“Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do like to be beside the sea.  I do like to stroll upon the Prom, Prom, Prom, where the brass bands play Tiddely-om-pom-pom!”

Ok, so not Newcastle, Ballyhome or Cranfield which have failed to meet even the most basic of cleanliness standards (perhaps all those civil servants whose sickness rate soars on Fridays and Mondays are going for mid-week dips?). 

Talking about toxic waters, beware those who dip their toes into the shallows of Northern Ireland’s recent past.  This week’s Stormont Jobs Fair for Committee Members and Special Advisers (SPADs) demonstrated that it’s better to keep one’s mouth closed.  Goodness knows what you’ll catch.

Back in 1998 when the Belfast Agreement was signed there was something of a collective nose-holding as most voters concluded that the benefits of letting prisoners go outweighed the moral dilemma.  For Sinn Fein, the hullabaloo over the appointment of a SPAD with a murder conviction may have been a surprise.  After all, the DCAL Minister who appointed her also has a conviction, and other members and employees of the party have had much more ‘colourful life experiences’.

The mostly silent moral indignation of 1998, however, doesn’t like to be reminded so bluntly about the past.  Skipping a generation and appointing a 24-year old as Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast fits the narrative, watching the distress of the Travers family having to relive the ghastly events of 1984 doesn’t.  

While Sinn Fein may count themselves ‘unfortunate’ that the family were prepared to voice their hurt publicly – garnering significant support across the airwaves on both sides of the border – their reaction of blaming the press for telling the family about the appointment rather missed the point, as did the DCAL description of its new Minister as someone with a “particular interest in human rights”.

Unionists were muted in their reaction, unwilling perhaps to deal with the consequences of full blown outrage.  Given rumblings of a DUP / UUP deal with the UVF-linked PUP at Belfast City Hall, perhaps, though, this wasn’t the week for principles.


Matters of the Day

Assembly Business

Ministerial Statements

Health:             Radiotherapy Unit, Altnagelvin


Martina Anderson’s ‘Stand up for Derry’ campaign was most pleased to welcome its newest member, the DUP’s Health Minister, Edwin Poots, who announced that – despite his UUP predecessor’s concerns – there is, in fact, no problem with delivering a new radiotherapy unit in the city.

Rumour has it that the ‘Stand up for Derry’ campaign is asking the Alliance DEL Minister to shut down the University of Ulster campus at Coleraine and transfer it the Walled Citadel. The Finance Minister has also been dangled a lucrative Committee post if he can speed up the relocation of every single civil service job in the country to the North West 

Threats of endless renditions of the ‘Town I Loved So Well’, however, were insufficient to persuade President Obama to declare the city as the 51st State.