16 Aug

Boring war or Phoney war

WITH acres of forests being felled to cover pretty much nothing in our local newspapers, the silly season in politics and news in general is with us.

The visit of the Taoiseach, Belfast City Council’s bonfire vote and a spat over Brexit…all pretty much saying nothing and anything.

What can you expect when the deadline for a Stormont deal isn’t even close! It’s the holidays and the various parties won’t be rolling up their sleeves until around the first week of September.

But cunningly they are saying a lot to give the impression that something is happening. The DUP accusing Dublin of ‘megaphone diplomacy’, Sinn Féin saying they are willing to enter power-sharing, an Irish Parliamentary Committee outlining a united Ireland way forward, and the other Northern Ireland parties flailing around.

Phone in shows seem determined to keep controversy going to make sure that listenership stats remain high, when in fact the controversy is pretty light on the ground.

A case in point: bonfires. The majority pass off without much incident. They are for many distasteful and noxious but few cause issues other than having to fix stuff afterwards. Yes, that’s  ratepayers’ money, but in the grand scheme of things not overly expensive (stand back and await readers ire…).

A few caused damage to residential properties and some recent bonfire builders are issuing threats. With Belfast City Council stymied over the issue, the best way around it was to call an emergency meeting that was immediately seen as divisive.

And, there is the key to making sure that voters remain engaged should an Assembly election occur within the next 12 months. Shout at ‘them uns’ a lot, and they’ll shout back.

It’s almost as if they are entered in to a behind closed doors conspiracy to keep themselves in the headlines.

However, it could all be because they can’t think of anything else. The DUP and Sinn Féin are currently negotiating with Sky TV DIY show entitled ‘Painting Yourself into a Corner’.

This phoney and frankly boring war is having a predictable outcome. The more shouting done at ‘them uns’ means the negotiations are going to be more difficult and those determined to see shadows in the night will fail to understand that the politicians are at a loss on how to progress.

Meanwhile Northern Ireland moves on through time, people going to work, cuts to public services happening seemingly daily and the Secretary of State Mr Brokenshire on his holidays, and unavailable to cough up the promised extra billion anytime soon.

There is one salvation at hand. HBO screenwriters, once they wrap up Game Of Thrones, are working on a new epic. They have licensed all of Northern Ireland and are working up the story of warring political parties, with intrigue, alliances that fall apart and re-join to gain the First Minister’s throne. True there will be less nudity, but we’re pretty sure we can borrow a Welsh dragon to swoop over Stormont and singe the Parliament Buildings.

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