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Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Today At The Legislative Assembly

I went to Stormont this afternoon. After some light refreshment with renewed acquaintances I had opportunity to watch the debate on industrial de-rating.

The first thing that struck me about the place was how busy it seemed. Business people affected by the proposed changes were out in force to lobby and to watch. Some had been issued with montages of the 108 MLAs, presumably to score performances. The press were there, Eamonn Mallie resplendent and Martina Purdy, well, being Martina Purdy. The place actually seemed as if it was relevant.

Sadly, due to pressure of time I only had time to listen to two contributions from the floor of the Assembly. The proposer John Dallat, SDLP MLA for East Londonderry, read his speech in a tone which given the heat of the afternoon was dangerously close to ponderous. However, the first speaker to offer support was Ian Paisley Snr. Rising from the First Ministers' position he delivered a speech that was consensual and ,frankly, Presidential. There was concern for the working man and his right to a fair wage, no party political point scoring and what venom there was was directed at the Secretary of State.

For a moment I allowed myself to believe that devolution could actually work. Was it the surroundings, the topic of the debate, the anxious voters keen to watch their politicians help their cause? Then I realised why all things seemed possible - Sinn Fein had absented themselves from the proceedings. If Adams & Co. had risen to support small businesses in Northern Ireland for how long could other parties restrain themselves from pointing out the gross hypocrisy of a movement which waged economic warfare with bomb and incendiary now supporting those self same businesses? And what self respecting Shinner could resist an opportunity to justify each and every explosion?

I left knowing what I knew before I entered - cross community government is currently only possible without Sinn Fein. That means that there will be no government. I hope the people with the score cards realise that.

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