach’ Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson before he gave evidence to a Stormont committee came as quite a shock to Sinn Féin – usually renowned for steely internal discipline.
McKay fell on his political sword, resigning from the Assembly, and the clamour began for Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir to take a leave of absence while an investigation took place. He refused, Martin McGuinness got angry, the DUP cried foul play, and Eamonn McCann tried to find a way to blame the whole thing on ‘Tory austerity’!
But, raise your hands in praise and salute the great political gods with sacrifices, for lo the Assembly is returning after recess.
Yes, this week we have the prelude to a new session, when committees will gear up, the business for coming weeks will be agreed, and all systems will then be go.
With tensions bubbling, a new a Budget and Programme for Government on the way, and the small matter of Brexit negotiations still to come, we think it’s going to be a cracker!