01 Nov

WRY EYE – Mr Ben lays down the law 

NO need for reports on dusty shelves, just the political will to change the health and care system in Northern Ireland. Thus was the decree of Professor Rafael Bengoa as he delivered his summary of the need for change in the health service…

Money, modern practices, prevention and political force can save our populace from imminent doom and spending the entire budget on MLAs…

Prof Bengoa is a world-renowned expert in health practices and systems; a man of esteem and expertise. So, perhaps bowed by the sheer brain power and the combined mental weight of his team the Executive has agreed that they will, graciously, accept his recommendations, just before sending a request to Bake Off finalist Andrew Smyth for some of his recipes for his special wee buns.

Of course, we now know Mr Smyth was robbed of his winner’s spot, but will Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill, win through with the Bengoa changes?

The headlines apart, the proposal that no hospitals will close will be a balm for many MLAs who feel the pressure of campaign groups come the next election.

But will those same MLAs be so content when campaign groups complain that the hospitals will cease to provide toe nail cutting services?

Mrs O’Neill’s stark warning that if we don’t change the way care is delivered 90% of Northern Ireland’s budget will be consumed by health spending: it’s reform or a bankrupt country.

It was also the week that we got a new Alliance Party leader, Naomi Long. Straight off the blocks she was having a go at the DUP for threatening to use petitions of concern to block any motions to allow same sex marriage.

Oh, this ‘hardy annual’ will, as they say run, and run, and run…

As it would seem will the adulation among the DUP party faithful for their party leader, as they chanted “Arlene’s on fire” as this week-end’s party conference concluded amidst a general celebratory tone. Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness did seem a little peeved at Arlene Foster’s declaration that the Irish government was trying to poach potential foreign investors.

Mrs Foster’s suggestion of a soft, but technological border may have had her counterpart scratching his head too, but he must be more than flustered at the prospect of the new DUP Education Minister, Peter Weir, drafting in an expert to reduce the two post-primary school transfer tests into one…

In the meantime we will have years of arguing over Brexit, currency fluctuations and such sort of stuff. This potentially chaotic few years can only be abated by serious actions that are out of the hands of MLAs or ministers.

Number one: The Northern Ireland football team qualify for the 2018 World Cup and half the population is either at the finals or stuck in front of their tellies.

Number two: The Ulster rugby team wins every weekend, distracting all the middle class rugger types from politics.

Number three: When the Bake Off transfers to Channel Four the Executive slips the producers a backhander to make sure there is a Northern Ireland winner.

With these three things in place, politicians will ensure that the general population won’t pay attention to the shenanigans at Stormont. Oh, wait a minute! Does the population really pay attention right now?

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