Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Paisley bows out

It's surely no coincidence that Ian Paisley's final act as First Minister is to open the new Belfast ferry terminal - enhancing the physical link between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
I wish him well. He read the political runes right two years back and performed a quiet, dignified adaptation of his Unionist stance which made the tail-end of his long career the most productive for everyone in Ulster.
Ironically, his guest of honour today is his separatist Scots counterpart, Alex Salmond, who, as he looks across the 20-mile stretch to the Galloway coast, probably wishes the Romans had had the presence of mind to build a supersized Hadrian's Trench.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Cobblers to squabblers

I've long held the view, reluctantly, that Northern Irish politicians crave outside attention. Not one key political moment in the last 5 years has been handled without intervention of the British and Éire governments.
Small-time local boys-made-good can really only feel somebody if they can control the agendas of bigger players, and as children use tantrums to gain concessions from parental government, so at every political turn our elected reps seem pethologically unable to solve their own probelms - often of their own making - without going crying to whichever political mama they aspire to.
Right now, it's about whether Peter Robinson will be nominated as First Minister. Sinn Féin - ever on the grab, this time for immediate devolution of justice powers - is posturing to de-rail the FM/DFM appointments by a process of hari-kiri involving a refusal to nominate their own man, Martin McGuinness, as DFM.
Now Gordon Brown finds himself, for the first time, in the role of master liaison officer, trying to persuade Gerry Adams not to poop on Peter's party. If he fails, there'll be tears all round.
Like Miss Jean Brodie, let's hope he's in his prime (minister).