Like most people I am frustrated at the current political impasse but increasingly I am starting to think is it time to turn off the financial tap? Incredibly politicians across the board are jumping up and down like angry elves over major decisions being taken by the civil service, ignoring the fact that it is their failure to agree a working alternative  that has resulted in this scenario. And what exactly do they expect? Are we to put every major infrastructure, health and education project on hold whilst they they learn to tango?

As a region we have more former ministers than your average church congregation. Some of them make better former ministers than when they were in the actual job. The last Executive achieved very little and the public are probably wondering if there is a huge difference between the re-establishment of an Executive and the status quo.

Of course, unions, lobbyists, the voluntary sector and trade organisations find it harder to bend the ear of civil servants than your average minister. They certainly lament the lack of an executive and assembly but ordinary members of the public are much less passionate about the white elephant on the Hill. That said it is much better to have political  accountability even though neither the DUP or Sinn Fein whilst running the Executive paid much attention to the Assembly and its scrutinising role.

The failure of Northern Ireland politicians across the board to reach a settlement has impacted right across the public sector. Yet they continue to swan about Stormont, meet visiting delegations and make pronouncements like members of the Russian Imperial Family. It’s a pretence that has to stop. There are no doubt many good public representatives and they are probably providing a very effective constituency service but they were not elected to be glorified councillors, they were elected to a legislature so they could legislate.

Even at a basic level most MLAs are not involved in the talks and therefore three quarters of them must be struggling to pass the day. The talks process is a mess and its clear that its beyond the capability of Mr Brokenshire to actually manage the political parties. Furthermore its completely unfair to ask senior civil servants to step into that role. We have reached a stage that external intervention is required. Someone needs to deliver an ultimatum to the political parties.

The DUP/Tory deal has also  poisoned the political process. The British Government policy  towards Northern Ireland is no longer impartial under Theresa May. To put it crudely she can’t take a leak without first getting the DUP’s permission. Sinn Fein whose leadership took ten years to discover that they were being led by the nose by the DUP, will struggle to crawl back into bed with their former partners now they are politically cuckolded by the DUPs new lovers in the Tory Party. And you can’t really blame the DUP for enjoying the discomfort of their former sleeping partners.

There could  be a serious downside to cutting MLA pay because it will probably hit the centre ground parties like the SDLP, UUP and Alliance hardest. The DUP has access to considerable funds from what is known as Short Money due their parliamentary strength and Sinn Fein are raking in  hundreds of thousands of pounds in expenses from Westminster despite not taking their seats. Put quite bluntly – the big parties could survive prolonged cuts to their assembly expenses whilst the smaller ones who between them  represent nearly  three hundred thousand voters could be starved out.

The British Government could end the impasse by bringing in an Irish Language bill through Westminster and they should. Sinn Fein would have no say over the contents of that bill because they don’t take their seats. They could also harmonise laws though out the UK on an issue like same-sex marriage. Both acts may not please either Sinn Fein or the DUP but zero sum politics seems to work. Neither move by the British Government would find any objection from their Irish counterparts.

In the meantime local MLAs should stop whining about big decisions being taken whilst they are out of office. Let’s face it they bottled a lot of those decisions in office because they hopped on every populist bandwagon that stopped at Stormont. How bizarre is it to see politicians protesting against decisions taken collectively by their own ministers? If they want to return Government and take responsibility – then at least act like it.