And we can’t forget the big local story of the week, namely Ian Óg Paisley’s, shall we say, idiosyncratic approach to peace negotiations. This has come to the fore thanks to Prodiban leader Jim Allister who, despite having the charisma of an oven glove, is doing his damnedest to turn a by-election to Banbridge council into a battle for the soul of unionism.
Wee Ian, so it transpires, went along to the St Andrew’s negotiations with a list of six demands in his back pocket, and got reassurances on them from the then direct rule administration. None of these demands had anything to do with the political process, by the way. What they had to do with was improving the lot of North Antrim. In particular, improving the lot of one person in North Antrim, namely property developer and DUP member Seymour Sweeney, who has already managed to land Baby Doc in the soup. Indeed, we hear that the Giant’s Causeway project featured heavily in the little list.
In related news, Environment Minister Arlene “Stonewall” Foster (DUP) has given a brilliant demonstration of why, in my opinion, the Stormont Executive should be renamed the Procrastination Committee. The Assembly environment committee, or to be more precise the SDLP, PSF and OUP members making up a majority of said committee, has voted to compel Mrs Foster to release papers relating to the Causeway visitors’ centre. This is unlikely to happen, firstly because under Article 44 the compulsion would have to come from Assembly Speaker Willie Hay (DUP), and secondly because Arlene says she hasn’t made a decision. She has only stated that she is “minded” to give Mr Sweeney the contract.
Here’s a modest suggestion. Next time the DUP are in negotiations, wouldn’t it be an idea to retain the services of Tony Gregory?