Okay, so there’s a Westminster by election in your Mid Ulster constitutuency. There’s also a crisis in Northern Irish Agriculture that you said you had no reason to believe existed just two weeks ago.
And you’re the Agriculture Minister. Damnit! So you call a cross department presser in the middle of your constituency in the middle of the crisis that you felt did not exist two weeks ago and then point out the fact that the others would not make it (because you gave them barely any notice).
This is on Friday morning, before the latest report from the FSA comes out in the afternoon and tells you that at this stage there is no further escalation of the problem you previously thought did not exist.
You then appear outraged that your Executive colleagues did not hoof it down to Cookstown to
help your colleague win a Westminster by election to a seat he doesn’t want address the non turn the crisis has not taken.
“Very important” other should be there says Ms O’Neill. “Deflecting attention away from herself” says the DUP. “No evidence of a significant link between the horsemeat scandal and organised crime in NI” says a spokesman for the Justice Minister.
In the meantime you hoof it into the FSA (a non ministerial body with no friends in Stormont Castle). And whilst no one else is doing it, you have lost ground to make up and joining with the Tories means you salvage something if/when it’s new CEO is made to walk the plank by our former pro Consul..
Humour aside, there is a problem of course. All of these ministers should be working together instead of hanging apart. The local FSA ought to being managed directly by one or at maximum two ministers (Agriculture and Health).
Indeed both have responsibility for oversight of its functions, but as an non ministerial body they have no responsibility for it per se. Thus food safety (which is not YET a proven issue) and food labelling (which IS an issue) has no vocal advocacy inside the Executive.
The end result is that (unlike Scotland for instances) we have another round of absentee politics and politicians desperate to throw the blame on each other (or as in the case of DETI minister, keen not to be anywhere near the problem of what do about the ungovernability of big retail when the balloon rises).
Anyone talking about the economic impacts in the Mid Ulster by election? Invest NI’s record of spend and investment as against the millions poored into East Belfast for instance? Not a bit of it.
“Hold your hour, had have another presser”… as the boul Brendan might have said…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty