Governments have between the 4th and the 8th of January to save the entire political process…

Many Northern Ireland Assembly members still sucking the bones of the turkey have no idea that within less than two weeks their careers as politicians may be finished. When Monday dawns the British and Irish governments have just fours days to shore up the entire political process. A Sinn Fein team has been beavering in the background preparing a dossier. That paper is essentially an evaluation of the merits of continuing in an administration with the Democratic Unionist Party.

The paper has not yet been completed. Sinn Fein has concluded a date for the devolution of policing and justice may be just a figment of their imagination. That however is not the heart of Sinn Fein’s preoccupation. That party has concluded the DUP’s real target is power-sharing with Republicans in the absence of absolute power and Unionist domination. At point of writing this article nothing said by the DUP is offering Martin Mc Guinness comfort with a Sinn Fein ard-chomhairle coming up on January 9.

The British and Irish governments are eventually realising that they are staring into the abyss. They have between the 4th and the 8th of January to save the entire political process. Will the cavalry have to come over the hill yet again to try to deal with the natives?

Peter Robinson currently finds himself in something of a lonely place and no right thinking person, regardless of one’s station in life, would want to have to deal with such difficulties. There is no appetite in the community for the collapse of the Assembly and its institutions despite the many deficits in the system.

Perhaps at this difficult time for Peter Robinson he might find refuge in strange quarters. Why does he not test the bonafides of Martin Mc Guinness? Why not lift the phone to him? McGuinness has done enough in ’09 to demonstrate his leadership and compassionate credentials to prove himself yet again, if Peter needs a friend. He must know he is pushing at an open door.

At the same time that the Robinsons were feeling embattled over Christmas, journalistic colleague Gareth Gordon of the BBC was burying his dear mother who lost her life in tragic circumstances in a house fire.

The presence of Sylvia Hermon, Jim Wells and especially Martin Mc Guinness at the Annalong funeral service was a great source of comfort for Gordon and his family. Those politicians were not there to be seen or in the pursuit of votes.

They were there out of respect for another human being who was grieving and who was in trouble. They offered hope to the Gordons in their hour of need. That is what all elected representatives should do. The Robinsons are in a dark place.

Some people, even their political enemies want to help. They should be gracious and respond to that gesture for the greater good. People need hope at the start of 2010 – not shattered dreams and not longer dole queues.